My favorite scene in all the Harry Potter books is when Harry uses a “Pensieve.”

A Pensieve is a large, enchanted dish into which wizards can pour their memories, so that they can later be “re-lived” in full detail:

(Here’s a 5-minute clip from the movie Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in which Harry plunges into one of these preserved memories)

Dumbledore explains why he finds the Pensieve so useful: 

“Very useful, if like me, you find your mind a wee bit stretched. It allows me to see once more things I’ve already seen. You see, Harry, I’ve searched and searched for something, some small detail…Every time I get close to an answer, it slips away! It’s maddening.”

Can you relate to Dumbledore’s frustration? I sure can. 

It’s so frustrating to feel like your mind is crammed with too much information, and somehow at the same time, to not be able to find that one important detail when you need it most.

Dumbledore explains how the Pensieve works:

“One simply siphons the excess thoughts from one’s mind, pours them into the basin, and examines them at one’s leisure. It becomes easier to spot patterns and links, you understand, when they are in this form.”

A magical device that perfectly preserves any thought or memory, forever and in full detail, so you can revisit and reflect on it at your leisure…

Now wouldn’t that be nice?

Have you ever felt like your brain would burst if you tried to cram one. more. thing. into it? Have you ever found yourself unable to think clearly because of that constant mental noise? Or unable to solve a problem you knew you were capable of solving, if only your mind was free of clutter? 

Imagine if any time you found yourself with too many “excess thoughts” you could just “pour them” into a trusted place outside your head. And know with certainty that they would be perfectly preserved, forever, so that you could relive them anytime you wanted.

But did you notice the second part of Dumbledore’s explanation?

Not only is the Pensieve useful for gaining relief from excess thoughts, it can also be used to “spot patterns and links.” It is a powerful tool for insight. 

In other words, after you experience the relief of offloading your thoughts, you can use what you’ve collected to think more clearly and communicate more persuasively

The Pensieve is a perfect metaphor for the environment of information overload we all live in today. We have too many thoughts and ideas and not enough time to properly think about them. But we can’t just ignore the incoming flow, because we also have a desperate need to understand patterns and connections to produce results in our work.

Think of how much more you could get done if you had a “helper” at your side, relieving some of the burden of remembering all the information you need to do your job. And imagine if this helper was also a thought partner, surfacing relevant ideas right when they were most useful.

What would a modern-day Pensieve look like? One that uses technology, not magic?

I call it a “Second Brain,” and helping people create one for themselves is the purpose of my course Building a Second Brain. Like the Pensieve, it works as an extension of your memory, saving the ideas overflowing from your mind and preserving them for future retrieval.

Also like the Pensieve, a Second Brain doesn’t just give you relief. It also gives you power – the power to understand how your ideas fit together and how the past has shaped the present and future. 

Next month is the third anniversary of the launch of Building a Second Brain. Since then, more than 1,200 students have taken the course, tens of thousands have read the blog posts, I’ve been interviewed on more than 30 podcasts, and I’ll soon kick off a world tour in partnership with the up-and-coming productivity app Notion.

Every day I hear a new story about how these ideas have changed the way people work. Every day I hear more about the impact that having a Second Brain has on their daily lives.

But the truth is, we are just getting started.

With the official launch of our online school Forte Academy, we are doubling down on online, cohort-based courses as the very best way to learn in the 21st century. Following our 8 pillars of education, we are creating a powerful model for online learning that prioritizes community, accountability, actionability, and feedback.

The question guiding our efforts is, “How can we design an online course that is impossible to fail?”

This question has inspired tons of new ideas and possibilities. We are considering everything from templates and guides, to new case studies and live demonstrations, to new forms of support such as coaches and accountability partners.

We will be debuting a new, completely revamped version 10 of the Building a Second Brain course in a few months. It will include numerous improvements based on everything we’ve learned over the past three years. But in order to make these improvements, we need to temporarily close the course to new students. 

On Dec. 6 at midnight Pacific time, we will shut down new enrollments until Spring 2020

When enrollment opens again, there will be a few major changes:

  • The price of the course will increase from $499 and $699 to $799 and $1,199, for the Standard and Premium Editions respectively, which will allow us to invest in every aspect of the learning experience
  • The course will no longer be available in a self-paced version – only as a live cohort offered two times per year in the Spring and Fall, to ensure we can offer full support and accountability to each and every student
  • Each live cohort will be extended from 4 to 6 weeks to allow more time for students to integrate what they’re learning, managed by a new full-time Course Manager
  • We are launching a scholarship program for disadvantaged students with demonstrated need, by application

By increasing the price, giving all students accountability and a schedule, limiting the number of times we offer the course each year, and hiring our first full-time staff, we will be able to dramatically elevate the value we offer. This will ensure as many students as possible complete the program and gain the benefits of a Second Brain for themselves. And by offering a scholarship program, we will be able to continue to serve students with demonstrated need.

A final note on the Pensieve: according to Wizarding World, “Pensieves are rare, because only the most advanced wizards ever use them, and because the majority of wizardkind is afraid of doing so.”

I’d say the same is true of Second Brains – it is only the smartest, most ambitious, most advanced knowledge workers who invest the time to make sure all their reading and learning doesn’t go to waste. But unlike using the Pensieve, there’s nothing to fear when we undertake the process of building one together.

One last chance to purchase at the current price

I’ve never done a Black Friday deal, because I’m not a big believer in impulse purchases. But I know that many of you have been following the evolution of this course for a long time, and I want to give you one last chance to jump on the Second Brain train at the current price.

When you purchase between now and Dec. 6, you’ll have lifetime access not only to the current version of the course (released just last month with numerous new features), but also to every future update, AND all future live cohorts. It’s like an all-access pass that never expires, that you only have to pay for once.

We are now at the cusp of not only a new year, but a new decade. As I see all the offers and promotions flying around this week, most of them for products that will start losing value the moment they arrive, my question for you is “What better investment in the next decade of your life could you make besides upgrading your ability to make use of what you know?” These are the last 30 days of the decade – what else do you plan on spending them on?


I’m hosting two free events next week to answer all your questions, give you a preview of what you’ll learn in the full course, and set you up with a basic idea capture system even if you decide not to enroll.

Smart Sync Workshop: How to Automatically Save Your Reading Highlights

On Wednesday, Dec. 4 at 12pm Pacific time, I’ll help you get set up with the foundation of your Second Brain: an easy-to-use system for automatically saving your best highlights from books, articles, and websites you read. This will also set you up for success if you decide to enroll in the course.

Click here to register and get a calendar invite for 12/4 at 12pm PT.

Ask-Me-Anything Zoom call

On Thursday, Dec. 5 at 12pm Pacific time, I’ll answer any and all questions about the Building a Second Brain course or methodology, including my best advice for getting as much value out of the experience as possible. Think of this as a personalized introduction to the course, based on the lessons learned from over 1,200 students.

Click here to register and get a calendar invite for 12/5 at 12pm PT.

Recordings of the Zoom calls will also be sent to everyone who registers shortly after they finish.

As we make the leap into the next era of the Second Brain movement, I feel an immense gratitude for each of you who have followed, subscribed, messaged, provided feedback, referred your friends, attended events, and purchased from us over the past few years. 

Even if we’ve never interacted directly, know that your presence has told us that someone is listening, that someone cares as much as we do about this knowledge making it out into the world.

Every time my faith has flagged, I’ve borrowed your enthusiasm. Every time I couldn’t find the motivation to overcome the next obstacle, one of you has serendipitously reminded me of what this knowledge could do for others. Each and every time I thought there was no way forward, the ideas have flooded in.

Your participation will help us continue to refine every part of the education that we offer. If we succeed, countless people around the world will one day face their careers and their lives with an unstoppable creative energy, knowing they have access to every idea like tools in their toolkit.

Thank you for being a part of the journey so far, and I hope you’ll continue walking it with us. 

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