There is No "Perfect Moment:" Success is Starting Before You're Ready

March 04, 2015

 

We venture into unknown territory when we pursue our goals. The ultimate destination looks out of reach, and we oftentimes get stuck before we even begin as the path seems overtly complex. 

Today, we talk with  Tiago Forte about how he founded his productivity consulting firm,  Forte Labs. We'll also discuss two strategies for creating initial inertia:

  • Breaking down the big idea into smaller, manageable projects
  • Cultivating a mindset of doing things before you think you're ready


Tiago launched his productivity consultancy under imperfect conditions.

A former consulting analyst, he quickly discovered his passion for helping others maximize their productivity, and became determined to start a business to share his teachings. The problem?: He did not have any prior business experience.

Tiago is fond of saying that he does things before he thinks he’s ready, s o to get started, he began by breaking down the larger problem (of business formation) into bite-sized pieces. Armed with project management experience and a keen understanding of productivity methodology, he  decided to test the business concept by teaching a productivity course at the co-working space he was working in. After a strong reception, he knew he was onto something.

Since then, Tiago has launched several online classes and has taught more than 20,000 people. He's worked with prominent companies, including Genetech, Fiat, and Swissnex, and utilizes his proven methodology to train employees in important productivity concepts, including workflow and behavior design.

 

 

“Successful people do things before they’re ready.”

One of Tiago’s secrets to success is that he does not wait until the so-called “perfect moment” to do something. He shares that it is the times when he has pushed himself into unfamiliar or uncomfortable territory that have been most pivotal for him. And it is this act that has helped him overcome his fears and doubts about starting a business.

Read on to learn more about his growth mindset and how you can apply these concepts to your own pursuits:

  

How did you get started in the productivity realm? What is the opportunity you see?

"The problem I saw, and continue to work on, is helping people adapt to a world of rapidly accelerating change. Many forces - from globalization to technological progress to competition - are increasing the pace at which new ideas and technologies enter and transform the workplace. Each one of these ideas and technologies is a double-edged sword, bringing powerful advantages but also real risks, and my goal is to help people use them purposefully and intelligently."


What have been the most important and memorable moments in building your consultancy? 

"There were a few major turning points that had a big effect on me. They all share a common theme: Convincing me that I was “good enough,” that I could consistently perform at a certain level, thus setting the stage for me to advance to the next level.

Delivering live, in-person classes at a co-working space in San Francisco convinced me that my ideas and communication could have a strong effect on people. Creating my first online class and enrolling more than 10,000 students convinced me that I could really make a difference in people’s lives, and that there was a strong demand for what I had to offer. Landing and delivering on my first contracts with large companies convinced me that I could serve the corporate market, and my writing on my blog and on Medium has convinced me that I’m ready to write a book, and take my ideas to a wider audience."

 

 


What has been your biggest lesson learned so far?

"The biggest lesson I have learned is the confirmation of a quote I heard long ago, that inspired me to take action many times when I was feeling doubtful: “ Successful people do things before they’re ready.

Every important step I have taken, I didn’t feel ready for, and that is why they were so pivotal.

Our parents, society, education, etc. teach us that there is a “correct” order in which to do things. You start small, and slowly build on that - build your business, build your credentials, build your experience, whatever.

But, we live in a non-linear age, and things aren’t so simple anymore. The people earning the most money are not the ones who work the hardest. The companies with the most profit are not the ones who’ve been around the longest. All the traditional paths to success have collapsed. This is scary, as there are no guarantees anymore, but it’s also liberating.

 

You don’t have to go through the “right” steps one by one, you don’t have to “pay your dues.” I believe that a key skill for success in this new age is being able to see shortcuts, moments in time when you can skip multiple steps at once. Once you see the shortcut, it is up to sheer hard work and persistence to take it."

 

 


How do you inspire other people to take action?  

"I have one main goal when I want to inspire someone to take action. My goal is to change their mindset, from a “fixed” mindset to a “growth” mindset.

Carol Dweck does a great job of explaining how important this distinction is in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success . Basically, someone who believes their abilities are fixed sees failure as confirmation of their weakness, thus they avoid any situation where they might fail, thus they never put themselves in a position to succeed. A person with a growth mindset believes that their abilities are highly fluid and changeable, thus failure is a source of valuable information on how to improve, thus they seek challenges.

I try to change their mindset with a variety of methods: Constantly framing everything we do with behavior change as an experiment (experiments can’t fail, they can only produce results), leading them through exercises that I know will produce small wins (giving them tangible proof that they can indeed change), giving them stories of others who have overcome the same challenges (giving them concrete stories to draw inspiration from), carefully designing systems for productivity (helping them externalize instead of internalize successes and failures), and many more."

 

 


What’s next for you? What do you need / what can people help you with?

"I’m currently expanding my work with companies, with consulting and  trainings  on productivity and innovation-related projects. I’m also gathering case studies and data for a future book.

If your company is interested in working with me, please check out my website at fortelabs.co or email me at tiago@fortelabs.co"

 

 


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