#121 Forward’s Adrian Aoun: Being Stubborn and Persuasive, Fiction and Factfulness, Cycling as Meditation, Being Problem Focused, and More

In Episode #121, we deconstruct Adrian Aoun's peak performance playbook—from their favorite book to the tiny habit that's had the biggest impact on their life. Adrian Aoun is the CEO and Founder of Forward. We cover why medical wearables don’t work, focusing on impact, and creating companies that can change the world.
Last updated
November 15, 2022
Min Read
Adrian Aoun served on President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.
More ways to listen to Outliers

About Adrian Aoun

Website | Twitter | LinkedIn

“Care deeply about the problem, not about your idea.” – Adrian Aoun

Adrian Aoun is the founder and CEO of Forward, which is building an insurance-free healthcare system focused on preventative healthcare from the ground up. Forward was founded in 2017 to invert the typical model of healthcare. Where most healthcare follows the service model, where one patient sees a single doctor only when they need care, Forward is building healthcare focused on health and preventative care. It's productized so you can use it anytime, anywhere. It's scalable so it's affordable for everyone and always on with help available through Forward's app, as well as a network of doctors' offices around the United States, which might sound like, well, how healthcare should have been all along, which is the goal.

Before founding Forward, Adrian worked as an advisor to the White House on the President's Council of Advisors on science and technology, as well as the Director of Special Projects for the CEO of Google and the founder of Sidewalk Labs. In this episode, Adrian shares why he's so fanatical about being problem-focused rather than solution-focused and how he runs problem-centric brainstorms at Forward, where the goal is to beat up on other people's ideas in the name of getting to the best ideas. What he learned working with Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt at Google, as well as the other advisors on the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, why modern fitness wearables are broken, and why Adrian thinks we need to build tools to tell people what to do with that data, not just share the data with them.

For more, explore the transcript of this episode.


In this episode, we deconstruct Adrian Aoun’s peak performance playbook—from their favorite book to the tiny habit that's had the biggest impact on their life. In it we cover:

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Castbox, Pocket Casts, Player FM, Podcast Addict, iHeartRadio, or on your favorite podcast platform. You can watch the interview on YouTube here.

An Idea Worth Trying

Adrian cycles a couple of hours every morning; it provides him time away from the many notifications and inputs of daily life. Finding an activity that can take you away from the noise every day is important.

Our Favorite Quotes

Here are a few ideas we'll be thinking about weeks and months from now:

  • “Ideas are incredibly fragile. It's very, very easy for an idea to die on the vine. And so you have to have an enormous amount of conviction in your idea.”
  • “Start with the why, start with the problem, work backwards. If you're not doing that, frankly, you're on a fool's errand, a fool's mission. I vehemently say, work backwards from the problem and stay maniacally focused on it.”
  • “In Silicon Valley today, we spend an enormous amount of time working on what I like to think of as the low-hanging fruit. We always go after the problems that in some ways are the easiest, the easiest to fund, the easiest to execute.”
  • “On your deathbed, the only thing you're going to care about in work is impact. You're not going to care about money and you're not going to care about title or career. Spend no time thinking about it. Spend no time valuing it. You're just going to care about what your life meant.”

Books Mentioned

The following books came up in this conversation with Adrian Aoun:

Selected Links

We covered a lot of ground in this interview. Here are links to the stories, articles, and ideas discussed:

Enjoy reading this? Share it.
Be the first to receive new articles and episodes as soon as they’re released.
Popular Articles
Be the first to receive new episodes when they’re released. And get our favorite quotes, tools, and ideas from the latest episode.
You're in! Thanks for subscribing.
Hmm, something went wrong. Can you try again?
By subscribing, you agree to our privacy policy.