TLDR: The Forest is an expanding body of writing and exploration by me, Rob Hardy. It centers around how we can practice business and marketing in a way that nourishes the human spirit and revitalizes the world around us. This work is particularly relevant for those pursuing 1,000 true fans.

Much of the writing in The Forest lives behind a paywall, but there are no subscriptions here. If you ever feel called to step onto this path with me, a one-time fee gets you lifetime access to everything I've ever written here, or ever will write. If you're ready to join, you can click here, or learn more below.

The Forest is a "choose your own adventure” guide to 1,000 true fans.

It contains all of my best writing on the topics of joyful business, non-coercive marketing, oasis building, and creative individuation—along with dozens of practical exercises and experiments for you to try—all woven into a non-linear educational experience.

The goal of The Forest is simple. Help creative people and solopreneurs break away from the "best practices" of the online marketing world, do the work that brings them alive, and build a business that enriches life instead of draining it.

Eventually, I'm going to write a proper sales page for this thing. But for today here are a couple of bullet points so you know what you're getting!

  • The goal of The Forest is to weave a living tapestry of my weird philosophy of business and marketing. I believe the relentless pursuit of scale and optimization destroys the human spirit and strips the world of beauty and connection. The Ungated philosophy is for people who want to build a business, and practice marketing, in a way that nourishes and honors life.
  • The Forest is not just writing and essays, but tons of practical, hands-on experiments and inquiries. In order to build the The Forest, I pulled some of the most practical pieces from my old paid courses.
  • I plan on adding new stuff to The Forest for years to come, but it's not a subscription. Purchase it once, and you get access for a lifetime.
  • The Forest costs $200, but you can also choose to pay half price, or more if you'd like to fund a scholarship for people who can't afford it.
  • If you'd like a scholarship to The Forest, the process is detailed at the bottom of this page!

What's the "Ungated Philosophy"

The Ungated Philosophy consists of four interdependent principles, which work together to help you build a business that brings you alive and nourishes your spirit. This is exactly the playbook I follow for everything I do with Ungated.

1. Work from the inside-out: Industrialized education conditions us to seek external answers, and to follow other people's paths. But the more you explore your inner world—your desires, values, fears, worldview, experiences, etc—the more raw material you'll discover for creative work that is uniquely your own, and a business that's intrinsically joyful. The map for walking your own path, and living a flourishing life, is already within you.

2. Build from the bottom-up: Our intellects are great at spinning up stories and plans that help us feel certain, safe, and in control. But alas, those plans rarely survive contact with reality. Instead of doubling down on control, which only makes our lives smaller and more rigid, the baller move is to surrender and explore. When you let go of how you think the world should be, experiment frequently, and trust your felt sense of resonance, you can iterate your way into a business that fits you better than anything you ever could have thought or planned your way into.

3. Cheerfully subvert the status quo: There's a part of you, deep down, that sees how your corner of the world is broken, and knows that your work can help make things better. Heed that call and be courageous enough to subvert the status quo. Be the change you wish to see. Do it with love and earnestness. Not only does operating this way nourish your spirit, but it attracts friends and allies, is great for business, and makes the internet a little bit better. You never know who you'll inspire, or what kinds of ripples you’ll create in the world, when you speak up.

4. Market yourself non-coercively: Most marketing is rooted in coercion and disempowerment. It's about hijacking people's emotional states so they make a compulsive short-term decision to purchase something. This is the exact opposite of the game we're playing in The Forest. You can't coerce anyone into becoming a true, lifelong fan. You can only create the conditions under which they can make an empowered "fuck yes" decision for themselves. We do by building a delightful world (an oasis). We do it by being prolific, authentic, friendly, and trusting. When you tell the full unvarnished truth, and invite people into the meaningful experiences you're creating. it won't resonate with everyone, but the right people will be thrilled you did.

Why is it "choose your own adventure"

For the last few years, I've wanted to break away from the prescriptive, expert-driven learning paradigm that runs through both traditional and online education. Ungated, at its core, is about regenerating self-trust. I'm fighting for a future that's less about Experts telling us What To Think, but more about self-directed, adventurous, and experiential learning. I want to live in a world where our educational experiences lead to us trusting ourselves, and our direct experience of life, more and more.

So much needless suffering stems from industrialized, top down education. It strips away our autonomy and curiosity, conditions us to only trust Experts and Authority but not ourselves, and pushes us into standardized goals and life paths that are not our own. We are not machines or cogs in a larger machine. We are humans. And if that's not at the heart of our future educational paradigm, then I don't know what the fuck we're even doing as a species.

Do you offer scholarships for The Forest?

Yep, I offer unlimited scholarships to anyone who needs one! Seriously, if you vibe with the philosophy of Ungated, and you want to be more courageous with your creative work and marketing, I don't want money to stand in the way of you being a member.

To get a scholarship, just send an email to with "forest scholarship" in the subject line. Then in the body, tell me a little bit about yourself, and write a haiku that summarizes your creative journey so far. That's it. I will promptly send you a coupon code to join the membership at no cost.

A haiku is a simple, short poem, with five syllables on the first line, seven on the second, and five on the third. Here's an example!

my courageous friend
life in the forest awaits
embrace the unknown

And here's another.

send rob a haiku
i promise it will be fun
then you'll get free shit

What if I join The Forest and hate it?

That's cool. My work is pretty weird, and definitely not for everyone. That's why I have a super chill refund policy.

If you're not happy with The Forest, just tell me and I'll refund you without asking you invasive questions or making you prove anything.

There's not even a time cap on this policy. You could ask me tomorrow, or in a year, and I'll happily return your money and we'll part ways as friends.