Becoming Better
Becoming Better
Nov 24, 2020
39: The Pre-Mortem
Play • 18 min
Takeaway: A pre-mortem is a ritual that helps you account for all that could go wrong with a project—in advance of those mishaps actually occurring in real life. Three steps to do a pre-mortem: identify the projects you want to go well, imagine the worst case scenarios, and create a plan to make your project more resilient using the knowledge you collected.

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes, 39s.

Podcast Length: 18 minutes, 29s (link to play podcast at the bottom of post).

You’re probably familiar with the idea of a post-mortem—the debrief session that happens after you wrap up a project. For projects that haven’t gone as planned, a post-mortem is a chance to figure out what went wrong and how to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen the next time around.  

A pre-mortem is similar, but instead of picking up the pieces after a project finishes up, you think about what could go wrong before a project starts, so you can anticipate problems before they occur.  

A pre-mortem ritual is great for any project, and takes just a few steps. 

1. Identify the projects you want to go really well

This can be anything in your life, big or small, individual or team projects, stuff going on in your home life or at the office. You can do a pre-mortem on projects you haven’t started yet, or ones you’re in the middle of completing.  

2. Imagine all of the ways those projects might fail

The second step is to imagine that the projects you identified in the first step have failed catastrophically. Ask yourself: what went wrong that led these projects to go so poorly? 

While this may seem like a depressing exercise, this step will help you anticipate all that could go wrong—and then strategize ways to avoid such mishaps. 

There’s never just a single worst case scenario, and these disastrous situations may come to you over time. Keep a “what went wrong” sticky note on your desk or a running list on your phone for a few days, to capture ideas. This will help when it comes to step three.  

Be sure to ask people close to the project for their worst case scenarios, too. 

3. Draw up a plan to make your projects more resilient

Now that you’ve conjured up the ways in which your projects can go wrong, do all you can to avoid having those visualizations become a reality. Look at the lists that you’ve made and consider the things you could have done differently. Use these ideas to make changes to your work plan or timeline to make it more likely to succeed.  

The result will be a game plan that’s more resilient to change—because you’ve already imagined and accounted for those pitfalls. 


As a personal example, I did a pretty extensive pre-mortem back in 2018 when I was preparing to launch my second book, Hyperfocus. I wrote out a bunch of scenarios that eventually informed the publicity plan for the book—as well as how I wrote the book itself.  

Sample worst case scenarios for me included things like: 

  • Not doing enough podcast outreach; 
  • The book getting a lukewarm reception; 
  • Terrible reviews; 
  • No big media outlets wanting to cover the book. 

These points and others became a catalyst to plan more, do more, and ultimately, to write a better book. While this is just one example, try the pre-mortem exercise out—it’s a gateway to better, more thoughtful planning, and can lead to a cascade of positive effects for your project.  

The post Starting a new project? Conduct a pre-mortem appeared first on A Life of Productivity.

The 5 AM Miracle with Jeff Sanders
The 5 AM Miracle with Jeff Sanders
Jeff Sanders
Maximize Your Week for Health and Productivity • Himalaya Learning Audio Course
Episode Show Notes . Learn More About the Show The 5 AM Miracle Podcast . Free Productivity Resources Join The 5 AM Club! . The 5 AM Miracle Book Audiobook, Paperback, and Kindle . Connect on Social Media Facebook Group • Instagram • Twitter • LinkedIn . Episode Summary Are You Ready to Get the Most Out of Your Time? I am so excited to announce the launch of my brand new audio course, Maximize Your Week for Health and Productivity, available exclusively on the Himalaya Learning platform. (Enter code MAX at checkout for a free 14-day trial). Himalaya Learning is an audio learning platform that provides an extensive library of courses straight to your ears from the world’s greatest minds like Malcolm Gladwell, Tim Ferriss, Seth Godin, Linda Hill, and more. In this special episode of The 5 AM Miracle Podcast I share episode 1 from the course so you can begin your journey to better health and productivity right away! . My Course: Maximize Your Week Maximize Your Week for Health and Productivity is a 3-hour audio course that I created exclusively for Himalaya Learning. It features 10 episodes that dig into a variety of strategies to boost your personal health and help you get more done! If you enjoy my podcast, The 5 AM Miracle, you will love this course and it’s summation of so much that I teach on the show. . Special Offer! I have a special offer just for my audience. You can get a 14-day free trial of Himalaya Learning by using promo code MAX when you check out at
19 min
The Working With... Podcast
The Working With... Podcast
Carl Pullein
What It Takes To Plan A Fantastic Year
This week, I’m answering a question about how to build an achievable plan for the year. You can subscribe to this podcast on: Podbean | Apple Podcasts | Stitcher | Spotify | TUNEIN Links: Email Me | Twitter | Facebook | Website | Linkedin Get the FREE Annual Planning Sheet Get the Evernote Annual Planning Sheet The Time Sector Course Page Carl’s Time Sector System Blog Post The FREE Beginners Guide To Building Your Own COD System Carl Pullein Learning Centre Carl’s YouTube Channel Carl Pullein Coaching Programmes The Working With… Podcast Previous episodes page Script Episode 165 Hello and welcome to episode 165 of the Working With Podcast. A podcast to answer all your questions about productivity, time management, self-development and goal planning. My name is Carl Pullein and I am your host for this show. It’s that time of year again when we turn our attention to what we would like to do and change. It’s also a time we feel excited and enthusiastic about the future and that can lead to us being a little over-enthusiastic about what we can realistically do and change in twelve months. To make any year a success, we need to temper our enthusiasm and build a plan that is realistic and achievable while still being challenging. That’s what I will be explaining in this week’s episode. Now before we do get to the question, the start of the year is a great time to finally get your daily tasks sorted out so you are spending less time managing your work and more time doing your work. That’s where the Time Sector Course will help you. The course is designed to simplify your life, to make collecting everything that comes your way easy and giving you a system that makes it simple and, more importantly, to quickly organise that stuff so you free up more time to do the work. So, if you want to start the new year, and be ready for all the challenges the year will throw at you, get yourself signed up for the course today. This is one small investment you can make right now that will give you a lifetime of returns on your effectiveness, health and time management. Full details on the course are in the show notes. Okay, it’s time for me now to hand you over to the mystery podcast voice for this week’s question. This week’s question comes from Janine. Janine asks, Hi Carl I always struggle to create goals and plans for the new year. I have a lot of ideas I want to do, but find I become overwhelmed with everything I want to do and just give up. Can you help me to make 2021 different from all the other years where I have failed? Hi Janine, thank you for your question and happy New Year to you. One thing we all need to remember is one year is really only a small part of our whole life, and we cannot achieve everything we want to achieve in one year. Instead I have found seeing a year as a stepping stone towards a greater purpose gives you better perspective on what to plan for in the year. Let’s take a simple example. If you plan to have a very active retirement . A retirement where you get to travel to exotic places, climb mountains and maintain a small farm of crops and a few animals, you will need two things. You will need good health and fitness and a robust retirement fund. Those two things—health and wealth—are not things you can achieve overnight. They take years of work. You need to exercise and eat healthily regularly and you will need to save money. It easy to lose your health by overeating and leading a sedentary lifestyle, and it’s practically impossible to build a sufficient retirement fund in five years. It takes years of consistent saving to build up a sufficiently robust retirement pot. In this example, the question to ask is what can I do this year to move me closer to creating the retirement I want to myself? Another example could be with your career. Imagine you career goal is to one day be the CEO of a large company. Now, if you are just starting out on your career you are likely to be a long way from achieving that goal today, but that does not mean you cannot set yourself a few goals for this year that will move you closer towards that target. Ask yourself what skills are you missing? And which of those skills could you develop this year? Are there any courses you could take? You should also review your current work and see where you could improve and if there are any areas where you are particularly weak and could do with some mentoring. It’s amazing how many people in your organisation who would be more than happy to act as a mentor to you. By thinking of a year as a stepping stone towards a bigger purpose you will feel a lot less pressured to have lofty and mighty goals and plans. This year is just a step towards a higher purpose or goal. So what could you do this year that will take you a little closer towards you greater goals and plans? The next step here is to create a board divided up into five columns. In the first column you put your objectives for the year. These could be a fitness or health objective, for example, to lose a certain amount of weight or to complete a full course marathon. Or they could be a career objective such as get a promotion to a particular position. For me, I have a health and fitness objective and a couple of business objectives. The objective is clearly stated in a simple sentence. In the following columns you make a column for each quarter of the year. So, in column two you put Q1, then Q2, Q3 and finally Q4. Here you can add the projects and major events you wish to or will do in the quarters. I have my planned trips in these columns. For instance, all being well, I plan to travel to Ireland in April or May this year to visit my family. That trip is in my Q2 column. I also hope to go to Tony Robbins’ UPW event in Sydney in September or October this year so that’s in Q3. These trips may not happen, they depend on how the pandemic works out this year, but as of early January they are my plans for the year. Now the reason I put them here is because the trip to Ireland will take up at least two weeks, and Tony Robbins’ event will be a week. I need to be away of my time commitments. Now the beauty of doing things this way is you will see where you are overcommitting yourself. I know a typical project requires around six to eight weeks to complete. Given that each quarter has at the very most twelve weeks, that means realistically I can only complete two projects per quarter. That does not sound very much, but that’s still eight meaningful projects for the year. Knowing my bigger purpose about what I want to achieve for my business and family that’s going to make a significant impact on my overall objectives. Having this chart, or Kanban board, makes it very easy to see where you are over extending yourself. It’s very tempting to load up the first quarter because of our enthusiasm and excitement for the new year , but if you slow down and understand you have twelve months in order to move yourself forward with your life, your career and your self-development, you are much more likely to achieve the things you want to achieve. Now, I know many of you will be thinking that your work does not operate like that and you have multiple projects every week. That’s true if you cling to the old idea that a project is anything that requires two or more steps. But visiting the doctor for your annual medical is not a project. Seriously. It’s just something you have to do every year and all it requires is you find the telephone number of your doctor and make an appointment. Likewise sorting out a difficult customer or client’s issue is never a project. It’s likely to be your job and you just need to make that call, send that email or talk with your colleague. It’s not a project. It’s a task A project is something much more involved than a couple of steps that could be sorted out in a day or two. The time you waste planning out thes…
11 min
Find Your Dream Job: Insider Tips for Finding Work, Advancing your Career, and Loving Your Job
Find Your Dream Job: Insider Tips for Finding Work, Advancing your Career, and Loving Your Job
Mac Prichard
How to Own the Room in a Job Interview, with Rachel Beohm
It’s not uncommon to feel as though a job interview is an interrogation and that your entire life is on display for the interviewer to pick apart. But, an interview is a two-way conversation. And while it’s important to prepare for the questions you may get, Find Your Dream Job guest Rachel Beohm says it’s also crucial that you walk into the room with confidence, and the knowledge that you belong there. Rachel shares how eye contact, positive body language, and knowing your value before you walk into the interview can help you to come across more confidently. About Our Guest: Rachel Beohm ( is an executive coach and speaker who specializes in nonverbal communication and personal presence. She trains executives, HR professionals, speakers, and job seekers to present themselves powerfully through the use of nonverbal communication skills so they can achieve their goals, and helps her clients face difficult or scary situations, such as public speaking, negotiation, and job interviews with confidence and power. Resources in This Episode: * For more information on Rachel’s one on one coaching or to find out where she will be speaking next, visit her website at * Download Rachel’s free interview guide, “Ace Your Interview,” at * If you wait for employers to bring up salary, you’re wasting your time and energy. My guide, How to Talk About Money in an Interview (, shows you how to do salary research before meeting with a hiring manager. Learn how to be more comfortable talking about money and get the tools you need to request a higher salary.
29 min
How to Be Awesome at Your Job
How to Be Awesome at Your Job
Pete Mockaitis
633: How to Get Unstuck, and Find your Perfect Career Fit with Ashley Stahl
Ashley Stahl discusses how to find your dream career by getting clear on your core skills, values, and motivators. PLUS, we’re giving away copies of Ashley’s book to celebrate the new year! We’ll send copies to the first 24 listeners who share a link to this post on LinkedIn, along with their favorite nugget of wisdom from the episode. Don’t forget to tag both Pete and Ashley in your post! About Ashley Ashley Stahl is counter-terrorism professional turned career coach and author of the book You Turn: Get Unstuck, Discover Your Direction, Design Your Dream Career, and she's on a mission to help you step into a career you’re excited about and aligned with. Through her two viral TEDx speeches, her online courses, her email list of 500,000 and her show, You Turn Podcast, she's been able to support clients in 31 countries in discovering their best career path, upgrading their confidence and landing more job offers.  She maintains a monthly career column in Forbes, and her work has been also featured in outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, CBS, SELF, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune and more. * Ashley’s book: You Turn: Get Unstuck, Discover Your Direction, and Design Your Dream Career * Ashley’s website: * Ashley’s podcast: You Turn Podcast * Ashley’s TEDx Talk: How to figure out what you really want | Ashley Stahl | TEDxLeidenUniversity * Ashley’s Instagram: @ashleystahl Resources mentioned in the show: * App: Insight Timer * Book: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky Thank you Sponsors! * Blinkist: Read or listen to summarized wisdom from thousands of nonfiction books! Free trial available at * Raycon. Enjoy 15% off of outstanding earbuds at
48 min
The Brainy Business | Understanding the Psychology of Why People Buy | Behavioral Economics
The Brainy Business | Understanding the Psychology of Why People Buy | Behavioral Economics
Melina Palmer
135. Using Behavioral Science in Healthcare, Interview with Aline Holzwarth
In today’s episode, I am so excited to introduce you to Aline Holzwarth. Talk about an amazing person doing fantastic and exciting things! Aline is both a principal at the Center for Advanced Hindsight, where she works directly with Dan Ariely and the whole awesome team there. She is ALSO the head of behavioral science at Pattern Health. Today you will get to learn about both of her roles, a little of what it’s like to work with Dan, and about so many great things that she is doing to apply behavioral science in business. I hope you love everything recommended via The Brainy Business! Everything was independently reviewed and selected by me, Melina Palmer. So you know, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. That means if you decide to shop from the links on this page (via Amazon or others), The Brainy Business may collect a share of sales or other compensation. Show Notes: * [00:08] I’m excited to introduce you to Aline Holzwarth, principal at the Center for Advanced Hindsight and head of behavioral science at Pattern Health. * [03:05] Aline shares about all the exciting things she is doing and how she got into behavioral science. She enjoys being exposed to new and different business applications and she was drawn in by the real-world impact. * [05:32] She loves both of her roles so much that she just can’t give either of them up. * [07:21] She shares about some of her favorite projects she has worked on. * [10:23] At the Center for Advanced Hindsight many of their projects come from Dan and some are chosen by the team. * [12:48] The more you are exposed to, the more connections you are going to make. * [13:28] Pattern Health is a digital health platform that works with researchers and clinicians to help them do their research and translate that research into clinical use cases. * [15:03] Aline’s job is to bake behavioral science into the Pattern Health platform to make behaviors that are not fun at all a little easier to do. * [17:24] There is going to be attrition no matter how good your app is, but ideally they try to limit it. * [20:21] Creating a Care Circle to offer constant support has been very impactful especially in long-term situations. * [23:31] They share ways to put people together for more successful support. * [24:10] There is a lot of benefit in support groups, but getting people to find one and show up is very difficult. * [26:44] You can nudge people in the direction that will be most helpful to them but also allow them to have the freedom of choice. * [28:15] Virgil is their mascot and virtual pet at Pattern Health. Virgil is one way to track daily progress. People get very attached to Virgil. * [30:48] Melina shares about the app, Forest, that holds you accountable. * [31:41] Virgil is based on the ideas of rewards substitution. They are substituting the long term reward for a short term reward. The long term things usually don’t motivate us. * [34:09] Behavioral interventions like Virgil help you overcome tiny hurdles until it becomes habitual. We often have to combine behavior interventions to make each one more effective. * [36:01] Aline shares what the future holds for her. She is really interested in getting more into the idea of personality matching. * [37:23] One area she is really excited to start developing is personalizing to peoples’ personalities. * [40:01] They are using the Big 5 personality model. * [42:10] In behavioral economics we are looking at things that all people do on a more general scale. Using personality, we may be able to drill down and know which behavioral interventions work best based on personality type. * [43:19] Aline is doing an interview series for Pattern Health looking at innovators, health, and research. * [43:54] Melina’s closing reflections. Thanks for listening. Don’t forget to subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Android. If you like what you heard, please leave a review on iTunes and share what you liked about the show. Let’s connect: * * The Brainy Business® on Facebook * The Brainy Business on Twitter * The Brainy Business on Instagram * The Brainy Business on LinkedIn * Melina on LinkedIn * The Brainy Business on Youtube More from The Brainy Business: * Master Your Mindset Mini-Course * BE Thoughtful Revolution - use code BRAINY to save 10% * Get Your FREE ebook * Melina’s John Mayer Pandora Station! Listen to what she listens to while working. Past Episodes and Other Important Links: * Center for Advanced Hindsight * Center for Advanced Hindsight on Twitter * Aline on Twitter * Aline on LinkedIn * 2020 In Review: Behavioral Science Edition * Aline’s Work * A Beginner's Guide to Irrational Behavior (Coursera) * Pattern Health * Dan Ariely Interview * Julie O’Brien Interview * Bec Weeks Interview * Planning Fallacy * Precommitment * Time Discounting * NUDGES & Choice Architecture * Expect Error * Loss Aversion * Social Proof * Relativity * Interview with Richard Chataway Check out (and preorder!) my upcoming book on Amazon, Bookshop, and Barnes & Noble If you are outside the US, please complete this form to be first to know when the book is available near you AND to help show there is a presence in your country to speed along international agreements and get it to you faster!
46 min
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