Beginnings, Middles, and Endings

Daniel Pink

Lesson time 14:19 min

Different stages of work require us to behave differently. Understanding more about those behavioral differences allows us to perform better.

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Topics include: Change Behavior With a Fresh Start · Avoid Persuasion Mistakes With a Premortem · Midpoints and Motivation · Use Your Endings to Energize · Encode Your Endings · Be More Human


[00:00:00.00] [JAZZ MUSIC PLAYING] [00:00:07.29] - Much of our lives and much of our work are episodic, right? It's a series of episodes. And episodes have beginnings. Episodes have middles. And episodes have ends. And so each of these different stages exerts a different pull on our behavior. [00:00:20.89] So beginnings have one effect on our behavior. Midpoints have another effect. And endings have a third effect. And if we understand a little bit more about these effects, we can actually perform at a slightly higher level. [00:00:33.26] [JAZZ MUSIC PLAYING] [00:00:39.31] Let's talk about beginnings. Beginnings matter because they can often shape the trajectory of everything that comes after it. So you want to be intentional and deliberate, say, about how you begin a project. [00:00:48.99] One of the most important dimensions of beginnings is picking the right time to begin. One of the things that's interesting about timing is that certain dates operate in the calendar as landmarks in the way that certain places operate as landmarks in the physical world. And in the physical world, those landmarks get us to slow down and assess. [00:01:10.05] There's certain dates that are temporal landmarks. They get us to slow down. But they also have this strange effect in our behavior where we hit one of those landmarks and we say, I'm going to open up a fresh ledger on myself. [00:01:23.97] Old me didn't work hard enough, didn't go to the gym, whatever. New me, reborn on this fresh start date, can do something a little bit better. And so if you want to start a new project or really kind of reboot yourself, the day you pick is really important. [00:01:42.12] What does this mean? In general, a Monday is better than a Thursday. The first of the month is better than the 11th of the month. The day after your birthday is better than two days before your birthday. [00:01:55.30] So the date you pick can get you off to a good beginning. And what we know in a lot of realms of life is that how something begin has a huge effect on how it carries forward. [00:02:04.83] [JAZZ MUSIC PLAYING] [00:02:10.80] One technique I really like that can help you be a better persuader and just be more effective on a whole range of different things is something called a pre-mortem. It's simple, but powerful. I use it all the time. [00:02:23.94] Now, we know what a post-mortem is. Post-mortem is when the body dies and you try to figure out what caused the death. A pre-mortem is when you look at the dead body while it's still alive. [00:02:34.62] Here's what I mean by that. Let's say you're going to start a new sales campaign, collect your team, and think about it's one year from now and everything has gone wrong. We've made not enough sales. Our existing customers are angry at us. A whole thing isn't working. People are angry at each other in our team. [00:02:55.44] Why is that? Think about what went wrong. Maybe your product wasn't good enough. Maybe we didn't have enough...

About the Instructor

With four NYT bestsellers, Daniel Pink is an influential voice in the evolving landscape of sales and motivation. Now the author of To Sell Is Human teaches you science-backed principles for effective and ethical sales and persuasion. Learn tactics for achieving better outcomes in any interaction—at home or at work—and tools for framing your message, navigating cognitive biases, and pitching ideas, products, or yourself.

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Daniel Pink

NYT-bestselling author Daniel Pink shares a science-based approach to the art of persuading, selling, and motivating yourself and others.

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