reach your goals

Using ‘1–2–3’ or ‘In-Betweening’ As a Way to Reach Your Goals

My past corporate career with the largest entertainment company has taught me something important and super useful for making the right business decisions — mastering the art of “in-betweening.”

It’s a funny word that Pixar animators use internally when they want a smooth transition from one keyframe of an animation sequence to another. If a bunny needs to cross the room, an animator starts by defining several important keyframes for its movement. He draws the first keyframe where the bunny starts, then a second keyframe where the bunny reaches the middle of the room, and then the third keyframe where it stops at the door.

Once the perfect keyframes are found, the rest, or in-between frames, can be created faster. It can even be outsourced to a less skilled animator or an intern, as there is not much that can go wrong with those in-between frames. Every movement or action is divided into those keyframes upfront, and afterward, animators would focus on the details.

Applying In-Betweening in Real Life

Any business decision, large or small, should be looked at in a similar way. Next time you have a big idea to tackle, a new concept to test, or a problem to solve, put yourself into an animator’s shoes.

Need to decide how to approach your sales in an effective and timely manner? Think of where you are now, where you want to be by the end of the year, and where you should be mid-year. Draw your keyframes and don’t focus too much on the details right now.

For instance, deciding which CRM software will you be using to track your sales efforts. Skip the in-betweening during this first important step and rather think strategically: what are the most promising categories of customers who would buy your product, as it is right now, in its current state? Identify those categories that require the shortest sales cycle and minimum onboarding effort from your side.

Where do they eat, shop, travel, vacation, entertain? If you have been in business for quite some time, you probably have people in place who can help you to get there, so as a next step, start the in-betweening process. Now you can look at how to reach out to your customers and make them aware of your product faster. Delegate what you can afford to pay for and what you are unable to do yourself or simply not good at — whether it’s the production of sales materials, intro calls, or onboarding.

Here’s another example: you want to buy a bigger house, and it seems like something absolutely out of reach in your current situation. But if you use the in-betweening framework, you might be able to get there without as much effort as you originally thought.

So to buy a new house you need to sell your old one above the market price. You will need to find a buyer who needs your existing house by all means and would pay a higher price for it. You need to find a bank to finance you with a personalized loan (bank account managers are human, and it’s a matter of finding the right one who needs to close a deal or no bonus this quarter).

You also ought to pledge or bring more cash in order to reach the goal — think what additional assets you currently possess and how to monetize them. You also need to negotiate the price of the new house as low as you can (ideally it should be a buyer’s market in your country or the real estate agent is interested to sell this property to you for whatever reason). These are already very clear actions to take.

Now you need to think about all those steps as separate keyframes and how to get through each of them in a smart and effective way, and who can help you in the process.

Instead of big bold moves, set up keyframes along the path and move from one to another consistently, and then use the process of in-betweening — slowly transitioning from one keyframe to another. You will see how the horizon suddenly expands and how many goals will be reachable as a result.

If you have any questions or comments contact me at Ask Sasha.