#66: Future Backwards

Design a career - and life - that you love

I’m in a New York state of mind 🍎

After meeting up IRL for a jam-packed week at the Product Marketing Summit, I’m feeling extra grateful for our PMM community. It was so lovely to meet many of you Campers face-to-face!

This week, I had the opportunity to present the opening keynote at the conference. And, I did something a little different.

Instead of focusing on product marketing strategy, I spoke about a topic even more import: intentional career and lifestyle design.

In today’s edition, I’m going to share one framework from my talk that I’ve used repeatedly throughout my career: Future Backwards.

Let’s get into it 👇🏻

Today’s the last day to join PMM Camp’s private community for product marketing leaders.

To celebrate 1 year of PMM Camp, I’m offering the membership for only $1 a day 🎉

The community is open to all product marketing leaders — whether you’re a founding PMM, a senior product marketer, or you’re leading an entire team. We go beyond the basics with meetups and conversations focused on topics that impact mid- to late-career PMMs.

As a member, you’ll receive access to private community meetups, collaboration sessions, 1:1 matching programs, and a 24/7 chat group. Plus, I’m always just a ping away if you want to chat with me.

When doors close tonight, we’ll go back to a waitlist and the price will increase.

Future Backwards

During my session, I guided the audience through an activity that allowed them to dream of their ideal work day (their utopia). This included elements like:

  • who they want to work with

  • how they want to work

  • when they want to work

  • where they want to work

But, knowing what you want your future to look like is different than building a plan to get there.

That’s where Future Backwards comes in. It’s a framework designed to help you understand your past, present, and future in order to make informed decisions and shape desired outcomes.

I first came across this framework in a team setting (ie. designing our ideal future as a team), but it can easily be applied to your personal path too. Here’s what a Future Backwards canvas might look like:

Example of Future Backwards canvas

Future Backwards asks you to imagine the best possible and worst possible futures for a given opportunity. Instead of planning from the present day, which tends to trap our thinking within the status quo, this activity lets you plan backwards from potential end points.


There are 5 simple steps to running a Future Backwards activity.

Step 1: Define the present state in 3 sticky notes. These should be statements that are true about your current situation and role.

Step 2: Describe the worst possible future in 3-5 sticky notes. What would you absolutely dread if it came true? What’s your anti-dream for the future?

Step 3: Imagine the best possible future in 3-5 sticky notes. This should describe that dream day utopia we discussed earlier.

Now it’s time to plan in reverse.

Step 4: What would need to happen to get you to the positive future? Start building a path backwards from that future to the present day. These should include key turning points along the path.

Step 5: Finally, map the path backwards from the worst possible future. What needs to be prevented and avoided along the way.

A word of warning: this is not meant to be a blueprint for your next X years. It’s simply meant to be an exploratory exercise to help you see what you might need to start optimizing for, and what you might need to avoid.

At this point, I always love to ask myself: what’s my next best step?

What’s the thing you need to do to get you one step closer to your utopia? Do you need to learn one new skill? Meet one new person? Work on a specific type of project?

That’s for you to decide. But, before I sign off, I want to leave you with this quote:

The future is yours to create.


🎧 Playlist: Episode 3 of Ready for Launch dropped, and this time we’re tackling the most controversial product launches.

🍕 Snacks: Favorite meal of the trip: steak “au poivre” at Balthazar. I’ll be dreaming of it all flight home.

Until next week,

Tamara Grominsky

Build your own repeatable launch playbook with my 4-week cohort-based course Ready for Launch 🚀

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If you like our podcast, you’ll love the course. It’s full of even more launch teardowns PLUS the tools, templates and strategies you need to put them into action for your own launch.

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