Why I’m joining Headspace:

Making the move from agency to startup

Last year, I closed Bureau and started a new chapter at Edenspiekermann in LA. My time at ESPI was full of learnings both personally and professionally—helping kick off a new office with a small team, working agile, and designing for TV, to name a few. I was fortunate to work with amazing people on some fun and interesting projects for Red Bull and NewCo. Hanging out with type god Erik Spiekermann was pretty cool too ;)

What I enjoyed most about my time at ESPI was working intimately with Red Bull Media House to define, design, and prototype Red Bull TV. We were so integrated into Red Bull’s team that the project felt just as much ours as it did theirs—and I wanted more of that. The idea of working on a product long-term, iterating and continually improving it sounded exactly like the type of work I wanted to do. I knew I wanted my next role to be in-house at a product that I loved.

Headspace—a gym membership for the mind.

So, why Headspace?

Headspace’s mission is admirable

Since moving to California, I’ve met with a handful of startups who face challenges that would be interesting to work on—whether it be connecting people, delivering food, or finding you a hotel room. But nothing touched me like Headspace’s mission—to improve the health and happiness of the world. As someone who copes with, and has friends and family who are affected by mental health, I can wholeheartedly get behind this. It feels good and makes a positive impact on people.

From a design perspective, the company embodies three elements I value highly; innovation, playfulness, and curiosity. When Headspace invited me to join their team, the choice was easy—I couldn’t wait.

Great leadership starts at the top

Andy Puddicombe is a mindfulness expert. He’s also the voice of all things Headspace. In his early twenties, Andy made the decision to travel to the Himalayas to study meditation. It was the beginning of a ten year journey which took him around the world, eventually becoming a Tibetan Buddhist Monk.

He then returned to London to complete a degree in Circus Arts, while drawing up the early plans for what was later to become Headspace. Check out Andy’s TED talk to learn more about his inspiring story.

Me and Andy — Founder and voice of Headspace

He’s also a kind person. We bumped into each other in Palm Springs, where I expressed my interest in working with Headspace. He told me I was welcome to drop by their office any time—so I took him up on that offer.

From what I’ve seen throughout my interview process, the team is a positive and happy bunch. Sure, this may not always be the case as deadlines to ship approach, but the overall vibe in the office was as zen as you’d expect. The thought of working in that type of environment sounded incredible.

Being nice makes a big difference

I’ve been through the UX recruitment process at agencies, startups, and large tech companies. The process at Headspace is similar, but they go the extra mile to make you feel comfortable—they’re never cold or distant. It was one of the many reasons my excitement to potentially join their team never wavered.

Throughout the interviews, whiteboarding exercises, critiques, and portfolio reviews, I always felt respected and at-home with the design team. The process was structured and clear every step of the way, and by the last day, I felt like I was already part of the team.

Authenticity matters

Last year, I attended an event where Sean Brecker, Headspace’s CEO spoke. He mentioned that authenticity was the main quality they wanted to see in candidates, so I made a sure to be my true self and it was reciprocated by everyone I met with.

Each person was so welcoming and courteous. I could see that the dynamic at Headspace is very special, and not something you find at most companies.

An office built for wellness

Their beautiful 18,000 sq. ft office in Santa Monica was designed to encourage healthy habits. The layout encourages people to move around a lot on a daily basis. Colorful swings and gymnastic rings hang from the ceiling, and upon entering, you’re greeted by “The Lookout”, which is a large space that can be used for meetings or group meditation. There’s also a windowless room, the “Silent Room” where there are only two rules—no technology and no talking. These are just some of the many spaces that encourage meditation in the workplace.

It’s refreshing to see a company balance employee happiness with business success. This mutual respect makes me inspired to bring my best self every day.

Headspace solves a real-world problem

A few years ago, I was feeling a dark cloud looming over me. I wasn’t happy with my work and I wasn’t treating myself well, mentally or physically.

I started practicing mindfulness and could immediately see the benefits. I felt sharper, less anxious, and more mindful of life’s simple moments. I felt like I was able to just be, for the first time in a long time. I never thought I’d end up working on the app that helped me through that time.

My Role

Today, I join Headspace as a UX Designer. The team is still small enough to feel like my contributions can make an impact, but big enough to feel supported. Having recently raised $30 million, I assume many eyeballs will be on the app in the coming months. They’ve just launched Kids Sessions, are releasing these amazing meditation pods globally, publish great articles on The Orange Dot, and have a bunch of cool new stuff in the works. The future looks bright. 🌞

If you want to chat, find me on Twitter. If you want to come work with us, check out the Careers page. If you’re interested in meditation or want to learn more about mindfulness, download the app and give it a try.

P.S. Thanks to Kurt Varner for inspiring this “Why I’m joining…” post. 👊

— 
Frank is a Product Designer at Headspace. He was previously at Edenspiekermann and co-founded Bureau.

You can follow him on Twitter.