Inside Lift
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Inside Lift

via AndyMangold on Flickr

Designer @ Lift

We have filled this position. But I’m leaving the job description up because it’s such a good description of what working at Lift is like.

Hi there, we’d like to work with you.


We’re looking for a designer to help us chisel product concepts into clear, simple, potent applications. It would be good if you were strong in visual, had mobile experience, and cared deeply about the reactions your designs get in the real world. It would be bad if you aspire to be a specialist or don’t enjoy long-winded job postings.


Lift is a personal improvement company. We use persuasive mechanics, social mechanics, coaching, data, feedback loops, and community to make it easier for people to be awesome. To design that you need to have strong visuals, know how to get the details right, predict, iterate & validate subtle usage patterns based on social behavior and psychology, see the difference between mobile and desktop usage patterns, and probably a lot more. You are a designer and can bring together all disciplines to make coherent features that come together for a coherent product.

I’ll try to clarify what that means by putting it in the context of our team, process, and aspirations.


We’re seven people.

Erin runs research and community with the goal of being a great resource for behavior design nerds. You can see it in our release notes, blog posts, and even in our support answers—we’re trying to be transparent about our curiosity for how people achieve goals and then overshare everything we learn along the way. She’s behind our Lift Research collection.

Matt and Matt primarily work the iOS side. Matt #1 was employee #1 at Path and Matt #2 was the driving force behind several Sincerely products (check out this beautiful app: Sesame). They both put a lot of pride in pushing the envelope of iOS designs. You would like working with them and they would love working with you.

Alicia handles the web side. She’s a two-time startup founder and awesome conference speaker. She will contribute to deep backend and iOS, but sings on front-end. The responsive mobile-friendly web version of Lift is all her.

Sonya works with our coaching relationships. A huge number of groups, coaches and trainers are coming to us. We just helped ZenHabits and 4-Hour Body Launch. We’ll be launching an official Getting Things Done group shortly. Sonya is a triathlete and previously ran business operations and business development for

Jon is my co-founder, was head of engineering at Path and before that of Engine Yard. He runs our cloud infrastructure, writes most of the API endpoints, and cares deeply about a collaborative culture. Jon and I have been friends for 12 years. There’s a lot of trust there.

I’m Tony. This is my second company and it’s 100% organized around what I think would be awesome to spend my entire life working on: helping people become great. I love doing two things: designing product and sharing what we’ve learned. You’ll be working closely with me. There are a few things which I strongly believe are possible and that we must invent (covered below in aspirations). Outside of that, I’m keenly aware that the Lift team is composed of amazing people and that I’m the least likely person here to have a perfect fully-formed solution just pop out of my head. So, in day-to-day, my design role is as cheerleader for more and better ideas at the beginning and then champion of focus and editing at the end (with beginning and end often happening in the same week).

We also often work with our close friend Evan Williams (who co-designed the early versions of Lift with me and works one building over).


We work some variant of Lean + Agile + IDEO’s design thinking.

Wow, buzzwords.

The things that we believe in most strongly are small batches, validation, and revisions.

On the small batch side, we practice continuous deployment. Every code commit gets pushed to product immediately and automatically (if it passes automated tests). On the iOS side we almost always have a new version of Lift ready to submit as soon as our old version gets approved. This is not just an engineering practice. This is a challenge for you to be able to decompose your designs for incremental release. Decomposing designs is natural, fun and helpful if you’ve ever been curious about whether your design ideas are actually, authentically pleasing to people (as opposed to just theoretically sexy). In continuous deployment, you often have the ability to get real world feedback on your core design assumptions very early (although it would be equally valid to get these even earlier with an aggressive prototyping strategy).

On the validation side we all own multiple copies of The Lean Startup. However, we’ve come to be more measured about our measurements. We run a kanban board with a validation column but we look at more signals for validation than just numeric metrics. The most common signals are: zero usage (this is the only clear and immediate signal that we get from our instrumentation), immediate user confusion as expressed in support emails, observed anecdotal usage (Erin often collects and summarizes these for the team), and personal feel (we’re all active users).

We believe in doing a few things extremely well and do a lot of revision to get there. When we work with our designer friends we often look at many approaches early (this is more of the IDEO design thinking way). Jon and I both went through LUXr which trains for really fast, rapid, paper-based design iteration. But we also find that living with simple features in the wild is wildly helpful for our intuition.


Overall the Lift aspiration is to have a major impact on human potential by removing the barriers to achieving your goals. These barriers are most often limited willpower and limited information. The below are the more tactical aspirations.

A simple solution allows for broad adoption. Already, Lift is a boost that can work for nearly any goal. Simple means not only that anyone can understand what you do, but also that they can explain it. This is important for us, especially as experts adopt Lift as a support system for their own advice.

Social matters. We’re touching quantified self and gamification, which I’m happy to believe have merit. But they aren’t nearly as powerful, flexible, or universal as social interaction and support.

We should nail our core support system but also be ready to make radical shifts. We’ve recently posted and discussed the core of our product and what needs to be finished. This discussion reflects what we think we know. It’s obvious to us that a designer such as yourself would greatly improve this core. It’s also obvious to us that there are many open areas to explore outside of this core.


Nobody here cares if you went to college. We care if you’re good. But we do have two requirements that we will filter candidates on:

  • Must be willing to work full time in our San Francisco office (4th and Market).
  • Must be visibly passionate about the Lift mission of self-improvement. Please don’t be shy about sharing this. (Hint: if you are going to prepare for the interview start with this topic).


Compensation is between $120,000 to $150,000 range. Jon and I don’t want negotiating ability to be a factor in the merit/compensation equation so we try hard to have a consistent, transparent compensation. Also, you get benefits, equity, fitness allowance, and a free t-shirt. We upgraded everyone’s iPhones when the iPhone 5 launched. Everyone gets adjustable standing desks, big monitors of your choosing, an up-to-date computer, etc. Our kitchen is well stocked (although I’ve been trying to outlaw sugar).

Invitation to Apply

If you read this far, you’re probably thinking of applying. But I want to put out an extra, special invitation. We care deeply about diversity and we’ve found in our research that many excellent people of diverse backgrounds do not apply for reasons that include believing their application will be ignored, they will be hired and then ignored, they will be hired and then treated disrespectfully, the pre-existing homogenous culture will be stubborn/boring/hostile, etc. If you’re having any of those beliefs, please read our earlier post on diversity.

And now, without further ado: the short job application form.

Thank you,

Tony & the Lift team.

PS, when I sent this around to designer friends for review several asked about why now and how we’re currently getting along. Well, we’ve gotten by and continue to get by with help from friends, contractors, and people on the team who are good amateur designers. Most of us have designed and released products on our own before. But most of all, the Lift design reflects the results of iteration and experimentation rather than professional expertise. Without a doubt, a full time, professional designer would be a welcome addition.



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