DESIGN PRINCIPLES

Primary

  1. Maximum ROI: Our aim is always the maximum return on investment possible, given your particular values. We design everything from the end you have in mind now, and update that as you change your mind. 
  2. Modes: We have three distinct modes for UP, depending on your time horizons: Life, Annual or Maniac. Each shifts the framing of UP substantially. 
  3. Customization: UP is designed around your unique situation, which can radically vary. Individual differences are substantial across different ages, geographies, cultures, etc. 
  4. Experimental Intervention: Every time we work with a client we are running a new experimental intervention. We generally make testable predictions, take baseline and follow-up measurements, and confirm or disconfirm our hypotheses.
  5. Lean Science: We practice lean science. We start with an initial hypothesis and then we rapidly design and execute an intervention to test it. We repeatedly make new hypotheses and test those. The aim is effectiveness, not publications.
  6. Open Science: We practice open science. We work to make every step of our research as transparent as possible. We invite you to “check our math” and decide for yourself if what we do is meaningful.
  7. Multilayered Impact: In practice UP often focuses on creating object-level immediate impact (e.g., fitness, finances, relationships) with a secondary aim to catalyze metagrowth secondary effects (e.g, strategy, agency, focus). In order to do meta-level work effectively, many people first need object-level problems to tackle. They also need significantly more control over their resource allocation, especially their attention, time, energy, money, and other resources. UP aims to improve both.
  8. Evidence-Based: UP is heavily based on research in positive psychology, social psychology, and behavioral economics. We also draw from cognitive psychology, evolutionary psychology, organizational psychology, and developmental psychology, among many others. Science doesn’t tell us everything we’d like to know, but it can heavily guide our intuition. 
  9. Complex Systems: We approach change from a complex systems perspective, which recognizes that human beings are made up of many interacting factors.
  10. Humility: We’re on the cutting edge of understanding here and no one knows exactly what to do. We expect to be wrong and fail often. 
  11. Perpetual Beta: UP is always improving. It will never be done or perfect. We keep a pulse on the latest peer-reviewed research, DIY experiments, and macrotrends and regularly incorporate new findings into our work. And we are deeply appreciative of honest, critical feedback.

Secondary

  1. Embodied Self: We consider “you” to be a synthesis of your biological substrate (your body and mind) and non-biological substrate (e.g. computer, phone, clothes, brand, etc.). 
  2. Multiple Selves: We consider “you” to be the composite of multiple subpersonalities, all living together in varying states of harmony. We design for game theoretically satisfying outcomes for each part of you.
  3. Temporal Selves: We consider “you” to be a composite of your current and future selves. We design for game theoretically satisfying outcomes for all potential versions of you.
  4. Life as a Startup: We often design an UP around the analogy of a fast-growing Y Combinator startup. This helps shape the intensity, metrics-focus, and societal-focus of UP. You are the entrepreneur and UP serves as your adviser or co-founder.
  5. Life as an Athlete: We often design an UP around the analogy of an aspiring Olympic gold medalist. This helps shape the intensity, metrics-focus, and growth-focus of UP. You are the athlete and UP serves as your coach or training partner. 
  6. Life as an Organization: We often design an UP around the analogy of a corporation, lab, military or government. These organizations strategize, plan, recruit team members and advisers, execute, evaluate results, update plans, etc. You become the CEO, Principal Investigator, General or President of [your organization’s name]. 
  7. Life as an MMOG: We often design an UP around the analogy of a massively multiplayer online game. You’re a character with the ability to level up your skills and equipment, team up with others, and engage in specific quests to achieve specific goals.  
  8. Brain as a Computer: We often use the analogy of a brain as a computer with a CPU (executive functioning), storage space (long-term memory), RAM (working memory), electricity (calorie-rich blood), and buggy or well-written software (beliefs), all of which can be upgraded.