DESIGN PRINCIPLES

UP is designed around a number of principles. Many overlap so consider this a casual taxonomy.

COMPANY

Mission-Driven

We’re a social enterprise that puts purpose before profits. Ethics matter to us. We only work with clients who intend to do at least some good for the world. 

Privacy

It’s your life, not anyone else’s. NDAs, restricted file access, and de-identifying data are among a few of the many precautions we take to ensure your privacy.

Open Science

We practice open science. We try to make every step of our work as transparent as possible. We invite you to “check our math” and decide for yourself if what we do works.

Humility

We freely admit that we don’t fully know how to upgrade you. No one does. We expect to be wrong and fail often and that’s perfectly okay. Self-compassion is key.

Lean Science

We start with a change hypothesis and rapidly design and test an intervention. We then improve the intervention and retest until something works. 

Perpetual Beta

We’re always improving–we will never be done. We regularly incorporate the latest peer-reviewed research, DIY experiments, and macrotrends into our work. 

UP

Complex Systems

We recognize that human beings are complex adaptive systems made up of many interacting factors. Adjusting one part may not reliably cause a change in another part. 

Measurable Change

We measure just about everything meaningful to you and track your progress over time. No more guessing whether a program, tool or course worked or not. 

Experimental Intervention

Each UP is a new experimental intervention. We make testable predictions, take baseline and follow-up measurements, and confirm or disconfirm our hypotheses.

Multi-Layered Impact

UP focuses on object-level immediate impact (e.g. fitness, finances, relationships) and meta-level secondary effects (e.g. strategy, agency, focus). 

Extreme Personalization

UP is entirely customized based on your values, goals, personality, and unique circumstances. No two UPs are exactly alike. You’re not generic and neither is UP.

Co-Creation

We co-create an UP with a client. It’s a collaboration from beginning to end. We’re always deeply honored to be a part of someone’s life through an UP.

SELF

Hairless Apes

We begin from the broad evolutionary perspective that humans are, in essence, hairless apes. It makes it easier to understand why we do what we do.

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.). 

Comprehensiveness

We aim to develop a full taxonomy of your life and help you upgrade every area you choose. We’ve identified 40+ areas you could improve. 

Temporal Selves

We consider “you” to be a composite of your past, present, and future selves. We design for game theoretically satisfying outcomes for all versions of you.

Multiple Selves

You are not just “you”. You’re composed of many psychological subagents, with varying levels of cooperation. We design for all of your subagents.

Exocortex

We build a digital exocortex (external brain) that collects your team’s shared wisdom on who you are and how to get you what you want. This may live on forever, if you wish.

DECISIONS

Prioritization

Essentially no one does this, but it’s best to focus on what matters most first. Then you can start tackling everything else. Simple to understand, but hard to do.

Return on Investment

UP is theoretically the best investment you can make. We calculate your expected ROI before beginning and proceed iff UP is at least plausibly the best you can imagine. 

Distributed Cognition

Two brains are better than one. Five are better than two. The more computational power you have, the more strategic your decisions will likely be.

Probabilistic Thinking

The world is more grayscale than black or white. Learning how to think in probabilities (X is Y% likely to happen) lets you navigate reality far more effectively.

Quantitative Modeling

We build a quantitative model to intelligently allocate your resources to acquire what you value most. You can’t easily do this in your head, unaided. 

Marginal Thinking

At some point the marginal cost of an action you take will often exceed the marginal benefit. We help you think on the margin so you make smarter trade-off decisions. 

Prediction Market

We build an internal prediction market where your team predicts your life outcomes. This helps everyone get better at achieving your goals. 

Expected Value

Life a series of bets. Generally speaking, if you bet on lottery tickets, you’ll lose. If you bet on low-cost index funds, you’ll win. This thinking is foundational to UP.

Evidence-Based

Wherever possible, we default to the scientific literature on what works in changing lives and what doesn’t. Systematic reviews and meta-analyses are gold.

Counterfactual Reasoning

Many self-development practitioners ignore counterfactuals. With UP, we’re only happy if you succeed in such a way that you otherwise would not have without our help.

PLANNING

Intense Planning

We’re obsessed with plans. Yes they often fail. But no that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do them. You should just do them better. “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”

Technology First

We have one of the largest databases of technologies for growth in the world. If there’s a way to use a technology to advance your goals, we do that first. 

Global Ambition

UP is designed to help you achieve great things for yourself and the world. We want you to leave a legacy your descendants would be proud of.

Environmental Design

You’re a function of your environment. Your home, workplace, vehicle, city, social dynamics, etc. all profoundly influence you. Optimize them to upgrade yourself.

Life Congruence

We work to enhance the percentage of your discretionary resources that you allocate on a day-to-day basis toward achieving your values. We call this life congruence.

Lifelong Framing

UP is framed around your entire life. We help you strategically allocate your 700,000 hours and millions in lifetime earnings and other assets into what you value most.

Incentive Design

We may pay you to achieve your goals…or your enemies if you don’t. We may donate to a charity you love if you make progress. It all depends on what actually motivates you.

EXECUTION

Personal Team

Every great entrepreneur, investor, scientist, engineer, celebrity, and athlete had a team. You deserve a team 100% dedicated to your goals. Don’t go at life alone.

Integrity

We hold each other to the highest standards of integrity. If we say we’re going to do something, we do it (or update everyone involved otherwise). No lies, no deception. 

Distributed Execution

Four hands are better than two. Ten are better than four. Raw hours, intelligently distributed to the right tasks at the right time in the right way is like magic. 

Comparative Advantage

Some people are better at X than Y. Generally speaking, distribute your workload so that people better at X do X and not Y. Collectively, you all win. 

Radical Accountability

Normally people set goals, halfheartedly pursue them, and then forget about them. With UP, you either (1) succeed or (2) pick better goals. We don’t let you forget.

Speed

Within reason, we aim to move extremely fast. Speed means more experiments, more learnings, and more success. We systematically eliminate all bottlenecks.

LEARNING

Distributed Learning

You can only learn so much on your own. With a team you have more brainpower scanning the world to new ways to help you achieve your goals.

Tailored Education

Everyone learns differently. We determine how you best learn (and remember) and then customize our lessons directly for you. No friction, no waste. 

Just In Time Learning

Learning everything you need to know to optimally upgrade yourself is daunting. Instead of learning it all upfront, we teach you what you need when you need it.

Accelerated Learning

We use chunking, spaced repetition, rapid testing, and other accelerated learning techniques to quickly cram decades of insights into your head.