Charged Chats is a series of interviews featuring inspiring voices from the pros. What motivates them, what inspires them, and what can we take away from their stories to charge ourselves up.
Frank Bach is a Lead Product Designer at Headspace in LA. He’s interested in the relationship between mindfulness and creativity: how meditation can empower you to be a stronger designer and more engaged contributor. His work spans product, growth, and brand design.
Tell us about your career path. How did you get to where you are now?
My career started in graphic design. Communication design, brand identity, that kind of stuff. The iPhone had just been released while I was in college, and while I gravitated toward designing for the web, the world changed and we were all eventually designing websites for small devices.
The wave of responsive web design was just starting, and I went all-in. I started an agency with Nico Taus called Bureau. We were one of the first boutique agencies in the north. I was also teaching part-time at Cambrian and volunteering on community boards. My career was a little scattered and unfocused.
I went back to school, mostly because the idea of getting a Master’s Degree in my craft felt “important” at the time. I signed up for Graphic Design at the Savannah College of Art and Design, which cost way too much, and I was convinced that I wasn’t getting much more than a piece of paper out of it… but alas, in my last term, I took a course in User Experience Design which changed my world and I was unexpectedly in a career-changing moment. I dipped my feet into the world of experience design and never looked back.
A friend recommended I interview at Facebook in California and I bombed the interview. I realized I had a lot to learn, but the dream persisted. My wife Terrie and I started planning how we’d shut down Bureau, pack up all our stuff, and make a move West (where much of the tech world is focused). We didn’t know if we’d end up in Vancouver, San Francisco, or LA.
From there, I got a job at Edenspiekermann working on Red Bull in LA. It was really tricky interviewing for a new job while wrapping up old projects with the Bureau clients. Chicken before the egg kind of situation. I also had a desire to work in-house and get away from client services, so the Espi thing wasn’t a perfect match, but I learned a lot and was able to get to LA. I’m grateful for that experience.
Next up was Headspace - which is where I’ve been for 3 years. Now living in California, I bumped into Andy (the voice of the app) at a café in Palm Springs while on vacation. Totally unexpected. It had always been a bit of a dream to work at Headspace, as the app was very helpful in my transition from Sudbury to LA and career change from graphic to product design. We got talking, and a few weeks later I was meeting up with their team.
What’s your current role at Headspace?
Leading feature design and growth initiatives on the Headspace core product, monetization, and global business development teams. Push the product experience, define process, tools we use, mentor and guide the team. Evangelizing Headspace and our design team inside and outside the company.
How do you stay motivated when you’re going through a rough patch?
Get a good night’s sleep. Go skateboarding. Do something that isn’t digital. I have biweekly therapy appointments, and those usually help me get my groove back.
Any words of wisdom for someone looking to get into product design?
Go all-in. Read articles, watch videos, listen to podcasts, sign up to newsletters, etc. Eventually it starts to make sense. Design your own app screens even if they never get coded. There’s so much value in exploration and the tools are cheap. Go to meet-ups and webinars. All of it. It’s so difficult to half-step into the industry.
Check out the list of resources on my website for more.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
Not really advice, but a Buddhist saying I learned from Lama Yeshe Rinposhe:
No hope, no fear.
It’s the idea that suffering happens when we want things to be other than how they are, and that realizing this is step towards accepting life as it is.