Since I started Next Step in 2004, we’ve helped over 300 clients crystalize their messaging and expand their customer base. As Next Step scales, I’ve gotten insight into a number of verticals. I credit this ability to “get” new cultures to a childhood spent straddling several very different worlds- I attended schools both in the US and in Iran, graduated with an engineering degree from UC Berkeley, then moved on to founding a successful design agency.
Whatever culture or industry, human behavior fascinates me. Though consumers may seem fickle and irrational, the emerging study of behavioral economics- how people really make decisions- shows that there are actually patterns in play. We incorporate these insights into our design and messaging. We use science to help you influence behavior in a measurable way.
With all this research at our disposal, people are sometimes surprised that I won’t recommend a strategy until we’ve thoroughly examined both your company’s passion and your target audience’s hesitations. It’s a step we won’t ever skip. Deeply understanding your market helps us determine which behavioral science interventions would best remove friction.
We put a lot of thought into making things feel intuitive for your audience; we want to make it feel that much easier for them to take the next step.
STRATEGIST & SENIOR PROJECT MANAGER
I am driven and curious and want to know that my work is having a positive impact on the world. I’m known for asking a million questions. By truly understanding what our clients need, we can create powerful results.
As Next Step’s Strategist & Senior Project Manager, I’m passionate about building strong and integrated teams. I focus on connecting the dots and understanding what our clients need in order to build better products/services with a special focus on telling powerful and engaging stories.
My experience with branding and marketing includes working with large and small agencies. From guiding the global rebrand for Puccini Group to creating, developing, and executing on plans and launches for various clients with branding agencies such as Landor and Wordsearch.
I have a BA in Brand Leadership & Management and another in Art History & Film/Media from the University of Cape Town and Vega University. This experience along with living in multiple countries (South Africa and the U.S. to Argentina, France and Spain) has helped me gain a unique perspective on global brand leadership and the pulse of popular culture.
People are surprised when I tell them I’ve run a few ultra-marathons in my lifetime. In fact, a few years ago, I completed the 160-mile marathon across the Himalayas in Nepal with an organization called Racing the Planet. Meeting this grueling challenge may be my proudest achievement. It taught me that we can do whatever we put our minds to and to never give up, even when the going gets tough.
I feel honored that I came of age in a post-apartheid South Africa, a country that embraces diversity and the ‘Ubuntu’ spirit. Ubuntu means "I am, because you are". This recognition of our common humanity grounds me and keeps me humble and kind. It also makes me appreciate the uniqueness of every person that I meet. I like knowing we are all special in our own way.
I love creating. It’s magical to bring a designer’s idea to life. There’s an idea and an empty screen. You add HTML, sprinkle in some jQuery and Poof! it’s alive and responsive. If I weren’t a developer, I’d be a physicist, exploring the mysteries of our expanding, wonderful universe.
Here at Next Step, I lead the development of large, complex projects. No matter how aggressive the time frame, I take pleasure in synching all the details that make my dev mirror the design.
I have a BS in computer science & multimedia engineering from La Salle School of Engineering in Spain, my native country. I’ve been doing development work for 10+ years and know how important it is to build things the right way, the first time. When you begin coding by first considering the ultimate usability of the site, it makes everything easier for the client.
I’m one of triplets. I speak Catalan with my family and English or Spanish with everyone else. In Barcelona I trained clients how to use their new site in Spanish, but in the States, unless you request otherwise, we’ll probably do it in English.
I really enjoy the magic that happens when solid development meets good design. I also appreciate how crucial it is for everyone to meet the numerous deadlines that go into every project. I help the team and the clients stay on track: on paper a single missed deadline doesn’t look like a big deal, but it causes a chain reaction. Dominoes are only fun on the weekend.
To me, one of the most meaningful and exciting parts of overseeing our projects is being sure that the behavioral strategies we set during the discovery workshops are incorporated into the final product.
As our team and ambitions grow, it’s fun to constantly fine-tune the processes and introduce technology to make everything work seamlessly. But, I’ve long ago learned that people are at the heart of all success, not the latest software. That’s why I adapt my outreach according to each client’s preferred communication style, whether that’s Basecamp, phone, email or in-person meetings.
My toolbox is filled with lots of fun work toys. Some of favorites include Adobe CS6, EverNote, Excel, Basecamp and my bike for getting to and from the office!
Since joining Next Step in 2007, I’ve asked hundreds of pointed questions. During our workshops you’ll discover that I’ve got the writer’s curse/blessing of inexhaustible curiosity. Fidget if you must, but this probing is essential. I won’t let you settle for making any unsubstantiated claims.
This obsession with “Why? How? Prove it!” runs back to my days as a journalist. I’ve written for numerous print and online publications, winning regional and national awards along the way, including recognition by Writer’s Digest, for a piece submitted among 19,000 entries.
My editorial experience also helps me when conducting your client interviews. I like to capture the exact way your users describe their concerns and your solution. Why? Studies in Social Proof show that people are much more influenced by people who share similar qualities. In crafting copy that resonates, each word matters more than ever.
Simply, this is a dream job for me. Working with verbs. Exploring Big Ideas. Getting to the core of what really matters and ensuring that the connection we spark with your audience is a genuine one.
I love the fusion of beauty and functionality. My flavor has always been clean and to the point, but since I joined Next Step in 2011, I’ve also really started to enjoy the iterative process. It fuels better ideas. In the beginning stages, you have to be willing to explore. By creating and eliminating ideas that don’t work, you get closer to a more meaningful solution.
It seems obvious to say, but since it keeps cropping up in recent behavioral science research, I’ll repeat the finding anyway: “as humans we gravitate toward beauty.” Yep. Fine design isn’t just easy on the eyes, tons of studies show that it literally makes it easier for people to process information.
I love that nothing here is random. Everything you put into (or leave out of) a design influences the user experience, from the fonts that announce your deepest attitude to the emotions triggered by a certain color or the strategic use of white space coupled with splashes of (a carefully chosen) color.
When I’m not crafting design or being volunteered by Shirin to share with the team some newly learned psychology of design tip, I’m looking up or down at things with my camera. It’s an incredible feeling to discover beauty in unlikely places, especially when it’s the same place you’ve looked at day after day. I like making familiar things feel special.
I love sharing new ideas as much as I enjoy building cool applications on the web. Whether coding complex sites, teaching clients how to get the most out of their applications or volunteering at UNICEF, I get a kick out of helping people move on to better things.
Before joining Next Step, I worked as a Front End Developer at Epsilon (client Google) and was a Software Engineer at Stanford University. I did my BS back in India and got a Master’s from Missouri University of Science and Technology.
When I’m not developing outrageously ambitious and efficient sites, I’m playing chess with my husband or exploring new places in the world with my young family. We’re invigorated by seeing how many ways there are to decorate a home, to express pride and to get life’s important jobs done.
Psychology is the main reason I became a designer. The way humans perceive and interact with the world is the basis of psychology and I use those same techniques to guide my design. The way humans connect emotionally- listening, storytelling, simplicity- those are the strategies that I try to recreate on the screen. I love that Next Step connects human behavior with technology, because it’s such a powerful tool.
When I look at my body of work, I’m happy to see evidence of curiosity and growth. From science at Berkeley to advanced design and coding, I’m very proud of knowing that whatever subject peaks my interest, I’ll work hard to master it.
I get my inspiration through nature and science. Nature is the ultimate example of beautiful + useful. Think of a DNA molecule - it’s complex, yet so simple. The natural environment is a master of colors and eternal design – beautiful landscapes, starry nights, and gradient blue waters. Fashion can get outdated, but nature never seems to.
When I’m not working, I spend my time testing out homemade remedies like shampoo and turmeric soy milk. Ask me for a sample some time!
I consult the agency about operations, lead strategy sessions and develop partnerships with other companies that recognize the value of having Behavioral Science embedded into design and marketing. I’m a huge believer in Behavioral Science. I’ve seen the positive impact its use has on companies and individuals.
I’m founder and CEO of Amplify Health, a company that uses a combination of analytics and Behavioral Science to help Fortune 500 customers such as The Boeing Company and Ford Motor Company keep their high risk, complex needs employees healthy and out of the hospital.
Another example of the power of Behavioral Science comes from REM Medical, a company I founded to help patients overcome sleep apnea. By using Behavioral Science techniques, our adherence rate was 79%, nearly double the industry average.
Over the years, I’ve led hundreds of operational meetings and formed companies that are far larger and louder than Next Step. But there’s something very exciting about working with a small, agile firm that’s determined to expand and apply its expertise in Behavioral Science in order to help clients achieve a bigger, more positive impact. This focus on innovation, continual learning and continual improvement sets us all up for an exciting future.
When I'm not busy with Next Step, you'll likely find me building an interactive treat dispenser for our Chief Happiness Officer or taking the RV out for another extreme adventure in the wilderness.
I love timeless images. I also love my two young kids, all fine foodie experiences -- even better if it’s from a truck -- and using design to make complex ideas more accessible. I especially love the days when all of these things happen at once.
They tell me I’ve been with Next Step since 2004. I’m better at creating visuals than keeping track of the years, so I’ll go with that. Over a decade.
In 2000 I graduated magna cum laude from SFSU with a degree in Cinema and an emphasis in Animation. I’ve helped develop interactive multi-screen software and taught students in Tokyo how to use it. I’ve worked at PayPal and have taught animation at schools throughout the Bay. I’ve also taught my daughter how to crack the sugary crust of a crème brûlée and I know how to hail a cab in Bangkok.
I use Photoshop and Illustrator to create my designs and the internet to get inspiration. My other favorite tools include hand-drawn and digital illustrations.
SEARCH ENGINE EXPERT
I am a trained SEO expert, a Google certified advertising professional and a Best of Industry Web Award Winner. In fact over the years, I’ve won so many awards that they try to call me an SEO guru. I always counter, “So where’s my robe?” (Come to think of it, where is my robe?)
Since 2004, I’ve helped Next Step analyze which keywords the search engines respond to and help businesses generate new leads. I optimize your site, improve your digital footprint, boost your ranking, all so you can get more customers in the door.
I moved here from the East Coast with multiple technical degrees and a set of baseball cards. I graduated with a BS in Electrical Engineering from BSEE Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and received my MBA at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. It’s been decades since I’ve transplanted, and I love the sushi here, but there’s no way I’ll ever stop cheering for the Boston Red Sox.
CHIEF HAPPINESS OFFICER
I graduated top of my litter, plucked from a cardboard box of 7 wriggling brothers. As a Labradoodle, I don’t shed, but, boy, do I frolic. Every day I wake up happy and curious and ready to sniff. I’m psyched that when Shirin walks me to our office in SOMA there are almost as many intriguing smells as back on the ranch.
As Chief Happiness Officer, I’m in charge of adoring people and getting them to realize how awesome each moment is. I love this role. I love these people. I love your shoes. Actually, I totally love everything: like how my toenails click as I trot across the floor, the cheering that erupts whenever I “sit” on command, the crumbs that Molly drops when she eats at her desk, and especially that cute border collie who comes in on Tuesdays.
Life is good. If I’m not under the desk chewing my organic, fair-trade buffalo chewy stick, I’m trying to get Pete to open the app that locates the nearest squirrel.
HEAD OF GROWTH
I’m always thinking about how design affects everything around us and I’m always looking for new ways to attack big problems. When I saw how Next Step was using behavioral science, I was really intrigued. They had identified a very unique and highly measurable approach to problem solving and were becoming known for their ability to shape decision making in design. Leading growth for Next Step seemed like an inevitable evolution for me.
Previously, I ran my own consulting firm and also co-founded eatsa, the first automated restaurant platform. We created a new technology for accessing food that let people get healthy, affordable food in a self-serve environment. I’m thrilled that the idea of automation in food has gotten traction. eatsa has long been a local favorite, but now it’s also making a global impact.
I’m inspired by the promise of technology and innovation to solve human problems. If we want to positively address sustainability, access, and other challenges, we need to think about using technology in new ways.
People who have heard me talk about the positive impact of innovation aren’t surprised to learn I’ve been a board member of Keep Tahoe Blue for over 10 years. We’re protecting a national treasure while looking for ways to address the larger issues of environmental impacts on our water systems.
On a personal note, people are a bit surprised to learn that I like Jalapeno’s on all foods and that I named my dog after David Bowie.
PEOPLE & OPERATIONS MANAGER
I am an enthusiastic and confident person who finds nothing more satisfying than checking things off my to-do list.
I’ve worked with both small and large companies and learned that the fast-paced environment that comes with smaller teams is where I thrive. With smaller teams, people are more likely to be nimble and make sure nothing falls through the cracks, and it's really exciting to be part of that energy.
Before coming to Next Step, I managed PR efforts for the startup Instamotor. After forming the right relationships, I secured media coverage in various publications such as Forbes, USA Today, The Washington Post, Consumer Reports, TIME, and more. It was gratifying to up their media presence and to help position the executive team as thought leaders in the automotive industry.
Here at Next Step, I run the agency’s day-to-day administrative operations so the team can focus on what’s most important - our clients. I also work closely with Shirin, maintaining order so she can do her magic as agency President.
I grew up in a small town - Dover, Ohio - and would get stars in my eyes when I’d hear about big city life. At an early age I made it my goal to move to a city and in June of 2012 I bought a one way ticket to San Francisco. Today I call this enchanting city my home and am still proud of myself for taking the leap.
I am a behavioral economist with a passion for taking research out of the lab and letting it loose in the real world. I’ve spent the last 7 years trying to understand how people actually make decisions and then using that knowledge to help people live healthier, wealthier, and more environmentally friendly lives.
My roots are in academic research. Before working with Next Step, I was an applied researcher at the Common Cents Lab. There I used behavioral economics to help low and middle-income families make better financial decisions. I received my Master’s Degree from the University of Miami’s Abess Center for Ecosystems Science and Policy in 2016. My research at UM focused on how scarcity changes the way low-income individuals evaluate risk and uncertainty.
When not working, I still like to do research! I have worked with the Reducetarian Foundation to help encourage people to eat less meat and The Think Tank to help accelerate diverse participation in STEM.
DIGITAL MARKETING CONSULTANT
People are pretty surprised that I have a law degree. I run SEO and digital marketing campaigns with Patrick Holt, but at one time, I was on track to become a corporate lawyer.
After I got my JD/MBA at Ohio State University, I went into tech and focused on product management/growth for startups. I’ve helped launch over 15 tech startups now; most of which still exist today.
In addition to mountaineering and national parks, I’m passionate about data-driven product growth. I use my expertise to help companies scale products in new markets. At Next Step, I assess your digital marketing and then find measurable ways to make sure you meet your growth initiatives. With startups in particular it’s fun to start with high impact wins. That helps fuel the momentum for the longer-term initiatives.
My favorite tools are the SEO Content & Keyword Audit. I obviously didn’t create this audit, but I have my own way of doing it that seems to work really well. Another personal favorite tool is our Hot Spot. It gives us WiFi access anywhere so we can run campaigns even when the mountains call to us.
DIGITAL MARKETING CONSULTANT
I began my career doing paid search, paid social and digital marketing for Grainger. I also headed the effort to bring paid search in-house for Crate & Barrel, Land of Nod, and CB2.
I’m proud of my strong expertise in SEM; I’ve created and implemented SEM Transformational Strategy for a successful health-tech startup and have sat on Adobe Client Advisory Board for Adobe Media Optimizer.
I have advanced certification in Google Display and have developed my own way of restructuring AdWords accounts that has been successful across dozens of accounts and industries.
When I’m creating your digital marketing campaign, I’m likely listening to death metal music, so a good set of headphones is important to me. So is strong coffee and a steady WiFi connection.
Whenever you design anything, you need to start with empathy. That sounds pretty simple, but it takes quite a bit of effort to put aside your own ideas and absorb the thoughts and needs of others. This is why I love design-thinking, you’re building a real connection. By putting real human needs at the start of all we do, we’re creating something that makes people’s lives better.
At Next Step I design websites, branding, and manage client support. I love being in a role that includes both design & development because I can be involved in creating the full experience for your users. This is the perfect job for me because I love technology just about as much as I love psychology. I’m currently geeking out over Sketch and using it to animate designs so you can see how everything will function before it goes live. Whether it’s the latest tech or implementing another behavioral science intervention, I’ve always loved learning. My education includes an AA in Web Design and Development and a BA from UC Santa Barbara, where I got a double major in Sociology & Film and Media Studies.
People are often surprised to discover that I once spent about six months living in a tent and walking 15 miles a day on the Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand. I still remember crying and shouting for joy high on a mountain when I found an apple in my backpack that I didn’t realize was there. It’s the little things in life.