While we regularly celebrate wins by adding #Lifter-Shout-Outs on our Slack channel, there’s only one annual honor that is bestowed on the individual who is the most deserving, hardest-working and has the all-around best attitude: LIFTER of the Year.
Hear from Nikki, our former Office Manager turned Art Director and the first two-time award-winning LIFTER of the Year, about her favorite memories, biggest lessons and best moments during her 12 years at LIFT.
1. WHAT WAS YOUR INITIAL IMPRESSION OF LIFT WHEN YOU TOOK YOUR FIRST JOB HERE?
As LIFT’s very first office manager and only having executive assistant experience previously, I had my work cut out for me, but was up for the challenge. I was hired in the midst of an office move, had to use my personal computer for a few weeks, sat directly in front of Tim (our CEO), and the onboarding experience consisted of me following Tim around taking notes and trying to make sense of it all. It was quite a whirlwind in the beginning, but just having moved from a very large corporate office in the Midwest, I was ecstatic to be in a creative environment surrounded by people who love what they do. Plus, I could have any hair color I wanted! And I didn’t have to wear slacks and trouser socks anymore!
2. HOW HAS THAT CHANGED?
So much has changed over the last 12 years while some things haven’t. People get paid on time and dependably (there was one time Tim forgot to pay people before a holiday weekend). We have proper onboarding processes in place. No one has to use their personal computer on day one. There are checklists, beautiful presentation deck templates, a very well-organized file server and lots of experienced people with answers. And, of course, there’s Lunch Table (yes it’s a proper noun). I am a firm believer that food brings people together, and before Lunch Table, people would just eat lunch at their desks and never talk to anyone. Lunch Table is the nucleus that ignited our culture and got us talking to each other about things besides work. One giant table for everyone to sit, relax, enjoy their food and socialize with their coworkers. This is what makes “family.” We’ve also used this table for so many fun events like LIFT Gallery hor d’oeuvres, blind wine tasting nights, spirograph arts and crafts, jack o’lantern carving, product photo shoots, happy hours, 12-foot turkey sando for Tim’s bday…the list goes on and on.
One thing that hasn’t changed is good ol’ Timmers, our Chief Lifter. The man in front of the curtain. The kindest, most genuine bossman who is also quite the karaoke-er! Have you seen his Stevie?! He’s always willing to step into the weeds of a project to give you his best advice. He wants you to come talk to him if you have a problem. He is the mastermind behind the 8 Rules that ensures our work is elevated and justified. He’s a true blue marketer with a heart of gold. If you gotta work for the man, he’s definitely one of the best. Cheers to you, Chief!
3. HOW DID YOU MAKE THE LEAP FROM OFFICE MANAGER TO CREATIVE?
After learning the business through observation, I realized I could do it too. So I enrolled in the Graphic Communications program at CCSF and went to night school part-time. All the while, picking up more and more creative projects at work, training the new OM and eventually making the full transition.
4. WHAT DO YOU THINK OFFICE MANAGERS CAN TEACH CREATIVES?
OMs are not your caregivers! Clean up after yourself!
5. WHAT CAN CREATIVES TEACH OFFICE MANAGERS?
You are probably more creative than you think! Give it some thought and always have fun with whatever you’re trying to tackle. The creativity will naturally come through.
6. WHAT DID YOU FIND SURPRISING TO LEARN ON THE JOB?
Now that we’ve decentralized our SF office by opening offices in PDX and NYC, I have a newfound appreciation for in-person meetings. Tools such as Slack and Zoom have become a great bridge for collaborating with our remote cohorts, and now I realize there is just so much value and productivity that happens naturally in person.
7. WHAT DESIGN TRENDS ARE YOU EXCITED ABOUT IN 2020?
Because we design a lot of emails and capabilities are so limiting in comparison to other HTML-based tactics or even print, I’m always excited to see innovative things happening in this channel, such as interactivity and personalized content, that will inherently increase engagement and help us reach our clients’ goals.
8. WHAT’S BEEN YOUR FAVORITE THING TO WORK ON?
There are so many! One cool thing that happened, I was sent to a Beepi photoshoot in Anaheim. The objective being to capture some content for their social media. I sketched out a shot list, packed up the Canon and flew down. It was in a huge warehouse with a large rotating platform. Actual Beepi guys brought cars from their inventory: a Porsche, Tesla, Mini Cooper and a Mustang convertible. I got to drive the Tesla!! We worked mostly with the Mini Cooper, drove it up onto the rotating platform while two models stood around the car. Think retro car showroom but modern, bright and blue steel-style modeling with the occasional oh-joy-i-bought-a-new-car jump shot. It was a wonderful experience for me and we got some great social ads out of it.
I also loved the Movember LIFT Gallery I curated where I took photos of all the mustachioed men (and one lady), printed them on thick board and cut them right above the mustache so they became interchangeable, e.g., Tim’s head on Adam’s mustache. It was loads of laughs!
9. WHAT’S THE LIFT MEMORY THAT ALWAYS MAKES YOU LAUGH?
That time Jon stuffed a whole box of Peeps in his mouth at once. Or, when Cesar ran fully clothed into the ocean at our holiday party. Or, Chia Chia’s infamous answer to the table topic, “What’s your favorite childhood memory?” Or, Jess dressing as the snack ottoman for Halloween. Or, Brent’s sad elf photo. There’s so many hysterical memories, all cherishable! So let’s keep making them!
10. WHAT WORK ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?
I’m quite proud of the CREDO Mobile work I’ve done and I think that mainly stems from their mission as a company to fund progressive causes and power social activism through the profit of their mobile service. Using my design skills for good, especially in the current state of our administration, is important work.
11. WHAT’S YOUR MOST USED GIF? WHAT’S YOUR MOST USED EMOJI?
GIF — I don’t use giphys a lot but when I do it’s probably Big Freedia. Emoji — 🤷 (it’s actually 😘 but I don’t wanna seem too mushy)
12. EVERY YEAR YOU GO TO JAPAN. DO YOU EVER BRING INSPIRATION FROM THOSE TRIPS BACK TO WORK WITH YOU?
As a designer, I am always observing ads and design everywhere I go whether I realize it or not. I’m just trained that way. In Japan, everything is screaming at you via huge LEDs, cute girls yelling through megaphones or hysterically-translated English advertising on the train. Everything is colorful, bubbly and oh-so-kawaii. I love it! It’s so different. Then there’s a ton of amazing artists in Japan doing incredible things like Takashi Murakami, Yoshitomo Nara and Yayoi Kusama. It’s hard not to be inspired by them, and they’re in a ton of art galleries all over the world so you don’t have to be in Japan to see their work. In short, I think a lot of implemented inspiration comes subconsciously just from taking a break, whether it’s two weeks in Japan or 30 minutes in the sun. But, I mainly go to Japan to snowboard.
13. WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVORITE BUSINESS JARGON WORD OR PHRASE?
I’m typically not bothered by these sorts of things BUT one I’ve heard that threw me for a loop was, “I’d double click that.”
14. IF YOU WEREN’T A DESIGNER WHAT WOULD YOU BE?
My midlife crisis jump will be: food truck owner, the working name is Nikki’s Claggy Bowls.
15. AND FINALLY, YOU’RE KNOWN FOR ASKING FUNNY QUESTIONS WHEN INTERVIEWING POTENTIAL NEW LIFTERS. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ONE AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO ASK QUESTIONS LIKE THAT?
“Would you rather fight one horse-sized duck or 100 duck-sized horses?” This seems to be the group favorite because coworkers always ask, “What did they say?”
It’s so important to keep interviewees on their toes and see how they respond when thrown something unexpected. There is no right answer and I’ve definitely received some wacky ones! You get a little insight into the way their gears work through the question, it’s so interesting. Plus, it also helps lighten the mood so we start to get a better feel for their personality.