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Meet the co-founders who go to couples counseling to help their startup succeed

Protocol Workplace

Welcome back to our Workplace newsletter. Remember the CEO who posted a selfie on LinkedIn after doing layoffs a few weeks ago? He’s tired of hearing that your kids went back to school this week (at least on LinkedIn). Today, couples counseling (but for co-workers), machine learning to check your hiring bias and new data shows that hybrid work is reaching a post-pandemic version of normal.

Meg Morrone, senior editor (email | twitter)

Couples therapy could squash your startup squabbles

A business partnership is kind of like a marriage. You complement one another, and make decisions together about how best to take care of your baby, aka your company. Both babies and companies require constant attention, loads of cash and a healthy relationship between co-parents/co-founders. This is why some tech founders have turned to couples therapy.

Dan Shipper and Nathan Baschez of media startup Every swear by the practice. It’s given them a space to unpack their relationship and prevent fights that could negatively impact their company.

  • The two met around 2014 in the early-stage startup scene in New York and instantly became close friends. They had never come into serious conflict before, but the stress of startup decisions had them fighting all the time.
  • Shipper had undergone couples therapy with a romantic partner previously. The conflicts felt somewhat similar, so they decided to forgo executive coaching and tried couples therapy instead.
  • “If you feel like what you really need is the tactical business stuff, get a coach,” Shipper said. “But our experience is that 80-90% of the stuff is actually emotional and about interpersonal relationships and yourself.”

The framework behind traditional couples therapy can apply to co-founder couples therapy as well. Attachment theory, the Gottman Method, Imago Relationship Theory: all those concepts work for close, equal business partnerships, according to the experts who spoke with Protocol.

  • The outcomes, however, are different. Romantic couples usually go to therapy with the goal of staying together. Business partners may separate eventually, and it might even be better for the company.
  • Boundaries are important as well. It might not be necessary to discuss childhood traumas at length. But sessions will inevitably get personal.
  • “You have to really trust the person,” Shipper said. “They can really hurt you if they take things that you say or reveal about yourself and use it out of context.”

Co-founder couples therapy is still a novelty, though its popularity is growing. “It’s something that is going to go from this woo-woo, touchy-feely domain to something I think should be standard operating practice for a successful, venture-backed company,” psychologist Matthew Jones said.

  • The practice attracted a lot of media attention back in 2015 after the Genius founders told The New York Times about their therapy sessions. But many of the previous headlines about tech founders seeing therapists treat the practice as a bit of a spectacle.
  • As therapy becomes less stigmatized, especially among younger people, couples therapy for business partners might become more commonplace. That’s been the trend for romantic couples therapy, at least.
  • “Most of the co-founders that have come to me are already in a pretty bad place,” said Laura Kasper, a psychologist who sees both romantic couples and co-founders. “That was my experience as a couples’ therapist maybe 15 years ago, whereas now people who come to me for couples therapy are getting ahead of it.”

Read the full story.


— Lizzy Lawrence, reporter (email | twitter)

A better bias audit

Companies that sell AI technology for hiring are facing a new law in New York City requiring “bias audits” to ensure those tools don’t discriminate against job candidates. As one such company, Hired recently found itself picking between a growing selection of auditing services.

Protocol’s Kate Kaye spoke with Hired’s chief technology officer, Dave Walters, about how he made this decision. One piece of advice: Start looking now.

Read the full story.

Sponsored content from Upwork

Why on-demand talent could be exactly what companies need right now: If you thought the rise of remote work, independent contractors and contingent workers rose sharply during the pandemic, just wait until the next few months when you see a higher uptick in the on-demand talent economy.

Read more from Upwork

New data says the future of work might already be here

Hybrid and remote work arrangements seem to be reaching a post-pandemic normal, suggesting many employers are settling into their policies around flexible work, according to a new report from WFH Research.

  • There wasn’t much self-reported difference in U.S. workers’ current working arrangements and their employers’ “post-COVID” plans for their working arrangements.
  • Full-time remote work is a “post-COVID” plan for 25.5% of U.S. workers, and 25.2% of U.S. workers said they’re already working from home full time.
  • 30.2% of U.S. workers said they were working IRL full-time, while 27.2% said their employer’s post-COVID plan is to allow for remote work “rarely or never.”
— Allison Levitsky, reporter (email | twitter)

Some personnel news

Anyone else having a bad case of Great Resignation whiplash? It’s hard to keep up with which tech companies are growing, shrinking, floating or sinking. We’re here to help.

⬆️ A good job, if you can get it.

⬇️ Snap is laying off 20% of its more than 6,400 employees.

⬇️ The Wing is no more, The Information reports.

For more news on hiring, firing and rewiring, see our tech company tracker.

Sponsored content from Upwork

Why on-demand talent could be exactly what companies need right now: The biggest benefit of leveraging on-demand talent is often tapping into the talent and skills that businesses can’t find elsewhere. Upwork’s recent report highlights that 53% of on-demand talent provide skills that are in short supply for many companies, including IT, marketing, computer programming and business consulting.

Read more from Upwork

Around the internet

A roundup of workplace news from the farthest corners of the internet.

The CEO of the Bezos-owned Washington Post thinks more meetings = more productivity?

31 ways to say no to useless meetings, pushy people, work, recruiters, interviews and more.

Should you compliment your colleague’s shoes?

Hot take: A New York tenant lawyer says it should be unlawful to assign work to job candidates.

Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to workplace@protocol.com.

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