Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Dr. Ruth Mentors Cofounders On How To Better Their Business Relationships

Dr. Ruth Westheimer is best known as the tiny sex therapist you perhaps know from late-night cable from a decade or two ago. But once a year, at the FORBES Under 30 Summit, she moonlights as a business relationship therapist. “Some of the issues you are going to face are like with couples,” she said matter-of-factly in a recent session. “You have to be honest, and you have to trust each other.”

First up were Brittany Hodak and Kim Kaupe, cofounders of ZinePak. The two met in October of 2010 and incorporated their company in January 2011–giving them just 90 days in which to get to know each other. Then, this year, Hodak and her husband moved to Nashville. “We went from quickie marriage to now we’re in a long-distance relationship,” she said, delighting the good doctor.

“Do you have a fixed time that the two of you talk to each other?” Westheimer asked, and then echoed advice every romantic couple in a long-distance relationship hears: “Once a week to see each other on all of your wonderful technologies–once a week is not enough.”

“What worries me is I can’t tell you to hold hands,” Westheimer continued in the manner of any relationship counselor, “because you [Hodak] are in Nashville and you [Kaupe] are in New York. But what I want to emphasize is: You have to put in the time.” And like any good relationship counselor, she invited the partners back for a check-up in three months.

Westheimer’s second clients of the day were Adam and Ryan Goldstone, the twin cofounders of Athletic Propulsion Labs, a sneaker company. “Thank God that one has a beard,” Westheimer said of Adam.

They didn’t actually seem to be much in need of couple’s counseling. “If you’re on the same page, you’re striving for the same goals,” Ryan told Westheimer. ”We’ve gone through everything together, so Adam has my best interests at heart.” As for how they solve disagreements, Adam had a simple solution: ”Just go with what Ryan says.”

But lovely though things are now, Westheimer warned that there would one day be trouble in paradise. The brothers both insisted that nothing could come between them as business partners, because no matter what, the business would always come first. But what if one of them were to, say, meet a romantic partner who may take precedence over a brother?

“Business comes first, everything else comes second,” Adam insisted.

Said Westheimer, “You better find a partner who agrees with that!”

Perhaps Westheimer’s special sessions really do get at a deeper truth. Are business and romance really so different?

Image Credit: Uyen Cao

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