Meredith Farley

On Content People, Meredith Farley interviews creative professionals and leaders to get a behind-the-scenes look at their career experiences and turn that into actionable advice for listeners. Tune in to hear from experts in various media, and get inspired to find contentment in your own creative career.

Episode #8 Summary

Chatting with Meredith Farley, Jessica Holton, the co-CEO and co-founder of Ours, discusses how childhood experiences made her the entrepreneur she is today. She also covers therapy, content creation and the one big secret to great relationships. Listen in to get the answers you’ve been looking for.

In the eighth episode of Content People, I chat with Jessica Holton, one of the co-CEOs and co-founders of Ours. It’s a company based on modern relationship health, particularly for engaged couples, and it was profiled by the New York Times — but pull back the curtain and you’ll find so much more.

According to Jessica, it all started when her parents opened a children’s science museum. At what she calls her “second home,” she watched families learning and playing together. That’s how she realized the power of entrepreneurship.

This led to business school, which led to forming a nonprofit, which led to an interest in strengthening relationships through therapy. And that’s where content creation comes in.

Part of Ours’ innovative structure is its discussion prompts and exercises, which encourage users to put new skills into practice. To make it happen, Jessica says there’s a lot of research — and building, testing, cross-checking and studying, too. Who says content creation isn’t a science?

Here are just a few more things we chat about:

  • The power of brands and businesses.
  • Being a team member vs. being a cog in the wheel.
  • Building communities through therapy.
  • Research, expertise and content that helps change lives.
View on Zencastr

And if you’re here to learn the secret to relationships — well, Jessica has it. You’ll just have to enjoy the podcast and find out for yourself!

Thanks for listening!

– Meredith Farley, Creator and Host of Content People

More Content for Content People

Learn About Relationships: Ours isn’t just couples’ therapy. It’s a new way to invest in your relationship.

See The NYT Profile: Here’s what the Times had to say about Ours.

Brafton: We have the secret to great relationships … with your customers, that is. Check out our digital marketing newsletter

Meredith’s newsletter: Check out Meredith’s newsletter (also called Content People). 

Podcast Transcript:

Meredith Farley: Hello and welcome to Content People, a podcast where we talk to creative professionals and leaders to get a behind the scenes look at their career experiences, and we try to turn that into actionable advice for you guys, our listeners. Tune in to hear from experts in various media and get inspired to find contentment in your own career.

I’m your host Meredith Farley. I’m formerly the COO at Brafton, where I oversaw creative project management and consulting teams. I’m no longer with the company, but Brafton is still producing this podcast. So thank you Brafton. We recorded this episode a while ago. I probably make mention of my former role, just fyi.

And if you wanna keep up with what I’m doing now, you can check me out on LinkedIn and subscribe to my newsletter, which is also called Content People. We’ll link it out in the show notes, give it a shot. It’s a once a week send where I share thoughts and actionable advice based on my 15 years of creative leadership.

You can also listen, rate and subscribe to content people wherever you get your podcasts. With me as always is Ian Servin, creative director of video at Brafton and the producer of this show. Hello. Hi, Ian.

Ian Servin: Hey everybody. Hey Meredith, today’s show is super exiting. We actually got to talk with Jessica Hilton, the CEO, and co-founder of Ours.

Ours is a relationship health company and it’s really cool. It combines sort of normally what you would expect, counseling, but also self-guided sessions through an app and it helps people build stronger personal relationships.

Yeah. In, I mean, in creative services industry relationships are such an important part of our work experience, whether it’s our relationships with coworkers, bosses, relationships with clients, collaborators, vendors.

We talk with Jess about some of the fundamentals of healthy relationships and also her journey in building Ours and what she’s learned, creating a company that relies so much on content in addition to traditional counseling.

We really hope you enjoy our chat with Jessica here

Meredith Farley: We are super excited to have you. I was wondering if you could kind of intro yourself a little bit to our audience. And then there’s so many questions that I have for you about the business that you’ve launched and are working on. I’m really excited to jump into this conversation with you.

Jessica Holton: Oh, thank you. I’m really excited as well. My name is Jessica Holton. I am one of the co-CEOs and co-founders of Ours, which is a modern relationship health company. And I’m based in Brooklyn. I have a boyfriend and a puppy who I love. And I’m really excited to talk about Ours.

Meredith Farley: Yeah, so I want so I’m really excited to talk about Ours as well. And maybe before we get to it and kind of explain to folks what it is, you’ve had a really interesting career journey thus far. You went to some very impressive schools, then you’re kind of in finance for a bit. And now you’re doing this really interesting entrepreneurial thing. I was wondering if you could walk our listeners through your professional journey thus far.

Jessica Holton: Definitely. Well, thank you. I so I like to think that my professional journey started as a little kid, because started that actually sounds very sad, but it’s really fun. My parents started a Children’s Science Museum when I was four, and they ran it until I was about 14. So my dad was a high school physics teacher, my mom had a business background. And this was essentially my second home. I basically grew up there. So I did everything from like checking customers into thinking about what memberships could look like or birthday parties for kids. But really, what I came away from that was, or what I took away from that was, I watched tens of thousands of families walk through the door, and they would spend hours playing together and learning together.

And I saw them build these bonds and these memories through this experience. So that colored my entire understanding of the power of business, the power of entrepreneurship, the power of building experiences for families. So I carried that through. I knew that I wanted to do something related to business. I ended up going to Georgetown University for undergrad, where I majored in accounting and finance. And I went into finance right after graduating. So I was at Morgan Stanley in the financial sponsors group doing classical investment banking, and then went into private equity at Carlisle and the consumer retail group. And while I was at Carlisle investing in really, really cool personal care and wellness concepts, that’s when I fell in love with the power of brands and their ability in particular to impact women’s lives and help people have better lives.

So after going to business school at Stanford, I started a nonprofit, and then kind of found myself interested in going to couples therapy personally, looked into it, and the rest is history, because that’s what really started the journey of building hours with Adam and Liz.

Meredith Farley: I love that. It’s really, it’s interesting to think about little Jessica, and it reminds me there’s this nice like pizza shop around the corner from our apartment. And there is this maybe 13, not even 13. I think he’s like an 11-year-old boy who gets his family’s place. He is the most like, officious, diligent customer service, like thoughtful person. I’m always like, that kid’s gonna be a billionaire in like 10 years.

Jessica Holton: He probably knows the best what customers like and what their frustrations are and what they want more of or less of. You know, it’s like, as a kid, that’s what I soaked in. And I just, I just fell in love with the power of creating something that changes people’s lives.

Meredith Farley: That is so cool. Alright, well, I want to jump to Ours in a second. But also, I’m super curious now, what sparked your parents to start the what it was a Children’s Science Museum, you said that’s super interesting. What was the story there?

Jessica Holton: I think it was my parents dream, I think in particular, it was my dad’s dream for a while. He had taught physics for so long to high school students. And my mom, they actually met over like science homework. So science always played a role for them. And they they found that there was no as we were kids, there was no Children’s Science Museum in central New Jersey, where I grew up.

And nearly all of our family vacations were to go to see Children’s Science Museums. So it was like, why, they had a dream of building something in central Jersey that didn’t exist, that could really facilitate families learning and playing. And their whole, their whole thing was science could be so fun, if you get to play and learn at the same time. So they built that. And I mean, I had all of my birthday parties there and sleepovers there. And I went there when I was sick and stayed home from school. So it really was such a character in my life.

Meredith Farley: Wow, it’s like entrepreneurship, being in your blood a little bit. All right, cool. So well, now you are co-CEO and founder of Hours. Could you kind of give people a quick rundown of what Hours is?

Jessica Holton: Yeah, I’ll share what Hours is. I’ll also share why I got interested in this space. So Hours is a modern relationship health company. And we offer couples a way to align for their future, talk about the big stuff, invest in the most important part of their lives, their relationships. Our mission is to create a happier, healthier, kinder world through stronger relationships. I got really interested in this because I started looking into couples therapy for me and my boyfriend. We had been together for about four or so years at that point, and things were really good. I loved our relationship. We had all the normal ups and downs. But I wanted to protect what we had and learn more about each other and our relationship.

So we started looking into couples therapy. And we called, I think about 20 or 30 therapists and left voicemails. And kind of got called back by some of them, but not all of them. It was really hard to get started. But the biggest thing that I felt was shame, because therapists would ask, what’s wrong? What brings you here? What are we solving today? And my friends would say, oh, my gosh, I didn’t realize things were so wrong. I didn’t realize you were going to break up. And that feeling of, yeah, it was like, it was like, totally different. It was like, internal in my relationship, there was none of that. And external, like, all of a sudden, because I was looking into couples counseling, this came up.

So that feeling just felt so I, to think that there are millions of other couples, and in particular, for me, women who were made to feel like they felt ashamed of seeking out support in their relationship is really what inspired me to think about what could couples therapy look like if it were truly built from scratch with the modern couple in mind.

Meredith Farley: No, I mean, that makes so much sense to me.

So you so hours, would you call it an app? Is it right to say hours is an app? Or do you think about more as like a broader service?

Jessica Holton: It’s an experience or a brand that has tech is very tech enabled. And the product is the experience in a lot of ways. But we don’t call it an app because the guides, the therapist, the live human touch is such a big part of the experience that couples go through.

Meredith Farley: Got it. And so how did you find your co-found after you had this like kernel of an idea? How did you find your co-founders? And what was your process like to get funding, figure out the product, get it off the ground?

Jessica Holton: I could talk about this forever. So thank you for asking the question. I got so lucky with the co-founder search. I was building, I was starting to after I had this experience in couples therapy personally, I was starting to prototype a few different things within relationship health. And I was meeting everyone in the relationship health space just to do interviews, get to know, and a friend of a friend of a friend, maybe of a friend introduced me to Adam, who was working at the time on a kind of venture studio model to build text message based technology apps to help foster proactive relationship health.

So we got on the phone because we were like, oh, let’s partner together. We could just get to know each other. And we had scheduled that phone call for about 30 minutes. This was April and 2020, the very beginning of the pandemic. And our conversation went on for two hours. And by the end, we were literally finishing each other sentences. And we, we were very interested in partnering together, we were like, we definitely could partner and build together. But by two weeks later, we said, you know, we could just build one company in such a more special magical way together. So we decided to be co-founders pretty quickly, and haven’t looked back since.

And then one of our advisors, we asked so Adam and I are both not therapists. And we asked one of our advisors to introduce us to the best couples therapists that he knew. And he introduced us to Liz and Liz. And we had an incredible first conversation. And we got off the phone and we were like, How could we get to work with someone like Liz? And over the next few months got to know Liz really well. And she’s just an absolutely incredible person. And we got really lucky when we decided and she decided to work with us. So closely. And it’s been about two years of building altogether and testing and iterating. And it’s we feel very lucky about our relationship as co-founders.

Meredith Farley: Yeah, that sounds like some really nice chemistry and kismet. And that sounds lovely. So then. So it was like two years I’d imagine of like, wild building. And you guys are in kind of a launch phase right now. Is that right?

Jessica Holton: That’s right

Meredith Farley: And can and like if can anybody utilize Ours right now? Or is it currently? Do you need to have a connection of some kind to to get it on early stage version of it?

Jessica Holton: Yeah, so we just recently launched officially in the public. And right now it is open to any couple who is engaged. So to take a step back, our big mission is to serve all close relationships, romantic and non romantic. So something you can do with your sibling or with your parents or your best childhood friend. So the only qualifications that we have right now are that you are a romantic couple and you are engaged because we’re focused right now on building the best premarital counseling experience possible.

Meredith Farley: So I’m really curious for your thoughts on this because someone or I feel like I’ve seen some posts on LinkedIn to the effect of like, therapy should be a pre-rack for being a manager, which I actually think I wholly agree with. But I’m curious, you feel like every couple should go through premarital counseling before they get married? I guess that’s redundant. Should every couple go through premarital counseling?

Jessica Holton: I believe that every couple should go to couples counseling before they become a couple.

Meredith Farley: What?

Jessica Holton: I truly truly believe this. So look, we as individuals learn about relationships and how to be a partner in a relationship only from the adults in our lives growing up. And that could have been in my case, 30 plus years ago. And so, while relationships are the number one factor behind our health and happiness and the health of our relationships really does matter, we don’t have any way in the entire education system in life, we don’t have any way of knowing how to or learning how to be in a relationship.

So we are by not doing couples counseling with a potential partner, we’re leaving up to chance that we understand each other that we have the same communication styles that we have the same needs that we can compromise together that we can resolve conflict which is inevitably going to come up that we can build our dreams together. All of those things and so so so much more, we’re leaving up to chance if we don’t be intentional about our relationships. So what I believe, and I don’t think we’re that far off from a future where this is true, is that every couple should have those really intentional relationship conversations very, very early and often, and that having experts and all of the supporting community and the know-how that exists out there influence the way that we learn about relationships so we can really be our best self as our partner, but also so that we can get more out of this life by getting more out of relationships.

Meredith Farley: That’s so interesting. I was looking, I think this it was like, someone on TikTok was talking about how we don’t do enough like personal finance education in school, maybe one semester of one class, but basically huge wildly important on encompassing life skill that we just have to kind of self educate or learn on, because you’re talking about I’m thinking man, I guess, yeah, same thing around relationships that is, that’s really, really interesting to think about.

And so I feel like therapy on the whole has basically lost its stigma. But as you touched on earlier, I think there is anxiety or shame around couples counseling, like, if a friend confides in you that they’re going to it, it’s like, Oh, God, like what’s going on with them. And I know Ours is kind of working to change that. I’m curious, like, why do you think we’ve kind of lost our shame or anxieties around individual therapy, but that couples therapy bias is still haunting us a little bit.

Jessica Holton: Yeah. So a few thoughts here. One, internally, as a team, we, we hypothesized that the de-stigmatization of couples therapy, and couples counseling is about five years behind the de-stigmatization of individual therapy, where, where in the last 10 years, we’ve seen this explosion in embracing individual counseling. We talk in society about my therapist and about what my therapist said, and we give recommendations between individuals for therapists. And we’re starting to see that more and more in couples counseling.

So a few, I think things to dig in there. I’m curious to hear what you’re most interested in. I think one is therapy, especially as an individual with a therapist is such a private, vulnerable experience where you’re talking about things that you might talk about for the very first time with your therapist that you have literally never even said to yourself. And couples counseling, it’s scary to open up that circle and bring someone new into that circle of vulnerability with a third party. And you don’t know what to expect. And you’re kind of looking at your partner and saying, I trust this relationship so much that I trust it in this new environment. So it is a scary thing to do this new thing. But I think that I think that the pandemic has played a big role in one highlighting just how important our relationships are when we were stuck in the same place with a partner. And that made us so happy or that did not make us so happy. It highlighted it magnified anything that was going on in relationships.

And then I think that the conversation just more broadly around mental health and emotional health in general is embracing all kinds of therapy and couples therapy is very much a part of that. But we’re still it’s still something that you know, we talk to potential investors, it’s really interesting because there are some investors who are who are like, this is what I need right now. I’m so excited about this. And then there are some investors who say, I can see why some other couples would need this. And there’s still very much that kind of I think we’re lessening the shame associated with going to couples therapy, but we’re still not at the point where couples are on the whole saying that should be me doing couples therapy. So I think it’s happening very quickly as a result of the pandemic. But definitely is it’s still behind individual therapy. And that’s why we get so excited about playing a big role in spearheading the momentum behind the relationship health movement. And we think that in 10 years, we’ll be looking back and saying, okay, we as society have figured out how to take care of our physical bodies, we’ve figured out how to take care of our mental and emotional health. And now we’ve figured out how to take care of our relationship health.

Meredith Farley: Yeah, no, that’s really interesting, I guess. I wonder, I’m curious if you feel like, I think over the pandemic, you know, mental health just became something that everyone was suddenly a lot more comfortable talking about, even in the workplace, it was like, how do managers support their team’s mental health, how do businesses create policies and processes that support people, their mental health.

And I wonder if you tell me like, is personal therapy like a gateway drug to couples therapy where you’re like, okay, I don’t have to be broken to be made more whole or dig deeper and have fun and enjoy like, you know, that’s the word I’m looking for, I guess just kind of like, exploring your own psyche a bit. And then the idea that like, ah, this would be so fascinating to really see like, not just what makes me tick, but what is what makes like, me and my partner tick and like, how are we working together? So does that are you, do you think there’s a trend there? Or do you think it’s it’s separate?

Jessica Holton: I do think there’s a trend there. I think so, if you look at the couples that we serve today, usually, but not always, one, at least one partner in the relationship has either gone to therapy, or has been really interested in going to therapy, and comes back from that and says, wow, I, what could this, what could happen if the two of us go to therapy and talk about our relationship? And there’s a statistic, something like, I think 70 or so percent of what is talked about in individual therapy is relationships. So I think that it kind of opens up the possibility of, okay, I can talk about my relationship to another person.

What could this all feel like if another person was there, another person with us. But the other thing is, our program and our brand is, we’re all about making this really fun and meaningful and special. And it’s, it feels what we’re building this experience feels like a microcosm of what a relationship ideally feels like, where in a relationship, we have ups and downs, and we have so much laughter and so much joy and heartbreak and problems that we have to figure out how to navigate and adventures that we get to go on. There’s so many emotions in any given relationship.

And that’s the experience that we’re building as well. There’s ups and downs. It’s not always happy, but it’s really, really meaningful and beautiful. And I think that that’s important because I think we have this picture of what couples therapy looks like in our heads from media or from movies that always show it in like very grim situations. And we’re kind of like flipping that on its head and making it something that is celebrated and is an experience versus something that you have to go do or that you’re dragging yourself to go do. It’s something that you really want to do. You crave just like you might crave working out.

Meredith Farley: Like, have you seen the show couples therapy on show time?

Jessica Holton: Yeah.

Meredith Farley: Yeah. I saw the first episode this past weekend and I was like, oh, I’m really excited to talk to Jessica, especially about it and just made me more excited for this combo. But like that show is wild. It is so interesting. And I feel like in some ways, maybe because it’s sensationalized, I presume, I don’t know, but a bit of a depiction of probably more traditionally, I’d say what we think of as couples therapy where it’s like, you’ve been together for a while, and you’re like, we have a problem, we need some help like working through XYZ as opposed to like a proactive or super fun experience like you’re describing. So what is for a couple who was like, yeah, we really want to do this, let’s do Ours. What would the process be like?

Jessica Holton: Well, first of all, if anyone is saying that welcome, we are excited to have you. So right now, we are a premarital counseling experience. And what that means is that for four weeks, couples get a hybrid approach to couples wellness and relationship health. We are actually not therapy right now. And it’s a couples wellness program, an experience that couples go through the overarching goals being talk about the big stuff, align for the future, and have really meaningful, special time talking about something that you might not have talked about otherwise. So the experience is a we take the best of the human touch and the magic that happens between a third person, seeing you as a couple and understanding where you came from and where you want to go.

We marry that to the power of technology and content, and provide a hybrid approach to relationship health. So couples are doing a mix of meeting with their guide, all of our guides are licensed therapists at the master’s level or higher, and they’re meeting with their guide live over zoom, and doing 45 minute sessions that way, combined with doing what we call love where sessions lovers are product. So it’s like software for your love. And those love where sessions are really where the work happens. So they’re doing sessions on things like, what should our finances look like when we are married, if different from today, do we want to have a family? What does that family look like? How do we resolve conflict together? How do we make each other feel hurt?

All of these various sessions that they do are on love where so it’s asynchronous and on their own time. And throughout these four weeks, they’re doing challenges, talking about the big stuff, and getting supported by their guide along the way. And we’ve designed it to be the most important thing in the couple’s life at that given time. So we encourage couples to do it when they have about a month to really focus on hours, and focus on having these conversations and making these plans and working through things that might come up from that, and really celebrate each other and celebrate the, the happy work that goes into building a relationship and a future.

Meredith Farley: Got it. And so I’m curious, because there have been a lot of more, I’d say tech based counseling alternatives that have popped up over the past couple of years, I think because of the pandemic, so like talk space and better health, things like that. Why do you think that kind, that kind of those kind of tools are becoming so popular?

And I’m really curious to know how you think therapeutic tools and tech is going to keep evolving over the next several years? What do you think is next several years? What do you think the future of counseling is? Do you think it’s in person? Do you think it’s remote? Or do you think it’s Ours, like a mix of kind of personal and then tech based work?

Jessica Holton: So I think that they are popping up a lot more and becoming more in our consciousness. One, because people want them, people want to talk about their emotions, they want to work on their mental health, they want to invest time in their emotions and take care of their mental health, just like we take care of our physical health. So I think that tech companies are following that trend and really following what consumers are asking for. Why I think like tech companies in particular are popping up more and more. I think it’s a combination of individuals who want to maybe dip their toes in the water of going to therapy or going to counseling, but don’t quite want to, you know, open their front door, get in the car, go to an office to go to a therapist. But they want to feel what it’s like and kind of understand what this experience could feel like.

And they also, I think tech companies, and as a tech company, we try to make it as easy as possible to get started in an industry that is notoriously really hard to find therapists and to make the scheduling work and to figure out insurance and payments and logistics and who the right match is. I think one of the biggest pain points that mental health tech startups are working through is how to make getting started easier and more convenient and more accessible and approachable. In terms of thinking about the future and what this looks like, I love that question because I love thinking about where the future is headed. I think we’ll see a lot of innovation in this space. I think one, we might start to see more branded in person offerings, especially as we kind of reemerge from the pandemic back into in person, we’re all craving this in person human connection. And I think within mental health, that is absolutely at the center of it.

So I think that might be something we see, I think for better or for worse, and I’m always optimistic. So we’ll see. But I think that we’ll start seeing even more kind of like AI, tech driven startups that potentially serve to replace the therapist or replace kind of the personal element of this. And then I think we’ll see different models of mental wellness. So I think, again, for better or for worse, and, you know, I think there are a lot of nuances to these innovations, but I think we’ll see more and more class based offerings within mental health or peer to peer models or group models, all in favor of making mental health more accessible and more doable.

I think, I think that our hybrid approach, where we take the best of the human touch and marry it to technology is at that sweet spot of, there’s just this magic that can’t be replaced from knowing your guide and knowing a therapist and building that relationship. So I think that we’ll probably see even more exploration around this hybrid approach, where a guide or therapist might be there, but also so is the tech and the content and kind of that asynchronous piece that exists already.

Meredith Farley: Wow, thanks. So when early on in that response, you said you think you might see more kind of branded counseling or therapeutic experiences. What does that mean?

Jessica Holton: So I think, you know, SoulCycle was one of the first branded cycling classes. I think that we will see so I think it’s kind of two things. One, I think that we’ll see destinations almost like spas that are for mental health. And I think that because before the pandemic, I wanted to start something like that where there was a studio that we could go to for this kind of community feeling. So I think that this is like an in person retail kind of trend where it’s not only going closing the door and seeing your individual therapist, but it’s a community, it’s a spot, it’s a destination that you go to to work on mental health or be around other like minded people and feel that connection.

The second thing is, I think that from a branded perspective, I think that there are potentially going to be different ways of delivering this service to individuals and to couples and to anyone seeking out mental health, whether it be working with other brands and partnering with them or white labeling technology to be in therapist hands, but amplify their efforts and expand their efforts.

I think that it’s becoming therapy more and more is kind of this like status symbol in a way where we as society, and I think this is a really good thing is that we’re proud to go to therapy. So I think that that means we will see more and more brands that are built for both millennials and Gen Z in particular crop up.

Meredith Farley: Thinking of SoulCycle as like a version of that as kind of like your one stop therapy shop. You’ve got your one on ones, your group sessions, your crop ins, your exercises, like that’s super interesting. Maybe that is the millennial Gen Z, the bridge we need to get together.

Jessica Holton: That’s brilliant.

Meredith Farley: Wow, that’s like, that’s so interesting. And also the idea of like white label technology for counselors or therapists, like therapists maybe has an app or you like, I don’t know, answer questions once a week or something. That’s super. Thanks for walking me through that.

And then so I know from past conversations we’ve had that you mentioned how Ours is kind of a uniquely good experience for counselors and therapists. And you kind of like educated me a little bit about historically how counselors and therapists haven’t always been set up for success by their employing entities. I found that really interesting. And I was wondering if you could kind of talk about that a little bit and also how Ours has engaged differently with therapists and professional counselors.

Jessica Holton: I would love to. I have to give all of the credit to my co founder Liz, who is an incredible therapist. She’s been a therapist for years and years. And she’s had experiences all over the map in terms of positive and very, very negative experiences. And what I’ve learned from her and interviewing so many like truly hundreds of therapists, is that therapists, they have such an incredibly demanding and special job that their clients rely on them for their lives. And they therapists have they are they’re working hourly.

So they’re only getting paid for times when they’re seeing clients. This is generally and then I’ll talk about hours. They are holding all of their clients and of course they’re trained to do this and are excellent at this. They’re trained to hold their clients emotions, they care for their clients, there’s so much emotional energy and investment going out there. And yet they are being paid very, very little and it depends on where they are in the country, it depends on what if they’re in a private practice group practice, just starting out really experienced, but they get paid so little relative to the impact that they have on people’s lives. So as it relates to Ours, we do things so differently. We are therapists who work with us. They are Ours. And and I mean by that, what I mean by that is, they are the company and they are the experience that couples have. They’re the heartbeat of what couples do with us.

So several different ways. One, we employ our therapists, whether part time or full time, but not as contractors, they are truly part of the team. A lot of other places don’t employ therapists to get their insights. Instead, they are kind of cogs in the wheel or inputs or, you know, things that could be easily flexed up and down. We employ therapists, therapists are part of our co founding team, they are part of our leadership team, they are our advisors, our employees, we they are just they are our team. So I think one is just tactically the employment model of therapists who now can get paid throughout the week and throughout the month, regardless of demand, and if clients show up that day or not. So having that financial stability plus benefits, and the ability to take time off is something that just doesn’t exist. On average.

Secondly, we are a fully remote company. So we allow for a lot of flexibility. And therapists can work part time with us full time. As we grow and have more optionality, we really are optimizing for flexibility. So therapists might want to work with Ours to see couples. And then they might in their private practice be working with individuals. So it’s a really great way to kind of have autonomy over where they’re spending energy in their career.

And the second and or the third and fourth, we, because of this full time model that we have with therapists, what we’re building is truly an interdisciplinary team where a therapist who works with Ours can, in the same day, see couples, talk to couples, work with couples, and maybe create content or create be part of the marketing campaigns or lead what we think the strategy for the product should be, or provide feedback or talk to customers or look at the financials or anything part of, you know, flexing their creativity and other analytical skills, and kind of marry that to doing therapy, it really helps kind of broaden if someone’s interested in doing something beyond helps grow and learn and lead.

And then lastly, our particular model. So therapists who work with Ours are working with, of course, our couples who tend to be way more proactive and preventative in nature. And it gives therapists who are often working with some of some really hard cases. It gives them kind of variety and who they’re seeing. So it helps them see couples who are earlier in their relationship, perhaps therapists feel like they can have even more of an impact because it is earlier in their relationship. And they’re really eager to couples are really eager to dive in. So all of those things have been intentionally designed to make sure that our therapists love working for Ours and feel seen, recognized, understood, and are truly, truly part of the team.

Meredith Farley: Wow. So it’s like a different pay model.

Jessica Holton: Yeah, employees not hourly. Yes, opportunity to learn about different facets of the business. If that’s something they want to leverage or explore later.

Meredith Farley: And then I think I understand what you’re saying, which is that newer couples volunteering to proactively go through a pleasant experience like this might be a different beat in their week than folks who are in a slightly a different situation who need a different type of support. That makes sense. That’s really interesting.

Jessica Holton: Yeah. And I think like the the other thing that we are building is a community. And I know that that sounds like what every business should be building. But we really think that for therapists, it’s again, like they’re they’re going into these rooms or on to zoom. And they’re having these conversations with their client. And then they’re going to the next one and then the next one. And it’s really hard to know if they’re doing a good job or if they’re having the impact they want to have.

And they have questions on like, how could I do this even better? And it’s a really lonely job in a lot of ways. And so we are building we have a network that is open to any therapist, it doesn’t have to be someone who’s working in terms of like an employment with Ours. Any therapist who’s working with couples is invited to join the network. And it’s we’re building a community where therapists can get to know each other, support each other, learn from each other, challenge each other, and really just support each other. And that’s not something that necessarily exists in a lot of places.

Meredith Farley: Yeah, I can totally see that like an actual community and workplace. Yes. Well, alright, so the podcast is called content people. And I know that Ours and you referenced it like has been a lot a lot of time on the content that users will engage with.

It sounds like you’ve done a ton of interviews and research with counselors and therapists about what the content should be about what the question should entail. And I was wondering if you could talk us through what that research and content creation process has been like for you. I’m very curious.

Jessica Holton: Yeah, so content is almost everything for us. And we are currently in a sprints around even more revamping our content and our content process. So this is very top of mind. So content is what we think about as content is the all of the content that goes into the hours experience to drive knowledge to drive the experience and be really the foundation of what couples go through when working with Ours.

So our content takes takes shape in our love war sessions. And what our love war sessions are, are designed to be hour long conversations basically, that have discussion prompts, they have psycho education, where couples are learning new skills, they’re putting those skills right into practice with discussion prompts and exercises and activities, they might be asked to draw something or go on a scavenger hunt. And then come back and share with each other or they might be asked to guess something about their partner and see if they get it right. Or they might be prompted to have really meaningful discussions in a very structured way that feels really safe.

So there’s so much that goes into our content creation process on that front. And I kind of walk through like the inputs, the building and then the testing. So in terms of the inputs, we are very research backed and data driven. So we do a ton of internal research and external research. So in all of our sessions, we, we cross check and build into the sessions external research. So decades and decades of research around relationships and couples, and mental health and emotional health, and incorporate that into Ours.

We also do internal research. So for any given session that we’re building, we are under Liz’s direction, looking at what, what is the best way to build this for our proactive preventive couple, who might want to talk about this in a slightly different way so that they’re moving it forward, instead of a reactive way, which is where a lot of the research today is focused. So we kind of take all this input, we combine that with we talk to a ton of couples. So we do a lot of interviews throughout the week of both customers and couples and understand what they want to know and what they’re struggling with and what where those opportunities are. Then we take all of that and put it into a script. And the script is really where the content creation process happens.

So in that we are taking what we took from research, and building out a narrative that is super easy to understand and explain. And then we go through building out the individual exercises from there. So from the script, we say, okay, we are teaching or we want couples to learn maybe how to identify what their conflict pattern is. Then let’s do an exercise around a structured discussion that says, okay, let’s identify a conflict that we might have had a small one, and kind of dissect it and see what is our conflict pattern there and then synthesize the learnings that way. So that’s like the during the building of the content. And then the last part is the testing phase. And this is super important.

We test every single one of our sessions, every single piece of our content with several couples to make sure that it is achieving our goals, and that we’re every single time we test it incrementally improving it so that it is an amazing experience. And the three design principles that we generally use as a filter to make sure we’re on the right track is, does this change your life? Is it something that you’ll remember for 50 years? And is it fun?

So it’s like research expert input expertise, then kind of the second bit is exploring with the couples, what’s resonating with them, what, etc. figuring out like iterating and tinkering with the precise order and nature of the questions. And then like, you know, coming back to the guiding principles.

Meredith Farley: That sounds like so it sounds fascinating and so complex and interesting.

Jessica Holton: It is all of those things for sure.

Meredith Farley: Anything that really surprised you about the process like, do I’m really curious, what do you have a different perception of relationships now? And what it takes to have a healthy, intentional relationship than you did when you started this process?

Jessica Holton: I really do. What I have learned. What I’ve learned from seeing this is there’s really no right or wrong way to engage with a partner and to be in a relationship. And I think I came into building hours thinking I was going to help couples have the ideal relationship. And I think I had an image of what that looks like in my head.

And over the last couple of years, through all of these exercises that I mean, I’ve tested all of these with my boyfriend, and he has tested all of them with me. And I’ve seen hundreds and thousands of couples go through this. What I have learned is that there’s no right way to be in a relationship. And what works in a relationship today doesn’t necessarily work for those same two people in a relationship a year from now or 10 years from now or a week from now, because we’re just different human beings throughout.

And so my biggest takeaway and people ask me a lot because because I’m not a therapist, and I think we all think that therapists have secrets and they know like secrets to life that us regular people don’t know. And it is really true. But the secret that I feel like I’ve uncovered is that at the end of the day, relationships are meant to be enjoyed. And relationships are what make us the most human and that we have the most human experience because of relationships. And the relationships being meant or meant to be enjoyed means that I used to think that I had to kind of go through like a checklist of my relationship and say, this is working, this is not, this is really not what I need in five years, this is going to be an issue and have like office anxiety wrapped up and seeing if this relationship gets an A plus and should continue.

And as I’ve shifted my mindset there, it’s it’s really about am I the best person I can be in this relationship? Am I supporting my partner in the way that I want to support and be a partner? And are we having fun? Are we enjoying? Are we having an adventure that we want to have? And do we feel loved? And do we feel like life is better because of our relationship? So obviously, there’s a lot of nuances there. It’s not always so easy as should we continue because we’re enjoying each other’s company. There’s so many different parts there. But that’s I think the overall beauty of what we get to do is we support every single couple in wherever they are in their relationship in the ups and the downs and hopefully help them have a really meaningful experience.

Meredith Farley: Oh, well, thank you so much, Jessica for sharing all those and we’re kind of walking us through it. I think it’s so cool. I feel like I would say I have a pitch for a version of this that’s for managers.

Jessica Holton: Oh, I love it.

Meredith Farley: There is almost no people manager who wouldn’t benefit from some type of support in a formal capacity for all of the complicated emotions that they are holding and feeling and all of that too. So I’m so excited to see what Ours does next and to follow you guys.

Is there anything else you feel like I didn’t ask about that you’d want to maybe share or chat about?

Jessica Holton: I don’t think so. This was so fun.

Meredith Farley: Yeah, this was really fun. Thank you so much.

Jessica Holton: Yeah, thank you.

Meredith Farley: Hey everyone, we really hope you enjoyed our conversation with jessica.

Ian Servin: Next week we’ll be talking with Bratton’s own Dave Snyder. Dave is our chief services officer here at Brafton, and he has a ton of insight into why we do the things that we do at Brafton and the lessons that we’ve learned along the way.

Meredith Farley: And we’ll make a couple little plugs here to support the show. You can rate, review, and subscribe. We appreciate it. Those things make a big difference. And if you liked this conversation with Jess, you would probably enjoy my newsletter called Content People.

We’ll throw a link in the show notes to subscribe.

Ian Servin: And that’s it for today’s show. Thank you so much for listening. And if you wanna get in touch with us, you can always email us at