On the second floor of the new headquarters of Snap Inc. in Santa Monica, Calif., is a room dedicated to helping employees open up. It’s round and lined with potted plants. “Speak from the heart,” reads a framed sign on the wall. “Listen from the heart.” Employees show up in groups of about a dozen, sit cross-legged on black cushions, and take turns with the “talking piece,” a heart-shaped purple geode that gives the bearer the right to confidentially share deep thoughts.
This is the inner sanctum for what Snap calls “Council,” a sort of New Age corporate retreat that uses a technique Chief Executive Officer Evan Spiegel learned in childhood. It was also where I found myself on a Friday morning in July. Council meetings, I’d been told by the company’s communications chief, are “sacred.” They’re also a real-life example of what Spiegel wants people to do with his smartphone app, Snapchat: share intimately, without fear of judgment from the outside world.