By Fayette Fox, Jaunty's Writer
"I'm an immigrant," says Solomon Joseph, a hospital assistant with a startup dream. He came to the U.S. three-and-half years ago, "Legally," he hastens to point out.
He wasn't sure how to engage with people in this new culture.
When he went out socially and told people he was from Pakistan, they asked him if he was a terrorist. "We're not sure we should talk to you or not," he recounts. "We don't know if you have something around your waist." As a Christian, Solomon was a minority in Pakistan where people could be closed to him, responding with fear. In the U.S. the situation was different but the response was all too familiar.
So he bent over backwards being nice and putting himself last. His co-workers put a lot of demands on him and he felt he had to say "yes" because he wanted them to like him. Socially, he made friends with people who shared his faith, but struggled to create a broader social circle.
He discovered the free Jaunty workshop through Meetup and signed up for the six-week class on social intelligence. "I had to find myself. I'm a person who knows how to speak English. I know how to communicate." But knew he was lacking somehow. He wanted to find a good social circle, learn how to meet new people, enhance his leadership skills, and become more assertive.
Solomon describes the class as a fun and safe learning environment.
He remembers an assertiveness assignment to keep your voice strong and say "no". He tried it out at work when a colleague asked him to do something when it was time to go home. Previously, Solomon would have stayed late and taken care of it. But instead, he used his new found assertiveness skills. "I told him, 'I understand what you want. I can't stay, I'm going to go.'" They were shocked. Solomon says it feels really good, "Pushing boundaries, putting my opinion first. [Saying] what I feel and how my time really matters."
He's kept his assertiveness going. "I'm not anymore a yes sir or yes ma'am guy. It feels relaxed. Whatever I said I said. That's my opinion. I have my right to be heard." He says it's empowering to be able to speak up for himself like that. He thinks people don't like him as much at work and the change is hard for them, but he doesn't care.
Solomon is going out a lot and making new friends. A few weeks ago, he was at The Blue Light with a group of Jaunts. Some people were hanging around the pool table, but not really playing. "I was like, should I ask or not? Who cares! I should ask." Solomon said, "Hey, are you using this space? If not, we can play." They all started talking and ended up taking a group photo.
"I can lead a conversation. I don't care who I'm talking with now. I'm responsible for my own feelings and words and other people are responsible for theirs. Jaunty is more helping me in my professional career, besides going out and being social."
Solomon wants to launch a startup, importing high-quality, custom-made suits from Thailand. He went to the SaaStr annual event earlier this month, which he describes as an "epic party" for VCs and VPs in the startup community. "That was the biggest Jaunty help for me. To be in a party and make connections with hard-to-reach people."
Had he gone to the event before Jaunty, he would have been insecure entering a high status party. Instead, with his Jaunty training he felt really confident which surprised and impressed the CEOs. He went in excited to get as much information as he could. "For me, approaching someone wasn't difficult. I put myself out there meeting incredible CEOs. I was able to express my opinion and what is my plan. Then I got some good ideas from those VPs and VCs." They exchanged contact information and someone from New York told Solomon he likes his idea and wants to sit down and talk with him about it. He also got some great guidance from someone with a background in clothing imports. He says it was, "...Great talking with someone about the potential of my startup dream."
Solomon believes, "Anyone who comes to Jaunty can be the spotlight of the night. It doesn't matter who you are, what people think of you. It's what you think of yourself. It really matters what you want to do."
He shared a quote from New York Times Bestselling romance novel "Cold-Hearted Rake" by Lisa Kleypas. "Desire is always better motivation than fear." Solomon loves this idea. To him it means, "Fearing a situation doesn't matter. If you have a desire to do something you will do it." All of us at Jaunty have no doubt that Solomon will.
By Eric Waisman, Jaunty's Founder
"I'm too busy."
"I don't have time for that anymore."
"I love [ insert activity / hobby / dream here ] but I haven't done it in ages. It'd be too hard to get back to it."
Sound familiar? I hear these complaints everyday. Remember that Rolling Stones song? Time is on your side.
Almost 10 years ago I got hired by the Regional Director of Merrill Lynch. He was California's head guy at the company. A tall, skinny dude with a charming southern accent, he was extremely high status, internally and externally. He always played it cool. He'd even jam on the drums with the bands at the holiday parties.
Everyone was impressed by him and he became Merrill Lynch's Regional Director of the Western US. Then he went through a nasty divorce at the same time as the company almost went bankrupt. I remember we had a conversation about how bad he wanted to go back to his roots and play music. He ended up getting promoted to New York City where he ran the company's wealth management division across the country. More importantly, he started playing music again. In the last eight years he's released five albums, played hundreds of shows, and has a large following on Spotify. At the end of the day he became a rockstar and still runs a fortune 500 company.
Along those lines, my first year at Merrill Lynch, a top financial advisor stunned everyone when he quit his job to help his daughter become a rockstar. He left a business he'd put a lot of time into to help his daughter pursue her dreams because he believed in her and it was what he loved. He knew nothing about the music industry, but started spending a lot of time, many years, learning about it. It was a huge shift, but he learned.
I was in a pop-punk band in college. We played shows and released an album. I loved it and it was a huge part of my life. Then I stopped playing guitar for like nine years. Crazy, right? In just the last three months, I picked it up again. I'm jamming and I even wrote a song. You can listen to it here. It feels great.
So what happened? Why did I stop playing for so long when I could have been a lightning fast guitarist and song making machine by now?
Well, during the past nine years I prioritized another passion and skill. I focused on becoming an expert in social intelligence and created Jaunty. I love helping people overcome their social anxiety and become social dynamos. That feels really good. But who cares about our reasons for putting things off? What's important is realizing that time is on our side. We have more than enough future hours.
My girlfriend's professor, Loretta, is helping Jaunty create a social intelligence class for kids. When Loretta was 36 she felt she wanted to continue her education, but worried she was too old. She told her dad, "When I get my PhD I'll be 40!" And her dad said. "Well, do you want to be a 40-year-old with or without a PhD?"
It's not too late. We can keep making excuses for not following our dreams. Or we can bravely take steps towards them. We can shift our priorities and we can get past our fear of failure. You can get better and better at any skill.
According to Josh Kaufman, bestselling author of "The First 20 Hours," we can get reasonably good at something after just 20 hours of focused practice. That's about 45 minutes a day for a month. If you took the next 20 hours you use on mindless TV, web, movies, or even getting shitfaced, and put it towards something more creative or productive what would it be? Music, writing, social skills?... let me know, I’ll hold you to it.
Oh, and by the way, the daughter of that financial advisor that quit isn't doing too shabby. Her name is Taylor Swift, you should look her up.