By Alex De Carvalho, Jaunty Grad
When I heard about Jaunty, I thought: “Social intelligence? This is not for me, I don’t need this, I’m from France, it’s in my blood”. After all, I had never had any problems making new friends or getting dates wherever I lived (France, Spain, Portugal, the U.S.). I was extraverted and knew all about being social. Furthermore, professionally speaking, I had been very successful per our society’s definition as I had climbed the corporate ladder quite fast. I had directed teams and complex work with numerous prestigious Fortune 500 companies and provided business advisory to senior executives across the globe. I had also had gone to many presentations and corporate sales trainings that had talked about social intelligence to some degree. So, would you agree that I did not need any class on social intelligence skills? Well, on the contrary!
You see, despite all of this, I had reached a point in my life where I felt completely lost. I had recently moved from Minneapolis to San Francisco, and shortly after, lost my corporate job as being remote was not a long-term option for my employer. At that point, I felt like an outcast, like I did not fit as everything in SF was so tech-oriented and I had zero background or expertise in this field. I could not find another job and felt it was because my corporate background was not valued here. I thought that because I was not in tech, the tech world was rejecting me.
But the truth was that I did not know what to do next with my life anyway and was finding it very hard to connect with people for friendship or business. It’s like I had completely “lost” my social intelligence skills that had helped me be so successful my whole life. I’ll admit that at that moment, I had lost confidence in myself, in my abilities and got quite depressed. I did not recognize myself and was having probably what society would call a midlife crisis.
This is when I heard about Jaunty’s social intelligence class. After overcoming some initial cultural reluctance, I decided to sign up. And can I tell you something? It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
I started to gain back confidence and assertiveness with the first crazy homework. I had to ask complete strangers (people I had never talked to): “What do you think about me?” As you can imagine, I got quite nervous at first. People were going to think that I was crazy, needed to be medicated and put in a straitjacket. Then, I got excited because I had never done this before. To my surprise, the answers I got (e.g. confident, driven, loves fashion) helped me realize that I was just creating and projecting fears and thoughts that were not real. It was all in my mind! After this exercise came the theory in class around frames (my frame/reality versus other’s people’s frame). It all made so much sense!
When I look retrospectively, I got so much more out of this class than what was written on paper. First, I met some truly unique and special people that I’m now honored to call friends (and yes, some are in tech!). Second, there is truly a Jaunty “alumni spirit” that made me feel part of a community of people from all walks of life. They all came to take this training because, like me, they struggled at some point with social anxiety or self-worth for various reasons. Third, I did recover my social intelligence skills through various simple and effective frameworks and tools that were taught during the class.
I recently went on my own to an important business networking event where I did not know anybody. At first, my inner gremlin voice came up. But I was able to shut it down through 1) replacement thoughts and 2) by applying some of Jaunty’s framework. The result? I’m currently working on projects with three people I met at the event.
And most importantly, Jaunty was a lot about personal development if you were open to widening your perspective and see the bigger scheme of things. It really helped me re-wire my brain and shift my mindset by tearing down limiting (self)-beliefs and barriers that I had created. My key learning from all of this? Possibilities are limitless in this life! Anything is truly possible as we individually are the creators of our own path. And social intelligence is one of the most powerful skills to help just do that. Who would not want this?
With many on-going life projects (such as writing a book, building my company), I now look ahead with strong confidence, self-belief and a re-ignited fire. No matter where I go or what I do, I now have a secret weapon in my back pocket to help me (and others) thrive along the way. Yes, you guessed it right: social intelligence!
By Eric Waisman, Jaunty's Founder
Whoever invented the selfie stick must be a billionaire by now. I recently got back from traveling to Israel for a family wedding and then Greece to spend time with family and friends. It was a great trip. In Greece I spent most of my time in Oia on Santorini. You'd recognize the town from calendar photos even if you don't know the name. The place is stunning with pastel houses nestled into the hillside, overlooking the Mediterranean. Everywhere I went I saw tourists taking selfies like their whole trip revolved around it. Just being in this beautiful place wasn't enough. They wanted to show it off to the folks at home, former co-workers, and old friends they haven't seen since high school.
This desire for external validation and "fame" is all part of what I call the Big Me movement. Big Me is about curating the perception of you on social media. It means playing the role of celebrity and paparazzi. It means broadcasting a very specific side of your life and pretending that the dull moments, disappointments and insecurities don't exist.
We live in the Big Me generation, but we can choose another route instead. I call it the "Under the Radar Route." I love this route. One of the most well-connected and powerful friends I have, taught me a long time ago to come across as the "little guy."
Here are some ideas to play with getting less external validation.
1. Try taking a fun trip without checking-in at the airport or posting any pictures of it. I love exploring new places, even for a weekend. Most of my experiences are not well documented, and those are sometimes the best ones.
2. Help a co-worker, business partner, or loved one with something big, and don't take any credit for it. In fact, give them all the credit.
3. Simplify your life. Less is more. No need to keep up with your neighbors, you only need to keep up with you. When I sold my house and downsized my possessions and the people in my life, I was way happier. I realized I got a lot more out of life once I was surrounded by quality people who taught me things and who I really care about. Also talk less. I talk a lot in a work context, but outside I try and listen more.
4. Cut back on social media. My social media pages suck and that's a good thing. Seriously, they don't represent me at all because I've stopped actively adding to them all the time.
5. Say no to some experiences. If you feel like you are going to some party or event because you have to for someone else, or it'd be good for your reputation...then, umm, don't go every time. Go to the ones that will help you grow and that you will enjoy.
Enjoy the moments you have. Take pictures for nostalgia or to share with loved ones who really do care. Be aware of your motivations. Before you click, ask yourself why you're posting something and what a "like" means to you. If it's too much for other people, try reining in that Big Me mentality and living your life for you.
Have other ideas for putting Big Me in check and weaning ourselves off external validation? I'd love to hear from you.
By Fayette Fox, Jaunty's Writer and Community Manager
"Before I felt bad about saying no to people," says Jaunty graduate Sinan Mouline. "Now I feel more comfortable doing it. Also I can ask for what I want. If the other person can do it, great. If not, okay."
Born and raised in Morocco, Sinan went to college in France. These days he's a software engineer in San Francisco.
Sinan was recently invited to a big annual dinner. But he already had plans that night. In the past he would have tried to change his existing plans for fear of offending his friends. Thanks to his Jaunty social intelligence skills and assertiveness training, he did something else instead.
"I simply said, 'Hey, thank you for the invite, but I have a prior commitment. Let's hang out soon." His friend said okay and it wasn't a big deal.
Sinan is big on self-improvement and after going to a number of Meetups, realized he never instigated conversations. In other aspects of life he rarely approached others.
"I didn't feel like interrupting people and asking something."
He wanted to have the choice, to be able to talk to people for business or socially if he wanted to.
Sinan heard about Jaunty through Meetup and hoped it might help. He enjoyed the free workshop. He took advantage of a discounted one-on-one session with Eric where they talked about the areas he wanted to work on, like networking and his social life.
Sinan says, Jaunty's six-week course was, "really helpful. Every class had a lot of content." He appreciated the homework and says "it kept us involved" outside of class. Some of his classmates met up to do homework together, approaching strangers and trying out different techniques. "It helped us stay motivated and reach our goals week after week." Now, about two months after the class ended, Sinan still meets up with some of them.
Professionally, things are going well for Sinan since he's been working on his assertiveness. "I remember Eric saying it was important to speak louder, look people in the eye, and not be afraid to say what we think. Since then I've been getting a lot more responsibilities."
These days he finds it much easier to go to networking events and actually talk to people. If he's interested in them, he can do a contact exchange. "It's all quite easy with the framework from Jaunty. You just follow the steps."
Sinan says, the class, "also helped me understand myself better. I know that as much as I like interacting with people and being social, I need to have time to myself to recharge. For example, I know it's hard for me to go from social gathering to social gathering, to social gathering. So now I just avoid it. Now I say to my friends, 'Hey I need to go home and recharge. I'll meet up with you later.' Otherwise I'm not mentally present with them." Before he'd just keep on going, even if he was too tired and drained. "Now I know my needs."
He's been thinking a lot about his current and past friendships. "I think [Jaunty's Social Trainer] Craig mentioned there are two types of friends: The friends you choose and the friends you just end up being friends with. Now I'm more careful about that. I don't feel as bad setting boundaries and trying to have more friends of choice, rather than friends of convenience. I'm not necessarily going to turn my back on my friends of convenience, but I'm spending more time with my friends of choice. That means I spend more time with people I genuinely like."
By Chinh Huynh, Jaunty graduate
"Hey Brian, do you have a second?"
Brian continued looking at the screen, deep in thought.
"Is this going to be quick?"
"Yes. I'd like to let you know that I won't be able to continue working on your project. Thank you for the opportunities that you gave me."
I got Brian's attention. As he was processing the news, I sat there in silence, calm and composed. A promising collaboration went bad. When Brian convinced me to help with the project two months ago, I thought it was a perfect opportunity to work with a senior member in the organization. Toward the end, Brian seemed distracted and things got dragged out for no good reason. After trying everything I could with no progress for a week, I decided to call it quits.
Brian thanked me and shook my hand. He didn't ask me why, I didn't feel like I need to justify myself either. Did Brian lose any sleep over this? I don't know, but that's beside the point. It's Brian's feelings, he will take care of it. As for me, I made a promise in my Jaunty class to live an assertive life, and I need to hold myself responsible for it.
Having options is powerful. Knowing that you have the ability to walk away from a bad situation will give you peace of mind. While everyone knows to look for a competing offer when searching for a new job, they often fail to apply the same principle in the most important aspects of their life: friendships and relationships.
A friend of mine is not happy. She thinks she sacrifices too much and her boyfriend does not reciprocate.
"So leave him," I said.
"That's what I'll do, when I know what I want. I don't know what I want".
I feel for her. I was in a similar situation before. As poetic as it sounds, I learned from Jaunty that I don't need to sacrifice to be in a healthy relationship. What I need to do is talk to a lot of people, invest in the ones that fit in my life and let go of the rest. As I made new friends that treat me well, it became easier to cut loose of broken relationships. When you have the ability to create an abundant social life, you're no longer tied to a relationship that "has to work". You no longer need to sacrifice for love.
People come to Jaunty for various reasons. For me, assertiveness and finding quality people are the key takeaways from Jaunty's six-week program. A month after graduation I made two new friends that I greatly enjoy spending my time with. I stopped interacting with negative people. I no longer say yes when I want to say no. I lost a few friends over this but that's okay because I can make new friends who respect my decisions.
I still feel anxiety when talking to new people. That little churn in my stomach before making an approach hasn't gone away yet. Putting myself out there is hard. It always has been. What kept me going is the Jaunty alumni network that pushes me to continue advancing my social skills even after the class is over. Every ending is a new beginning and my social life has just begun.
"Today I will live a social and assertive life."
Signed Chinh. Witnessed by Jaunty. April 7, 2015.