By Joe Hill, Jaunty graduate
There is something special about moving to a new place. Everything that you've done in the past becomes irrelevant. Cliché says, "You can be whoever you want to be; no one knows you." What happens, though, when you try to be someone else but continue the same behavior? Nothing.
I moved to San Francisco in April of 2015. In the year prior, I lost 100 pounds and taught myself about men's style. I'd created a website to help other men become remarkable in their own health and fitness. I was determined that, as I left my old life to begin anew in body, spirit and career, I was going to be different.
I realized quickly, though, that I didn't know how to be anyone else. My entire life, I'd thrived on the affirmation of others. I needed everyone's approval. I was fat and sloppy and relied on the "funny guy routine" to get other people to like me. It never mattered what I wanted; my job was to become a chameleon to my surroundings because that's how I obtained the approval of others.
It was my goal to change. It's an interesting place to be ready to change but not to know how. As the Buddhist proverb would have it, "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear." Enter Jaunty.
I'd lived in California for four days when I went to a free Jaunty workshop, and five when I met Eric Waisman for a one-on-one. I was eager to dive in and dive I did.
The six-week course was valuable. The treasure of Jaunty is that you leave each class with the courage, knowledge, and drive to begin to change. I would begin the homework with just enough gallantry to make one small change, then another.
There was a specific change that I struggled to make about halfway through the class. I didn't know it then, but this one change, this single experience, would open the floodgates of progress and put me in a place where my life was completely changed. That struggle was familiar to many of us and is known commonly as "approach anxiety"; Seeing an attractive person and feeling unable to start talking to them.
While working with Jaunty coach Craig Gibbons in a one-on-one session, I saw her: the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.
"Go," Craig encouraged me.
"Go now," he commanded.
I was stunned. To Craig, this was normal and within the bounds of where my progress should have lied. To me, however, she was an angel with no interest in talking to me. I became overwhelmed and stunned.
"Go make her day," he said in a final effort. Light bulb. I finally understood that it wasn't about me. She was going to be excited about this. He was right. I approached and as soon as I began speaking, the anxiety subsided. Her soft features were countermanded by the smile that stretched across her face. She was glowing. It was in this moment that I realized that I have the capacity to be the person who goes after what I want in every area of my life.
In a new city where I accepted the challenge and wasn't sure what to expect from Jaunty, I left the course with a new skill-set, new confidence, and new friends. All of that is mute in comparison to my new mindset. At the end of the course we were asked, "What is your biggest takeaway?"
I said, "I am allowed to have the edge. I am allowed to have what I want. I am allowed to have the girl, the job, the friends; I am allowed."
By Jaunty Social Trainer, Craig Gibbons
I was never a naturally social person. Throughout my life, I've struggled with some social anxiety. I had fear in dating as well as making friends. I often had interactions where I didn't know what to say or felt a lingering awkwardness. Making connections with others was extremely important to me, but for some reason I was unable to do so. I felt like I was in a hole, unable to dig myself out. In my early adult life, I read up on tips for self-confidence and dating as well as magic tricks that I could use to start conversations or impress people at parties. Through my personal training and experimentation, I felt pretty confident in my abilities to meet others and make connections. But I soon realized that my skills were not enough.
In 2012 I moved to San Francisco for school, and knew all of four people living in the city - my three roommates and an ex-girlfriend. Being shoved into an unfamiliar environment I was overcome by my own anxiety and clung to what was comfortable. I went from home to class and straight back home so that I could avoid awkward social interactions. Rather than making any new friends, I spent my free time Skyping or calling my hometown friends. Once again, I found myself in that same hole.
When I heard about the free Jaunty workshop, it promised the ability to connect with people and create a social circle. It sounded exactly like what I was looking for. I went to the workshop and fell in love with Eric and the skills he taught. I followed up with a six-week class, and fully immersed myself into the world of social intelligence. Focusing on the approach, assertiveness, building status, and making connections, I rapidly changed my own world. My hole became a staircase which led to the top of a mountain. With my new skills, I began coaching my friends and working with Eric, coaching other students so that I could more fully understand how it all works.
Seven months into working with Jaunty, I finally realized something. I paused my life and stepped out of my body for a moment to see. I was at school, sitting on the grass during a hot day. I was surrounded by friends. Not just friends, but people whom I called family. I'd always known that I wanted to belong, and at that moment I realized that I did.
Developing those relationships has created a home for myself. Keeping my status high has turned many of my friendships into mentorships where people in my life look up to me to lead or give advice. This has turned into business opportunities, more introductions, loyal and giving friendships, as well as a dating life of abundance. It's all felt like magic. Most importantly, my journey has led me to a place of social freedom where I belong.
By Fayette Fox, Jaunty's Writer and Community Manager
I discovered Jaunty through a housemate. She was surprised I was interested. My mom was too. They both saw me as so social. But I had social anxiety just like everyone does to some degree. I guess I just did a decent job of hiding it.
I had moved to London after college. It was the early 2000s and global perception of the U.S. was pretty low. I felt ashamed of my Americanness and desperately wanted to fit in. Americans were loud and outgoing, so I made myself quieter and more reserved. I made friends through grad school, work and my book group, but rarely approached strangers. There were times I wanted to be more boldly social, but I held myself back because people were guarded and I was afraid of breaking some unspoken taboo.
When I moved back to the States nearly a decade later, I initially felt like a stranger in my own country. I didn't know what the rules were anymore.
After living in San Francisco for a year and a half, I had some friends I liked a lot, but hadn't cultivated the community I really wanted yet. I was a writer, working part-time as a nanny, which meant I was often either hanging out with a toddler, or alone, writing. I'd become good at connecting with people I had things in common with, but wasn't sure how to keep a conversation going with everyone else. Sometimes I felt friendly, outgoing and poised. But other times I felt awkward, speaking quickly and stumbling over my words.
Winter of 2014, I signed up for Jaunty's free workshop which was a total eye-opener. I carried on with the six-week course which transformed the way I interacted with others. I learned to speak slower, play with pauses and suddenly became aware of how much I fidgeted when I was uncomfortable. I practiced uncrossing my arms and became more at ease with stillness. It was hard, but I felt really good starting to hold myself in this new way.
Around week two, I realized for as much as I loved London, I'd picked up some bad habits out there. I'd internalized a laundry list of assumptions about how to behave -- don't interrupt (it's rude), don't approach strangers (they'll think you're a crazy American), etc. etc. These rules might have made sense for London, but in San Francisco they were holding me back from connecting with people.
Jaunty assigned homework and paired us with another student as an "accountability partner". Every day I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone, stopping strangers in the street, experimenting with different types of humor and getting people's phone numbers. I felt like I was discovering a totally new way of being in the world. I even learned how to connect with people I had very little in common with. Learning new people skills was exciting and I felt I was making real progress. A huge breakthrough came when I successfully befriended a woman on an elevator, something I never could have done pre-Jaunty.
Now more than a year since the course ended and I'm continuing to work on my Jaunty skills. I feel like I'm getting back to my original, authentic self. I'm more confident and realize if I give in to social anxiety, I'm only holding myself back. I feel like I'm starting to create the community I want. And thanks to Jaunty, I now know I can strike up a conversation with anyone and make friends everywhere I go.
By Eric Waisman
This blog was originally published in Jaunty's June newsletter while Eric was living in New York City for a few months.
I'd like to share the trick I have been using to explode my social circle. In the first few weeks here, I have already been invited to countless rooftop parties, been asked to speak at two large events and was invited by the head of the air conditioning mafia to his mansion for a dinner party. Yep, that happened. Here's what I have been doing and you can do it too.
Using our Jaunty skills I have been meeting a ton of people through WeWork, my roommates' friends, at parks, bars, cafes, on the subway, and of course...on the street. At some point in the conversation I bring up that I am new to NYC.
If you are not new to your city you can say, "I'm looking to get out and meet new people", or that you are always looking out for a new adventure.
Then I say I would love for them to let me know about all of the great events they know of in the city. I frame it as though they are connected to insider stuff, (which everyone is to a certain extent,) and that they have status by having such cool resources. So I straight out ask them to invite me to everything! If you are using your conversational agility skills as we teach at Jaunty, a good percentage of the people will start inviting you to stuff.
Now here is where the magic comes in. Let's say I met 20 people and asked them all to invite me to their fun events and let's say five start inviting me to things. I will invite everyone (all 20 minus the person who invited me) to all of the events from the five (unless it's a private house party). So even for all of the other 15 people that have not invited me to anything, now I am, out of the blue, inviting them to a bunch of cool stuff. That makes them start inviting me to things too.
Plus, I am now showing up to the events with a bunch of people I know and I can start introducing people to each other. This has been a crucial piece of my building my social circle here. My new and old friends here are calling it "Eric's Posse."
This is the power of showing vulnerability up front. You ask people to take you under their wing, and turn it around and take them under your wing. Getting invites feel great and being able to invite people you've just met to events feels awesome. Try it out and let me know how it goes.