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!