By Eric Waisman
I live on a hill. You can tell who lives on a hill in San Francisco because they usually have strong legs, and I think we have some nice butts here in the city because of it. Every day I have the option to take a longer, less inclined route home or a steeper, shorter hill. I usually pick the longer, easier hill. This got me thinking about motivation.
The body and mind want to conserve energy and do what’s easier. The harder the physical obstacle the more energy we burn and our body lets us know that it would rather not be doing this.
The harder a math problem, the more our pupils dilate and our brains burn up energy. Our cells and microbes want all of our resources. They really don’t care about our ability to figure out an algorithm or sing and play guitar at the same time.This may be why it’s hard to feel motivated even when we wish we were. Motivational speaker Zig Ziglar said, “People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing — that's why we recommend it daily.” What if we can redefine motivation?
We often think of motivation in terms of what we feel like doing. Like that, “Yeah, I’m definitely in the mood to go to the gym,” feeling.
Well, I don’t know about you, but personally I’m not in the mood to workout well over 50 percent of the time. Exercising is hard. Sometimes it gets the better of me and I don’t go. And that’s even though I know I will usually feel great afterwards and that exercise is important for my long-term health.
We should stop depending on “feeling” like doing it. When you have a goal, don’t wait until you’re in the right mood to take action. The motivation should be the fact that you want to accomplish your goal. Basically your want is going to be way more consistent than your mood.
A lot of people come to Jaunty with the goal of wanting to meet new people. Awesome. Our free social intelligence workshop and six week course offer tons of practical tools for making genuine connections with people. But having that goal doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily feel like going out and saying hi to a fun stranger.
A lot of us feel social anxiety around approaching people we don’t know. (“What if they don’t want to talk to me?” “What if I don’t know what to say?”) At Jaunty we give our students homework to go out and practice the social intelligence skills they need to meet new people.
Everyone gets an accountability partner to help motivate them, even when they’re nervous. By focusing on the goal of meeting new people for friendship, romance, or work, we can push ourselves to take the first step and talk to someone even when it’s hard. And just like our legs get stronger the more hills we walk up, the more we flex our social intelligence skills, the easier it gets to connect with people. Let your “want” lead your motivation rather than your mood.
By Fayette Fox, Jaunty's writer
“I like to organize events...parties," said Zubin Dittia, a software engineer at a Silicon Valley startup. "I’m a connector. I like to bring people together. If I like someone, I include people in my circle of friends, trying to grow the group.”
Originally from India, Zubin has been in the U.S. for 25 years. He likes dancing to electronic music, especially psychedelic trance. He enjoys the feeling of meditating in his own thoughts. Health-conscious, Zubin enjoys hiking and reading about nutrition. He's also into solo travel.
Zubin remembers being "pretty introverted" during his first 12 years in the U.S. He was, “Clearly afraid of interacting with anyone other than the people I worked with or the people I already knew very well.” He wasn’t happy with this way of being and, “...didn’t have good friends down in the South Bay.”
“At some point in time I forced myself to change. That’s partly my nature. I want to put myself in uncomfortable situations. I tend to learn more stuff that way.” So Zubin pushed himself outside his comfort zone and found an international activity group on Craigslist. Initially “terrified” because he didn’t know anyone, over time he got increasingly comfortable. Eventually he and a friend became the group’s organizers.
Zubin believes interacting with people who are very different from yourself is key to getting more comfortable in social situations. However, while he was fine interacting with people he knew or was introduced to, he wasn’t comfortable, “...approaching a random stranger on the street. That’s where Jaunty has helped me.”
He signed up for Jaunty's free workshop on social intelligence because it sounded interesting. “I’m interested in anything and everything. If it looks a little unusual and I don’t know much about it I’m curious. The more different it is, the better. I’ve been several times to Burning Man." Zubin did the Jaunty workshop, liked founder Eric Waisman, and signed up for the six-week course on people skills.
His main goal was to learn something new. He ended up learning invaluable, practical skills which boosted his self-confidence, as well as making great friends. He feels Jaunty’s "crazy assignments" helped him “develop a social bond" with people in his class. They took over bars practicing their social intelligence homework. Zubin's class ended in early summer and he still regularly hangs out with everyone. Next month he's renting a house in Tahoe with 10 classmates.
After the course, Zubin went on vacation to Taiwan on his own. He'd driven a scooter along a marble gorge. He stopped for lunch at a roadside cafe with a lot of families. He noticed one woman who was sitting on her own. "Before Jaunty I would have ignored her and gone to my own table. But I went up to her and said, ‘Hi, how are you doing? How’s your day going?’” They hit it off and had a great conversation. If their schedules had been better aligned they might have traveled together.
“How confident do you feel saying, ‘Hi how are you? What’s going on in your life?’” Zubin asked. “The more you do it, the easier it becomes. You don’t even think about it and automatically start to treat everyone as your friend. If you approach the whole thing as 'I love everyone and everyone loves me,' people just start opening up to you. As long as you approach with that thought in your mind everyone is very friendly.”
“Jaunty has even changed the way I walk or I stand." Instead of putting his hands in his pockets, he's gotten into the habit of just hooking his thumbs in his pockets. “It makes you feel more relaxed. You feel more confident. I notice other Jauntyites doing it as well. I even do it as I’m walking around, like I’m king of the world.” Zubin also keeps Jaunty’s techniques on open body language in mind at work. “I just take up a lot more space. I spread out my legs a bit. I put my hands out. It’s a very very open posture. It makes you feel more confident in everything you do.”
Zubin appreciates the listening techniques he learned at Jaunty. “When I’m listening to someone, [I] look them in the eye more, but also listen without moving too much. [I] give occasional indications that I’m listening, as opposed to constantly nodding my head. That gives you more of a feeling of poise. I’ve found it makes people talk with you more sincerely like you’re really listening.”
Who would benefit from Jaunty? “I think almost everyone would benefit. Particularly, I look at the people I work with, especially software engineers. They are not really good with initiating contact with someone who is different from themselves. I think they would benefit tremendously. It’s a good skill for everyone to have. I think everyone should go to Burning Man once, and everyone should take Jaunty classes.”
Here’s how to avoid a barroom brawl (or getting walked all over) from Jaunty’s Head Instructor, Craig Gibbons.
About a year ago, I was with some Jaunty students at a bar for one of our community get-togethers. I had my back against the bar as I sat on a barstool talking to a pair of students. The topic turned to something I was passionate about, and I became animated while I talked to them. We all became very immersed in our conversation, putting blinders on to what was happening around us. Suddenly, our conversational flow was broken.
“Hey!” the woman to my right grumbled. “Can you move away from me?! You keep nudging me with your arm.” I distinctly remember her stabbing tone. She seemed to expect a confrontation. I had a few options of where to go from there.
As a naturally passive person, my first response would have been something like, “Oh, I’m so sorry. I’ll move away from you,” while being small, quiet and submissive. But what happens if I don’t stand up up for myself and let someone walk all over me? It could become a habit, hurt my self-esteem and transfer to other relationships. Basically, even if what I was doing wasn’t ill-intentioned and she was being a jerk, by acting passively, I would have taken responsibility for the woman’s feelings.
Another option would have been for me to fight fire with fire. “Why don’t you move?!” I could have snapped back. But that would have exacerbated the issue. A fight in front of my students and a new enemy were not what I was looking for.
But there’s actually a third option beyond fight or flight. Humor. The woman spurted aggressive words at me and I joked with her. After taking a second to process what she was saying and the situation, I looked at her and said something about getting a yardstick from the bartender to make sure we were the appropriate distance from each other. I said it in a light and playful tone. You could say it was a Jaunty tone.
The lady seemed shocked by my unexpected tone. Then she let out a huge laugh of silliness and relief. After that, I went straight into friendly conversation with her. I asked her what she and the man she was with were up to, and we had an amicable conversation for the next minute or so. After that, I scooted over to give her more room, and returned to conversation with my students.
I love the idea of creating the results you want by leading with your mindset. Had I fallen into the mindset that this woman wanted a confrontation, I probably would have done the passive thing and had a negative interaction with her. But since I intentionally responded to her in a positive way, she reacted positively, and that opened the door to a good conversation with her. She was able to get what she wanted, and I was able to get what I wanted. Win win.
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
Maybe it’s that time of year, but more people seem stressed or nervous. There’s a word that keeps coming up in my social intelligence one-on-ones with folks, and that word is “jaded.” To me, jaded implies a certain cynicism, like you’ve done something so many times it doesn’t excite you anymore, or you think you know how something’s going to play out before it happens.
People tell me they want to make more friends, but they feel jaded and weary of small talk. They want to find love, but they’re exhausted of the cautious, predictable, getting-to-know-you dance of early dating.I think I have been feeling a bit jaded too, whether in relationships, work, travel, or exercise. (Shit, those are a lot of my favorite things!) I decided not to take any holiday vacations this year because going somewhere didn’t feel exciting.
First, I wanted to get rid of this feeling. What happened to my old enthusiasm? But as I read more and re-framed it, I saw it in another light. The best thing about feeling jaded is that you can think long-term. Your emotions can be more even-keeled and you’re not chasing the quick high of a new experience. In other words you won’t get temporarily fooled.
Let’s take romantic relationships for instance. Many mistakes happen in choosing a partner because of the high we get from that electric connection with a new person. Self-help author and blogger Mark Manson recently wrote about the difference between romantic love and true love. He says, “Romantic love is a trap designed to get two people to overlook each other’s faults long enough to get some babymaking done. It generally only lasts for a few years at most.” He sees true love on the other hand as a “deep, abiding love that is impervious to emotional whims or fancy” and “a choice.” Basically it’s the long-term commitment to someone regardless of the present circumstances and supporting each other emotionally for the long haul.
When the initial blaze of romantic love fade, and life challenges come up, a relationship is put to the test. A couple learns if their partnership is actually strong enough to weather the storm. If they were previously so intoxicated by romantic love that they were blind to each other’s personal challenges, they might be in for a shock.
But if you're a bit jaded, when you meet a new person, it’s easier to see how they may connect with you beyond the honeymoon phase. How aligned are your beliefs and life goals? How compatible are your communication styles? How strong is their emotional intelligence? Taking a step back and seeing something for what it really is, is a sobering process and might not be that fun. But it can lead to a happier and more fulfilling life. This can also work for scoping out new friends or even a job. (Would that job actually be a good fit for you? Or are you just super excited by the idea of working for that cool company?)
As Jaunty students know, there's a big high in meeting new people and it’s fun. Once you do it enough, you may get a bit jaded and learn to focus on things you are specifically looking for quicker. When you know you can strike up a conversation with anyone, you're coming from a place of abundance, and then can be more thoughtful about the kind of people you really want in your life. That’s why our goal at Jaunty is to get your people skills so second nature that you can concentrate on looking for what you really want long term.
As you look back at your 2016, ask yourself what short-term highs you may have chased versus what longer-term commitments you chose. Either is fine, but one is more fulfilling. Happy New Year.
By Fayette Fox, Jaunty's writer
“I always kind of focused on social improvement,” says recent college graduate, Kaiwen Sun. Born in China he moved to Portland, Oregon with his family when he was five. Growing up he was, “pretty shy and quiet.” He now works as an IT consultant in San Francisco.
“In college I was less shy. But I still hadn’t figured out how to talk to people. I would ask way too many questions. I would try and make other people talk.” He had a tight group of friends who he felt at ease around, but who weren’t interested in meeting new people. Kaiwen did, but found it hard to build rapport. “I never felt like the conversation was really rolling.” On dates, he says, “The hardest thing was knowing how long to make eye contact. I was over thinking it. I think it came off that I was nervous.”
After college Kaiwen went traveling for a year in Asia and Africa. He talked with people all day and became more comfortable approaching strangers and having conversations.
“People expect you to talk about yourself. ‘Why is he here?’ They’re maybe a little suspicious.” He’d explain what he was doing there and they’d feel more comfortable. That’s when he realized you can’t just ask questions. You need to tell them about yourself.
He met a guy from Barcelona, named Octavi, who’d been traveling in Africa for a year. They biked together for three weeks. Kaiwen was impressed how his friend used humor to build rapport with West African border guards, wiggle out of bribes, and get discounts from hotels. Kaiwen learned a lot from him and caught his first glimpse of what’s possible socially.
But when Kaiwen moved back to the States, he struggled socially and stopped talking with strangers as much. “I found it hard to bring the social skills I had learned while traveling back here.”
“Then I found Jaunty. At first I was a little skeptical. I was in the 1:1 with [Jaunty’s Founder] Eric and he said, ‘Just play. It’s about playing with the situation. Don’t worry about what to say.’ That was the exact same thing Octavi said.”
Kaiwen signed up for Jaunty’s six-week course on social intelligence. His class developed a tight bond which motivated him to work hard practicing social skills with strangers outside of class. “We created this mindset that it’s okay to do this. All my friends are doing this. Hearing their stories, I thought I can do this too.”
“Before I had this [class] I thought that I only connected well with certain types of people. I thought I was stuck in that trap forever. This is why I was kind of uncomfortable to approach people.” Indeed, initially Kaiwen only talked with some of the people in his class. As the class went on he realized everyone had such different personalities but he found a way to connect and talk with all of them.
“I improved so much in the period after Jaunty. Before I would have never dreamed of approaching people on the street. It’s still a bit hard for me but I know I can do it.”
“That traveling period and Jaunty were the two most important things to happen to me socially in my whole life. I feel pretty happy about where I’m going. “Before I was [uncomfortable] approaching people at the party, even friends of friends. Now because I can approach strangers too, friends of friends feel pretty easy.” Kaiwen approaches lots of people and say, “Even if I can’t make a connection, I can at least talk with them.” He appreciates the conversational agility techniques he learned at Jaunty and now knows how to always have something to say and build rapport. He goes out a lot with Jaunty classmates and everyone brings their friends. He likes discovering new bars and places with people.
As for dating, Kaiwen feels he still needs to work on the “contact close” — a technique to casually and confidently ask for someone’s phone number. “Before, I thought I wasn’t afraid of rejection. Now I realize I am.” So he’s been practicing the direct approach with strangers to keep honing his social intelligence skills. He’s getting into the mindset that it’s normal to exchange contact info.
“I feel like my personal anxiety has definitely gone down a lot since Jaunty. It’s kind of amazing how it happened. For me the goal was to talk to a few people at a party. Not to be the life of the party because I’m not that person. The thing with Jaunty is it’s pretty simple. Your mindset grows along with the skills. You really do become a person who everyone wants to talk to. There’s really not that much difference between the guy who's the life party and the guy in the corner. It’s just a few skills. The guy who’s the life of the party just sees things a little differently and says what’s on his mind. Sometimes I feel like that guy. I’m like wow, I’m just standing here and people keep coming up to me and talking with me. I’m this person today who I would have thought it was impossible for me to be. You do these little things that add up. In the end you see the social situation in a different way.”
By Eric Waisman, Jaunty's Founder
"Cut down my trunk and make a boat,” said the tree. The Giving Tree gave everything to the boy because it made her happy. I talk about this classic kids’ book by Shel Silverstein from time to time; it was one of my favorites.
Today is #GivingTuesday. There is a crazy little hack to happiness, and it’s giving. My happiest moment last year was at Camp Grounded. I was surrounded by loved ones and music at the camp snack shop.
Lots of people were cuddling on the lawn and they looked hungry. So I bought everyone a huge ice cream sandwich.I tried to do it anonymously and have the shop pass them out, but everyone found out it was me. I saw so many people light up when they were given a surprise ice cream. I felt euphoric. Weirdly euphoric.
Studies show that people who spend their money on others are happier than if they spend it on themselves. There’s something about doing nice things for others that makes us feel really good.
Now, there are people who ask for too much, and who are not very appreciative, like the boy in “The Giving Tree”. This is where our Jaunty skills of reading others and assertiveness really kick in. You can choose relationships in your life that are two way streets.
We are blessed at Jaunty that we get to give everyday. I hope you try out this happiness strategy and do more to be of service and help others, today and every day. As Anne Frank once said, “No one has ever become poor by giving.”
By Fayette Fox, Jaunty's writer
“When you push yourself outside your comfort zone you really learn who you are as a person,” says Christine Fleming, who recently graduated from Jaunty’s six-week course on social intelligence. A Bay Area native, she’s an administrative assistant at a law firm in San Francisco. “I’ve always been a very very shy person.” She thought of herself as a “homebody”. Before Jaunty, she says, “I wanted to talk or open up to people but it was like there was a block there. I never really went out that much. I hung out at home a lot.” When she did socialize it tended to be, “One-on-one time with the few friends I had.”
“Really I was just too anxious to try and go out and meet new people.”
Last year, Christine was in a relationship she describes as “pretty unhealthy” and destructive to her self-esteem. “My ex-girlfriend had an idea of how things are supposed to be and she was very intense about it. It got to a point where I wasn’t asserting myself and kind of lost my voice.” When she got out of the relationship, she decided it was time for a change. Jaunty was part of that process to work through things and find herself.
She started going to Meetups as a way to get out there and surround herself with positive people and ideas. She did Jaunty’s free workshop on social skills and felt the six-week course could help her become more comfortable in social environments and be herself without feeling anxious.
“I’ve made a lot of really great friends through Jaunty.” Christine says, her classmates, Jaunty’s Founder Eric, and Head Instructor Craig were “amazing”. “It was an amazing experience and I’m really happy I did it.” But she admits, “The homework was definitely hard.” Especially challenging was the direct approach where you strike up a conversation with a stranger. Jaunty teaches specific techniques for the entire flow from approach and openers, to building rapport and keeping the conversation going, and finally the contact exchange.
By end of class Christine had done a few approaches but no contact exchanges. “I loved all the tools I was learning in the class. [And] I knew I had to go at my pace.”
September, two months after the course ended, Christine was at Bawdy Storytelling talking with a guy — something that would have made her “hella nervous” and anxious before Jaunty. She used her new conversational agility skills and humor techniques that had become very natural for her. “Out of nowhere I just blurted out, ‘Want to hang out sometime? I’d love to get your number.’” Before, she would have been in her head worrying about how he might respond. They’ve hung out now and are getting together again next Tuesday.
Christine says, “I am super comfortable with approaching guys now and [doing] contact exchanges. Now the next step is women. They can actually reject me and it might hurt.” She’s planning on practicing at the next Bawdy Storytelling.
“It’s definitely getting easier. Jaunty really did give me the tools to go for it and to make connections with people.” Christine has used her new social intelligence skills to get closer to her co-workers and have more in-depth conversations. Before it was all small talk about the weather. “I feel so much more comfortable opening up to people now.”
Thanks to Jaunty, “My social life basically blew up. With our class being so close, we’re constantly planning things. I’ve gotten super into karaoke. I just love singing. I’m constantly meeting people. I talk to people all the time, everywhere now. I went to a concert by myself last month because my friend got sick.” In the past she never would have gone on her own. But she did and it was great. She met all these people.
“I think really everyone can benefit from Jaunty. Not only does it help with social skills, but I think it can really help with finding who you are. When I got out there and started exploring the social side of me, I learned all this stuff about me that I didn’t know before. I used to be very introverted. I didn’t go out much. I stayed at home. I didn’t like that part of me. I just didn’t know how to change it. Now I have the tools. I go out and meet people. Wow, okay now I know I really like going to bars and hanging out with friends and just talking. I really like hanging out in big groups. Meeting people from diverse backgrounds and learning things about them. I never knew that about myself.”
By Eric Waisman, Jaunty's Founder
If you could hit a random life reset button, would you? Imagine entering a room with a red button under glass. If you press the button, you’d randomly be swapped out for a new body in a different environment. You’re still you, but in a different, adult body and with a totally different life. Would you risk your life for a new one? Maybe you’d wind up in a fitter body, with a better paying job, and a hilarious, witty boyfriend or girlfriend.
Would you press the button? I think most people would not. We might regret some of our past choices or wonder what our life might look like if we’d made different decisions. But our decisions and the experiences we’ve had, have made us who we are. Pressing the button means suddenly having a wildly different set of circumstances that we might not understand and have no control over. Most of us would rather make the most of the hand life has dealt us, than swap out our cards for random new ones from the deck.
The brain tends to make us believe that everything works out for the best. When a relationship doesn’t work out, or we didn’t get a job we really wanted, it can be painful and it’s easy to wish things had turned out differently. But with enough time, our perspective shifts, and we create what's called synthetic happiness, the brain’s response when we don’t get what we want.
Dan Gilbert, psychologist and author of Stumbling on Happiness, says synthetic happiness is just as real and enduring as real happiness (which is what we feel when we actually get what we want). Basically, because of the way our brains work, we’re grateful that things happened the way they did. I know I wouldn’t be where I am today if things had played out differently.Then part of me wonders if I would feel the exact same thing if I had gotten that job or I was still in that relationship. Am I just rationalizing that everything has worked out? Maybe the result is less important than how we feel about it.
I believe three things are most important to our well-being: genetics, behaviors, and environment. If I was to push that reset button I’d hope for a healthy body with good genes for longevity. Secondly, I’d hope for an even lower pleasure threshold, meaning it’d be really easy for me to feel joy. Lastly, I’d hope for good looks. (Because why the hell not?)
In reality there are things we can change and things we can’t. For now at least, our genes are our genes. We can choose to take better care of our body, eating better, exercising more, drinking less, getting better sleep. This stuff all makes a huge difference to our physical and mental well-being. And we’re working within parameters set by our genetic make-up.
We can totally change our behaviors and environment. At Jaunty, the school for social intelligence, we teach people how to become more aware of their behaviors, explore new ways of interacting with others and build meaningful connections. We can overcome our fears and social anxieties. We can learn how to approach strangers, build rapport, play with humor, and feel confident in any social situation. We can learn to be more assertive.
We can also change our environment. You don’t have to move across the country to change your environment. Instead you can create meaningful change where you are, by deliberately choosing your circle of friends and community, and being more thoughtful in who you spend time with. Do you have people in your life who are bringing you down? Are your friends, friends of convenience rather than friends of choice? With greater social skills you can learn to connect with whoever you want.
It’s fun to imagine what it’d be like if I hit the reset button and that new body felt really comfortable and was way happier than mine. But what if I hit the button and I ended up with misery? I’d love to see what it feels like to be someone else, even for a few minutes. For now, I’m staying away from the red button and am working on optimizing my life and making the most of what I have.
By Aaron Thompson, Jaunty grad
Howdy, I’m a middle school video productions and computer teacher. I grew up in the South and moved to the Bay Area a few years ago for new adventures and to explore filmmaking opportunities. After moving here, I wasn’t being as social as I wanted to be. I joined a few networking groups, but I wasn’t finding a real connection. I felt sorta trapped in a routine. I’m comfortable in most social settings, but I’m definitely not an extrovert, especially in a crowd or in a small of group people I don’t know well. Then Jaunty came along and helped put a little spark back into my life.
I can’t say enough positive things about my experience with Jaunty. I attended the free Jaunty workshop then decided to enroll in the six-week course because I saw it as an investment in myself and a way to make a positive change in my social life.
One of my favorite things to do is travel, to see new places and meet new people. Over spring break, I boarded a crowded airplane on my way to Hawaii. A flight attendant was about to make a passenger leave the plane to check their luggage because all the compartments were full. I knew she was mistaken, so using my new assertiveness skills, I spoke up. I said I had seen some space available in one of the closed compartments. The passenger thanked me, and I felt great having spoken up in a crowd.
Thanks to Jaunty, I’ve found myself being assertive and connecting with people in all kinds of situations.
I recently volunteered as a videographer at the Mill Valley Film Festival, where I had the opportunity to network with actors and filmmakers. One day I was scheduled to record a Q&A session with a director after his film. I arrived at the theater an hour early and was surprised by the way a theater manager approached me. I could tell he was upset by his manner and the tone of his voice. He told me he doesn’t allow camera operators to record a Q&A unless they’re setup before the film begins, and I was there after the film started. I noticed he was wearing a really snazzy shirt, so at one point during our conversation when he said “Do you have any questions?” I said, “Yeah nice shirt, where did you get it?” That sent our conversation going down a different path, and I was able to shoot the Q&A.
What I have learned from Jaunty has been the difference between getting to know someone new and letting that opportunity pass me by. It’s also a lot easier now to take typical “surface” conversations to a deeper, more meaningful level. I have had better conversations with coworkers, and I’ve even developed better relationships with my middle school students, which has translated into a greater level of success in the classroom. Since Jaunty, I’ve been even more social than in the past. I’ve taken up golf as a hobby and started volunteering on a regular basis. I also keep in touch with several classmates and continue to practice what I’ve learned from the classes. Jaunty helped me break out of my routine while having fun doing it.