Quitting Social Media, Prioritizing Connection over Consumption & Following Your Purpose With Isa Watson

Episode Number: 320

Episode 320: Quitting Social Media, Prioritizing Connection Over Consumption & Following Your Purpose With Isa Watson

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Quitting Social Media, Prioritizing Connection over Consumption & Following Your Purpose With Isa Watson

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Isa Watson, founder and CEO of Squad, an app that takes you and your friends off of social media, and author of new book Life Beyond Likes, joins the podcast to discuss prioritizing connection over consumption and how we can all strive to live a more authentic life offline.

We also talk about the true timeline of switching careers, how being yourself has a big ROI and dating your friends.

In this episode, you’ll learn more about:

  • The traumatic event that changed the trajectory of Isa’s life
  • How Isa navigated away from her corporate career to tech entrepreneurship
  • What building a network looks like offline, being intentional with your mentorships and connections, and the power of empathy
  • Examining how we seek validation through others on social media and striking a balance between flexing for likes and living for yourself
  • Prioritizing connection over consumption, the pros and cons social media has on society as a whole + more

You can watch the video to this episode below or by clicking here.

I'm listening to episode 320 of the Journey to Launch Podcast, Quitting Social Media, Prioritizing Connection Over Consumption & Following Your Purpose With Isa Watson Share on X

Other Links Mentioned in episode:

  • Check out Isa’s book, Life Beyond Likes: Logging Off Your Screen and Into Your Life
  • Check out my new personal website here.
  • Join The Weekly Newsletter List
  • Leave me a voicemail– Leave me a question on the Journey To Launch voicemail and have it answered on the podcast!
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  • What stage of the financial journey are you on? Are you working on financial stability or work flexibility? Find out with this free assessment and get a curated list of the 10 next best episodes for you to listen to depending on your stage. Check it out here!

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Isa Watson 0:02

What we're seeing on social media is generally people's prospective highlight reels. And where the toxicity comes in is that we're comparing our whole lives that are messy that have these ups and downs and drags to someone's perfect highlight reel. And so I don't mind me, I look at your thing. I'd be like, Oh, okay, Jess, what's a flex? I don't mind that you flex, because here's also I know that you're human. And I know that you have a whole multitude of experiences that I don't know. Right. And so and I'm not going to get caught up in comparing my messiness to your flex.

Intro 0:34

T-minus 10 seconds. Welcome to the journey to launch podcast with your host jameelah. So frogs as a money expert who rocks her talk, she helps brave juniors like you get out of debt, save, invest and build real Whoa. Join her on the journey to launch to financial freedom in three.

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Intro 1:36

If you want the episode show notes for this episode, go to journey to launch.com. Or click the description of wherever you're listening to this episode. In the show notes, you'll get the transcribed version of the conversation, the links that we mentioned and so much more. Also, whether you are in OG journey or are brand new to the podcast, I've created a free jumpstart guide to help you on your financial freedom journey. It includes the top episodes, so listen to stages to go through to reach financial freedom, resources, and so much more. You can go to journey to launch.com/jumpstart to get your guide right now. Okay, let's hop into the episode.

Jamila Souffrant 2:18

Hey, journeyers Welcome to the journey to launch podcast. So welcome back. If you are a returning listener I have on today the podcast I saw Watson, let me tell you about Eisah. So I basically found Eisah on Instagram, because I believe or we do have the same book agent. And I saw that he posted that I see your book was coming out and saying all this before I get into your bio, because I always love kind of how I serendipitously, like, find people for the podcast without even trying and I saw you had a book coming out. And we'll talk more about that. And all the amazing work you've done as entrepreneur. And I was like, let me just research some more. And so I reached out to get you on the podcast. And just to give you a little background, everyone listening, I serve as the founder and CEO of squad, a new social frontier, and an app that makes it fun and easy to talk with your friends away from social media. So that was one of the first things that drew me to you. Eisah is your amazing app and Company. She's also a competitive skydiver. That was the second thing I was like, wow, like competitive skydiver and author. So the book on your recent book is called Life Beyond likes, logging off your screen and into your life. And your debut book, you raise awareness around social media and how it's impacted our daily lives, self worth, and real life relationships. You have an incredible background, I can't wait to get into it. But welcome to the podcast. Eisah

Isa Watson 3:43

Thank you for having me.

Jamila Souffrant 3:45

One of the things that drew me in as I started to learn more about you and your story, was that you grew up in a Caribbean household with Is it five other siblings? So you have six altogether? Yeah.

Isa Watson 3:56

This all together? My parents were busy.

Jamila Souffrant 3:59

Yes. So I related to that, and we I grew up my I'm Jamaican. And one things that you talk about a lot is just the influence that your parents had on you, especially your father growing up, and I want to learn more about like, how his influences and what he did and your mom to obviously, how that shaped you and like guided you as you grew up, especially with five other siblings because I can't even imagine.

Isa Watson 4:24

Yeah, it was a lot to say the least. But you know, I think my parents, they were very big on academic achievement. And academics they saw as a way to kind of unlock potential for earnings unlock potential for having a happy life, unlock potential for having a good life. So it was always like when I was five, my mom was like, Okay, I said for grad school, are you going to Harvard or MIT she, you know, I was like, what about this or something before that, like, you know, but they have made up their mind like I was going to have the HBCU undergrad and Ivy League graduate. or school education. And, you know, my dad, as this old school immigrant engineer, his philosophy and life was, if you can't build it, you shouldn't be using it. So back in the CompUSA, Circuit City days, he will always take me to buy the parts of a computer, and I would build computers with him. You know, and that just I loved building. You know, it's funny. One of the things I will say about you know, being in a big family is that there's a lot of personalities. But you know, the one constant was the values that my parents instilled in us. And specifically, outside of the hard work. My parents were always adamant about being kind to everybody, no matter who they were, they were always adamant about, you know, working hard and committing to anything that you do. It's not just academics, if I say, I'm going to do this church fundraiser, I need to put my all into it, right? We lived like, right, we live in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, it was right outside the city line, though. But still, Chapel Hill is rare. So we had to take our trash to the dump, every weekend. And I remember my dad would always bring the dump attendant, Burger King. And it was always something that just really stuck with me. And so you know, I think my upbringing was one that was obviously very rooted in academic, like, You got to get your stuff done. I skipped two grades, I was five grades ahead of math. At some point, I got my first job at 14 years old and research labs at UNC Chapel Hill in an organic chemistry lab doing, you know, chemistry research, or 14. And you know, but I think that was like very much the foundation to everything that I did. beyond that. So it was like that, that combination of you work super hard. You know, my dad used to wake me up at five o'clock every single morning to work to study. And I said, Well, Dad, I don't have an exam. And he was like, Oh, so you think you only need to be prepared in life when you have an exam. And I was like, Okay, you need to stop, like, you know, or every every math textbook I was doing, I was gonna have for that fall, my dad will go to the school, rent the textbook from my teacher, or check it out for my teacher and make me do all the math problems the summer before. And I was like, Dad, like, I can just do the problems when other people are doing the problems in the fall like everyone else. And he was like, No, the class is for review. And so it was very much academics, values, that was the foundation and that that was a threat to all the siblings.

Jamila Souffrant 7:21

Wow, so Okay, now as a mom, myself, and now this is just me asking a mom question, because my kids are pretty young. And we're definitely not as like disciplined with them in terms of some of the things you just talked about. And you know, I often wonder, like, should I be more of that? And looking back at your childhood? Would you say that you were happy? Would you have changed anything or wanting your dad, like, knowing what you know, now, because as kids, you know, we don't understand sometimes why our parents are doing certain things. And then we maybe we're upset, or we're just like, This is pointless. But when you look at now, where you are, I know it's kind of hard to like, have that kind of hindsight, because you are who you are because of that. But if you had a choice in the way you were raised, do you want more balance? Or do you feel like this was necessary for you to be raised this way?

Isa Watson 8:07

It's really hard to really make that hindsight assessment. But what I will say is that I will probably there were a lot of things that I took that were great, I would have probably added on a splash of empathy. So you know what I mean, when I say that is that, you know, the first way that I learned to express emotions was through the piano. You know, Chopin felt like my best friend. You know, they told me, I felt like my best friend, I wasn't really a social kid like that. I didn't speak that much when I didn't necessarily need to. I had opinions. I was like, very, like, you know, strong willed. But I wasn't this like social butterfly, from a personality perspective, but from just like a emotional perspective. You know, I think my parents are exceptional people. And I think that they did the best that they could with what they had, I think that what they were, you know, optimizing for was making sure that they had kids that could grow up and succeed in America. I mean, it's a little bit of a different thing over here. You know, when you're talking about what makes black people successful, what are the tools that equips black people to do well and to stand out? So I remember one time I was in high school, and I was probably 13 years old, and I asked my parents, I was like, you know, I found out that my friends were like, my, I went to a very white school. So I found out a lot like my white friends were seeing therapist, I was like, boo, this sounds kind of clutch. And I remember going home and being like, Oh, mom and dad, like, you know, I talked to you know, Bobby and Susie and Lori and like, honestly, I really would love to see a therapist is just kind of talk through some things. And they were like, you don't need therapy. You need Sunday school. And so, you know, again, I think that's a very common experience from a lot of black Millennials.

Jamila Souffrant 9:53

When they had old school parents that didn't probably believe in that Right.

Isa Watson 9:56

Exactly. There are probably I probably wouldn't change But I will say it was overall like happy kid, but probably just as flash of empathy. I think my parents wanted to make sure I was tough.

Jamila Souffrant 10:07

Yeah, I mean, so when you know, so you studied you, I think you just said you were doing like chemistry assistant work at like 14, and you study chemistry at Hampton. Then you got your MBA from MIT Sloan, you worked at Pfizer, and then ultimately, you ended up at JPMorgan Chase. Right? Working?

Isa Watson 10:24

Yes, I did my masters and biochem from Cornell and in between there, too,

Jamila Souffrant 10:28

right. Okay. So right, like another important part of your educational career journey. Obviously, I'm sure that that was really important and a value for you at the time, I want you to talk a little bit about your transition from that world. So like the educational, it kind of background, like, first, maybe we should talk about what you did as your last career, like at JP Morgan. And then I want to talk a little bit more about you transitioning out of that into what you do now. And what that looked like.

Isa Watson 10:57

Yeah, so I was a research chemist, you know, that was my background. And just quickly to give listeners contacts, what I did is I you know, especially as an organic researcher, I was actually really focused on, you know, better, improved ways to synthesize new molecules that needed to be studied for, you know, cancer applications for really big disease implications. I was a diabetes chemist at Pfizer, I really loved you know, building something from nothing, which is why I loved chemistry. But you know, I think that it also was a little bit lonely in the sense that anything that I would touch, anything that I would do, would never really get into a human or touch a human for at least 1520 years. So that was that catalyze my transition to business school at MIT, which ended up with me falling into my role at JP Morgan. And JP Morgan was very interesting. My I remember talking through talking through this with my parents, you know, I, especially my dad, every big decision, I like the first person that will call with my dad. And we would talk through it, and they were like, Yeah, try it out. You know. And so I accidentally, always say, I accidentally fell into Wall Street. I ended up working as a vice president of it was called, like strategy and execution, but I was essentially the right hand strategic and executing partner of the divisional C suite executives, right. So from like, the CEO of Chase business, banking, to the CEO, chase to, to your credit card to, you know, the CEO of Asia, you know, and things like that. And so I had a lot of big responsibilities that, you know, ended up resulting in me developing upwards of $6 billion of products across different businesses. So during my time there, so very fantastic opportunity, I would say this, my first entree into the business world was when I was really hard, because as a scientist, there's a much different communication style, there's a much different way of working style. There's the independent contributor model, whereas as a, you know, when you're when you go to Wall Street, it's a it's a team model, it's Did you empower the people model? Did you get the right buy in model? Did somebody like your tone model? And so that was that was a transition and, and then my transition from science Sorry, sorry, from Wall Street to tag was one that was catalyzed by personal experiences.

Jamila Souffrant 13:27

Now, if you feel comfortable, would you like to share what that personal experience was? Because I know that you pivoted because of it.

Isa Watson 13:34

Yeah. So my parents sponsored a bus trip for kids who visit Hampton University every year, it was like the thing they'd love to do together. And this particular year of the bus ran off a stray boat flipped over and rejected both my parents off the front window. And my dad did have survived that. And it was really interesting, because I was I remember exactly where I was standing. When I got the phone call at JPMorgan Chase on the 32nd floor of 270 Park Avenue. And it, it changed my life completely, in part because it was a highly traumatic experience, not just in my dad passed away on scene. I didn't know for hours, if my mom was still alive, they wouldn't give me that information. I'm calling hospitals in Virginia trying to get this information. And then I had to nurse her back to health, she sustained a lot of injuries. And so going through that was a very, very tough time that I actually don't even wish on my worst enemy. And it was one that made me realize that I had been focused on the wrong things in life. And what I mean by that is that, you know, during my era of my science days where I was getting the awards, and that was highly decorated. That was really cute. And my parents will say great job, my professors will say great job. But during my era, my JP Morgan days, that was where social media became a thing. It was like, Hey, you have a personal brand now out, you got to put these things out there so people know who you are out. And what I did in response to that as I started to position my life online, I was like, Oh, I'm top 30 This I'm top 40 That and people were like, Oh my God, you were so I mean, I was getting like all this validation from people I would never laugh in the same room with. And I think in that moment, or in that phase in my life, I was I got caught up in the positioning of my life more than the living of my life. And so when that tragedy happened, it was just made even worse by the fact that I had neglected some of those key stabilizing relationships that mattered a lot to me, and left me feeling extremely isolated and lonely. And, you know, my catalyst and transition squad came because once I started to process what had happened to me, once I started to be able to just process situation, I think there's a human response of not allowing too much trauma in your brain at one time just to make it digestible. Like I remember, when the share with a state trooper called and told me that my dad died, I remember telling him I'm sorry that he had the wrong call the wrong number. Because I just like I, my brain cannot absorb it in the moment. Coming out of that, I realized I was far from the only person I felt loneliness and isolation because I had completed consumption with connection. So I said, All right, you know, this is something that I actually started to feel really passionate about. And I left JPMorgan to start squad because I felt like a few things were happening. One, I felt like social media was starting to kind of not, it wasn't just a connection tool, it was that personal branding tool, that consumption tool, that perfectionism tool. And I knew that given our excessive and obsessive behaviors as Americans, and Americans, we were going to hit a crash and burn moment where that became too much. And we're kind of near there now. And the second thing was that, you know, I saw this shift and kind of lack of people actually living kind of like where I was, and you know, so I, our philosophy was squad I love to build squad, is that we don't need more broadcast platforms, what we need are tools that make it easy for us to talk to our close friends everyday. Because when I asked him when's the last time you actually talk to your best friend, it's like, oh, a month, two months, you know, what I've been meaning to, but you know, the kids, you know, we have a vacation, and they have music recitals, and then all the things and, you know, with squad, you know, easy and find a way to talk to your closest friends everyday people say it's like the corner of their phone where they don't have to disarm, or they don't have to scream, because it's just who they want to talk to. You only have up to 12 people, you know, because again, social media has made us think that we can have 1000 friends, scientists and researchers clearly say that we can't even have more than 150 relationships. Right. And so that was kind of my transition from JP Morgan and Wall Street era to tech.

Jamila Souffrant 17:49

Yeah, so I definitely want to talk more about social media and the impact, and then your company squad, but just to go back a little bit about you preparing to leave. So I know, that was obviously something that moment that changed everything. That's not something you could have planned for in advance. So once you did hear what happened, how did you start to navigate away from your corporate career? Because I'm assuming you're making very good money, benefits, right? Like the security, and then the status that comes along with your position? So how did you start to say, you know, what were the steps to say, Okay, I'm gonna go out on my own, where you're already saving and good with money. So you had something there? Or did you have to start preparing financially and mentally to take this leap?

Isa Watson 18:34

Well, it wasn't very quick, I will tell you that, in part because I just, it took me a year or two to even fully process what happened and what that really meant, right? So it's kind of like, hey, this happened. And the moment I'm very tactical, I'm like, you know, my mom lost all her memory. So I'm going down to North Carolina, and she's like, I don't know if my bank account is with Bank of America or with you know, Chase or with you know, and so, building up her life again, was it took a lot of, you know, energy and intentionality around my time and around, like what I was able to process. But I would say that it was more of a, it wasn't an immediate thing. It was kind of a over time thing. And, you know, that gave me time to figure out how I was feeling. But I hadn't been saving. You know, I wasn't kind of in a big saving thing, because I had just gotten out of grad school recently, and I was starting to pay on my student loans. And, you know, it took me a few years to figure out this was actually the path between like, still maintaining really excellent performance at JPMorgan, while making sure my mom was okay, while processing it, it took me a few years of that to like, really figure out what I wanted to do. And so, um, eventually, my mom agreed to help me pay off my student loans and that was kind of the free thing for me. I had $100,000 in debt, and I didn't want to carry that I knew like entrepreneurship is risky. And honestly, I never wanted to be an entrepreneur like that. wasn't the MIT is a huge entrepreneurship school. And when I was there, I did not go to entrepreneurship lectures or seminars, we had all these great founders coming like, you know, all these amazing CEOs. And I was like, whatever. And so it wasn't I went into entrepreneurship as a function of that was the path for me that was aligned with my purpose in that moment, and still is, right. But you know, so to go back to your decision around deciding to leave, it was also the fact that, you know, my dad and my, you know, my, my mom very much risk averse, very much, you got a job, you know, when they, when they went to when I went to JPMorgan, they were like, Okay, you're gonna max out your 401 K every year, what's your 401 K contribution rate? Like, let's, let's like, get that together. And I did that, right. That was like, the biggest thing for them. And then, you know, when I decided to leave, you know, I think my mom was just still processing a lot. But I can imagine that my dad would have, you know, had two opinions, right? One is, like, I said, Are you sure you know, you have a really great job, you know, really stable, really great benefits, you know, you're gonna wake up tomorrow and get a paycheck. And then on the other side, my parents also very deeply trust me and my decisions. And so that was kind of the counterbalance, I don't think that they would have had the same like, okay with it with every single one of my siblings. But with me, in particular, I think that they generally trusted me. And so that was, and then, and then my mom, she's still jokes to this day, she's like, I still don't understand why you didn't get your PhD. Like, you know, maybe, maybe when you sell squat, you can go back and do your PhD, like, I'm like, no.

Jamila Souffrant 21:47

Right? Like all the degrees, all those are not enough, like you Western next, what's the next level?

Isa Watson 21:53

PhD for her?

Jamila Souffrant 21:55

Okay, well, you know, it's good to just have that reference. Because I feel like a lot of times people hear a story. Similar to me, when I've had the epiphany that I didn't want to stay in my corporate job. And I didn't quit right away, it took years for me to even confront and have the guts to make the change, and then to start planning for it, you know, take calculated risk and save up so that I could do what I'm doing full time. So it's just important to highlight for people who may be in a certain stage in their life, they are aware that they should do something different. But it doesn't mean you have to jump and do it right now, there might be some, some time it takes to just emotionally and mentally get into a space where you can start the plan and then start to do the work to to execute it.

Isa Watson 22:32

Well, that's because we come from, you know, certain places where we have to make sure our plans are attached. There are people I know who just literally kind of walk around because they're Trust Fund babies and their parents are like seeing their bank accounts. That's a whole different situation, right? But there's a lot of us who look like us where it's like, Okay, I gotta have my stuff together, I gotta plan and I have to see it through.

Jamila Souffrant 22:54

So one of the things you talked about, too, is that you left social media. So once you had this realization, and you quit your job, and you can correct the timeline for me if I'm off, but at what point did you walk away from social media? And then in that time, what did you realize about yourself, and then was that also you starting squat and the company's?

Isa Watson 23:14

I didn't leave social media for a few years, actually. And it was just, you know, it wasn't necessarily super active on it. While I was I was active enough, I think my issue with social media also became the fact that there was this notion of, okay, I've been positioning my life, right. And I see what that's done to like my loneliness. And then I kind of switched worlds, I learned from open to being a tech entrepreneur, where there's few and far between black women who have raised millions of dollars in venture funding. So I went there, and I was like, Oh, I'm now getting this validation over here. So I might as well just stay here for a little bit, because maybe it'll help my brand, and maybe it'll attract investors and things like that. But the one thing I will say, I got on social media, because my college bestie, who lives in Texas, she lives in Houston. She said, You know, as a if people looked at your social media, they would think that your life is perfect. And I was like, what? Like, my life is very far from perfect. And I like this is, you know, it's been an entrepreneur, for kind of embarking on that was when I really started to struggle with depression in a big way in my adulthood. Right. And so she was like, you know, looking at especially people within you and so I looked, I went back and I looked, I was like, wow, yeah, I was like, I was captain. In fact, I remember this day, and like, that was not it. And so I looked, I looked at it, and I was like, I don't recognize myself. And I don't recognize the person that I'm trying to step into. And there's a big disconnect here. So I deleted everything I deleted I kept Twitter up, but I deleted Instagram. I have like 10s of 1000s of followers. I deleted LinkedIn even I deleted LinkedIn. I totally did. Just everything you could think of Have and I lived off social media for a few years. And then actually, when my I got back on, right before my book started to be promoted.

Jamila Souffrant 25:15

So, so only if, like last year, then

Isa Watson 25:18


Jamila Souffrant 25:19

I think that's interesting for a few reasons. So, Johnny's launch, like the podcast, a brand, you know, talks all about financial independence and freedom, and living a life that you truly want today, but setting yourself up for a great future. And one of the reasons why I was so connected to your work was because there are all these things that impact the way we live our lives, or you know, money. And we spend our money a lot. Sometimes depending on who you are, and where you are to validate ourselves. And to get validation from others. It's like wearing your wealth and or just outwardly projecting whatever it's inside, right. And so social media has been a projection of that, and allows you not only to do that with your immediate, like, who you see on the street, or in your family and friends, but social media like magnifies it. So I do think this is like an important topic when it comes to people really finding financial independence and freedom and living their real lives. Because part of that is like what is your real life, what is the life you really want without the outward noise, and without the need to validate yourself through others, right. And so when you said that you like disconnected and you were building offline, so I find that very fascinating, because there's like, a couple schools of thought, like build in front of people, because that helps to show vulnerability and or to get true fans or to people who will buy into who you are, because they see it from the beginning. And then your approach is kind of like, are actually I'm gonna do it off line. So I can concentrate. And in the process, I know you maybe have gone through this, but like, for me writing this book, I've been trying to go back and forth with how much do I share the process, you know, show your work, kind of that at that style to kind of just show raw Lee what I'm doing, versus you know, what I can't actually balance showing in the moment and writing and doing the work, I need to maybe come back when I'm ready. So all that to say, how do you think about that? And any more thoughts?

Isa Watson 27:13

I think for me, you know, it boils down to a few things but one is intentionality, right intentionality around the energy that surround me. And I for me where I was in my life, because I was really trying to just get more grounded. And I couldn't get grounded with a bunch of people around me who I don't know who I like, some of them. I don't even like making all these comments, then I think my social media is that people feel free to comment on your life and comment on things and say crazy things to you. And that's not the energy they were bringing the viewer in front of them in a room. Right. And so I think, you know, I, I think that's a very personal decision. I talked about this in the book, I tell people that like, you know, if you want to, you know, build a front of people or be vulnerable. I do think that helps. Certain people say like, Hey, wow, I'm not the only one. Hey, by the way, I wasn't the only one struggling, right, because part of our issue is that we don't share, you know, for instance, like I think miscarriages has been discussed way more in the last five years than they ever have. When the reality is that most of my friends miscarried. Most of them are my cousins miscarry, most women I know and on the planet have miscarried. Right. And so there is an element of when you share, it doesn't make a group of people or people feel a little bit less lonely. I just wasn't in that space at the moment because it also was kind of going through trying to figure out who I was trying to figure out like, what was that disconnect? Why was I engaging in certain behaviors like we you talked with, someone came up to me in my bookstore and they were like, you know, I feel like if I don't post it on social media, it didn't happen. And I'm like, That's a personal problem, you know, because there's been a lot of dope stuff I've done that I don't post on social media but on the flip side, when I said I didn't recognize myself, you'd I remember I was at a puff house for the pre Grammys party and 2020 like q1 right before COVID happened and I remember posting it on social and then I was at like, I don't know Alicia Keys birthday party I posted that on social and people were like oh my god oh my god, but you know me and puffy friends me and Alicia we're not friends like why am I posting them? So it was a flex right? It wasn't like genuine and I was like I am disgusted by my behavior because that like that's not their their that was bringing me joy no shade to them but like I just happen to be at their houses for the party right?

Jamila Souffrant 29:32

I mean, that's still a big deal. Not every not everyone gets invited to puffs or at least his house so

Isa Watson 29:36

I get that I get that but like when I looked at like my driver for posting that it was more on oh people would like like this is like a flex right and it feels good to flex. And I wanted to me getting off social media and me not building in front of people was me going through a process and life right disconnected. My addiction into validation from others. I needed to like cut that plug, you know, and I needed to get into a space where I learned how to validate myself. And I couldn't do that building in public. And again, some people can, some people can't, I'm not knocking it, but for me, and the place that I was in and what I knew I needed to do, it wasn't for me.

Jamila Souffrant 30:20

I mean, it's impressive that you have the awareness to like, realize that was happening for you. And then, like, course, correct. Because I know a lot of people who even have that awareness, and then like, well, I'm still gonna do it, because it still feels good. And I think that's the issue is that, how do you decide between, you know, what I can admit, this is for my ego, that I'm posting this and it's a flex and I don't care, like I want to flex right now. And I actually want I want the validation from others. But is there a way to have both the duality of Yeah, you know, I'm human. And so there is a need for validation from others. But the other side of me is, I really don't need it, I can, I can validate myself, is it possible to have both?

Isa Watson 30:57

I think it's deeply dependent on the person, you strike me as somebody who can have both right. But, you know, there are a lot of people where that that addiction to the validation is a slippery slope, right? Because then you post that next thing, and it doesn't get as many likes doesn't get as much engagement and you're like, Wait, what did I do wrong? You know, you're internalizing that there are people who you could ask me about who I'd be like, No, they can't do both. But somebody like you, I think you can do both. But I think that, you know, bigger than you is the whole notion of contextualized. And what we're seeing on social media, what we're seeing on social media is generally people's perfected highlight reels. And where the toxicity comes in is that we're comparing our whole lives that are messy, that have these ups and downs and drags to someone's perfected highlight reel. And so I don't mind me, I look at your thing. I'd be like, Oh, okay, Jess, what's the Flex, I don't mind that you flex, because here's also, I know that you're human. And I know that you have a whole multitude of experiences that I don't know, right. And so I'm not going to get caught up in comparing my messiness to your flex. And I think that the more people need to kind of adapt that mindset, because 90% of social media users are lurkers, they just grow, they don't post they don't engage. Right? And so, um, you know, people are consuming that. And it's kind of like, you know, I think that you can, but also, I think bigger, we have to just understand how to put into context what we're consuming.

Jamila Souffrant 32:23

Yeah, so you just did a stat and 90% of social media users are lurker. So I don't, I forgot who's the originator of this quote. But you know, so many people are in the stadium or watching the fight. They're not doing the work, but they have like, the safety and security of just watching. And so some of us who are doing the work more, it's a big deal, because so many people have talents or things to say and brilliant that they're not exposing, and it just doesn't need to also happen just on social media. But that said, about 90% of people are lurkers. It's an interesting one. But I wonder from your research, and I'm pretty sure your book has amazing research based on your background. Is there something else that was even surprising to you, that you found or that you, if some people knew more of? They'd be like, Oh, wow, like, that's something it's interesting to, to know.

Isa Watson 33:11

Yeah, just kind of this skill that we try to live our lives and right now, I think is a function of the way that we engage with the Internet. What I mean by that is, what is anytime you log on to a new social platform, what's the first thing they do?

Jamila Souffrant 33:24

Connect, they want to connect your friends or find the people that you know, right?

Isa Watson 33:28

They want as your friends, he wants you to get as many friends as possible, because, like Facebook, it was seven friends in 10 days. And, you know, snap was like, add this person or that person as this person at that person, right? Because what is it also is that your friendship, or the number of people you're connected to is just social currency. Another behavior that we see on Instagram is that people always want to follow fewer people than are following them. Right? Because it's like, Hey, I'm more important. I have people who are interested in me, but I'm not interested in them. Right? That that's its use, I see the behavior actually see people kind of adjusting their follower account to to fit this right. So the one thing that I'll say that researchers show, Dr. Hong, I forget which university he was from, but it's in the book, he did this study that showed, you know, happiness score and a happiness index, and the happiness score. The people that were the happiest, were those with less than 10 friends. But what happens on LinkedIn, you got to get to that 500 plus connections, right? So you can fall into the Hey, I'm relevant professionally. On Twitter. You're trying to get as many followers on Instagram, you're trying to get me followers as people I mean, but like, fewer than five, I'm sorry, fewer than 10 connections and then fewer than 100 people who you're connected to online, those people are the happiest and people like you and I are connected to way more than 100 people online. Right but that they a lot of people see that as aspiration I have friends with like millions of followers on Instagram and they generally are my loneliest friends. And so I think that, you know, the one thing that I want people to take away is that you don't have to have these big numbers to have a meaningful life, you know, because real friendship and joy is the flex. I had such an amazing weekend with my friends in Brooklyn. And I didn't post any of it on social media, like, but I was so happy and I was so just like, grounded and, you know, my friends were pouring into me, and I was pouring into them. And it was beautiful. And I got back, you know, and I happen to check Instagram on Monday. And I was like, oh, none of those there, you know. And so, Joy is the Flex, not the numbers.

Jamila Souffrant 35:49

I love that. I love that, as you are now growing or building something outside of what the current social media platforms are, talk a little bit about what you've learned, or what you're doing differently, what squad that makes it different from these other social media platforms.

Isa Watson 36:08

You know, the one thing the three adjectives that we like to use to describe squat are private, fun, and easy. And I used to say that the phone once upon a time was an intimate thing, right? Like you, you have to know somebody to have their phone number. Now you can hear my phone number, you know, and then you got our Auto Warranty, people calling you. You know, when you don't have no car, you have all the people who Bernie Sanders and all his friends are texting you for donations along with everybody else. And so there's so we're inundated with so much. And then what do we do, we escaped to social media, and we just consume and consume to like, avoid, you know, real stuff. And so a lot of users have described squat is that that corner of their phone that feels fun and safe. And you know what we're doing that's different you know, from a, you know, feature level perspective squad is voice only. We have asynchronous messages. We have squat freestyles, which are daily updates, we have daily polls that are just kind of fun, you know, A or B questions of the day. And we also have squall line, which is a new take on the phone call experience. So it's an interactive phone call, where you actually want to, if I say, I want to call you Jamila, there's a pop up that says what you were talking about, you know, and I can put up 30 characters, right. And when I call you, it'll say, eyes, a colon, podcast today, eyes, colon podcast today. And then when we're talking, you know, I can, like react to you. And you can react to me with these floating emojis. And then you get kind of a summary of the vibe of the call when you're done. And so, you know, our philosophy is that our biggest dopamine hits, and our most sustained of me has comes from going deep with a handful of people and not going broad. You know, there are too many broadcast platforms and too much trying to impress people on the internet, who you'll never meet, who never laugh in the same room with and not enough of going deep with a handful of people around you, because that's that's where the joy resides, you know, that that that mean? Like, where did money reside? where the money was, I just went in for it was I. But the one thing I'll say is that some people say, Oh, well, maybe it's like I can it's like group message or, you know, a group WhatsApp. And I'm like, actually, no, because squat is the only place where it's dynamically built around you. So if I say, group messages tend to have lurkers too, because not everyone has the same relationship with everyone in the group message and the person who created it has short relationships across but all the participants generally don't. So if I say, hey, Jamila, do you Jamila, do you want to be my squatty? Say, Yes, we're gonna do squat and say, Hey, yo, Brock, Obama, let me multiply. He says, Yeah, we're just squats. But if you and Brock don't know each other, you will never see each other on a platform or never see, like, what I'm doing Brock or what I'm doing with you, etc. Right. And so you know, our philosophy too, is that, you know, there's a world where participation matters, like 90% of people online, don't engage, all they do is consume. They're still human, they still need connection, belonging, Maslow's hierarchy of needs, right? They participate in this stuff, but they need an easier tool to do so. And it's really hard and text messages is really hard in group chats. And what we find is that a lot of people don't even know how to start the conversation. Like, Hey, girl, I haven't talked to you in a long time. Tell me how's it going, how you live and how you find them. But a lot of people making that first step of checking in with friends is really hard for people. And that's what squad does. It provides a world where it's just easy for you to do that. There are a ton of prompts in different places like in the voice messages in the freestyles or federal rules, it'll give you say, Yo, tell us tell us from the thing like what's, what's the, what's the vibe, and then as the conversation continues from there, that's how I would describe it. You know, I think the next wave of social is going to be on deepening as opposed to big broadcasts.

Jamila Souffrant 39:59

You talked about, obviously, connection. And one thing that it seems about you is that you've been able to foster really strong mentors and people and just friendships in your life, I was kind of watching a little bit of your book rollout, the tour and it's like, influential, right, like so people that you look at that probably have status, right, that you've connected with. And you know, versus just like deep friends that didn't necessarily have to have millions of followers. But how did you go about fostering those connections and maintaining them as you went through the different pockets of your career, and life? And what advice do you have for other people who don't have connections like that? And they want to build them? And or looking for mentors who are more established? Or what can you what are some tips you can get for that to two tips.

Isa Watson 40:43

One is to be intentional and thoughtful about how you approach these people, what you want from them, etc. And then the second is to just be yourself. I remember sitting down with Carla Harris, who is a big force on Wall Street. And it was like maybe 10 years ago, my first review of JPMorgan, it was like very mid and I was talking to her about it. I was like, What's going on here? And she was like, Yeah, they just don't like you. I was like, okay, okay, okay. I can take jacket ticket, like, tell me why they don't like me. And she was like, what I'm gathering from this review as it is that you're not being yourself. And she was like, you're trying to be somebody that you're not. And they peep that. So if you just add fishes, like anyone gives you permission, I'm giving you permission to just go, go back to JPMorgan and just commit to being yourself. When you're yourself, people love you. I joke to her I was like, so if I get fired for being myself, I come over to Morgan Stanley, you know, and she was like, you'll be fine. So I started really leaning heavily into being myself, I stopped pretending to love to play golf, I stopped pretending to enjoy the NFL by studying their recaps on Sunday nights, I stopped pretending like my favorite rapper is not Kendrick Lamar, you know. And so I think that a lot, especially a lot of people who look like us, we are we're taught to assimilate even by our parents. And to me, that didn't really get me anywhere. What got me somewhere is just like leaning into who I was. And then for example, when there were people that I really wanted to, like, connect with, and I was like, Oh, I think they could be a good mentor. I never asked him straight up, like you're keeping my mentor. You know, that wasn't the first question. It was very much like, I will read about what they've said online, I will look at their interviews, that they have books, I read their books, and I would understand what's the connection to where they can add value to me, and why they will be interested in connecting with me. And when I would send them like some of them or send cold emails, or, you know, calling those who I was sent our send them know, say, Hey, my name is Eisah. This is who I am, you know, I'm really interested in your feedback or perspective on these things. And this is why I think you can help me, and I would love you know, just like a 30 minute coffee or 15 minutes. And, you know, he will be asking for like an hour. And that's crazy, like on the first on the first meet. But, you know, I think I was I was very thoughtful. And one of the things actually Carla told me this as well. She said, if you're one of the only people that, you know, after I give you the feedback, you didn't come back and say, Okay, this is how the feedback turned out. This was the outcome. And she said, and then you also implement feedback very well. And so I think that people like getting the the first meeting is actually not as hard as getting the second, third, fourth, fifth, etc. And so I think I was very intentional. And I've gotten feedback on that with how I approached, whoever it was, I wanted to connect with that I just gave Carla as an example. And then how I maintain that, you know, people people want to pour into you and they people want to know that their time is valuable. So if I look back, and I say, Hey, by the way, I wanted to let you know, I took this advice decided this and by the way, I went out and I raised $5 million for the company and now the company's value here, they feel good. And I so I think that, you know, there's a lot of relationship management intentionality in the approach to someone who can mentor you. And as far as you know, my friends, I think that's kind of similar and different another as being myself. But one of the things I realized about my friends is that I need empathy. Like if someone doesn't like Express or habit, you know, empathetic behaviors, it's really, really hard for me to connect with them. You know, my oldest friends or we've been friends for 20 years now. And that came with like a lot of ups and downs and left's and rights and things like that. But, you know, we were able to see the friendship through because we were alive. We were committed, we loved each other. I think it's important to date your friends. I said that online ones if people were like, No, I don't think you should get involved with your friends. And I'm like, no, no, I'm not talking like that. I mean, like, if my friend is having a bad day, I'll send them flowers or, you know, another friend I would like go take them out to dinner if they're having a bad day. And you know, I've had my friend And what two of my friends in New York, they kidnapped me for my birthday because I'm not doing anything and they're like, Yes, you are. Share your share your location Aruba right now you know what I'm saying. And I investing in the love and the connection and components of friendship is I think really important.

Jamila Souffrant 45:16

It is I mean, it's a form of wealth, it's very important I mean, community, um, you know, back in the day was community is how we were able to come to this country, especially as immigrants, you know, like, we stayed with family members at first or, you know, when you have kids, and you need help, because you're working and you have someone you can call to help watch them, like, all this is a form of wealth, and you know, so in order to force foster these relationships, and to grow them, it's important. One thing that just when you said empathy was really important, and your friends, and then you mentioned that you wish, just a little bit, you had more of that growing up from your parents. And I was like, Oh, that was like a little lightbulb moment for me. Because then, you know, I thought about what what I value in my friendships, and what maybe I either saw that was important growing up, or I didn't have growing up and why it was so important, even in choosing my spouse, like, I was like, I need loyalty, I need someone who's dependable, right. And I just think it's important to have this awareness about yourself. Because when you're going out into the world, and you are talking to people making those connections for job interviews, or just for friendships, for mentorship, creating businesses, like all of this is relationship driven, and to know yourself, so you know, how, you know, what may trigger you, or what is a focal point of strong quality about yourself is very important. Like, I feel like people who know themselves in this way, are better able to manage and grow the deep relationships that help them or that you can help others.

Isa Watson 46:37

No 100%. Like, is she and I think I probably made that connection. And honestly, I think that I had to learn how to be empathetic, because I felt like it was something that I didn't have for a while. And I didn't show up in friendships the way in the way, which I should. I didn't show up in relationships in the way in which I should because I lacked empathy. Right. And so I had to fix that first. And then I was like, Yo, this is this is what I liked. This is what I need, you know. And so definitely a journey. Definitely like that. Investing in yourself is hard, because you look in the mirror, and the thing that you see is like, that's not the person I want to be. And it's really mentally challenging to say, Okay, I realize that but I'm devoted to getting to the place that I want to be.

Jamila Souffrant 47:28

I want to talk a bit about your skydiving because I am just in awe with it. You know, I always joke around before I had kids, I was like, I would try it. And now I feel like oh a little too risky for me. But maybe it's just my own limiting belief. But I would love to understand like your first experience, what made you do it and then not just do it one time, and just occasionally but become certified. I believe you're certified and you do it. I don't know how often you go. But I'd love to hear more about your skydiving journey.

Isa Watson 47:55

I had always wanted to try it. I remember. You know, I used to go back to the islands a bit as a kid I remember telling my dad I was like it was I was probably like 15 I was like, Yo, I really want to go do this. He was like, stop, stop by me like, so I was like fine, whatever. Because when I turned 18 Y'all can't tell me what to do. And I always wanted to try it. But then I wasn't like adamant about making it happen. Anyways, a few years ago, I did it. The experience was just for me life changing. I did it in the country of Mauritius, which is about 1000 miles east of Madagascar in the middle of the Indian Ocean. There's a little.on the map. And I had called they canceled me multiple days because of the winds and because of the clouds. And I was like am I gonna go today? Am I gonna go today? It was a Wednesday and they were like, Hey, come on. And I remember jumping out I didn't jump out the plane because this plane was so small. It was like a drug cartel El Chapo type of like playing like you just, you couldn't even stand in the doorway, just kind of on a roll out. You know, where's like, legs. I fly here like I can jump up and flip out. And so I remember the first second I was like, wow, this is kind of cool. And then getting down deploying my deployment him deploying the parachute because you do a tandem when you first skydive, attached to somebody. And I remember feeling like I had never felt before. That moment brought me to a level of meditation, peace and serenity that I had never felt before. So I remember feeling like that was that was my addiction. And so I came back to the States. And I told my it was my sister's bridal shower. And I said, Hey, you guys all should come. am including my 66 year old mom

Jamila Souffrant 49:55

come and skydive with you like actually jump out. Yeah, yeah.

Isa Watson 49:59

I recruited all the black people I could that weekend. And my mom came. She's afraid of heights. She's 66 years old. Everybody loved it. My mom is still asking me, when are we going back? When are we going back. And so I was like, also, I did it again. And I was like, but this whole tender thing is cramping my style. So I went ahead and went to skydiving school to get my license. And now I jump two to four weekends a month.

Jamila Souffrant 50:28

Two to four weekends a month. Wow. Okay, so now I need to let go the excuse that now because I have kids. I can't jump to your mom did it? But in general, are there any similarities or things as from the outside, right? For people who would never do that? Or like, are considerate or just will would want to but just wouldn't because they're scared? How do you relate that to like different journeys within like one's life, right? Whether that's like quitting a job or starting a business, just doing anything, I feel like there, there's probably something there through line that you realize or can see.

Isa Watson 51:03

I think the through line was doubling down on my joy. I think, especially as an immigrant child, as you know, especially a black person in America, we're always trying to follow somebody's playbook. And we're never investing enough. Rarely are we investing enough to actually tap into and find what those story centers are for us. I had come on a path where I was like, I want to feel joyful, I want to tap into those Joy centers. And I'm going to need to experiment in order to do so. And for me, skydiving came out as one of the activities that was top of the top of the line for me. Because when I skydive by the way there, there's a few things I realized happen. Nothing else matters, right? I look, I jumped off the plane at 14,000 feet, I'm flying, I'm having fun. I look down at the ground. And I'm like, perspective. Also people who are like, Oh my God, my stomach, my stomach, it just feels like I just you know, it feels like a roller coaster. And I'm like you actually feel more like a feather. Have you seen a feather like fall. That's what it that's more of what it feels like, actually. And so I think for me, it was just doubling down on my joy centers and what brings me joy and committing to living a life full of joy and not living a life that was characterized by burnout characterized by stress characterized by trying to impress a bunch of people that I don't really care to impress. And I think that you know, that skydiving journey, that joy center was also probably a couple by me, not caring as much about what people thought of me and not caring as much about like, I was just like, I'm committed to my joy, because I have one life to live. And this is this is part of it for me. And I feel like enough of us don't really experiment with what our joy centers are. Right, and also

Jamila Souffrant 52:47

not letting other people's fears that just someone else can be fearful of that. But you don't have to take that on or adopt whatever that is.

Isa Watson 52:54

I mean, you you you strike me as a super smart personnel. So lift you up to and this is that's Skydiving is actually crisis is statistically safe. And it's actually safer than driving a car up the FDR in New York City

Jamila Souffrant 53:07

do that often. So

Isa Watson 53:10

I'm just saying the data is like, very clear. It's the industry, the USPA, which is like our NFL NBA type of entity. They've done a lot. We're also regulated by the FAA. They've done a lot to make sure that the sport is safe. So yeah, we can drive on down to skydive crosskeys or Scott out of the ranch and make that happen.

Jamila Souffrant 53:32

Okay, well, you heard it here first. If you see me jump on a plane, it's because I saw I'll be doing it where honestly, that's only way I'm doing it. But okay, I said this was amazing. I'm pleased to be one where they can find out more about your company, your book and yourself.

Isa Watson 53:48

Yeah, so you can visit our website for the company. It's with your squad. So it's in the handles everywhere is at with your squad. So download the app on iOS and Android when our Android Whoo. And then for me, you know you can find me on social at Eisah D Watson? Yeah, Twitter, Instagram. Tik Tok, even though not really on there. But yeah.

Jamila Souffrant 54:11

All right, all the places. Okay. All right. Well, we will link all that in the episode show notes. Thanks so much again. Eisah for coming on the show.

Outro 54:20

Don't forget, you can get the episode show notes for this episode by going to journey to launch.com or click the description of wherever you're listening to this. And you can still grab your jumpstart guide for free to help you on your journey to financial freedom by going to journey to launch.com/jumpstart.

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