As a part of my series about women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jasmine Chen.
Jasmine Chen is CEO and founder of LIFE Intelligence, a science-backed problem-solving app for your self, career and relationships. A Princeton and Harvard Business School graduate, Chen had followed a traditional finance path, previously at hedge fund Marcato Capital, global private equity firm the Carlyle Group, and Mergers & Acquisitions investment banking at Merrill Lynch. She realized that type-A professionals like herself needed a practical, efficient, and private approach to mental, career, and relationship health. This led her to developing LIFE Intelligence, a wellness app users now liken to a “DIY” therapist, career coach, and relationship counselor in one.
why hadn’t I put the same sort of rigorous study into my most important investment: me?
Growing up, I was always a psychology nerd, curious about what makes us do and say certain things. I was also obsessed with self-development: I used to write lists of things I needed to work on! As I would later find out, type-A people often struggle with such perfectionism, and research shows that the most driven people are also those most plagued by social-emotional differences that make them prone to anxiety and depression.
After Princeton, I entered the world of finance, starting in Mergers & Acquisitions Investment Banking, then Private Equity, Harvard Business School, and a hedge fund. It was there that I realized: As an investor, I had all this research and analysis to back up my stock picks. But why hadn’t I put the same sort of rigorous study into my most important investment: me?
So, I took my skill set studying stocks and applied it to the biggest life questions I had. Today, the result of that effort is a science-backed digital course and problem-solver, LIFE Intelligence. LIFE applies the rigor of stock research to your daily decisions, goals, and conflicts, for a uniquely type-A approach to wellness.
I’m constantly a work in progress, and I’m amazed by how often I still go back and refer to the contents in LIFE Intelligence and gain new insights each time. For example, I’ll still find myself feeling frustrated, envious, insecure, or helpless, and have to head right back to the app to “fix” those emotions. But, that’s what mental and emotional training is all about: it has to be done as many times as I’ve done multiplication tables, before it becomes second nature.
Awareness of self. Empathy for others.
LIFE Intelligence is a two part, science-backed tool to optimize your whole life - your self, career, and relationships.
The first part is proactive learning, for preventive mental health education.
The comprehensive learning aspect of LIFE Intelligence is the education I wish I’d gotten over two ivy league degrees. I got to a point in my career where I wondered: how much stress, anxiety, miscommunication, regret could we avoid if we’d simply learned such self-management skills earlier? In LIFE, we’ve curated hundreds of scientific studies into one concise drip course. Each morning, you get 5 minutes of snippet reading and reflection, encompassing mental wellness, self awareness, values and goals, regret and time management, decision making and bias, stress and social support, dating and attachment, communication and conflict resolution, and leadership and teamwork. We also show how each of these topics, traditionally discussed in silos of therapy, career coaching, or relationship counseling, are deeply interrelated. Missing any one piece of that picture misses the full well-being picture and cure.
The second part is an immediate problem-solving tool, like having a “DIY” therapist, leadership coach, and relationship counselor in your pocket. We saw that most soft skills or wellness trainings fail to stick because if only addressed over weekly or monthly meetings, we fail to practice skills in the moment. Per the forgetting curve, we lose 40% of what we learn almost immediately, and 80% is gone just days later. So, in LIFE we offer coping and communication exercises for you to practice multiple times a day, anytime they feel frustrated, anxious, envious, or insecure. Whether prepping for a date or fighting with a significant other, you can take a breather and get grounded or dig deep into whatever it is you’re feeling to get an instant fix.
So that’s the change I hope this creates on the individual level: 1) preventive education, and 3) proactive problem solving skills.
But the hope is that really as a society, we’ll use this from early in our careers to develop deep awareness of self and empathy for others. What could this mean? At the family level, how many divorces could we prevent? At the company level, how much miscommunication could we avoid? At a society level, could we develop empathy for our neighbors and learn empathy for those with opposing beliefs?
That’s our end goal at LIFE.
LIFE Intelligence is the new emotional intelligence
First, we need to start serving the whole-human for holistic health. “LIFE Intelligence” is all-encompassing as more than just "mental health"
Because our self, career, and relationships are intertwined, missing any one piece of the wellness puzzle misses the full picture and cure. That’s why productivity tools, dating, and leadership shouldn’t be addressed in silos. They are all part of LIFE Intelligence because they all affect our mental health, and vice versa.
Emotional intelligence encompasses self awareness, and understanding your own emotions and behaviors. It involves self-control as well, being able to cope or problem solve situations with ease. It also requires social intelligence, and how our words and actions affect all those around us. We teach all that, and more: if you make a bad decision or miss goals, of course that’ll affect your mental state. If you get into a fight or go through a breakup, of course that will affect how you feel. Our goal is to spark a movement toward not just emotional intelligence, but LIFE Intelligence.
Second, LIFE Intelligence is for preventive self-management education to become the norm
We learn multiplication tables before we become physicists, and we learn English vocabulary before we become novelists. Why don’t we learn emotional intelligence as a prerequisite before we become leaders?
My vision is a world where we all share one common language for self-and-other-management skills. In elementary schools this is beginning with Social Emotional Learning (SEL). But, we have a long way to go in making such training part of every adult’s development. Having such education become part of corporate wellness and learning and development programs can help employees collaborate and thrive. That’s why I really do believe that it is essential that wellness is not just a voluntary benefit, but something in which everyone partakes. Our daily moods, distractions, decisions, and words affect all those around us. By all gaining the same training, we can gain a shared experience and common language for stronger corporate culture.
First, you don’t know what you don’t know. Innovation is inherently a constant journey of figuring things out. Second, a lot of people will care. A lot of people won’t. Some will say they care but actually not. Just find the ones that do care, and appreciate them. Third, take care of your own mental health. I feel blessed that I’m in a unique situation where I get to use my own product, and get to spend time researching solutions for just about every problem I face -- and then relay those findings to readers like you! I still use LIFE daily, and even after having written the content, gain new insights each time.
My focus at Princeton was on healthcare and public policy, and so I tend to approach mental health from a slightly paternalistic standpoint. I do believe it’s a pandemic, one that is exacerbated by COVID-19, but was already so prevalent before. We need to treat it from a preventive-care standpoint, much like a vaccine, giving people the tools to cope with moods, communicate through conflicts, and become self-sufficient in managing difficult life situations.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
Sure! You can learn more about my story at: https://www.lifeintelligence.io/about
Download our iOS App: https://apps.apple.com/app/id1518619206
Sign up for our Android beta: https://www.lifeintelligence.io/android
Thank you for these fantastic insights!