Learn How to Cultivate Joy ‘Beyond Likes’ With Author and Entrepreneur Isa Watson

The competitive skydiver’s new book is all about building better, more authentic relationships.
Isa Watson

Isa Watson.

Isa Watson’s roots are in STEM, but the entrepreneur, author and speaker has pivoted her focus to business and entrepreneurship in recent years. While she’s worked as a VP of Strategy at JPMorgan Chase and a chemist at Pfizer, today she’s the founder and CEO of Squad, an app that provides a platform for meaningful interactions with friends.

Her new book, Life Beyond Likes: Logging Off Your Screen and Into Your Life, explores the authenticity of friendships—both online and offline—in the digital age. Throughout, Watson offers practical solutions for making better, more authentic connections IRL.

One of the major themes of Life Beyond Likes is finding ways to cultivate joy. Rather than scrolling through social media and feeling down about ourselves while watching other people’s highlight reels, Watson suggests exploring ways in which we can use our time more intentionally.

“[This] is a book that I wrote that blends a lot of storytelling with research to A., elevate our awareness around social media, our relationship with it and how it makes us feel about ourselves, and B., kind of gives us the framework to think about how to focus on living our lives with intentionality and centering our joy,” Watson explains. “So much so that I don’t think social media is ever going to go away and I’m not a social media abolitionist, I just think that we should manage it and not let it manage us. But in doing that, we have to actually center living our lives by tapping into our joy.”

Watson recommends limiting social media use to 30 minutes a day in order to use your time more purposefully, rather than filling it with passive habits like scrolling through your phone.

“I always recommend people take a break from social media an hour before you’re about to go to bed and an hour after you wake up to make sure you’re focused on being grounded at the top and end of your days,” she suggests.

Isa Watson

Isa Watson.

Watson practices what she preaches: in order to recenter the joy in her own life, the adrenaline junkie is a competitive skydiver. She says that she gets an incredible mental reset from skydiving, an activity she does several times a month, and feels at peace during free fall.

“I have done upwards of a hundred skydives in the last six months, and I am now also on a four-way formation team training to compete in the 2024 U.S. Nationals,” Watson shares.

While competitive skydiving may not be everyone’s cup of tea, Watson suggests taking the time to figure out what hobbies or pastimes do bring you happiness.

“The one thing I really encourage people to do is make sure you experiment with different activities and things that you think could bring you joy, because you have to try a bunch of different things in order to get to the thing that does, oftentimes,” she says.

One simple way Watson recommends sparking bliss is by fostering genuine friendships in which quality matters more than quantity.

“Who are the top five people in your life that bring you the most joy every day? The people who you can resolve conflict with, the people who make you laugh, the people who you know, you guys enjoy each other’s company,” she offers. “Take those folks and invest more intentionally in those relationships.”

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Cara O’Bleness


Cara is a trending news writer/editor for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit. A passionate writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience in print and online media, she loves storytelling and believes that words have the power to change the world. Prior to joining the team, Cara worked as a writer and editor across a number of content verticals, including food, lifestyle, health and wellness, and small business and entrepreneurship. In her free time, Cara loves reading, spending time with her family and making her way through Michigan’s many microbreweries. She is a graduate of Michigan State University's School of Journalism.