Goldie was in town for a dinner to raise funds for The Hawn Foundation, the organization she set up ten years ago dedicated to providing children with the social and emotional skills they need to live smarter, happier, healthier lives.
In particular, she was promoting their signature MindUP Curriculum–lessons that foster self-awareness, focused attention, and emotion-regulation as well as the necessary social and emotional learning necessary for academic success.
The event was held at the Park Tavern Restaurant in historic North Beach on Washington Park Square in San Francisco. The park was a spot where locals came to relax and chat–and re-energize during the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco.
I arrived early–in fact the guest of honor had not even shown up yet but when Goldie did walk in, she looked casual and chic. Dressed in jeans, stiletto multi-strapped high heels, and a black pullover cashmere top, she wore no jewelry except a wide strapped bracelet watch about an inch wide. It dripped with diamonds—at least I think they were diamonds.
My host, Alison Huynh, brought her over and introduced me and I explained that I was the founder of both Synapse (a school for the building of change makers) and Six Seconds (a consulting group dedicated to the teaching of emotional intelligence).
Now, I often have to explain what emotional intelligence means. I have explained it hundreds of times over the years. But on this occasion, I found Ms. Hawn (I called her, Goldie ) to be highly knowledgeable, curious and full of intriguing questions. She knew what EQ was!
We had a delightful conversation that was only interrupted when our host dragged her away. I got a hug and an invitation to lunch the next time she was in town. I sat down to eat my delicious dinner.
Over our meal, Goldie gave an off-the-cuff speech for around twenty minutes talking about her foundation, the importance of neuroscience and the need to provide children with the skills to manage their world for their ultimate success. It was music to my ears.
It had been a busy, exciting evening so when it came time for dessert, this chocoholic introvert decided she was about to head into stimulation overload and it was time to leave.
I walked over to Goldie and said my goodbyes. We again struck up a lovely conversation and I felt a real connection with this bright, articulate, and empathic celebrity better known for her ditzy, comedic roles.
She was gracious enough to allow me to take pictures with my iPhone. She even took one of the two of us together. It would have been lovely to chat further, but it would have been inappropriate of me to continue to monopolize her.
As I sat in the back of my car (Karen had lent me her driver – it was a night of heavenly luxury) and reflected on the evening, I found I shared five things in common with a Hollywood star. I was surprised.
- We both believe in the importance of social and emotional learning as the basis of success in life for both the individual and our society.
- That neuroscience research provides the basis for creating tools to develop these skills in a way that people can relate to and is applicable in the real world.
- That greater optimism and happiness on a global level can be achieved through kindness, cooperation, honesty, empathy and optimism.
- We believe it starts with the children.
- We both believe in the power and the necessity of hugs.
I confess to being a little star struck by Goldie Hawn. She also impressed me. She was smart, sassy, and benevolently motivated. She wants to be a change maker for systemic reform in schools and do something constructive with the rest of her life.
I’m impressed by her foundation, too. They have done their homework and know what they’re doing. Some serious research is behind their campaign. They currently seek to raise $5million to support program implementation, curriculum adaptation, research and training.
While the money is important for new developments, I hope our two organizations can blend our existing investments in social and emotional learning for greater synergy. The Hawn Foundation and Six Seconds/Synapse have missions with much in common and I hope there will be an opportunity to work together in the future. I think our Social Emotional Intelligence assessment would be an excellent addition to their toolkit.
But even if we don’t, I felt I found a kindred spirit in the world. Someone who held the same values as I did and was doing all in her power to bring about positive change.
Someone like Goldie Hawn, with her star pulling power, has enormous ability to set off a huge positive ripple of attention, investment and change. We need more people like her in the world emphasizing social and emotional intelligence. I wish her well.
And I hope I have the opportunity for another Goldie hug in the future. She gives good ones.
Founded nearly a decade ago by award-winning actress, producer, director and children’s advocate, Goldie Hawn, The Hawn Foundation is dedicated to helping children thrive. Through its signature program, MindUP, published by Scholastic, Inc., the Foundation has introduced tens of thousands of students to how their brains work, and to strategies for regulating stress in order to ready their brains for learning. The MindUP program has trained thousands of teachers in how to create successful and optimal classroom environments by integrating social and emotional content into core subjects. Research on MindUP has shown that it can:
- Improve academic performance
- Decrease aggression
- Reduce stress and anxiety
- Increase optimism, empathy and resilience