Juliette Swann of Birdy: “Teasing and roasting each other became our favorite hobby”

In the case of Birdy, we make this difference by empowering people to be fully themselves. To accept, love and celebrate who they are without apologizing for it, while simultaneously striving for growth. To find someone that is right for them because they complement each other and help each other on their journey, not because […]

Thrive invites voices from many spheres to share their perspectives on our Community platform. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team, and opinions expressed by Community contributors do not reflect the opinions of Thrive or its employees. More information on our Community guidelines is available here.

In the case of Birdy, we make this difference by empowering people to be fully themselves. To accept, love and celebrate who they are without apologizing for it, while simultaneously striving for growth. To find someone that is right for them because they complement each other and help each other on their journey, not because they look good together or society thinks it’s right.

As part of our series about young people who are making an important social impact, I had the pleasure of interviewing Juliette Swann.

Juliette is a young Parisian aiming to transform how we love ourselves and others. She has been passionate about people’s relationships since she was a child and has been MBTI certified for several years now. After a 5-year relationship with a narcissist, followed by a horse accident that broke her spine, Juliette realized how valuable her time was and how greatly her life and time were impacted by her choice of romantic partner. She decided to create a matching algorithm based on personality compatibility that would keep people from spending their precious time on relationships with the wrong people for the wrong reasons, thus the creation of Birdy.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us about how you grew up?

I grew up in Paris, France, in an extremely close knit family. We’re three sisters, all very close in age, with me right in the middle.

Growing up, my older sister had separation anxiety so our parents made us share a room until she was 18 years old. This is where we started pranking each other in all possible ways, even my younger sister participated, for example by showing up in our room in the middle of the night, butt naked, attempting to serenade us with her guitar.

Teasing and roasting each other became our favorite hobby. And during one of those “roasting” sessions my older sister told me “I’m the mom [of the group], Rapha (my younger sister) is the funny one, and you Juliette, what are you?”. Even though she was just teasing me and I was only around 13 at the time, the question stuck with me. “Who am I?”

Looking for the answer to that question has nurtured my interest in psychoanalysis and probably jump started my drive to help other people find out who they really are as well.

When I was a bit older and started traveling outside of France, I became aware of Paris’ reputation for romance. Love was a normal topic for me, constantly thinking about it, discussing it, experimenting with it. Not just me, it is part of our culture. Which, in my opinion, led to a more realistic view of romance. We understand that love, passion, understanding, and commitment are at the center of everything, but not in an idealized way copied from romantic novels, but recognizing that it takes work and effort, and that chemistry or compatibility are more important than perfection.

My understanding of romance and love, coupled with my interest in people and finding out who they really are at their core, is the foundation of my work at Birdy.

Is there a particular book or organization that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

Having been so close with my family all my life, not just emotionally but physically, going to graduate school in the US and then working in San Francisco, so far away from my support system and what I was used to, was not easy for me.

Therefore, the book that had the most impact on me is “You’re a Badass” from Jen Sincero. That author is something else, reading the book felt like I was talking to myself.

I remember reading it when I was having one of my regular panic attacks, every time I returned to San Francisco after holidays in France.

This book really broke down all the false excuses that I created to protect myself, it gave me the strength and the energy I needed to become the main character of my own life. Whatever your project is, you can’t fail if you read that book.

My most “developed ‘’ friend once gave it to me when she was traveling the world to find herself and I’ve made all my family and friends read it. I highly recommend it if you haven’t read it already (it’s a bestseller).

You are currently leading an organization that is helping to make a positive social impact. Can you tell us a little about what you and your organization are trying to create in our world today?

In short, we want to create healthy relationships built on understanding and compatibility.

In long, dating is hard, relationships are hard, we often don’t know what we want, or can’t separate our wants and needs, sometimes we think we know, but it turns out we didn’t even know ourselves and definitely not what we need. We enter relationships for the wrong reasons and therefore often with the wrong people. Especially with society and social media watching us so closely, we constantly compare ourselves and our real life, to the highlight tapes of the people around us, often never knowing what really goes on behind the filters and hashtags.

To break out of this cycle is difficult, and for many people it doesn’t happen until a lot of pain forces them to become more introspective and to take a good, hard look at what really matters.

What we’re trying to do at Birdy is to trigger and normalize that introspective work as soon as possible and to hopefully avoid some pain. We want to make people accept and love themselves for who they really are. To allow them to act by choice and not out of fear of not being loved.

We want people to learn about themselves and to accept themselves, weaknesses and all. Instead of beating themselves and others up over differences, we want to celebrate them and help people recognize the beauty in their imperfections.

But we want to go beyond our users just doing that work for themselves, but to take it to the next level and regard the people around them through the same lens. Recognizing them for who they really are, weaknesses and all, and supporting each other in the growth process. Connecting with someone compatible that they can go on that journey with, not trying to change them, but loving them for who they are while pushing them to be the best version of themselves and realizing their full potential.

Can you tell us the backstory about what originally inspired you to feel passionate about this cause and to do something about it?

To be completely honest, I created Birdy for myself. I want to find a compatible partner (so if you’re reading this, please sign up, you could be the person I’ve been waiting for 😀 ).

Jokes aside, when I was 17 I started dating my first boyfriend. We were together for 5 years, which is how long it took me to realize that I was slowly disappearing. Everything that made me me had been belittled and suppressed to the point where I didn’t even know who I was anymore.

Now I know that he was a narcissist and that it was a toxic relationship, but at the time I didn’t realize that he was gaslighting and controlling me. Eventually, the constant fights had me questioning my whole being and were robbing me of all my energy. Finally, after I had completely lost all sense of self I decided to break up.

I’m a firm believer that the mind and body are directly connected and are just a reflection of each other. So when I broke my spine in a riding accident only 2 weeks after the break up, it put everything in a new light. I realized how precious my time and my life are and what impact the choice of a partner can have on one’s life.

Being tied to my bed while I recovered from my injuries (physically and mentally), I started a process of self-analysis, trying to rebuild what I had lost and aiming to come out stronger. One of the theories that helped me the most was Carl Jung’s theory of psychological types (made famous by the MBTI). I really recognized myself in the description and realized that I was okay, just the way I was and didn’t need to change. I felt heard and understood for the first time in a while when I became part of the community.

In my mind the climax of self-realization is to be able to act by choice and not by fear. And for me, the most important choice of your life is the person you choose to share this life with. Love is one of the most powerful feelings in the world, and it’s also the one that can be the most hurtful. I realized how difficult it was to choose the right partner. And how we’re often influenced by things we’re not fully aware of. Culture, resemblance with our parents, child wounds, societal expectations, and general fears, are just some examples. So when I discovered a compatibility theory connected with the psychological types that already had helped me so much, I couldn’t wait to try it myself.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?

I believe the most interesting thing is happening right now: the famous pivot!

I’ve always been aware that many entrepreneurs pivot their product/business. But when I launched Birdy I really couldn’t imagine what other forms it could take. Now, 9 months later, we realized that the original product was only the beginning, a mere draft to help us orientate ourselves towards the product market fit.

It was a combination of user feedback, learnings from the first product, and a succession of coincidences that led us to this pivot. Our mission hasn’t changed, and we’re still a dating app, but we found a way to evolve Birdy that will allow us to tailor the experience to more people.

In the months leading up to Valentine’s Day we were brainstorming different event ideas and finally settled on organizing a V-Day event at UC Berkeley to gain more visibility in the Bay Area. Due to Covid we were not anywhere near Berkeley at the time, and while we had been brainstorming for a while, we didn’t decide on this idea until a little over a week before Valentine’s Day, so we had to focus on the essentials: finding a highly compatible date for as many people as possible out of the students that signed up. Since meeting in person was not an option, we decided to have the dates on Zoom. Despite the limited time to plan and organize it, the event was a huge success. So we decided to pivot and rework our concept so we would be able to accommodate a feature that creates these same virtual dates within the app, and not just on Valentine’s Day.

Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

As time goes by we hear more and more stories from our users of how they found someone special that really gets them. Just recently someone reached out to let us know that “after 8 years of horrible superficial dating with guys who reduced my personality to my body features and looks, I found my soulmate and the love of a lifetime.”

Of course, we love to hear these stories, they motivate and inspire us. But more than helping or impacting one particular person, I would say we are impacting introverts and highly sensitive people, those that often go unheard and unseen.

They joined Birdy because they are naturally very introspective people, and the experience on Birdy resonates with them. They generally enjoy deep conversations and struggle with small talk, they like to take things slow and think twice before making any major decisions. On Birdy they are in charge. They choose who can contact them and what parts of themselves they consider important, if they want to share pictures of themselves or not. It’s more private, less overwhelming, more authentic, and due to the nature of our compatibility system, our users are generally more self-aware.

What this means in terms of psychological types: we have a majority (70%) of introverts on Birdy, and an even larger majority (80%) of intuitive individuals, even though both are generally considered to be the minority in society.

How do you define “Making A Difference”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

Traditionally “Making A Difference” is viewed as making a difference in other people’s lives, but I also believe that it applies to your own life. In this case, I think that “Making A Difference” is when you start taking responsibility for yourself and for what you want to happen in your life.

It’s when you stop seeing yourself as the victim of events, people, and situations, when you stop being passive and complaining about what you aren’t “getting” from life, when you stop looking to reasons to be sad, melancholic, and you stop convincing yourself that now is not the right time for you to act.

It’s when you proactively go out there to learn what you don’t know, when you decide that fear won’t kill you.

Now, in the more traditional sense, making a difference in other people’s lives, for me, is when you empower them to do just that. To be the hero of their own story. To take action. To define themselves and not let their circumstances define them.

In the case of Birdy, we make this difference by empowering people to be fully themselves. To accept, love and celebrate who they are without apologizing for it, while simultaneously striving for growth. To find someone that is right for them because they complement each other and help each other on their journey, not because they look good together or society thinks it’s right.

Many young people would not know what steps to take to start to create the change they want to see. But you did. What are some of the steps you took to get your project started? Can you share the top 5 things you need to know to become a changemaker? Please tell us a story or example for each.

  1. Free yourself from what other people think

“When you judge others, you do not define them, you define yourself” ― Earl Nightingale

This is the first step, without it it’s hardly possible to create any change. It also helps to remember that what others think of you has nothing to do with you. It’s a reflection of their own thoughts, feelings, and opinions about the small fraction of your being that is visible to them.

Everyone has their own experiences in and of life and will project those onto you, they’re not judging you, they’re judging themselves. So why bother taking their opinion into account? Instead, have compassion for those who judge you, they are struggling with themselves, as we all are.

2. Identify your “why”: introspection

“People don’t buy what you’re doing they buy why you’re doing it.” — Simon Sinek

For yourself: to keep going when things get hard you will need a reason to keep pushing, to get out of bed every morning, to do the things that aren’t fun. This reason has to be strong, something that you desire with all your heart.

For others: part of being a changemaker is to tell your story, to inspire others, to relate to the people you are trying to impact. Lead by example!

3. Discipline, Routine, Habits!

“Change begins at the end of your comfort zone.”― Roy T. Bennett

Success happens because you do the things that nobody wants to do: taking risks, exposing your deepest thoughts, working more than anyone while earning dollars, getting rejected again and again, waking up early, eating healthy, exercising everyday, repeating your goals every morning and every night, meditating regularly, reading everyday, writing everyday, praying everyday, being bold everyday, …

Being successful and being a changemaker doesn’t just happen. It’s a lifestyle that you have to build and maintain. If it was easy everyone would do it. But that is where you get your power from, this is why you inspire people, because you do what they are afraid to do.

Consider buying, reading, and following the “Miracle Morning” to start building those habits, it helped me a lot.

4. Start Small

“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” — Confucius

Trying to build a perfect product right from the beginning is the best way to get discouraged, spend all your resources, and never come back to the task because “it’s too hard, I quit”.

Everyone started with an idea, all huge companies were once mere thoughts. Some random person pitched their idea to their mom. Start small, try, make mistakes, try again, the quicker you fail the quicker you learn. Enjoy your “ignorant” phase, you’ll become clairvoyant soon enough.

5. Move. Your. Butt! — NOW

If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” -Dale Carnegie

The right time doesn’t exist, you create change by starting and sticking to it. Urgency makes people move, create your own urgency. When I started I didn’t know anything about tech, silicon valley, business english, and I had never even used a dating app before. Now, after 3 years of putting myself out there, I’m starting to feel more comfortable in this world. If I hadn’t started 3 years ago, I would have 3 years ahead of me to do what I now have already done. You can’t start any sooner than right now, so do it! You’re the only thing that’s really in your way, there are ways around everything else.

What are the values that drive your work?

Honesty — being fully yourself and providing space for others to do the same is honest

Humility — opening up about yourself, sharing your weaknesses, asking for help and helping others in turn is humble

Vulnerability — living your emotions, being true to yourself and sharing your heart is vulnerable

This is what we believe in at Birdy, what we believe everyone should be free and safe to share.

Many people struggle to find what their purpose is and how to stay true to what they believe in. What are some tools or daily practices that have helped you to stay grounded and centred in who you are, your purpose, and focused on achieving your vision?

I think the best way to answer this question is just to share my morning routine, which I learned in the Miracle Morning I mentioned before. It’s what’s been keeping me focused, motivated, and sane ever since I discovered it.

After I wake up, I start my day with a 15 minute yoga session on YouTube (I love “Yoga with Adrienne” and “Boho Beautiful”). It allows me to connect to my body and my breath, it’s the first thing I focus on in the morning, and the last thing before I sleep. Fun fact: did you know yoga was created to prepare the body to receive meditation?

Thus, next are 10 minutes of meditation (I use Headspace, an amazingly inspiring company, really worth the investment). I’ve noticed the change in my stillness, on the days I don’t meditate the people around me really notice the difference, I’m much less patient and grounded, and I begin to feel the anxiety grow in my whole body.

Then I repeat my affirmations out loud (or “spells” as my little sister likes to call them). This is the application of the law of attraction. If you haven’t seen the documentary “The Secret” on Netflix you know what you can do tonight. Affirmations need to be said in the present tense, you need to believe that you have already achieved them. (But be careful what you say, one day I asked for a boyfriend with an ESTP personality type, and 2 months later the universe sent him.)

Next I read about 10 pages of a personal development book. I never used to have time to read because I always thought I could only read before I go to bed. Which either put me asleep immediately or I just ended up watching something on Netflix instead anyway.

Lastly, I write in my notebook for 5 minutes, it’s my personal therapy. It’s a great way to process and reflect on your own thoughts and feelings without being influenced by others, especially if you, like me, usually talk to someone else to help you figure out what’s going on in your head and heart.

In my work, I aim to challenge us all right now to take back our human story and co-create a vision for a world that works for all. I believe youth should have agency over their own future. Can you please share your vision for a world you want to see? I’d love to have you describe what it looks like and feels like. As you know, the more we can imagine it, the better we can manifest it!

I would love to see a world where people are more self-aware. Where they actually realize early on that they are perfectly imperfect just the way they are and that their differences make them special.

A world where people talk to each other, and by talking I mean that they are open and honest with each other. That judgement is replaced by active listening and humility, and fear is replaced by vulnerability.

I would love to see everyone pursuing their passions and becoming experts in what they are great at, all the while being confident and happy with themselves. Making their own choices, for themselves, not influenced by society or fear.

In the words of Albert Einstein “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” So let fish be fish, don’t make them climb trees.

We are powerful co-creators and our minds and intentions create our reality. If you had limitless resources at your disposal, what specific steps would take to bring your vision to fruition?

I would send everyone on a silent retreat of 2 weeks. Afterwards I would make them read all the best sellers personal development books that helped me so much (The power of Now, You’re a badass, Miracle Morning, The Five Wounds of the Soul, The Four Agreements). And lastly I would pay for therapy for everyone so they can free themselves of their traumas!

I see a world driven by the power of love, not fear. Where human beings treat each other with humanity. Where compassion, kindness and generosity of spirit are characteristics we teach in schools and strive to embody in all we do. What changes would you like to see in the educational system? Can you explain or give an example?

This question is a bit harder for me. Having grown up in France I also went to school there. I only got my Master in the US, but I know that the education system in Europe is very different from the US. You have more choices in the US and can specialize very early on, which I find amazing.

But overall there are some things to be said about education in general. I believe that the fragility of a person is at its peak when they are a child. It’s the most defining stage of our lives, it’s where we build ourselves, where our traumas happen.

I feel like children are not accompanied by professionals enough, by people who understand what they are going through and who can reassure them of the fact that they are normal; to whom they can talk regularly without feeling judged.

I feel like children could reach the best versions of themselves much sooner if they are coached and supported by the right people.

If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?

I would tell them: this is probably a job that will make you feel the most alive and connected to the higher truth of the universe. We are all interconnected and when you give good vibes, you receive good vibes. You can create your own truth, bring your stone to the wall, that is highly satisfying.

Is there a person in the world with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I would really like to share breakfast with Witney Wolfe, the founder and CEO of Bumble. I know that I’m creating an app that’s positioned as a competitor but 1) I’m not at that stage yet and 2) Witney is an inspiration as a female entrepreneur, her story and ambition for her company are grandiose and I would like to be where she is at one day.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

You can check out our website here: https://www.app-birdy.com/

You can follow Birdy on Instagram @thebirdyapp and myself @julietteswn

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

Thank you so much. The same to you as well

    You might also like...


    Elizabeth Sandler On How We Need To Adjust To The Future Of Work

    by Karen Mangia

    Olivia Chessé On How To Leave a Lasting Legacy With a Successful & Effective Nonprofit Organization

    by Karen Mangia

    Nine Ways to Heal Family Rifts & Become More Functional

    by Dr. Carmen Harra
    We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.