How Jenny Woo Builds Deeper Connections With A Card Deck Up Her Sleeve

Social media undoubtedly has brought our society many wonders. The connection it can bring and the impact it can make are undeniable. But along with the rise of platforms that prioritize online personas and shortcut conversations, profound connections feel like an endurance test.

Jenny Woo, taking an emotional and deep-dive reading of this pattern, decided to develop the 52 Essential Conversations. She then established Mind Brain Emotion with the hope of helping people stay in tune with their emotions, building happiness, serenity, and wisdom. 


It was an insightful experience to have this exclusive interview with Jenny Woo, whose keen observation and curiosity have led her to the creation of Mind Brain Emotion, educational card games, and mental health tools to help people build essential human skills and connections.

Delightfully quipping “I earned enough credentials so that my parents and grandparents could each have an honorary degree,” Jenny showcased a strong personality, one that is “resourceful, resilient, and hard-working.” As she would humorously refer to herself as a “knowledge smuggler,” Jenny dug up the problems in current education towards one’s emotional development:

During my study and research at Harvard, I was drawn to the intersection of emotional intelligence and cultural identity. Self-awareness, social awareness, and relationship skills were three key components of emotional intelligence. As a management consultant, executive coach, and HR leader, I had already observed how essential these skills were for career success. 

And yet, the education system did little to expose students to these skills. Teaching resources were scarce, expensive, and outdated, and only the most expensive private schools had access. I also interviewed Harvard and MIT students on what got them to be where they are today and realized that a large component was having access to essential conversations and connections with mentors and parents. 

Jenny also detailed the inspiration behind her first deck, 52 Essential Conversations, which came from careful investigation into neuroscience and social affairs:

My findings are also aligned with neuroscience research from Harvard/MIT on the power of conversations. For the average Joe or Jenny, like me, we had limited access to social capital and resources like this. So, it inspired me to translate emotional intelligence research and social capital into affordable and relatable card games to help everyone reach their potential. In my research, I also saw a lack of representation and conversations around diversity, equity, and inclusion in the emotional intelligence learning framework. For example, how could we practice self-awareness or social awareness if we didn’t discuss the role of race? Being socially aware is also understanding our privilege and past.


Jenny’s journey was never met with only the appraisals but also the scathing criticism of her success as an Asian American. Her detractors claimed many misogynistic things upon her (“women like this die alone”) and called her a CCP spy, because it was never expected of a woman like her to achieve such success. However, it is the meaning of her work and the applauding reaction of her supporters that have kept her moving forward: 

User testimonials are why I do what I do. My card decks are being used in ways that I had never imagined – in veteran hospitals and curriculums, in Federally-funded programs that support homeless youth and displaced families, in trauma-informed social work to help neglected and abused kids and adults, for Ukraine teen refugees, in speech-language therapy to help clients build reading comprehension, in community college and adult learning ESL classes to help immigrants learn language and networking, in gifted and talented programs to help students build both critical thinking and empathy, in workplaces for teambuilding and mentorship, etc. I’ve done university research on the utility of the card decks and it’s amazing to see it benefiting people from all socioeconomic classes, from poverty to affluence. 

At the end of a school district workshop I delivered, the school counselor told me that the divorced parents who had been on toxic non-speaking terms were surprisingly communicating warmly to each other and their child by the end of my hands-on workshop using the card decks. It’s anecdotes like this that keep me going.


When asked about how AI has transcended society, she brought up the concerns for mental health, fearing the permeating scarcity of personal connection:

I was interviewed on an emerging study on the impact of AI on the mental health of workers (not just in the US, but also in the Asia Pacific) between the ages of 25 – 55. It found that workers were lonelier and craved more social interaction. I love tech and AI, and I believe they have improved the quality of our lives tremendously. However, in the context of emotional intelligence, it’s making it harder for people to experience authentic and unfiltered IRL emotional connections and social interactions. Lately, I’ve been interviewed a lot on emotional intelligence topics like how to initiate a conversation with strangers, phubbing, and how to cope with social anxiety and ghosting. Although people are now much more aware of the importance of mental health, I’m afraid that many are left with little practice (or willingness) for human-to-human connection. 

However, there’s always a silver lining. With the growing acceptance to talk about mental health among younger generations, Jenny sees a glimmer of hope in her products. They have the potential to support young people in fostering greater openness and understanding surrounding mental health issues:

I have a few more decks in the works that support Gen Alpha, GenZers, and Millennials. My card deck topics were created based on user feedback on their needs. For example, I created the 52 Essential Coping Skills during the pandemic to support my college students’ mental health. Many of the cards stemmed from a course I had been teaching, where I created practical Zoom games and assignments to help my students cope with the situations they were confiding in me. My class was oversubscribed with a long waitlist, so I made my exercises into this card game to offer instant support.

I created the 52 Essential Critical Thinking Skills in response to Black Lives Matter and Asian Hate crimes to give younger generations the tools for activism and advocacy. Most recently, a national youth-centered activism nonprofit organization contacted me to discuss collaborative partnerships to support our younger generations. We want to provide concrete tools to help our youth go from civic-conscious to civic-committed while managing the mental health toll of the geopolitical issues. Lastly, reaching younger generations through social media and YouTube would be great. I would love to collaborate with influencers who care deeply about mental health!

Speaking about her vision for Mind Brain Emotion, she expressed her desire to expand Mind Brain Emotion globally, especially in APAC:

I’d love to connect with publishers and distributors to bring evidence-based emotional intelligence resources into those countries. I believe these resources will benefit both the younger and older generations.