Unstuck: The Magic 8 Ball for Grownups

December 14, 2011

11:30 am

Entrepreneurs are passionate about chasing their dreams, but even they have perplexing moments along the way: Should I quit my full-time job? Should we expand the team? Should I be spending more time with my wife?

For entrepreneurs – and everyone else – facing a sticky situation, a free iPad app debuted last week called Unstuck. The app asks what you’re feeling, thinking, and doing; diagnoses the problem – say, you’re a Lone Leader trying to do too much or a Waffler who can’t make decisions – and offers tips to take action. But the long-term goal is to build a community of users who help each other:

“Think of it as what your very best friend does for you now, or what a great coach does for you, but a community that’s dedicated to helping each other in the moment. At any moment,” explains cofounder Keith Yamashita.

From what I can tell, Unstuck isn’t one of those superficial, motivational products but a robust toolkit for making changes. You can sort your tasks into Now, Later, and Much Later; figure out where you need support and who can help; and do timed exercises that reveal your gut instincts.

Unstuck is a spinoff from SYPartners, which has done consulting work for companies like Facebook, Target, and Starbucks and saw leaders unintentionally sabotage themselves while trying to make major changes. The takeaway? All of us have lots of energy and potential, as long as we can tap into it. So rather than giving answers, SYPartners – and the Unstuck app – tries to help us learn to see the problem from a different angle and find our own way.

But even the Unstuck team is still learning:

“We’ve hit so many stuck moments in the process,” says Yamashita. “We’ve freaked out that it wasn’t doable. We got stuck in looking at problems from the same vantage point, and therefore kept blocking on different ways to solve them. We’ve been overwhelmed by having to choose what to put in this version of the app, and what to leave out.”

Getting stuck may be inevitable, even for the pros. But they eventually got unstuck and brought their dreams to life, one year after the project began – and they hope you can, too.

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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact kira@tech.co.

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