Zen and the Empathy Gym

Joel Eisenberg
4 min readDec 28, 2020

Jaago, a new app, is devoted to learned and innate empathy and just may change the way we relate to one another.

Jaago’s recent press release makes a big claim: In six minutes a day, Jaago helps build more inclusive companies that support employee happiness, increase retention, and deliver better value to their customers.

As I work in the entertainment industry and “diversity” is today’s buzzword, the Jaago app, which its creator Kevin Shah nicknamed “an empathy gym,” is indeed just that: a lesson as to how to truly understand one another.

In my business, such ambition is paramount. I took the time to download and peruse the app, and though this piece is not a review (hint: I loved it), I strongly recommend checking it out for yourself.

An edited version of the company’s December 17, 2020 press release follows:

Jaago (“wake up” in Hindi) is a Seattle based startup that has launched an application for Apple and Android devices to help employees recognize unconscious biases, practice equity and inclusion skills daily, and build the superpower of empathy.

Companies are increasingly spending more money on diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives and training. However, the impact of many of these programs remain small. It is becoming increasingly evident that annual trainings need to be supported through more habit-forming opportunities to practice inclusion skills. In 2020, the global pandemic and the elevation of the Black Lives Matter movement have led companies to realize the criticality of effective D&I initiatives and an inclusive culture. Empathy is getting mainstream attention from various business and political leaders as a key behavior that supports these shifts in culture.

As comedian Chelsea Handler asked during her HBO Max special Evolution— “How do you build empathy? Is there an app for that?”

The Jaago logo

Jaago has launched an app for employees to build empathy as a habit using crowdsourced short video stories.

Joel Eisenberg

Joel Eisenberg is an award-winning author, screenwriter, and producer. The Oscar in the profile pic isn’t his but he’s scheming. WGA and Pen America member.