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

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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?”

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

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The application enables all employees to privately watch short (3 minutes or less) relatable stories focused on various themes, practice empathy through brief reflection exercises, and track their measured growth. Companies will have access to their own private library so employees and leaders can share their internal stories and build a stronger culture, break down team silos, and demonstrate vulnerability as a strength. Each company will have their own Jaago scores that they can publicly share to show their commitment toward D&I and their action-driven growth.

“Empathy helps increase employee retention and deliver better financial results, by improving your teams’ happiness and engagement. It is as essential as information security”, says CEO & Co-Founder Kevin Shah. “Empathy has been my superpower, and we believe it can create a world where people seek to understand one another. We can actually reduce the polarization in our communities.”

Jaago is applying various techniques and insights from peer reviewed research and studies. Ryan Driscoll, Jaago’s Empathy Science Lead, explained — “The exciting thing is that the science tells us that empathy is a skill that we can develop. However, like all skills, you need to practice it regularly to build it. By combining brief stories from diverse perspectives with reflection, we aim to make it easy and engaging to turn empathy into a daily habit.”

By engaging with Jaago, employees are exposed to new ideas that can help companies recognize their biases and deliver more inclusive products and services. Companies can deliver a differentiated customer experience by leveraging the superpower of empathy.

Jaago is starting beta trials with several companies and is offering a free month trial for organizations to experience the superpower of stories and empathy. Jaago is offering non-profit organizations their first year free to help create a stronger culture focused on social impact. The app is currently available for download and open to anyone who wants to share their stories and practice empathy.

I elected to share the press release for the most part verbatim, as the power of the app is best experienced by downloading and actively engaging with it, and the explanations above are far more precise than my capabilities.

I am not a techie, though nor do you have to be.

I will say, in disclosure, I have known Kevin Shah for nearly 10 years and we recently reconnected. I am sincerely impressed with both his effort in this regard, and the app itself.

Lack of empathy is often downplayed as a source of personal and professional disruption. Unless one works by themselves and spends much of their time alone, bereft of tolerance — whether based on racial or cultural matters, or a general tendency to distrust — such a lack is a state that frequently brings with it other issues such as anger, or impatience.

Jaago aims high, and by the sharing of personal stories gives its members valuable glimpses into the lives and thoughts of a diverse community.

Download the app. In this era of social and political polarization, Jaago truly is not only unlike any other app you’ve seen, but important and timely as well.

Thank you for reading.

To read more on this ambitious application, see https://jaago.life.

Jaago LLC. is a privately held limited liability company registered in Washington State in 2020.

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.

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