Unstuck in Action: Helping nonprofits realize their visions


April 4, 2012
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Travis Hellstrom is an Unstuck super-user. He immediately grasped the power of the app’s 11 tools and started applying them to his work at New Media Foundation, a nonprofit that counsels and supports other nonprofits. 

Here, he tells how the app’s tools have helped him through his own and others’ stuck moments.

Name: Travis Hellstrom

Age: 26

Location: Mongolia. Originally from North Carolina, Travis came to the Eastern Steppes in 2008 as part of the Peace Corps approximately three years ago. He has since left the Corps and plans to remain in Mongolia for the next year, then return to the U.S.

Occupation: He is founding CEO of New Media Foundation as well as founder and chief blogger for Advance Humanity, which launched in September 2011. The mission is to help people change the world in ways they feel most passionately about: “I try to make it easier for them to do those things.”

Other interests: Meditation, reading, exercising.

How did you hear about the Unstuck app?
“I was looking through the App Store and saw the icon for New Year, New You. Yours was one of the only ones that was free, and all the reviews said ‘I can’t believe this is free.’ I love how simple it is. It’s easy to understand. You cut away all the extra stuff.“

How do you know when you’re stuck?
“I start distracting myself with things like watching movies or television instead of working on a project that I used to love. Sometimes I’m lucky and I can call a friend or someone to talk it over with, but sometimes I’m just right there — stuck. I stop being creative and letting my ideas flow. I just get hung up on one little thing. It’s usually a very small detail, but it can feel like a mountain.”

What’s it like to get unstuck?
“It’s like having the cork being pulled out of a bottle. All the creativity and excitement that I had before, when I first imagined a solution or started to design a project, just flows. I don’t even feel like it’s me anymore, it’s just the idea becoming a reality and I’m along for the ride.”

What is a stuck moment that the Unstuck app helped you through?
“For my second book, I wanted to finish in February, but I wasn’t sure why I wasn’t motivated to work on it anymore. Turns out after I used one of the tools, the thing that was confusing was how I was going to deliver it. There’s epubs, ibooks, all kinds of things, and I wasn’t sure how to format the book and I didn’t want think about those things.”

How did the app diagnosis your moment?
Diagnosed as a Waffler, Travis used the "Pros vs Pros” tool to help him decide between various choices. But at the end of the tool, Travis still wanted all the options. So he browsed the tool gallery and spotted the “Call in the Calvary” tool. The name alone gave him the epiphany he needed to get outside help: “Now I have a team of people helping me. I think the book might even be better than I was hoping for. Getting unstuck turned the book back into something I’m enjoying.”

Since we spoke with Travis, he finished and published his book titled Enough.

What kinds of uses do you see for the Unstuck app?
“It reminds me of Advance Humanity. It encourages people to know it’s okay if you get stuck. Most people get really discouraged. Like my friend last week. He’s a visionary and isn’t sure how to make things happen. We used the ‘Visualize It’ tool because his ideas are so broad. And the ‘Tell Me Why’ tool because his ideas are so big, he didn’t know which part he really wanted to do. That breaks the problem down into something small.”

If you would like to be interviewed for the Unstuck in Action series, contact us at ideas@unstuck.com.

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