How to Get Unschtuck

get unschtuck glaserEvery day, I work with people who are stuck. They can’t get from here to there, and some people can’t even see there. Others are heading toward the wrong there but don’t know it until someone helps them find the better questions to guide them along their way.

But are you schtuck? It’s different than just being stuck. Today, Blair Glaser is weighing in on what it means to be schtuck and how to get…UNschtuck.


Beth and Randy,* a married couple, are sitting in my office, fighting as usual.

I cross my feet up on the table, fold my arms behind my head, settle in, and wonder aloud which episode of “The Beth and Randy Show,” they will be performing today. They laugh. Some of their friends have had similar responses to their constant bickering.

Push pull, push pull, jab, jib, jab.

They’ve got a patterned, rehearsed way of being with each other that they know is not working, yet they cling to for dear life. Beth and Randy are stuck in their schtick.

Dave, a sales manager, is a compulsive joker. For a moment, he looks at me blankly.

Anonymous feedback from his peers sits in a pile of pages between us.

We’ve read it. It’s not good.

Just when I think something interesting is going to happen, my heart braces. He smiles hard and snorts through his Car Talk cackle, “And I thought executive coaching was going to be a reward, not a punishment!!!”

Ba-dum bump . . . ching!

Dave is excellent with vendors. Dave is up for a promotion. None of his co-workers in the earnest, eco-friendly small business office want to work with him. Dave, too, is stuck in his schtick. His hyper humor makes people uncomfortable.

It was great to see my old friend Amy, but I was distracted by the multicolored plastic hairpiece holding up her multicolored, untamed hair.

I have nothing against fanciful ways of dressing; it’s just that I knew her many years ago as “the theatrical costume designer with the least theatrical wardrobe.”

“What’s with the hair?” I asked.

She launched in. From a random costume gig on a bizarre independent production that became wildly successful, Amy had garnered a reputation for styling people and artists who dressed outlandishly.

Dressing herself in that style was a marketing move, and not necessarily a bad one, it’s just that from my perspective, it was so NOT her, and I felt the discrepancy. When she talked about how, even though business was good, all she really wanted was a nice boyfriend — I wondered if her schtick was also preventing her from making a satisfying connection. Amy was bound by her brand.

Schtick is a yiddish word that has evolved from meaning “a comedian’s act” to “something canned or contrived.”  We all have a schtick — a little rehearsed or improvised act we do at parties or sales pitches — and we all need one at times, so if you are feeling immune to the wonders of schtick, think again. Your schtick could be the persona you project on TV, or when representing your brand at networking events. It could be the behavioral dance you do when your partner confronts you on something.

There is nothing inherently wrong with schtick. But if you can’t take it off, like Beth, Randy, Dave and Amy you can become schtuck. Then your presence becomes all schticky and brand-y, with your whole self being swallowed up by a 24/7 performance that keeps real people at arms length. Even with 10,000 friends on Facebook, schtuck is a very lonely place to be.

In this new era of business practices, we are perpetually reminded to be authentic and vulnerable in representing ourselves. Hurrah! This boldness and authenticity draws people, and business, to us. However, if you use openness as part of a my-personality-is-my-brand marketing strategy and work perpetually, it can become schtick, too, and you may not even recognize it.

Three ways to tell if you’re schtuck:

  1.  You feel closer to the friends and fans attached to your business or social media platforms than you do to ones in real life
  2.  You have an extreme aversion to anything that makes you feel awkward, vulnerable or naked — you avoid blind dates and funerals at all costs.
  3. You make others who simply want to hang with you uncomfortable — but if you’re fully schtuck, you probably don’t notice.

Schtick is good, but schtuck is isolating. Being isolated has harmful effects on your personal life, which will eventually catch up to your business.

Feeling schtuck? You can’t break your schtick with your schtick (or a stick). Only concentrated effort and professional help will allow you wind your way out of it.

So until then, I offer you the ultimate UNSCHTUCK challenge:

You know that thing that people tell you to do, that thing you know intellectually will help you move closer to loved ones, but you feel you could never do because “it is just so NOT me?”

Do it.

And remember — Schtick stuck or schtuck, love yourself no matter what.

* all names and some circumstances have been changed.


blair glaser unschtuckBlair Glaser, MA, LCAT, RDT is a therapist, consultant and leadership mentor who helps people excel on the twin journeys of loving and leading. She works with individuals and couples, consults with business leaders and their organizations, and has been a pioneer of Women’s Leadership through her workshops and offerings. She lives in Woodstock and Brooklyn, NY with her partner and their dog.

Follow Blair on Twitter — @BlairGlaser


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9 replies
  1. tsilvestre
    tsilvestre says:

    The schtick thing is so easy to fall into — especially online. Thanks for the reminder to take a closer look at our default settings and see if they’re helping or hurting.

    • BlairGlaser
      BlairGlaser says:

      My pleasure. Sometimes I look at tweet and I’ll think: “Oh no, I did not really post that. That was definitely my schtick talking.” Yes, so easy to fall into the defaults online ( and have a permanent reminder of when you did!)

  2. briansmithpld
    briansmithpld says:

    One of my “action” words for this year is “Network” – Was never big on going to networking events, out to dinner with friends or a chat-up at Starbucks. I’m working on it Blair – learning to say yes and starting to get “Unschtuck”  🙂

    • BlairGlaser
      BlairGlaser says:

      Ahhh, Networking. A four letter word for introverts. I always remind myself, schitck is OK but schtuck is ewwwwww.

  3. MitchRezman
    MitchRezman says:

    As a wise sister once said to me “Sometimes you just have to change your path” Video helps too – when I was a manger for a home improvement company we’d video customer/sales person role play – watching the video got sales people unschtcuk real quick

    • BlairGlaser
      BlairGlaser says:

      Hey Mitch, so true what you said about video. I was trained as a drama therapist and there is nothing like watching yourself played back to you to snap out of inauthentic behavior patterns. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  4. thebettyrocker
    thebettyrocker says:

    I think you just described a giant issue I’ve been confronting in my life lately. Since I started consciously focusing on my business and branding, rather than it being just a natural extension of myself that I enjoyed, I have really fallen into all 3 of the schtuck criteria! And on top of my tendency to be introverted, that has not been a good thing. I feel like the thing that’s going to take me to the next level is the same thing that brought me this far – my real self, but I’m a people pleaser, and I keep getting schtuck thinking that people really want to hear from my brand/character image. Thanks for the article, I’m going to think about it!!

    • BlairGlaser
      BlairGlaser says:

      thebettyrocker Thanks Betty! First of all, it’s really nice when someone posts a comment on a blog that went live weeks ago. But it’s especially nice when someones comment is so resonant with what you wrote.  And you make a great point: Schtick is a two way street, and that pull of your audience can be a part of what makes you schtuck. It is so easy and tempting to keep getting sucked back into the machine of the public image: think of any actor in a movie or TV show (What you talking about, Willis?) that had a line that their audiences keep asking them to repeat long after they’ve moved on.  I am always open to / interested in more dialogue if your thoughts take you there.


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