leading through growing pains or changes in strategy?
May you lead with impact
without losing your
sanity or humanity.
You have the intention
to become the best CEO,
Build the best company culture,
and Positively contribute to the lives of your customers, co-founders, investors, and employees.
And yet, it’s not been easy.
Confidence & productivity,
Your team lose
Alignment & performance, and Your company lose
Revenue growth & funding opportunities.
Worse, you may have even seen your good intentions get mired with misunderstandings, resistance, or even accusations and criticisms counter to your intentions.
Given your good intentions, it can be particularly frustrating and isolating, not to mention demoralizing and draining, to have to spend so much time and energy — while even enduring emotional pain — only to experience such blowback.
Even if you’re the type that doesn't normally seek out appreciation or recognition, nobody can blame you if you’ve felt unappreciated or unrecognized for the sacrifices you’ve made.
In fact, nobody can blame you if you’ve felt betrayed.
You’re not alone.
To get started,
- Inquire about Coaching to schedule a time to discuss your challenge. During this time, you will experience what it feels like to enter a coaching session with me.
- If our session ends with both of us feeling relieved or confident knowing that we are a good fit, we’ll schedule another call to solidify a form of engagement that best suits your needs.
- Once we agree on a formal engagement, you will receive the support you need on a regular basis so you can continuously make progress.
- We’ll revise the form of our engagement along the way if necessary.
Once the project commences,
expect to immediately
- Enter each coaching session rest assured that however much of my time you need for the session has no impact on the project cost as all project costs are fixed and agreed upon in advance.
- Leave each coaching session feeling crystal clear on what you must do next to make progress and relieved or confident knowing that you will be able to execute and get results.
expect in the near term to
- Clearly understand what is making it difficult for you to perform not only at your best, but also at your truest.
- Start removing the hidden barriers in your way so you can become not only more productive and psychologically healthy, but also more fully who you are.
- Lead with more confidence and clarity as well as less anxiety and overwhelm.
- Learn to communicate with investors in simpler and easier-to-understand terms by speaking to their language, needs, and values.
- Start removing the hidden barriers to your team’s performance so you can spend less time and energy managing or “growing” them.
- Start preventing or resolving interpersonal conflicts, even leveraging them as sources of creative insight or better-negotiated outcomes.
- Enter negotiations and difficult conversations more prepared.
- See your team start to naturally align around your new approach to communication so you can spend less time and energy trying to convince or persuade them.
expect in the longer term to
- Become more and more self-aware of who you are, why you are the way you are, and what you really want or need.
- Become more and more confident and comfortable being unabashedly and honestly yourself both in your way of being and in your communication.
- Become more and more clear of your vision, enough to be your own guide instead of seeking other people’s approval on what you should do or where you should go.
- Become better and better equipped to recover and mature from non-clinical psychological injuries, such that you can more quickly restore your energy and vitality.
- Feel more and more comfortable and prepared to take on difficult communication, negotiation, and facilitation challenges.
- Feel a growing sense of “we” in whatever you do with your team.
- Become more and more skilled at designing and developing effective and natural relationship structures and communication approaches with a variety of stakeholders in and around your business, be it with co-founders, employees, investors, board members, customers, or business partners.
- Develop and mature not only as a leader, but also as a parent, a spouse, and a child.
is an investment
Hi, my name is Slim.
I help Founder-CEOs mature as a leader and CEO by confronting themselves, others, and their situations in a true mirror: a process I call “journey of realizing empathy.”
Heading into my late 40s, I have spent the past 24 years, guiding the growth & innovation process at organizations of various scales ranging from large organizations like the Department of Defense, General Electric, and Eaton, to small startups with less than 1,000 or even 100 employees. A process full of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity.
What I’ve learned from this experience is that while engaged in such volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous projects, we suffer a decrease in either our planning & decision-making performance or our interpersonal performance when we’re confronted with one or more people with whom we have diffciulty empathizing — be it our co-founders, employees, customers, investors, board members, our spouse, our children, or even ourselves. I’ve also learned that our performance significantly improves when we’re able to realize empathy, which lets us see ourselves, others, and our situations from a different perspective as if to use a true mirror.
We realize empathy,
when we empathize with someone or something
through an unexpected realization.
A realization that helps us see ourselves, others, and our situations from
a surprising persective that reveals a path toward possibility and progress.
52 / father of 3
ceo of ici
based in the us
In one of the most memorable sessions I had with Slim, I shared with him that I had just returned from meeting the top-level executives at company A, a major client of our company and a multi-national corporation. Slim then asked me why this client was so important to me besides as a major source of income for our company. As I started to answer him, I began to weep. I had no idea what the tears meant. I just kept crying. Slim was so forgiving and accommodating. He patiently waited until I was finally able to reflect and articulate.
Back when I first began to work with Slim, I was experiencing tension with a middle manager from company A. Our company was frequently accommodating company A’s last-minute requests and unreasonable scope creep. This was because they were my former employer. I considered this my way of returning the favor I owed them.
Despite putting in such great efforts and working with them closely, the middle manager often claimed that we were not fulfilling their requests with enough care. He also blamed us for any criticism he received from his upper management. After seeing some of my employees leave as a result of such unfair treatment, I felt I had to decide whether to stop working with this client or to start treating them with a colder more business-like attitude.
What Slim helped me realize by reflecting on my tears was that the emotion I had been feeling that day was shame. Shame for depending on a previous employer to be our major client. This shame was triggered because the top-executives I had met that day treated me with such a high degree of care that I felt as if I were still part of their corporate family.
Reflecting on my shame and their care helped me realize three things. One, if our company were to graduate from depending on their company as our major client, their executives would actually be happy and congratulate me. Two, my frustrations paled in comparison to the amount of care they were extending me. Three, a better way to return the favor I owed this client was to grow my company enough to become more and more independent from them. Why? Because they found great value in the insights they gained from hearing about other projects we did beyond our work with them. Once I realized this, the bitter and aggravated emotions I had been feeling started to subside. Despite how the middle manager was treating us, I now felt certain that the executives respected our company and were looking forward to working with us more and more as equal partners.
Over the 1.5 years of regularly working with Slim over Zoom, we explored countless topics, but perhaps the most important of them all was realizing empathy with myself to learn about the importance of knowing what my emotions mean to me at any given moment, what gives me energy, what drains my energy, and what is truly important to me. Until I learned this, I was much more prone to being occupied with frustrations that led me to blame and judge other people for my sufferings. Becoming more capable of letting go of my bitterness and resentment has been a life-changer.
Imagine someone by your side.
A sounding board with whom to think through matters
difficult to discuss with stakeholders.
A mirror which clearly reflects your blindspots
without imposing upon you their bias.
An excavator that helps you discover
your hidden truths, power, and potential.
42 / husband
ceo of tlx
based in korea
The first time I met Slim, I wept endlessly as I shared my story with him about my co-founder. Given how our relationship began, I thought what I would appreciate most from having him as my coach was learning to better navigate my tension with my co-founder. But the most memorable session I had with Slim revolved around realizing empathy with myself and my customers.
It was around the time when we were raising our Series B round of funding. We had just received feedback from an investor that we were not sufficiently customer-centric. This feedback made no sense as my co-founder and I firmly believed our company existed to serve our customers. Whether through focus groups, user interviews, or online forums, we spent countless hours trying to personally understand and address customer needs. Bewildered, I brought this up during my coaching session with Slim and he asked me to present to him as if he were an investor. After I did, he helped me realize that despite our zeal for customer-centricity, we had unconsciously set the direction of our company to please the investors instead.
The stage and strategy of our company were such that we felt we could not grow without additional funds. So to win the investors’ approval, we had been doing our best to impress them. What Slim helped me see was that the time and effort we had been spending to impress the investors was warping our value system. For example, while preparing for pitches, I would spend a significant portion of my time imagining what the investors would think, while spending little to no time asking myself what I value. Not because I literally did not ask myself the question, but because my values were comprised of a bunch of words, most of which were not clearly defined.
Thankfully, Slim had already been guiding me to become more and more aware of my values by becoming aware of my emotions and needs. The challenge this time was to learn to respect my values just as if not more than what I believed the investors would value. That was my way to customer-centricity.
That night, Slim stayed with me for more than 6 hours until I finally became capable of articulating my vision in alignment with my values. With that, I was surprised to find that two other issues with which I was struggling, resolved themselves. First, team members who had resisted my prior vision voluntarily aligned with my new one. Second, I no longer felt the need to impress the investors. The vision of a major transformation I had previously pitched was now replaced with a simpler approach to significantly amplify our strengths to both much better serve our existing customer base and to expand our reach to others with similar emotional needs. The pitch had become so clear and simple that everyone could see how our customers would greatly benefit from the approach.
What I learned from that session is that, for a long time, I thought I should value what was deemed good or great. Now, I had to learn how to respect my values no matter how feeble or embarrassing they seemed. Why? Because it was who I was. I had to gain confidence around the fact that I deserve respect as who I am now, not merely by what greatness I aspire to achieve in the future. With such a commitment to myself, I felt empowered to approach the investors with the courage to have honest conversations. One where I could admit what I did not know without the need to defend myself. One where I could communicate what I do know without feeling the need to impress. I finally felt I could approach investors as equal partners.
In the 2 years of regularly working with Slim over Zoom, I was consistently surprised by the variety of subject matters I could bring into our sessions. From the most tactical and practical discussions around management techniques to the most philosophical and abstract discussions around values and identity, he attended to them all with the same level of curiosity and helped me resolve them all with the same level of clarity. The fact that there was no time limit to our sessions also meant there was always enough time to address the topic at hand to the depth it required. Above all, I cannot overemphasize the importance of having learned to become honest with myself. I believe this will forever be the foundation upon which I not only work but also form relationships of equal partnership.
confident in yourself.
ceo of idmask
based in china
When I had my most memorable session with Slim, I was taking a short break from running my company to attend a world-renowned global program for entrepreneurs. During a team coaching portion of the program, Slim, as our coach, asked everyone in my team to share their feelings and needs. At the time, I prided myself on being an emotionally intelligent leader who could sense the feelings of those around me. So I didn’t think such a deep dive into feelings was a good use of time. I thought the time could instead be spent executing. But as Slim did what he did, I was surprised by how my team and I opened up. His methods had each of us revealing what we craved and needed from each other. There was no denying how energetic we felt together as a team that night. Little did I know that we had only scratched the surface of the importance of realizing empathy with ourselves by diving deep into our feelings.
When I returned to running my company after the program, I felt burnt out, unsatisfied, and sad. Even before the program, I was already tired trying to keep up with my company’s rapid growth. But the feeling of sadness and dissatisfaction arose because the experience I had in the program and the speakers I had heard had me thinking that my company was not enough. That the challenge my company was pursuing was not enough. That a bigger impact was needed and I was the one for the job. Frustrated with not living up to my potential, I started to put emotional distance between my company and myself. I started to spend more and more of my time building a new organization slated for a much bigger impact. I flew at least twice a month to meet potential collaborators from all over the world. I spoke at international conferences to plant seeds. I was getting extremely close to landing a deal that would launch me into my next venture. But the project eventually fell through and I lost my confidence and motivation. It felt as if whatever I did would all lead to nothing. That’s when Slim checked in on me and brought me back to the basics of what he did when we first met.
The first thing Slim did to help me recover was to guide me to discover what energizes me. Through much reflection, I learned that I’m more motivated when working with others in a team atmosphere. So instead of working in solitude, I made teamwork a priority and involved my employees in almost all decision-making processes. The more I began to align my need for such a community with my work, the more I felt energized.
We then dove deeper into my feelings. Slim helped me learn to pay attention to my emotions while completing certain tasks. To get down to why I’m feeling a certain way about something. To not just focus on the unpleasant emotions or to even judge them as negative. Instead, to become aware of all emotions without judgment. I was surprised to find just how significant these things can be in getting myself to work with greater efficiency and less anxiety. It turns out, after a torturous and lonely 8 years of being a leader, the anxiety of making difficult decisions had me unconsciously shielding myself from anything anxiety-inducing. It’s still not easy confronting difficult decisions, but completing them now decreases my stress and anxiety.
Beyond what I’ve learned from the coaching sessions, what I value most about our relationship is that I can feel that Slim’ got my back. He remembers things I told him more than a year ago. He stays with me on Zoom for 4 hours to help me go deep enough to push through the blockage, so I can leave feeling like I got my mojo back. He truly cares. I owe my current productivity and motivation to his work of empowerment and emotional support.
ceo of signlab
based in norway and uk
forbes 30 under 30
In one of the most memorable sessions I had with Slim, I had recently returned from a meeting where our largest potential customer not only said they would not become a customer, but that they may develop a competing product. Our team had spent over a year developing our solution. Our company had less than three months of runway left. I felt devastated. I felt that the company would soon go under and we would become a public failure.
Over the course of the session, Slim helped me remember the adventure we’ve been on. Here I saw the growth I and the rest of the team have experienced while creating something we believe in. Slim also helped me realize empathy with myself so as to reflect on the sense of fear I felt of being viewed as a failure by my friends and family. In this process, I began to realize that the worst-case scenario for any of us was not fatal. Leveraging that insight, I came up with a plan on how to help the team use our venture as a springboard for future success. With the immediate concerns out of the way, Slim then helped me reflect on what possibilities remained.
At the beginning of the session, I could not see past the imminent crash of both our vision and all the hard work the team had put into its realization. But by the end of the session that feeling of defeat turned into a feeling of gratitude and hope. After the session with Slim, my team and I spent the next few months continuously exploring opportunities while preparing for the worst. In the end, we found a product-market fit, secured a round of funding, and the whole team is now still together expanding our vision internationally.
Over the last 3 years, Slim has been an invaluable part of my journey as a first-time founder. Throughout setbacks and victories, he has helped me see past immediate circumstances and gain a higher perspective both personally and for the company. On several occasions, the insights from our sessions have played an integral role in tipping the scales in our favor. As he and I continue to work through numerous ups and downs, our sessions over Zoom have been invaluable in reducing stress and increasing performance for both myself and my team.