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We realize empathy, when we empathize with someone (including ourselves) or something, through an unexpected realization.

One that often make us go “Ah ha!” “Oh...” or “Ha ha ha!” concerning something we either did not or had incorrectly assumed to have understood or appreciated enough.

Realizing empathy may not be easy.
Yet, it is by realizing empathy in the face of tension that we mature.

Empathizing points to B. an experience, where we’re feeling as if we’re connected as one with an “other,” as opposed to A. disconnected or at odds with them.
Hyper-Empathizing points to B′. an experience, where we’re feeling as if there is no or cannot be any distance, distinction, or boundary between ourselves and an “other.”
Empathy is a word invented to explain our potential to move from A. to B. or B′.

About the Director

Executive Performance Coach to Founder-CEOs

seung chan lim (slim)

In 2010, Slim coined the phrase “realizing empathy,” to refer to times when we empathize with someone (including ourselves) or something through an unexpected realization. One that can make us go “Ah ha!” “Oh...” or “Ha ha ha!” concerning something we either did not or had incorrectly assumed to have understood or appreciated enough.

Slim believes developing ourselves as leaders of innovation requires continuously discovering new or unexpected perspectives as well as learning to become aware of and releasing the often subconscious tension we and others hold, both of which happens when we realize empathy with ourselves and others.

Slim’s current mission is to support Founders on the isolating journey of innovation to break through the barriers standing in their way of becoming the kind of CEO they wish to be to take their organization to the next level.

As a CEO performance coach specializing in Founders, Slim has coached over 200 founders through Singularity University, Techstars, Google for Startups, and SAP.

Slim is also the author of the book Realizing Empathy, which has won a number of awards including the National Indie Excellence® Book Awards: New Non-Fiction for content and the Communication Arts Typography Annual Award of Excellence for design. Slim has shared the message of this book with people across North America, Europe, and Asia.

How the belief and mission formed

Slim spent his 20s as a software engineer and interaction design consultant in the high-tech industry. During this time, he developed deep expertise in the objective process and methodologies of high-tech product and service innovation.

In his 30s, Slim conducted a 4-year-long ethnographic research into the subjective experience of innovation by temporarily becoming a fine artist going through innovation at the Rhode Island School of Design and Brown University.

What he quickly learned from the research experience is how much more difficult innovation becomes when the process feels personal.

Going through and reflecting on his own bouts with mental health and interpersonal challenges during his stint as a fine artist, his preliminary research results revealed to him that:

  1. When innovators experience too much tension, the pain and discomfort of such tension can lead them to adopt a problem solving mindset.
  2. The problem solving mindset often comes with a blind spot, which can keep the innovators stuck or lead them to behave in ways that make their situation worse.

Upon further research, Slim also discovered that if innovators can receive the kind of support that helps them realize empathy with themselves or others, they can experience a release in their tension along with a shift in perspective that can reveal to them:

  1. The “real” problem
  2. or
  3. A more accurate comprehension and appreciation of the problem.

Once they have a sufficiently accurate comprehension and appreciation of the “real” problem, they often have little trouble breaking through their challenge.

For the past 10 years into his mid 40s, Slim has applied his research results into his practice as an executive performance coach to Founder-CEOs. In the process, Slim has seen how such newfound perspectives can help the Founder-CEOs gain:

  1. The wisdom and clarity required to make progress in challenging situations
  2. The requisite confidence, energy, and room in their mind to navigate the volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous terrain of innovation.
  3. The know-how to lead or manage their innovation process in alignment with who they are or who they can become, which requires less stress, force, and energy to lead, thus promoting better health.

The Director’s Vision

Slim envisions a world, where each and every one of us, from the moment we’re born until the day we die, have the choice to feel certain there’s at least one person we can reach out to at any given moment who can and will support us in a way that actually makes us feel supported.

How the vision formed

Slim was born in Seoul, (South) Korea in the mid-70s. From the age of 6 to 21, he moved from one country to another every 5 years or so. After living in Korea, Egypt, and China, he moved to the US for college, where he currently resides.

While the experience of continuously moving from country to country gave him the ability to be open to new perspectives and innovations, it also gave rise to a deep sense of isolation and loneliness. Due to the transient nature of his stay in any one country, all of his relationships were short-lived and it felt as if everyone always “left” him to be alone without any commitment to support him when he might most need it. So much so that he felt like he didn’t “matter enough” to others for them to ever stay by his side for long enough. Feeling such a lack of support from his peers, he has experienced throughout his life a perpetual sense of “not fitting in.”

The world he envisions intends to alleviate this sense of isolation, loneliness, “not mattering,” and “not fitting in” by fostering mutually supportive relationships across boundaries.

TEDx Talks


11 min 21 sec.


8 min 44 sec.



11 min 21 sec.


8 min 44 sec.