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[podcast] Jumping with both feet in the cross-cultural grey areas

& How it serves my values AND my business

Posted on 2024-06-06


Watch the full video below

Once aN AWKWARD & CONFUSED cultural misfit

In my younger years, I never felt comfortable being multicultural. Having spent ten formidable years in the States from 16 to 26, I felt neither Korean enough in Korea nor American enough in America. Navigating my 20s and 30s trying to develop my career and mark myself professionally while traveling between continents for exciting opportunities, but still feeling like a cultural misfit everywhere, not knowing how to present myself or where to fit in, was a decades-long character-forming challenge riddled with constant anxiety, emotional instability, awkward mistakes in life and at work, and, sometimes, career-debilitating failures.

Fully embracing my cross-cultural complexities


Could it be because I failed pretty hard so many times? Or could it simply be that it’s just what life does to you and that I’ve matured? Either way, over time, I've grown comfortable with the dichotomy of my cultural identity. Somewhere along the line, I started perceiving it more as complexity, rather than duality. I can be both American and Korean at the same time. I can be one, not the other. I can also be something other than Korean or American. It's not a show or a disguise. I just don't need to prove who I am and how I define myself to anyone anymore because I'm just comfortable in my damn skin, the skin that is far too unique and beautiful to be generally defined as Korean or American, or even worse, Eastern or Western. I know who I am.


Not only that, I've started taking full advantage of it professionally.  As an executive coach, a lot of my clients deal with professional transitions in cross-cultural settings, ranging from an Asian entrepreneur starting a business in Europe, to a bilingual, first-time people manager of an MNC juggling between the Western corporate practice & management and traditionally-minded local business partners, to a South American executive for a European company newly in charge of an Asian office with no previous experience in the continent.  It turns out I have a lot of wisdom and insight to share with them, which I've gathered throughout my successful yet equally tumultuous career. Dare I say I've become a sort of multiculturalism savant, at least in this small corner of the world? The bottom line is that I am happily, fashionably, and uniquely making a living out of it. So when my mentor Kat Knecht asked me to be on her podcast and talk about this, I was beyond thrilled. ❤️🔥😃

Click to watch the full interview

how I proudly commercialize my multicultural identity

On the latest episode of Coaching Business Spotlight, I enjoyed the privilege of discussing with Kat Knecht, my mentor and CEO of Soul Driven Success, my experience of working as an interpreter for the Co-Active community in Korea. I think of this work as an opportunity to be of service to the amazing community more than anything. But it’s also a chance to showcase myself as a successful example of someone who leverages cultural grey areas. I love sending subliminal messages to the participants that it's okay to be different, to not be one way or the other, simply by being my authentic self. I also know many of you who are reading this relate to this because you yourself are fabulously multicultural, paving your own beautiful unique path. I want us to own this energy and fly this flag high & loud.


I also talked about how my multicultural savvy allows me to better promote my values of equality and inclusion in my services as a leadership coach and facilitator, allowing women leaders to become more aware of the culturally constructed gender bias they consciously or subconsciously operate under, obviously in hopes that they will change the way they think and act, push boundaries and eventually break the glass ceiling, which many of them have demonstrated already!


I fully understand that cross-cultural savvy is part of my professional branding and that I offer unique value propositions to my clients this way. Cross-cultural savvy is how I exercise my coaching business and entrepreneurship.


So, clearly, compared to the days when I felt lost and unsure of who I was and where I belonged, I’ve come a long, long way. 😎


Many sincere thanks to Kat for her mentorship and for the support I get from the amazing community of her coaching business development program, Soul Driven Success. 🙏❤️



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Joonyoung Kim is a Productivity and Leadership Coach based in Korea. Through her private coaching program for women leaders Redesign Productivity, she shares her deep passion for helping women leaders rethink what being productive means so that they can spend their time and energy meaningfully to drive fulfillment and abundance in life and at work

She is one of the first Korean-English bilingual coaches in Korea to be certified by Leadership Circle Profile™, the most innovative 360° leadership assessment tool available in the market.

In addition to developing women leaders, she also partners with EZRA Coaching, Leadership Circle, and Coachdot as an executive coach and develops corporate leaders from diverse industries across APAC. She's certified by the International Coaching Federation, Co-Active Training Institute & Leadership Circle, and she coaches & trains in English or Korean on Zoom across time zones.

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