While leaders like Amy Hood, CFO of Microsoft, relax by spending time with their family, many CEOs like Yunha Kim, use meditation. Meditation is a form of intrapersonal communication that helps them stay focused, centered, and be more effective leaders. So what exactly is it and how does it work? Let's find out.

Yunha Kim’s Simple Habit

Kim founded Locket, her first startup, in 2013 when she was just 23 years old. She then sold it to Wish in 2015 for an undisclosed amount. In 2016, she founded Simple Habit, a “Spotify” type app for meditation. After pitching it on Shark Tank, she raised $3.2 million in venture capital. Simple Habit was the #1 rated meditated app in the App Store and Google Play Award Winner for Standout Wellbeing App in 2018.

As a young CEO of Locket, Kim felt immense pressure and began to suffer severe burnout. So she turned to meditation. But she soon became bored with listening to the same voice over and over again. And so, Simple Habit was born.

“You don’t have to sit for 30 minutes with your eyes closed to meditate. I meditate wherever and whenever I have a spare 1–5 minutes — before a meeting, in a Lyft on my way to an investor pitch, on my walk home from work.”

- Yunha Kim, CEO and Founder of Simple Habit

Kim credits her meditation practices with helping her become more resilient, patient, and calm in tough moments. It made her less immediately reactive in stressful situations, giving her the ability to pause, listen, and consider the options before making an appropriate response. (Yay for exercising self-restraint and not sending that angry email.)

Before appearing on Shark Tank, Kim meditated at least 10 times. She credits this with how she was able to stay calm, especially when judge Mark Cuban called her a "gold digger", leading Richard Branson to throw a glass of water in his face.

Intrapersonal communication helped Kim keep her cool when Mark Cuban calls her a gold digger on Shark Tank (Credit: ABC)

Me, Meditation, and Mmmm…

Meditation has been shown to improve attention, awareness, and concentration, all of which is essential to being a successful entrepreneur and leader. Basically, it’s an intrapersonal communication skill that trains your brain to stay in the present.

“I am more alert, focused and equipped to handle the hundreds of unexpected fires that happen at a startup.”

When you’re in the present:

  • It’s harder to worry about potential future problems or past mistakes
  • You’re calmer and better able to handle stressful situations  
  • You're better able to communicate and more responsive to your team’s needs
  • You're more focused on finding solutions “in the day.” Internally, this can also help that spiral of anxiety based around future events (“future tripping”)

Kim has found the practice so beneficial, she's incorporated meditation and gratitude practices into her team’s daily schedule. This has helped her foster collaboration and motivate her team, the hallmarks of great leadership.

“Meditation has changed my life. As a CEO, friend, daughter, I am more focused, more compassionate, and more energized than I’ve ever been.”

Another added bonus: Improving focus can also increase your concentration, accuracy, and efficiency. Recent studies have shown that multitasking is a misnomer. Switching between tasks can actually take more time and lead to more errors.

Kim practices her intrapersonal communication skills before a busy work day (Photo Credit: Forbes)

Finding the Right Meditation For You

Like Kim says, meditation doesn't have to involve sitting cross-legged for hours. There are many different types of meditation – mindfulness, mantra, transcendental – to name a few. Some involve repeating mantras, some involve a guided voice. Other types simply focus on your breathing. There’s no right or wrong way to do it and just like Kim says, there’s nothing wrong with mixing it up. So feel free to experiment and find what's best for you.

The main point is to take a few moments a day to center yourself. With regular practice, this simple intrapersonal communication skill could help you become more focused and productive too. So why not give it a try and see?


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Cover Photo Credit: Forbes