Five Questions with Karen See of {embrace} worldwide

About Karen See

A legacy building expert, Karen challenges her clients to think about every interaction having a positive, lasting impact.

In 2015, Karen co-founded {embrace} worldwide — developing a proprietary leadership model based on global leadership ideologies and scientifically proven principles of human behavior, positive psychology and neuroscience. The consultancy is based in Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia.

Karen is a public speaker on women in leadership, self-belief and finding your purpose. She is part of the curation content team for Hong Kong’s TedxTinHauWomen events and considered one of the leaders of the #metoo movement in Hong Kong having coordinated public events in collaboration with the University of Hong Kong.

Karen is accredited by the International Coaching Federation and is certified in team coaching for performance. Highlights of her corporate career include assisting in the media relations and event management for former Prime Minister of the UK, Baroness Margaret Thatcher; former Secretary of State, General Colin Powell; Microsoft Corporation Chairman, Bill Gates; Creative thought leader, Sir Ken Robinson; and Australia’s most popular storyteller, Bryce Courtenay.

Five questions with Karen

1. How did you get to where you are today?

My experience comes from having been in the corporate world for 25 years, with my last job being the chief communications officer at one of the largest international companies in the world. 

Despite my success, I realized that the best part of my job was working with individuals to ensure that they reach their full potential. 

{embrace} worldwide is about success every day, because I think that we are constant work in progress. {embrace} was originally founded to support women in leadership. Many of my clients are founders that happen to be female, or female executives that are looking to continue to enhance their career. That’s my focus, but {embrace}, as a leadership company, is about all leaders, and we support all people to be better versions of themselves.

2. What advice would you have for someone looking to get into your space? Alternatively, what advice should they ignore?

A willingness to believe in yourself. To be an exceptional coach, an advisor and a mentor, you have to believe in your own capabilities. However, you also need to be open and to understand that you can learn from other people as well. 

When I coach people, I need to believe in myself in order to provide advice, but I also need to know that when I show up to give and support, I’ll also be receiving knowledge and wisdom from that person. 

Be open and curious, and know that it takes time to nurture your own success to be able to support others.

3. What have you learned about building a great company culture?

It takes perseverance and courage to build a great company culture.

Never be afraid to provide feedback. Feedback is not criticism—giving feedback to your peers and colleagues helps them to continue to excel and ultimately ensures the company continues to thrive.

Be true to your values. Being an entrepreneur means that the values of the company are true to the values of your own. To build a great company culture, you need to live by your values and lead by your values. That will help you be authentic and shape a great company culture that you and your colleagues can be proud of.

4. What excites you about the future of technology?

The combination of Artificial Intelligence and empathy. One of my mentors is a monk, and I’ve learned a lot about values from him. What I’ve always wanted to do is to take what he understands about human values and match that with Artificial Intelligence. Authentic human values combined with robotics will bring about something extraordinary, and I’m quite excited about that.

To get there faster, I think we need more women in tech. We can look at the current situation negatively and say that there are not enough women in tech, or we can look at it positively and think that there are a lot more opportunities for women in tech to enhance the capabilities of AI and robotics. 

5. One habit that has the most impact on your life

Practicing gratefulness. Given what I do as a coach, practicing gratefulness allows me to support people to see all perspectives as opportunities.

I don’t meditate in the traditional sense, but I journal. Sometimes it takes five minutes, sometimes 30 minutes. A part of the journaling process is writing down 10 things I’m grateful for every day. That sounds like a lot, but sometimes I get to 11 or 12. 

For example, today I’m grateful that I’m living my purpose. Today I am grateful for the company that I have. Sometimes it can be that today I am grateful for having a nice breakfast. It doesn’t have to be big and wordy, it can be as simple as today I can look out the window and see the green mountains.

Bonus: One important truth that few people agree with you on?

Trust your instincts. They are usually more right than wrong. 

I don’t believe we trust ourselves enough, and we constantly second guess ourselves. If we just let ourselves be, if we’re aware of our gut instincts and know that we’re making the right decisions at that time, we can all afford to be a little more impulsive.

Extra bonus: One cool thing

Hong Kong has a lot of mountains and I’ve been really enjoying trail running. No music, no podcast, just listening to the running and the rustling of the leaves, the winds, the trees, appreciating nature.