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Feb 27, 2024 | Podcast

Exploring Sensitive Leadership with Nina Khoo

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About the episode:

On this week’s episode of the Prosperous Empath®, we’ll explore how to effectively lead as a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), mitigate challenges, and work with your strengths. I’m thrilled to sit down with Nina Khoo, a Sensitive Leadership Coach and a Master NLP Coach who helps HSPs understand and embrace their unique wiring so they can become confident and empathetic leaders. It’s common for Highly Sensitive People to believe that they’re not capable of effective leadership and struggle with overwhelm, perfectionism, and second-guessing. Nina and I uncover how our greatest strengths can sometimes be the traits we feel most self-conscious about and pose a central question: How does a Highly Sensitive Person protect their gifts as a leader? As an empath and an HSP, your brain is physiologically wired to take more information in and process it more deeply, which can be an incredibly powerful leadership skill. Yet, it can also lead to overwhelm and self-criticism. Through our conversation, you’ll learn how to approach leadership in a more sensitive, empathetic, and compassionate way so you can own your gifts and make a bigger difference in the world.


Topics discussed:

  • Why HSPs feel that they’re not capable of being effective leaders and how the traits you may feel self-conscious about can be your greatest gifts
  • Overcoming overwhelm, perfectionism, and the tendency to subordinate your wisdom as an empathetic leader
  • Cultivating awareness of how your brain is psychologically wired as a Highly Sensitive Person and learning how to use your unique wiring to your advantage
  • Getting out of the procrastination and self-doubt cycle, learning how to own your HSP gifts instead of minimizing them, and coming back to your true why
  • The future of business leadership and why the world needs more sensitive, compassionate, and empathetic leaders


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Click here for a raw, unedited transcript of this episode


Catherine A. Wood  04:11

Nina, welcome to the podcast. I’m really thrilled to have you with me today.


Nina Khoo  04:14

Well, it’s lovely to be here. Thank you for having me.


Catherine A. Wood  04:18

I know that we were connected through Jen Corcoran, and she has sent many amazing guests my way. I’d love for you to kick us off maybe by just sharing your pronouns. And then a little bit about your story. I know we’re going to talk about sensitive leadership on our episode today.


Nina Khoo  04:35

So my pronouns I’m happy to be she has my story. So I’ve been coaching for coming up to 20 years now using NLP. And it was only eight years ago that I discovered that I’m a highly sensitive person. And I know Jen, who introduced us as an HSP is While and for me, when I found out it was such a revelation, and I couldn’t believe I had gone almost four decades of my life, and I hadn’t come across the trait before. So yeah, it was really it was like a light bulb moment. And it was so profound, that I chose to then pivot and focus on raising awareness of the highly sensitive trait, and also coaching highly sensitive people, and especially highly sensitive women.


Catherine A. Wood  05:32

You know, I, your story is one that I hear often. And I think, particularly in roles of leadership, where, before we acknowledge our sensitivities, we conform to so many other styles of leadership. And I’m wondering, you know, what, what was your journey? What did you notice? How did you conform in leadership roles in the business world, in the boardroom, before connecting with your highly sensitivity trait?


Nina Khoo  06:04

Gosh, well, before, it’s I haven’t really thought of myself as a leader until very recently. And certainly when I worked in the corporate world, which was about 20 years ago, I really didn’t think of myself at as a leader. And I would never have imagined that I would ever think of myself as a leader. I was very shy and quite introverted. And lacking in confidence, really, because I didn’t know I was highly sensitive. So I had always had the typical, highly sensitive thing of sensing that I was different, but not knowing why. And I remember in particular, one occasion when I, so I’ve spent about four years in the corporate world for my sins. And I ended up in the debt derivatives technology department of a major investment bank, even though I knew nothing about technology, so I started off doing admin, and then project coordination. And I remember my boss sent me a long term meeting to represent him one day, and I was really received with great hostility, because the managers there were like, well, what is she doing here, she is not authorized to make any decisions, you know, whereas the CTO, he should be here. And I just shrank I was just so embarrassed and out of my depth, and I probably doesn’t let it out and apology, turn bright red, and you know, decided, Okay, that’s it, I’m just gonna sit here and not say anything, and just take loads of notes. And I really wish I’d known that I was highly sensitive in my days in the corporate world, because I would have understood why I felt things so deeply, I would have understood that actually. All the beautiful things that come with our highly sensitive trait of noticing things that other people miss Reno, processing deeply, that all the things that I was picking up in the boardroom meetings, you know, about why deadlines couldn’t possibly be met, were actually valid. Whereas I used to sit there. And I think, Well, why is nobody else seeing this? You know, am I crazy? Am I the only one who can see that there’s no way this project will be delivered by whatever the deadline was. So I always used to second guess myself, or tell myself No, you know, you must, that must be crazy, because nobody else. And look, they all know what they’re doing. They don’t know, they haven’t picked up on this. And so it was really challenging for me. But then I did enjoy certain aspects of my work in the corporate world, because I used to go around talking to all the developers to find out how they were doing, you know, whether they would be able to hit certain deadlines. And so I got to wander around the department and talk to people. And because I was empathic, and because, you know, I was quite personable, they used to open up to me and tell me things and be quite honest with stuff, which actually, then my boss, who was the CTO of the department appreciated it, because then he knew that I would give be able to give him a really good gauge of what it what was going on with his employees. And so I think he knew that I was good at that. But I didn’t appreciate how good at it I was. But those were the parts of the job that I really loved. It was talking to people, you know, really advocating for them, finding out what was working for them, what wasn’t working for them, and then communicating that back up to the top. So yeah, there are pros and cons there. I


Catherine A. Wood  09:38

really appreciate that story, because I think that so often some of our greatest gifts in leadership and in business, are those very same qualities that we judge or feel insecurity about because we don’t often see others and leadership modeling those same tendencies, or there’s those same traits. And I love that you used the second guessing one because that that one is very relevant for my own journey because I know I, I love the trait of being highly sensitive that we’re highly conscientious. And I think the fact that we are highly conscientious often results in us being more open to other people’s perspectives, more willing to consider other people’s opinions or thoughts, which can often contradict our own or add to our own. And I find that in so many of the top down leadership models that I’ve witnessed, there’s no room for differing perspectives, there’s no room for different voices, there’s just this is the way it’s going to be. This is what we’re going to do this is how we’re going to make the decision go implement. And so I think I, I miss, misguidedly thought that I second guessed myself, but in reality, I wasn’t second guessing. I was just opening myself up to differing opinions, because that’s how I’m conditioned. And that’s what I love to do. And I think that’s why I love hosting masterminds as well, because, you know, the sum of a group of opinions is always bigger than any one opinion. So really, there’s this, this greater wisdom, this greater decision making that emerges when there is a welcoming of all opinions. So I, I really love that you gave that example, because I think so many of our listeners will really resonate with that. That tendency of second guessing themselves, or, or even undermining how important it is in the corporate world, to value relationships, to show a genuine care for colleagues and leaders and employees. And that’s, that’s not always, that’s not always modeled.


Nina Khoo  12:12

I completely agree. So of course, my highly sensitive brain is going off in all sorts of directions here. Just picking up on what you were saying earlier, being a book on the highly sensitive brain. And one of the pieces of research talks exactly about how that highly sensitive people tend to think about the greater social network. And so, you know, if somebody comes to us and asked us something, we don’t just think about, okay, how does it relate to us? We think about, oh, how is that going to relate to the team? How is that going to relate to this other person who might have been wanting to do the project? Or how is this going to relate to somebody else, and we kind of look at it in a very holistic way. And we subordinate our needs and wants to everybody else’s. And I think we do this naturally, as highly sensitive people. And if you’re a highly sensitive leader, you’ve you’ve got to understand that you do that. And, and also get to the point where you think, okay, but this is what I actually want to do. And how is this gonna serve me? And how can we make this work for me as well, rather than, Oh, let’s just make this work for everybody else. So yes, I think it’s really important to be aware of that tendency. But also, I’ve just finished reading a lovely book called The Go Giver. And unfortunately, I can’t remember the two authors, but it’s a wonderful book on how to be successful. And it was a really, really lovely book. And of course, I was thinking about okay. So, it is wonderful to give, but then, as a highly sensitive person sake, how do we balance that with not over giving, which again, is one of our tendencies and what the conclusion I think I came to was, you know, first we need to give to ourselves and make sure that we are then giving from a place of plenty, so then we can give to others. That yeah, I think compassion, kindness and giving are so key and leadership should really be celebrated more.


Catherine A. Wood  14:26

A love so much of what you just shared. And I love that you use the term subordination that is something that I Gosh, I really, I do all the time. But it’s not even subordinating my needs. It’s also subordinating my knowledge and my expertise and my wisdom. And I noticed that it often has to do with the tone of someone else’s voice, or the external cause. confidence or forwardness with which other people speak. So I, I’m so mindful of it now because I noticed when other people speak more loudly, or they’re more kind of demonstrative with their hands or energetic or perhaps convincing in their word choice, that I have this predisposition as an HSP to subordinate my opinion, my wisdom, my sometimes my, even my, my own curiosities, and I’ve learned, and even my, even my, my skills, oh, I should hire them, they don’t need me, you know, they clearly know more than I do. But I’ve come to kind of have a healthy sense of humor about that tendency, it’s something I’m now really responsible for, in my own internal processing, Oh, there I There I go again, you know, there, there it is, again, I’m totally enrolled in what this person is saying and communicating and, and I just think it’s such a important reminder for us, and for my listeners to hear you speak to that it, it’s not a bad thing. And it doesn’t necessarily mean that whatever you have to share is less important or meaningful. It’s that you’re more open, it’s that you’re more welcoming of other people’s opinions and perspectives. It’s a gift. And it’s something that has to be cared for and protected.


Nina Khoo  16:30

Yeah, and I love that word protected, because I think you’re so right. As highly sensitive people, we process deeply. So we tend to have open minds, I think a lot of us do not not all highly sensitive people. But a lot of the ones I’ve connected with, we tend to have these open minds. And we are curious. And I think a lot of it is, you know, it is this, we are curious, we are open, but we do also have to protect our own instincts and our own wisdom and our own knowledge. And as you know, coming back to that word subordination, again, it’s like, let’s really honor what we know to be true, and honor, our innate worth. Because I think that’s a really big thing for highly sensitive people, we’ve probably gone through our lives, being told, you know, that or feeling that we’re not good enough that we’re not like everybody else, that we can’t do things like everybody else. And so we come out with these beliefs that, you know, I’m not worthy, I’m not good enough. I’m not as good as you know, somebody else. And so it’s really coming back to that place of actually, I am worthy. I do know, you know, whatever it is, I do have a lot of inner wisdom, my instincts are valid. And it’s then coming to this place of okay, so I really appreciate what this other person is saying. And what is my truth?


Catherine A. Wood  18:01

So I’d love to dig into that more. So this idea of protecting our open heartedness protecting our generosity of nature, how do we how do we do that? How does the highly sensitive leader protect their, their gifts? And their tendencies? Are CS, I want to make sure to include myself?


Nina Khoo  18:22

Yeah, well, yes, because I think we have very common tendencies, because of the way we’re wired. I think a lot of it is understanding our wiring, understanding that we have these highly sensitive brains that take in more information and process it more deeply, which can lead to overwhelm over stimulation. So and also, you know, the way we’re wired and also our highly responsive nervous systems can means we’re triggered into fight flight or freeze and more readily than others. And I think once we really understand that we are different that physiologically, we are wired differently from the non highly sensitive people in the population, then we have a reason for being different, and we can really understand Ah, okay, so I’m feeling overwhelmed, because there’s actually a lot going on at the moment, and being able to take that step back and go, Okay, I can see now why I’m feeling a little bit stretched. And you know, whatever it is snappish with your partner or, you know, not so available for the children or stretched out work, whatever it is. It’s really understanding your highly sensitive nature, your physiology so that you can then really understand why you’re doing the things that you’re doing. And sort of I always taught my clients about the highly sensitive challenges, and also the highly sensitive strengths and that we have to understand our physiology so we know how to manage that. challenges so that we can stay in our strengths. So I think really, that’s the first step of, of staying strong.


Catherine A. Wood  20:12

Yeah, I appreciate that. And I’d love to come back to that, really the high sensitive challenges and the high sensitive strings. And before we do, I just want to build on something you just shared. Because I, I was reading an article recently around, I think it was tips for being a highly sensitive entrepreneur and really how to thrive as a highly sensitive entrepreneur. And the first tip was the recommendation to have non HSP kind of colleagues or voices to counter your own HSP tendencies. And it was interesting, because I, I, I took a front with her her advice, because what I noticed is that I’ve partnered with many non HSPs in the past, and I’ve realized that a lot of those partnerships were misaligned. There was not only a value misalignment, but there was also a, an energetic misalignment, because I think as HSPs were natural givers. And we all know that opposites attract. And givers often attract takers in business, I noticed as HSPs we often partner with takers in business. So I think it’s, I think it’s a both and like, I think that we need voices to chat health helpfully challenge us. But we also need those voices that share a share of values, alignment, and share really are our philosophy around what’s important to us and want to support us in who we are versus perhaps taking something of us. And I’m curious, your thoughts on that?


Nina Khoo  22:11

Well, I’m curious, I’m curious that you said you were affronted, because as you were describing that I was bristling a little bit HSPs can’t speak out for ourselves. And I think why would you ever want to go into business with somebody who didn’t share your values? You know, if I think that’s fundamental, you need to have somebody that shares your values. And I must say, whenever I’m around other highly sensitive people, I feel so much more relaxed, because I know they, they’ll just really get me, they’ll be on the same wavelength, they’ll understand me. I don’t have to spend all my time explaining things. And so I think it really helps to have other HSPs around you. Possibly, when you’re in business, you know, you might want to have a mix, but you’ve got to share your you’ve got to share values. That’s fundamental.


Catherine A. Wood  23:05

Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And I also, you know, I’m grateful for my husband, who is not an HSP. And he’s always that voice of reason, when I need a little kick in the pants. And are very values aligned thing. Thank goodness. Well,


Nina Khoo  23:23

that’s the fundamental bit. Yeah, absolutely.


Catherine A. Wood  23:27

Well, let’s come back to these HSP challenges and HSP gifts. I know, You’ve shared about them indirectly. But I’m, I’m curious from your research and, and your thought leadership, what else you’d have to say about what you notice those common tendencies are? And what are the strategies to protect them or the gifts to manage them?


Nina Khoo  23:50

So let’s start with the challenges. Because yeah, let’s end on a high note. But there’s the obvious ones of overwhelm, and over stimulation. So as highly sensitive people, because we have these brains that take in more information and process more deeply, we are going to be more prone to overwhelm. And so I think everybody recognizes that’s one of the common challenges of a highly sensitive person. Sorry, I’ve just got a bit of a croaky throat


Catherine A. Wood  24:21

by all means.


Nina Khoo  24:26

There we go. So the whole overwhelm thing is something that we’re we have a tendency to go into overwhelm, if we’re not looking after ourselves, if we’re not paying attention to our self care. And so it’s then once we know that we have this tendency to become overwhelmed. It’s really taking the time and putting a priority as a number one. You know, it’s an essential it must, it’s a must have, it’s not a nice to have, and it’s about not Got thinking that we’re being selfish by prioritizing and our self care because it’s so essential. And so that’s one of the ways we can mitigate the overwhelm. And it’s also I mentioned earlier, it’s about having the awareness that if we feel that we’re going into overwhelm is about being able to take that step back. And looking at the big picture, which again, is one of our strengths as a highly sensitive person and going, Ah, okay, I can see why I’m getting overwhelmed. It’s because this is happening. And this is happening. And this is happening. Never wonder. And it’s about taking that breath. And I’m realizing,


Catherine A. Wood  25:38

do you, I love that you’re sharing this, and it brings something to mind for me. So I’ve spoken with so many HSP guests who all share their burnout journey. And I’m and I know as HSPs and empaths, we’re often we often experience burnout, and that oftentimes can be the impetus for Becoming Empowered around our sensitivity and our empathic nature and tendencies. But do you think, perhaps, that one of the reasons where gosh, we often experienced burnout is because we normalize our overwhelm. And we manage around the overwhelm versus learn how to guide see the overwhelm as a as a light bulb as an opportunity to pause and to regroup. And to take care of ourselves. Do you think there’s a connection there?


Nina Khoo  26:31

Absolutely. And I’m going to put something out there that I don’t know if you’ve come across before. But what I’ve realized recently, so I do a lot of work around our natural cycles. So you know, as women, we tend to have a 28 day cycle. So we go according to the moon, and also the seasons, I believe, whereas men have a 24 hour cycle. And so in terms of our hormones, and everything, the men cycles will go for 24 hours, and then they reset, and then they go again. And they go again, day after day. Whereas as women, we have this much longer cycle, which is 28 days. And of course, we live in a very patriarchal society. And so our education systems, our work systems, everything our lives are based around this 24 hour cycle. And I think no wonder women, especially highly sensitive women are exhausted and burning out because we’re trying to fit into this 24 hour cycle, when actually our bodies are telling us. No. So yeah, for me, when I realized that I was like, Oh, my goodness, no wonder so many of us are burning out. And so I know it’s impossible to especially if you’re employed to sort of say to your boss, you know what, I’m at the I’m at the point in my cycle where I just need to be at home and hunker down under my duvet and eat lots of chocolate, and not really not going to be possible. But I think what is possible, again, it comes back to the awareness. It’s like knowing, okay, this is the part of the cycle I’m in. And if you have any say over it, it’s like, okay, I won’t shedule meetings where I’ve got to be invisible, you know, speaking out and on it, because that’s not where I am at the moment. And so I know there’s lots of coaches out there who’ve done beautiful work on the cycles, Kate Northrup, I think is one of them. But, yeah, I think especially in our Western society, we don’t make this connection, that women cycles are very different from men cycles, and we’re trying to fit ourselves into a way of working and living that just really doesn’t work for us.


Catherine A. Wood  28:48

I so appreciate you bringing that example in and just to provide a little comic relief. I think that there’s such a big difference between having a an intellectual understanding of cyclical patterns and the differences between genders. And then the willingness to, gosh, embrace them in your schedules and your tendencies and how you operate, especially in business when you are largely in charge of your own schedule. My, my partner and my mastermind. It teaches on cycle wisdom. And we’ve often been on the same cycle. And when you know, when she’s on day, two of her cycle are in the first week, like there are these very, very embodied habits and practices and tendencies that she does. And, you know, she shares very openly about them, and I am so often uncomfortable with the ways in which she changes her routine and her business schedule. And I just noticed that, you know, there’s such a difference between our understanding of life Being in a 28 day cycle, and then our willingness to embody and adjust our lives and schedules accordingly. Oh, I


Nina Khoo  30:11

love it. Yeah, and you know, it’s interesting, isn’t it? Because I think what I’ve realized as I’ve got older, and as I’ve learned that I’m highly sensitive, and I’ve had time to really reflect on my life, and you know, have all those lightbulb moments, it’s just really understanding how influence I’ve been by my family, by my society, by my culture, you know, by my workplace, colleagues, etc. And so much of that you sort of think, gosh, is that really serving me? You know, why am I doing things this way? And actually, it’s such a revelation, especially if you’re in business, as an entrepreneur, to think actually, I don’t have to do things like that, you know, I have a choice. Even if I have a business coach, or a therapist, or whatever, who’s telling me that to do something this way, or suggesting something? I don’t have to do it if it really doesn’t fit for me. Absolutely. All always coming back to that doesn’t really like the willingness to really look within and go. Okay, that’s interesting. But is that really right for me? Yeah. Having the agency almost it’s like, you know, I’m the one in my body, I am the one living my life. It’s not anybody else. It’s like, is this right for me? Yeah.


Catherine A. Wood  31:36

And I, I just felt, I felt a front did when I heard you share that because, you know, as a former coach trainer, I really take a front with those coaches out there who do give advice or who do tell you what to do, because in my line of work, and with my coach philosophy, an effective coach will help you become more, take more self leadership and gain more agency and really choose what serves them and then support you in being held to account to implement what you discover and what you find out. Okay, I’ll get off my pedestal. So let’s come back to the HSP challenges. What’s the second one?


Nina Khoo  32:20

Oh, let’s see, there’s there are many challenges that come from our wiring. So let’s see that overwhelm was number one. So things like perfectionism. So again, that comes from the way we’re wired, because we see all the small things that other people miss. So we see all the things that are wrong and can be improved on. And so perfectionism is a huge thing for highly sensitive people, which then is linked to procrastination, you know, if something’s not perfect, so say, you’re creating a program, or you know, you’re wanting to create a talk or a speech, is that that iteration? It’s like, No, I want to I want to improve it, I want to improve it, and then you never get it out there. I can imagine a lot of people who write books might be the same way. If they’re highly sensitive. It’s like wanting to strive for perfection the whole time. And then it’s never delivered. And that’s all of the greatest shame. So I always love I think it’s Marie Forleo. Marie Forleo is saying progress, not perfection, which is something that I try and implement in my life. It’s like, okay, stop tinkering with it, just put it out there is never going to be perfect. And so perfectionism, procrastination, those are two of the challenges for highly sensitive people as well. And then, of course, there’s the again, which comes from seeing things that other people miss, is that whole judging, and self criticism. But it’s not just self criticism, it’s also criticizing others and judging others that we tend to do, which then doesn’t sit well with us as empathic, sensitive people, you know, and then we have this internal conflict. It’s like, oh, you know, how am I being so horrible and judgy of everybody else, when I’m actually I’m actually this loving, empathic person. And so there’s them that causes conflict within us. And so yeah, there’s all sorts of that’s a slippery slope. There’s all sorts of things that can come out of that.


Catherine A. Wood  34:21

So can we can we pause there and back up because I know my listeners are going to want to hear, okay, I can completely relate with experiencing perfectionism and procrastination as a result, how do I, how do I compensate for that? What’s the HSP gift or strategy that can support me in putting down my perfectionism? I hear you say progress over perfection, which I completely agree with. I always say everything is a practice over a perfect, anything else, any other thoughts and how we can put that down?


Nina Khoo  34:57

I think ultimately, it’s using our ability to see the big picture. It’s like, why am I doing this? Why am I creating this talk? Why am I writing this blog or this article? It’s like, okay, it’s to help people. It’s to educate people. And so it’s always about coming back to that. Why? Because if we’re sitting on something, trying to make it perfect, it’s not out there serving its purpose. So I think it really helps to come back to that big picture. Why? Ask yourself, why? Why am I doing this? And then, hopefully, that gives you the impetus and the realization, actually, I’m here to serve people, I really need this article to get out there, because I know it’s going to help people. And it doesn’t need to be perfect. And I think that will help. I think I appreciate


Catherine A. Wood  35:46

that. I think that is really important. As you were thinking, as you were talking, another thought that came to mind for me is the willingness to, this is something I say a lot, but to put your process on loudspeaker, I think as HSPs, we are deep processors, but we also internalize a lot of that overwhelm, and perfectionism and procrastination and self criticism. And when we can put words to that internal processing, we can oftentimes get the external validation or normalization, or encouragement, or even perhaps access to a healthy sense of humor around whatever we’re operating on top of, so that we can really get back to our commitments get reconnected with that greater purpose or what for and, and get back into action.


Nina Khoo  36:38

Yeah, and it’s the whole overthinking thing, sometimes, isn’t it as well, it’s that busy brain of ours, that like overthinking things, when I call that that’s another challenge, I think that we can get into it’s I call it my thoughts spiral of doom, that of a highly sensitive people, we can have one negative, we have to be so mindful of what we’re thinking about because one negative thought can become 10, and then 100. And then suddenly, there’s 1000, negative thoughts going with it? And we go down this thought spiral of doom. And so it’s about catching those thoughts and going, Oh, okay, so that’s the negative. What’s the silver lining? What’s the bigger picture again? What’s the reason behind this? What’s the good thing about this? So it’s about really paying attention to that inner critical dialogue that we can have going in our minds at times.


Catherine A. Wood  37:33

And we can be so fatalistic about it can’t we can be the end of the world, and this is never gonna happen. That can be very much like that all or nothing. Very Black or White fixed thinking that we can get so stuck in.


Nina Khoo  37:50

Yeah, and I think that comes with the whole depth of processing, because we never just have the one negative, you know, that one negative thought has a lot of buddies coming with them.


Catherine A. Wood  38:00

Yeah, absolutely. I love that. Any others that were missing any other important ones that we need to highlight?


Nina Khoo  38:07

Oh, there probably are, but I can’t, I can’t think of them at the moment what I suppose one of them is what Elaine Aaron calls, you know, the whole ranking system that we compare ourselves comparison itis. And again, it’s that seeing things that other people miss, and that depth of processing, we kind of look at others, what other people can do and go, Oh, I wish I wasn’t able to do that you know what’s wrong with me. And so it’s always comparing ourselves to others. And so I think I had, I can’t remember where I heard this, but it was that piece of advice of you know, stay in your own light lane. Just keep focusing on what you’re doing. And don’t worry about what other people are doing. And I think that’s really important. When you’re highly sensitive. It’s like, just keep your eyes on what is ahead and focus on what you want to be doing. Because we do again, get so easily distracted with that highly sensitive brain and that ability to see so many different things. It’s like, you know, the next shiny thing oh, look, that’s that’s happening. And that’s happening, and that’s happening. Or this person is doing this, or maybe I should try doing that. And sometimes it’s just like, No, just trust that you have what you need for yourself. And that’s what you need to be doing. It’s like, really staying focused. I think that can be a challenge for highly sensitive.


Catherine A. Wood  39:29

Yeah, and I think with that comparison, itis we’re, again coming back to the subordination we so often use that comparison itis as a means to justify why we’re not as far along or why we’re less than or you don’t we demean ourselves when in reality, in my experience, when we compare, it’s typically that there’s just some aspect of another person or some thing that we we want for ourselves, and we perhaps have yet to claim or to own or even just to acknowledge, like, oh, wow, I envy her or them, because I want that. And what a much more empowering approach to just claim our desires. I


Nina Khoo  40:15

love that that’s such a good Rephaim rather than feeling jealous and envious of somebody, it’s like being inspired and going. Yeah, I want some of that. I love that. Absolutely.


Catherine A. Wood  40:24

Well, let’s, I’ve been wanting to just ask you about the highly sensitive leader, like if you were to kind of define who they are? Or are perhaps how they can thrive in the corporate world, or in the boardroom, or in the business place? What do you what do you think is the recipe for success for the highly sensitive leader?


Nina Khoo  40:53

I think it’s, again, it comes back to really understanding the way you’re wired and your physiology so that you can stop yourself falling into the, the challenges and stay in your strengths. So understand that you have this amazing brain that is like a supercomputer. But you have to look after it so that it actually works for you. And so know that you have this depth of processing, and sometimes it might take you longer to come to decisions. But that’s because you’re looking at all the different alternatives. And so it’s like giving yourself a break and understanding that actually, that can be a strength. So it’s like learning what works for you and being able then to say to other people, okay, so you’ve just asked me a question, I’m going to, I’m going to go away and think about it, because I really want to do this justice. And then I’ll come back and give you an answer, and not feeling pressurize to answer straightaway. And being put on the spot. Because highly sensitive people don’t like being put on the spot, though, it’s really again, understanding your physiology, and knowing that we have this incredible capacity to see the big picture. So it’s working with our strengths. And also our empathy and using our empathy as a positive thing, rather than allowing ourselves to be taken out by it. Because I think often, especially if we’re highly sensitive, and empaths, we can walk into an office, office space, and sort of really just sense and notice what other people are feeling. And so sometimes that can be overwhelming. So it’s understanding and using energetic techniques, or you know, whatever it is to contain your energy, so you’re not taking on others energies. And then it’s also learning to ask yourself the question, okay, so I’m feeling like this, is this mine? Or is it somebody else’s? Do I need to do something about this? Or actually, can I just walk away from it, and let go of it. So it’s just really comes back to understanding the way we’re wired. And then using our beautiful, highly sensitive brain, and our amazing, highly responsive nervous systems. And, you know, for the, for the gifts, that they bring us, our intuition, our ability to sense things, our ability to see the bigger picture, our ability to think really deeply about things, our ability to care, you know, our beautiful compassion, our ability to make decisions that work for the long term rather than just for the short term. And it’s about really owning those gifts, rather than minimizing them, or trivializing them or just, you know, not giving them any heat and assuming everybody else can do them, because not everybody else can do them. There are gifts, not everybody has them.


Catherine A. Wood  43:50

I feel very inspired hearing you share all of that. I I think that’s such a beautiful place to end on today. Because I think that truly, the future of our world calls for a sensitive and empathic approach. And I think now more than ever, there’s such a need for more compassion and sensitivity in the way we lead and the way we manage conflicts. So I think that this is a very timely and much needed conversation.


Nina Khoo  44:17

No, thank you. I completely agree with you.


Catherine A. Wood  44:22

Well, as we wrap for today, I’d love to ask you what I asked of all my guests, which is what has supported you in becoming a prosperous empath.


Nina Khoo  44:31

Now, I don’t think I allowed two things if there’s


Catherine A. Wood  44:34

no rules here.


Nina Khoo  44:37

I was I was thinking about this. And I think it’s not just one thing. So there are two things that I’ve discovered in the last few years that have really helped me personally. And one of them is near which is Nia Nia movement. So it’s a form of dots. And it’s combination of the martial arts, the dance arts and the healing arts. From what I love about Nia it’s not just an x Sighs it’s the Mind Body Spirit emotional workout. And so once I started doing near regularly, it you know, it helped me be stronger in my body. But it also helped me really get out of my highly sensitive head, which is where I used to live a lot of the time and reconnect with my body, really tune in to my body and understand Oh, okay, so that little quick or you know that whatever it is, it’s because my body is speaking to me. And so rather than being disconnected from my body, it was reconnecting with my body. So near it was wonderful, but also something that I’ve trained in. So I’ve become certified as a wild voice facilitator. And that’s a beautiful process where you connect with your inner world, never tamed, never conditioned voice amazing, I think of it as your soul’s voice. And so you write from your wild voice. And so, the two together, being able to connect into my true soul’s voice, combined with the near, I kind of see near gives me that body and the vessel that is nice and strong, that contains my beautiful souls voice. And so the two together have been really, really helpful for me.


Catherine A. Wood  46:21

I love both of those so much. And they’re both new. We’ve never heard those before on the show. So thank you for your originality and thoughtfulness. It’s been such a pleasure. Thank you so much. I’ve really loved our conversation. I’ll


Nina Khoo  46:36

say goodbye. Thank you.



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Making Google Your Best Friend with Kelsey Flannery

If you want your website to rank high on Google but have always been intimidated by the concept of SEO, this episode of the Prosperous Empath® is for you! I’m sitting down with Kelsey Flannery, a Google Certified Expert and CEO of KaeRae Marketing, and UNBOUNDED Mastermind member, to talk about the basics of search engine optimization and how to approach it in a way that aligns with your values as an empath. Kelsey quit her job at a big marketing agency to develop an innovative Google marketing framework that allows you to authentically share who you are while strategically using SEO to your advantage. We’re digging deep into how Google really works, breaking down common SEO terms that may have overwhelmed you in the past, and sharing easy steps you can take right after listening to this episode to improve your rankings and visibility. While Google may appear like the cool kid that’ll never talk to you, it actually wants to be your best friend. In this conversation, Kelsey and I will equip you with the understanding and tools you need to start making Google your best friend as an empath.. 

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