Business lessons from a neurodivergent owner
Rachel Klaver is a marketing strategist devoted to lead generation and material marketing.
View My opinion: When I was informed in the spring of this year that I was suffering from ADHD, I was shocked and happy. My grief stemmed from two different sources.
First, although I believed I was suffering from ADHD, I was unaware. It is quite different when people think that you have it.
You think you’re doing fine trying to conceal it very well, yet it’s there, as a blinking, a dazzling sign that is smack dab in front of you everywhere you move.
I was also incredibly thankful. Then, I realized that I had many explanations for why I have found what I refer to as “real life” so unbelievably difficult.
I could write a book or present it to hundreds of people and do many things. But I’m asked to log in to Inland Revenue to update a number or send a small amount of information, and I’m stuck for the entire day, working on getting the focus and the courage to figure the problem out. I’m aware that it’s a quick task. It requires a Herculean amount of energy to finish.
I didn’t realize that it’s believed that as high as a 40percent of people suffer from neurodivergence. Suppose you’re a (ND). In that case, that means you’re approximately six to seven occasions more likely average person to run your own business, perhaps because it allows us to create an ability to be flexible about the things we excel at and what we can avoid.
Neurodivergence is not only ADHD. It’s dyslexia, autism, and dyspraxia, among many other kinds, that cause people with divergent brains to operate differently and have different thoughts than neurotypical brains.
I’ve noticed that many of the small-business entrepreneurs I’ve worked with throughout the years are likely to have ND. I wanted to learn more about the issue and how it affects our businesses, in addition to how I could help my customers, which is why I spoke with Vanessa Victor, who has a small-scale company known as Remarkable Minds. She is on the MAP IT Marketing podcast.
Victor is a consultant to corporates and large corporations to assist their teams and employees more effectively with themselves and their ND staff. In addition to having a background in neuroscience, she is also neurodiverse and suffers from ADHD and dyspraxia. It’s safe to say that she is an active participant in neurodiversity.
During her training to become a Davis coach, a disciplined coaching program that works with dyslexics one-on-one, Vanessa realized she might also have the condition.
“I was supposed to meet all of them for lunch. When they mentioned the restaurant’s name, I instantly imagined it. I didn’t think about the restaurant’s name but rather the picture.
“I also was extremely focused on arriving at the right time. I am always running late. I arrived 20 minutes late, and there was nobody there. I inquired, “Do you have reservations with 15 guests?’ and realized I was in the wrong place. Instead of slipping into my usual self-deprecating thoughts about how stupid I am and how I could not hear, a lightbulb flashed off, and I thought, “Oh, I’m starting to think that I could have dyslexia’.”
Then, Victor learned that from awareness comes acceptance of yourself. “That’s the moment you are able to begin to make changes. You can’t change what you aren’t accepting and believe about yourself.”
One of the significant concerns with neurodiversity is that it’s seen in different ways in all people.
Although certain traits can be shared, not everyone has every one of them or in the same way. Indeed, one of the most crucial lessons I’ve learned from speaking with her was that her dyslexia has nothing related to her reading abilities.
I thought all people with dyslexia had issues writing the word, but this isn’t the case. She says: “You and I are similar in age, both female business entrepreneurs, and have some things that would be similar in how our ADHD is seen and other ways it’s not.”
I later find this to function as the case when I write about my difficulties in keeping my home clean, whereas Victor does not have any issues with this whatsoever.
Victor does not view dyslexia she suffers from and ADHD as a handicap. “I’m happy with the label if it allows the situation to improve. But I’m not depressed. We’ve developed a belief in the value of left-brained achievement. We’ve all these subconscious assumptions about what’s required to appear successful.
“But what is the success of a neurodiverse view? What if we rated the most creative of our ideas, our empathy for others, or the speed at which we connect as equally important when assessing the success of a career or in life?”
However, Victor thinks we should accept what makes us unique and forget about self-judgment when we require help with some of the issues that neurotypical people find easier (for me, that’s administration).
“Would anyone using a wheelchair go up three steps? Would you say, it’s entirely normal for them to use an elevator? It’s not affecting their ability to complete their task once there. We may also discover ways to help us complete our job better than what might appear different to someone else who isn’t different.”
I’ve discovered that my difficulty with precise tasks is one of the reasons I’ve been able to swap the title for “Queen of the Typo.” Victor discusses how people might associate an error with a lack of professionalism. This is a challenge for people with dyslexia and other business owners with neurodiverse backgrounds who don’t always notice them.
“Raising awareness is vital. We conducted a talk for an organization with a lot of spelling mistakes that we deliberately kept in. About three-quarters through we stopped to ask whether anyone had noticed and how they felt. They had been judging us although the material was precisely what they’d requested. Another way in which we are able to be punished, even though our thought process and presentation is excellent.”
One of my tricks to get through administrative tasks is to get a member of my team members to be at the table as I work. This is known as shadowing, and it works well for me. It isn’t essential what they do during their time, and I am sure they’ll be there until I finish my work. This assists me in focusing on getting everything sorted and stops the paralysis I frequently experience.
Victor and her business partner, Becky Smith, have developed a different solution, dubbed”target tool “target tool.” Written lists are rarely effective for Victor since once the list is written down, it’s almost as if she’s done the job. Instead, she employs an image of a bullseye to help her concentrate only on one thing simultaneously.
Working together, they use an initial list of three priorities to focus on at any time, letting Victor switch between projects if he becomes fatigued. “If we attempt to focus only on one aspect all the time, it’s difficult. It’s similar to trying to put an octopus inside a sturdy bag.”
Smith is also crucial in the ability of Victor to utilize her talents and gifts to the fullest extent. Combining neurotypical and neurodiverse brains that work together can bring out the best and reduce the difficulties that brains wired for dopamine peaks during “boring” tasks can cause.
“I’m definitely an idea person. Becky has called me the disco chicken’. Also, Becky is a saint sponge’. She absorbs everything and I let her spill it around. We are aware of our qualities and flaws. I trust her completely. I am sure that when I gave the diary over to her it proved advantageous to our business. It’s about us playing to our strengths.”
I’m also aware of this as my business partner and husband. Rod indeed handles the majority of the administrative duties in our business as well as his workload as a client. One reason is that I’d make travel arrangements at the wrong time or fail to plan everything. I was ashamed of this until I realized the man would much prefer doing these things than video, hosting webinars, or presenting, and all of them I’ve found far more enjoyable.
The two of us, Victor and I, are aware that our endless ideas and thoughts can be overwhelming for people around us. Victor states that a neurodiverse brain can think in approximately 32 images per second. Contrastingly, a neurotypical brain can think of the order of five sentences per second. This is why interruptions, sprinting to the end, and exuberant brainstorming are common in meetings with a neurodiverse person.
One of the most substantial dilemmas all of us neurodiverse are facing is being embarrassed about the way we look.
“And when we’re doing this it’s a lot of energy trying to conceal our true selves and trying to maintain the appearance of being normal. You must accept yourself and feel comfortable,” says Victor. “There’s an idea that neurodiversity is genetically based. We certainly need creatives, artists, and divergent thinkers in the present. Therefore, it’s high time to start to make the most of the brains that we’ve been gifted.”