Welcome to the first Hyperfocus Hour episode, brought to you by Via Resource. This podcast is dedicated to ADHD/Neurodiversity In the workplace; where guest speakers join forces with Jon Wakefield a consultant at Via Resource to navigate and build tools for neurodivergent people in tech and cyber security to succeed in building a successful career. Our first guest speaker is Beth O’Malley Co-Founder of Astral Digital and ADHDer, where she shares her experiences with ADHD, what employers should be informed about and how to tackle your way in the workplace.
Jon Wakefield, Consultant at Via Resource
Jon joined Via Resource with a year of recruitment experience in the Cyber Security market, where he specialises in Security Engineering and DFIR.
Having placed candidates from Senior Manager Security Engineering to mid-level in highly regulated industries such as finance; Jon has built a comprehensive understanding of both candidate and client needs and addresses each role, and person, on an individual basis to find the perfect fit.
As an avid Star Wars fan, you will often see or hear Jon making connections and references to cyber security. Jon has ADHD and is an avid supporter of neurodivergent talent in the workplace.
Beth O’Malley. Co-Founder at Astral Digital
Queen of Chaos, Co-Founder of Astral Digital and ADHDer. Beth was diagnosed with ADHD over 2 years ago and it’s given her a new purpose; to use her brain to wrangle even the unruliest of CRM and marketing projects with her clients and to make change for other ADHDers and neurodivergents in the professional world. ADHD is Beth’s greatest strength and greatest weakness, but she keeps it real, bringing you real life experiences and a disruptor who’s rewriting the all the rules.
Jon: Welcome to Hyper Focus Hour, a podcast on ADHD neurodivergence in the workplace. Today with me, I have Beth O’Malley, who is a CRM specialist who has launched her own business and is an ADHD advocate. So, Beth, welcome and really, really glad to have you on today.
Beth: I’m so pleased to be here, Jon. Thank you so much. Can’t wait to talk about everything ADHD with you today.
Jon: Yeah, I’m really excited as well. I’ve had a couple of conversations now with you. We’ve talked a lot, and you have some great things to say. Just really excited for that. But before we get started, I have one question for you.
Beth: Go for it.
Jon: ADHD tax. What has your ADHD tax been this week?
Beth: This week. Right. So just pausing here for a second. When you say that, do you mean what do you mean? So ADHD tax, as in what I’ve struggled with?
Jon: No, as in what did you impulsively spend on that you forgot you were going to buy? You forgot you bought? Did you leave your wash in the machine for too long and now it smells like damp? Just like that? Something that’s so simple.
Beth: I impossibly bought a car. A few weeks ago, and then I got it fixed and I just got on a site, five minutes later, I bought a new car. So that’s what my ADHD taxes this week.
Jon: Wow. Okay. That I was not expecting that, I’m going to be honest. It’s a big tax to have.
Jon: Especially the taxes afterwards as well.
Beth: Yeah. No, honestly. Well, I’m having loads of problems with this new, like, buying this whole, like, new car, and I’m like, you know, when the dopamine wears off and then you’re like, what have I done? I don’t want it anymore. So now I’ve. I’ve got a new car coming for this weekend.
Jon: Oh, man, I know the feeling when I am I have a giant Lego set, right? It’s a Star Destroyer. It’s like a 600 pound Lego set. And it was the same thing. I’d been wanting it for years and years and years and years. Finally bought it when I started building it. I opened the box, I was like, yeah. Oh, why did I do that? I cannot even afford this. No, I can’t. It’s too late. But in fairness, it’s now sitting in my living room and it looks amazing and I’m happy with it. There you go.
Beth: That’s always the way.
Jon: I would say my tax this week. I have a couple they were all smaller things. Like, I was in Liverpool. I was in Liverpool this weekend, and my uncle has this really cool bottle opener, right? And you just press down on the bottle, and it opens it up. It doesn’t bend the metal or anything. And then it’s also magnetic. So, I bought that on Friday night and then completely forgot about it. Got home last night and had a package. We had, like, five packages waiting for us. And my girlfriend and I were like, what have we bought? And then I opened up that one. I was like, oh, yeah, completely forgot about that. I would say, yeah, that’s probably my tax. It’s like ten quid.
Beth: I do that all the time.
Jon: Yeah, well, I also bought, like, a small Lego set, and of course it’s Lego. And just was going through my emails the other day from Lego looking for something, and I saw an invoice for that, and I was like, I don’t remember buying that.
Beth: It’s it’s what I do all the time. I’ve got a pile of stuff here that I bought. Like, I bought all these really nice files and planners and, like, plastic wallets with all this stuff to do all my filing for guys there. And then stuff comes as well, and I’m like, oh, yeah, I remember when I I wanted that right then in the moment. Now I don’t care. So, yeah, it’s a daily struggle, but it also keeps you on your toes.
Jon: Yeah, it is a daily struggle, but yeah, it definitely keeps you on your toes. And I think it’s kind of fun because especially if you forget that you bought something and then it comes, then it’s almost like Christmas.
Beth: Yes. I love that. I always think that whenever I get a parcel, I’m like, oh, so excited. I get that dopamine hit and I’m like, I want to go shopping again.
Jon: Yeah, that retail therapy is strong in ADHD, I think. Yeah. To kind of just move on to the topic, we’re obviously discussing ADHD in the workplace now. Of course, we have neurodiversity in general, whether that’s ADHD, ASD, Dyslexia, dysgraphia. I have a few of these myself. Obviously, it can be a real struggle to be in a professional working environment with I don’t want to call them disabilities.
Jon: I really don’t like calling it a disability. People say it is even the name ADHD attention, hyperactivity disorder. I don’t think it is a disability, but I can’t think of a there was a TikTok, actually, of a guy that wanted to rename ADHD as Dave.
Beth: I think I’ve seen that. I think I’ve watched it.
Jon: Yeah. And I can’t remember what dave, I’m. Going to have to get that. I’m going to have to find it. Yeah. But I don’t want to think of this as a disorder. It’s just a different way that we think that we operate, but obviously we are in the minority of people. That’s why we’re neurodivergent, isn’t it? So when we look at working in a neurotypical world. The big question. You’ve seen this in the polls that you’ve done on LinkedIn and other websites. I’ve seen this as well. And this is a question that a lot of people have posed to both of us, I think. Is it a good idea to be honest about your ADHD with your employer?
Beth: This is a huge question. And you know what? If you’d asked me this six months ago, I’d be like, yes. Yes. Yes. Absolutely. And then I had a really rubbish experience because one of the things we found so I did that amazing poll and 36% of people said yes, which was really, really great. The rest of people were like, no or not sure. And there were so many questions that were asked, and it was really great because two things came out of that. There was a question of, is it safe to do so? Which is the first one? Which I think you also can question, actually. How do you know if it’s a safe space? So I disclosed my ADHD to an employer. Well, actually, it was before I got the job, so it was through my interview process and they made me feel really safe and I felt they embraced it. Getting the job and actually settling in was a completely different story. And it then became an unsafe spy. So I think that’s a question. But then also, I had somebody comment on it and her name is Sarah. I don’t remember her last name, but she made some really good points. She was like, Right. Is this job somewhere that you see a whole career here? Like, are you invested in this job? Is this a place where you want to build up that professional skills, where you want to climb the ladder, where you can see yourself working for how many years? She said, if it is, then you need to sit down and talk to yourself and say, actually, it’s probably worth disclosing this. And then she flipped it and said, Is it just a means to an end? Is it just that you’re working on something bigger in the background and you’re just trying to get your money and you’ve got your other goals? Is it worth it? So there was two questions. Is it safe to do so? And is it worth it? Yeah. And I’m always honest and open, and since I’ve had my diagnosis, I have not shut up about it. And it probably does annoy some people, and I will always tell people, but there’s some spaces where I think, especially in the workplace, you have no idea what that reaction or what that bias of that person has in their brain about ADHD. When you say those words, it’s like you’re coming out, and as soon as you disclose it, it’s either going to be a snowball effect, and they might even have a really positive conversation with you about it. Like me, they were like, this is great, we love this, tell us what you need. But then behind closed doors, they might start micromanaging you, and indirectly you get that. So to answer the question, it really depends on the situation, and everybody’s different. But is being honest always the best way with this? No. But to caveat this as well, I think the fact that we’re even having to ask this question and go through this is just completely wrong.
Jon: It’s bad, isn’t it? It’s horrible. Yeah. The very fact that we’re having to discuss on whether or not it’s a good idea to, like you said, to disclose this, that in and of itself, I think the fact that we’re even having to discuss if it’s safe to disclose something that by law is protected is, I think, a really bad sign of where even it’s a bad sign of how aware people are of ADHD. And what you were saying as well. Can you see yourself having a career in a company? And I’m going to go a step further with that. What is it, like 20 something? Like 25% of of ADHD people either don’t, you know, aren’t aren’t in employment have have difficulty getting a job, or on the third one, keeping that job. And. I would say the majority of ADHD people that I’ve at least that I’ve known, they tend to leave jobs every one, two and a half kind of years, and then their CV looks jumpy. So then you kind of have to even go a step further with, is this a good idea? Can I see myself in a career? But then you have to go a step further and think realistically, even if I want a career here, genuinely believe that I’m going to be at this job in two or three years.
Beth: That is such a good point. Such a good point, because it’s exhausting looking back now on my career history. Well, before I was diagnosed with ADHD, I would make myself stay in a job. But actually it has had that effect on me, where I have imagined that I am. And also I’ve impulsively made decisions as well to go and get a new job, because one day I’ve decided I’m bored. That’s another thing. But something as well. What you said there is like, obviously thinking that far ahead, I’ve lost my train of thought. But for us, I think I’ve lost. My child of thought,
Jon: The executive function, to think ahead that much. It’s not easy for us to think ahead like that.
Beth: And also, it breaks my heart. Like, you imagine a career somewhere and you disclose your ADHD with a manager that you’ve got a really great relationship with, and things change. Ultimately, for me, personally, I don’t want a career there anymore. I’ve written that rule to myself that actually, if there’s anyone in my life, whether that’s work at home, in my personal life, whatever it is, if they basically stigmatise me, generalise me, and they are learn about it, you’re out of my life. But not everybody is in a position to be able to walk out of a job and go, well, no, I’m not dealing with that, because there’s so much pressure on keeping the jobs. And like you said, you might want to build a career there, but are you going to be there in a year? Are you going to be able to do it without that support? It’s a really intensive argument because as much as I want to tell people, like, yes, being honest and open, because I think there’s no divergence. We’re really self aware. We’re really empathetic. Not everybody’s like that. And you can’t control then what somebody else says and does in relation to you coming out, if you like, or if you disclosing that information. It’s really challenging.
Jon: Yeah, it is. And I mean, it’s what you were saying as well. You had that experience where the interview process and everything, it went great. They were super accommodating. And I had a very similar experience with the previous employer as well in the interview process, except for on my side, I didn’t disclose that I had ADHD, so I chose not to. I’d been in interviews with a couple of other agencies, obviously, as I’m a recruiter prior to this company, and I disclosed it. And about three separate companies said, came up with BS reasons to reject me. And so I went into this company, and I didn’t disclose it. It was fine. I got the job. A couple of weeks into the starting off, I was like, okay, I’m going to disclose this because I can already see myself struggling. The responsibilities, the role isn’t exactly what I was told it was going to be. There’s not as much freedom or liberty, flexibility as I was told, blah, blah, blah. And people kept saying, oh, it’s because you’re an associate. You’re an AC. I was like, okay, well, I have seven months of experience on my belt already. Like, I’m an accelerated program, blah, blah, blah. Anyways, tangent disclosed my ADHD. Basically as soon as after as soon as I did that, my manager goes into micromanagement mode and, you know. Talking to me about, oh, you’re not communicating enough. And if you’re going to leave for an hour to do something, you need to tell me. And I didn’t go to the company party. Their summer party. Right? Reason I didn’t go, very simple. Reason I was not explicitly told that the company party was mandatory, that summer party was mandatory. I thought it I thought it was an opt in. And everyone just wanted and everyone just opted in because that’s kind of the culture. And so I thought to myself, well, I have a lot of work to get done. If I work or if I work hard in the morning, I can finish early because everyone’s going to the company party, and I can go home and have the rest of the day to myself. Yeah. And so that’s what I did. I then got a call from my manager, why are you not at the company party? Blah, blah, blah. And I was like, I didn’t know it was mandatory. Nobody told me it was.
Beth: Why is it mandatory? Why is a party mandatory?
Jon: That was my reasoning. I was like, if this is a company summer party and in nowhere, under no circumstance and I remember I went through every single email. Nothing said it was mandatory. And so I genuinely just believed and no one talks about it being mandatory. Genuinely believed it was up to the person if they want to do or not. I was like, I don’t want to go, so I’m not going to go.
Beth: That’s literally like my old place to decide. They would never, ever tell you that it was mandatory. But if you didn’t turn up, you’re in trouble. Like, what are you doing? But also, for an ADHD, those social situations also can be quite, one, intimidating. And two, those social interactions aren’t easy for us sometimes, and they’ve just put you in a really hard position. So what happened? Did you end up turning up later?
Jon: No, I just said, I’m so sorry, I didn’t know it was mandatory. I finished the day early and I went home and then I was like, I can come if you want me to. And manager was like, no, don’t bother, but next time let me know. This is the thing as well. So when I was at my company before that, that was my first corporate job. Before this company that I’m talking about now, before that was my very first corporate job. Before that, I’d been in hospitality and I’d been like a bar supervisor and leader and manager, stuff like that. So I was used to working quite independently, being able to do what I felt was necessary to do, when to do it, how to do it, blah, blah, blah. When I went to my first corporate job, it was very similar. I had a manager who he was managing a team of 20 people. He was also the UK and Ireland national lead for a different team, so he didn’t have a lot of time for me. Then my team lead left a couple months in and so I was basically left my own devices. I could ask the questions I wanted to ask, people would help me when I needed help. That was great for me. That was absolutely fantastic because that’s how I learned, that’s how I work, I can work and I do work well with teams. I’m not saying that I don’t, but on the whole, I am one of those people. And I think a lot of ADHDs are the same way. A lot of neurodivergence, at least, are very similar. They work better by themselves,
Jon: So that first company was really good. And then I got to the second company where the intra team dynamic was like, always talking to each other, always bouncing ideas off of each other. You’re sitting at the desk and conversing, blah, blah, blah, and so much communication, and I get in and I’m just like, I want to make the calls that I need to make. I want to send the emails I need to send. I want to do the admin I need to do and I want my headphones on for 80% of the time. My manager could not understand that. It’s not his fault, it’s not his fault. We were just different. It was crazy because we had another person on that same team who had ADHD as well. But I’m primary, so my diagnosis is primarily inattentive. Right? His diagnosis is primarily hyperactive.
Beth: There’s a massive difference.
Jon: So he was managing me the same way he was managing my coworker, which worked for my coworker, but not for me, because it’s a totally different type of ADHD.
Beth: No, I’m a mix of both. So I have this really inattentive side of me where I want to put my headphones in and I like, the communication stuff just stop. And then I’ve got this hyperactive, real social side of me. And the problem is, you don’t know what Beth, you’re going to get that day. And that can be a problem when you’re managing somebody like me, because, actually, I could wake up, have a day full of meetings and talking and collaboration, and I can’t, and that can be a huge struggle. But going back to what you were saying about when you were kind of you didn’t disclose your ADHD deliberately in an interview.
Jon: Yeah, that was a long tangent, but, yes.
Beth: it’s good. We’re all good. So I was speaking to somebody, I met them on LinkedIn Love LinkedIn. And he had been looking for a job for quite a while and he said that, I think I’m Nora diverse, I think I’ve got ADHD and he got his diagnosis or something else, where he was looking for a job and he was like, I don’t know whether to disclose it in the interviews. Blah, blah, blah. And he decided to kind of do a test where he did for some and he didn’t for others. And the funny thing was the ones where they didn’t hire him and this was actual feedback. Is, they said that he went off on a tangent. He would talk too much in his questions and go off the subject. Now, as somebody that one day would hope to have employees and have my own business and be able to employ people, I think that’s amazing. Somebody has got a question and they have decided to talk passionately about it, because I know him, he’s very passionate. He then told talking with yeah, well, he then told another potential employer that he had ADHD and he said they said, do you need any requirements? He said, Look, I’m going to be open, honest, you’re going to ask me a question, I’m probably going to run away with it. I’m going to tell you about X. One said it went really, really well and they sort of gave him the classic example, like, we don’t think you’ve got enough experience and they’re never going to say it. But the problem was, I think what my point I’m trying to get is you can’t win. You can’t win because you’re going to get win in some aspects. So he was able to do an interview and they understand why he does it’s, an explanation for why he is the way he is. But then it’s just like the whole thought, maybe, of employing somebody with ADHD for some employers, maybe is, one, quite scary, and two, they’ve got their own bias about what that entails.
Jon: because there’s still such a stigma about it, especially in the workforce. Isn’t there.
Beth: like, massive I’m trying to think recently, I’ve been told I’m very different now. I embrace that. Like you said at the start, I don’t have a disability, I have something that makes me bloody amazing. But I’m always seen as different and my whole life I’ve grown up and I have been different and that’s fine. I don’t want to be I don’t want to be the same as everybody else, but to feel that from your colleagues and like your workplace, it can sometimes be quite hard. And also I’ve been questioned, like, have you even got ADHD? Because my cousin’s got it, their ten year old boy cousin, who clearly. Presents that in a different way than an adult woman with ADHD. So there’s so much mis education and misinformation out there about it, which is exactly why we’re doing this podcast. So it’s amazing.
Jon: Yeah, exactly. And that’s the thing. From my experiences, I’ve had a lot of jobs over the years. And part of that is because we’re obviously because of the ADHD, part of it is because I was trying to figure out what career path I wanted to take, what I wanted to do. For the longest time, I actually wanted to be a commercial airline pilot. And funnily enough, only about six months ago, I learned that if you have ADHD, that’s an automatic disqualifier from becoming a pilot. So because of the nature of the job, which honestly, it actually does make a lot of sense, because it’s a lot of rules, procedures, you have to follow everything very specifically I don’t want to say able to discriminate I don’t think that’s the right word. Yeah, they’re able to automatically rule ADHD people out from the candidate pool because our brains are wired differently. And that’s really upsetting for me because that was a lifelong dream for mine. Right. But in that specific work environment, it actually does kind of make sense. But for 99% of professional service jobs, whether that’s your infrastructure, or if you’re in cybersecurity or if you’re in CRM like yourself, or recruitment like myself, there’s nothing inherent about any of these jobs. That means we can’t do our jobs. It just means we do them differently.
Beth: That’s exactly what I’m trying to get through to people. When I write about this and I talk about this. We don’t fit in a box. And just because you start a new job, you learn these processes. You learn these systems. Now let’s talk about demand avoidance for a second. You get a set of instructions, you need to learn this system, you need to do this, you need to do that. I can’t follow your instructions because that’s not how my brain works. I learn things. And also a massive perk of this is like you could be a company, could doing something for ten years in the same way. You just tell me what your outcome needs to be and let me figure out the rest. And I will highlight gaps and opportunities that you guys have missed. Because we come at it with such a different view. Our brains are wired in such a way that we can see different things and be able to create this amazing solution focused outcome. But unfortunately, companies like, well, we’ve always done it like this, so that’s how you’re going to do it. And I think that works for everybody. Nor atypicals as well. You go into an organisation and just because you’ve done something for ten years doesn’t mean it’s the right way to do it. But you’ve got to embrace people that ask questions as growing up with ADHD. I mean, I didn’t know I had ADHD when I was a child, but I’ve always been told that I’ve always got an answer for everything. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard that, but I’ve always got an answer for everything growing up, and that’s true to this day. As a 26 year old woman, I have always got an answer for everything. I’ve always got a question for something.
And unless you’re working in an environment that embraces that with leaders that embrace that, you’re going to probably run into problems. And that’s where people end up losing jobs, quitting having overwhelm and then start self sabotaging because you’re just not being embraced to allow your brain to be you. It’s really an easy problem to fix, but people don’t want to do that.
Jon: Leading into that, I think we’ve established there’s no kind of easy answers to really any question about ADHD, but I’ve got a couple of mind here, but. When it comes to jobs, what would be a good job for an ADHD? I can say, you know, as as a recruiter, I can say in the right in the right environment, in recruitment, an ADHD will thrive if you’re hyperactive. You will probably be better in recruitment if you’re in the office four or five days a week, because you’re going to take the energy from the people around you. If you’re inattentive like me, and you want to be a recruiter, you need to be more home based. One, two days a week in the office. The rest of the time you’re working at home. But then you have to have everything else kind of in place to help you remain productive at home. Or else you pick the thing that’s more fun.
Beth: Absolutely. That’s a really good example, though, Jon, of reasonable adjustments. So that’s a really good example of you saying, well, this is why you shouldn’t treat me like everybody else, because actually I get more work done. I’m more productive in this environment. So what jobs? I’m not going to generalise. I think everyone with an ADHD brain will thrive in different environments. Like you said, I think maybe like jobs that haven’t worked. For me personally, I was a barista for one of my first jobs, and now, looking back on it, I am really clumsy. I have no object awareness at all. So I broke things, I smashed things, I messed things up, I forgot orders. You know what? That remembering stuff. So actually taking that information in. No, I would be going over to customers like, did you say you wanted that? What am I doing? The fast place worked for me. That was great. But that side of it, it just didn’t and I had no interest in it. I had no passion for me personally. In my experience, if I’m passionate about something, I will excel at that. And luckily I’ve been able to find a career that. One I am super passionate about in CRM and that might sound really boring to everybody else, but finding something that I’m really good at, where I can look at things differently, is really important. And I think it’s important to note as well, ADHD is our brains are motivated by pressure, interest, passion, competition and novelty. Like you said, if there’s something more fun, we’re going to do it. And it’s not that we don’t want to do the other thing, it’s that we can’t do it. So I think it’s important to note that a job that doesn’t have any of those things. So I’m going to generalise here and say it may be a truck driver. Unless you are super passionate about driving a truck, you’re probably going to struggle because you are sat doing a repetitive job that isn’t going to give you any kind of competitive nature. You haven’t really got any tight deadlines either. To be like, oh no, I need to get this done, because you are having to drive at the same pace, doing the same routes every day. So I think if you’re looking for a new career.
Jon: Equally with a truck driver, you could also argue that that might actually, in some sense could be a good way, could be a good fit for an ADHD because you have that consistency of I know I have the deadlines, I know I need to be at X place at X time. But then you also have the variability and the two same cars are never on the road at the same time. Traffic is always changing, construction is always changing. So you could also argue, and this. Is difficult. I would say kind of like how being a breeze didn’t work for you. I was a cocktail bartender and although I was really good at talking to customers and upselling basically being a salesperson, which is essentially what I do now anyways, I was really good at that part of my job. But the actual cocktails, oh, God. I’d just be like. 50lml vodka here’s. 60. Okay. I don’t remember the rest of the ingredients. I’m going to make it up and hope for the best.
Beth: That sounded like me at my smoothie bar.
Jon: Now, I would say one kind of job it’s not necessarily a job, but one facet of working that I think arguably is quite consistent. That wouldn’t be good for ADHRs is a role where you need to be in a different place, like every day. Not necessarily truck driving, because you have the consistency with the truck and driving, but more like multisite work. So I worked for a charity for a short while, and I loved the work. It was awesome. It was really fulfilling. It was great that the kids I worked with were amazing. The problem was I was working, I think, four or five different site. No, I think I was working five or six different sites, and I was having to lug the stuff from the office to each site each day. And I could make as many lists as I needed to. But because each site had a different lesson or something, there were different equipment, and each site had different things that they had there so that I didn’t need to take it. And so I was always forgetting something, or I would just forget to do a lesson in general. So I think because we have that lack of object permanence an executive function.
Beth: That’s the same sort of thing. I used to do events, and if I was in charge of, like, Beth, you’ve got to bring the stand, the leaflets, this and that the pressure that I would feel, and I would know that something would I don’t know if you get this, but I’ll put something down right there, and then it’s gone. And I’m like, where’s it gone? And it’s the pressure of having that on. You know, trying to keep a job and, you know, excel at your job. You’re having to turn up every day and you’re working intensively harder than a Norotypical, because you are like, I’m going to forget something, or something’s not going to do that. And also getting out on the house, you’ve then got to get out on time. If you’re doing public transport, that is a whole other ballgame. Like, you’ve got to make sure. So I think you’re absolutely right there if you’ve got to get around a lot. And it’s quite overwhelming. Just kind of like leaving house. I mean, I struggle going in to visit clients or going into an office in a different place because I did that. Leave it out. I left my glasses at home. The one thing that I wear on my face every day, I left my glasses. I mean, it’s cool. That was like my ADHD tax that week was like, I left my glasses. But I think for me, the takeaways of a job is, and this is again personally, to my experiences, is it needs to be flexible, 100% and flexible in terms of like, your employers being flexible, the job being flexible. We’re so rigid in these nine to 5 hours and, you’ll know, jump. You just can’t do that because we just don’t fit into that box. So you could find a truck driver job that would be flexible. It needs to allow you to use your brain in a way that it’s stimulated, so whatever that is. So if you’re looking for a job and you’re not sure what gets you going, what gets you thinking? Is it problem solving? Is it creativity? And lots of ADHD are entrepreneurs, so we’ll talk about that for a quick second. There’s a massive thing around I don’t ever want to say as well, like, well, if you’ve got ADHD, the 95 doesn’t work. You need to start your own business because that’s not at all the message. And employers should be creating a space and jobs that work for ADHD. We shouldn’t just have to be forced to go and start up our own business because that’s not what everybody wants that’s feasible.
Jon: A lot of people don’t have the funding or something like that.
Beth: Yeah, it’s not something that we should have to do. Personally, I’m doing it too, because I absolutely love what I do. And do you know what? I would say one of the factors is because I don’t fit into that box, it’s not working for me. I could probably work for a job for three years at a corporate company, nine to five. But is that me? Is it going to get me what I want in my life? No. But that’s why I think as well ADHD is so successful. Neurodivergent owning their own businesses because they are just responsible. They’re responsible for their own workloads, their own deadlines, they’ve got a passion, creativity, pressure, all of that stuff that we thrive off in one place. But it’s not to say that a nine to five can’t work. We just have to get employers on board. We have to change that narrative.
Getting employeers onboard 34:16
Jon: I think that’s something that the tech sector is actually doing. In some cases, the tech sector is doing really well. I’ve obviously recruited into cybersecurity, specifically cybersecurity by nature, you’re constantly learning, you’re constantly evolving in what you’re doing. There’s new resources and text that you’re using, stuff like this. And in that sense, it’s actually really good for the ADHD brain because everything is different. And then you’re essentially actively fighting against malware phishing and you’re also trying to protect people, which a lot of these obviously security professionals are obviously passionate about protecting other people’s, other people. And on top of that, they’re basically fighting, or best way, they’re trying to protect people from bad people, from threat actors. I think security is really good in that sense because every day is very different. And then in another sense, a lot of cybersecurity, especially cybersecurity and tech roles, are, if not remote hybrid. They offer that flexibility for people to, okay, I don’t want to start at 08:00 in the morning, I’m going to start at ten because my brain doesn’t function at 08:00 in the morning. It starts functioning at ten. So they start at ten, and instead of working until five, they work until seven. They have that flexibility, and a lot of different fields don’t offer that flexibility.
Beth: I mean, I’ve not I’ve not heard of that. I’ve not heard of any company doing that. And that’s amazing. Like, they’re actually making it, making it work for for you. Yeah,
Jon: I’ve, I’ve, yeah, I’ve made placements with people where, you know, they very explicitly, from like, their very first stage, they were like, I know that the contract is going to say start at 08:00 a.m., and they very explicitly told the hiring manager, like, I’m not starting at 08:00 a.m., I can’t do it because I’m neurodivergent. I need to start at noon. Or it wasn’t noon. It was like 10.30am for them because they were like, I won’t roll out of bed until 9.30am. And they were honest about it. In fairness, they got the job and they started at 10.30am. It’s been a year, and that person’s still there.
Beth: And that’s just an amazing example of actually employers making it work.
Jon: And it’s all about results for employers. We got to stop thinking that you’ve got to work 8 hours a day, nine till five. Like, this person has now got a brilliant opportunity. They’re probably going to stay in that job for a while, aren’t they? But this is the thing that person was looking for. Because of the way they knew how their brain works. That person was looking for a role for like, nine months. Interview after interview after interview, rejection after rejection after rejection, before they finally, you know, before I finally, you know, reached out to them, was like, hey, I have a role. And basically, he basically just got lucky. It’s, it’s luck of the draw. And that’s I think that’s what’s really difficult about having ADHD or being neurodiverse in the workplace. Our brains are just wired so differently. And there’s in a lot of fields. Again, tech very lucky that they’re quite flexible on the whole. But a lot of fields don’t offer that flexibility.
Beth: No, like I said, I went through a period of job hunting not so long ago. There’s no flexibility in the UK. My role is quite techy like. CRM specialist, CRM consultant. It’s in that box and it’s just yeah, but my hours, like I get the best out of me probably like ten to twelve and then in the afternoon and then the evenings, I’m on a super hyper energetic hyper focus where I can get so much done. But you put me in front of the computer at 08:00 a.m., you ain’t getting anything out of me.
Jon: Yeah, it’s very similar with me. I usually open up my computer about 8.30am for the first half hour. It’s just kind of scrolling through LinkedIn, eating breakfast, whatever. Nine I’m starting to wake up. My meds have kicked in a little bit, but I don’t get properly productive until about 12.30pm. Yeah, so I usually take my lunch about 11.30am. And then once 12.30pm hits, that’s when I get productive. I smash out all of my work from about 12.30pm until probably about 3.30pm or 04:00 p.m.. Yeah, about 04:00 p.m. My brain starts to go. You’ve been going because I don’t take breaks, I just work.
Beth: We don’t and the thing is, like you just said, you get all your work done in such a short space of time, but the problem that you’ve got is if you start doing that in a corporate company, one, you can’t really shout about that. I can get my work done faster in 4 hours time because one, they will pile on more work and two. I mean, they just don’t understand. But that’s the beauty of it. Literally. Some days when you are that hyper focused, it’s not healthy to not move. I mean, there’s been times where my mouth is dried in the desert and I haven’t had a drink and I need the toilet and I’m like, I haven’t moved, but I haven’t done this and I haven’t finished it. I mean, the outputs are crazy, but it’s not healthy. But like you said, you’ve got this like the way that you’ve done it is amazing. Like, if you were to work for yourself, there would never be a problem with that. Your client be like, well, you’ve done my work, you’ve done amazing outputs. But because you’re employed, it’s a different story.
Jon: I’ve been quite lucky with my company is very understanding. They’re very supportive of my aged, obviously, because they’re helping me with the podcast. But they’ve been very supportive and very understanding. And I signed in for the meetings at 09:00am. That we have. That’s great. And then after that I’m relatively left alone until usually about noon, maybe 11.30am at the earliest. Basically, as long as I get the work done I need to do. And I have outputs to show that that’s all they care about. But that’s not the majority of companies. That’s a very small minority of companies. And it’s like what you said, ADHD people are usually better either working for people that have ADHD or starting their own business. And that’s something that just really needs to change. But I don’t know. And that’s part of this is how can we make sure basically what can we do to make employers make sure that employers are more well informed about ADHD besides the podcast? What can we do? I have ideas, but I don’t have solutions.
Beth: I think there’s like a piece around education, so like, all this sort of stuff. I mean, I’m just going to say, like a pet hate of mine. Is an employer that is like, well, we’re big on mental health. We do all these webinars. What are you doing to change action? So are there objectives of this within your leadership team? So, like, reasonable adjustments? I hate this word. I hate that phrase because first of all, what’s an unreasonable adjustment? Just get that out of your mind. No. As a noid divergent, my needs are changing daily. So employers, first of all, need to learn about it. They need to ask questions, and they need to create a safe space. So this is what we talked about earlier. Is it a safe space, one, to be your authentic self, two, to be open and honest about it. So if I disclose I’ve got ADHD, the first thing they need to say is, tell us about it. What does that mean for you, and how can we support you? But also, having policies in place as an employer is just a tick box, in my opinion. You’ve got a reasonable adjustment policy or a noid divergent policy. It’s not about that. I want to see action. I want to see exactly what you’ve done to support your employees. So, like you said, they can start at ten and finish at seven, or they can work whatever hours they want. We measure on outputs. Because for me, I’ve been asked before by HR departments and managers, so what do you need? Because you said you’ve got ADHD, what do you need? And for me, it’s a really overwhelming question because sometimes I’m like, I don’t know what I need, because I’ve been doing this my whole life by myself. Like, literally masking getting through dealing with it by myself. When you ask me that, I’m like, I don’t know. I don’t know what I need, but I need that flexibility. So employers need to understand how ADHD should up for its employees. They need to help them work out how to navigate those challenges and harness those strengths. So whether that’s change of working hours, whether that’s working from home and having one dedicated day in the office, whether that’s. Running sessions with leadership and putting that into the objectives of the organisation so they know it’s basically help us reach our potential, and we’ll help you get the best results for your business. So it’s a joint partnership. It’s definitely not one or the other, because you said they’re like, what can we do? It’s definitely both. It’s our responsibility as well to inform and educate, but it’s up to the employer to say, right, well, we’re going to make sure you’ve got a flexible, safe environment. You tell us what we can do, and we’ll work together to do it. And I think your example was great because that is a perfect way of working. It’s kind of like you’re just trusted you’re trusted to do that. So without the alarm bells going off, when you say you have ADHD and the micromanagement starts going, it’s a different conversation. It’s really about, okay, well, what does that mean for you? And I’m here when you want to talk about it. You don’t have to sit down and be like, okay, let’s get a policy out, and you need noise canceling headphones. Okay, we’ll put that through the expenses. It shouldn’t be like that at all. That’s the thing as well.
Jon: It’s what you said, if you need to work from home or if you need different hours, those are I agree with you. The idea of reasonable adjustments is ridiculous because every time I’m asked that, I’m like, I genuinely don’t know what’s unreasonable. There’s no definitive guide to what’s unreasonable. So asking for noise canceling headphones to you could be an unreasonable adjustment. It’s not well enough to find to actually have any idea. And then, of course, you have different disorders. Not disorders, but different things. One thing that I was thinking is I was talking to someone quite recently. It was actually this morning, another guest speaker, actually, and he was saying that when he does interviews for when he’s hiring people, when he does interviews, he sends an email to the candidate. With basically general, like generic topics that are going to be covered in the interview and says to them, these are going to be the topics that we’re going to discuss. You can bring a note card, essentially to read back on during the interview. I have been on the receiving end of hundreds of interviews in my lifetime and I’ve never, ever heard of a client or hiring manager ever do that. You know the reason why he does that? Because he has ADHD. He understands
Beth: there you go.
Jon: He understands that if you are neurodivergent and you’re in an interview, he understands that you may be asked a question and you know you know it. You know you know the answer. You just can’t remember in that moment. But that doesn’t mean that you don’t know how to do your job.
Beth: I’d love that it’s not even about just anyone. I think going into an interview should not be seen as this like, it needs to be a conversation and it needs to feel safe. This is exactly why I interviewed start the year when I left my toxic job. And I said at the start of the interview, like, I have ADHD, I’m really sorry. I’m probably going to talk to you about all my passions and I’m going to end up on table. And the response I got back was, you’ve got an allotted time slot of an hour we can’t run over, so keep your answer short. And they even stopped me halfway through a presentation that I had put together. And I always go, my presentation had like extra bits on and we were at the extra bits and it was like, I’ve seen this and I found this opportunity and we could do this. And I just got cut short. And it was like, we have to give everybody fair and equal chances so you can’t go over. And I was thinking, but is that a fair and equal chance? For me? That’s not. For that, for that guy to do that, that hiring manager. I applaud that because I know exactly how it feels to sit in an interview and not be able to get my words out or to either go off on a tangent for half an hour. But he understands, and I think that’s what it is. There’s a lack of understanding, a lack of empathy, and I just don’t think people want to think outside the box anymore. It’s harmful.
Jon: I would disagree with you slightly on that. I would say people want to think outside the box. And I had this thought earlier today, actually. I would say in the last, what, maybe 10-15 years, we’ve been seeing a big push in culture and society in general for the individual, for bespoke experiences, for things for the individual. I don’t know how else to describe it. And that’s great luxury holidays being made affordable for the average person to be able to go and do what they want, how to customise your phone, however, your screen, however you want, stuff like this. This is all individualised, personalised, bespoke things for one person, right, that anyone can do any way they want. We haven’t seen that shift, that shift of bespokeness or personalisation to the corporate side yet.
Beth: No, you’re right.
Jon: And I think that’s where a lot of ADHD, because I’m 26 as well, especially our age, are really struggling because we’ve grown up in this Internet age and this age of personalisation and being able to express ourselves any way that we want and just know that we are who we are. But then when we get to the corporate. Kind of world we actually get into the workplace. The workplace is like, no, and we know we’re not. It’s just like, stop. And we know that we may not change the world. That’s fine. We don’t care. We just want to be who we are, and we just want people to recognise that and let us work in the way that we want to, or not even necessarily want to, but our best working at need to, it’s not.
Beth: A want, it’s not an excuse. It’s an explanation as to why we need to do that to get X, Y, and Z. And I think you’re completely right. I think we are in a generation where we are allowed to express ourselves in a certain way, and I embrace that, and I absolutely love that. But like you said, you get into a different environment like that, and it’s just like it’s all been stripped away and you’re put into it, molded into a box. And I think like somebody looking back to when I first had my marketing apprentice, the amount of masking that I did, because obviously I was just starting out in my career, I think that’s a very important thing to talk about another time is like, when you’re starting out in your career. I don’t think Beth back then would have said, if I knew I had ADHD, I’ve got ADHD because I’d be too scared because I’m only an apprentice. I think there’s all sorts of factors. There’s all sorts of things, but yeah, you’re right. You’re totally right.
Jon: Yeah. I think when we see that shift to where ADHD’S neurodivergent people can work in the way that we need to, when people recognise that, which might take it might take a little while until some of the older people retire or something like that. When that shift happens, a lot of these companies I have a genuine feeling, are going to be like, why didn’t we do this earlier? Because the productivity is so much better, and they’re going to stop caring about the in office requirement. They’re going to stop caring about. Putting people into box, into such specific boxes. But until then, we have to carry on with things like this podcast where we’re just trying to raise that awareness and try and help people to understand we’re not lazy. It’s not that we don’t want to work. It’s not that we want to quit or we’re incompetent or we don’t know how to do our job. We know how to do our jobs. We’re hard workers. Hell, we’re putting in 120%. You’re just asking us to do things in ways that we can’t do, and you’re asking us to do jobs that we can’t excel in. So something needs to change.
Beth: We haven’t got an environment where we can do what we need, and that’s it. I think the amount of times I’ve been called lazy, I’m not lazy. I work my ass off. But it’s just in a different way to you. And unfortunately, you deal with the tools that you get given. And if you’re giving me a nine to five job in an office, in a really overstimulating, loud, bright office that people like, I mean, people are microwaving fish, and then the lights are flashing and the people are walking past, I’m done. I need to get out of there.
Jon: I know the feeling painfully well.
Jon: On the ever ending and amazing note of fish, I have one last question for you. For people that are starting their careers, that whether or not they want to get into tech or they want to go in a CRM like yourself at the early stage of their careers and they’re struggling, what advice would you like to give them?
Beth: So one thing I wish I’d done sooner is build your network, because you can always learn skills. You can learn anything. You can learn anything you want to learn. But having the right network around you and the people that make you feel like you can is the most important thing. So LinkedIn for me is oh, LinkedIn is my baby. I absolutely love it. And the people that I have met, I mean, Jon, I’ve met yourself on there. The people that I have met on there has not only brought opportunities to me, but I brought opportunities to other people I can support. And it’s the one place where I found less lonely in my ADHD journey. Because you know what? If you have a full time job, you go into work, the likelihood is there’s other people there that are Nora divergent but nobody that you know of. And you kind of come online to this community and share your experiences and you can start to also you can learn a ton of stuff on there as well. So you’ve got all these people that are going to boost you support you, engage with you. You can learn about yourself, you learn about different perspectives. And I wish I’d harnessed that sooner because honestly, it’s great for opportunities because all it takes is one conversation with somebody like that hiring manager you talked about to speak to you and go, actually, well, I’ve got a role, or you’re just getting into it. Like I actually understand I’m neurodivergent. It’s amazing. So I think that’s probably my piece of advice. Build your network.
Jon: That’s really solid advice. I like it. Well, my advice, and I would suggest both of us do this as well, drink water, don’t forget to take breaks and don’t be too hard on yourself.
To yourself, to myself, all of the viewers, everybody, we’re different and we should be proud of that. But yeah, we need to drink water breaks and we also need to stand up and move our legs.
Beth: You’ve just reminded me I’ve got no water. I haven’t had water for hours. I need a drink. I love that. And I think that on the back of that, just be you never apologise. Mean, your ADHD is obviously never an excuse for anything, but it’s an explanation. And it never wear that mask to the point where you’ve lost yourself, like be you, because embrace it and drink the water and eat to eat. I never forget to eat. I mean, who am I kidding? But yeah, get up and move those legs.
Jon: Thank you, Beth, for coming on. It’s been absolutely pleasure having you. Yeah, it’s been so insightful. It’s been a great, really great. And I hope everyone else has gotten a lot of this, has learned things out of it, and we will wait and see what happens in the next episode. It’s going to be surprise.
Beth: It’s been great. Thank you.