[00:05] Jenna: Hello, happy people, and welcome to Office ADHD. Welcome to office, ADHD. I have the pleasure to introduce you to Jeannie Love. Jeannie is an ADHD and autism coach who specializes in helping businesses learn to leverage the skills of their neurodivergent employees and make an inclusive work environment where everyone feels comfortable. So thank you for being here today, Jeannie.
[00:37] Genie: Thanks for having me. I'm excited to get to talk to you, Jenna.
[00:41] Jenna: Thanks. This will be fun. So first I have to ask you, so how did you stumble into this little ditch? What kind of led you here?
[00:48] Genie: It's been a bit of a winding path. My background is I was a high school special education teacher for about 20 years, just under 20 years. About 15 of those were in a public high school. And then five years, I had the opportunity to teach in South America, and I really enjoyed working with the students who had ADHD and autism. And so when it was time to return back to the US. I was at a path to try to figure out where I was going with my career. I found myself sort of mid career. So I had worked for 20 years, and I knew that I had maybe 20 years left. And so many of my colleagues were counting down the days to retirement from the public education system, and I was thinking, I just don't know if that's the best thing for me and my family right now. And so it also happened to be the time of COVID And so my husband and I agreed that I would take some time off from work in order to be able to homeschool our daughter. Wow. Yeah. Which, crazy, we live in a very rural area of Colorado, and we didn't have a lot of COVID where we were. And so she actually was in school almost all of the time, which gave me this cool opportunity to start to.
[02:21] Jenna: Think about, well, what am I going to do?
[02:22] Genie: So I started researching, here's what I know how to do, here's what I like to do. And I started taking interviews and applying for jobs and just, I don't know, to find out what's out there, what do I want to do next? And I stumbled upon the fact that there's a growing number of adults who are either getting officially diagnosed or self diagnosing with ADHD and or autism. And I was like, well, this is something I know how to do with high school students. I wonder how it would translate over to working with adults. And so I started coaching, and I'm still here doing it, and I love it. This is my path forward. I'm sure of it.
[03:02] Jenna: Oh, that's so cool. Well, and I love that pathway of just exploration. I feel that it's just like, okay, well, let's just try it. And I love how you're just like, okay, well, let's take one step at a time. We don't have to be afraid. We can just explore.
[03:21] Genie: Yeah. So at the same time, I also kind of heard about some previous students, some former students who were doing well in the corporate world. And I started thinking that there must be something there to supporting them with ADHD and or autism. And I also have a master's degree in educational leadership. I've worked in educational leadership. And so I felt like I could probably offer something to businesses and organizations to help them understand and make a better environment. So here I am doing that as well. Kind of pivoted from education to adults and business.
[04:04] Jenna: That is really neat because, yeah, we do need help.
[04:10] Genie: That's awesome.
[04:11] Jenna: And now ADHD and autism, we kind of get paired together in a lot of this neurodivergent world. So how exactly are they related?
[04:21] Genie: I don't know. Sort of neurologically. And they're studying how ADHD and autism show up in the brains and they're finding things all the time. But what I find through my work is that there can be some overlapping areas. And when I work with clients on one on one, or when I describe in generalities to organizations or managers, there are some sort of overlapping characteristics or statements that my clients tell me. So they might say things like, I don't know which are the important tasks. I struggle to switch between tasks. How do I know when I'm finished with something? I can't relate to time. I struggle to control my emotions. Sometimes I have too much energy, sometimes not enough. There's too much noise in my brain. And so the experiences that they have in their lives often overlap. And people with ADHD or autism can often relate to multiple of these. They feel constantly overwhelmed, disruptions, throw them off, those sorts of things. And so that is what I am working to support with. And if I want to, or I do like to sort of put them into broad categories then so you can take each of those little statements and put them into broad categories of executive functioning, emotional regulation, energy regulation, communication, social relations. Those kinds of things are more of the broader topics that my clients tend to need to work on.
[06:07] Jenna: That makes a lot of sense that it's just more of a for whatever reason, we both have to work on some of the same things. Okay, that's really cool, that makes a lot of sense. That's really neat.
[06:21] Genie: And so not everybody has everything, all of those things? No, but then we can just sort of tease apart what parts of those are more relevant to you.
[06:32] Jenna: Okay, so they're probably something neurologically going on, but that's so cool that the same things tend to help them. And then what are some of because I definitely identified with a lot of the things you were saying right there. What are some of the strengths that you find in the workplace? Like that some of these workplaces should be leveraging with your ADHD clients?
[06:57] Genie: I think that's exactly it is to get to know the individual and their strengths. So all of the people that I've worked with, they're passionate about their work, they want to do well, they want to contribute, but they've got some things that prevent them from being the best that they can be. For example, I had this client that I worked with who worked in it. And so he's got a very high demand position. He was very good at it, but he carried a lot of negative feelings about himself over from having struggled in school, having struggled early in his career, finding out that he has ADHD. And so he was struggling to embrace the fact that he was good and that he had something really valuable to offer because he was constantly on edge that he was going to screw up at some point. I know, and this is very common. And so then I had another person that I worked with and she was struggling with the interview process because she was having a difficult time interpreting what the interview questions really meant, the nuances of the questions. But as we worked together, we talked, her mind was brilliant. She's an executive assistant to C Suite executives. Just really high level organization skills, able to manage schedules of multiple executives and their preferences for travel and restaurants and how to manage any sort of emergencies that will come up in their lives. And she had this amazing way of visualizing it all. But when she came down to trying to describe it, she really struggled to do that. And so it came across very simplistic. And she would talk about colors and folders and sticky notes and it sounded so simplistic when what was really going on her head was brilliant and anybody would have been so lucky to have her. And so what happens, I think, is that if we don't lean into the person who's in front of us, we're missing out on what's really going on inside of their brains, the creativity, the problem solving, the way they have of seeing things differently from other people. And so everybody's bringing their own individual gifts. It's the job of the managers to help bring those to the front and not get caught up in what you could perceive as these weaknesses that's holding them back.
[09:47] Jenna: That's really cool. Well, and I love there's so many things in what you're saying there. Honestly, I feel like in the whole ADHD and autism community, we are very good at seeing our weaknesses, but not always so good at seeing our strengths.
[10:06] Genie: Yes.
[10:07] Jenna: We are just so blind to so many of the things that we can do.
[10:13] Genie: Yes. And with a little bit of support for those small things that are holding you back. It's amazing what my clients have to contribute.
[10:25] Jenna: I believe it. Well, just talking to a coach like you for a minute and just have you be able to say, did you know that not everybody's brain does that? Or did you know that not everybody can do that skill? Because I think we get trapped in this idea that everybody thinks the same as we do. And so what's easy for me is probably easy for the next person.
[10:47] Genie: Absolutely. Yeah, you're absolutely right. I see that too. When we sort of open up a little bit and dig into these passions that they have, these skills that they have, and finding some clarity and just that you do have something amazing to offer, but you've just spent so many years bogged down in the struggles that you're right. They don't see it and I love to help them uncover it.
[11:16] Jenna: No, for sure. Okay, so what are some tips for making an ADHD friendly workplace?
[11:24] Genie: So I have a few suggestions. One, I have a client who has a lot of meetings throughout her day, which completely disrupts her ability to get into the flow. And transitions between tasks I mentioned earlier can be difficult for some of my clients. And so if you're constantly transitioning into a meeting and out of a meeting, it can be hard to get the other work done that you need to get done. And so I encourage organizations to rethink and I know that there's a lot of that going on which I fully support. So definitely just be very thoughtful about when meetings need to happen and if it could be handled in another way by email. Another suggestion I have with respect to that is to be very clear about expectations for email and instant messaging. If that's something that can be blocked as part of the day, if you don't expect your employees to respond immediately, that will be great. And to clarify that, so that they know, so that I can check my email three times a day, I can check my instant messaging just a few times a day. And so that there's not this immediate need to respond, which again is switching between tasks away from what you were responding to the message and then trying to get back again can be incredibly challenging and time consuming for all of us and especially for anyone who has ADHD or autism.
[13:02] Jenna: That's so cool. I didn't even think about that. Even at home, like, if I'm trying to do too many tasks to kind of line them up so they either feel like one task or so, then I'm not I don't know. Some people complete one thing and before I move to another. Interesting.
[13:19] Genie: Absolutely. Yeah, that's like one of the very first things that I teach when I do one on one coaching because, yeah, we cannot shift back and forth like that. Another one I have is to rethink space a little bit. So if someone's working in the office, is there ability to stand and work? Is there the ability to move and think so whether it's walking up and down the hallways or taking a lap around the block to kind of get out of the space and be a little more creative through movement or are there quiet spaces to kind of decompress and take a break? Not everybody wants to take a break in the lounge with other people. Someplace quiet would be really helpful to a lot of people who maybe have sensory sensitivities to lights or sounds or things like that. So rethinking space and how you use space is something that I suggest that is a really cool idea. Yes. I recommend movement and I recommend working from sometimes I tell my clients to just like if you can work from a laptop just to stand up and turn around and face the other direction. Sometimes that can just give you a new perspective and point of view and bring back some creativity. Even just the tiniest amount of movement can really help.
[14:48] Jenna: Yeah, well, and then you can think about the one thing without seeing all of the other things on the screen at the same time.
[14:55] Genie: Yes, absolutely. Working from a whiteboard or even just a notebook and a pencil to eliminate the technology distractions completely can be really great.
[15:09] Jenna: Yeah, I didn't even think about that because it's true. I know. Sometimes when I do, even just the other day I was doing that, I was working through some coding and I was like, okay, I just need to write this out on paper and draw it for a minute. And I didn't even think about that. But it's true. That eliminated all the other distractions and allowed me to think through the one part I needed.
[15:31] Genie: Yes, exactly. Yeah. And then oh, I just wanted to mention one more thing, which I have a client who is going back to work and she's doing hot desking, which means she doesn't have her own space. She's going to oh, weird.
[15:49] Jenna: I've heard of this, but I forgot. That's just crazy.
[15:52] Genie: Okay.
[15:52] Jenna: Yeah. Tell us how she's handling this one.
[15:56] Genie: Well, yeah, I mean, it's stressful. Every day she comes in and she's not sure where her space is going to be. And she is sensitive to sights and sounds and finds them distracting. And so she could visualize where in the space would be the best place for her to work, but she's not guaranteed to get that place every day. And so that's like stress coming into work on top of the fact that you might not get a place where you can focus the best. And so if you can eliminate that, I think would be helpful. So many people.
[16:36] Jenna: Oh, good gracious. Yeah, because it's like, I don't know, you can't even set up I don't know, set up a plant or set up a picture or something that I don't know. Right, or just you can't leave your favorite pen next to the computer.
[16:51] Genie: I don't know. Yeah. Yes, exactly. And every day. You have to come out and unpack your things and then repack your things and I don't know. Yeah, I think it's definitely a challenge for anyone who struggles with executive functioning.
[17:05] Jenna: Oh, man. Because organization is terrible. I can't even imagine what my bag would look like after a week of packing and unpacking myself.
[17:13] Genie: Yes, or like, remembering that you took the charger out briefly and you have to put it back in. And where did I tuck the sticky notes and just all the things. It's a lot to keep track of.
[17:28] Jenna: Oh, yeah. Not being able to leave the sticky notes all over the wall.
[17:32] Genie: Yes.
[17:34] Jenna: Oh, man.
[17:35] Genie: Exactly.
[17:36] Jenna: I know people are getting very many too many insights into my, quote, organizational methods. It's good to be bored.
[17:50] Genie: It's helpful for people to know and to see that they're not alone in all the varieties of thinking styles.
[17:57] Jenna: That's true. Isaac, tell me, what do you love about what you do?
[18:05] Genie: I love this work because it's just so cool that I've found, like you said, that I've found this niche, what I do, what I enjoy doing, what I do well, and I love working with adults. I love working with organizations. It's very forward thinking when you're working in schools. It's just a lot of putting out fires all the time. And so I love this sort of pivot because it's like, how can we move forward together? How can we make this work better for everyone? And so instead of just always problem solving, like with schools and putting out fires and emergencies and crises, it's like, let's move forward. And so I love that. It's very specific to the individuals, what their needs are, what their goals are, and moving forward. And so I just love the work.
[19:04] Jenna: That is so cool. And I'm super excited about your free guides. Like, I saw the free guide to calm your mind to get things done. I am pulling that up as soon as we're done. If you're interested in those, I'm putting all of those links and how to do clarity call with Jeannie on the website and things like that. Just so no worries. You will know how to contact her. Because I'm sure because I mean, just even listening to you, it's like, oh, okay, I see. Life is possible. We got this.
[19:31] Genie: Yes, absolutely. I'm putting a lot of information out there, some free guides. You can call me, my website, find me on LinkedIn. I have a newsletter for individuals, and I have a newsletter for organizations. And so I just want all the information to be out there. And if you are like, you know what, I just want a little bit more help with this, call me and we can work through some things together.
[19:58] Jenna: And I love that. I love that. Like you said, you work together on it. That's the thing that I love about because coaching is an area we've just been starting to kind of explore as part of the podcast and things like that here and there, meeting some new coaches. And I love that you guys specialize in so many different things and how every coach we've talked to is so I guess you're just so much want to help everybody and that you realize that it's okay that we are where we are.
[20:30] Genie: Yes, exactly. It's okay. You're okay? Yeah. That's part of my coaching program, too, is to sort of build some positive emotional intelligence. Because we carry so much negativity from the past about who we are, how our brains work, and how can we start to shift. That a little bit to start to be okay and to open up to what we've been covering up for so long and embrace your brain and how it works and your passions and interests because it's okay.
[21:10] Jenna: I love that. I love that idea of just uncovering yourself that way. And that leads me to my last question. I want to know, because before we go, I really like to give my guests an opportunity to just leave the audience with some final words of just encouragement or advice for everyone out there.
[21:31] Genie: Yeah, and I think this aligns with what we were just talking about, which is to start to own your brain instead of trying to cover up from the quote unquote weaknesses that you've been trying to hide for so long. So maybe start to dig in a little bit deeper instead of these words of, like, I'm lazy, I procrastinate, I'm always late. Can we dig in a little bit deeper to why that is? And so I was going to give an example about myself, which is I miss details. That's just it. I'm a big picture thinker. I don't always think through all the details, and even when I try to think through all the details, I can't, like, I miss them. And so I know that about myself. What I encourage you to do, what I tried to do, was just like, now let's drop that out in small pieces to people to see how they respond. And so, for example, I wasn't sure where my daughter's soccer game was because I hadn't bothered to check the details. I knew where it was last week. I assumed it was in the same place this week. Didn't pay too much attention to it. And so when I was talking to another parent about that, I just kind of dropped that little thing about me. Like, attention to detail is not one of my strengths, and I just kind of, like, let that float to see how it landed. And of course, he just kind of, like, shrugged his shoulders, and it didn't mean a whole lot to him, but it meant a lot to me to start to own that and be okay talking about it. And so that's what I would love for your audience, is to start to in a more positively, like, this is how my brain works kind of way. Start to float little things like that to people and get practice starting to talk about it without getting attached to the negative aspect of the fact that I never know where I'm going. I never read the details of the email to know where the soccer game was. I can look at it that way too, or I can just say, you know what? I'm trying, and this is how my brain works.
[23:45] Jenna: Yeah, I got the big picture. I knew soccer was happening. The details weren't there. Oh, I love that. Well, and I love the idea, like you said, to just kind of I don't know, just kind of let the idea out there. And it also makes me think on the other side too, when people are telling me things to never overreact, just be like, oh, cool, that's the way. Because I never know when somebody's just how important that fact that somebody's telling me is to them.
[24:16] Genie: Yeah, great. And that's exactly what he did. He was just like, okay. And we just carried on with life. But for me, it was sort of monumental to own that and to say it out loud. And it helps to actually remove the emotional attachment that I have to that fact that I miss details. And so all of that is then good for my mental health.
[24:39] Jenna: That is really cool. I love that. Thank you so much because yeah, that's really neat.
[24:45] Genie: Yeah, you're welcome.
[24:47] Jenna: Well, and thank you so much for coming on today. This has been a genuine pleasure.
[24:52] Genie: Oh, you're welcome. I'm happy to talk with you, Jenna. Thanks for having me.
[24:56] Jenna: Sure thing. All right, everybody out there, I hope that you have an amazing day and definitely, just like Jeannie said, pick something and own it this week. Thanks so much for listening. To learn more about anything we talked about today, head over to officeadhd.com. Remember to, like, subscribe and share and have a great day. We'll see you next time.