How to Spot a Business Owner with ADHD

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Some of us call it a curse. Some of us call it a super power. Some of us wish it would go away. Other business owners with ADHD wouldn’t go back and take a “normal” brain if it was offered to them. David Neeleman, founder of JetBlue, says that if there was a pill to make his ADHD go away for good, he’d refuse to take it, because he wouldn’t be where he is today without it.

Neeleman told ADDitude Magazine,

“I can distill complicated facts and come up with simple solutions. I can look out on an industry with all kinds of problems and say, ‘How can I do this better?’ My ADD brain naturally searches for better ways of doing things.”

It is true that some of ADHD’s most common characteristics—creativity, multi-tasking, risk-taking, high energy, and resilience—are definitely strengths when leveraged in the right way and in the right career. This is why so many high profile achievers are beginning to publicly embrace their diagnoses of ADHD.

But there are also the other characteristics of ADHD that you may struggle with—procrastination, inability to concentrate, forgetfulness, distractibility, frustration with routine, and time blindness—that can tie knots in your business dealings.

Regardless of how you feel about your ADHD, you know that it affects your business in many ways, ways that others sometimes don’t understand.

Even the experts don’t agree about ADHD and business

I was on an ADHD forum a few weeks ago where a woman was told by her physician that people with ADHD can’t run businesses, so she should just forget about the idea. What followed was a vigorous debate, as forum members gave example after example to prove the good doctor wrong. I personally think she should get a new doctor.

On the other hand, there are physicians like Dale Archer, MD, who wrote in Forbes magazine:Read More

How to Make a Real Difference for Your Clients

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conceptual image for a good idea hand drawn on a sticky note with questions all around it

A few weeks ago, during a complimentary Instant Insight Session, the person I was talking with had an “aha” moment. She had been struggling to meet her clients’ expectations in ways that didn’t really work for her. If she couldn’t be herself when helping her clients, this told me she wasn’t really working with her ideal customers. Later, she sent me this:

What a relief to know I don’t have to get a personality transplant to boost my visibility, attract more clients and hopefully be more successful.”

I started thinking about what it is that attracts ideal customers to you, and how important it is for you to be yourself—not only for your work and for your clients, but for your own well-being. And it reminded me of this article I wrote a few years ago about asking questions and listening. So I dusted it off and I’m re-running it for you today—the kids are a few years older, but the message is the same!

“Moopie, are they dry yet?”

The clay figures we’d made that morning were taking FOR. EV. ER. to dry. And that meant we wouldn’t be able to paint them before we had to get on the road the next day, when it would be time for me to take my little charmers back home to their parents.

(I am “Moopie” to my son’s children, not because it means “Grandma” to them, but because I’ve been “Moop” to everyone in my family since before I can remember. For reasons known only to them, my older brother and sister found it easier to say “Moop” than to say “Marcia.”)

So, since the carefully sculpted Angry Birds, Hello Kitty, butterfly, worms, and pizza were going to have to sit and dry, we moved on. To t-shirt painting!

I’m the facilitator

I am merely the facilitator in these exercises. I guide the wishes of the true creators: Austin, age 7, and Sydney, age 3. I can get my hands on the good stuff and make it work — their job is to bring the ideas. (I have a friend who says that for a kid, having an agreeable grandmother is like having a big Baby Huey to play with — one who can drive.)

Austin is definitely more controlled in his art than his sister. He knows what he wants to create, and when he’s comfortable with his tools, moves ahead with confidence and a plan. If he comes to a new challenge, he asks for help. He asked for help painting the Angry Bird on his shirt. The fabric paint was blobby and difficult to control. He stood behind and directed me.

Sydney doesn’t have a plan, or a thought, or a moment’s hesitation. Anything goes, and she’s always thrilled with what she’s created. She threw the permanent fabric paint all over the table — it was all I could do to follow behind, mopping up. The medium was the message, for sure.

In the end, both kids got what they wanted out of our weekend (except I did make them take baths at the last minute). Both were very pleased with themselves.

They had been catered to and presented with options.

Listened to more than talked at.

Understood more than sold to.

Assisted. Guided. And respected.

And shown in every possible way how much they were loved.

After they left (and after my 3-hour nap), I was reflecting on how easy and natural it is to be Moopie. Kids know what they want from you, and the difference you make to them.

It’s almost the same with my business

As long as I’ve been in business (over 30 years), I still grapple with the problem of how to communicate my own strengths, what I do, and how I can help, even though this is something I work on with you, my clients, every day. It’s really hard to find the exact words, isn’t it?

We should all know how to describe what we do so people will want to work with us, right? And if I’m teaching this to you, I should Read More

How to Stay on Track in the New Year

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This is the time of year when we all set out with good intentions, make long lists of things we want to accomplish, and have new hope that the clean slate of a new year will bring us success.

And then we waver, doubting our own ability to follow through and actually DO the things we have all those good intentions for.

A strategy for staying on track will help

One of the most useful things I’ve found to combat the doubt about your own ability to follow through is to know that you have a strategy for staying on track. And then, actually using the strategy and finding out that it works bolsters your confidence, making this simple strategy all the more powerful.

So go ahead, make those New Years Resolutions, set objectives, and dream big. Then follow these five easy steps for staying on track to increase your chances for success.

Step 1:  Use notes to remind yourself to be more aware

Put a note where you’ll see it throughout the day. It can say “Pay attention,” or “Hey! Get back to work!” or “What are you doing?” or whatever you think will get your attention throughout the day. It should be something that will stop you, so you can become more aware.

For years a “Pay attention!” sticky note on my monitor worked for me, until it got to be part of my environment and I didn’t see it anymore—that’s when it’s time to move on to something new that will get your attention.

Step 2:  Set your timer to break your trance

If you tend to get sidetracked and then really engrossed in rabbit holes instead of working on your intended task—and who doesn’t?—try setting your timer in 30 minute intervals. When the timer goes off it will startle you, and you can then look at your “Hey! Get back to work!” note and stop the rabbit hole diving. If you have a tendency to shut off the timer and shoot right back to the distracting activity, make sure you set the timer far enough away from you that you have to get up and walk to shut it off. That usually will break your concentration enough to get your attention and break you out of your trance.

Step 3:  Ask yourself these questions about your activity

This is a critical step. After you’ve gotten your own attention and broken your concentration, it’s important to have a Read More

Five Actions to Take to Make Sure You’re Ready for Coaching

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Not long ago, one of my readers asked me what she could do or think about on her own to determine if she was ready for coaching. She wasn’t sure she was even ready for one of my complimentary Instant Insight sessions, and hoped that I could give her some offline guidance—in fact, she even suggested that something like a “five actions to take to make sure you’re ready for coaching” checklist would be really helpful for many of my readers.

I took Marya’s suggestion (thank you, Marya!). Even if you’re not interested in coaching with me, this checklist will help you get ready for whichever coach you choose.

1.  Make a list of what’s really bugging you

Keep writing until you have at least five or six things on your list. Do most of the big things center around your business, or do they center around your personal life? If most of your concerns center around your business—overwhelm, feeling stuck, organization, managing your time, prioritization, setting up systems and processes, business confidence, your team, differentiation, planning and follow through, business direction, etc.—coaching with me may help. If your issues are around your personal life—self care, relationships, conflicts, and general well-being—a personal coach may be a better choice for you.

2.  Think about your main challenge from the list above

What is it? Why is it a challenge for you? Can you put it into words? Being able to put this into words means Read More

Four Steps to Find the Right Coach for Your Business

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Before I tell you about the four steps for finding the right coach for your business, I want to let you know how irritated I was the first time I worked with a coach.

I remember the first time I hired someone to help me with my business—I was really mad. Here I was, running a business with multiple offices, multiple employees, and hundreds of thousands of dollars moving through it, and I was supposed to know what I was doing—right? I was telling clients every day that I knew what I was doing, and admitting that I needed help (and I did need help) and hiring a coach (and I really did want to hire a coach) made me feel like a fraud. I had grown so used to “faking it till I made it,” I couldn’t even admit to myself that there were things I just didn’t know.

I put it off as long as I could. When I finally did hire a coach, I told her I was mad that I had to hire her. She laughed and told me something I’ll never forget—something you may have heard me say before, to you.

She said,

“Marcia, even the sharpest knife can’t carve its own handle.”

As soon as the words were out of her mouth, I felt a flood of relief. She was right! And more than that, her words let me off the hook.

Those ten words:

• soothed my guilt about not knowing everything (crazy, right? What is it that makes us think we can just magically “know” everything?),

• lessened my paranoia about people finding out I might not know everything (more craziness), and

• upheld my hope that even without knowing everything, I could still be a “sharp knife.”

That first consultation with a coach changed my thinking, and moved me further ahead, faster than I could have gone on my own. It was so refreshing to run things by someone who knew what I was going through, and who could actually help. I never looked back, and have worked with coaches and consultants in many forms ever since.

It’s normal to feel weird the first time you reach out for help in your business. Here are some steps to help you over the hump, whether you’d like to find out about working with me, or find someone else to help you through the rough spots.

(And now is the perfect time to reach out, during my Holiday Coaching. From now until Wednesday, November 30, you can register for special pricing on my Holiday Coaching and other select coaching packages. Hurry, because spots are limited. Click here for more information.)

Four steps for finding the right coach for your business

Step 1. Find a coach with a coaching style you like. There are many coaches out there, and each one coaches differently.

A.) Some are certified to use a certain coaching method, and will “coach” the Read More

How to Boost Your Poor Memory

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Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 9.38.39 AMHave you ever been working on a project—doing some research, taking notes, or making a plan for something—and then come across your notes or plan for the very same thing—and you had already figured it out, months or years ago, but had totally, totally, forgotten about it? With no memory of it whatsoever?


Worse, have you ever gone into a meeting with clients, associates, or employees, and passionately described your ideas for the next steps of a project, only to be met with blank stares and confusion—because, as they later tell you, you had passionately described something else (perhaps something in an entirely different direction) the week or even the day before?

I have done both of these things. Many times. And many of my business owner clients with ADHD have, too.

Why can’t we remember these really important things we’ve already done?

A lot of it has to do with “remembering to remember”

ADDers’ long-term memory is usually fine. It’s the short-term, or working memory, that trips us up. This is what most people call “attention,” which is why others often think we’re not paying attention.

This working memory is the part of our memory we need to watch. Where we get into trouble isRead More

How to Curb Your Impulsivity

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ThePauseIf you are an ADHD business owner, you know your impulsivity can sometimes get you in trouble. You want to buy that new piece of equipment right now, without checking your budget. You want to implement that new business direction right now, without having thought it all the way through. You want to say what you want to say now, before you forget it, even though it means interrupting your client.

Not good. Not if you want your business to be successful.

So why are you so impulsive? It all has to do with creating a pause.

Dr. Ari Tuckman, clinical psychologist and author with a focus on ADHD, explains the relationship between impulsivity and the executive functions. “Executive functions” is an umbrella term for a set of mental processes that help connect past experience with present action. They include working memory, sense of time, remembering to remember, emotional self-control, self-activation, hindsight and forethought, and problem solving.

Dr. Tuckman says the executive functions “live in that little space between stimulus and response.” People without ADHD are able to hold back an automatic response to the world around them (like the urge to react or do something right now). This critical ability to stop creates a pause Read More

Who Has ADHD?

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Screen Shot 2015-08-21 at 10.15.34 PMEvery once in awhile I’ll come across a story about a famous person who has ADHD, or a list of well-known people who have ADHD, and I think, “Huh. That’s interesting.” And yay for them for not trying to hide it.

It’s important for us to know about these people, because when we see people with ADHD succeed, we know we can succeed. They’re like us—and if they can work with their strengths and find ways to work around their quirks, we can too, right?

So here’s a list of famous and well-known people who are known or widely thought to have ADHD, for your weekend pick-me-up!


Successful business owners like:
Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Airlines;
Ingvar Kamprad, Swedish Founder and Chairman of IKEA stores;
David Neeleman, Founder and CEO of Jet Blue Airways;
and Paul Orfalea, the Founder and Chairperson of Kinkos all have ADHD and are incredibly creative business owners.

And though some of the following people aren’t definitively proven to have ADHD, they are either widely known or are thought to have ADHD because of the range of symptoms they displayed:

Albert Einstein
Frank Lloyd Wright
Pablo Picasso
Vincent Van Gogh
Salvador Dali
Charlotte and Emily BronteRead More

How to Stop Worrying So You Can Actually Solve Problems

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worry  verb: to give way to anxiety or unease; allow one’s mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles

In my conversations with business owners, I notice many—especially business owners with ADHD—get hung up with anxiety and worry over business problems. It can take up a lot of our time and prevent us from being productive. Worry can actually keep us from thinking clearly, which makes the chances of solving the thing we’re worried about even smaller.

In my study of worry, I came across these ideas in an old classic by Dale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends and Influence People, a massive best seller when it was introduced in 1936 and still remains a best seller today. Even though the book I found, called How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, was written in 1944, the ideas are just as relevant today.

Here is one of Carnegie’s brilliant strategies that you can use right away. Carnegie was given this strategy from Willis H. Carrier, pioneer of the air conditioning industry and founder of the Carrier Corporation, who used the strategy every time he found himself overcome with anxiety and worry in business.


Step 1: Analyze the situation honestly and figure out what is the worst that could possibly happen as a result.

Read More

How to Make Decisions Quickly so You Can Keep Moving

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Screen Shot 2015-07-19 at 10.16.36 AMYou’re careful in your business, because you’re serious about it. You weigh things meticulously before making decisions, or maybe you even agonize over decisions, putting them off until you have just the right and perfect answer. And you probably think you’re doing the right thing.

But that caution in decision-making may be precisely what’s holding you back.

Decision-making isn’t a topic that’s talked about much, but it can have a whole lot of impact on your business.

Because business success is a continuum of decisions. Making decisions is the only way you can Read More