Episode 19 – reframing ADHD – The gift of a faster brain – with Peter Shankman
From getting in trouble for talking too much in school to giving keynote speeches on stages all over the world, Peter Shankman has transformed what was once perceived as a challenge into one of his many strengths.
Here, we explore Peter’s version of an ADHD brain, the source of Peter’s drive and spirit, and what to make of a diagnosis. Peter also shares his love of order and secrets to staying focused where skydiving and a Peloton addiction take centre stage. Peter closes with an inspiring invitation for anyone with ADHD.
As a successful entrepreneur, Peter is known for his business acumen, customer insight and economic foresight. Author of five best-selling books, including “Faster Than Normal”, he is also an advocate for the neurodiverse and the neurodiverse economy. His latest auto-biographical book is designed to empower ADHD kids. You’ll hear Peter both on news channels and serving as a global brand ambassador. And, you might even see him jumping from a plane.
00:05:00 The value of being neurodivergent
00:07:46 Where did your spirit come from?
00:12:43 The value of a diagnosis
00:15:24 The value of creating order
00:20:00 What about rest & recovery at work?
00:23:46 Challenges in education
00:26:23 The Google NEU Project - creating space for every mind to shine
00:28:11 "The boy with the faster brain"
00:30:33 Faster than normal
IMAGE CREDITS (see images on Youtube video)
Clare with the bandaged finger at the hospital - credit Clare Kumar
Faster Than Normal - credit Goodreads
organized closet - credit Peter’s Instagram
Peter in exercise gear - credit Peter’s Instagram
Curb cut - image To Be Reel - canva
"The boy with the faster brain" book cover - credit Goodreads
#productivityISpersonal - credit Clare Kumar
#nevermindthelabels - credit Clare Kumar
#diagnosisisprivilege - credit Clare Kumar
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Highly sensitive executive coach and productivity catalyst, Clare Kumar, explores the intersection of productivity and inclusivity continually asking how can we invite the richest contribution from all. She coaches individuals in sidestepping burnout and cultivating sustainable performance, and inspires leaders to design inclusive performance thereby inviting teams to reach their full potential. As a speaker, Clare mic-drops “thought balms” in keynotes and workshops, whether virtual or in-person. She invites connection through her online community committed to designing sustainable and inclusive performance, the Happy Space Pod. Why? Because everyone deserves a Happy Space.
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Audio and Video Editing by: To Be Reel
Production Assistant: Luis Rodriguez
Song Credit: Cali by Wataboi from Pixabay
Peter Shankman: If you're a company, you're a business and you're not paying attention to hiring the neurodivergent, catering to the neurodivergent, selling to the neurodivergent, making it a better place for the neurodivergent to word, you are severely limiting what your company can do.
Clare Kumar: You're listening to episode 19 of the Happy Space Podcast, where today I explore reframing ADHD with the man with the faster brain, Peter Shankman.
Welcome to the Happy Space Podcast, where we talk about designing inclusive performance through the lens of a highly sensitive productivity catalyst. Uh, that's me! Executive coach, speaker, and brand collaborator, Clare Kumar. Join conversations with authors, culture shapers, space designers, and creators of products, services, and customer experience.
As we highlight astonishing contributions, tempting a more tender world, we know that diversity leads to richer results. So let's accept that productivity is person. And commit to designing with respect for humanity. I aim to leave you with ideas to better support your family, colleagues, customers, community, and not least of all yourself. For everyone including you, deserves a Happy Space.
Well, you're in for a treat today. I am thrilled to have Peter Shankman joining me for a deep dive into understanding the value of the neurodivergent brain, how it's to be celebrated, how to deal with some of the strengths and challenges. It's something that Peter's been looking at for a number of years since he wrote "Faster Than Normal" several years ago, and more recently, "The Boy with the Faster Brain".
And you'll hear in this interview, Peter is the man with the faster brain, the ideas and thoughts come tumbling out, and I hope you'll enjoy them. He's the five-time bestselling author and on main stages talking about, oh, his vision for business inclusivity… he's got the pulse. You'll see him on news numerous times.
You'll see him as a brand ambassador for different brands as well. He's insightful, brilliant… I hope you really enjoy the conversation that I had with the incredible Peter Shankman. Thank you so much for joining me, Peter. I've followed your work for a long time and had the pleasure of meeting you many years ago at the NAPO conference. This was when you were speaking to the productivity and organizing professionals, and I've followed you and been really thrilled, not only because of your expertise as an entrepreneur. I think I got onto a fast company magazine with an interview because of HARO, but also because you've been a real ambassador in the space of ADHD in particular and it's, there's ADHD in my family and as many organizing and productivity professionals you would know, we work with a lot of clients with organization and cognitive challenges, so I've been appreciative of that and wanted to get your perspective as someone who's in this conversation and I think embraces a message which I do that neurodiversity and neurodivergent ways of being really need to be celebrated. And I think that's where I'd love to start this conversation is... give me your perspective on the value of neurodivergent ways of being.
Peter Shankman: The easiest way to put it is to imagine you're driving a Honda Accord for the first 15 years of your life, and then all of a sudden someone tells you, you know, “Hey, you've had enough of that Accord. Here's a Lamborghini”. If you try to drive that Lamborghini the same way you're driving the Honda Accord, you're going to rev up to go on the highway and you're going to go 200 miles an hour and you're going to crash into a tree and destroy the car. But if you know how to use that faster car, you know how to drive that faster Lamborghini, you can do things that people with regular cars cannot do.
And that is sort of the beauty of neurodivergence is that once you understand your talents and you understand where your skills lie, and more importantly, you understand how to access those skills while dismissing the parts that aren't good for you, you can pretty much do whatever you want.
It's no coincidence that without being diagnosed with ADHD, I was able to start and sell three companies. when I finally got diagnosed, everything started making a lot more sense, and I was able to even improve on that. But a lot of it comes from the fact that we spend, most people who are neurodivergent have spent a good portion of their lives being told they're broken, being told they don't fit in, and being told the things they do are not appropriate.
And that's really what I'm trying to help prevent and stop. But you know, if you're a company, you're a business and you're not paying attention to hiring the neurodivergent, catering to the neurodivergent, selling to the neurodivergent, making it a better place for the neurodivergent to work you are severely limiting what your company can do.
Clare Kumar: So you nailed the business imperative right there, you know, brilliant minds, and we can look to examples in society, right? You're, you're one look at Richard Branson and dyslexia.
Peter Shankman: Look at the founders of this country, you're going tell me that people with regular brains decided one day, “Okay, we're probably going to get killed for this, but I have an idea.
What if we take a boat and go over there, right? And we'll just like start another country, right? No big deal, right? I mean, we'll probably get killed, but it could be fun. You know, the list goes on and on. Right? You don't just start a company. When I started Help A Reporter Out, I was told by many people, I was told the PR News Wire had something called ProfNet.
And there's no way you could ever compete with ProfNet. And, PR News even threatened to sue me and my company was acquired by Cision, who is now owned by, or Bogus, who is now owned by Cision and Cision is partly owned by PR News Wire. So all things come around.
But it’s that premise of having a brain that just says, “Nah, why not? What's going to happen?” You know, it's pretty amazing.
Clare Kumar: Yeah, it is amazing. And I come from that view too, that there's so much to be celebrated, but I want to anchor for just a second in the fact that there is a lot of shame. There's a lot of people with ADHD who are misinterpreted as being lazy, for example, and not engaged and don't care.
And that is, that is not how I view it. But that is, that is a bit of the burden that a lot of people and even include in there, the people that don't have a diagnosis and can begin to sort of unlock and at least from a self-awareness place come to approach a better understanding of all that it means.
But so what do you say to someone who's had that misperception now and is carrying the shame? How do they find their voice? Because I've heard your confidence in there of let's go try it like this, you know? Where did that spirit in you come from, that kind of broke through that message of being broken?
Peter Shankman: If you pardon the expression, it came from finally one day waking up and no longer giving a shit about anyone’s thoughts. We spend a really lot of a large amount of our time trying to impress people that we have absolutely no need to impress whatsoever. Whether it's coworkers or employees or friends or whatever.
And one of the things I learned, and it took a long time to learn it, you know, maybe, maybe I learned it 10 years ago, so 40 years to learn, was that there are very few people in this world that matter in the grand scheme of things. And you know, that you're not trying to impress social media is a waste of time.
Trying to impress people that don't pay your rent or pay your mortgage or somehow impact your life more than just pixels on a screen is really pointless. Right now I have a nine-year-old kid in the other room and I have a two-year-old dog. They and both my parents are pretty much the ones I need to impress.
And that's about it. My girlfriend, but you know, other than that, I don't really give a damn. I am living my life. I'm having a really good time doing it. And it's not my problem what you may or may not think of me. Right? And it, like I said, took a long time to figure that out, but it really isn't. It's what someone else thinks of me is none of my concern.
Clare Kumar: Do you think something got you there? Was there a particular incident or you just woke up one day and it and kind of all came together?
Peter Shankman: It all just came together. I mean, I grew up constantly trying to, you know, impress… I had an ex-girlfriend once who told me that one of the reasons we broke up was because she felt like my life was the Peter, you know, dating me was like living in the Peter Shankman show, all Peter, all the time.
And I realized what she meant by that was that it was really hard for me to, I was always concerned, what would she think about me, what would she, would she, you know, doing the right thing? Is she impressed with me or whatever. So I'd always, you know, overdo it and always try to make too much of it and try to, you know, own the show, whatever.
And she was right. It was, you know, no one wants to be with someone like that. And, eventually, I just, when you realize you could just be yourself. And that's the other thing. You be yourself and the people who are supposed to be in your life will stay. And the people who aren't will fall away. And there's nothing greater than that.
You know, you ever, you know, you slice your leg or you cut your leg, skin your knee or whatever, and you get that huge scab and you just want to pick it. You want to pick it but you don’t. And finally one day it falls off and there's brand new skin above it.
Peter Shankman: But when you realize that most of the people in your life are kinda like scabs, if they fall away, there's a reason for that. That's a good thing. When people show you who they really are, you got to let them. Right?
And what I've found is that, you know, and it's not always easy, but it is always worth it, the premise of just allowing yourself to be who you are and do what you want. And the real people who are your tribe, the real people who believe in you, the real people who like you for who you are, they're going to show up. You can't prevent them from showing. They will show up, and those are the people you want to hang on to and everyone else just let go.
Clare Kumar: You're making me reflect on my 23-year relationship, and I think I suspect some level of ADHD, I look at it as a continuum. But not knowing it, I turned into the parent in the relationship.
And without an awareness, I think one of the things I love about what you're doing is raising awareness because yeah, find your people and surround yourself with people who are there to support you, but in a relationship with someone where I think ADHD is present and no awareness or even, like ability to have language to come together and go, “Oh, I get what's going on here and here's how I can support you”. I think there's such richness in being able to, not from a label point of view, but from an understanding self and helping others understand and support us better. I think there's something powerful on that.
What would you say, can you describe your own journey and you said you got a diagnosis and then it's, you know, that was helpful. Can you share a little bit more maybe with that perspective?
Peter Shankman: Getting the diagnosis was great. It was helpful, but it's also in the respect that like when you break your knees right, and you, you know, or when you break your leg and you know, you broke your leg, right?
It's like, “Oh look, my leg is broken and the bone's sticking out”. You don't really need a diagnosis to say your leg is broken, but it's good to go to a doctor and get it set. it was sort of the same thing with maybe ADHD. I knew I had ADHD. It was, it's you know, everything I read. Finally 20 years earlier, I finally knew. It wasn't like, oh, wow, what do you mean I have it, of course I do. But to get it from a doctor and to know that if I wanted it, there's medication, if I just want to continue doing it, I could do that too.
You know? It helped a little bit, just put a name to it, but it didn't affect my life in the respect of like, oh, wow, I have to change everything. I had already changed everything. I was already doing things differently to begin with that, allowed me to, to live the life I had. So, yeah. So, so, so the premise of getting…
Be aware of it and having a name is beneficial. But I was never, I promised myself right from the beginning, I was never going to blame my ADHD. I was never going to blame anything on my ADHD. I was never going to do anything like that. So, for me it was just easy enough to, you know, let me figure out how to get through it.
Clare Kumar: Yeah. I mean, and you talk a lot about that in "Faster Than Normal", which was your first book about ADHD if although you've written other business books beforehand, and I tell, I don't know if you know this, but I tell in many of my presentations your story about going to bed with your gym clothes on.
Peter Shankman: All the time. Yeah. I wear my gym clothes. I go to sleep. When I wake up in the morning, I just, I walk two inches to my left and I'm on the bike and you know, if I have to think about it, chance I'm not going to do it. So to be able to do something like that is, is tremendously beneficial because again, it's figuring out ways to remove extraneous possibilities. Removal of choice is incredibly big. And if I can get rid of the choice, I'm already dressed, gym clothes, I might as well get on the bike, you know, as opposed to thinking about it and then coming up with a reason not to do it. it's the same reason that I have a uniform.
I have, I have, my closet is labeled, has two sides to it. It says office/travel and it has t-shirts and jeans or, speaking/tv and it's button-down shirts, jacket, jeans, and that's it. My suits, my vests, my sweaters are all in my daughter's closet because if I had to wake up every morning, or no, that sweater, I remember that sweater, that sweater, I wonder how she's doing.
It's you know, three hours later I'm in the living room on Facebook and I haven't left the house. So it's, you know, to be able to avoid that again. Ignore the extraneous.
Clare Kumar: Yeah, and you came to these, you have numbers of suggestions and strategies that people can employ. You came to these on your own.
They just evolved. I consider myself someone who figured out organization strategies to calm my world down. You talk about valuing a clean and simple environment, so it's also not pulling you in 50 directions at once. Yeah. Right?
Peter Shankman: Yeah, it really is. It really does work.
Clare Kumar: I'm curious whether in your realm, because you've helped many people with ADHD and you think about this a lot, do you see that… I see a lot of people with ADHD struggling with a lack of structure and perhaps some of these practices which they've identified to really support themselves. Do you think there's something special in the way you are, in your curiosity that's given you the drive to create order? Can you speak to that a little?
Peter Shankman: I think for me it's understanding that if I have order and the less chaos, the more order I can create. And so the less I have the ability to… cause if I have chaos, if I look around and say, “Oh man, look at that means I should clean that.”
Well, I'm doing that then I'm not focusing on what I'm doing. And so it always comes down to what can you do that eliminates the need to look over there or stare at that shiny thing or lose track of where you are and that could be something as simple as hiring someone to clean your apartment or, you know, if you can't afford that trading with someone where you clean someone else's apartment, they clean yours because it's more exciting. Something to do that, that allows you to sit down, good work.
Clare Kumar: Your incredible example is booking a flight. So you're in a seat and there's nowhere else you're going to go and get a book written in what, under 31 hours or something like that. So I think that self-awareness and your drive is something I remark on and celebrate.
Peter Shankman: Wait, I appreciate that. I mean, the drive, the drive comes simply because what you're doing, if you love what you're doing and you're in the best possible place, way, mental state to do it.
You're going to rock at, you know? And so the key is you find the things that you're great at. You find the things you're great at, and you do those, and then you give yourself the best possible chance to survive and get through the things you're not great at, things you don't love.
If I know that I have a day full of meetings, maybe that's a day that I do take medication, right? But more often than not, I can use exercise and things like that to get through. So it's all about knowing yourself.
Clare Kumar: Yeah, and designing. I talk about designing for well-being and so if you understand yourself, then you can give yourself the day, the structure that you need to bounce. I think, you know what, I had three meetings in a row this morning already, and I had a nightmare last night about having three meetings in a row. Somehow my ex was involved in getting me there and getting us waylaid, so I wasn't getting to the meeting.
I hadn't structured my day properly and I lived it even before I'm living it. And it's all going to be fine, because I built in a break. I said to my last meeting, “I need to get ready for Peter”. So I need a few minutes to do that. So yeah, it's a continual process.
Peter Shankman: You're always going to, it's always a process. You're always going to be, you know, it's not something that just goes away, right? In a lot of ways, it's similar to quitting drinking or any kind of addiction in the respect that just because you've done it doesn't mean you don't think about it anymore. You constantly have to be aware of it. Otherwise it can hurt you, come back and bite you in the ass.
Clare Kumar: Yeah. Truth, truth, absolutely there. When we're thinking of organizations and companies that have a huge opportunity to be more neuro-inclusive. One of the opportunities I see, and I wonder if you've thought about this or come across it in any way, is that there's very little opportunity for rest and recovery in a busy workplace.
The open concept office for me, I can't even, like forget it. And then I remember being third trimester of pregnancy, crawling under my desk and lying on the floor, ‘cause I just needed somewhere to be horizontal. Are you seeing anything there? Has that come up for you as a thought about rest and recovery as a coping strategy during a workday?
Peter Shankman: Yeah, I mean, there are definitely companies that are putting in blue rooms and relaxed rooms and things like that, but, you know, it lends itself to a bigger picture. The things that some companies are doing that Google is doing, Morgan-Stanley are doing things like that.
They're not doing them, they're doing them for the benefit of those who are neurodiverse, but it's a curb-cut situation. And I'll explain. Back when World War II happened, you had about 600,000 veterans come back who were injured to the United States after the war, and the government decided to force all cities to create curb cuts, which are these ramps at the end of every block.
And what wound up happening is the curb-cuts not only helped the veterans, but they helped pregnant women. They helped mothers, they helped small children, they helped the disabled, helped the elderly. It was something that was done for one class of people that then worked and benefited every class of people.
And so what companies are realizing once they implement these things for the neuro-diverse is that they are incredibly beneficial to everyone. It is a mental health issue more than anything else, that if you give someone a room space that is just, “Hey, if you need 15, 20 minutes, take a chill. Go for it. No one will bother you.”
That benefits the company as a whole. And, you know, I worked with a company, a very, very big company that to create benefits to the neurodiverse, we created it was an open a hot office policy. So basically you come in, If you work three days a week in the office, you come in, you could choose any desk, you put your laptop in it next, so hot office or hot desk policy and what they did was they created zones, in their offices where they had a red zone, yellow zone, green zone… Red zone meant to leave me the hell alone, I need to focus. The yellow zone was bother me if it's important, green zone was, “Hey, I'm open, talk to me”. And what wound up happening is, is you'd think everyone would just go into a red zone all day and then never leave, you know, every single day.
But what wound up happening was that they'd go into the red zone. The first day they were there, they'd get so much accomplished that by the second day, they could be in the yellow zone. By the third day, they could be in the green zone. And so it actually increased productivity as a whole throughout the entire company because all of a sudden you were giving people a way to work that allowed them to be the most productive they want.
And they were, they were doing 2, 3, 4 times the productivity just by being themselves. And this works for both neurodiverse and non-neurodiverse. So that's really a benefit.
Clare Kumar: I love the connection to curb cuts. It's actually designed for the means and you benefit, or the extremes, you benefit the means. That kind of concept, right? I want to talk for a second about education at schools, ‘cause I know you give talks and you're, you know, you have a nine-year-old daughter now, so you're thinking about education and opportunity.
Peter Shankman: Who has been suspiciously quiet? Jess? Everything okay? Everything good? Okay.
Clare Kumar: Excellent. I've had some challenges with post-secondary university and the expectation that, you know, 17, 18-year-old young adults are going to be able to self-advocate when they've been in an environment where they've been getting support from different areas, and all of a sudden they go to school.
I went to the university with one of my kids and they said to me, “mom, this is the last time we'll be speaking to you”. They didn't say, “how have you been supported? How have you been supported? How are we going to help you recreate that? What do you need?” They just said “you're no longer invited to this conversation” and I'm wondering what you sense the question here is, what do you sense is reasonable in terms of A) I think building self-advocacy is always what something we want to encourage in being able to be able to ask and feel safe about it.
With the shame that I was talking about, somebody might have come feeling very broken, having support and now coming into a new area with that shame, how do we navigate this need for self, self-advocacy? And also designing what I call an inclusive performing environment where we're inviting that safety and encouraging people to, you know, encourage leaders to understand what people need. Do you have any thoughts on education in particular and what we're seeing?
Peter Shankman: I think that it's difficult for, you know, it’s really hard for teachers to create you know, essentially two sets of, of working ways.
You know, you have, you have kids with non-neurodiverse brains. And then you have you have kids with neurodiverse brains. And so if, you know, if it's 30 to three, right? It's difficult to get them to sort of, oh, well, let me just do this one, or whatever. It's hard to do that. And I think that one of the, one of the things I've learned is that, yeah, you don't necessarily need to change everything.
You can create pathways for neurodiverse and non-neurodiverse, where, you know, again, just like my daughter’s, when they get when any kid in her school has the ability, has the right to stand up and go to the back of the room and, you know, do some spots or walk around or do whatever they want, if they feel like they need to. You know, that's the easiest way to do it. Right? You're creating a pathway for the neurodiverse kids to be able to be in the class, to not have to feel ostracized or whatever. Just say, “Hey guys, if anyone gets a little… if anyone's attention span starts running or whatever, yeah, you need a break. Go to the back of the room, stand up, drinks some water, whatever you need, go do it”. Letting everyone do that doesn't single out anyone and makes it a lot easier.
Clare Kumar: 100%! Same thing with notetaking. I mean, you know, just offering, for example, anybody who needed the notes, we're going to make that service something we provide in education. Now, recognizing that I use the hashtag quite a lot now, #productivityISpersonal. We process differently.
So I think it's about options. I think it's about presenting the options, inviting whoever needs to take them. Then we get away from, never mind the labels. We don't have to look for a diagnosis. We just say here, there's options.
And we understand that everyone's going to be different. We have to not distract each other. So yeah, walking at the back of the room is probably a better idea than walking across the front of the room. But yeah, we have to go that way. I wanted to talk to you a little bit about the Google Neu project. So I stumbled across it and then I found you were involved when you posted on social media, you were going to their event and I was like, “Yes, we need that voice there”.
So for listeners and they're going to be coming on to talk about it in particular, I wanted your perspective on what you see happening there, because you know better than I do, what the initiative is and the difference that it's aiming to make. It's the, maybe you can explain that a little bit and then what you see is the opportunity there for businesses to learn from.
Peter Shankman: Well, I mean, just at the premise that a company as biggest as Google understands that there is an entire community out there that's being underserved. It's phenomenal, right? And that they're willing to host a conference and host an event and host an actual group within Google to focus on this, is huge.
And we're seeing, again, we're seeing more and more other companies doing very similar things. They're creating their own groups within the companies to try and create these things. And the premise is very simple. That the more you can benefit a certain group, the more you can benefit everyone. And why not? Right? Literally, where is the downside?
Clare Kumar: It's something I observed. I studied with the Institute on Challenging Disorganization. We have some of the thought leaders in the world on neurodivergence ways of being, chronic disorganization, all of that. Everything that I learned, this is helping everybody. This, I call it, putting the right tension in the trampoline, getting the right amount of structure you need so you can bounce appropriately, so you don't hit the ground, and you don't take off into space. So it's… I think all of the strategies that help someone neurodivergent help everybody.
So I love that point. What I want to come to now is really celebrating your latest book, which I have here, “ "The Boy with the Faster Brain"”. And I would, I just want to celebrate it. The art, the illustrations are adorable. They really capture, they really capture the spirit beautifully.
And I love that you brought in the conversation with a doctor to sort of normalize talking about it and also seeking more information to understand it. Tell me a little bit about where the inspiration for this book came and what your hopes for it are.
Peter Shankman: Everyone told me to write a kids’ book. Everyone said “you should really write a kids’ book”. And so, you know, in perfect ADHD fashion, they waited five years, then wrote a kids’ book. But I think that more than that, it was really about the premise that I see. There are a lot more resources today and mm-hmm. As many resources there are, kids are still not necessarily getting those resources.
And the workplace is the same way. 64% of companies are increasing mental health budgets, yet only 19 to 26% of employees are taking advantage of them. So the resources are starting to get there, which is great. It's exactly what we want. Now we have to teach the parents and kids and adults.
You can go take advantage of them. And so when I was growing up, you know, ADHD didn't exist, just was “sit down, you're disrupting the class” disease. And today, you know, it is not, you know, even if you finally get diagnosed, which didn't happen to me as a kid, you finally get diagnosed, it’s not this death sentence.
It's not this something, “God my kid's broken”. It's like, “Wow, my kid has a different brain and he can learn how to use that better and it's actually a good thing”. And so the premise is teaching this 10-year-old Peter comes home every day, gets in trouble, here's a note from the teacher, he's making jokes in class, he's causing trouble and he gets diagnosed by a wonderful doctor named Dr. Lisa. And he's finally able to understand that wow, his brain is faster, moves it like warp nine, like Star Trek. And if he knows how to drive it, he can do amazing things and that's what happens.
Clare Kumar: Yeah. So it's a book of understanding a possibility.
Peter Shankman: No question about it. And understanding possibility and I'd say a step further letting kids know that they're not alone. The number of parents who have reached out to me in two weeks, two and a half weeks since this book launched and have said, “so I read this to my kid last to my kid last night, and within three pages he jumped up and shouted, oh my God, that's me.” Loving it!
Clare Kumar: Goosebumps! Serious chills. The "Faster Than Normal" book is designed for whom? Is there an age group?
Peter Shankman: I say 7 to 12 to 13. But on the flip side you know, I got parents who are telling me that their high school kids are reading it. I think it's for everyone. It's a feel-good story, but that is a lot really autobiographical for a lot, you know, for me of the difference being that I didn't get diagnosed. So, so the fact that kids can today is wonderful.
Clare Kumar: Can I still say diagnosis is privilege though? Because it can be very expensive to get through a system with benefits and so on, or it could take very long in the public system.
Peter Shankman: And I mean, to take that further, I hate the term diagnosis. You know, you get diagnosed with cancer. Getting diagnosed with ADHD. I've never gotten diagnosed with, you know, a supermodel wanting to go out with me or with winning the lottery. You get diagnosed with bad things and this isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Clare Kumar: I agree too. I agree too. And we talk about a lot, neurodivergence, about different ways of being not necessarily disordered. There are situations, and I do want to acknowledge that there are times when the different conditions can feel very debilitating. I look at it as strengths and struggles that they're, you know, I'm highly sensitive, which is a trait that affects about 20% of people. And it's wonderful because we notice, I call myself the Chief Noticer, we notice everything, at the same time, noticing everything is freaking exhausting.
And we can be easily overwhelmed, we're the fastest to burn out. So we need all of this self-awareness to be able to navigate and sustain performance. So it's understanding and I think you've, you've offered now two books on the topic. What's coming up for you in the future? Because I know that these projects take a while and what are you sensing on your horizon in this space and beyond? What lighting you up right now?
Peter Shankman: I'm working with a female author to potentially do a “girl with the faster brain” type book, which would be great. I can't do it alone. and then definitely another, it's funny, I wanted to do a follow-up to "Faster Than Normal" last year, but my publisher told me that I wasn't allowed to because the book is still doing very well. I'm getting in trouble for doing really well. But, you know, I'm hopeful at some point that I can do another "Faster Than Normal". That's in fact why "The Boy with the Faster Brain" was self-published because I wanted to be as free to do as much as I want with that.
Clare Kumar: Yeah, well, I think they're complimentary, not competing, if you will. So I'm excited to see what else you come up with. I'm excited to follow the influence that you're having. You celebrate that neurodiversity is beautiful. It's an amazing strength to have, that people are not broken, and stop caring what other people think.
Those are all, you know, messages that I've heard loud and clear today that I know are important to you. Is there anything else that you'd want to say to someone now who's listening that maybe thinks their brain is a little different? Is sort of wondering how should I approach this?
Peter Shankman: Do what works for you. If you want to get tested and know for sure, go for it. If you're surviving and doing great and thriving the way you are, go for that too. There's no rules here. Right. Just do what works for you the best.
Clare Kumar: Yeah. I love it. Peter, thanks so much for spending time with me.
Peter Shankman: Pleasure was mine, Clare. This was great.
Clare Kumar: Thank you so much, wishing you an awesome day, rest of your week. Take care. Bye-bye.
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