The Imposter Syndrome Network Podcast

Becca Chambers

January 16, 2024 Chris & Zoë Season 1 Episode 75
The Imposter Syndrome Network Podcast
Becca Chambers
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, we chat with Becca Chambers, a marketing and brand leader who is also a neurodiversity advocate.

Becca has a diagnosis of ADHD, which she discovered in her 20s. She’ll share how she found her passion for branding and communications, and how she worked in various roles in cybersecurity, an industry that embraces the weirdos and the misfits.

We’ll explore Becca’s views on neurodiversity, and how she advocates for shifting the thinking away from seeing neurodiversity as a disorder and more as a unique and valuable way of thinking.

She’ll also give some examples of how neurodiverse accommodations are simple and cheap, and how they can benefit everyone in the workplace and in life.

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“Imposter syndrome is the courage to learn by doing and fake it until you make it.”
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Becca's Links: 

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[00:00:00] Chris: Hello and welcome to the imposter syndrome network podcast where everyone belongs, especially if you think you don't. My name is Chris Grundeman and I'm here as ever with my partner in imposterism, Zoe Rose. 

[00:00:25] Chris: This is the Becca Chambers episode and I think you're going to love it. Today's episode is another in our now becoming an informal series of tech adjacent stories.

[00:00:35] Chris: Becca is a dynamic marketing communications and brand leader. She crafts transformative programs that shape compelling narratives, amplify brand visibility, and champion thought leadership through creative activations and innovative storytelling. We've invited her on the show today for two reasons. One, although working in marketing, Becca does also work in technology.

[00:00:55] Chris: She spent 15 years in cybersecurity communications, including everything from public companies to new upstarts, mid and large stage startup ventures and PE backed firms. She's really seen it all when it comes to the world of security and was even one of the first marketers talking about zero trust a decade or so ago.

[00:01:12] Chris: And two, Becca is a neurodiversity advocate. A writer, speaker, and mentor on the topic of neurodiversity in the workplace, which we think fits right in with our mission and many of the conversations we have here on the show.

[00:01:27] Chris: Hi Becca, would you like to introduce yourself a bit further to the Impostor Syndrome Network? 

[00:01:31] Becca: Hello. Thank you for having me. I'm super excited to be here. I think you summarized pretty well what I've been up to, but I think the neurodiversity piece plays such an important role in kind of my career journey generally.

[00:01:42] Becca: So I love that the imposter syndrome podcast is talking about neurodiversity because I don't think that you can decouple those two things. And I think the imposter syndrome is just kind of a narrative throughout my career. So I'm very happy to be here. Thank you for having me. 

[00:01:58] Chris: Awesome. Yeah. Well, let's just dive right in.

[00:02:00] Chris: As we've talked about a couple of times already. So, you know, one of the reasons we've invited you on the show here is that you are an active and vocal neurodiversity advocate. Um, so I want to start there, but perhaps first you can tell us what neurodiversity means and, and maybe also why it's important to you.

[00:02:16] Chris: Like, why is it so important to you to be such a strong advocate? 

[00:02:20] Becca: Yeah. So I have ADHD, which is considered a neurodivergence and just so that we're all speaking kind of the same language. Neurodiversity as a term describes what is the natural variation in how human brains function. So traditionally, neurodiversity has been thought of as a disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD.

[00:02:45] Becca: Autism Spectrum Disorder, ASD, and then other things like Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dyspraxia, Tourette's Syndrome, Sensory Processing Disorders, things like that, plenty of other things, and you don't actually even have to have a formal diagnosis to be considered neurodivergent. But the neurodiversity movement itself is advocating a shift in thinking away from this as being a disorder and more celebrating just the fact that this is a unique, more unique way of thinking, right?

[00:03:15] Becca: A different way of thinking and that there are very important skills that come along with people with neurodivergent brains. So 20 percent of the population is thought to be neurodivergent in some way, which is. one in five people. And my favorite thing to quote, when I talk about this is 20 percent of the population is neurodivergent.

[00:03:35] Becca: That's twice the number of people that are left handed. And that's 20 times the number of people that have red hair by some estimates. So we might be divergent, but we're not that divergent, right? Like we're still one in five people. So I'm kind of on a mission to change this. thought of it being a disorder because just like a minority of the population has is left handed, they're not disordered, right?

[00:03:58] Becca: They're just left handed people trying to live in a right handed person's world, which is kind of hard because you need to have different tools and you need to figure out workarounds to things because people aren't keeping you in mind when they're creating the world and whatever. And I think of neurodiversity.

[00:04:14] Becca: kind of in that same way. It is just a natural part of the human experience, and there are now research backed evolutional reasons for people to be neurodivergent. And so I think as a society, we're kind of at that place where we're getting past the Oh, if you have ADHD, it must mean that you're flaky or dumb or, you know, lazy.

[00:04:36] Becca: Or if you have autism spectrum disorder, you are unemotional and you don't care about people. Like all of that is just crap. It's not true. How do we get past the stigma part and to the awareness of. Neurodiversity is actually pretty awesome and maybe it's a good thing and maybe we should be leaning into it and trying to embrace neurodiversity, especially in the workplace, but also in school and just in life.

[00:04:58] Becca: As you can tell, I'm clearly very passionate about this, but that's kind of my neurodiversity definition spiel because I think it gives it a little bit of context of why it's not, it's not a divergence, right? It's just a thing that exists. 

[00:05:11] Zoe: It just made me laugh a little bit whilst you were talking because you're like, Oh, left handed people living a right handed world.

[00:05:17] Zoe: I live in the Netherlands and I'm really short, so going shopping for me is like such a nightmare because everything is at the top of the shelf. 

[00:05:27] Becca: That's so funny because I'm six feet tall, so I totally feel the opposite pain of that, of being this large person in a regular person sized world. Yeah.

[00:05:35] Zoe: Clearly you need to come here because you would fit right in. 

[00:05:38] Becca: Yes, I'm pretty sure that's where, uh, my tall ancestors came from, to be honest, so yeah. 

[00:05:44] Zoe: But, but no, I really like that. And also I work in security. And there is a high percentage of neurodiverse people, and maybe in a population in general, it might be that 20 percent you said.

[00:05:56] Zoe: But from my experience with, in my personal self, I'm also neurodivergent, but from my experience of working with my colleagues. It's quite a high percentage of people. 

[00:06:06] Becca: No question. And I actually like, I mean, we're going to talk about career journey, right? I am positive that why I am successful is because I worked in cybersecurity filled with neurodivergent people, right?

[00:06:18] Becca: If I worked in finance or healthcare, they'd have been like, who is this weird lady trying to come in here and, you know, shake things up while she's like bouncing around the room. In cybersecurity, it's like it was founded by misfits, right? So like embrace the weirdos and you're totally right. I mean, if it's 50 percent neurodivergent, even that would seem low, right?

[00:06:39] Becca: And it's like the entire neurodivergent spectrum. It's not just the ADHD kids, right? It's not just the autistic kids. It's not just the dyslexic kids. It's all of us kind of together in this funny, weird industry, which I love because it's all of us kind of trying to figure it out together. Right. And I think that.

[00:06:55] Becca: That's part of why it's so fun. And actually, in the UK, there's an entire agency, cyber security spy agency that recruits just dyslexic people because they're so much better at pattern recognition and being able to like look at data and make long term future predictions for things. So they only recruit dyslexic people.

[00:07:14] Becca: Like how badass is that? Anyway, totally agree with you on the cyber security thing. Like I can't. I can't imagine kind of being able to lean into my authentic self in many other industries, especially in tech, really. 

[00:07:29] Zoe: No, that's true. I, I'm often, I was often described when I started as robotic. So, which was a way of saying I had no emotion.

[00:07:37] Zoe: But also bubbly like that, which don't make any sense, but it's yeah, I, I, so it's, it's really funny. 

[00:07:43] Becca: Well, I like, I'd like to say that, like, I, I can seem very extroverted, but I'm actually a very introverted person. So there's this very false kind of. I mean this goes into the imposter syndrome thing, right?

[00:07:56] Becca: It's all about like showing up how you think you're supposed to be showing up to try to fake it until you make it. And I think neurodivergent people are doing that every single minute of their lives, every single day, and it's freaking exhausting. 

[00:08:10] Zoe: But what's the term they use? It's like masking, isn't it?

[00:08:13] Zoe: I think that's the term. 

[00:08:14] Becca: Masking, yes. And I don't think I realized until, I mean, I was diagnosed with ADHD in my 20s and I was like textbook ADHD growing up as a kid, like all of my report cards are just ADHD symptoms listed out. So it's like, where, where was the screening on this? Whatever. But once I was diagnosed with ADHD, I was like, holy shit.

[00:08:34] Becca: My personality is just ADHD symptoms. Like all of these things that I thought made me so interesting and unique and weird, like the things that made me always felt like the weirdo of my friend group. just ADHD symptoms, but it's totally cool. Like, I don't know. I kind of feel like now that now that I know I can just lean into it and figure out what are the good things that come with this, right?

[00:08:57] Becca: Which of which there are a lot, but when you're neurodiverse, you tend to focus on the. all of the bad, like all of the shortcomings versus all of the amazing strengths that come with it, again, on a mission to change that one neurodivergent brain at a time. Oh, and we were talking about masking. That is, I think, figuring out when you can take your mask off and when you need to leave it on is like another one of those.

[00:09:24] Becca: How do you get ahead in, um, tech when you're a neurodivergent person? Cause you have to learn when it's okay to have it on and when it's okay to have it off because sometimes taking it off is a, is a benefit. 

[00:09:37] Zoe: Well, and who, who you're talking to. That was a big thing for me. So, I worked in the UK for a while, obviously, I sound like it, and there were situations where I ran into where I couldn't take it off because it would seem unprofessional, and that industry, even though I was in security, I was working in different industries, and that industry did not accept anything beyond like, you know, a legal kind of way of speaking and figuring out, okay, is this boss that type of person, or is this boss this type of person.

[00:10:08] Zoe: And also being able to read the way they're communicating. Because I've worked across multiple different countries, and some countries, they're very indirect in their communication. Whereas in the Netherlands, where I live now, they're very direct. Which can often seem like they're mad at you, but they're not.

[00:10:26] Zoe: They're just direct. So like figuring out that as well is quite complex, especially when you don't naturally, for me, I don't naturally understand the in between. I always felt like I was. reading a script where half of the communication is not included in my script, you know, in the kind of the natural way of things.

[00:10:48] Zoe: So I learned to read people a little bit manually, but I, you know, it became more natural as I got to know it. But I think That skill, I had to specifically grow because I just came across as somebody that had no emotion and was always, like, my brain was out in the world and not, not focused. So 

[00:11:10] Becca: I think, I totally feel that because what you're actually doing is it's not that you're, like, spacing out, right?

[00:11:16] Becca: It's just that you are dialed in on observing everything around you because you're trying to say, okay, like, what do I need to be doing to fit into this situation, right? So you're taking in all of the inputs and then you're trying to, you know, emulate and be this thing that you think you're supposed to be.

[00:11:32] Becca: You're spending 97 percent of your energy just doing that. So then you come off as this like disconnected or in my case, like, you know, airheaded. I get, I got that a lot throughout my career. Becca sounds like a little bit of a valley girl. Maybe she's a little bit airheaded and it's like, right. But what are my ideas?

[00:11:48] Becca: Because my ideas are really, really good. And I just think it's like, how do you have these conversations so that you can disarm people to your point? People looking at you and saying, Oh, well, she seems like whatever. Well, I seem like I'm not paying attention all the time because I'm not making eye contact or I'm fidgeting or I'm.

[00:12:06] Becca: taking notes or I'm scribbling while you're talking to me, that means I am paying attention. Like if I'm staring at you in the eyeballs, like guarantee you that half of my attention is just thinking, am I looking at them too much? Do I look weird? Should I look away? Should I look harder? Should I look at their nose?

[00:12:21] Becca: Like, right? And It's such a stupid thing, but when that voice is in my head talking, like, whatever you're saying is secondary to that, for sure. And what is that? That's masking while you're trying to, I don't even know, that's masking, uh, balanced masking or something, but, uh, 

[00:12:39] Chris: Adaptive masking. Yeah. 

[00:12:41] Becca: Adaptive masking.

[00:12:43] Becca: I love that. We should coin that term. I love it. You need a sticker. 

[00:12:46] Chris: I also want, like, bubbly robot stickers now, Zoe. Yes! I don't know what that looks like exactly. I don't know if the robot's in a bubble bath or I don't know, like, it's blowing bubbles. I don't know what, you know, what the form is, but the bubbly robot is, is sticking with me too.

[00:12:59] Zoe: That would be brilliant. I also want that. 

[00:13:01] Becca: I love it. I was jokingly thinking, cause you know, I'm a brand person, right? And I'm a neurodivergent brand person. So I was thinking of if I had a podcast, what would I call it? Granted, I will never have a podcast because I don't have the, like energy to stick with it for, I'll be like stoked on it for six months and then I'll be done with it.

[00:13:20] Becca: Right. So no on the podcast, but I came up with like a bunch of really fun names. And actually one of them was the imposter podcast because I love the imposter syndrome. But what I think I needed to land on is calling it, I don't know if you guys are Warren G fans from back in the nineties, but I wanted to call it dis regulators because, uh, I love the song regulators and we're constantly dysregulated and then the tagline can just be mount up.

[00:13:47] Becca: So for any of the, uh, Warren G fans over here, that's my nineties shout out. But anyway, I don't know where I just. But I, I just, I love the, the name of this podcast. I think it's just like, it's, um, it's perfect. It's the perfect combination of neurodiversity and, and tech nerdery. Right? 

[00:14:06] Zoe: Well, I think, I think one, we have to credit Chris for that because it was a hundred percent his idea, the name.

[00:14:11] Zoe: And two, on your point about consistency and keeping on it, we also have to credit Chris for that because I'm in the same boat as you. I can do something and get super excited. But the consistency thing, I'm, I'm one of those people that I get things done like 80, 90 percent and that last 10, 20 percent is a bloody nightmare.

[00:14:31] Zoe: Bloody nightmare. 

[00:14:32] Becca: It's probably perfectionism too, right? Like you just know that if you finish it, it's not quite ever perfect, so you can't quite ever finish it. Yeah, that's, that's one of my blessings and curse. Totally. 

[00:14:44] Zoe: That's where diversity is so important. Because, you know, having people that can do the 100%, even if it's just the last 10%, they are so valuable in my teams.

[00:14:55] Zoe: I, I was curious, I'm going to let Chris talk eventually, but, but I was curious about how you got into, like, where did your career start? Because obviously you, you started not knowing that you have ADHD, I imagine you probably had quite a few challenges there. So how did you actually start? 

[00:15:12] Becca: That's a really good question.

[00:15:14] Becca: And I even will go like pre career, like I mentioned my school, I was one of those kids who like, Yeah. I was always the bad kid. I was also the funny kid, right? Because if you're not going to be the smart kid, you're going to be the bad and funny kid. And I was in high school at this very prestigious Bay Area private high school.

[00:15:28] Becca: And I just I always felt like the dumb kid. Like, how am I just so different than everybody else? Went to, picked a college based on their football program, which was USC, which happens to have like one of the best communication schools in the world. Went there, my friends were like, I'm going to take classes at the Annenberg School for Communication.

[00:15:46] Becca: I'm like, cool. Sure. I'll do that too. Whatever. My friends are doing it. I'll do that. Started taking classes there. And then I went abroad and I talk about this story. Sometimes I went on semester at sea and the very short version of this story is we got trapped. On our ship, in the middle of the North Pacific, in between three hurricane systems, and our ship was disabled.

[00:16:05] Becca: And so, all of a sudden the news was covering this 700 students trapped at sea, and there was nothing they could do, like, you know, it's a cruise ship, the Coast Guard can't come rescue you when you're in the middle of the North Pacific. So everybody survived. We're all fine. But I ended up interviewed on the today show and inside edition and like local news and international news.

[00:16:27] Becca: And it, I got to see this kind of behind the scenes view of how the media machine worked and my ADHD dopamine triggers were just going off, right? Like this was so exciting and so fun, fast paced and creative. And you had to figure out how to get the right angle and the right quote and all of that. So I went back to school and I was like, all right, good thing I'm here at Annenberg School for Communication.

[00:16:49] Becca: And I actually doubled down and actually started to give a shit about school because suddenly it's something that I was really interested in. Right. So I figured out how to like, I shouldn't say this. I figured out how to game the system in school, which was, I went as little as possible to class and then just learned all this stuff myself in the way that I needed to learn it because I couldn't just sit in class and have somebody talk at me.

[00:17:07] Becca: That wasn't how my brain worked. So, I figured it out, started working in sports PR, totally random, after college, and then went back to school in the UK actually, and that's where I fell in love with branding. And branding is like this perfect combination of creativity and strategy, and it just like lit up every part of my brain in a way that, I don't really have hobbies, I'm not a hobby person, or I'll have a hobby for a week and then it's something else, because ADHD.

[00:17:33] Becca: But this was something that, like, never stopped, and it never went away, and I just, I finished grad school in the middle of the last recession, ended up working as an exec comms manager, which made You know, that's doing CEO's communications. I had never done that before, but I was, I had taught myself graphic design.

[00:17:50] Becca: So it was really good at making presentations. And so I started this job traveling with executives in cybersecurity, and it just kind of kicked off this like amazing. I credit serendipity a lot to my career. This amazing. Kind of. I got to wear every single hat in communications over the past 15 years. I went from exec comms to analyst relations.

[00:18:10] Becca: And we talk about, um, technology. Like I am not a technologist, but because I sit in analyst meetings with technologists and with analysts, I'm probably one of the smartest marketers who is not a technologist that you'll meet because of that. And I think that things like that, I didn't, I just fell into analyst relations because somebody went on a maternity leave.

[00:18:29] Becca: So I stepped in for her. the serendipity there. And then I made these relationships with analysts and the analysts started becoming my friends and advocates. And then we, and that's where the zero trust stuff came in. I started, you know, promoting zero trust alongside analysts and it just, it all kind of snowballed on itself into this perfect mix of security.

[00:18:51] Becca: Like I said, likes the bubbly people, likes the weirdos, likes the people who think outside the box. And I was in a job that became my passion. And so every single day I was showing up and actually like loving my life, right? Loving my job, loving what I did. And that's where I, how I got to now. And I think like people ask me like, what advice do you have for younger people?

[00:19:12] Becca: And it is the cheesiest thing. And it's like, If you can do something that you like doing, it makes work so much better because it doesn't feel like work and you when you're using your brain, it doesn't feel like you're using it for somebody else. You're using it for yourself because you're accomplishing things that you're proud of and that you care about.

[00:19:28] Becca: And for me, that changed the whole game on my career and made me again successful. Like when I'm showing up excited for me, yeah. Makes me good for the company, too. 

[00:19:37] Chris: Yeah, well, especially in communications, right? I mean, I think that, that passion and that, that vibrancy, like it shows through, right? Even if you're like over on the side, writing an email, if you're really ticked off or sad or just not into it, that kind of comes through, or at least it seems to creeps through.

[00:19:52] Becca: And there is something about neurodiverse people have more empathy and they're able to connect with people, even though there's a stigma about, uh, you know. People with autism don't get social cues. That might be true in some cases, but they are very empathetic and they are able to connect with people because they study how to do it and they figure out how to do it.

[00:20:14] Becca: So I had a, somebody on my team who was a total introvert. She was one of the best employees I ever had. She was like, I called her like my secret brain because you could ask her to do anything and she could figure it out. But nobody outside of our team knew what an amazing machine she was because she's very quiet and very introverted and was not the person raising her hand in meetings.

[00:20:34] Becca: And so she was getting overlooked. And when I would say, okay, we need to promote this person. Other people would be like, I don't know. And I'm like, If we lose this person, like we lose a huge part of the brain of this team. And I just think like, how do we get, I don't know, how do we get past that? And just like start to look at like, this is the stuff, this person is bringing all this stuff to the table.

[00:20:52] Becca: Doesn't matter if she's not talking in meetings, like who cares? Like that isn't what she's here for. I don't know how I just keep putting on these tangents that my brain is, um, ADHD me into. 

[00:21:02] Chris: It's perfectly reasonable. And, and as you, as you might guess from the people we talked to, it happens a lot. Yeah.

[00:21:08] Chris: No, it's really good. And that makes a ton of sense. I think that's right. I mean, I think there is, I think you're talking about, you know, a cultural shift where we need to really pay attention to what are we actually asking from these roles and, and our, as I've been performed, you know, it reminds me of, and I forget the guy's name.

[00:21:23] Chris: There's a series of like the strengths finder surveys and, and there's a writer, I think he worked at. Some polling agency for a while. And there's a series of books that talks about kind of, you know, the idea that there's this traditional idea that you need to become a well rounded employee and that wherever your weaknesses are, you need to bone those up and kind of get them up, you know, on par with your strengths so that you're well rounded.

[00:21:44] Chris: And, and the reason I bring this up is all of this particular gentleman's writings says that's hogwash. Uh, don't worry about that. Like you'll spend 10 times more trying to improve your weaknesses. Then if you just put that same effort into improving your strengths. You actually grow 10 times more instead.

[00:22:00] Chris: And I think that resonates with what you're saying here too, right? Like it is, is participation in meetings. Really a requirement of this job. Is that really helpful or can we compensate for that somehow? Right. Can we build a team where there's someone in the team who goes to the meetings with the business folks and can have that conversation and maybe the other team members don't have to do that and aren't judged on that.

[00:22:18] Chris: Right. 

[00:22:19] Becca: I think that's exactly right. And this goes like all the way to the interview process, right? Like there is this expectation that everyone has to. Be composed and make eye contact. And I lost a job because I went through a thousand rounds of interviews to have a final round with this luminary CEO in tech.

[00:22:35] Becca: I interviewed with him for half an hour and nailed it. Every single question I was like, this is done deal. He said no immediately, by the way, there was no hesitation because I was fidgeting with my tea thing, like the tab on my tea cup. I was literally just doing like this. And like, come on now, like you can't anyway, fine, but it's stuff like that, right?

[00:22:56] Becca: Like if, if that's what we're judging people on, we are not getting the best employees, you know? And I think this also goes into like flexibility and work and working from home. And if, if your company can allow people to work from home, like don't force everybody in the office because I, for one, like. I enjoy going to the office occasionally because I do think that there is a lot of serendipity to be had in the hallways and in those side conversations, but my actual work, like I want to be in my office, quiet in my room with my dog at my feet in the right temperature with the right music and not have to be distracted by I'm too cold or so and so's walking by me or whatever the thing is that's going to distract me for sure.

[00:23:38] Becca: I don't know, like, to your point, like, what, what is the bar? Like, does everybody have to meet the same criteria? Because they shouldn't. And like, if I'm interviewing somebody and their job is a writer, who gives a shit if they make eye contact with me in the meeting, right? As long as they're not a jerk, that shouldn't matter.

[00:23:55] Becca: Like, it should just be, can you do this job? Are you best suited for this, the job that I'm hiring you to do? Not the job of, you know, spokesperson for the company. That's not why you're here. So. Yes, if that's the job, then eye contact matters. But I don't know. I just feel like there's so much put into these kind of like trivial, stupid things that we judge people on that we're missing out on so much.

[00:24:16] Becca: I mean, there's like data that says like, I don't know, 80 percent of the autistic population is unemployed. And I'm sure a massive part of that is just because it's like, Oh, well, they're not well rounded. It's like, but if you could hire somebody who can do the job, you're hiring them for 10 times better than anybody else.

[00:24:31] Becca: Who cares if they're not well rounded like, right? I don't know. It's. 

[00:24:34] Zoe: And you've, you've also supported the manager of that person to be able to be able to manage that person. A hundred percent. Like at my, at my last job in London, the last job I had in London, we did unconscious bias training and it was really, really, really well done.

[00:24:51] Zoe: I, I was very impressed with the, the company, um, they win like best employer of the year every year. So not really surprising, but, uh, they made everybody go to this training and it was just so well done that it really structured the way that I approach even the relationships with my work and outside work as well, but also management.

[00:25:13] Zoe: And my current role, we did unconscious bias training and manager training as well, even though we were all, well, not everybody, but a lot of them were experienced managers. They still provided us this training. And I just, I thought it was so, so important because Some of the things were, okay, that's common sense, like that makes sense, or, okay, I already know that, or I've already done that.

[00:25:35] Zoe: But a lot of the things are like, okay, well, that makes sense as to why I was failing in these situations before. And I think, especially in security, we focus so much on security certifications and technology that we forget the most important part is the humans themselves. 

[00:25:52] Becca: Totally. I always talk about neurodivergent accommodations as being like very simple and very cheap because they are things like let people work from home, right?

[00:26:02] Becca: Like let people use the tools that they need to use to do their job. Let them work at midnight. I get my best ideas at midnight. And if I have to be up. on the computer from eight until five every day. I'm going to be too tired to do my best work at midnight. Right. So like, let me go take a walk in the middle, like just leave it up to me, the adult to get my work done.

[00:26:20] Becca: Right. And this is what the ultimate accommodation and it shouldn't be. And it should be how all management works, not just managers of neurodivergent people, but base things on outcomes. Look at the outcomes. Don't look at the process. Who cares how something gets done? Unless that is like. Unless it needs to be documented or whatever.

[00:26:37] Becca: And that's part of the, part of the job who cares? Like, I don't care when my team works, as long as like, if we have team meetings, they show up for them. Right. But like, do your work when you want, do it, how you want, use the tools you want. Tell me how I can empower you to do your job better because then like the outcomes are better, right?

[00:26:54] Becca: Like align everybody's objectives to the corporate goals and then treat them like adults. Let them go do their job. And I think. Especially for neurodivergent people, but for all people, if somebody just empowers you to get shit done the way you need to get shit done, imagine how much better the outcomes are instead of spending so much effort focusing on the how.

[00:27:13] Becca: And I deal with this with my son who has ADHD and dyslexia because you know, in school show your work, right? And the way he shows his work looks very different than other kids. And luckily he goes to a school now that they get that and they help empower him with that. And he's starting to feel okay about that.

[00:27:28] Becca: But When you spend your whole life being told you have to do it in the same way as everybody else, but you know that you can do it in a way that's faster, better, whatever to get the same or better outcome, why are we limiting people? Why are we trying to force everybody into this box that at least 20 percent of us don't fit into?

[00:27:46] Chris: Yeah, well, like you said, I mean, just, you know, even just the ancillary pieces of it are exhausting, right? So I think there are folks who probably can't fit into the box at all, which were, as you said, maybe completely excluding from some of the workplace or at least from the jobs they probably should be in.

[00:28:00] Chris: And then there's, you know, this other section of people who can fit in the box, but as you were talking about earlier, are spending 70, 80, 90 percent of their cognitive capacity fitting in the box. I mean, I know for myself, when I was a kid, just trying to figure out social mores and how to interact with people and what that all like for a little while, I was convinced I was a sociopath.

[00:28:18] Chris: I was like, I just, like, I just don't, I just can't connect. I just can't do it. I mean, luckily I realized later, like, no, actually I'm extremely empathetic and that's not the case. Uh, just, just had to like learn. But so I learned how to like mimic other people and like learn how to. Be a person, I guess, kind of, which, which is like exhausting.

[00:28:35] Becca: I felt like my entire high school career was just like imitating what movies showed me what you were supposed to do in high school and what the people around me were doing. And I always felt like such a freak. I was like, what? Like I can look the part, I can play the part. Like I'm not like an outsider.

[00:28:50] Becca: Like I, you know, I had friends and a boyfriend and blah, blah, blah. But like. I always just felt like such a freak because to your point, it's like I was watching and I'm like, why am I having to fake all of this? And everybody else just gets it. Like, where did they get the memo? And I didn't. And then I think this it's true for work too, but the thing that's different.

[00:29:07] Becca: And I actually talk about this with, I have a lot of friends who have kids with ADHD and they themselves don't. So it's very hard for them to understand. And their kids are going through in high school, these very hard transitions. And I'm like, look, I have gotten to the point where I understand that all of us neurodiverse people, we have to survive this part, the, all the institutional part that's required of us to get to the thriving part.

[00:29:31] Becca: And that's because we are motivated by interest and we are motivated by things that we care about. And so just doing something for the sake of being good at it, like just getting good grades for the sake of getting good grades, that's not motivating to us. We need to get good grades because we love the thing that we're studying.

[00:29:49] Becca: Right. And so my advice to these parents is like, change your perspective. What is the goal of getting good grades in high school to go to college? Right. What's the goal of college to figure out what you're going to do and get a career while ADHD people, I guarantee you. And obviously I'm only speaking about ADHD people.

[00:30:04] Becca: I'm not talking about all neurodiverse people in general, but I guarantee you that people with ADHD, if they are able to pursue their passions, will be way better at it than anybody else. No question. Because they, like, they will be motivated by brain chemistry to keep doing it and do it better and level themselves up because it's about their personal intrinsic motivation to do it, not about just getting a good grade so that their mom will be happy.

[00:30:27] Becca: And I just think if we can get through the survival part. They get to the thrival part and I just, I don't know how that we, we change that so that we're not shaming all these kids this whole time and just try to tell them like, all you have to do is survive this part. If you can just survive this part and get, get through it so that you can get the institutional stuff that you need in order to make choices about what you want to do, you're going to be better than everybody else.

[00:30:51] Becca: I promise you. 

[00:30:52] Zoe: That's, that's one thing I like about the Netherlands schooling. So there's good things about things. It's just a. And I don't know it a hundred percent. I just, I've got the early years right now, because obviously I'm planning for my children to go to school. Well, they have to. But, um, but one thing I thought was really interesting is I moved to the Netherlands when I was eight months pregnant with my first.

[00:31:14] Zoe: And so I had to try to integrate very quickly whilst also delivering a baby, which was quite stressful. I don't recommend doing that. Um, so I reached out to this volunteer organization. that connects volunteers with expats to help them integrate and understand the culture here. And so I was speaking to this volunteer lady about, uh, about schooling because, playing for me, and she was explaining that schooling here is very different than a lot of countries where in most places you're, you're rated on a grade level, you know, your expectation is you want to be the top of the class, you know, you always want to get better.

[00:31:56] Zoe: You want to be the best or whatever. But here, they look at it, what's the best for the child? So, is this child a B child? Like, are they a normal B scored A or whatever that is? I don't even know. But, um, are they normally a C child or are they a top of the class child? You know, is, is, are they usually A level grades?

[00:32:20] Zoe: And so it's very focused on what's the best for that child. And it's not, we need you to get better scores. It's what, what is going to make you most effective. And also some of the schools, like they, what I really like is some of the schools that I've been. choosing for priorities of which one I want her to go to is they follow this methodology where the child chooses what they want to work on.

[00:32:45] Becca: Project based learning. Yes. 

[00:32:47] Zoe: Yeah. And when they want to work on it. And so they have the split class, they choose what they're working on. They do their homework in their own time and they ask the teacher for help if they need help or if the teacher sees they're struggling, they'll, you know, support them.

[00:33:00] Zoe: And I just, I wish I had that, you know, I wish I had that growing up, but then when it comes to careers and how that I think is more applicable to maybe our audience is I learn in a very unstructured way. I like having autonomy in my work. But I also like having it in my training. I like to say, I want to take this training.

[00:33:22] Zoe: It's not a career, or it's not a certification that maybe directly relates to what I'm doing, but I see the benefit of taking this and building this skill that's going to help me. And you might not see that connection, but you still should trust me because you hired me. To see that that connection makes sense and pay for it so that I can then improve and broaden my skill set.

[00:33:46] Becca: Totally. I mean, like, think about dyslexic people. They are never going to be the best readers in the room. So why would we have them spend all of their effort on reading? Get them to the level they need to be able to do other things, but have them focus on the other things that they are, they literally see in 3D.

[00:34:01] Becca: So like, let them go hone those skills and be genius and these other things like Picasso, dyslexic, right? Richard Branson, dyslexic. He actually, he just launched something this week. It's about basically embracing dyslexia and how, how much it helps everybody, how much it helps society and business and all of these things because dyslexic brains think in this very unique way.

[00:34:23] Becca: And I just, I think you're right. We're missing out in work and everything. If we're having people focus on what we think that they should be focused on, rather than like, these are your strengths, build on them. Or these are the areas that, you know, can make you better at your job. Build on those and giving them autonomy.

[00:34:38] Becca: I mean, this goes back to in college. I didn't go to class, but I got straight A's. It's because I had to learn in a different way. And I had to go teach myself. and advocate for myself to do that. But in work, it's no different, right? Some people learn everything they know from YouTube. Other people learn from watching their, you know, co workers.

[00:34:55] Becca: Other people just go and hack it out. I'm a learn by doing person. And I think this goes perfectly into the imposter syndrome. podcast kind of theme is imposter syndrome. I've come to realize is just the people who have the balls to learn by doing right. And it's the people who are brave to go and fake it until you make it because it's not easy to do that and just do it and force yourself to do it.

[00:35:19] Becca: And then you learn it and then you get better. imposter syndrome about that thing goes away and you get it for something else because you're always leveling up. Right. And I think if we could reframe imposter syndrome as Me feeling like I'm not good enough for this role into I'm just learning as I do it and like good on me for having the I don't know, the guts to do that.

[00:35:41] Becca: Imposter syndrome should be seen as a good thing. And I actually think that about a lot of neurodiversity. If you're, if you find out that your kid is dyslexic, the immediate response shouldn't be, oh no. It should be like, sweet! My kid has got all of these amazing abilities that I can't even possibly comprehend.

[00:35:58] Becca: How do we hone that? And I think it's same for work. It's you find the things that employees are good at, that your teammates are good at, the way that you all work best together and like throw out the playbook, right? And like make it work for you guys, figure out the accommodations. Um, I just think it goes back to awareness.

[00:36:16] Becca: It's not just manager training. It's everybody training. It's. understanding that your team is filled with neurodiverse people, whether or not you know it, they are. And how do we all just start to kind of treat each other in a way that assumes neurodiversity rather than making neurodivergent people always have to advocate for themselves, or always have to fake it in a neurotypical world.

[00:36:37] Chris: Yeah, absolutely. Unfortunately, we are about out of time for today. Becca, thanks for coming on. We will have your website and your LinkedIn and also your post, uh, which is this new social network based on news that I just learned about today, uh, in the show notes. I wonder if there's anything else you want to highlight, and maybe actually I'll coach that in.

[00:36:54] Chris: I know you volunteer. As, uh, the marketing communications committee chair for the pancreatic cancer action network, pancreatic cancer took my dad and, uh, a cousin of mine and, uh, I have the gene that, you know, it's, it's, you know, it's more likely that I'll get it. So anyway, that's something that really touches my heart a little bit.

[00:37:13] Chris: And maybe you could give a pointer of where folks can jump in and help out if they were so inclined. 

[00:37:18] Becca: Yeah, thank you for bringing that up. I am sorry to hear about your dad. Pancreatic cancer is literally the most horrific disease that I've ever seen in the world. My mom had pancreatic has, I don't know you ever get over it, but she's survived eight years stage three, which is just unheard of.

[00:37:33] Becca: Her oncologist, her oncologist retired right after her treatment. And she said, my daughter has been asking me for years to ask you like how many pancreatic cancer survivors do you have? And he said, Now I have one. She's the one. So to your point, pancreatic cancer action network, it is the place to go. If you or a loved one has pancreatic cancer, like they are this amazing group, a nonprofit that works to, it's not just about education and raising money.

[00:38:02] Becca: It's literally about changing outcomes. Like if you want to get into a clinical trial, they have all the info for that. They have the best doctors. They have every resource. And my mom, the survivor, became the head of the San Francisco affiliate. She kind of feels like as long as she's working for this cause, like it is like paying it forward, right?

[00:38:19] Becca: She benefited so much from this group. My whole family did. So I now am the marketing communications chair because I also feel like if I can just help one person through this horrific journey. It's worth it. And pretty much everyone I know who is had a loved one with pancreatic cancer has lost their loved one within six months, right?

[00:38:37] Becca: It is this horrible, fast gut punch. And there needs to be more information and resources and just people out there who give a shit about it because it does touch so many people. I mean, it's quote unquote rare, but I personally know a handful of people who have died from pancreatic cancer. And then I know another handful of people who have pancreatic cancer.

[00:38:57] Becca: And it's just, You know, it's horrible, like, I don't know, but thank you for bringing it up. And I do, I feel very passionate about this. So if anybody out there ever wants to talk pancreatic cancer, please reach out to me. 

[00:39:09] Chris: Thank you for that. That's great. And yeah, again, thanks for sharing your story with us to share your passion with us.

[00:39:13] Chris: I think this has been an awesome conversation. Thank you also to all of our listeners out there for your time, your attention and your support. As always, if you found this episode insightful or interesting, or even just entertaining. Please consider paying it forward by letting others know about this show and the great guests we have on.

[00:39:29] Chris: Becca, before we totally close out, I do have just one more question for you here. You know, we've covered this a lot, but maybe just to kind of pull something out that you've already said, or maybe it's something new, I don't know. What's the one thing that a manager can do to help make their team, their workplace, their organization more neurodiverse friendly, call it?

[00:39:49] Becca: Two things. One, Hey guys, I just learned that 20 percent of the population may be neurodivergent. And I just want you all to know that I want to talk about it and I want to, you know, be open about this. I want to create a safe space. And if anyone wants to chat with me, feel free to reach out to me. Let's open up a dialogue.

[00:40:07] Becca: I think just saying, I know this is a thing and I want to support you. If you are neurodivergent, come and talk to me. makes a huge difference. And I know this personally, because I've had people tell me that how much it makes a difference. Just hearing somebody say, I want to talk about it to outcomes based, everything based people's accomplishments on the outcomes that they're producing, not how they're doing it, not the way it looks.

[00:40:29] Becca: The process shouldn't matter. It should matter of. Are they reaching their goals? Are they producing what they're set out to produce? And not like, does it look the same way that everybody else does their process? And I think that that should be true of everybody, not just neurodivergent people, but it is outcomes based management.

[00:40:45] Chris: Awesome. Well, thank you again so much, and we will be back next week.