The Wise Why

Episode #77

Episode #077

EP 77 | Simon Nichols How To Support Neurodivergency At Work

by | 1 Mar,2024

About This Episode

Simon Nichols, the visionary behind “It’s Time 2 Thrive,” engages in a heartfelt conversation with Kirsty van den Bulk on The Wise Why.

Together, they delve into the nuances of neurodiversity and neurodivergence, sharing their journeys of acceptance and understanding of their unique cognitive styles. This personal touch will resonate with our audience of HR professionals, managers, and employees interested in DEI initiatives.

Kirsty openly shares her discomfort with the term and talks about empowering her daughter to accept her neurodiversity. In contrast, Simon shares how he normalises neurodiversity and neurodivergence in the workplace.

The conversation covers personal experiences and debunks common myths surrounding neurodiverse conditions. They discuss the difference between “neurodiversity” and “neurodiverse.” Neurodiversity refers to all forms of human neurological variation, while “neurodiverse” pertains to individuals who think differently due to specific diagnoses.

Simon shares his experience with discovering his ADHD diagnosis at the age of 47 and how it provided clarity and understanding about past life challenges and strengths. Kirsty, who has dyslexia and dyspraxia, talks about her struggles and triumphs living with these conditions. She emphasises the importance of tools like AI for assistance and highlights the need for personalised strategies.

The conversation addresses common misconceptions about ADHD, including stereotypes about its origins, such as diet or video games. It emphasises its impact beyond mere disorganisation and how, when appropriately understood, it can foster unique abilities in focus and creativity.

The discussion also touches on the importance of “Thrive,” founded by Simon, amidst personal mental health battles to help others one person at a time. The organisation educates workplaces about making reasonable adjustments for neurodivergent employees and collaborates with Babcock to lead their innovative Aware webinar & champion workshop.

Insights offered include the importance of language and how it shapes how we view ourselves within society’s labels, the need for understanding individual thinking patterns and embracing diverse cognitive styles within professional environments, and the value of tools like Grammarly as aids but not replacements for personal judgment or learning efforts such as grammar education later in life.

The episode underscores the transformative potential of support systems tailored towards diverse minds, personally and corporately. As DEI initiatives gain momentum across industries, companies must prioritise inclusivity through education programs like those offered by Thrive, which is a testament to progressiveness and practical application in today’s workforce landscape. This emphasis on the positive impact of DEI initiatives will inspire our audience.

Episode #77 : Full Transcription
Kirsty van den Bulk
Hello and welcome to The Wise Why I’ve got feedback on my end this morning, so I don’t quite know why we’ve checked out everything, so if you’re getting feedback, I’m really sorry because this is gonna be a really important episode of the wise world because we are addressing the elephant in the room neurodiversity. But as usual, the show. Is not about me. It is about my guest. So Simon, it’s. Over to you.

Simon Nichols
Well, OK. I will. Thank you, Kirsty. Welcome. And so I’ve got my show is your show. And thank you so much for for having me. It’s been, as you say, we’ve we’ve we’ve a few technical glitches to start with. But it’s I think that’s how all the best podcasts start actually a few technical glitches and then as everything else goes really smoothly but I’m I’m really happy to be here. Today and yeah, I mean neurodiversity. It’s a it’s a huge subject. Becton. Well, I’m. I’m very intrigued as where we’re gonna go today. With this as well.

Kirsty van den Bulk
And honestly, I have no idea what I’d like to start off with is talking about your own personal journey, because I think there’s a lot of fear. I mean, labelling. And if you, if you think about it and even as. A neurodiverse person. I’m a bit uncomfortable with the word. Neurodiverse. So we’ll be honest, I like the word dyspraxia. I like the word dyslexia, but suddenly I’ve been bundled into this new thing and I find it a little bit uncomfortable because I feel like I’m being not labelled per say. But it’s a new thing and it’s a bit like ohh, where do I fit? So I thought we’d start with your own. Well, a bit of my own. Personal journey but also. Yours, if that’s OK.

Simon Nichols
Yeah, no problem and it’s it’s probably worse, as you said, getting getting rid of some of those that myths before we even start talking about where we took because you you may well have just introduced a new word to the vast majority of our listeners. You may have introduced the word newer, diverse. Now what a lot of people will have noticed is the we’re talking about embracing your. Diversity. Now there is a very. There’s not even a subtle difference. There’s a huge difference between the term neurodiversity and neurodiverse, and yet it gets used almost in the same sentence. Newer diversity means all of us, every single human being on the planet. It’s the same as biodiversity, eco diversity. So when we talk about newer diversity. We are talking about everyone. It’s the it’s not even a spectrum. It’s not an umbrella. It’s everybody. When we go down a route and you probably you and I’ll start talking about newer diverse and neurodivergent because I have an issue with neurodivergent, but we’ll talk about that and we all I think we try to do, we not me, all the establishment society tried to do was. Look at a group of individuals who from birth, are destined to think a little bit differently and. Everybody thinks under neurodiversity, so why do certain individuals, as you talked about dyslexia there maybe ADHD we’re talking about we’re. We’re our bringing our own personal elements of thought process to this and well what? Because we need to to label everything, don’t we? You know there’s a we’ve come. We’re. We’re now in this culture of we’ve gotta be into into a culture and a subculture and a sub. Culture. But yeah, if you imagine that, neurodiversity means everybody and neurodiverse means those who think differently under a subset of diagnosis. That’s all we need to discuss for now. And as we go through today, more will emerge, I’m sure. So my journey is. Well, my journey started from birth. However for the 1st 47 years of my life, I thought that everybody thought the way that I did. I thought that everybody had hundreds of tabs open in their head. I thought that everybody could just get up on stage and talk to 5000 people. I thought that everybody could create a PowerPoint in 5 minutes and then present on it. And then I realised at the age of 47, after a lot of probing and and suggestions from our neurodiversity director at the time, Sherry Kennedy, who are self as a very sort of opponent of talking about her dyslexia and her her autism. And she said to me one day and we’ve we’ve been, we’ve been about a year into the development of our neurodiversity in the workplace programme. And Shelly mentioned to me, are you ever gonna get a diagnosis for your ADHD? And that’s where my journey started. Even though I’ve been around neurodiverse individuals and dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD, Tourette syndrome, all my life with family members, with friends, I never thought it would apply to me. Because as we all know, ADHD has caused by, you know, chemicals in in what sits and playing on computer games. Another myth. We’re gonna completely burst open today and I I I didn’t apply it to me because. It’s a diagnosis. It’s a disorder. We talk about, you know, attention deficit hyperactive disorder. And I’m thinking I’ve not got a disorder cause this this makes me. Do things in a different way. This makes me, you know, would be incredible in my perspective and. What I then found out was that actually. Because it doesn’t. Disrupts my life. It it it, it has looking back. Really. Gone on a very rocky journey and I’ve I’ve disappointed. I’ve upset. I’ve let people down. I’ve let myself down. I’ve spent way too much money. All of these things I just put down to being a bit unlucky or not really managing my time properly. And now I actually think about it and look back on my 47 years. Previously and I start to realise that there’s stuff that’s impacted me and stuff that’s happened in my life as a direct result of my neurological pathways being slightly different to other people when I. Was born, and that revelation has just been incredible, and it’s helped me over the last three years as we’ve moved forward in the education of neurodiverse individuals, but also the education of everybody that actually we need to support everybody in society, those that think differently and those that think normally. But Kirsty, I mean your your turn. It’s even more incredible than mine.

Kirsty van den Bulk
Well, I wouldn’t say incredible. And I think what I just wanna bring in is people, always they they go to this dyslexia, dyslexia, ADHD, Add all the lists. But we also miss out like fads and and neonatal. I can have said this morning. So that is a dyslexic thing. I’m just going to put that. Out there, my dyspraxic mouth doesn’t actually always say what my brain says because my brain works really super quick. A bit like yours. Give me a PowerPoint, I’ll bash it out in three seconds and we’ll get up there and I’ll send and. What do you mean, embarrassing? In the room you go nail that. But no, that’s where I teach well and and coach what I do, but sometimes my mouth doesn’t work. So if I want to say a word. In the middle of a presentation, I have to go and my mouth just doesn’t physically work. That is a dyslexic thing. So I got diagnosed. At 37. And it was a it wasn’t a shock. I’m gonna put it out there. I’ve written about this. It wasn’t a. Shock. It was almost like a welcome relief. But what was a shock was to find out that although I always. Knew I was. Dyslexic. I had this thing called dyspraxia, which nobody ever talks about. And the dyspraxia can be at times limiting. It also makes me exceptionally good at what I do, and I know there’s. A lot of people who hate it. When other people use the word superpower and I totally get that because someone said to me your dyslexia and your dyslexia is is your. Superpower. I’ve been really, really. Point me referring to it. However, where I say I’m good at what I do because I’m neuro, I’m not neurotypical. I and again I can’t see these words. I’m gonna. Just put that out there, we’ve got this. Combination of words. Neurodivergent you’re. I can’t see the end of the words, everybody. So I can see the neuro bit can’t send it, but I can see the neuro bit but the other bit or the diversity didn’t it? I can’t see that it’s too long. It’s it’s still going. Ding, Ding, Ding, Ding and I can’t catch up. And ohh. Do you know it’s exhausting, but that’s a bit. That’s a little bit of an insight into my crazy brain. And I don’t have ADHD. I do have dyspraxia and it’s really important because a lot of people will go. She’s really hyperactive. No. I’m really focused. There’s a difference, but back to you.

Simon Nichols
That, that, that, it’s, it’s fascinating. And when we when we first met my goodness nearly a month ago now, wasn’t it sort of thing when we was there and we had that initial conversation which I think was gonna be about 20 minutes and ended up being an hour and a half and and it was I I do genuinely think because as I’ve gone on this journey. You you meet people and you interact with people and I think you know fairly quickly if you’re gonna get on with that person, if that person is gonna is gonna fire all your cylinders as you know, as you know, we’re not talking about that sort of like, you know, oxytocin first, love type thing. But you think I’m gonna get on with this person. And that was what when we when we had that conversation. And I’ve now realised more and more as we, you know, we and we’ve we’ve trained you know, like like yourself, you know, coached thousands of people. We trained thousands of people and to to think differently about people that think differently. And what I’ve then started noticing is you look around your peer group, you look around your friends and you think ohh you know no diagnosis there. And and we don’t, we don’t make our own diagnosis up. But the way that you think. Is very similar to the way that I think, and if you’re not, you know, and if it’s not an ADHD way of thinking, it’s a dyslexic way of thinking. If it’s not a dyslexic, it’s a dyslexic. And what we’re finding now, certainly when we do our instructor programmes is I would say as a minimum 3/4, maybe maybe 8 tenths. Of the instructors that come on the coho. Our neurodiverse and in in at least three or four of those individuals don’t actually know it until they finish the finish the programme. So what you’ve got is you’ve got sort of people you may have been friends with for life or a couple of years or whatever that looks like, and then suddenly they come on this, that or that or they they, they suddenly look at some of the traits and they go. And then you realise why you’re friends with them and you know it’s not that I’ve outed many. You know, many of my friends. But I still secretly, I know, and especially when they go. I’m totally neurotypical. And you think you’re totally not, but you can’t say that someone someones gotta go on their own journey for that. And but for me, because I’m, I’m. I’m undiagnosed. And part of you know, and people might go well. How how can you say you got ADHD? The biggest part of having ADHD is procrastination. Which means I I can’t, actually. Spare the time to go through the diagnosis because it’s not impacting me enough for me to spend the time to go through the diagnosis. I put lots of things in place now around time management around trying to be more prepared and I think that starts to to help. I still have incredible time to. And this morning, when I was preparing to come on here, it’s 7:45, right? I’ve got enough time to do this. I’ve got enough. Then it’s 5 past nine. I just need to finish this e-mail. Then it’s 9:15 and I’m suddenly ohh. Now. I’ll need the link to join Kirsty. And I’m just like you know. So so time for for someone with at least in my experience. The time just slips by and then suddenly you’re like ohh and again. I think that can probably bring back to what you said which is hyper focus because if I’m in that zone and like do you mean haven’t had lunch, it’s like 7 hours ago Simon, you know. Ohh I didn’t notice and it’s like, yeah. So for me at least I’m. I’m I will eventually potentially maybe another great sort of quote from an ADHD person is I if I get the time I’m then maybe look at a diagnosis and only for the fact that it may. Give me some insight into what else I might be able to use to support me because I make lots of recommendations on how to support other people. It’s really difficult to take support yourself, isn’t it?

Kirsty van den Bulk
It is and I think that’s a really good thing because I got officially diagnosed at 37 partly and and if you read the blog, I received an essay back that I thought was brilliant. I was so proud of this essay. You know, I studied musical theatre I. Knew my music. History and I’d written down a sentence and this sentence I always talk about, which was the smile. The the words are the smile of the the square of this. No, the square of the hypotenuse is what the the word is for. The the line is from HMS Pinafore and I had written the smile of the hippopotamus. So what? People don’t realise sometimes is with the word blindness. I’m going to use. Blindness is that you learn by shapes and lengths, so I don’t read the way that somebody else reads, which is why I am reliant on the tools which are now available. I thank goodness they are so my handwriting is pretty bad. I don’t finish off the ends of my words. So if you look at a give written for me, you’re like what has she written but actually. I read the shape and that shape is really important and and I can’t. The revelation came in when I was in my first marriage and we were driving somewhere and I said, Oh yeah, that’s such and such. And my husband, my husband at the time and Alec went no. It’s not, that’s this. And I went. No, it’s not. It’s that. And he went. No, you just read the shape. You just read the shape. Then I got. I left that marriage. And then I got diagnosed, as I said, going through university. And I got my essay back that was really proud of covered in Red Pen. And I mean covered now I’m really the tools that I use. And I really want to. Put that out and This is why we’re having this open conversation. I use a I I use Grammarly and I’m going to say I have to really check the Grammarly because sometimes Grammarly really gets it wrong and you cannot just be reliant. But if I read something, I can’t see my mistake, so I leave it. Then I go away and then I come back and it’s like going away and coming back. That helps me able to be one. I get really good. I mean look, my social media, I’m really proud of it. But look at my blogging. You know, I’m a dyslexic Blogger. Yeah, it’s there. And it there are tools that you can use and and you know, I was lucky, as I said at 37 to find out doing my degree then I got extra help extra time that extra time. Was not about. Getting extra time to do the exam will write the the paper. The extra time was to allow me to get my thoughts in the order. And I will say, going back to university at 37 was the best decision I ever made because I wasn’t taught grammar and suddenly I had to learn grammar. So there was you going back to Uni was one of the best decisions I made. Even though it was the hardest decision, it was the best decision because it formulated my brain for business, if that makes sense.

Simon Nichols
Ohh, completely. And what’s fascinating, listening to you speak about that as well. So our our new Diversity Director sheezy she. When we first started out with, you know, there was only the two of us, you know, we’ve grown, we’ve grown a bit since then, but. And so we were, we were basically taking on the various different roles within our building up five. And as cheesy was and and and this made her chuckle every time because she said, well, what’s my job title then? And and at that time she was doing a lot of podcast. Editing. She was doing a lot of her social media and I said you basically a communications director and she. Like it’s great cause someone had struggled for 25 years to communicate is now the communications director. And what went, you know, there are some things that went out and the, you know the the the on social media and we look back at it and we laugh now. At the time, it’s like our shares. You know you’ve spelt such and such wrong, but actually what that made us was human. It made us that that we had, you know, we. Real and there’s A and and chassis chassis, unfortunately left fried now, but what we’ve but I keep finding on little documents and little little chasms, and you know it’s not bad spelling. It’s just actually. Well, I I know how to say that word and the English language is so difficult. You took that grammar and. You know pre proposition and all all of that sort of stuff. And so yeah, I’m I’m I’m a favourite one of mine and I’ve not changed it anywhere yet. It’s great. There’s dual and you think not dual as in JEWEL you know the the the brooch and it’s not dual as in fighting it’s dual as in two so and you you know we’ve got 3. Three different spellings and you think hold on. Not only is someone neurotypical meant to get this, but I’m I’m hearing these words and and me and my wife were were driving when I’m mid mid third, late 30s at this time and we listened on the on the radio and someone said hyperbole. And we’re like, I wonder what that means. We’ve never heard of that. I wonder if that’s something like hyperbole. And we’ve both gone through our life with the words saying HYPERBOLE as hyperbole, and suddenly everyone in the world actually calls it hyperbole. And we’re like, why why? And then if you sort of, you know if you are student like yourself, sort of struggling, what are you meant to get it? And I totally understand that extra time. My my son is dyslexic. And you’re right, it’s not. You know, people think ohh, given a bit of a layer, get an extra. It’s like I’ve I’ve gotta read it. I’ve gotta understand it. I maybe have to hear it from someone and then I’ve got to articulate that answer back. Didn’t do this all the time under a sort of strict exam pressure, so I I while I don’t understand you’re you’re paying Kirsty? I I feel it because you know having having been in that space, it’s it must be so.

I think it’s really. I think that’s what people don’t realise. They just, they think and I don’t mean people don’t realise it’s, you know, I can remember a guy, Danny. Unfortunately he’s died and he joins me in an old job and I remember him saying he’d been diagnosed with ADHD. And at the time. And we’re going back 2015 years, nobody really knew what it was. he was Super Bright, but his organisation was all all over the the place. But actually his organisation wasn’t all over the place. It was all over the place for everybody else. But actually, as I got to know him and I really, really liked her and I. Really do I realised he was one of the most. Organised people you’d ever met. Because he absolutely had everything in place and totally organised in his brain and it made sense. And once you understood his structure and his setting. Oh my God. The guy was a genius. Yes, but because other people didn’t understand him and that brings me on to where I really want to talk about it, because thrive is so important and I do genuinely. Your company is so important to help people understand neurodiversity, let me see. I’ve got the right one in the workplace and I’d really like to talk about that. The minute because what you’re doing is well, thank you is what I’m going to say.

Simon Nichols
Ohh that’s really nice to hear. It’s it’s very I mean as as as a I guess as a human, not as I was gonna say as a you know, as as, as an English person. I don’t. I don’t hate that I’m I’m European as a it’s very hard for us to to take that praise and it’s lovely. And it’s and it it’s and it’s genuine and it’s given in that way. And still I, I’ve I had little sort of goosebumps then of like because it is still so difficult because we look back. And we think all we’ve all we’ve done is we put something in place that was needed and we and and yes, we’ve spent a lot of time on it. Yes, we try to make it as perfect as can be and other ADHD trait, perfectionism. And yes, we’ve tried to make it as accessible as possible, but ultimately we we don’t know if it’s resonating. We don’t know if it’s. If it’s hitting the spot and then we get lovely comments like that and we get our testimonials. Come back and you know someone said to me the other day you must look back and I will talk about what it is. So what? What? But you must look back with with pride and honour and and I think do you know what? I I haven’t yet. I’ve, you know. And going back to that beginning. I mean five we the the concept of five came around in 2019 and then we started in January. 22. See two months before COVID night and we were a face to face training company. So you can imagine that sort of impact. So we’re we’re four years old now, it actually four years old which is fantastic. Most small businesses fail within the first three years or something. So we’re we’re still here, we’re still fighting and. We were originally created. It was originally just me and we originally created with the mission statement the value the tag line however one. You it is helping one person at a time. Now it just happened that thrive, which is I’m not even gonna get. I don’t know if it’s a noun, adjective, adverb. It’s it’s something which makes it really hard to get search engine optimization because it’s a word. But we wanted we felt this was what we wanted people to do. We wanted one person at a time. Fine. And that actually stemmed from my depression in 2016. And I’ve done a Ted talk on that and I’ve thought about that big boys do cry, which is I’m really, really proud of and. What that meant for me was that I realised that if I’d have had some mental health first aid training at that point, I may not have gone down the Depression route that I went down. It wasn’t till it was talked about. I was a senior VP in in the IT space and it wasn’t talked about. And so selfishly. I said if I could help. Me. Wow. Wouldn’t that be brilliant? Cause then I would have. I would be OK. And I thought there must be hundreds of Mees, thousands of Mees, millions of Mees not looking like me. Of course. But millions of me that would that would need this support. So we started out. First of all mental health, first aid training and cheesy was running. A a a a company called AIW. And she was talking. She was really autism support, both virtual and physical. And she’s been doing this about three or four years. And the problem with COVID was all of the school lost its funding and no one was in. So suddenly everything sort of felling on chesley’s world and about early 20/21 she sort of we we were talking because we were friends prior to that and she was talking and she said wonder what we can do with this workshop that I created and it was called living in a neurodiverse world. And I said, this is fantastic. This is. Educating people about what you’ve been talking about autism and dyslexia, and how important it is to make reasonable adjustments in the workplace. And I said to said, well, why don’t you, you know, come into the five family and what we’ll do is we’ll see if we can tweak and you know and and and maybe make it a little bit more corporate you know cause we’ve got to go back into corporations effectively to to to make the impact and and and that was it that was where we were born and we we put a lot of. Information together and we put a lot of a lot of thought time, blood, sweat and tears as as as you normally normally do. And we were really lucky to have a really amazing customer at that time called Babcock. We still do work with Babcock and one of their customers was under Fibre Gate and so we worked together to build out this programme, which is eventually has has turned into our aware webinar and our Champion workshop and what that meant. To us was the validation that this actually works and London Fire Brigade were and and that got was so impressed with the results that we actually went in and delivered a train. Trainer for them so that trainer trainer happened in 2022 in the in in March, April 2022 and we then started to sort of put a bit more commercialisation around it in terms of what’s it gonna look like, what’s it? What’s it, what’s the messages, the learning outcomes and Fast forward to the end of 2022? We work with them, may. Using partner of ours, Green Cross Global and Green Cross Global has some very high mark organisations that they work with including Coca-Cola and what we were then able to do is with Green Cross global. We were then able to go in and educate and work with with Coca-Cola to deliver this. Game changing programme of work in order to educate all of their managers, and that is still ongoing. We’re still, we’re still here, but what that gave us was that the, I guess the intent that these large organisations, global organisations and we worked with a few more subsequently. Really need this type of education. Really need this type of of of awareness in their in their organisation and as diversity, equality, inclusion and belonging becomes a much bigger buzzword we’re seeing we’ve done. We’ve done sexual equality. What we haven’t done it anywhere near, but we we’ve we’ve a lot of companies are focused on it. They’re focused on racial equality. LGBTQ plus gender bias, all of these things, menopause, mental health, and the one thing they’ve missed is neurodiverse. City that 15% diagnosed individuals in the UK. And So what we’re seeing now is that sort of that, that uptake and what that meant was that we couldn’t do it anymore alone with our little training team. There was five of us at the time. And so we then developed an instructor partner programme and that’s what we put in place last March. It’s a. It’s nearly a year old, I think on the 8th of March. It’s a year old and we’re so proud of that. We’ve trained 45 instructor partners, so that’s 45 trained, facilitated some amazing individuals from Australia. You know, to the US we got someone from the Philippines joining us. So we are truly a global operation now and that’s just fantastic. Our next cohort is in London. We’re actually partnering with mind, mind in Harringay and we’ve got we’ve got a few spaces left. So if anyone does want to. Fancy becoming an instructor partner, delivering newer diversity in the workplace, training. It’s yeah, we I’m I am so proud. And and to hear Someone Like You, Kirsty, who’s an amazing advocate and you know and thought leader in this space to to say thank you. And that means a lot to me. So thank you.

Kirsty van den Bulk
Ohh honestly, as soon as Chaela who said we had to talk me and talk. I was like, Yep, absolutely. So we’ve got some lovely comments. We’ve got all the two people in my network who I didn’t who didn’t know each other. That’s I don’t know who you are because it got LinkedIn user so it’s really really really upsetting. And it says 6° of separation. I can’t thank you enough. I think there are thousands of questions that we could try and answer in a really short space of time. What I’d love to know is. We we know that your your child is dyslexic. We know that’s where John, who along the way apart from cheesy has been your. I hope I’ve got that name right. Because there you go. That’s. That’s not dyslexic, it’s. Brexit, is it worrying about getting the name wrong because I haven’t seen it? Because I can’t spell it, so I’m not sure. I’m in my head. I’m going to. Is that is that the right phonics? This is what we’ll deal with and I this is what I wanted to put out there is for me to know someone’s name. We have to spell it. If I can’t spell it. I won’t remember it. And even if I.

Kirsty van den Bulk
Can spell it if I can’t work it out, I probably will never say it correctly. Poor. Zyra sora. Laura. Hack. And only since I was 15, still struggling. You know, I’m 53 now, all almost. And I still can’t say her name. And that’s living every single day with a learning. Not I don’t like the word. Facility, but a learning I’m not gonna. Use super but a learning complexity. Throw that on this morning and who has been your biggest champion of you.

Simon Nichols
It’s and and and it’s now gonna be that roll call of of of the Incredible people cause we we have worked with some amazing, incredible people along the way. And as I mentioned earlier sort of going cross global. So loss Abbott over there. I I cannot thank him enough. A dear friend as well as a as a huge proponent of what we’ve done. Obviously you know our our aim is to be not a training company, but a training provider, so very similar in the in the vein of MHF England. It’s for mental health first aid five. We want five to be known for new diversity in the workplace. Training and loss has been a huge proponent from the very, very start. My wife Kelly, of course. You know, as as my business partner and has been, you know our operations director and just you know every. They pushes me forward and and and and does extra things, and then we got the team, you know, I had a greater team around me, so we’ve got Rob and Lucy over Ellie H who are our our design team, our copywriters, any words that you ever see come out of five are are from the the pen or the typewriter of Rob Hill. Just one of the best copywriters. We worked with, we got Sophie Neil over on our on our social media, Sophie, etcetera. And just again an individual and we were spent to be meeting this afternoon. But Sophie’s a bit poorly. So we’re we’re moving that forward next week and the logo, the five logo that you see everywhere hopefully and seeing it in in more. Places Ben Kilner and Emily Barnard of Oomph are just again our huge, huge supporters in everything we do and. The wonderful Chaela I cannot I Chaela is the only reason that not only is she incredible, the only reason that you and I are talking Kirsty. But Chaela is the only reason that we have the programme in place in the automated way that we do any every time you book on to a course. Anytime you want a cohort, the back end is. Is absolutely nailed on by our bike. And and then we’ve got that’s sort of the direct team and then we’ve got our wonderful trainers who’ve been us from with us from the start. Johnny Ray Cowett, we got Rachel toseland. We’ve got Mo Berry. We got sugana. All of these individuals have have been just incredible trainers, incredible facilitators and supporting us above and beyond. And I think that’s really important because we often talk about when I’m doing some well-being days and stuff, we talk about discretionary effort. And discretionary effort is that that gift that you can never ask. For it’s what we want to do, we wanna. It’s called going the extra mile. It’s putting yourself out there and. And I don’t just mean financially. It’s about the effort, the energy levels that go in. And then there’s two other people. I’m gonna. I’m cause I’m gonna tag them all. When? When this recording comes out. It’s the amazing Ben Miller and Ben Miller is just a is A is a dear friend. Wine. And he’s he he basically runs retail for the world. I think he works for a company called Shop Talk and he’s just been the the silent supporter. He’s been behind everything we’ve done never really puts itself in the spotlight and and, you know, not not at detriment to his day job in the slightest, but he’s just been there. From that support and lastly Nigel Clarke, Nigel Clarke is one of our our mental health and neurodiversity ambassadors. We have a a suite of ambassadors and Alex Gog is another one. Elliot Brown is another one. And they just worked tirelessly in the background, sharing blog posts, sharing all of our LinkedIn content, and just generally sort of putting us in touch with people. So yeah, but really, it’s our delegates, it’s our instructor partners. It’s anyone who’s ever come on one of our courses. To make a difference, cause you’re the important ones. You know you’re the only reason we do it for and. You know the the AHA moments, the wake up, moments we’ve had people in tears because it’s the first time in 55 years they’ve spoken to someone about their dyslexia. We’ve had some, you know, people come up back to us afterwards and I got my ADHD diagnosis after listening to your one hour webinar. I mean, that’s just fantastic to have that sort of level of feedback. So all I can say is is thank you to those people who have really sort of pushed us through the last four years and and thanks to people like you, Kirsty, that are taking us to the next step now and and having us on these incredible podcast.

Kirsty van den Bulk
I’m I’m so proud of you. I really am. We’ve just got a lovely comment in from Haley. Who says? Wow, what a fantastic podcast. And I do think I need to discuss with my daughter who would like to like you. Who like you. I believe work around their unique isms. Thanks for sharing. Hey, do you have a read of the blog that I wrote? Because that’s my unique. And I put it out there because we’re facing the same thing with our little ones. So I want and I’ve read it. To her. And, you know she’s a little. She’s a little tiny little one. And she went mummy I. Mommy, I do that. So my brother is there for anyone deliberately who might think that they’ve got something. They’ve got an idiom, and they’ve or wherever they want to call it a complexity, whatever the word is that they’re comfortable using. I’m gonna really push that one home. Whatever word you’re comfortable using matters because it’s you and only you and I get. Really. Nobody can tell you on your this journey. You’ve gotta step on it and take it. Baby steps by baby steps to find out where you are and who you are because. It is personal and you know the the crying, the breaking down. I call it my dyslexic meltdown. I’ve now watched my daughter do exactly the same thing. It’s heartbreaking. But you know, there are people like Simon who are here to catch you and me too. So. You’re not alone. Simon, is there any parting thought that you’d like to?

Simon Nichols
The I mean and and based on that what we what we sometimes see and understand is that someone will come on the course or someone will just talk to me personally and they’ll go we we you know very very similar to a lot of people and and and Haley as well as our you know our children are going for a journey you know and that journey takes so long and we’re so sorry for that you know but. We’re hoping that the ADHD diagnosis and the dyslexia diagnosis actually start to speed up, and what we’re seeing is that was how my, you know, my son has got this and my and my or my sister is and, but I’m normal. And you sort of when you start to think around that level of geneticist M that that is associated with neurodiverse differences, you sort of, you, you, you do get another aha moment, which is. So my dad was like that. My my daughters like that. And is there a no, no, no, no, I can’t be. And so you then get and then what? And the realisation is that however old you are, when you have that sort of hard moment of your your children and your your parents and you go, you know what? I’ve lived with 45 years or 37 years or 52 years or whatever that looks like. Like I’ve been masking the hell out of my unique isms and I think what we’re what we’re allowing is for that future generation. Hopefully Halley’s wonderful daughter there to by the time they get to work which used to be a place of derision, it used to be a place of subjugation and and. Yeah. Is that actually Halley’s daughter can be herself. And she can say why I need a reasonable adjustment. I need a I need a a desk that rises up. I need a I need a quiet space to go and, you know, stop the overwhelm. And I just think hopefully. One person at a time, we can actually make those workplaces more accommodating for the for the generation that’s growing up now to not have to have the struggles that we had and not have the mask. And we’re seeing a difference in schools already, but we need that in the workplace as well.

Kirsty van den Bulk
Brilliant. I’m going to leave it there. Thank you so much for your time this morning.

Simon Nichols
Thank you.

Simon Nichols, the visionary behind “It’s Time 2 Thrive,” engages in a heartfelt conversation with Kirsty van den Bulk on The Wise Why.

Together, they delve into the nuances of neurodiversity and neurodivergence, sharing their journeys of acceptance and understanding of their unique cognitive styles. This personal touch will resonate with our audience of HR professionals, managers, and employees interested in DEI initiatives.

Kirsty openly shares her discomfort with the term and talks about empowering her daughter to accept her neurodiversity. In contrast, Simon shares how he normalises neurodiversity and neurodivergence in the workplace.

The conversation covers personal experiences and debunks common myths surrounding neurodiverse conditions. They discuss the difference between “neurodiversity” and “neurodiverse.” Neurodiversity refers to all forms of human neurological variation, while “neurodiverse” pertains to individuals who think differently due to specific diagnoses.

Simon shares his experience with discovering his ADHD diagnosis at the age of 47 and how it provided clarity and understanding about past life challenges and strengths. Kirsty, who has dyslexia and dyspraxia, talks about her struggles and triumphs living with these conditions. She emphasises the importance of tools like AI for assistance and highlights the need for personalised strategies.

The conversation addresses common misconceptions about ADHD, including stereotypes about its origins, such as diet or video games. It emphasises its impact beyond mere disorganisation and how, when appropriately understood, it can foster unique abilities in focus and creativity.

The discussion also touches on the importance of “Thrive,” founded by Simon, amidst personal mental health battles to help others one person at a time. The organisation educates workplaces about making reasonable adjustments for neurodivergent employees and collaborates with Babcock to lead their innovative Aware webinar & champion workshop.

Insights offered include the importance of language and how it shapes how we view ourselves within society’s labels, the need for understanding individual thinking patterns and embracing diverse cognitive styles within professional environments, and the value of tools like Grammarly as aids but not replacements for personal judgment or learning efforts such as grammar education later in life.

The episode underscores the transformative potential of support systems tailored towards diverse minds, personally and corporately. As DEI initiatives gain momentum across industries, companies must prioritise inclusivity through education programs like those offered by Thrive. This is a testament to progressiveness and practical application in today’s workforce landscape. This emphasis on the positive impact of DEI initiatives will inspire our audience.

Chapters:

00:21 Open – Feedback
01:13 Personal Journeys
02:00 Get Rid of Myths
06:13 It is not a Disorder
08:13 Superpower Debate
10:06 Thrive Training
12:49 Accepting Help
16:44 Artistic Spelling
20:00 It’s Time to Thrive
25:31 Babcock & Coca Cola
27:23 Advocating Neurodiversity
34:04 Read my Blog https://kvdb.co.uk/content-marketing/dyspraxia-and-dyslexia-my-journey/
37:01 Close

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Its Time To Thrive

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