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Neurodivergent Workforce Win-Win with Jeff Miller

Welcome to Episode 96 of the Think UDL podcast: Neurodivergent Workforce Win-Win with Jeff Miller. Jeff Miller is the founder and CEO of Potentia, an organization that not only matches neurodivergent talent with companies, but also works with companies to make sure that the work environments are optimal for their neurodiverse employees, which means neurotypical and neurodistinct employees feel supported and comfortable in their workplace. In this conversation, we talk about why recruiting neurodistinct individuals is a good idea for both employee and employer, how to create an interview and onboarding process that lessens the barriers to hiring ND (neurodistinct) talent, what measures a company can take to create a favorable environment for all workers, including the neurodistinct ones, and how to support these processes. Along the way we talk about why he created this company and why it makes sense! In fact, there is a lot of talk about our “why”s in today’s conversation and it maps so seamlessly onto why UDL is so important in higher education and how the same principles are implemented in the workforce and benefit both workers and employers. We talk about why it is important to focus on your goal and how to do that, and Jeff outlines how Potentia enables companies to hire and retain fantastic candidates by creating an environment where all workers can thrive.

Resources

Learn more about Potentia on their website

Find Jeff Miller on LinkedIn

And read about how IT Hiring Targets the Talent of the Neurodiverse Community in this recent article from CIO.com

Transcript

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

neurodiverse, neurodivergent, learn, hiring, create, manager, business, interviews, workforce, folks, staffing, employees, job descriptions, design, students, potential

SPEAKERS

Lillian Nave, Jeff Miller

Lillian Nave  00:02

Welcome to think UDL, the universal design for learning podcast where we hear from the people who are designing and implementing strategies with learner variability in mind. I’m your host, Lillian nave. And I’m interested in not just what you’re teaching, learning, guiding and facilitating, but how you design and implement it and why it even matters. Welcome to Episode 96 of the think UDL podcast neurodivergent workforce Win win with Jeff Miller. Jeff Miller is the founder and CEO of potential, an organization that not only matches neurodivergent talent with companies, but also works with those companies to make sure that the work environments are optimal for their neurodiverse employees, which means both neurotypical and neuro distinct employees feel supported and comfortable in their workplace. And this conversation, we talk about why recruiting neuro distinct individuals is a good idea for both employee and employer, how to create an interview and onboarding process that lessens the barriers to hiring neurodivergent, or nd talent, what measures a company can take to create a favorable environment for all workers, including those neuro distinct ones, and how to support these processes. Along the way, we talk about why he created this company, and why it makes sense. In fact, there’s a lot of talk about our why’s in this conversation. And it maps so seamlessly onto why UDL is so important both in higher education, and how these same principles are implemented in the workforce and how they benefit both workers and employers. We talked about why it’s important to focus on your goal and how to do that. And Jeff outlines how potentia enables companies to hire and retain fantastic candidates by creating an environment where all workers can thrive. Thank you to our sponsor Texthelp, a global technology company helping people all over the world to understand and to be understood, it has led the way in creating innovative technology for the workplace, and education sectors, including K 12. right through to higher education for the last three decades. Thank you for listening to the think UDL podcast. So thank you, Jeff Miller, for joining me on the think UDL podcast.

Jeff Miller  02:51

My pleasure, Lillian, great to be with ya.

Lillian Nave  02:54

And glad to have connected, saw story about you at our alumni newsletter and just thought I had to reach out. So I really want to learn a lot about what you’re doing about workforce readiness for neurodiverse talent. But first, I’m gonna ask the same question I asked all my guests and that is what makes you a different kind of learner,

Jeff Miller  03:16

you bet and love the Williams connection, obviously, in the Williams community. And all these years later, I still stay in touch with with, you know, a cohort of folks that I graduated with. And whenever we talk, it’s like no time has passed. So it’s it’s Williams continues to be a gift for me. And encourage all your students to really just just embrace and enjoy the those those four or more years exactly that they spent. But to your question, I think that the thing that makes me a different kind of learner is the work that I do. So my background is I spent about 25 years in human capital and consulting, working for big corporations, either running talent programs for them, or working for some recruitment and staffing organization supplying resources and services to them. So very much in that corporate kind of kind of mode. And a couple of things happen which we can get into as we as we talk but but I founded potential, the company that I now run in 2019. And so I think certainly for me moving from the corporate sort of more traditional role into more of an entrepreneurial role has opened up my perspective on how I learned best and really how I work best. Okay, so for me, you know, just being in touch with the fact that I am doing creative work, I do that better at a certain time of day. And if I’m tired, I’m actually more creative. And so maybe just to squeeze a little more juice out of that out of that orange. You know, at that time. There are certain tasks that I’ve learned that I don’t do was well in the morning. And being an entrepreneur has given me a license to be a little more flexible in terms of how I learned and how I work more generally. But I think the biggest thing is just the work that I do I potential is very much involved in the neurodiversity movement. And I talk with a lot of people who are neurodiverse, my son is neurodiverse. And so, you know, for folks who are neurodiverse, I found that there, and oftentimes a lot more in touch with how they learn and what they need to learn. We’re talking about autism, ADHD, OCD, dyslexia, PTSD, right. And for folks who who have those cognitive differences, a lot of times, it’s not a nice to have, they really are going to be much more effective if they can structure environments where they can learn in a certain way. Yeah, but they can work in a certain way. And so for me, it was just really kind of giving myself license, but also learning from our community. You know, because we get some people who’ve accomplished some really amazing things. And along the way they’ve learned, they’ve learned how they learn. They’ve learned how they work, they’ve given themselves license to be a little bit flexible in what they do. You know, my wife’s a night owl, you know, she She was an amazing student much better than I was. But she got a lot of her work done between midnight and three in the morning. Yeah, yeah. And she wasn’t a big partier. She was just, that was the time of day where she really did well. And then she could calm down, go to sleep, you know, and get up and crush it the next day. So I think for me, it’s really just giving yourself license to the most important thing for me is giving yourself license for your preferences and, and then being able to advocate for those. Yeah, right. So the other piece of that is a much longer answer than I had planned on giving you. But but but a lot of people in the corporate world that we come across, don’t necessarily ask for what they need all the time. Okay. And so in our programs, and we can talk more about this, but the kind of self advocacy, if you’re in a corporate environment, I think just just getting to know what you what you do well, and how you work best and how you learn best. It’s been a huge lesson for me that I’ve learned really, really well into my career. I was I was, you know, trying to push a rock up a hill for a long time. Yeah. In the roles that I was in and had some success and had some setbacks. But it really came, you know, well into my career that I realized, wow, there, there are different ways to learn, there are different ways to work. And I need to be in tune with that not only for the people who have been in leadership roles, you know, more recently, not only for the people that I lead, but for myself,

Lillian Nave  07:44

yeah, wow, that is see, flexibility is a huge theme, like being able to be flexible about when you work, how you work, and giving that flexibility to others to recognize and encourage the potential. And, wow, I got to put that also into our higher ed field isn’t that wouldn’t that be great? If we had a lot of flexibility to for our students to be able to do the work when they can or when they’re best suited to be doing their best. So there’s a lot with universal design for learning to provide flexibility, but also structure, right, we definitely still need structure. But there’s a lot of overlap. And I also noticed there was a lot of kind of self realization, and noted that you said your wife was a night owl working from 12 to three and there was there were decades where that was my time. The only time I could work when kids were asleep, and I still, you know, I could power through things. But that’s also now changed. And now I I’ve got to work in the mornings. And so recognizing that everybody is different, that learners are different that workers are different, and how can we harness that? The the talent that we have, that’s what I’m really excited about the things that you’ve created the the ways to get at that talent. seems really interesting to me. So So you’ve already mentioned potential, and wanted to know, can you tell me more about potential and why you created

Jeff Miller  09:19

it? Absolutely. And when I’m talking with a prospect or talking with a candidate, I always start with our why so I love your question. Because I think I think that really are wiser what shape us right and why do we do what we do? And I think I think sometimes people get to get to the what and how can we work together? But a little bit of why is often you know, that’s the connective tissue that ties us together, right? So for me, it’s really the intersection of the personal and the professional. So my career. I started right out of Williams as a as an IT recruiter. Had a bunch student loans. And I needed to get to work. And I had no idea about either it or recruiting. But I liked the team that I interviewed with that, you know, spec in senior year. And I just, I just felt a connection to them that I couldn’t really explain. But they took pity on me and taught me about both it and recruiting. So I was in the staffing industry for about 11 years. And that company sent me out to the West Coast out to Silicon Valley and started in Boston. And that was the local sales office. But it’s also corporate headquarters. And I mentioned that because I had a great, great manager, but I also had the CEO right down the hall. So I had the chance to really see how how the sausage was made, if you will, and how they were how they were building this business. And he was a really charismatic guy really gifted, you know, business person, I learned a ton from him. And, and they sent me out to the West Coast to open up offices for them. So I went out to Silicon Valley, which is a big move for me at 24. And one office became five, I became a regional leader for them. And then the company sold, so I decided to move into consulting. And, and on the consulting side, I like that because it was it was a little bit more value perceived with that you’re working with executives in terms of how they’re, you know, implementing big programs and sometimes the staffing business, you kind of get pushed to the side a little bit and kind of looked at as a commodity, kind of thing. But But I learned a lot from it moved into consulting. And I didn’t think I’d go back into into staffing, but I got recruited to Houston, where we live now about seven years ago, to run a global staffing company. And that checked off a bunch of boxes for me, because they were a really cool company. It was a global role. It was the corner office, it was, you know, some things that I sort of set out is Wouldn’t this be cool one day, and it was interesting, looking back on it, I realized that I thought, well, you know, there were parts of this business that I I didn’t really love. But I thought, well, once I get to that level, surely, it’ll be great and perfect, and everything will be amazing. And I got to that role. And I’m running the company day to day, and I’m reporting to the board. And I’m kind of encountering some of the same things and sort of, you know, the politics and the, you know, that kind of thing, and just not feeling like there was a higher calling or a higher purpose to it. It’s interesting in the staffing business, you would think I mean, we close the sale, it means someone goes to work, right? And you would think you would think that that’s pretty, you know, high energy, right. But for me, I noticed that the business was pretty commoditized, the people that we ended up putting into work could have gone with any number of other companies. So we really kind of marginalized. And we weren’t able to really provide as much value as I would have liked. But this now this company that I joined seven years ago, they were doing some other things around not just staffing, but around workforce optimization, which was really interesting to me. So it’s not just about putting butts in seats, as we would call it back in the day. It was about how do you make your workforce run better? How do you get more women into your engineering department? How do you that’s great, yeah, you know, de risk your vendor pool or implement new tech or any number of things that kind of put a strategic wrapper around what you’re doing and really deal with more workforce issues holistically than just the staffing piece. I really liked that a lot. But I also felt like there was still something that was just missing there. And the missing piece came to me through my family, because my son was diagnosed as autistic when he was six. And it was, you know, not a shock to us. Because we knew obviously, there were some things that were going on there and some areas where he was struggling. But still, we didn’t know a lot about it. And it really kind of knocked us back on our heels. We did a lot of research and, and really got into a good rhythm with him over time where we helped him kind of in that year to year mode, how we’re gonna help Charlie be as best as a sixth grader, seventh grade, or eighth grader. But when he hit about 16, and as you know, as a basketball player, I’m about six foot seven. So when Charlie was 16, he was almost looking me in the eye. So that was the first clue I had that he was that he was he was becoming a young man. And I’m sure you can relate to this slowly and it sneaks up on us as parents a little bit. It’s like, how did that happen? Yeah, you know, I was just taking him trick or treating as a four year old as a as a Power Ranger. And he was stealing candy out of the other kids bags, like, you know, yeah, how did he become 16 and he’s six, four, and he’s looking in the eye. And so that really took me back and I had to sort of run a check on myself and I realized we were getting pretty good at that year to year thing for him. But he was 16 What was Is life gonna be like when he was 26 as an autistic adult, or 36. And I had to admit that I didn’t really know. And so I’m running this company. But I’m also, you know, keenly aware of my son growing up and really becoming a remarkable young man. But I, I just felt like that was a gap in my knowledge base. And so I went on a big research project, just as a DAP to try and figure out what, what what I could do to help Charlie in this new phase that he was entering. And I learned a couple of things that ultimately tie back to potential. The first one was I learned about the neurodiversity movement. So I learned just how big this movement is. And again, we’re talking about autism and ADHD, and the other the other differences that we mentioned. But but I didn’t realize that it’s at least 25% of the adult population is neurodiverse. So at least 25% of us are walking around with just a different operating system. So we see the world differently, we process things differently, we may have different challenges, almost certainly have some different strengths, that maybe not being tapped into. Right. And that was just amazing to me. The second thing that I learned, so the 25% was better. Yeah. The second thing that I learned was that, for someone like my son, who’s who’s very capable, but has some struggles as a result of his autism, he’ll go to school, he’ll he’ll graduate with a much better GPA than I did. And yet, he’s looking at about an 80% unemployment rate. Yeah. As a talented autistic young man, right. And a lot of that has to do with the interview process, and a lot of things. These folks are incredibly bright, and they’ve got such potential, but they don’t often get corporate America and the corporate world now, because we’re a global company now often misses these these folks. So that really hit me, and it hit me personally because of my son. And so at that point, I knew, Okay, I want to play a bigger role in this, I want this to be I want to continue my research, maybe support a nonprofit, you know, do different things to support this community. Because that’s the 80% is, is obscene. That’s a real problem, right? You know, and folks that are really talented, but may just interview differently, right? And yet, and yet, they’re sitting home on the couch, or they’ve got a degree in engineering, let’s say, but they’re flipping burgers. Yeah. And they’re, and they’re radically underemployed. Right. But definitely the size was one thing, the problem was another. And then I started talking to people, because I had a lot of contacts in the business world. And there are a handful of companies that were doing neurodiversity employment work, they were intentionally going out and recruiting and hiring neuro diverse talent. And I was really interested in that, you know, what I was interested in, you know, my son’s health and happiness and productivity and relationships and all of it, but it clearly employment was an area where I came from. And so that was a big aspect for me, it wasn’t the only thing I was considering. But it was an important one, you know, what, what kind of work is Charlie going to do? How is he going to find fulfillment out there? And it’s gonna start when business is gonna, you know, what, what are the options that are out there for him. And so these companies that were intentionally recruiting, and it was SAP and Microsoft, and JP Morgan, Chase, and all names, you know, and they were intentionally going out and hiring folks like this. And so I just picked up the phone and called the people who are running these programs, who become friends and mentors of mine over time. And they were telling me how amazing these programs are, and how the ROI on these programs is ridiculous.

Lillian Nave  18:29

Yeah, return on investment. If you just invest a little bit in these in these programs, you’re gonna have a great outcome for your company. Yeah. So

Jeff Miller  18:37

and just one example of that would be, you know, having been a business owner now and run multiple businesses, the cost of turnover is quite large. Okay. Right. I mean, you people are talking about the great resignation, and quite quitting and all these things that are going on right now, post COVID. But it’s always been something there’s always been a certain amount of turnover. And a lot of companies have just priced that into their, their business, but it’s really expensive when you’re losing good people all the time. Yeah. And one of the stats that and I knew that going in, but one of the stats that that was conveyed to me was an average neuro diversity program has 96% retention.

Lillian Nave  19:18

Whoa, that’s huge. That’s

Jeff Miller  19:22

96% Yeah. Okay. You’re, you’re alright. Right. And so I knew folks that had 30 35% turnover in different roles. And I knew that if just just on the business, just on the ROI of that, if you could, if you could drop your turnover from 30% to 4%. That’s a massive windfall for your company. Yeah, right. So these guys are finding that that’s the case that the turn, but it’s not just that these candidates tend to be more productive than their peers given a similar level of experience. They tend to be more innovative because they literally think differently. And they tend to actually pick up new skills faster. Because if it ties into what a lot of our candidates have, which will be described as a hyperfocus, they’ll really dive into it. It’s that candidate. That’s like, I know, you told me to just leave this alone, but I get some extra work on it over the weekend. And I came back and I think I’ve got to write and you’re like, I love this guy. I love this. Yeah, they’re amazing. And so we’re hearing a lot of those stories. And, and yet, I asked the people that were running these programs, they said, Well, I mean, of the Fortune 500, let’s just start there. How many companies are doing this? Because the ROI again, the ROI is amazing. And it was like one to 2%. Wow. And so now I’m like, Okay, I care about this deeply. You know, it’s a huge problem, massive business benefits, really strong business case for it. And nobody’s doing it, or very few people are doing it. Right. And so I it was it, I don’t know any other way to describe it, it just became a calling that I had to do this. First, I had to convince my wife, that I should leave the corner office and start this new business that not a lot of people had heard about at the time. Yeah, it’s actually changed a little bit in the in the four years we’ve been doing this. But But, and she was, of course, totally on board. So my passion saw the solid, the, you know, just the common sense of it all. And so that led us to start potential so so we thought of potential in 2019. And, and the goal of it is, is really to connect neurodiverse talent, with businesses around the world, to the benefit of both to show them how to recruit, and onboard and career path, people who may happen to be neurodiverse. And how do you create a welcoming environment for folks, but also a predictive environment and interviewing, interviewing? So someone interviews a little bit differently, you want to be inclusive to that and supportive of that, but you still got to be predictive, you still got to determine can this person do the job. And I had a lot of experience in that from decades, and staffing and consulting. So I thought, okay, whatever skills I have in this space, I just, it’s a calling, I feel compelled to do something to move the needle on this, because it’s, it’s, it’s a, it’s not only an injustice, it’s a huge missed opportunity for these businesses. Yeah. So that’s really how potential came to be.

Lillian Nave  22:23

And for our neurodiverse family members and friends and co workers, there’s, there’s so much potential, I love the name of your company. And that, when you were talking about how we miss this in interviews, that’s something that in academia, we call construct irrelevant variants, which is like when you test someone and you want to know what they’ve learned, but you say, you have to do it in five minutes with this pen, in a with your left hand, right, or something like that, we’ve added barriers for them to be able to show their ability to do the task, right? If you put on irrelevant things. So do you need to be sociable, and look me in the eye and the interviewer otherwise, I’m not going to hire you. Whereas the job never calls for you to be sociable, and look, you know, look someone in the eye because there’ll be doing some behind the scene things there’ll be working, you know, in in other areas. And that’s not actually a skill you need to have, or that’s kind of superfluous. But that seems to be one of those irrelevant things that often causes that 80% unemployment rate for neurodiverse candidates. So I really love that you’re tackling this. And you’ve actually given me the kind of the verbiage of the working world because I’m always in the higher ed world most of the time. So I appreciate how this is such a win win, and hoping that our students that are graduating from colleges and universities worldwide who are neurodiverse, and we’re hoping and trying with universal design for learning to to increase the graduation rates and meet all the needs of our students, that then they’re going to have success in their working life. So you’ve outlined looking at potential, you’ve outlined three foundational principles of neuro diverse fluid organizations, and they actually mapped directly onto Universal Design for Learning principles. So that’s one of the reasons I wanted to talk to you. And you said they are they remove selection barriers, we sort of talked about this by ensuring the process is not biased against neuro distinct employees, and they listen to their neuro distinct employees and stay informed on how to shape psychologically safe work cultures, and they support person specific accommodations. This is a goldmine. So can you tell me more about each of these and give some examples?

Jeff Miller  24:57

Sure. Sure. So yeah. The thing that we see that’s, that’s really the biggest barrier and you hit on a million is is the the interview, and the way that interviews have been done, and we talked to a lot of hiring managers who say, but we’ve always done it this way. Yeah. And we point out, okay, well, let’s look at the data, you’ve always done it this way. And yet, you’ve got 28% turnover in this role. So maybe we should re explore that, wherever you were given, give that a fresh look. Yeah, just just a real basic example that we see a lot. So somebody might have a process that they’ve they’ve used a whole lot. And in interviewing candidates, and maybe part of that is panel interviews, panel interviews are particularly difficult for a lot of our neurodiverse community, it’s difficult to know who to focus on. A lot of times, just by the nature of it, you end up getting multiple complex questions at the same time that you’ve got to sort of sort out. And just for context, again, a lot of work if you get 80% unemployment, what does that look like, that’s a lot of candidates applying to roles that are for with companies that are not indie friendly, they’re no fault of their own, they just don’t know, I’ve always done it this way. And so they create an environment, that’s, that’s really not not really conducive to different ways of thinking. And as we’ve said, it hurts them down the line in terms of the innovation and the creativity that exists within the company. Right, you can hire a lot of a lot of great Stanford MBAs, right? Let’s pick on Stanford. And, you know, they’re gonna be incredibly bright and come up with really good solutions. But there may be a bit of groupthink, where people tend to think somewhat similarly, if their experience is that similar. So it’s not about intelligence. It’s about intelligence, and creativity and innovation and different ways of thinking. Yeah, so there’s a tax that they’re paying by not being more inclusive. And that’s the, that’s the first point that we make to them. But the second point is we explained listen to candidates that we’re talking about, a lot of times have have some trauma. You know, they have that they’ve had difficult experiences in the past, where they’ve interviewed lots of places not been hired, don’t know why they weren’t hired, or maybe they were hired, and then exited quickly, because the environment just wasn’t set up for them to succeed. They think differently, they process information differently, they see the world differently. So, of course, they’re going to behave differently, especially in an interview, which is a really highly charged, anxious situations. So you’re already going into it with with, you know, a different perspective. But you’ve had some you’ve touched the hot stove before and you’ve been a bit burned by. So you may not advocate for what you need, you may be in a situation where you’re already more anxious. And now you get this panel interview coming at you. And you’re like, I’m really struggling, you know, but you’re not going to ask for any any accommodation, right? Or any, you know, are talking about your success factors, you’re gonna, you’re gonna just try and white knuckle it and go through it and not get hired. So, you know, we’ve got candidates who are already, you know, may have had some bad experiences in the past with interviews, interviews, or are anxious for anxious injuries for all of us, and maybe even more, so that candidate may perform even more, even more, more differently, or more poorly in the traditional sense. Okay, then they might otherwise. So what do we do with that? Well, we get rid junk, the panel interview, first of all, it’s not needed. And there’s no data to show that that is more predictive than anything else. And we chant we, we replace it with a project. Okay, so and so there’s going to be a certain amount of interviewing and discussion, we tried to script that a little bit. To take some of the guesswork out of it. We try to coach managers on can you probably want to ask questions in a single threaded way. We’re not looking for gotcha questions here. We’re really looking to understand and get this candidate, put them at ease as much as you can. Because you want to recreate, what are you trying to solve for here, you’re not trying to solve for who’s the best interviewer you’re trying to solve for who’s going to be the best employee on a given Tuesday? Yeah, well, on a given Tuesday, that anxiety level isn’t gonna be ratcheted up that high, so let’s bring that down a little bit. And then the sewer project where we give the candidates a chance to show what they can do, instead of the litmus test being who’s the best at telling me what they can do, which really has no relevance to the job itself. So we’ll give them an assignment that’s related to the job. We’ll give them plenty of time to do it plenty time to ask questions, we’ll make sure the instructions are really clear. And and we’ll see how they do and then then the managers can decide but we’re giving them more information to be able to make a good decision about who’s the who’s the right person to hire, who’s who’s who’s going to be most productive, but most happy in the role, what’s going to be the best fit. And so just making tweaks like that we found to be really, really impactful and We’ve got a number of companies, that this is a common theme, right? That the things that you do as a company to be nd friendly benefit your whole workforce. Yes. So the project piece and the ability to show what you can do versus just saying what you can do, it’s beneficial to everybody. And it’s beneficial to the manager in terms of having a more predictive process. So that’s one of the ways that we that we identify, that’s one big selection barrier that we knocked down, but then you got to replace it with something. And that’s, that’s, that’s how we do that. To your second point, you know, listening to Nerdist thanked employees out absolutely critical. Right. So so we have certain certain core principles in terms of what we do, and sort of, you know, just just touchstones that we come back to, you know, one of them is keep the main thing, the main thing. So, so and we can talk more about that. But another one is asked the person. So, when we train companies about neuro diversity, it’s then tempting I think, for them, especially if it’s new to them to think, Oh, I’ve got it now. Okay, so this person is autistic. So that must mean that they’re going to be x, and they’re going to respond, and why fashion? And we’re like, no, no, no, no, we run a company that is his employees, the employees here, majority nerds think ourselves, and I can tell you, the diversity within our community is massive, like with any other community, so really, you know, we say, learn the lessons lose the labels is another one for us. So, you know, it’s, it’s really about, okay, do some homework, learn what you can, but that’s really an invitation then to talk to the individual and find out where they’re what how things land with them, don’t assume, right. And so we want to create those structures and those end design, you know, to your point, a love the idea of universal design, but but to design a process that you were you’re able to get feedback in multiple ways, you’re able to get feedback anonymously, and in non threatening ways, and just just gather all that in. So that you, you know, you know, if you want to create an MD program, talk to your nd employees, it’s pretty straightforward, right? But a lot of companies don’t do that. Their diversity movement, I’m throwing a lot of jargon at you here. But the neurodiversity movement has a big sort of touchstone themselves, which is nothing about us without us. Yes. Right. And so the idea is, you’ve got it, if you’re doing something that’s going to that’s targeted toward your nd community, you’re in a diverse community, you need to involve them, they need to be part of the decision making process. And so and you’re just going to be better as an organization as a result if you do that. So involving them in the process is really key. And then the third one, you mentioned, person specific accommodations, we’re actually trying to reorient the idea of accommodations.

Lillian Nave  33:06

Okay. What do you mean, because?

Jeff Miller  33:11

Well, this goes back a little bit, but let me let me let me give up, hopefully not too winding an answer. The neurodiversity movement, and you know, things like autism and ADHD come out of traditionally a medical model, where, where, where, where differences are diagnosed and treated, and tried to be fixed. Right. And so it’s very much and that’s really helpful when you have a you know, a tumor in your leg. Right? Really helpful. But for people who the vast majority, the people we talk to in the community, they feel like this is part of their identity.

Lillian Nave  33:50

It’s a good thing. It’s yeah, it’s just who we don’t need to fix it.

Jeff Miller  33:54

We don’t need to fix it. Right. And it comes with some challenges and some things that where people, but we all have that, right? Yes. So I’ve had people say to me, Well, do stuff, I’m better you at this, and this and this, and you’re better than me at this thing. Who’s the disabled person? Yeah, I don’t feel disabled, I just this is part of my identity, like being left handed or being gay or whatever, right? It’s part of who I am. So I don’t want you to try and fix that. And so you know, in that context, the idea of accommodations can be a little challenging because it has the residue of that deficit mentality. And so what we like to shift to is, number one, this, this should be a social contract with all managers, and all all team members, that it’s about how do I create an environment for you as an individual? And by the way, I may not be able to completely, but that’s the goal, right? How do I create an environment for you where we keep the main thing, the main thing, right, we don’t stress on the things that are not relevant, but within that main thing, category But how do we set you up so you can be as happy and as productive as possible? And that should be the case. That’s the social contract that should be in place with every worker and every manager in the world. Yeah. Right. So setting it aside as this accommodations thing to us is, you know, there may be we’re pragmatic, right, we recognize that that’s been out there for a long time. And a businesses need that to be able to check a box and then get the actual accommodation that someone needs. Fair enough. But it’s really about success factors. It’s really about what are the success factors for that individual? And how can how do i within the corporate context? And I do have limitations. There’s a boss, right? I can’t do everything. But what can I do to create an environment where you’re as happy and as successful as possible? So within that context, we find a lot of that discussion really moves away from accommodations, it doesn’t need a doctor’s note, it’s just about a conversation between your boss and you about cheese, I really feel like I could be more productive if I was in a lower traffic area. That wasn’t right next to the kitchen. Yeah. You know, that makes sense. That makes sense. That’s pretty fair. Right? Yeah. And, you know, I enjoy it, but I get distracted really easily. And I find that when I can really focus, I’ll be more happy, I’ll be more productive, I’ll be able to deliver more work for the company. So is that something that we can consider? Right? That’s the success factors conversation. That’s not an accommodations conversation. So. So that’s a lot of how we think about it. And how we frame it. Because again, it’s it’s about, it’s about different. It’s not about less than,

Lillian Nave  36:38

yeah. Oh, fantastic. I’m thinking of so many of these ideas are very much universal design for learning strategies that I’ve been talking about with folks all over the world and in higher ed, that are now moving into the workforce world. And you’ve really articulated it really well, one of the things you mentioned, you said we could get back to it. And now I’m going to ask you to get back to what you said, keep the main thing, the main thing. That’s one of the things that I talk about a lot, which is to be very specific with what the goal is, and to tell our students tell the people, what is the goal and to make sure we separate maybe knowledge, goals and skills goals, so that we’re not combining two five things into a big blob. What do you mean, when you’re talking about in this context, keep the main thing the main thing?

Jeff Miller  37:31

Absolutely. So that’s a through line that goes through everything that we do. So if we’re thinking about job descriptions, for example, it’s another area that can be a real pain point. A lot of job descriptions are written with a lot of sort of corporate jargon, and must be a great communicator for your accountant that you need. And yeah, right, you know, some of these other things that, you know that these job descriptions sort of get passed down and they get sort of, you know, calcified. And it’s like, you know, well, this is just what we’ve always done. Well, the reality, one of the one of the things that we find, just with job descriptions is that a lot of our candidates are very literal. Yeah. And so where I would look at that job description, and I would say, Well, I’ve got eight out of 10 of those, I can probably learn the other two, I’m a great fit for this, I’m going to apply. You have 1000s and 1000s of neurodiverse candidates who would look at that and say, I don’t have nine, I don’t have 10, I can’t apply. Yeah, that’s what they’re asking for. I don’t have it. Non fit. We see that I had this really drilled at home for me, I had someone that we were working with, who was already in a job, who was who was a business analyst within within a corporate structure and was doing really well. And there was an internal job that she would have crushed. But she looked at it and applied that same thing to it said I don’t have nine I don’t have 10, I’m not going to apply even for that internal job, because the way it was written discouraged her from applying. Okay, so there’s certain things that we look at there. And certainly the main thing, keeping the main thing is, is very strong in that aspect. Right. But it carries, so don’t put things on your job description that you don’t really need. Yeah. Or or if there are make sure you label them really clearly as nice to have nothing wrong with that. Right. Yeah, but in your must have category. Don’t don’t put everything but the kitchen sink if you don’t need that because you’re going to miss a lot of candidates that could be wonderful employees for you. Yeah, right. So that’s, that’s certainly a big, big chunk of it in terms of, you know, keeping the main thing, the main thing, but it flows through everything that we do when you’re managing somebody. We talk a lot about what why and how. So as a leader, it’s it’s my responsibility to really lean into like you said, what are we trying to accomplish? Why are we trying to accomplish it? But the how is interesting, right? If I’m overly prescriptive on the how, how we get something done, then we’re really going to be limited by my intelligence and my creativity. And that’s a scary thought. So I hire people who are a lot smarter than me. So we need to let them cook. Right, we need to let them do what they do. And so I tried to not be overly prescriptive on the how, and that’s part of the main thing as well, right? The main thing is what we want to achieve and why we want to achieve it. Oftentimes, it’s not how we get there. And if you leave room, and you leave space for the how, then you’re going to get, it’s going to pay you back many times over in terms of the engagement of your employees, because they’re going to feel more ownership and the innovation that they’re going to show because they’re going to come up with creative solutions that you never would have thought,

Lillian Nave  40:46

yeah, this is a straight line connection to Universal Design for Learning, because we talked about the why the what and the how, and how is the assessment part, it’s in being really clear on what the goal is, and say, here is what you need to demonstrate, here’s what you know, I need to see, but the way you can get to it can be a poster, an infographic, a video and a podcast a paper, right. But you’ve mentioned a couple times, like the this is the way we’ve always done it, these calcified ideas, it’s, I feel like we’re doing the same thing in just different areas in higher ed, we’ve got so many Well, we’ve always given a multiple choice test here in this midterm right on in this subject, and starting to, you know, and think about, well, that’s not really serving the purpose it needs to serve. And being really, really clear it is it’s all about this design principle being really clear on what we really want. And communicating that to our workers, our students are, the people that we’re working with be very clear, so that that flexibility can be allowed really to flourish. And it took me a long time to get to that place to because I really liked a lot of the structures, and I was really a good hoopjumper, you know, going through all those things, but then I found out that there were so many other people, just like you said, you hire a bunch of people who are a lot smarter, there are a lot of my students who are more creative than I could ever be. And they’ve shown me so many different ways that are so much better than what I thought of before that I’m seeing this beautiful human flourishing that I hadn’t seen before, because of the change in design. That’s happened, and you’ve got this added bonus of now we’re seeing neurodiverse neurodivergent people with higher employment and making a life for themselves that may have been denied before because of that design. Right? That, yeah, allowed into that spot before. It’s just fantastic. But you don’t realize that all of the words, you’re you’re saying are those, these direct connections to exactly universal design for learning the, the engagement principles and, and how to really pinpoint these things to make sure we’re not alienating students, and we’re not alienating our workforce. And, and, and our, you know, what we really want to do, we want to see students succeed, we want to see everybody learn, we want to see this great outcome. But we’re often our greatest enemy, too, because we’re holding on to things that just don’t work anymore. And I really appreciate that you’re putting into process these things that are working for people. So great. So you’ve got several of these programs. One of them is the stars program. And I wanted to ask about that, which is spectrum training, recruitment and support. Nice acronym there. So I wanted to Yeah, the grant that started this podcast was called College STAR, which was supporting transition access and retention. So

Jeff Miller  44:10

I mean, we’re just in sync on a number of different ways out there.

Lillian Nave  44:14

Crazy Crazy. So can you walk us through the initial the planning, the manager and team training, Talent Recruitment, and then support for the new hire like you’ve got this down? You cover an impressive amount of groundwork in this program, if you can just kind of outline it.

Jeff Miller  44:30

Yeah. And we thank you. And we saw, we saw a real gap. We saw a lot of the nonprofits when I was researching this. So well who’s on the case? Right? Who you know, we see this problem. It’s huge. It’s impacting a lot of people, not a lot of big companies doing anything about it. But But who’s pushing the envelope on this? And what we saw when we started was it was a lot of nonprofits and and you know, They’re doing great work. But a lot of it was geared toward, let’s just get somebody working. Right. And so you might have a college grad with a bunch of student loans who’s taking a job flipping burgers or making pizzas, and they’re making 15 bucks an hour. There’s nothing wrong with that job. And for a lot of our guys, that’s a really good job. But a lot for a lot of guys and gals, it’s, it’s a stepping stone job, right? It’s, it’s to learn what you need to learn, and then move up, you know, a lot of our guys are really, you know, incredibly capable, and they just need a little bit of help to get there. We had one individual who was actually unemployed for about 18 months. And he got into a program he got into a corporate environment, he’s now in the on the leadership track with that company. Nice. And he just bought his first

Lillian Nave  45:50

house. Perfect. Rice, fantastic.

Jeff Miller  45:53

So our average salary, starting salary last year within the stars program was 76k. They’ll be at one bottom, but probably be at one and change this year. So we didn’t see anybody filling that niche. And it’s a niche to be sure. I mean, the nervous community is incredibly broad, right there. There are people in the autism community, let’s just take that right, who really need around the clock care? I mean, they’re profoundly affected by their autism, right. And then there’s Elon Musk, right? There’s all kinds of people, it’s a great big 10. And so for us as a business, we knew that we had to pick a lane. And and really focus there because it’s such a big problem that for us as a new business, we had to had to just be disciplined, and not necessarily say no, but maybe say not yet to some of the things that and we do this, we get approached by different opportunities all the time. And sometimes we need to do them. But the niche that we really saw that we wanted to try to fill was that niche of white collar workers that are in really high demand knowledge workers. So I T engineering, finance, counting. You know, we have account managers, we have people in HR people in marketing roles. But generally what we thought about is sort of the shared service model or office roles or things like that, that’s the majority of what we feel right now, because we just didn’t see a lot of people doing it. Yeah. And there are a bunch of people out there that are getting people from sort of zero to one or two, where they’re getting the flipping burgers job. Yeah, but nobody or not, we didn’t see anybody really, that was that knew how to talk to corporations, and make the business case to them. And then get these folks a fair shot and opportunities where they could really make some money, where they can be financially independent, where they can move out of their parents house, if that if that was, you know, motivation or write, you know, and so that’s we want folks, these are highly intelligent people who know that they’re capable of more than what they’re doing when they’re making 18 bucks an hour. So that can really be soul crushing for somebody, if you’re 2627 28, you can’t get out of that. out of out of that, that rut, right? That, again, was a great job when you first started, but eventually, you know, you want to move past that if you’ve if you’ve got capabilities to do so. So that’s really kind of the niche that we that we that we fill in the stars program is we looked at it I know from my my staffing background, what you want to do there is you want to recruit companies, because if you recruit companies that are ready to move, that are that are curious, that are nd curious, and we can get them to nd competent, right? That’s going to create opportunities in bunches. So we got one company right now where we’re doing, you know, 12, we’re doing a 12 person pilot for them all 12 roles in the US, again, average average salary about 81 82k. That’s a that’s a big effort, right? So so it’s gonna create a lot of opportunities, and then we’re going to use social media, we’re going to publicize it, we’re going to celebrate it celebrate the candidates celebrate the client, because the more people that see how successful this is, even if they don’t work with us on it, right, that’s part of moving the needle overall and raising that awareness. So stars, so stars is really the principal way that we get to that. And and, and that when we started out it was really focused on on autism, because that’s what I knew, because because of my son. And over time we’ve we’ve we’ve broadened it out to neurodiversity more broadly. But it’s it’s spectrum training, recruitment and support. So spectrum is the legacy term for autism spectrum, right. And training is really employer training. Yeah, we train the companies because we’re not trying to change the we’re not trying to cure the workers. Yeah, we’re trying to, it’s the companies that don’t have the equivalent of a wheelchair ramp for non diverse people. Right. You would look at that and you would say, you need a ramp, like, come on. What are you doing this century? Yeah, right. Right. But, you know, with invisible differences, it’s it’s it’s harder to peg the That sometimes and it’s also harder to hold that company accountable. So how are you being inclusive from an MD standpoint? That’s, that’s changing, but we, we train the companies on. Okay, what is neurodiversity? Because not everybody knows, um, the term was only coined in 1998. So it’s, although neurodiversity I want to point out has existed forever, know that? Right? But you know, we’re only just starting to really understand it. So, so the training piece is training the company on what is neurodiversity? What are the business benefits of it? And then how can we implement that in your unique environment, because every stars implementation we do is a little different. Because the company we’re starting where the company is, so let’s say the company has a really good mentorship program. And it wasn’t developed for nd candidates per se, but it’s just a really good program, we’ll look at that. And we’ll say, don’t change a thing that’s gonna work really well for our community. But then maybe the rest of their onboarding, let’s say is a little weak, right? You might say, let’s, let’s shore that up a little bit, let’s look at what we can do to make that a little bit more intentional and get people ramped up. And maybe we actually start before they start having them, you know, build some rapport with some people and get comfortable, they’ll perform better, they’ll learn better. And by the way, you may want to implement this across your whole organization. And oftentimes they do. Yeah, so that’s the training piece, right. And we go through inclusive job descriptions, inclusive interviewing, onboarding, career pathing, change management, conflict resolution, all those types of things, right, so they’re honored. Once that’s done, we’ve been recruiting second phase all along the way for for roles that they’ve set aside for us to fill for them as a way to pilot this and learn how to do it really well. So we’ve been recruiting in the background, and as soon as they’ve been trained, they get an shortlisted group of candidates that they select from. And they select from them using the the updated, inclusive interview process that we talked about, like we’ve agreed upon with them, we made a couple of tweaks, we always start with where they are. And if we don’t have to change something, don’t change it, because we humans are averse to change, right? So so, you know, and we’ll learn things to will say, hey, you know what, this is a really cool program, you guys have don’t change a thing, right? Like I said, and so then they select, and then we go through a typically a structured 90 Day support process, because we’ve trained them, but now we’re live. Right now we’re going live. Now we got five new people that are starting in these two groups. And these two managers are our, you know, understand the theory, and under, and they’ve gotten to know these candidates a little bit. But now we want to get them to the point where those candidates whose new hires are as autonomous as anybody else, with similar experience. Okay, so generally, we give it about 90 days, we just we just live life, we just encountered stuff. And so they’ll get assigned a project and it goes really well. And they’ll get assigned another project with a different manager, and it’s not going so well. Right. Okay, good. I mean, good, almost right. It’s like, Yeah, let’s learn from that. Let’s learn from that, right? Because we want to leave you with something that’s sustainable, that that you can then take forward. So great, this is a great opportunity, let’s think about what we learned. And how should we approach the situation with this new manager and this new assignment the person has, right and so that’s, that’s typically packed into that 90 days. All of this is pretty light left for the manager. So we’ll meet with the managers once a week for the training piece, generally about 45 minutes, it’s quick hitter, right recruiting process, we streamline we, you know, we eliminate any unnecessary steps. Support process, same way, you know, not not a lot of time, but just the right time spent on things. And then typically at the end of it what you want, and what we’ve been able to deliver every time we’ve done this is number one, you get talent you wouldn’t have otherwise have, right? You get people in seats that you probably would have missed, most likely otherwise, you get metrics. So we survey everybody, including the managers, the teams, the individuals beforehand, during after, so we can see how productive are these individuals? Are they are they up to standard? Are they over? You know, beating their peers are innovative, are they? What’s the team dynamic now that we’ve introduced this concept, and now people are more open to ideas of supporting difference, and managers start to think, you know what, I don’t need to treat everybody the same. Because everybody isn’t the same. I need to treat them fairly. Right? And once they start to make that shift, then we say, okay, is this having benefit for the wider team? And that’s the expectation, and that’s what we’ve seen borne out. Some of the biggest proponents of this are the peers of the new hires that we get because they’re like, my man, what did you do to my manager? Yeah, she’s amazing. You know, she’s, she’s, you know, much more open. She’s really keeping the main thing the main thing here and she’s and she’s given me More flexibility and I feel more empowered, and I’m doing better work, you know, so so it should really benefit everybody, we’ve got measurables to make sure that that’s happening. And then the third thing is, we’ll use a, like a SharePoint site or a document storage area where every training we do, every document we do, every meeting we have is recorded, it all goes into that repository, so that they now have a set of customized best practices, so that they can take that experience that they had, hopefully, it’s gone really well. And they can export it to the rest of the organization. Now they know how to do it. So. So that’s really the the guideposts that we look at with stars. Now I’ll point out, we also have a new program we’re going to be rolling out. And it’s really all about what our customers have asked us for. So we had one of our best customers come to us and say we want to do an under the stars program. In next summer. Okay, what can we do in the meantime? And we love the question. We said, well, tell us what you mean, and said, Well, we know we’ve got a lot of neurodiverse individuals who are currently employed here. Okay. And most of them don’t disclose. Yeah. And that’s their, that’s their choice, as well, we support that. The fact that most of them don’t disclose leads us to think that they probably feel like they can’t disclose. Yeah, and so you’ve essentially got a, we know, we’ve got a chunk of our workforce that’s closeted. Yeah. And that, and we feel like that’s a problem, right? We can’t, we can’t fully support them if we don’t know, the issues, and we don’t, and just help them to be to be their best. So. So we’ve got a new program that we’re rolling out, it’s all about workforce optimization. It’s not necessarily specifically about hiring new people. It’s about the realization that you’ve got nd folks on your staff right now, you just don’t know it. They just haven’t told you. Right? Because they don’t feel like they can. So you know, arguably, you would say, what’s the level of engagement with that employee? It’s probably lower than it could be. Yeah, right. What’s the level of productivity with that employee? Probably lower than could be? How likely are they to stay with you probably probably less likely than if they felt fully empowered, and they could bring their whole selves to work every day. So, you know, this is really about creating, unlocking the potential of the current workers that you have, even if you’re not doing a big hiring program. You have these folks within your staff right now. And so how do we use things like Person Centered Leadership and psychological safety, and change management and inclusive communication, and et cetera, et cetera, to to create an environment where your workforce is as, as engaged, as productive as as high retention as you as as you know, you can get to. And what we’re finding is that neuro diversity is really kind of a secret, cheat code for these companies to be able to really perform better and have a much more happy and engaged workforce.

Lillian Nave  58:00

Yeah, what you’re describing to me, too, is the social model of, of this diversity, and neurodiversity. You had mentioned earlier, the medical model, which is the idea that people may need to be fixed to get them kind of back to the norm. We might, I’m using air quotes to say norm. And the social model is that there’s actually nothing wrong with the people. There’s nothing wrong with being on the spectrum, having ADHD, anxiety, whatever. There’s nothing wrong. That’s just part of regular human diversity. It’s a positive, good at like biodiversity, we are a better world because we have biodiversity. We have more medicines, we have better air, we have, you know, all these wonderful things, because we have biodiversity. And so recognizing human diversity as a good thing. And neurodiversity, especially as a positive good, then Where where are the pain points where they’re not located in the individual anymore, they’re actually located in the social environment, like when you don’t have a ramp for for a wheelchair user. And what you’re describing is kind of looking at that social world, the work world, I guess, and making that plays on that, that environment, better for everybody. And that social model is, is where at least I see the movement is going where in higher ed and beyond is that people are starting to learn about neurodiversity, and see that as a as a positive good. We need everybody. They’re all very important. But we have some things we’ve got to fix about our environment, about our hiring, about our workforce, about education, about so many things in order so that everybody in that wild diversity that we have can function optimally. So it seems like yeah, the another thing to talk about is that social model I’m which, to me, I had only really known of the medical model, like you had to get a diagnosis, right. And that’s how we first learned about these things. But it turns out that that model is pretty detrimental to the people I love and care about. And my students and right, we’re trying to serve.

Jeff Miller  1:00:24

Absolutely. And it’s pervasive, right? It’s, the medical model is something that’s, that we’ve all grown up with, right? You get a diagnosis, you go to the doctor, you get a diagnosis, then you get treated, and you get right. It very much comes into our schools, I definitely saw it with with with Charlie, and, you know, the fact that he got an IEP when he was in elementary school, and that was a good thing. Right, you know, to help him but it’s got to be balanced, it’s got to be it is It can’t just be about the individual, it has to be about the organizations, whether it’s, whether it’s higher, whether it’s higher ed, or whether it’s a corporation, okay, what are we doing to create an environment where the most people can be happy and productive here, right. And so and so that really gets to the, to the social model, and it’s, it’s, it’s just a, it’s just a pure business benefit for these guys, when they do it, when they have more fluent with that 25% of the population, then they’re gonna have a competitive advantage over the folks that don’t, right, it’s just that simple. So when we’re making that argument, you know, those are the kind of things that we emphasize. But then we lean very heavily on the on the social model as a construct, when we’re doing change management with these companies.

Lillian Nave  1:01:38

It’s fantastic. I love it. I love that we got into disability models and medical and social models. It’s fantastic. It’s stuff I’ve been interested in lately and talking to folks at conferences to about that. And we do we need to understand our work, and what model we’re actually using. And I think a lot of us in higher ed and a lot of us outside at higher ed are using a model we don’t realize we’re using. So the difference between that medical model and in the social model is really important. So okay, my last question is about advice. What advice do you have for employers? I know you, we’ve spent an hour talking about the advice you have for players, but to both employers who want to benefit from neurodiverse or nd talent, and also neurodiverse workers who want to find a job that’s a good fit for them. What if somebody’s on an in an elevator with you? And they asked you that? What do you say?

Jeff Miller  1:02:31

It’s a great question. I think, number one for employers, educate yourself. Right? neurodiversity is one of those things where you’re not that familiar with it, once you hear about it, you’ll see it every because it’s really an idea whose time has come. And so, you know, there’s lots of sources out there, educate yourself, do a little bit of homework. Then number two, ask your people, right? If you have people in your life, who are neurodiverse, ask them, you know, get get some perspectives. That individual yet another saying, in the autism world, you met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism exhibit seven all the time, that’s going to be the same, right? Yeah. So don’t extrapolate. But educate yourself. And that education is really just an invitation to learn more with the individuals in your, in your, in your life and your work life in your, in your in your home life. So ask them and listen. And number three, and you brought up, you brought this up a lot pay attention to the design. So as human beings, we all have biases. Some can be more pernicious. Some can be just how we group things. That’s a table, you know, I mean, I, you’re right. I mean, if you break, break it down to its most basic level, we have ways that we group and process data. Yeah, right. When we do that with people it can be it can be propped up very problematic. So So understanding that, you know, we all have well worn habits and sort of ways that we group information and ways that we’ve always done things and, you know, maybe you’re in a hiring mode, and you’re, you’re looking for that right cultural fit, right? And you think that’s, you think that’s the way to go, but in reality, you want different, different, different, you want different schools of thought in your organization in your team, you’re going to be better if you if you do, and you and you want to foster that you want to create that.

Lillian Nave  1:04:29

So So do you need to change your culture a little bit change your culture,

Jeff Miller  1:04:32

and but but to me, design is really a critical word here, because what are the repetitive processes that you have and what are they leading you to? Right? You know, culture can be tough. Sometimes culture is a little, little tough to grasp, but designed to me as a little more concrete. It’s like, how do you design your interview process isn’t inclusive, is it not? If it’s not, how do we get it there? How do we do design that and how do we keep that that way? Well, the way that you run a meeting is this is designed, the way that you do performance reviews is they designed, the structure of the way that your office is structured, is designed. So all of those things are things that you want to look at. and poke holes in and have your people poke holes. And so, you know, educate yourself, ask your people, and then pay attention to how your business is designed. Because that your the results that you’re getting are the direct result of how your business is designed. And all of these areas, right, it’s not an accident. So take a look at it and be ready to bring out the sledgehammer or the scalpel. But but be it be ready to make tweaks and be ready to improve based on the feedback that you’re getting from your from your valued employees. I think that’s, you know, for employers, that’s what I would do. For nd for nd workers, people who are who are entering the workforce. I always say, you know, find what lights you up first, yeah, what’s your passion? What gets you excited? Right, everybody has that? Yeah, you know, and if you don’t know what it is, keep exploring until you find things that let you up. And through that exploration, you’re gonna find things that you don’t like, and you’re gonna have situations that don’t go well. That’s okay. Right. But that’s because it’s part of the process of getting to what’s my passion, what fires me up? And then number two, I would say, you know, try to find, try to find work that’s, that’s close to that, if you can, not everybody can find work, that’s a direct, you know, line to their passion. Right? Sometimes people find that the work is enjoyable, and it’s a good work culture. And it makes me the money that I want to make so that I can do the thing on the weekends that I love to do. Right. That’s, yeah, that can be really good. That’s okay to be really good life. Right? Yeah. So so. But But, but but make sure that the work ties back to the passion in some way. It may not exactly be if it is the passion, great. If you want to be a cellist and you go study, you know, because God bless you. Right? Yeah. But it may be something else that you say, you know, what, right now, at this point in time, that’s not how I’m going to make money. But, but if I can tie it back, then it’s going to make the work that much more enjoyable. Right, yeah. And so I think, you know, I pay attention to, you know, not just the work that I’m doing, but the work culture that I’m in, is this an environment that feeds me, that allows me to be happy. And, and it’s, it’s a good cultural fit for me. Don’t Don’t settle for things that are not. You may be in that mode, and in the short term, but but but set a goal for yourself to get into a culture where you’re really recognized and rewarded for what you do. And then the last one, I would say is, there is no failure, there’s only learning. So So you know, when you try these different things, and something doesn’t work out, I can just tell you, you know, having, you know, more years in the work world, and I want to count, I’ve always learned the most from my failures, from the situations when, when things didn’t go the way I expected them to go. That’s where you learn, that’s where you, that’s where the, that’s where the growth is. So it’s gonna be part of it. It’s part of it for all of us. And I think if you if you take take that mindset, that it’s really all about learning, and then just applying that as you go forward, then I think that, you know, I found that to be good advice that I’ve tried to follow and good advice. Good advice for any college student, whether they’re MD or not on?

Lillian Nave  1:08:55

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And so therefore, if you believe in failure as a learning opportunity, you should design for failure. So design that you know, there’s not too big tests, if you fail, when you’re done, you know, have have lots of opportunities for failure, and therefore you can grow and learn from it, you could drop something, you know, it’s in that design part. So having opportunities, I like that block design for failure. I like that a lot so we can learn from it. So wow, thank you. This has been really life giving to me to think about, like next steps for all the all the people I talked to and what I’m doing in higher ed for my students. It really has upped the ante for me to think about the growth and opportunities for all of our neurodiverse students and what we can do to make this a better world for really everybody benefits from this. So thanks so much, Jeff for spending a long time talking to me. You can follow the thank you yell podcast on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to find out when new episodes will be released. And also see transcripts and additional materials at the think udl.org website. Thank you again to our sponsor Texthelp. Texthelp is focused on helping all people learn, understand and communicate through the use of digital education and accessibility tools. Texthelp and its people are working towards a world where difference, disability or language are no longer barriers to learning and succeeding, with over 50 million users worldwide. The Texthelp suite of products include Read and Write equates to an orbit note, which work alongside existing platforms such as Microsoft Office and G Suite, enabling them to be integrated quickly into any classroom or workspace with ease. Texthelp has changed the lives of millions worldwide, and strives to impact the literacy and understanding of 1 billion people by 2030. Additional support for the podcast is made possible by Appalachian State University where if you call it Appalachian, I’ll throw in Appalachia. The music on the podcast was performed by the Odyssey quartet comprised of Rex Shepherd, David Pate, Bill Folwell and Jose Cochez, and I am your host, Lillian nave. Thank you for joining us on The think UDL podcast

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