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How to Use ADHD to your Business Advantage

Alison Eveleigh  |  05/12/2019

Founder and CEO Rachel Worsley discusses how her ADHD has enabled her to build a successful professional career as well as in her current entrepreneurship journey.  
Sensory garden museum.

Sydney Neurodiversity Symposium 2019 Presentation Summary: Rachel Worsley

As part of Thriving Now's Sydney Neurodiversity Symposium 2019, held at Fishburners Sydney, Neurodiversity Media Founder and CEO Rachel Worsley shares how ADHD can be used to their business advantage. 

Takeaway: Those with ADHD are passionate and creative people who thrive off variety, interest and challenge. Rachel Worsley has leveraged these strengths to build a successful and diverse career and she believes that employers and entrepreneurs can too, by following some helpful advice.

Pictured: Rachel Worsley during her presentation. Note: This article was written by cadet journalist Alison Eveleigh's coverage of the presentation.

Background

  • Rachel’s career has taken a number of twists and turns. She was studying law and writing freelance articles on the side when a Twitter DM changed her life. It was a journalist at Australian Doctor Magazine, asking her if she was interested in a full-time job as a journalist reporting for a series of newsletters called Specialist Updates. She got the job and paused her law degree for six months. For the next three years, she covered reported on issues such as doctor’s mental health. She enjoyed the job, which saw her shortlisted for young writer of the year at the 2017 Mumbrella Awards.
  • In hindsight, Rachel realised her office colleagues were quite neurodiverse. However, she felt there was some stigma around talking openly about neurodivergent conditions like autism and ADHD in the media. After journalism, Rachel decided to try out law by working in a legal marketing role across two law firms. However, she struggled with the lack of daily deadlines and she found the work a lot less interesting than her journalism work.
  • However, she also learned the essential skills that have helped her to be an entrepreneur today, such as implementing and delivering a marketing strategy, being a proactive problem-solver and learning to communicate her ideas to corporate clients effectively. Rachel credits 2 supportive bosses for being instrumental in her career and believing in her strengths
  • During this work period, she struggled with her health and self-esteem, even though she was able to graduate from university with first class honours in law. Finally, she obtained her ADHD diagnosis on October 2018, confirming a long-held suspicion that her struggles with anxiety and depression were simply the result of untreated ADHD. The psychiatrist also suggested that Rachel probably had Asperger's in addition to ADHD. However, medication and knowledge about ADHD's impact on her day-to-day life finally gave her the keys to pursue her best life. 
  • Rachel worried about unconscious bias in the office following her diagnosis. She had both good and bad responses to the disclosure of her diagnosis at work and in her personal life. In the meantime, she had started her side hustle, typepolar, which is a typewriter poetry business that took commissions for personalised poetry as well as performed on the street. By doing what she loved and helping others, she noticed her health and happiness improve. Eventually, Rachel decided that she had to quit full-time work to pursue entrepreneurship full-time based on market validation of typepolar. 

How Did Neurodiversity Media Start? 

  • Although Rachel enjoyed writing poems on commission and performing on the streets for typepolar, she was still navigating the fall-out from being a late-diagnosed woman with ADHD. 
  • During this time, she joined many Facebook groups on autism and ADHD and heard dozens of stories of neurodivergent women like her struggling to navigate life with autism, ADHD or both. It was in 2019 that she first learned about the concept of neurodiversity. 
  • An autistic friend invited her to come to the Neurodiversity & Employment Symposium in Brisbane in May 2019. During the event, she realised there were many interesting conversations and stories about neurodiversity that were not being told in mainstream media. Following the event, she decided to combine her passion with her media skills to launch Neurodiversity Media, a business which aims to bring the neurodiversity conversation into the mainstream media. Rachel provided content marketing & strategy advice as well as media coaching services for businesses, advocates and allies in the neurodiversity space, particularly in autism, ADHD and dyslexia. She also helped to ghostwrite personal stories. 
  • Throughout the year, she also helped to plan the Sydney Neurodiversity Symposium. In her presentation, she pre-launched the first industry newsletter dedicated to neurodiversity & inclusion in the workplace, NeuroWork, designed to inform anyone who is passionate about meaningful employment in a neurodiversie future of work.

Helpful Tips

ADHD Strengths:

    • Creativity
    • Intuition
    • Passion
    • Compassion
    • Big picture thinking
    • Innovation 

Career Success Formula

    • Variety
    • Interest
    • Challenge
    • Activity
    • Autonomy

Employment Tips for Employers:

    • Break long-term projects into short-term deadlines
    • Check in regularly one-on-one
    • Allow flexible working conditions such as remote working
    • Creative a one-page template for key tasks


Employment Tips for Employees

    •  Use one-on-one discussions for feedback
    • Use organisational tools like Trello or your calendar


Entrepreneur Tips for Founders 

    • Build a board of key advisors for support and accountability
    • Build your business around your strengths and interests
    • Be patient and always enjoy your process


Entrepreneur Tips for Advisors

    • Check in regularly and ensure the founders doesn’t burn out
    • Lend expertise to areas of weakness
    • Cultivate empathy and always recognise their potential


Check out the sketchnote below for a visual summary of Rachel's talk. 

Rachel's visual summary of her talk at the Sydney Neurodiversity Symposium


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