Pay Attention!  ADHD experts share their story and offer assistance to others

Coaches in Action

Here’s a great article about two of our coaches and how they dealt with ADHD, and what they’re doing in the community.

by Katie Fuster / originally published in the May edition of Warrenton Lifestyle Magazine

Neil Swanson knew that his brain operated differently from other people’s. Sometimes this worked to his benefit. His distractibility helped him notice even the smallest imperfections in structures as he went about his work as a home inspector. At other times, these differences frustrated and confused Neil and those closest to him.

His wife of 48 years, Linda Swanson, says, “From practically day one, I was looking for why this guy, who has so many wonderful qualities has no sense of time, is always late, can never tell me how long something is going to take – just all these things that had massive impacts on our lives.”

For many years, Neil thought he just needed more self-discipline. He set out on self-improvement schemes that only led to more disappointment and confusion. Meanwhile, Linda served as what she calls his “executive function machine,” enabling him to better perform his work.

The Swansons never stopped searching for the key to Neil’s atypical brain. “We went to The Lab School in DC and got him tested, but they couldn’t identify a problem,” Linda says. “We went to psychologists, but we never found an answer.”

Then one night, the couple was at a restaurant when the word “attention” came up. “This lightbulb went off,” Linda says. “Wasn’t there a thing called Attention Deficit Disorder? We went online and found one of those online screening devices, and darned if every one of those boxes wasn't a check for Neil.”

Linda laughs. “It was like somebody interviewed him to come up with those questions!” Neil was properly diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, at 60 years old. Linda explains that the older a person is, the less likely they are to have gotten a diagnosis.

“When Neil was a child, nobody was diagnosing ADHD,” she says. “That was back in the time when it was called ‘minimal brain dysfunction.’ Nowadays, between seven and 11 percent of children have been diagnosed with ADHD, and maybe four to five percent of adults. Something like 85 percent of adults living with ADHD don't know they have it.”

It’s important for people with ADHD to be properly diagnosed, and receive treatment. Those who have not been diagnosed have higher rates of depression, anxiety, alcohol and drug abuse, and have lower rates of high school and college graduation, and overall life satisfaction than the general population.


Part of the recommended treatment for ADHD is trying to find the right medication at the right dose to improve cognitive function, or the way mind processes information, learning, memory, and perception.

“ADHD medications are like eyeglasses—they don't change you or cure you, but they can help you,” Neil says. “They can put you in a frame of mind that works better in our culture, in our schools, and at work. But the recommended treatment is what they call ‘multimodal.’ It's not just medicine, because as we often tell people, ‘Pills don't teach skills.’ So some kind of behavioral therapy or coaching is recommended along with the medication.”

“For some, medication can be life changing. Also extremely beneficial in reducing the impact of ADHD is proper sleep, exercise, and good nutrition,” Linda says. “In addition, experts are now suggesting that recreation and time in nature reduce ADHD symptoms.”


Linda thought that once Neil was diagnosed and received treatment, they could put the challenges the disorder caused behind them. “I thought there would be life before ADHD, and life after ADHD,” she says. “Boy, was I wrong! We both had a lot of learning to do.”

Neil and Linda, who met while earning their master’s degrees at Union Theological Seminary, went on to receive training in ADHD coaching, mental health first aid, and personal transformation. Together, the Swansons began Free to Be Coaching in an effort to use what they have learned to help others. Each meets with clients to help them understand the ways their minds work and maximize their given strengths and talents. The Swansons also give their clients a toolkit of skills and a good foundation to build on.

The Swansons are also active with the national nonprofit organization Children and Adults with ADHD, or CHADD. “We hold two CHADD support groups, one in Warrenton and one in Haymarket, for parents of kids with ADHD,” Linda says.

In addition, the couple partners with the Fauquier County Library for a yearly showing of the film 'ADD and Loving It.' “We do it in October because that's ADHD awareness month,” Linda says. “One of the people in the movie just makes you cry because he goes back to his grade school classroom, and he talks about what it was like to be a student with ADHD forty years ago. His teacher would say, “Everybody, I want you to know, Patrick did not try, and that is why he failed!'”

“That’s an attitude that’s still prevalent in our culture today,” Neil says. He and Linda see their job as educating people in the community at large to prevent such experiences and misunderstandings. Neil is the co-chair of the Partners for Community Resources and a consulting member of the Special Education Advisory Committee for Fauquier schools. Linda is on the boards of CHADD of Northern Virginia and DC and the ADHD Resource Group of Northern Virginia.

“Lately we’ve also been seriously exploring how we might help those kids who get in trouble because of their ADHD,” Neil says. Linda concurs that this is a particular passion for the duo. In fact, she recently received an MA with a concentration in Restorative Justice from the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University.

As Linda explains it, “Certain brain functions are as much as 30 percent delayed in developing in those with ADHD, so if you can imagine a 16-year-old driver whose brain is functioning in some ways more like a 12-year-old, and the policeman comes up to the car after he pulls him over…” She shakes her head.

The impulsivity of some with ADHD sends them careening into contact with the criminal justice system, and once begun, the spiral can be difficult to pull out of. “Something like five times the number of people in prison have ADHD as compared to the frequency in the general population,” Linda says.

There is also another component to ADHD that many are not aware of. There is an ability with those who have this disorder to focus very intently on tasks or subjects that are of interest to them, so much so that these individuals may be able to “shut out” everything else around them. This type of behavior can affect the ability to complete important responsibilities and may even impact personal relationships.

It will take dynamic, knowledgeable people like the Swansons to affect the change the couple hopes to see, bringing compassion and long-desired changes to fruition as they work with the ADHD community.

CHADD Support Groups Warrenton Meets on the second Thursdays from 7-8:30 p.m. in the training room of the Warrenton Police Station at 333 Carriage House Lane. Haymarket Meets on the fourth Thursday of every month from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Haymarket/Gainesville Community Library at 14870 Lightner Road.

Katie Fuster lives in Warrenton with her husband and two children. Learn more about this story by visiting her web site,

Your uniqueness is also your creativity…

ADHD Quotes

Your uniqueness is also your creativity. 

It helps you think outside the box and aligns with your strengths/values.

It helps you with problem solving. 

ADHD: Character Strengths and Who You Are

ADHD Education | David Giwerc

What should you do if you have ADHD? The answer is often revealed by understanding who you are. In this episode of Attention Talk Radio, ADHD coach Jeff Copper interviews master certified coach David Giwerc, MCAC, MCC, and Founder and President of ADD Coach Academy.

Jeff identifies what he attends to when he's coaching people to help them understand who they are and what they are all about.

David talks about how he uses character strengths to help individuals do the same.

Then they compare their different approaches to understand the contrast between the way Jeff and David think based on “who” they are and use that to explain what careers have worked for them in the past and how they're very different. If you are curious about “who” you are, you'll want to listen.

Reach Your Potential with Adult ADHD

ADHD Education

Here is an article where Caroline Maguire, PCC, ACCG, and Director of ADDCA's ADHD Coaching for Families program, provides a solid list of strategies to improve the management of your brain and activate your executive functions. She also mentions medications and what I like to call "the Pill does not give you the skills." However it can put you on a level playing field so that you can use the strategies Caroline has identified.

–David Giwerc

By Stephanie Booth

Originally posted on WebMD

The symptoms of ADHD can sound like a list of traits you’d rather avoid: Disorganization. Restlessness. Struggling to stay on topic and get tasks done.

But “any of these deficits can also been seen as strengths,” says Mayra Mendez, PhD, of Providence Saint John’s Child and Family Development Center.

It’s still important to get treatment for ADHD, of course. But instead of viewing your ADHD as a group of symptoms that make your life harder, “consider how each can be used to your advantage,” Mendez says.

Reframe Your Symptoms

When his young daughter was diagnosed with ADHD in 1995, Duane Gordon, a computer consultant, was surprised to learn that he had it, too. A mix of medicine, ADHD coaching, and therapy helped him manage his symptoms. Going to an Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA) conference helped Gordon realize his condition even had some upsides.

“I always see the weirdness in the world, and I appreciate it,” he explains. “I can hyper-focus and be extremely productive when I’m passionate about something. I’m also extremely effective in emergency situations. When most people panic, I actually become calmer.”

Many ADHD traits can be reframed in a positive light, Mendez says. For instance, hyperactivity doesn’t have to only mean that it’s hard for you to settle down. As Gordon found, when something does hold your interest, you’ll be highly motivated to pursue it. “Trouble paying attention” can be thought of as “flexible thinking.”

There can also be a positive side to impulsive behavior, a common symptom of ADHD. “Quick reactions lead to action,” Mendez points out. “People who are impulsive don’t sit around and feel helpless.”

These upsides don’t mean that you shouldn’t get treatment -- medication, therapy, and coaching -- for ADHD. But when you’re aware of the positive aspects of your condition, you can nurture your talents and abilities. Once Gordon realized his creative strengths, he began using them more at work. As a result, “I’ve succeeded like never before,” he says.

Manage Your Mind

ADHD affects your brain’s “executive function.” “This is the management system that processes information and helps you organize, self-regulate, and manage all of your to-do lists. It also helps you make goals and keep on track with those goals,” explains Caroline Maguire, a personal ADHD coach in Concord, MA.

Medicine may help keep some of your ADHD symptoms in check, but it’s still up to you to find ways to manage your time and stay organized.

Some strategies that can help:

  • Set goals. Use a calendar, planner, or to-do list to keep track of what you need to do each day. Make clear what’s a high priority and what can wait.
  • Stick to a structure. Try to keep the same daily routine. This will help remind you where you need to be and what to expect next.
  • Build a support system. Many people don’t want to discuss their ADHD. The more you open up to loved ones, the better they’ll know what you’re going through. You may also want to join a support group. You can share stories and learn ways to live well from others who have ADHD.
  • Find a coach. Just as athletes rely on a coach to help them learn new skills, an ADHD coach can help you set goals and plan a way to reach them. She can also help you cope with problems you’re having at work or home.
  • Take “small bites.” When you’re faced with a big project at home or work, break it into smaller steps you can manage. Then, tackle them one by one.
  • Slow down. Learn to relax or meditate. Both can stop you from acting on an impulse without fully thinking things through.
  • Fill your toolbox. Will a timer help you stay on task? What about sticky notes or a voice memo to remind you what items you need from the store? Learn what tools can help you get through your day a little easier, then keep them handy.
  • Match your skills to your job. “If you can, choose a career that holds your interest,” Mendez says. The more engaged you are, the easier it will be to stay focused. People with ADHD often do well in jobs that involve a lot of movement instead of one that only takes place at a desk.
  • Find a hobby or interest you love. “Having passions and desires allows you to find the motivation to work on [other] things that are holding you back,” Maguire says. “Getting in touch with the strengths you have can be a way to start feeling better about your challenges.”

What to Do When Other Adults Suggest Your Child Has ADHD

ADHD Education

This is an important article to read so you can be ready for the ignorance that usually accompanies negative words about undiagnosed ADHD behavior. They simply don't understand and need to be educated by well-trained ADHD coaches. Caroline Maguire, PCC, ACCG, and Director of ADDCA's ADHD Coaching for Families program, has some wonderful suggestions for specific language you can use to diffuse the condescending negative remarks made by those who think they know ADHD.    

-David Giwerc

How to respond to others who express genuine concern, sarcastic comments or judgmental words.

Originally published in U.S. News and World Report

By Jennifer Lea Reynolds, Contributor | Sept. 13, 2017

“Wow, so that’s what ADHD looks like? Thank goodness my kid doesn’t behave like yours.”

“Did you ever consider having your child tested for ADHD? My daughter has it, and it seems like yours might, too. Do you mind if I talk with you about this?”

Whether said with hints of sarcasm or kindly mentioned based on genuine concern, these comments may be similar to what others have said to you, suggesting your child has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. When confronted with statements like these, what’s the best course of action?

Consider the Source, Move Forward Accordingly

Barbara Greenberg, a clinical psychologist with a private practice in Connecticut who specializes in parenting and relationship issues, says parents met with such words should respond “carefully and after taking a moment to pause.” She suggests thinking about whether the person is well-intentioned or not, which involves considering the source. “If this suggestion is being delivered by someone like a teacher who cares about you and your child, then ask for more information: For example, what they are observing?" Greenberg says. “If you feel that this information is being presented to you recklessly and by an individual who has little knowledge of your child and his or her behavior, then move on. Acknowledge that you have received the information, but try hard not to let it upset you.”

“A lot of people give unsolicited advice,” says Caroline Maguire, an ADHD and social skills coach at New England Coaching Services in Concord, Massachusetts. She explains that doing so makes it challenging for people who may be in the throes of a difficult situation, such as parents who are already on the path of obtaining a child’s diagnosis. Even if parents aren’t in the midst of obtaining a diagnosis, comments from others can create defensive feelings, which she says is natural, especially if what’s said is abrupt and abrasive. Like Greenberg, Maguire feels that it’s wise to ask the person specifically what’s being observed that indicates ADHD may be at hand. “This can give parents good info to take to a medical professional,” Maguire says. In some cases, she explains that parents may already have suspicions that their child has ADHD, which parallel the symptoms outlined by another adult. In this case, Maguire suggests they speak with a trained diagnostician such as a pediatrician or a psychiatrist. Such experts can “flesh out the degree of impairment and help parents figure everything out.”

Handling Rude People

At the same time, when people are rude about the manner in which they suggest a child may have ADHD, Maguire suggests taking the high road. “Say, ‘Thank you for sharing that,’” she advises. “It can be difficult, but saying this can shut these kinds of people down.” Greenberg suggests a similar approach. “If the comment does not seem to be well-intended, less is more. Say little and move on. This is not always easy, but it is often necessary.”

Penny Williams, parenting ADHD guide and trainer at and the author of several books, including “Boy Without Instructions: Surviving the Learning Curve of Parenting a Child with ADHD,” agrees that it’s best to “rise above.”

“When I receive this sort of uninformed criticism, I remind myself that they don’t know me, my child or our story,” she says. “I usually just smile blankly at them and return my attention right back to my child, who is the one who actually needs my attention in those moments.” Williams says that it’s best not to engage with a person who judges your parenting or offers out-of-place opinions.

Ignore the Comments or Have Your Child Evaluated?

Still, regardless of how a person brings up the topic, Williams thinks parents shouldn’t be dismissive. “What a parent should do if someone suggests that their child has ADHD is to consider the possibility, as a better-safe-than-sorry measure,” she suggests. Part of this process involves learning as much as possible about ADHD. “Read about ADHD symptoms. Ask your child’s teachers and pediatrician for their input,” she says. “If it just doesn’t fit after open-minded consideration, then you can probably move on. However, if some red flags start waving as you delve into the possibility further, it’s time to request an evaluation and know for sure.”

The importance of an evaluation is critical, Williams says, noting that undiagnosed and/or untreated ADHD children can face serious consequences. She explains that such children are at “risk for low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, being labeled as the ‘bad kid’ at school, criminality and even self-medicating with alcohol or drugs as teens and adults.”

Remain Informed, Be Open to Insight From Others

It’s also ideal for parents to create a network where they surround themselves as much as possible with people who appreciate the strengths of ADHD children, Maguire says. Additionally, she notes that people should never listen to others who suggest ADHD is caused by parenting styles. Instead, parents should stay as informed as possible about ADHD, help children improve executive functioning skills and interact with the right teachers and behavioral experts.

Of course, none of this can keep comments at bay. The best bet is to know that people will likely continue to share opinions – kind or otherwise – and to be prepared when it happens.

“Ultimately, a parent has to be ready and willing to hear a recommendation that they should explore the possibility that their child has ADHD,” Williams says. “No matter who the suggestion comes from – family member, teacher, another parent or a stranger in the grocery store – we can’t see what we don’t want to or what we’re just not ready to see.”

Jennifer Lea Reynolds is a Health freelancer at U.S. News. She draws on her life and career experiences, including losing 70 pounds and writing copy at health-centric advertising agencies. Her articles have been published online in Smithsonian, Reader’s Digest, Woman’s Day and The Huffington Post. She’s also the owner of, where she writes about weight loss, fitness, nutrition and body image. You can follow her on Twitter@JenSunshine.

Put Strategies into Action

ADHD Education

Originally published in Attention Magazine

by Caroline Maguire, PCC, MEd

Leader of Fundamentals of ADHD Coaching for Families program

Teach Executive Function by Simulating the Experience

There is no shortage of techniques, cues, and strategies for each family to try with a child or teenager with ADHD. But when all is said and done, parents are often left frustrated and confused as to why their child carries around the ring attached to their book bag with the series of laminated strategy cards that never see the light of day. Those cards that were so creatively done and took endless hours to make just collect dust and are never used.

There are many useful tools that are there for the child to use—the hard part is done right? If that’s the case, then why is it so challenging to get kids to actually use them?

The hard reality is that, at the end of the day, you can have all the toolkits and strategies in the world to help children, teenagers, or young adults with ADHD learn how to self-regulate, but none of them will work if they are not implemented the right way. Putting a plan into action is difficult! For a child to use any strategy or tool, the child is required to be able to pause and think, and that particular function is a large part of self-regulation.

The solution is simulation. Any strategy or skill a parent wants a child with ADHD to learn can be enhanced with simulation.

The key is to learn to implement the strategies in the moment. By practicing the simulated experiences, any child will succeed.

Simulate the experience

Simulation is designed to replace and intensify real life experiences with guided ones that evoke or replicate significant aspects of a child’s real-world executive function challenges in a completely interactive situation. This goes beyond role-play and talking about what it will look like when the child uses his strategies.

Simulation means allowing the child to experience and practice a scenario until the child feels more comfortable and can master the specific skill. By simulating a real life interaction—like becoming too angry, shouting, and stomping off during a play date—the child can experience the heat of the moment and then, subsequently, what it feels like to actually use strategies to down-regulate.

This practice is critical, so that when the child is no longer in the presence of the parent or caregiver, the child is still able to call up that past simulation and implement the strategy in the real world. With consistent practice, the child is learning how to improve self-regulation.

The key is to learn to implement the strategies in the moment. By practicing the simulated experiences, any child will succeed. The beautifully created ring of strategies in the backpack will get used!

How should you incorporate simulation?

There are four important steps to follow when introducing simulation to a child with ADHD.

Step 1: Bring the experience to life.

To bring the skill into the real world, the parent must shadow the child, and then prompt him to use the strategies in the moment. It will require active listening and collaboration. Share with the child that you are going to work together because you understand that he wants to improve his situation and to use his strategies, but that he just forgets when things get a bit overwhelming.

For example: When a child or teenager with ADHD becomes too silly, laughing at a joke, flopping around giggling long after his peers have stopped, he has lost control and needs to learn to self-regulate. The child with ADHD is at a disadvantage—he doesn’t understand why over-giggling is a problem. He can’t see that his goofiness has turned from funny to weird and is causing his classmates to shy away from him. The challenge is that the child needs to be able to feel the “awkwardness” he’s created and many times the parents are not there to prompt him to use his strategies to regain control. Too often, a parent tells the child, “When you get too silly, stop and go calm down.” Frustratingly, it does not work. To properly simulate the experience, the parent needs to allow the child to lose control—to become silly and goofy, and then, while he is in that state, implement the strategies and regain control.

Step 2: Teach everyday situations.

Executive function skills like self-regulation must be taught in everyday situations where the learning is transferable to the child’s daily life experiences. Simulating the event and allowing the child to practice what dysregulation feels like will allow the child to experience a parallel situation to what he is going to experience in the real world when the parents or caregivers are no longer with him. He will also learn that strategies do work.

Simulation turns learning new executive function skills into an active experience. The child must experience the dysregulation and know how and when he is feeling it in his body. He must understand what getting out of control looks like. Then and only then can he learn what the identified strategy does for him.

For example: Two siblings, Chris and Jack, often fight and wrestle, it escalates, and things get out of control. The ADHD sibling, Chris, loses his self-control and the whole thing turns violent. The parents tear their hair out and wonder what to do, but the answer is always found by simulating the experience. Executive function skills can only be improved by helping the child pay attention and gain the situational awareness they need. The parents in this case need to repeat the scenario that just played out. They should discuss with Chris and Jack that a more harmonious interaction is wanted and then allow the boys to wrestle again. This time, when they begin to lose control, the parents should step in and guide Chris and Jack through each choice they made along the way. Only when a child can feel it, and understand how his actions bring certain reactions, can he make the needed changes.

Step 3: Ask questions in the moment.

Parents can prepare the child by discussing what they have noticed during the times of dysregulation.

For example: Sometimes Chris and Jack have trouble remaining safe and in control when they wrestle. Prepare the children—help them understand that you know how hard it is for them to remember strategies and that you are going to help them by stepping in at certain times to guide them toward being able to use their strategies without future intervention. It is important to work with the child while in the moment. Remember, only when he is losing self-control can he experience his body signals, emotions and how he feels.

In short, parents must allow the child with ADHD to get worked up and dysregulated, then step in and ask:

  • How do you feel?
  • What’s going on in your body right now?
  • Describe what is happening?
  • What will happen if you keep going on with the “insert any activity”?
  • What do you think can be done differently?
  • How would the outcome change?

The goal is to make the child who has ADHD aware of what he experiences when he is dysregulated and have the ability—in the moment—to be able to use his strategies to down-regulate. Help him understand what that means to him. After each simulation, be sure to talk about what went well and if there were situations where he felt things weren’t working. Talk about how it felt to be able down regulate.

Step 4: Keep it fun.

Practicing simulation doesn’t have to be boring or related to something that causes stress for the child. Try working on getting the child completely silly.

For example: The parents of Chris and Jack can have them bounce on a trampoline, allowing time to wrestle until both are out of control. Then say, “Use the strategy.” Now that Chris is in the dysregulated state, he knows how it feels and how to correct it in a typical day-to-day scenario. By simulating the experience of losing control, the child can experience the physical manifestations of dysregulation and conversely what it feels like to use a strategy, pause, and calm himself down.

A Caroline Maguire, ACCG, PCC, MEd, is a personal coach who works with children with ADHD and the families who support them. Maguire earned her ACCG from the ADD Coach Academy and her PCC from the International Coach Federation. She also received a master’s degree in education from Lesley University.


Barkley, R. A. (1997). Behavioral inhibition, sustained attention, and executive functions: Constructing a unifying theory of ADHD. Psychological Bulletin, 121(1), 65–94.

Kopp, C. B. (1982). Antecedents of Self-Regulation: A Developmental Perspective.

Developmental Psychology, 18(2), 199–214.

Liebermann, D., Giesbrecht, G. F., & Muller, U. (2007). Cognitive and emotional aspects of self-regulation in preschoolers. Cognitive Development, 22(4), 511–529.

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Review of ADHD Entrepreneurial Research

ADHD Education | David Giwerc | Research

By David Giwerc, MCAC, MCC ADD Coach Academy

Originally posted on The American Professional Society of ADHD and Related Disorders

This is the first in a series of two blog posts discussing and reviewing 

Entrepreneurship and psychological disorders: How ADHD can be productively harnessed

Wiklund et al. (2016). Entrepreneurship and psychological disorders: How ADHD can be productively harnessed. Journal of Business Venturing Insights, 6, 14-20.

Entrepreneurship is often associated with ADHD symptoms such as impulsivity, hyper focus and highly passionate interests. ADHD is a neurodevelopmental psychological disorder also associated with several negative consequences such as poor academic performance, substance abuse, antisocial activities and arrests, and social exclusion and isolation.

Despite the negative public perception of ADHD, adults with ADHD may possess attributes and capacities which make them excellent candidates for entrepreneurship. There have been very few studies which have investigated the possibility that ADHD could have positive implications on Entrepreneurship.

In a recent (Wiklund et al., 2016) multiple case qualitative study of fourteen entrepreneurs previously diagnosed with ADHD, Researchers at Syracuse University, the University of Bath in the UK and the Technical University of Munich (TUM) in Germany used an inductive model highlighting impulsivity as key motivator for entrepreneurial action and hyper focus as a main impetus for its results, positive or negative.

This study also took into account factors that other research seemed to overlook or consider irrelevant, such as the success of several prominent entrepreneurs like business mogul, Richard Branson; Jet Blue founder, David Needleman; Ingvar Kamprad, who founded Ikea; and Paul Orfalea, founder of Kinko’s. All of these entrepreneurs revealed they have ADHD.

While there has been documentation of the problems associated with ADHD, the examples of successful entrepreneurship among the aforementioned individuals with ADHD raise the question of possible interconnections between ADHD and entrepreneurship.

One of the most intriguing outcomes of this research is the role impulsivity is thought to play in entrepreneurship.

Impulsivity increases the inclination for entrepreneurial action in situations of uncertainty. A key feature of this characteristic is that it bypasses any sort of risk-benefit analysis, but is rather driven by an internal sense of what “feels right” at the time. For entrepreneurs with ADHD, what is relevant is to not to wait or think. It is to act – NOW.

In the corporate and small business world, most executives detest impulsive decisions because they do not seem “rational.” Their rationale being: “How can you make a decision in the midst of uncertainty without a thorough and sober evaluation?” Intuition appears to be the answer, at least based on interviews conducted in the study. One entrepreneur claimed that his decision-making style boosts productivity in his fast-paced business. By integrating more analysis into his decisions, he is fearful his productivity would suffer. From an entrepreneurial context, rationality does not drive an intuitive decision. Acting without thinking in uncertain situations is associated with greater intuitive decision making. Especially, if the entrepreneur has an expertise where they feel comfortable intuitively making an impulsive decision and trust their instincts, perhaps having trust in their ability to decide based on a thin-slice of information.

Many of the entrepreneurs interviewed for the study cited restlessness or impatience as a key trait in entrepreneurship. This restlessness can also be viewed as a manifestation of boredom, which spurs the entrepreneur to chase after new and stimulating projects in which to use their energy and passion. This kind of novelty seeking and restlessness is the sort of intuitive push that many of the entrepreneurs in the study attributed to their ADHD and which they credited as launching their entrepreneurial careers.


McMullen, J.S., & Shepherd, D.A. (2006). Entrepreneurial action and the role of uncertainty in the theory of the entrepreneur. Acad Manag Rev, 31, 132–152.

Hayward, M.L., Forster, W.R., Sarasvathy, S.D., & Fredrickson, B.L. (2010). Beyond hubris: how highly confident entrepreneurs rebound to venture again. J Bus Ventur, 25, 569–578.

Wiklund et al. (2016). Entrepreneurship and psychological disorders: How ADHD can be productively harnessed. Journal of Business Venturing Insights, 6, 14-20.


Part 2: Review of ADHD Entrepreneurial Research by APSARD Blogger on July 25, 2017 in Research Updates

David Giwerc, MCAC, MCC ADD Coach Academy

Originally posted in APSARD

In this second blog, I will discuss what the research Entrepreneurship and Psychological Disorders: How ADHD can be productively harnessed revealed about the importance of hyper focus and how some of the world’s leading Entrepreneurs use the strength of hyper focus. I will also propose a few practical recommendations to expand the research I believe are critical to the success of an Entrepreneur with ADHD.


Hyper focus, the Strength of ADHD Entrepreneurs to Catalyze Successful Outcomes and Recommendations for Expanding “Positive Approaches” Research Wiklund et al. (2016). Entrepreneurship and psychological disorders: How ADHD can be productively harnessed. Journal of Business Venturing Insights, 6, 14-20.

The final important element revealed in the research on the impact of ADHD on entrepreneurs (Wiklund et al., 2016) is that hyper focus was identified as among the greatest attributes for the ADHD entrepreneur. Hyper focus is the ability to focus intensely on a task at hand to the exclusion of all else – including forsaking eating and sleeping. This is often observed with ADHD entrepreneurs who are pursuing a business venture about which they are passionately enthused. David Neeleman revealed that he could not pay attention in the classroom, yet was able to hyper focus tirelessly on important issues within the airline industry, which eventually led to the founding of JetBlue.

Paul Orfalea was referred to as his company’s “chief wanderer,” spending 3 weeks on the road hyper focusing on how his own stores were operating and what his competitors were doing. He said it was his ADHD that compelled him to wander because he could never bear staying in one place too long. He also discovered that leaving headquarters removed him from the boring, mundane, daily routine of work that left little room for insight, inspiration and innovation, qualities that drove him to differentiate his product from that of his competitors, which helped placed Kinkos in the forefront of consumers’ minds, making it the world’s leading retailer for document copying and business services; Orfalea sold Kinkos to Federal Express for $2.4 billion in 2014.

This study reinforced what I have observed in coaching Entrepreneurs with ADHD for over 20 years. Every successful entrepreneur is involved with a business they love. The business enterprise is not derived from pressure to work in a business or workplace environment not suited to their ADHD and unique strengths.

These and other examples represent the restless, impatient nature of the entrepreneur with ADHD who experiences boredom while attending to the daily mundane grind of tasks, which impedes the ability to think creatively and innovate. Without sufficient mental stimulation, the entrepreneur with ADHD will seek out opportunities to explore new and interesting ideas, which may induce a state of hyper focus. This type of intense, intellectual attentiveness and vigor will lead to the attainment of a wider scope of knowledge, in a specific domain, often expanding their perspective, abilities and confidence, in a chosen field, thus increasing the chance for success when an intuitive decision needs to be made, which is a conjecture of Wiklund et al. (2016).

Future Research Recommendations: Existing research on adult ADHD has not supported evidence for any positive effects of the diverse qualities inherent in ADHD. However, some anecdotal evidence suggests that some features ADHD may have positive implications in some settings, such as entrepreneurship.

The Wiklund et al. (2016) study is an important first step towards understanding how ADHD impacts entrepreneurship, albeit based on case study. It transcends the symptoms of ADHD and opens a new pathway for more formal academic/scientific study to investigate positive ways to approach ADHD and entrepreneurship.

There are at least three areas for future research: 1) the role of physical exercise in managing an entrepreneur’s ADHD symptoms and how a consistent exercise regimen may be a source of time-limited symptom management the promotes creativity; 2) identification and integration of unique information processing styles for improved communication of information, presenting business proposals, and assigning and managing tasks, which may inform strategic use of assistive technology in business settings; and 3) the use of the VIA character strengths survey (Peterson & Seligman, 2004) to identity self-endorsed character traits that may be associated with entrepreneurship. I can only conjecture that “creativity” would emerge as one of the core signature strengths in entrepreneurs with ADHD.

Many of the ADHD entrepreneurs in the study knew intuitively that they were different and stood out from peers in ways that might not have been perceived in positive terms. One of the most important messages of this research is that ADHD is not only a diagnosis; it is also, potentially, a unique difference that may bring with it unconventional strengths. When understood by entrepreneurs with ADHD in this way, it can be the catalyst for identifying who they are, including envisioning unconventional ways of doing things in order to create and build innovative and successful businesses.

References Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1997). Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention. HarperPerennial, New York.

Orfalea, P., & Marsh A. (2005). Copy This!: Lessons from a hyperactive dyslexic who turned a bright idea into one of America’s best companies. Workman Publishing Company, Inc.: New York

Logan, J. (2009). Dyslexic entrepreneurs: the incidence; their coping strategies and their business skills. Dyslexia 15 (4), 328–346.

Peterson,C., & Seligman,M. (2004). Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification. Oxford University Press: New York

Wiklund et al. (2016). Entrepreneurship and psychological disorders: How ADHD can be productively harnessed. Journal of Business Venturing Insights, 6, 14-20.

Physician’s Challenges in Treating ADHD

ADHD Education

In this edition of Attention Talk Radio, host Jeff Copper talks with Dr. Joel Young ( about the realities and challenges of working with the ADHD crowd, in both diagnosing ADHD and prescribing medication. If you want to know what it is like to deal with the other side, listen in as this is a very insightful show.


What Makes ADDCA Different?


Most of the other training advertised online will give you a few general tips about managing ADHD. Those can help.

However, our program is designed to actually improve the quality of your life.

The full curriculum is an accredited program that trains people to become ADHD Coaches.

The first course (Simply ADHD) is an 8 week course about ADHD and learning to manage it. If you or someone you love struggles with ADHD, this course will literally change your life.

How to Manage Play Dates and Other Social Outings When Your Child Has ADHD

ADDCA In The News | ADHD Education | Coaches in Action

A message from David Giwerc, MCAC, MCC, Founder and President of ADD Coach Academy:

"I wanted to make you all of aware an excellent article featuring ADDCA's Director of Family Training, Caroline Maguire, ACCG, PCC, M. ED, which appeared on July 14th on the prestigious US News and World Report website.

It is very informative with great strategies for those coaches who are working with families who have ADHD kids. It is also a great resource for parents to help with establishing play dates and with a few of their child's social skill challenges." 

How to Manage Play Dates and Other Social Outings When Your Child Has ADHD

Acting like a detective, considering maturity levels and offering praise are all part of the process.

By Jennifer Lea Reynolds, | July 14, 2017

Read the full article here

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