The Rabbi and The Shrink

#61: Susan Fitzell - Brains are Wired Differently

May 12, 2022 Rabbi Yonason Goldson and Dr. Margarita Gurri, CSP Episode 61
The Rabbi and The Shrink
#61: Susan Fitzell - Brains are Wired Differently
Show Notes Transcript

Why do employees sometimes pretend to be someone they’re not?

When is bending norms the key to a healthy culture?

How do we avoid inadvertently projecting disrespect?

These and other highly relevant questions are addressed when neurodiversity expert Susan Fitzell joins The Rabbi and the Shrink.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/susanfitzell/

https://susanfitzell.com/


1:30 The origins of neurodiversity

Autism initiatives at Stanford

Executives and administrators were unprepared for working with the neurodiverse and neurodivergent

Asking questions and listening to answers opens doors and possibilities


5:30 Brains are wired differently from birth

We don’t always understand each other

Awareness and initiatives creates a vibrancy and multiplicity of perspective that sameness does not

Dyslexics as codebreakers


10:00 We hire for diversity but train for sameness

Efficiency often filters out talent and encourages a monolithic culture

We make mistaken judgments because we don’t respect differences

You will lose people because of harassment or mis-measuring


16:30 We may unconsciously project messages we don’t intend

Create a user’s manual or bio-deck for each employee

Morning check-ins

How accepting is our company culture

Are we providing options?

“Masking” increases stress

How kung-fu changed Susan’s life


26:00 The importance of asking for help

What do you do when you empty the transmission fluid instead of the oil?

Managers need to ask for help and ask the right person for help

We live in a world framed by a deficit mindset rather than a gift mindset


36:00 How do we promote diversity?

Address the issue to create the culture

Flexibility leads to success according to every metric

Concrete strategies -- Slack, chat, phone, email, etc.

Dress code flexibility

Brainstorm solutions

The perception of unfairness or arbitrariness promotes an unethical culture


48:00 The word of the day: Palimpsest

a parchment or the like from which writing has been partially or completely erased to make room for another text.

something that has a new layer, aspect, or appearance that builds on its past and allows us to see or perceive parts of this past

The Mona Lisa and many layers

Ogres are like onions

The importance of taking advantage of youth and remaining child-like in our learning



Margarita Gurri:

Welcome to The Rabbi and the Shrink. This is Dr. Margarita Gurri, the shrink. And this is everyone's favorite Rabbi,

Yonason Goldson:

Yonason Goldson.

Margarita Gurri:

And the good rabbi and I are delighted to have with us, Susan Fitzell. She's got a master's in education and a CSP a certified speaking professional. Welcome.

Susan Fitzell:

Thank you. I'm glad to see your monitor. Yeah. Hi.

Margarita Gurri:

We're delighted to have you here. You're doing something that a lot of grownups never get to, you have for. I don't know how many years been the teacher's resource teaching teachers how to teach how to understand kids working with neuro diversity. And you've now successfully bridged the gap to helping adults in business do their best. So I I'm hoping you can help us with that you've written way too many books to count, I lost count at 22. You say they're 16. But I think you need to recount because I looked at them all. And you have two YouTube channels, one for education, and one for business. The best way to reach her Susan S U S, a n fit SEL F fit ze LL, because she doesn't have to sell anything, just listening to her is all unique. Well, so tell us how did you get to all this neuro diversity stuff?

Unknown:

Well, I've literally spent my entire career in that space, except it wasn't called neurodiversity. Even though that term has been around now for about 20 years. It's really only bubbled up to the surface about six years ago. It may have been talking talked about in other at other times, but about six years ago, Dr. Fong met with a group of people in at Stanford, and had a conversation about autism, autism in the workplace, the future of of autism, and neurodiversity, which was a term that was coined, like said years ago. And when he had that conversation, it started to multiply. And, you know, Stanford got involved with autism at work initiatives, or some people are calling this neurodiversity at work with neurodiversity is a bigger umbrella. Autism is under the neurodiversity umbrella. And there's a lot of confusion right now with the language. So when I use the language, I might be using a word a little differently than somebody else. But I'm just being consistent with my language and going by what the most sensible definitions. So what happened was, I had been working with schools and educators for my entire career, many, let's say, a few decades, and then I'd be traveling around the country to different school districts and sitting next to executives on the plane managers on the plane, and we'd start to chit chat. And I started to realize maybe even eight or nine years ago that the students that I had in the classroom, and the students that I'm helping teachers help are now also in the workplace. And these managers are like, What do I do? What do I do with this worker who is not focused? Or is coming to meetings late? Or where's headsets to the meetings because he says that sound bothers him or, you know, and and so then I found myself troubleshooting with these executives on the airplane. And the more I got into those conversations, the more I saw the need. So about six years ago, I started, you know, nurturing this, this path and finding out what's happening out in the work world. And at first I thought, Well, gee, I don't, I don't really you know, I haven't I'm not worked a little bit. I have some experience in in technology. I worked for a company called Teradyne. Many years ago, being a supervisor in a printed circuit board department. I remember when they installed the Ethernet, I'm probably dating myself, but the Ethernet and that company, and they're all excited I was there when they were doing it. And so what I realized was that the same issues that I dealt with for my entire career as a teacher, and then as a teacher, coach, and speaker and trainer, were the same issues that management CEOs, corporations and organizations are dealing with with their employees. And then I'll take it a little further than the neurodiversity movement came up. And I had a video on neurodiversity on my business channel, and company saw it a year ago and said, we'd like you to do a TED light talk on neuro diversity in the workplace. And a lot of people had told, you know, it said to me, you know, Susan, and I don't even know what that word means, you know, what is it what is it don't go don't do that. And, and I realized that was where I was being called to go because the more I researched it, the more I saw the Need. And then the more I researched and talk to people and talk to organizations about what happens in the workplace was the same issues that I've been dealing with for 30 years in education. So, I mean, the issues are the same, the location is different. And that's about it.

Margarita Gurri:

So paying attention and asking yourself questions, and having been wanting to be of service hasn't been a good, good, good path for you. So yes, tell us what is neurodiversity? Then in the workplace, what's it look like?

Unknown:

Okay, so neuro diversity is, is brain diversity in a sense, so neuro rain comes from the brain. Some people will call it as if you are neurodivergent. And here's where the language gets tricky, because different people like different language, but neurodivergent means that my brain has been wired differently since birth, and those people are the people who might have dyslexia, people who have dyspraxia OCD. And I'm going to use identity first language here, because that is what the majority of autistic people want. Adults anyway, at this point in time, it's also some controversy because some people say people first language, but there's also now a big push for identity, first language, and out of respect for the people who want that, but autistic people themselves aren't going to use it. So when you have neurodiversity, which again, is dyslexia, autism, dyspraxia, OCD, and several other things. There's a lot that goes into that category. And even that is not firm, that right now is kind of in flux, what goes under that category, whose brains are wired differently from birth. And it's neurodevelopmental, that group of people in and also people who we call neurotypical, average, everyday folk, the people that do well on this test in school, the people who do well in school, the people who, who, you know, can function in society very well don't have any problem, you know, they're, they're just, you're, they might be really bright, everyday folk, but they're everyday folk that fit all the social norms, maybe even all the learning norms at schools want to teach to do pretty well on standardized tasks. And so they're neurotypical and oftentimes, the neurotypical people find the neurodivergent people difficult to deal with odd ducks quirky, and, you know, don't under they don't necessarily understand each other. And when you put all of them under the same umbrella, that umbrella is neurodiversity. It's neuro basically brain diversity. It's it's the diversity of cognition. And the reality is, we have neuro diverse people everywhere in the world, and in our workplaces already. But now there's an extra awareness. And in some cases, initiatives to deliberately bring neuro divergent thinking into the workplace in the hiring, like hiring programs for autistic adults, is a part of that awareness and initiative.

Yonason Goldson:

Thank you, there's a depth to what you're saying that I think is really worth looking into. I remember learning that during World War Two, the British found that people with dyslexia happened to have a talent for code breaking. And that whatever the quirk was in the brain that made it difficult for them to read, gave them an advantage in breaking down codes. And I know for myself, I don't I don't visualize, which apparently is somewhat rare. I don't see images and connect them with words. And then I was recently told that that explains why I'm very good at making connections between ideas that other people don't immediately see. Yeah. So you know, as you said, we tend to look at people who are not, you know, narrow mainstream, as somehow defective, or efficient. And when we talk about building a diverse community, we're often talking about ethnicity. But the drum that I keep banging is, what we want is people who think differently, yes, want people to see the world differently, because that creates a community where there are so many different perspectives being represented. crass increases everybody's capacity for seeing a larger picture, and recognizing more profound truths.

Unknown:

Exactly. That's exactly right. Mean cognitive diversity is critical to corporate, corporate or organizational success. I mean, it really is.

Margarita Gurri:

Absolutely Well, the rabbi and I have the privilege of interviewing one of my friends is a world expert on on diversity and unconscious bias. I know these are various in your expertise, Dr. Helen Turnbull also see as being a global citizen Be. And she said something that was profound, I would love for you to address that, that we want to hire as business people we want to hire for diversity. But then we train for sameness. So how do I know if I'm a business person in the world? And I'm in the audience watching and listening? How do I know that I'm training for diversity? Versus training for sameness? What does it look like?

Unknown:

Well, you know, what, if you were doing it, if you don't, if you don't know that you're doing it, you're probably not doing it. Unless you have a really already established welcoming culture and your corporation. I mean, this is anecdotal. But I'll tell you stories.

Margarita Gurri:

Three years

Unknown:

ago, I attended a conference that was hosted at Microsoft, it was put on by a man who managed to shader one of the employees at the time. And he became very interested in neurodiversity different thinking, I'm not sure that word wasn't used at the time, but basically different ways of thinking and being in the world. And he held a conference on dyslexia. The first year, I didn't attend that one. It didn't, I didn't find out about it till too late. Because he found out that he was dyslexic, after his daughter got diagnosed, which is exactly what happened to me. I found out that I was dyslexic, after my son was diagnosed, and the doctor looked at me and said, The apple doesn't fall too far from the tree. I just always thought I was a slow reader. And I had to read things over and over and over again, I didn't realize why. And I'd get tired. I'd read two pages, and I'd fall asleep on the book. Now I understand why. And this happened to sue. And so he Hallett had held his big conference about dyslexia and working with people in the workforce with dyslexia. The following year, he followed it up with a work, a conference on autism, they were fab, that was a fabulous conference. And, and so when I was there, I was, you know, in the hallway, you have these Hallway Conversations, there was a woman there who had spent her entire life. She's about my age, I won't tell you what that is. spent her entire life in Silicon Valley. And her father worked in Silicon Valley. And she said, you know, she said, when I think back to my childhood, everybody was a character. Everyone who worked in Silicon Valley was a character, everybody thought, uniquely, we had the most interesting parties and interesting events, because you know, even just what people wore stood out. And she says, The problem we have now, even in Silicon Valley, is that we hire just like you said, for sameness. Were you got HR in there, were using artificial intelligence to sift through resumes. I think people, I think companies lose a lot of talent that way, I think it's a big mistake, but it's easier, faster, quicker, more efficient, probably cost effective. Well, then that's debatable, too, because you're losing talent. Right? Yeah, yeah. And so what what she was saying is now, you know, we're hiring people, and we want them to fit a certain mold. And now we're lacking the diversity of thought, we don't have those characters in the workplace anymore. And when we do, sometimes other people are like, Ooh, you know, or, you know, what's wrong with that person? And, and there isn't a culture in place to accept differences. And you know, we talked about that all the time. But there's also neuro differences in and so if you, for instance, there's one of my clients said to me, we were having a meeting, this is before COVID. So it was in person meeting around a conference table. And one of the young engineers came in with headsets in. And he had been doing that, and it was irritating his manager, and call them out in front of everybody this one time and said, What are you doing, wearing headsets and listening to music while we're having this meeting? And the young man was like, as a young engineer, he said, I'm not listening to music, I have a hard time with the outside with with all the background noise. And this helps me to focus and listen to you better. And it was this judgment that was made immediately because this young man didn't fit the norm. You don't go to a meeting what headsets in and yet his reason for wearing the headsets was perfectly acceptable once they knew why. And that's the kind of if you're establishing if you have a culture in your company that is going to question things like that. And be concerned about that employee who doesn't make eye contact or you know, worried about the sales guy who's been doing great in sales for decades. But now you put in and a LMS system with the testing part. To me, that's a standardized computer program. And you're asking this dyslexic to pass that test for every new product that comes out before they go out and sell it, you're gonna lose that employee, and you're gonna lose a lot of money, because that employee was an excellent salesperson had a lot of company IP. And now they're out the door, because you put in something in place that's great for Neuro typicals. And people who test well, but not necessarily a dyslexic. That is excellent at sales. And a lot of this is I don't want to get into stereotypes. But if you read about what are the strengths of Dyslexics often, they're very personable and very friendly, and often, you know, not nothing is ever always. And they also have amazing spatial intelligence. So you know, if you've got a dis person with dyslexia is going in, to accompany to sell a product, and that product is to fit in a certain place or, you know, be on a on the on the line, you know, the, yeah, I used to know what this was, I worked in a factory as a teenager, but you know, the line we're all the people are in it, you know, you got somebody who really can sembly line, yeah, you can, you can have somebody who could really do an excellent job at what they do because of their dyslexia. And unfortunately, you know, if you've got systems in place that don't honor how different people's brains work, you're gonna lose those people. Either because of the harassment that happens, or because you're measuring the wrong thing. You know, your your performance review is based on well, he can't pass this test, instead of looking at the sales he's making. You know,

Yonason Goldson:

it's an example you gave Susan, there's this point that I'd like to, maybe you could develop for us, because I think it's, it's confusing, and it's challenging that this example, you gave her the fella wearing the headphones. Right? Cousin cosmetically, he was projecting what would naturally be interpreted as disrespect. Mm hmm. And when we when we are part of any community, there are certain expected norms. And if I violate those norms, if I deviate from them, that's going to cause it, it's going to call attention to me, it's going to send a message whether it's intentional or not. And it could affect the the health of the community. So what is the strategy we can use to allow people to do what they need to do to be who they are, in a way that doesn't somehow sabotage the culture that we live in with the appearance of impropriety?

Unknown:

Right? So the the best example of that is from a company called Ultra alternates, who only hires people in the spectrum for the most part, because that's what they do. And it was started by to two young men from MIT, he started they started this company, it's essentially I think, a software company, and a couple years into working that all working remotely all over the world. And someone suggested, you know, we were having they were having some difficulties with how do you communicate? How do you connect remotely? Someone suggested, wouldn't it be great if we all had a user's manual. And so they created what they call bio deck, but a user's manual for each employee. So now everybody has access to say, you know, your name, which you prefer, what you prefer to be called? When's the best time of day to typically to connect with you if you're not a morning person? Yes, it's fabulous. A lot of companies are really interested in this. And companies could create their own. But now that person with the headphones has awake, because most times they try to they're masking or trying to hide, you know, they don't want it to come out. So this young man may not even realize he was violating a social norm. He was just doing what he needed to take care of himself or to be able to focus and do a good job. He might not have known the social implications of that. Or you could say, well, he should have told his manager why you had them on who knows he may not even thought of it or some people say, you know, do it first then ask, you know, don't ask permission, just wait and see what happens. Who knows? I don't know that part of the story. But if y'all had a user's manual, then somebody he could have said, Well, I I have difficulty with background noise. So I will be wearing headsets I'm not playing music and listening to it actually allows me to hear you better and focus better. So that type of tool in a culture in the workplace and workplace culture can be highly effective and And you know, some companies, they do a stand up morning check in. And so they can check in and they can talk to people about what they need if you develop a company, that culture that accepts that. So my thinking is, is that what we need to do is we need to, to look at our company culture and see how, how accepting is it for the ways, the way different people learn the way different people focus the way different people communicate, and provide options for that. And most of those options don't deter from productivity or the culture at all, they actually might help. Because what typically happens is the the people with neuro divergence, people whose brains work differently, they're often doing what's called masking, and they're trying to hide who they were. I had a writer who was editing for me for years, she was also a friend. We also studied kung fu together. One day, she's in my house. And I've known her now for years, and she's been working with me, I contracted her to read, she was a freelance writer, too. And all of a sudden, she said, I was talking, I said, I learned this word masking. I didn't even know this thing existed. And she says, Oh, I mask all the time. I said, What do you mean, she's, well, I have ADHD. And I don't want anybody to know, because they might think less of me. So I hide, I do everything I can to hide it. And when you do that, what I'm learning is, is it stresses people out by the time they get home, if it's if it's an in person, workplace, they're exhausted from hiding who they are all day long. And, you know, trying to be somebody, they're not just that's an exhausting thing to try to do. And that's kind of that's what happens to a lot of people who are already in corporations who aren't neurodivergent friendly. And so they try to mask and sometimes they do well, and sometimes they don't.

Yonason Goldson:

That's the job of the ethical leader is in the case, you're in the example you gave don't call somebody out in public. Right? Speak to them privately and say, Are you aware that what you're doing is seen this way? And then you can find out why it's going on? And when that doesn't happen? I call the new doctors the misbehavior expert too.

Margarita Gurri:

Well, I like the idea of the biotech just like Pokeyman carbs for all your people, what are their strengths, their secondary strengths, their their, you know, the things that may look like a disadvantage, but are actually what are the advantage of that? You know, I love that idea. And then that explains the misbehavior. So I was wondering, when I was looking at your articles, you have one on martial arts and the awakening of a public school teacher some titles, and I'm going why, why why martial arts and other Okay, so that that's good. I, I liked I liked that a lot.

Unknown:

Well, what do you want to know the answer to

Margarita Gurri:

that? Because you did kung fu?

Unknown:

Yes, I did. Yes.

Margarita Gurri:

So was there more of an answer than that? Well,

Unknown:

I think I did. What that book is about that was a turning point in my life. Just just just to say that that little book. And I hate I hated to exercise. I'm still not thrilled with certain, you know, I've just never been one to go to the gym and do the boring treadmill or though

Margarita Gurri:

there's so many ways to boring. Yeah. So

Unknown:

um, I loved kung fu since I was a child. I don't know if you remember the show, Kung Fu. Kung Fu, charity, and I love Yes. And there's something about it that appealed to me. And so I got to a point in my, you know, when I was a young mother, I've got to get out of the house and do something to take care of me myself. And I've got to get physically active. So I went to different martial arts school, and was went to one that had kung fu is a lot of weapons. That sounds scary, but swords and spears, and you know, what they call staffs. And I literally saw them all on the wall. I was scared to death. And I remember saying to the teacher, if I study Kung Fu, do I have to use those? And he lied to me and told me no,

Margarita Gurri:

no, no, but he was lying to me. And, and so

Unknown:

I went and watched the class. And it was I had been doing yoga for years. And it was very yogic. And there was a lot of yoga in that style of kung fu. And so I started doing it. I did it for 30 years, but with traveling and everything, and it was it was it was challenging. But when that in that first year, I had been teaching high school students with learning disabilities. At that point in time, I was still teaching high school students with learning disabilities. At that point, it was like 13 years. And all of a sudden, I'm in a class where I feel like I've got a disability. I'm uncoordinated. Now. I know a little bit more about why but I'm uncoordinated. I have trouble. The teacher would show me something I'm ADHD and didn't really have that label Ben either. And he shared you know, do these x moves and I do them three times and he walked away, keep practicing and I went, Oh my gosh, you know, I already forgot it. And it was like, so it was like, yeah, the first thing I wrote was the Kung Fu parable and what that experience did and, and this is the reason I wrote the book for teachers, is it really put me in the shoes of my students who learn differently. I did not because I was pretty good in school, I could have been better if I knew how I learned at that in high school, I learned how I learned in college and did much better in college. However, I really didn't struggle academically, and I'd never been into sports. So I'd never really come face to face with my uncoordinated champ challenge in my memory for physical movement challenge. And I would get more nervous over kung fu tests, and I ever did on an academic test. So it just taught me a lot about myself and what it felt like to be my students. It was, it was a life changer for me. And it's how people feel in the workplace when they're trying, you know, when they're not able to be who they really are.

Yonason Goldson:

It goes the other direction as well. You know, you just reminded me when when I was early in my teaching career, and you know, we started teaching in August, and one year, by September, I was burned out. It felt like June.

Margarita Gurri:

What happened? In June?

Yonason Goldson:

It did, yeah, June couldn't come soon enough. I had a group of students one particular class, I mean, there's only one way to describe them, it was the biggest bunch of bananas you've ever seen in your life. And I just gave the first test which I'd been giving for years and the same material, every single student flunked it. And I except one who got an A, but I didn't even know where to start, we have the holiday of circus comes in September, October, you got a week off. I spent the entire week reading Harry Potter, I just, it was just pure escape from reality. For me, my wife is a special ed teacher. And then I said to her, I just don't know what to do. And she helped me modify my curriculum, modify my tests. And I came back and I was able to turn the year into a success. Good, that's wonderful. You know, we, you know, you're telling me about how the people who are masking, it's exhausting. Sometimes on the other side, it can be exhausting to trying to figure out how to deal with people we don't understand, right? And all the more so when we're responsible for them. To have people that we tend, first of all, to have the presence of mind to ask for help. And to have the resources that can actually offer us help, that's going to serve us and serve them. It makes all the difference in the world.

Unknown:

It does. Susan, you

Margarita Gurri:

tell a great story about learning to ask for help. And you tell one about your daddy and you. And I think it served you well in the work you do to create cultures where people can ask for help. Could you please tell us that story? I think it's charming.

Unknown:

So I was a I grew up during a pretty strong feminist age where you know, we were taught as women or girls, you do everything you can by yourself, you know, you're capable, do it yourself. You don't need to ask other people for help all the time. I mean, really, that was somewhat in, in the generation that I grew up in and also was kind of a family thing. You know, we were very self sufficient take care of ourselves. So I really, the firstborn child really wanted to do everything well by myself. And I got a car. My, my uncle had given me a car for like, $200. And so I was working on, you know, learning how to use a car because I had read or heard, you know, we mentioned how to repair their own cars. That was before they were as electronic as they are today. And so I decided one day that I needed to change my oil. So I got out in the front of the house, you know, right in front of our house on the street, got a big bin, put it under the car, check the oil, right, went underneath, unscrewed, you know, the tank, let all the oil drip into the bin. And then you know, once it was all out stopped dripping, put the cap back on, pull, you know, pull the bin out, and then check the oil again and it was still full. Like, what did I do? And then I started there was I knew there was another dipstick in there. So I pulled that one out was a transmission fluid, and it was empty. I went, Oh my gosh, I emptied the transmission fluid instead of the oil. What do I do I have oil. I don't have transmission fluid and I'm nowhere near a gas station. And I had a relationship I was you know, 1617 and I had a relationship with my dad at that time was like, I am not asking for his help. There's no way I can do this by myself. And you know, you they'd be proud. Some of that was just normal teenager stuff, but I wasn't going to do it. And then I was stuck. I was totally stuck. And luckily he worked shift work. And that was a shift where he wasn't working in the day, he was working the night shift. So he was home to swallow my pride and call them up. And I said, Dad, you know, I need to get a ride to the to the gas station, so I can get transmission fluid. And I told him what I did. And he was just happy. He's like, Oh, yeah, that's, that's great that you're doing that learning how to use the power. Okay, I'll be right over. And then he got came over, and he picked me up. And, you know, we went to the gas station and got oil, and I realized he was really happy. You know, I'm looking at my father in the car. And he's like, Hey, she needs me. I can help her do this thing. And, and he was proud of me for doing it. He never said that, you know, but he was, yeah, he was proud of me for trying. And you know, so we fixed the car up and everything. But what it made me realize is, you know, a lot of us are either raised in a way, or I almost think in our school systems, the way they operate, where you're all studying for the test, and you have to get the test right, in order to be successful. And if you're not, you don't get answers right, then who knows what's going to happen to you in your life, because you can't pass a standardized test. I think there's a lot of us who struggle to ask for help when we need it. And they say, it's a lot of women, you know, there's you go to women's studies, and everything's a women especially, but I even think men too. And I don't think there's a gender thing to that. And we have to be able to ask for help when we need it. And two places where that applies in this topic is, as managers, one of the things that it's important to do is to not only ask for help with those to help you get to employee that's an employee that's puzzling you, you're not trying to work with them, not only ask for help ask the right people for help. I mean, I know one of the arguments right now in the autism at work world is a lot of the autistic people are saying, Ask an Autistic person for help. Although if you meet one autistic person, you've met one autistic person, they're all different, as we all are, but you know, some people think, Oh, you're autistic, I know exactly what you want. No, you don't. And so it's important to go to someone who really understands that background, that who unders has worked, either is autistic, or really seriously understands the spectrum of challenges that might be faced and the strengths that might be hit faced by someone who's autistic. And the same with any other brain divergence or learning, you know, learning difference. I've never liked the term learning and learning disability. And I was horrified when I found out that all those learning disabilities that were that I worked with in schools, when you got into the adult world, they were in the DSM, and they were considered mental disorders. I said, What? And then I was informed. That's because people can't get help unless it's in the DSM. So all these things that just make us different and unique and wonderful. They end up in this category, so people can get the help they need. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we just were flexible enough in our environment, that we could provide the help, so everybody can be more successful and not have to have a label? That's ideal world. But wouldn't it be wonderful? And I think we can work a little bit towards that direction, you know, in our workplaces, and even wouldn't it be great in our schools? I like

Margarita Gurri:

to, but appreciation of that I'm sorry to step on you. Jim, did you want to finish that? I was

Unknown:

only going to say we live in a world with starting in preschool where a deficit mindset. We are looking at what's wrong with kids? And then what's wrong with elementary and what's wrong with teenagers? And what's wrong with workers and what's wrong with millennials? Why don't instead we look at their gifts. So I call that instead of a gifts mindset.

Margarita Gurri:

Even then, one of the mistakes I think we have made is we tell what the kids what's right with them is that they're smart. Instead of that they try hard. Because if you tell a kid they're smarter than they're afraid to make mistakes. So I think how we identify anything on the spectrum of what's working well or not in the context, I was put in a class when I was in first grade that had the word retard on the door. I I came as a refugee from Cuba, I didn't speak English, particularly well and I was pretty traumatized by how mean some of the teachers were in the classroom this particular mean was the teacher was very abusive, and so I decided to not speak and became selectively mute for quite some time just at school, not anywhere else as a blabber mouth and still am right, right, right. I mean, I I've been known to have an opinion. Oh, But because of that, I think that's why I became a psychologist. The other kids that were in that class with me, me, I could see that we're the ones that had a word my father would call it neuroplasticity, that their brains reached beyond what we expect. They were different somehow. So you didn't back then didn't use the term, the neurodiversity, but he was making it sound like a benefit. And they're all the good ones. It's stuff that suffered with stuttering, or that somehow we're dyslexic or this I myself have ADHD. A little add squirrel, you know, yeah, I use that to my event, how many speakers of add really,

Unknown:

I think probably a lot of us, makes us really

Margarita Gurri:

good at managing a crowd and paying attention and all that kind of stuff. So let's say then, that you're working with the group, everyone's listening to you now, if I want to help everyone have a diverse mindset, so they can bring out the best in their team? What do you suggest people do? What are what are the things that facilitate a richness of diversity of thought, in a team meeting, let's just focus on a meeting and be specific.

Unknown:

I believe that, first of all, we have to address the elephant in the room. And so as much as people might say, well, you know, don't we have to do training, I believe that we've got to talk about the different learners around the table, you know, the different recall of different learners, different ways of processing different, you know, divergent cognition, and look at everybody's strengths. And, you know, that becomes team building, and maybe soft skills. But the reality is, until we recognize the strengths around the table, and can realize that we will be better off as a team, we will be more successful as a team, we will be more innovative as a team, if we can work with people's differences be a little flexible, then we could really reach, you know, some high limits and what we can do, I mean, the teams that have done that the companies, the corporations that have done it, I found they had greater innovation, more patents, more productivity and efficiency, you get somebody on the team that is really efficiency oriented, they can't stand anything out of order. I'm kind of like one of those people, I hate inefficiency. And instead of thinking that is that person's constantly complaining about the way we've always done it, instead of listen and say, oh, you know what, maybe that person, maybe we should try it, maybe that actually will work. So it's really first cultural. We've got to build a culture that opens up our minds and says, Okay, let's look at people's strengths. And how can we work with them? Instead of what's wrong with that person, they're doing this wrong, let's put them on a performance review. The other thing we want to do is give concrete strategies. So one of the things I know you've been through some of my articles, initially, you know, I've written about 54, I would say almost 45 of them are on this topic alone. Slacker. Yeah. And in the past year, I've written a lot of a lot about this, and in the process, doing research and always learning myself. However, one of the things that I think is missing and a lot of the neuro diversity initiatives and work is concrete strategies, you know, what can we do concretely? So for instance, in an a keynote I gave recently, it's like, okay, you've got remote workers, you've got more workers in house, you have certain ways that you communicate, could you provide options? You know, maybe some people prefer the good old fashioned phone? They don't like typing. Maybe the Dyslexic would prefer to talk on the phone, rather than have to type, you know, offers opera options like Slack or chat or email, which one do you like best? giving people options instead of saying, Oh, you only can do it this one way. That's the other thing. None of those things would deter or detract from the work you're doing. So having tools that are acceptable for everybody. Another example is let's say it's a job that you know, the company has dress code in a uniform. One of the things that that came up recently is there are people who are very set to have sensory overload or have sensitive to material, certain materials. Is it possible that they can have what to wear clothing instead of a doesn't have to be sweatpants but maybe something softer to wear as pants that meet the dress code or, or if you have a specific uniform because your customer facing that there's a couple options of material, maybe some would be soft cotton and some would be the poly, you know, the poly cotton blend, you know, whatever that is, have some options for people that I respect what's comfortable, because the reality is, if you force someone into clothing that's uncomfortable, and they're in it all day, they might be fine in the morning, but by the end of the day, they're like, because it's itchy or scratchy or uncomfortable, and it might even make them grumpy, and then they get home and they just can't wait to take the clothes off. You know, that's just, it, it's, it's something that we don't often think about. And that's, that's really come to the forefront with remote with with after COVID. Because how many people now say I've done every Zoom meeting with leggings on because I'm more comfortable, and I work even better. So I mean, the safety has to be considered, you're not going to wear comfy cushy sneakers, if you're on a factory floor and you need steel toed shoes. So there has to be practicality behind it and safety and, and branding and imaging. And so it can't all be one way. But we can make some accommodations to give people choice does that?

Yonason Goldson:

Yeah, it really brings us back to I think we touched on earlier that there needs to be certain norms in a community. But we can be flexible. Yes, not not overly rigid or regimental correct, because some rules really are kind of arbitrary. And others have a reason why they're there. Yes, being willing to sort of stretch the boundaries, without completely tearing them down. It takes thought it takes effort takes compromise. But ultimately, the payoff really is way out of proportion to the effort

Unknown:

that we put into it. Correct. And again, I have a background in education. And the solution is the same in, in the corporation or in the business world as it is in education, pull your team together and brainstorm solutions for them. With them, I like them, then they own it. Right. So instead of top down saying to the team, well, we know we've got some divergent thinkers in the group where we you know, we've hired this autistic person, which is the worst thing you can do. But call them out and label them and, you know, but we've got some different thinkers, divergent thinkers, we want to be most productive as a team. On Tuesday afternoon, well, let's get together remotely or in person and brainstorm solutions for this, this, this, this and this, maybe solutions for communication that'll work for everybody best solutions for attendance at a meeting or presenting at a meeting because some people especially people in spectrum, that's that or serious introverts presenting is their greatest nightmare. Is there another way to get that information out? Solutions for you know, background noise in the meeting room or in the work area, we've gone to open concept work area, and let's say it's somebody that's that, you know, if they go into the workplace, it's they've gotten rid of all the offices in the cubbies. And then and then another, they're sitting across from another person a nightmare for someone with ADHD? And what do we what can we do differently. So when you include the group that's affected in the solution, making, instead of having it come down from HR or some other top down way, you're going to have more buy in more people happy about it, people who may not even be neurodivergent as a man, I like that too. Because the reality is in education, I would say, good for all with the strategies I'm going to share with you are good for all students, but they're critical for the students who learn differently. In business, I realized it's the same thing. The strategies that I'm going to share with you are good for all employees, but critical for the students who, whose brains are wired differently, and call it whatever you want. But I like that brains are wired differently in your divergent, you know, you have all the whatever you want to say. And the other reason that would be really important, is the first thing that was brought to my attention after my keynote two weeks ago, was, well, we have to do something different for this employee, then that is an accommodation and that has to go through HR. And that then becomes an intervention and there's all this paperwork and legalities around it. And I could see that like, I really want to do this, but how do I do this so that it's not so overwhelming and bureaucratic paperwork filled? And my thought is, do do things that work for everybody. You know, do just make it a culture that has in the within the norms that are critical. Make it a culture that everybody can thrive in and provide those options.

Yonason Goldson:

No, don't care. Isn't this a call back to our last episode of thing with Ron Croce who said that it's been documented when people perceive unfairness that legitimizes in their own minds, unethical behavior. And if I perceive rules as being arbitrary, and I don't see this a willingness to accommodate me and my needs, which may be perfectly reasonable, then I become resentful. I become mistrustful, I don't see that there's a real interest in allowing me to do my best work. And that has a corrosive effect on me, which then, which in turns has a corrosive effect on the community. So it's really an air in everyone's best interest, right? And make these to have that flexibility and create a community that everyone can thrive.

Unknown:

Right? Well, and there's a flip side to that is if we make accommodations for certain people, well, we have a dress code, but that guy is allowed to wear wet sweatpants. And nobody else had any input on why or anything, because now it was an HR intervention type thing, you know, now there's in this is in actually, in one of the articles, I wrote, all my articles, almost all of them I consult, I've got a team that are neuro divergent themselves, many autistic themselves, and they review every single article that I put out there, every one, every one of them, because, you know, I'm neurodivergent, but I'm not autistic. I have some sons, I think I'm some tendencies that are like that, that I share some tendencies with them. But I'm, I don't know that world. So let's bring them in on my team, and make sure that all my articles pass muster that way. And of course, because everybody's different, there's still probably are things that someone else will say, No, that's not right. It is what it is. But if I, if I have certain exceptions for certain people, and it's we've gone through all the right paths with HR and intervention, and all those things, there are team members also, why do they have to? Why did the privacy get to wear sweatpants and a T shirt when we have to wear business casual? Now you've got that other the other side is resentful, you know, why are you getting to come in to the to work, you know, at nine o'clock when the rest of us have to come in at eight, you know, so again, either side is going to develop resentment if things aren't approached appropriately. And in a way that is building, team spirit, good morale, and everybody feels like they had a voice. I think that's a lot of people just want to voice in changes that are being made.

Margarita Gurri:

Right? I think that's brilliant. And everyone should check out all your writings, I was spell bound. I don't always read all the articles. But that was fascinating. All right, now we've come to the time of the show, Rabbi, the word of the day, and then we'll come back to our guest expert, and she'll have some final words.

Yonason Goldson:

I like to introduce the word of the day with a teaching from the sages. They say the one who studies like a child, or as a child is compared to ink written on fresh paper. One who studies in old age is compared to ink written on smudged paper. Now, at first glance, you might think this is sort of ageism. It's a simple warning, to take advantage of use, that our brains work differently. When we're younger, we didn't get into this conversation so much, let our brains work different. And to try to learn in one a new language and an advanced age, it's very difficult as a child, you just pick it right up. And so many of the things to the complexities are the complex faculties of thinking developed over time, and to take advantage of youth to acquire information so that we're then ready to put it into practice when we as we mature, that's an opportunity we don't want to miss but as an additional, because that can be a little bit depressing. And I'm not young anymore. So did I miss the boat? The sages are also telling us that there's a difference between being shy a child or being childlike. And that children love to learn. They they just thrive on they're curious. They want to know they don't make a lot of judgments until a certain a certain point. And if we're childlike in our thinking, then we are always able to learn in a way that is fresh and new. And the the imagery of trying to read something on smudge paper where the ink and the background are are blurring together and you have to work so hard. It's like the like the learning issues that we've been talking about. You simply can't To avoid the struggle there, but when it's on crisp, clean paper, the words jump off the page and are much easier to process. So with that introduction, the word of the day, is palimpsest. palimpsest which is a part of parchment, or paper from which the writing has been partially or completely erased to make room for another text. When something has a new layer, or aspect or appearance that builds on its past, and allows us to see or perceive parts of this past. So we're looking, we're talking about smudge paper. But there's also the idea of having layers. In fact, they say that, that when Leonardo da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa, he he painted image upon image upon image. And that even though we only think we're seeing the top image, we're actually it's influenced, it's affected by all those layers that are beneath it. And so in a culture, to think about instead of how we're different from one another, how we're at odds with each other, think of it more in terms of layers, I guess I could call it Shrek at this point, as Ogres are like onions, right?

Unknown:

One of my other favorite care animated characters,

Yonason Goldson:

but to be to embrace the layers and the complexities of life, because that's what gives us texture and depth. And it really makes it vibrant and worthwhile.

Margarita Gurri:

Yes. Love that. So Susan, do you have some final words of wisdom or call to action? For all of us?

Unknown:

I, I believe that working the final words of wisdom is if you want to create a work, culture, and environment where you're going to see more innovation, more solution, problem solving more, let's say efficiency, productivity, then really look to your people. And the thing is a lot of people are looking at, oh, I should bring in this group of people, they're already there. Realize you already have many, many people who, whose brains are wired differently in the workplace. So if you start working with your teams and saying, Okay, what can we do to make things better, you've been remote for years, certain things work better for you at home. Now, we'd like you to come into the office at least two or three days a week, what can we do that can bring some of the comfort that you had at home into the workplace, some of the camaraderie that you got in zoom into the workplace, those kinds of things. As a starting spot, you know, starting place is is a great place to begin. You can do the work of starting an initiative and there's organizations out there to help you do that and autism at Work initiative. However, I almost feel like there's a foundation that could be started no matter what, by anybody, any company, any any group that already paves the way for the beginning of people to work together. Well, no matter how their brains are wired.

Yonason Goldson:

You're doing phenomenal work says And yeah. Thank you for the contribution idea. Do you have? Do you have a new adventure on the horizon?

Unknown:

I do. I do. So for 30 years, I studied kung fu. And there were many times I would wish that I could dance and do that in addition, or instead, because I've always loved to dance and going back to my dad. Some of my fondest memories with my dad is dancing with my dad at weddings and parties are in college, and we had a party. And he was an amazing dancer ball, or you could ballroom dance not only on the floor, but on roller skates, and he could whip me around the floor without me ever having a day I never had a dance lesson. So outside of just before my wedding, getting a dance lesson. So my husband, I could dance at our wedding. I never really pursued it. And I been married for 39 years. And it wasn't something I had time to do. And my husband wasn't really interested in it. And finally last year, I said you know what? In this last chapter of my life, I'm going to dance and I started taking ballroom dancing. And because it's COVID I didn't take group lessons. I am taking private lessons and I am at the end of this month. I think it's 23rd I am literally going to my first dance competition. I'm going to be I'm like really excited about it. I have a ballroom dress and I gotta learn how to do this dramatic makeup I have no clue how to do I'm watching YouTube videos figure out how to yeah to do hair. So that's more ballerina and

Margarita Gurri:

what dancer you're gonna do, which Wow, waltz.

Unknown:

I'm doing three waltz, foxtrot and Tango. Ah, yeah, and dance. as much I was always doing kung fu because I felt that it really worked my brain and I really believe you got to work your brain till you die. Or if you want brain health, and I am really surprised at how hard dancing is, it's actually pretty difficult if you're learning how to do it beyond social, social dancing spine, and it's not that hard. But if you're trying to compete, oh my gosh, things I have to remember. It's really amazing. It's been an amazing

Margarita Gurri:

wait to hear how it goes.

Yonason Goldson:

Yeah, give me an opportunity to give me an opportunity to I don't think I've ever had to quote one of my favorite songs. I hope you dance.

Unknown:

Well, I'm very, I'm very excited. And it's like asking my teacher I've only been studying for like five months. Are you sure I'm ready? It's like, oh, yeah, you're ready. Okay.

Yonason Goldson:

So it's good. dancing on the floor in the ballroom or dancing through through your career and helping us be more nimble on their feet.

Unknown:

You go, great analogy. Hey,

Margarita Gurri:

you know, big bucks. There you go. Anyway, thanks

Yonason Goldson:

so much for sharing your wisdom with us. And what's the last word?

Margarita Gurri:

Well, final words. I think if we look at people like Susan itself, you can see that one of the aspects of doing well in business is maintaining that childlike learning atmosphere that Rabbi, I did martial arts to ascension, beginner's mind. You know? What are you doing? To keep your mind fresh? Are you being critical yourself? You're letting you sort of learn new things, or need to dance learning how to whistle. What are you doing now? And look around in your work environments to what's working for you? And what is it that needs a little bit of a Jewish There You Are My Jewish no robot needs a bit of a learning Jews and ask yourself first, where are your neuro diversity? And how can you honor the gifts of all those around you to make your life at home and at work even better? And that's all I have to say about that. Susan, thank you for joining us rabbis always. It's great to have you on. This is the rabbi in the street and we will see you at the next episode. Thank you and be well.

Unknown:

Thank you for listening to the rabbi and assuring everyday ethics unscripted to book Dr. redshield Dr. Margarita Gregory or Rabbi Jonas and Goldson as speakers or advisors for your organization, contact them at the rabbi and the shrink.com. This has been a doctor Red Shoe production