Ep. #934 - ADHD and Entrepreneurship
Today’s episode of Startup Hustle reveals the realities when ADHD and entrepreneurship are intertwined. Matt DeCoursey brings Aron Croft, CEO of Hidden ADHD, to the center of the discussion. Together they talk about the struggles of having the condition and regaining balance in your life as an entrepreneur.
Covered In This Episode
How do you handle the struggles of ADHD and entrepreneurship? Matt and Aron have the answer to that.
It’s a raw and honest conversation about procrastination and managing ADHD symptoms. They also tackle the harsh truth about conquering depression while leading people.
All these and more are in this insightful Startup Hustle episode. Listen to the conversation now!
- Aron Croft and his backstory (01:51)
- About ADHD and entrepreneurship (05:05)
- On our fixation on “fixing” what is broken (09:26)
- What is ADHD? (11:49)
- On procrastination (15:51)
- The real deal about having ADHD as an entrepreneur (21:06)
- How to manage forgetfulness (22:50)
- Cutting out distractions (26:43)
- Figuring out the valuable stuff from the low-value stuff (29:17)
- A discussion on getting familiar with yourself (31:20)
- On being depressed and being a leader (33:04)
- Why do people get bored? (36:44)
- Key advice takeaways from Aron (41:10)
- How it feels to be on the Inc. 5000 list (44:42)
Now, one of the things I think is a challenge is that you mentioned external accountability, which I struggled with a lot as a kid. Because if you’re around kids that have ADHD, please don’t do this. Don’t tell them that they’re a failure. Don’t tell them that they’re not going to do well.– Matt DeCoursey
I think the opportunity to expand your niche and take on new niches once you’ve dominated is something that holds back entrepreneurs that are afraid of getting boxed in on a niche.– Aron Croft
What I really work with is creating environments where they can leverage the power of accountability to other people that they have a relationship with. But on a self-selected goal, on something that’s important to them. And that is really the game changer.– Aron Croft
Create a good environment for your project from start to finish. Work with a highly qualified software development team from Full Scale. What’s more? You also get access to a platform that makes it easy to manage your team. Take the first step towards a successful project today!
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Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!
Matt DeCoursey 00:00
And we’re back! Back for another episode of Startup Hustle. Matt DeCoursey here to have another conversation I’m hoping helps your business grow. If you listen to the show a lot, you know I am famously ADHD. And I won’t give it back. Why? Because I’ve learned how to turn it into a superpower, which is not something everyone else can say. In fact, I know a lot of people that are busy trying to shed their ADHD. So I have brought in a subject matter expert to have that discussion. Today we’re going to talk about ADHD and entrepreneurship. Before I introduce today’s guests, today’s episode of Startup Hustle is powered by FullScale.io. Hiring software developers is difficult, and Full Scale can help you build a software team quickly and affordably. And also has a platform to help you manage that team. Visit FullScale.io to learn more. With me today, I’ve got Aron Croft. Aron is the CEO of Hidden ADHD, which is a professional training and coaching business out of Chicago, Illinois. Without further ado, Aron, welcome to Startup Hustle.
Aron Croft 01:05
Hey, Matt, awesome to be here. I think we’re gonna have a great conversation.
Matt DeCoursey 01:09
And hopefully, we can keep it on track and nice and focused. And yeah, waving.
Aron Croft 01:15
100% not gonna happen.
Matt DeCoursey 01:18
I’ll be the driver behind that part. But so let’s just go ahead and start it out. Get our listeners and me a little bit of backstory about what brought you to this career choice in life.
Aron Croft 01:30
So, for me, the reason that my business is called Hidden ADHD is that I went through the first 33 years of my life having no idea that I had ADHD. And part of the problem was that ADHD is actually just like a really silly diagnosis label because it really covers all manner of situations. So I had what used to be known as ADD, right, so I didn’t have the hyperactive side of things. And a lot of women also don’t, so a lot of people go into adulthood undiagnosed because I did well in school. Because I was just a naturally good test taker, I had good support structures around me. And then I got into Harvard. And you know, like, wow, my life would be made. I got to Harvard, and like, the wheels fell off the wagon. I dropped out twice before finally graduating. And then, I went into the working world, and everything was great. I’m just kidding. I failed out of my first seven jobs and businesses. At 33 years old, I was broke, divorced, and earning minimum wage. And so it was only kind of shortly after that I got a master’s degree in coaching psychology. I got this diagnosis of inattentive ADHD, and like, my whole life just turned around.
Matt DeCoursey 02:58
Well, I’m the opposite of that. So I don’t want to say I was diagnosed with ADHD as a kid. But when I was a child, it was clear that I was different. I had more energy and an inability to focus on a lot of days than the other kids now. I’m 47 years old at this point. So you know, over 40 years ago, the term ADD wasn’t really even used. I was just “disruptive.” And, you know, so throughout my time, and it was very challenging for so many of my teachers and especially for my parents because, like yourself, I tested really well. I was a good test taker, and as you mentioned, I have a good support structure. I grew up around, you know, parents that taught me a lot of stuff. And, you know, I was always really good at math, but I never showed my work. And I’m not even sure I knew how and would always get marked down for that. And you know, stuff like that. Now, as I got a little older and I got into my teens, the ADD thing came up, and I actually started taking medication for it, which still, to this day, has changed my overall outlook about all of it. And I, too, did struggle to manage and figure out how to get that lightning in a bottle you mentioned. Being 30, that, well, coming out of the harp, getting into Harvard, and then 30 and being 33. And many of the people you’re there at Harvard, we’re doing the opposite of minimum wage by the time they are 33. So it didn’t take me a little bit of time as well to get some shit figured out. And once I did get it figured out, I really do believe that I’ve managed to get that lightning in a bottle, although I do kind of wrestle with it every day. And, you know, there’s, I think, as an entrepreneur, I know so many other entrepreneurs that have ADD. Also, as I’ve gotten older, I do have the age of hyperactivity, which is now just a lot of energy, and that’s why I wouldn’t give it back. And then you get people my age, like, dude, where do you get your energy from? I’ve just been tired since I was 26.
Aron Croft 05:05
Yeah, yeah. So, not to be jealous, but like, I am a little jealous, right? Because like, I’ll have clients, even though I’m niched, within just the inattentive ADHD, like, I’ll get clients and customers who have, ah, and like, yeah, like, the level of energy for them is not a problem. Some of them are like an Olympic level of getting tasks done. They don’t, they don’t have enough focus on picking the right tasks, and you know, how to, like, you know, capture their Lightning in a Bottle the right way. But, you know, and this might not actually apply to a lot of your listeners if they’re all like successful entrepreneurs, right? But I would imagine that there’s, there’s a whole bevy of listeners that fall into the category of a lot of the people that, you know, that I am and that and that I work with, which is this whole other group of people that just, they know what they want to do, and it sounds insane, but they just can’t get themselves to do it. And that’s been me, like my entire life. And then, you know, but kinda as you said, One, medication, but you know, I hit a wall with medication where it wasn’t where it can only take me so far. And then it’s really that, like, using different skills to get over that hump. But even still, now, I mean, I still only work a limited number of hours every day. So I’m super jealous of the hyperactivity and wish I had that.
Matt DeCoursey 06:33
Well, I think that you’re, you talk about the, sometimes, the crippling inability to not maybe do things the way that you want or choosing the wrong stuff. I think with entrepreneurs and ADHD, so many of them have the problem of trying to do everything. And they’re literally trying to do everything, which means that at best, you’re maybe average, one or two of those things. And I think that’s been the, for me it with ADHD and entrepreneurship, the thing that I’ve managed and some of it’s just getting older, you know, and like, it’s trying to do less stuff and the in the true realization that no matter how amazing you are, how much energy you have, all you can do is all you can do. And you know, so for me, it’s weird, because I just have a tough time scheduling things. Like I was just talking prior to joining you for the show. I was talking to someone and about writing a book. I’ve written three and they wanted advice on it. And I told him, I said, Well, I think I’m going to schedule time to like work on it. And I said, if you can do that, that’s great, but I never could. Because I don’t know why don’t you? Yeah, yes, exactly.
Aron Croft 07:46
Like it’s, I can schedule it, I can plan it, I just won’t effing do the plan. Right? Like it’s sort of like, like, I’ll time box, I’ll time block, I’ll do all that it makes perfect sense. Like give every hour of your day, a task, a job, and like, you know, you can only ever do like, I agree with it so perfectly. In theory, if I do it, and I sit down and look at it, my opposition just comes out so strongly. When I look at that plan, I’m like, Well, I don’t want to do that right now. And I just refuse.
Matt DeCoursey 08:15
And as an entrepreneur and being my own boss for a really long time, I can decide not to do it. And I have only myself to report to. So when you’re working and doing professional training and coaching, and I’m going to put a link to Aron’s LinkedIn, for those of you that want to reach out, you can also go to group.HiddenADHD.com and learn more about what he does, but how do we start to fix it? When I say fix it? I don’t like the idea because fix implies broken. So I’m gonna retract that, I’m gonna say how do we improve it?
Aron Croft 08:46
Yeah, I mean, so look, I think I think I think you already hit on some of it, right? So in one aspect, it’s, it’s just really looking at what it is that we need to get done. And like what I always say with the entrepreneurs that I work with, they don’t need to know what to do, they need to know what not to do, right? I mean, there’s 50,000 things that you can do as an entrepreneur. And you need to know the 49,995 not to do so and so that’s number one. But then number two is if you’re in that inattentive ADHD category, where you know you’ve got this potential and you’ve even got the desire at you know, in your heart at some level, but you just can’t get yourself to follow through right you’re just like plagued by procrastination, all that I really teach like a three-part system, which is basically that you need people power easy prevails and pressure-free practice. And when you kind of combine those three, you can really start to get stuff done when you tip when historically you haven’t been able to.
Matt DeCoursey 09:57
So when we talk about ADHD, I should probably have done this at the beginning of the episode. But Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a brain disorder that affects how you pay attention. It still controls your behavior, it happens in children and teens and continues into adulthood. ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed mental disorder in children, boys are more likely to have it than girls. It’s usually spotted during the early school years, when a child begins to have problems paying attention. It can’t be prevented or cured, but spotting it early plus, having a good treatment and education plan can help a child or adult with ADHD manage their symptoms. And you know, there’s a lot of symptoms that adults show and adults or carry over and they’re things like often and that you know, you’re so right, the ADHD thing is it comes in so many different packages. And you know, some people have you talked about often being late or forgetting things, anxiety, low self esteem problems at work, trouble controlling anger, I’ve had that one. Especially when I was a kid, that and impulsiveness, which is also on the list. Substance misuse or addiction went through that when I was younger, in that trouble staying organized. I’m still not organized, like my version of organized is like serviceable at best procrastination. So let’s stop at that one. Let’s not procrastinate talking about procrastination. I think that’s kind of the centerpiece of so much of what you were talking about in the beginning, do you think that that is the biggest thing that entrepreneurs have a hard time climbing over?
Aron Croft 11:35
Matt DeCoursey 11:40
So the world of binary says you do it, or you don’t do it? How is there a secret to actually not get it? How do we? I mean, I’ve gone through this, I think we all do that. And you know, you said something earlier in the show, you said of all these successful entrepreneurs listening, I don’t think most of us are successful. Other people may view us as successful, but I still don’t feel successful on so many days. So some of that’s like, I don’t know, but every so many of you listening, have sat there knowing exactly what you need to do, maybe even knowing how to do it. But for some reason, we choose everything else to do it. And then that goes back to the second item that was on this list, which was anxiety. I think that’s the thing that I’ve learned is that if I’m sitting there, and I know that I need to do something, and I’m not doing it, it builds the anxiety level up. And there’s no way to give, which is then going to result in sleeplessness and a whole bunch of other stuff that is undesirable. And it won’t. I’ve just learned it won’t go away until I go fix that. That is part of the problem.
Aron Croft 12:46
Yeah, I mean, so look, you asked about like strategies, a lot of it comes into if I were to summarize it in like one phrase, it comes into self selected accountability versus externally imposed accountability. So what I mean by that, well, a lot of us especially have inattentive ADHD or others got a bad taste in our mouth with externally imposed accountability growing up, right, our parents would force us to do things that were hard to do, or we didn’t want to do. Our teachers would force us to do things, and we didn’t do it because hope, you know, impacts our self esteem, etc. And we kind of threw out the baby with the bathwater that like accountability sucks. And then we have this opportunity as adults. So the problem that I see a lot of entrepreneurs and just people with ADHD make in general is they’ll follow through with accountability. But all the accountability in their life is still externally imposed, right. So their spouse is like, do the freakin dishes or take out the trash? And they’re like, Okay, cool, they’ll do it, right. And their boss will be like, I need you to do this, or you’re gonna get fired. And they’ll do it, right? But it’s still very, like fear-based and stressful. But the thing is, other people get our ADHD brains to do things like accountability works, we just don’t like the stress of it. And what I really work with is creating environments where they can leverage the power of accountability to other people that they have a relationship with, but on a self selected goal on something that’s important to them. And that is really the game changer. But anyway, let me let me pause there.
Matt DeCoursey 14:43
So I have a soliloquy that works, because the thing that I’ve learned with my own ADHD and I mentioned like the childhood thing, so I either got like an A, or like a D, I never really failed, because I didn’t know I know. I knew that you talked about this self imposed Is there that external accountability, I was in deep shit, if I failed, right, I’d be in big trouble. But if I was interested in that I did really well on it. And that’s carried over to myself as an entrepreneur, because if I’m interested in and I like doing it, I’ll do it really well. But if I’m not interested in I don’t like doing it, I learned pretty quickly, I need to find someone else that’s good at it. Because I will procrastinate the shit out of all of it. If I don’t like it, or want to do it, even though I know it’s important, I can still really procrastinate. Now, one of the things I think is a challenge is that you mentioned external accountability, which I struggled with a lot as a kid, because if you’re around kids that have ADHD, please don’t do this. Don’t tell them that they’re a failure. Don’t tell them that they’re not going to do well. You got into Harvard, I barely graduated from high school. So you know, and that wasn’t because I was stupid. It was because I just didn’t give a shit about half of the stuff that I was supposed to be paying attention to. And, and it still never really took, you know, like, for me, like when I was in college, I was trying to get a business degree, I don’t understand why I needed to do history. Or some of the other things, you know, some of it that had nothing to do with what I wanted to do in life. Like, still, I went to a top 10 Business School on the fifth school, I quit. And I still haven’t used omega and mu and all of the Greek symbols and all the stuff in economics class, nor do I run into him. So you know, some of that’s kind of like, you’re like, What do I need to do this for? But yeah.
Aron Croft 16:37
Yeah. So one thing I would love to just zoom in on, right, is what you were saying just about a minute or two ago, right? Where you’re just saying, like, if I was interested in it, I was all in. And if I wasn’t like that, I don’t want to do it at all right? And so one of the things that, I think based on what you said you might resonate with, but I think some of your listeners might resonate with this as well. So I interviewed 15 of what I would consider like one intrapreneurs, right, like people with ADHD primarily inattentive, or combined type. So that means inattentive and hyperactive, impulsive, who. Either were in the process of starting a business or a side hustle or wanted to, but it was still kind of just something I think about and talk about, not something that I’m like, making any progress on. And here’s what I found that was so interesting. Was this, right? So like, if you go, if you look online, and you’re like how to launch a successful business, right? You will get tons of information about the four P’s with market fit, right? So you need your product market fit, right is what I’m delivering? Does it match what the audience wants? Do you need your promotion market fit? Do I have a way to reach my potential customers, you know, that works. You need your pricing market fit, like, you know, is this what people are looking to pay, and you need process market fit? Do I have a reliable process for delivering, you know, the results of the product that I’m doing? And a lot of the stuff really kind of stops there. And what I found is that there’s a second M fit that ADHD is needed on the four Ps much more in my interviews, then neurotypicals still need this fit but not at the level of severity or seriousness. And so the second end fit me. And for ADHD, there’s this need for me to fit on these four is just much higher than for neurotypicals. So we need a product that fits, which is basically where you are saying Matt, right? Like, if I don’t like this product that I’m delivering this service I’m delivering, I don’t want to do it, I’m not going to do I don’t care if it’s going to make $20 million. Right? If I don’t like it, if I don’t find promotion activities that don’t feel sleazy and shady, and that I don’t hate doing. Sure I’ll do it for a few weeks or a few months, but I’m gonna drop the ball as soon as the pressure to keep doing those promotion activities fades away. So I need to fit in the promotion activities, right? And like it just keeps going right on the pricing stuff. If you’ve had a bunch of failures and struggle in your life, you might have developed some and maybe had financial struggles as a result of them right like me being broke divorced and earning minimum wage, you then end up with difficulty on the me fit on pricing because you’ve got these like weird limiting beliefs around money that you’ve built up over time. And so you end up with these challenges around kind of charging what you’re worth and what would be worth your time. And then on the process stuff after the procrastination comes in, like they can have a process that delivers results but how do they get me fit with that? How do they get themselves to follow through on that process and find what works for me in that space I’ve just found a lot of ADHD years have trouble with?
Matt DeCoursey 20:12
Yeah, it’s, you mentioned in process seems like a good time for me to mention that if you need the people, the process or the platform to find and build a software development team, that’s what FullScale.io Does, talking about add and not understanding. And sometimes if you don’t know how to do it, and you haven’t done it before, you’re probably not good at it, we’re pretty good at helping people find software developers, you gotta FullScale.io To learn more, it only takes it built in true fashion for the ADHD entrepreneur, it takes less than two minutes to fill out the form about what you need. And then our platform does the rest of the work, and puts you right in front of the people that you want. Now, I think with ADHD, you’re just talking about that. And I’m sitting here thinking chicken and egg, chicken and egg because no one needs the repetitive process and the structure more than like an ADHD person, but sometimes building it, it can be frayed. Now that’s something that over my life, I’ve actually developed a high level of expertise. And because I realized I needed the structure. Now, I want to actually go back and I want to talk a little bit more about the environment of things because I think this is important. So I think about the environment. When we think environment, well first off, you’ve obviously got the outside and the earth, but your environment is like where you work and what you’re doing for me I’ve had I’ve realized that so even though I’m I’m inherently disorganized, I do keep I do need an organized workspace in place to be in. Because if I don’t have that it is inflammatory like all things ADHD, like it will give me anxiety. And so for me, it just even just straightening up and doing things like so even though I’m a fully immersed in the world of tech, I still have I’m holding up for those of you that are on an audio program I’m holding up, I can I can see Aron and he can see me but it’s a good idea to hold up a visual aid list. And it’s a simple thing. And I’ve tried to even take this digital and for some reason, it doesn’t have the same effect, because I’ve trained myself to put things on it and then to truly enjoy crossing them off. And so what I have a trick with this, and this is why I can’t do it digitally is a lot of times my To Do lists will end up with a bunch of shit all over it. So I rewrite it at least once a week. And I find that it often takes me an hour or two hours to rewrite the list. Because I get to the point where I’m shameful about the fact that I’m putting something on the list again, for the fourth week in a row or something like that. So I find that I get a lot of goofy stuff out. Now I think one of the biggest things in my experience for overcoming the ADHD thing is, I really taught myself the value of opportunity cost and opportunity cost is described as the value of the choice that you didn’t go with, and learning. And I think that you mentioned, like, you said earlier that a lot of times ADHD people will do stuff, but they don’t pick the most valuable thing. If you can do that, I think if you can learn how to do the most valuable thing on the list and look, theoretically, like you said earlier that sounds easy to do. And in reality, I’m a realist, not a theorist, and in reality is the business owner that it’s guaranteed ADHD every fucking day. Because there’s a million things pulling you in a million different ways and people button in and interrupting and whatever. So I put myself in an environment where I’ll just shut my door. And if I lock myself, I’m locked in a room in my house right now. So you can’t distract me. And some of that is also a facilitated environment with the people around me being like my wife knows that because like if my door shut, that means like, Hey, I’m just it’s not that I don’t want to be involved with what’s going on. I’m just easily distracted. And I have to shut the door because a kid walking down the hallway can be enough to distract me. So I turn off notifications, I turn off reminders, and turn off a lot of stuff. My phone doesn’t ring if you’re not in my contact list. And by the way for iPhone users. That’s a setting that I told my buddy about last Friday and he was like, Dude, how do you do that? And it’s like it’s a seven, just go in there. Turn it off. Don’t rank unrecognized callers. But as simple as a buzzing in your pocket are these things are environmental factors that can fuck up your whole head. Now, I think the most important part of it though, and I’ve talked about this a lot to people is when you find inspiration, you are going to try to do everything you can to stay on that horse while it’ll ride. And that sometimes evolves almost like I’ve gone from being driven to being upset Just so you can’t, but that can be problematic for some people too. And I think that that can come with ADHD too. It’s like, you’re not interested in the things you don’t want to do. And then you can become like world-class universal class, focus on something that you want to be in, do you have? Do you ever work with people that have that problem? It’s like, you can’t put it down. And it’s like, you almost want to be distracted by other things, but you can’t.
Aron Croft 25:27
Um, less so. I mean, I think like, I think I think that you probably enjoy that to some extent, right? Like, obviously, you need to manage it.
Matt DeCoursey 25:38
But the environment because if you get knocked off, just like, Boom, just like that, then it’s over.
Aron Croft 25:45
Yeah, um, well, I mean, it’s all about you, the environment, super important. And like, all those things you talked about are things that I make all my students do as well. Like the notifications and you know, we also do things like your peak time, chronobiology, like when you work best and work on sleep.
Matt DeCoursey 26:04
And you know, you talked about the second because that’s actually I think a key one too, is like the time of day.
Aron Croft 26:10
Yes, huge, absolutely huge. Everyone, everyone’s got this outdated model of like, like, they beat themselves up when they’re not efficient for eight or 10 or 12 hours in a day. And because we’ve got those, you know, peaks and valleys in our energy and our focus, it’s really much better to match the types of tasks to when you’re at your peak, right, match those tough tasks when your peak and then you know, the rest of it’s less important, because that’s really your highest value time.
Matt DeCoursey 26:43
Well, that was like that. So we’re recording the schedule for this, excuse me, we’re recording this podcast at 11am. Central time. I don’t record them earlier than that. To feel like I am the vibrant personality that I would like to be during the podcast at eight in the morning.
Aron Croft 27:03
Yes, and so I’m in even though so. So I know. We said Chicago, I just moved around the lake an hour and a half to Southwest Michigan. And so we’re in the eastern time zone here. And my team knows to not schedule anything on my calendar before noon Eastern without checking with me.
Matt DeCoursey 27:27
Well, they scheduled this morning or evening and it drives my wife crazy because my wife’s more of a morning person. And sometimes it’s like four o’clock pm rolls. And I’m just like, it’s almost like I’m just getting started. Now a lot of that has been facilitated by the fact that I have hundreds of employees at Full Scale that are in the Philippines, which is 13 time zones away. So I’ve kind of like over the 10 years to build this like am-pm persona. Now I would actually like to talk about the sleep thing. I think that’s something that’s something that is for ADHD and Okay, so ADHD presents enough challenges already. Now you pepper in entrepreneurship, and the anxiety comes with it. I mean, does that make any entrepreneur sleep because I’ve had this conversation with a lot of people and like, I dude, I am famously bad at it. Like, to the point that I mean, I’m not like a true Insomniac like, but I mean, outside, I can go like a day or two without sleeping sometimes. And it’s excruciating, I can’t do anything. And the problem is, people are like, Well, why don’t you take some melatonin or Xanax or something like that? Well, then I wake up foggy, and it’s just the same thing.
Aron Croft 28:39
Yeah, I mean, I think so. I know, I know, in one of the bio bits that I read of yours, right? That, like, you’re really good at figuring out the important stuff, like the high value stuff over the lower value stuff, right? Like, that’s one of your productivity strategies. True. Yeah, I mean, so, I mean, personally, personally, I couldn’t. I couldn’t do it. I mean, granted, you know, you’ve got what Inc 5000 now so whereas, you know, one person with a couple contractors, so maybe if I was like Matt level, then I might not be getting as much sleep, but I’m much bigger. I’m much a bigger fan of figuring out the stuff only you can do. Which by definition based on all your experience, training, etc., is high value. Like I can’t have someone show up and do podcast interviews in my place, right? Because there’s no way they can replicate my experience etc. For my team, but looking at everything else. I’m constantly scanning all the crap that’s eating up my time and just being ruthless about like, what can I take off my plate?
Matt DeCoursey 29:57
I definitely do that. At this point, I didn’t always try to do everything myself. And I found myself saying this. And if you say this, you’re in big trouble. Well, it’s just faster for me to do it myself. And you’re gonna always end up doing all of it yourself and never letting someone else do it. And you got to, sometimes you have to slow down to speed up now when I’m talking about the sleep thing, so this is the so I was I hosted some entrepreneurs last night, we Full Scale is a suite and that the T Mobile Center here in Kansas City, and we saw Kendrick Lamar last night. And that was nice, another local entrepreneur, an idea that I’d had from a few years ago. And she’s like, well, I’ll, if this works, I was like, Well, I don’t know what to do. I’m like, go use it to make money. It’s almost the same as what you’re doing in your business. She’s like, Well, why don’t you want to do it? I’m like, I want to do fewer things. She’s like, you’re such an ideas guy. And I literally just kind of impulsive. You’re like, Yeah, I wish I wasn’t. That’s the thing, though, if they start it starts rattling around in your head. And it’s either ideas, but also anxiety. So the anxiety, which is I don’t have an anxiety problem. I know people that have a real anxiety problem, and I don’t have that. But it’s enough to prevent sleep. And the problem that I have is I don’t always stop myself from not sleeping because for some reason, I feel like that’s when I have some of my best ideas. So I’m, I’m conflicting. I’m a hypocrite against my, you know, I’m like, Well, I want to sleep but I don’t want to sleep and I don’t know, it’s, it’s a mess. It’s very, I think, if you have ADHD, it’s a very noisy head.
Aron Croft 31:34
Matt DeCoursey 31:36
Okay, so there’s a couple other things here on this list, you have easily frustrated, often bored. I think that’s where entrepreneurs get themselves in trouble on the board thing, hey, let’s just try something new. You know, it’s, it’s, I think sitting back and waiting for things to deliver the egg to hatch is excruciating for ADHD, like, What do you mean, we have to wait, people like, well, let’s talk about it in three months and add years, that’s like, six years. Add or like worse than dog years, man, it takes forever, mood swings. So I think mood swings are a big one. And I’ve tried to do a lot to mitigate that and myself around my team, because I think that not everyone wants to see that ADD is good in startups in some regards. Because you constantly have to do a lot of different things. And then eventually you have to settle down. But mood swings as a leader can be a real challenge. And the other
Aron Croft 32:36
Can we talk about the board bit though, because I think that’s one that I want our listeners to emulate.
Matt DeCoursey 32:43
It leads us to chase shiny things we want to do too much.
Aron Croft 32:47
Yes, that. And also, I think it’s a challenge that I’ve seen with clients around niching. Like, picking a niche somewhere that they can dominate. And a lot of them, I think that they’ve I’ve noticed that there’s this resistance around picking a niche because they’re worried about the boredom. Right. So like you’re not doing staffing for, you know, you’re not trying to be Robert Half or, you know, one of these, like global staffing firms, like you’re very specific, like we do software developers, you know, for these types of businesses, and we you know, like you have a very specific niche that you’re filling. And what I noticed with myself and with other people I’ve worked with is that they’re like, I don’t want to pick a niche, because I’m going to be stuck there, and I’m going to get bored. And then I’m going to be trapped. At least I could quit my job, but I’m not going to quit my business. So like what do I do, right? And one of the things that at least was really helpful for me was a big perspective shift. And you might disagree with this, right? Because you might think that this is just a little bit too much of chasing shiny objects. But he has two insights, right? The first is you know, within your within your role within your niche, you can still change what you’re doing like you personally right so like maybe you’re working on a ton of marketing stuff and then you decide you want to focus more on like strategy, your sales like so you can definitely flex the type of work that you’re doing within the business so long as you backfill yourself, right delegate etc. But the other one, this was really transformational for me is that for a lot of businesses, a niche is just a starting point. And, you know, you don’t necessarily need to even stick in that niche for longer than a year, year and a half, right? So like, you look at Amazon, right? I’m going to sell online books, you know, paper copies, right and, you know, they’ve continually grown and Okay, now we’re gonna sell other products to right and then we’re going to do digital and then we’re gonna do publishing and then we’re gonna do space traveling groceries and, you know, at home smart home devices and all these things. And so I think the opportunity to expand your niche and take on new niches, once you’ve dominated, is something that holds back entrepreneurs that are afraid of getting boxed in on a niche.
Matt DeCoursey 35:23
I think with a board thing, what you have to be careful of as an entrepreneur is if you’re going to, you know, if you’re going to pursue a different avenue within your business, like, it’d be pretty ratty to stick with it. Because if you think you’re bored with what you’re doing now, like meaning, like, don’t just do something different, because you’re bored. I think it’s, there’s probably a lot of different stuff you can do already. Like, I don’t know, I see a lot of people that I just talked to too many entrepreneurs, they’re like, yeah, just started my seventh business. And I’m like, why? I saw an opportunity. I’m like, Well, what about the other six businesses? Yeah, I was getting bored with some of those other ones. Now, I think if you do things that you’re passionate about, then you’re never gonna get bored. But, you know.
Aron Croft 36:08
So you just hit the nail on the head there. And I think one of the things that I think is interesting to offer, right, is this idea that we can kind of turn business planning on its head. So I think one of the reasons people get bored is that they plan a business out the traditional way. If they have ADHD, or this tendency to get bored easily, they plan a business out the traditional way, right? They look at the TAM, the total addressable market, and they look at the opportunity, and they, you know, figure out what percentage of the market they can take and how they can play in there, and this whole thing, and it all makes sense on paper, which is great. And find, obviously, you need your business to at least make sense, you know, back of the napkin on paper, I advocate a 183 different approach, which is rather than an outside in, let me look at the addressable market, let me look at the opportunity and kind of pursue it to avoid getting bored too easily and to avoid quitting, especially if you have trouble, you know, with task follow through which a lot of which me and a lot of my clients do, is starting a business from the inside out, starting with the me fit, what’s the stuff that I love to do, that other people might think is work. Like, for me, I love reading personal development books, business books, productivity books, and I love taking those ideas and being like, Oh, my God, I can’t believe they did 400 pages on this, I could, I could break this down to like 10 pages of exactly what you need to know. And, you know, in an effective action based way. So I just took that interest, something I do for fun on the weekends, like reading these books. And that just became the core of my business, like taking a bunch of great ideas from a bunch of people and streamlining the crap out of them, saying like, that whole thing that they tell you to do about your whole, detailed customer avatar, let’s just put that to the side. Here’s what you know, like just finding out a way to cut out the crap. And I think if you start with me fit, start with the stuff that you do that doesn’t feel like work, start with the stuff that’s just fun. That, you know, kind of Seth Godin says, like little kids, they don’t make art to get paid, they make art for the sake of making art. And if you’re just making art, you’re doing stuff, because you would do it just for the joy of doing it, you’re going to build a business that you’re not going to get bored of as easily and that you’re going to have staying power. Whereas if you just do it from the outside in, you’re going to potentially set yourself up for wanting to just constantly change.
Matt DeCoursey 38:49
Yeah, and that does revolve around the passion piece. And one of the things that I’ve talked to a lot of people that have failed at raising money from investors, and when I talked to him, and they’re like, Well, I can’t figure out why. And I’m like I can. You don’t sound very passionate about the solution. Trying to find it’s pretty obvious and you know, that being passionate, I think about it makes it not feel like a job. And I mean, that’s kind of proven stuff. Yeah. You know, there are some famous people that have been pretty well known as having ADHD like Walt Disney, Michael Phelps, Justin Timberlake, Michael Jordan, Richard Branson, Albert Einstein. I think we’ve all heard of those guys. So it’s definitely not it’s definitely not something that people can overcome. So as we round out today’s episode, I’m going to ask everyone if they need help hiring software engineers, testers are leaders and you let Full Scale help. We have the people, the platform and the process to help you build and manage a team of experts when you visit FullScale.io. All you need to do is answer a few questions then let our platform match you up with our fully vetted, highly experienced team of software engineers, testers and leaders. Full Scale, we specialize in long term teams that work only for you to learn more at FullScale.io. So Aron, as we talked about this as a whole, and I mean, we probably could have gone through, well, we could have probably done a separate episode on every single thing that was on this lesson sometimes. So, you know, kind of, I think that I mean, what, on the way out of this episode, what’s some advice that you’d give to entrepreneurs or founders that are struggling with some of this? Or what were some of the key points that stood out from today’s show?
Aron Croft 40:37
Sure. Yeah. I mean, I think the number one thing is like, if, if some of your listeners have the challenge that I have, right, which is that you want to do something, but you just can’t get yourself to do it, right, kind of just that chronic procrastination, whole bit. That often, we think the problems ourselves, and I think the main takeaway is that you aren’t the problem, your system is the problem, and you just need a different system, and the system is going to look differently than what works for your spouse, or what your parents think, should work for you, or even what your colleagues or other entrepreneurs, you know, that works for them. And so that’s really been the big breakthrough for me was that, if I just change my systems up to look very different than they look for other people, that I can actually get a ton of shit done. Even with all the challenges that I run into, and I think, you know, realizing that I’m not the problem, and that my systems were the problem was really freeing for me and really helpful for my confidence and self esteem.
Matt DeCoursey 41:46
Once again, with me today, Aron Croft, who is the CEO of hidden ADHD, you know, I think, as I round out today’s show, I think, then I think the key, we talked about being passionate that kind of has gotten me over the ADHD. The main thing for me, as I mentioned earlier, is when I’m feeling inspired, focused, and habit going in the right direction, I try to do everything I can to keep that going. Because I can accomplish 10 times more than the average human during the stretches, I just can’t determine or pre-schedule when those will occur. And that’s the challenging thing with inspiration. Now, to add a piece to that, and that goes with what we discussed earlier, I’ve also done a lot to facilitate having an environment where I can stay on that horse. And that’s tough for a lot of people to do, especially people that might say I have a lot of control over my schedule. This time I’ve got a great support structure. I have an amazing wife who, I mean, I can tell her I’m like, you know, I can I refer to it as science. Like I got some songs, I gotta go work on a little science, which means that I’m, you know, oftentimes as an entrepreneur, experimenting and trying to feel, figure out what works and that basically means I’m gonna go lock myself in my, in my office, and maybe I come out looking like Tom Hanks on in castaway. Or maybe I come out like 20 minutes later and, like shit, false alarm. But I think if you find the moments of inspiration, and then those environmental factors that matter. And then I think the last thing is don’t let anybody tell you that there’s something wrong with ADHD. Because I wouldn’t give my back. I really wouldn’t be you. If you took that away from me, I would struggle at this point. I’m also an old man. It took me a while. I didn’t figure it out. I didn’t figure a lot of the stuff out. It’s still a struggle for me. A lot of days. It’s something I’m always reminding myself of. I’m often, you know, in conversations and stuff like that. And I’ve programmed my own thought process into lessons, you know, it’s not just, you know, and that stuff.
Aron Croft 43:59
I love it. I love it. But tell us. Tell us quickly about the Inc 5000 or whatever that is. Yeah.
Matt DeCoursey 44:06
My team and my company you talked about, like, you mentioned earlier being doing, hey, do you solve the big problems, I have some big ideas, I got a whole bunch of people that solve the actual problem. And that and I have very little to do with the Inc. 5000. There are a couple 100 People at Full Scale that have everything to do about it. They’re the ones that show up and work directly with our weapon for our clients and help them find solutions. But yeah, that was an honor. That was nice to be on the list. And we’re you know, I honestly I’m not a big praise and awards guy. Because but I’m not going to turn that one down either. So but yeah, that was really just validation for a lot of hard work that the other people have done, and you know that and that whole the concept, that whole concept there is I mean really I’m nothing I have no success without the people that I work with. Because you mentioned earlier, like, Hey, I’ve got a subcontractor or one person, or all you can do is all you can do, I think we kind of said that at the beginning of the show. So I’ve found a lot of people that are good at doing the stuff that I don’t want to do or the stuff that I suck at. And that’s been the key ingredient. And that wasn’t fast. I mean, I had to. You have to be real honest with yourself, so you have to be real, real, like brutally honest. You know, I’ll give you like accounting, I can do accounting, like, I can do it just fine. I’m good at math. I can do all of it. But I don’t like doing that. In fact, I hate doing that.
Aron Croft 45:40
You know, I say.
Matt DeCoursey 45:44
Yeah, fine, go.
Aron Croft 45:45
I’m with you, Matt. And let me just say, and this, this might be a bit silly. But that fact was the thing that got me to quit my fortune 500 corporate jobs and be an entrepreneur was when I realized that I could design my life and my job to do the shit that I liked to do and delegate, hire out all the rest. I was, like, sold. And that’s been absolutely the most rewarding part of me. I’ve only been out in the corporate world, like 13 months. And it’s everything like that more. And I think that I think that is an opportunity that entrepreneurs really could connect with and take advantage of more than kind of, as you said, the challenge of I’m just going to do everything, right?
Matt DeCoursey 46:35
Yeah, and that well, and you know, back to the chicken in the egg. I mean, that’s, you know, not everybody has the ability to just hire 10, five, or even one person to come in and fix that stuff. And there are a lot of ways you can get around that. And, you know, if you’re trying to do a startup, you have to find a co-founder. And you know, there’s I mean, there’s a lot of stuff, and we get into that again and again and again. But yeah, I’m completely unemployable at this point. So I’m I have no choice I have there is I’m like you know, the Vikings used to pull up and burn and burn, get out and burn the boats. Yeah, that’s a very interesting fact about them, because they’re like, there is no turning back. So that’s kind of like where I’m at as an entrepreneur, and a lot of people like, oh, man, you’re What do you mean you’re unemployable? I’d hire you in a heartbeat. Yeah, but I don’t want the job. That’s a lot to do with it, too. So Aron, thanks so much for joining me. If you’re interested in reaching out directly to Aron or getting involved in his coaching and training. I’m gonna put a link to his LinkedIn so you can go straight to the source. Man, I’ll catch up with you down the road.
Aron Croft 47:43
Awesome, Matt. Thanks so much.