Ep. #1076 - Autism and Entrepreneurship
In today’s episode of Startup Hustle, let’s discover if autism and entrepreneurship can go hand-in-hand. Join Matt DeCoursey and Peter Mann, CEO and founder of Oransi, as they discuss how one’s diagnosis can change one’s lifestyle. And how you can help eradicate the stigma by checking the strengths and weaknesses of people diagnosed with the disorder.
Covered In This Episode
Do autism and entrepreneurship go well together? The answer is a resounding yes!
Listen to Matt and Peter’s insights to discover the strengths and weaknesses of a person diagnosed with autism (also called autism spectrum disorder). And learn how these founders see neurodivergence as an advantage contrary to other people’s beliefs.
Stop the stigma around ADHD and autism now. Get to know more information through this Startup Hustle episode.
- Discussion on Peter’s diagnosis (02:21)
- Introducing neurodivergent and Matt’s diagnosis (03:12)
- The early-life story of Peter Mann (04:37)
- The stigma associated with the term “disorder” and ADHD (08:13)
- Does Peter’s autism contribute to his genius? (10:57)
- Autism in the form of built-in energy (13:18)
- The realities of having autism (16:01)
- Acceptance and using the nature of autism to your advantage (21:04)
- The advantages of having autism according to ChatGPT with Matt and Peter’s insights (24:34)
- Authenticity and honesty, and how it may be misconstrued by others (32:35)
- Driven versus obsessed—what’s the distinction between them? (37:14)
- On expectations, inner confidence, and achieving things (39:36)
- Is neurodivergence a strength contrary to what most people believe in? (47:02)
You don’t have to be great at everything. You just need to have the right traits and skills for a given job. If you align with that, then just play to your strengths, and you don’t have to be all things to all people.– Peter Mann
I’m not everyone’s cup of tea. Not everyone’s my cup of tea, either. Also, accepting that I don’t necessarily need to like you and want to be your best friend to do business with you or work with you.– Matt DeCoursey
Neurodiversity or neurodivergence are really advantages, not disadvantages. It’s just how you frame it.– Peter Mann
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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. Everyone knows someone that has autism. And some people get diagnosed with autism at different times and phases of their life. We’re going to talk about that and how autism and entrepreneurship, quite honestly, go hand in hand. For many of us, we’re going to use big words like neurodivergent. And, who knows, maybe we’ll even find some other big words to figure it out. And before I introduce today’s guest, 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 has the platform to help you manage that team. Visit FullScale.io to learn more. If you weren’t aware, that’s my company, and we love talking to Startup Hustle listeners. So check out the link in the show notes for FullScale.io. With me today, I have Peter Mann, and Peter is the CEO and founder of Oransi. And they’re in manufacturing and consumer home electronics. He’s going to tell you more about that in a second; you can go to oransi.com. Don’t try to figure out how to spell that; just scroll down and click that link in the show notes for me real quick. So you can see a little bit more about his company and give a little context straight out of Radford, Virginia. And if you know where that is, reach out, because I had to ask. But it’s somewhere in Virginia, according to Peter. So I should say, Peter, welcome to Startup Hustle.
Peter Mann 01:30
Thanks, Matt. Yeah, excited to be here.
Matt DeCoursey 01:33
Yeah, you know, let’s go ahead and dive right into our conversation, where we start with a little bit about your backstory.
Peter Mann 01:41
Sure. So you mentioned, I guess, autism in the beginning. And so, you know, part of what we’re going to talk about is, like many people, a late diagnosed autistic person. You know, I’ve kind of gone through my entire life until the last year or so until I kind of figured it out and got diagnosed. And, you know, in kind of receiving the diagnosis that, you know, the natural reaction is to go back and go through all your life’s events. And you’re, like, see things in a completely different light. For me, I think it kind of highlights all my successes and failures in seeing it through that lens. And, you know, I think it’s really, you know, been a big part of the success that I’ve had in entrepreneurship. I’m just thinking differently.
Matt DeCoursey 02:32
You know, there’s a term I mentioned in the intro, neurodivergent, and this is a new term for me, and I fall into this category as well. And that refers to individuals who have a brain that functions differently from the majority of people, leading to differences in perception, thought, and behavior. It’s a term commonly used to describe individuals with conditions such as autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and other neurological conditions that affect cognition and behavior. But I want to go back to the part where it talks about the brain functions a little differently. Now I’m in the ADHD group. And, you know, I think that’s an overdiagnosed thing. In today’s culture, the world’s taking handfuls of Adderall every day, I’m actually someone who really needs to, but I really do have always described myself as thinking differently or acting differently, or I don’t know, I’ve just always been a little different. And some people love that about me. And some people frickin hated me, right? And I’ve always realized that now I was, I’ve always known that now I was a kid, they didn’t have a term for that you mentioned, I’d like to maybe if you’d be willing to share a little bit about so you just received this diagnose diagnosis as a middle-aged person, and I’m curious about what event how that event occurred and how you felt about it afterward?
Peter Mann 03:57
Yeah, so I mean, just to back up a little bit, I’m Gen X. I went to, you know, an elementary school in the 70s. And, you know, I finished K through 12 in the 80s. And, back at that time, you know, about one in 2500 people were diagnosed as being autistic. And today, it’s closer to one and 50. It’s not that there’s this big influx of people that are now autistic. It’s just they just were never diagnosed. And so if you think about it, there’s, you know, for the last 15 or 20 years, there are just so few people unless you have very high support needs. You just kind of went through the system. And you just didn’t know. And for me, what happened was my wife was watching. I believe it was the CBS Morning Show, and they did a profile on a woman who’s autistic, and she was describing how she can see hyperfocus and see patterns and see details that other people don’t see. And she’s, she’s like, wow, you need to watch This, and I watched it, and I completely related to everything that they said about her, you know her traits and how she sees things and you know, some of the challenges. And that’s really what started the journey for me. And then, the first thing I did was I went online, and I started taking these online screening assessments to see how I scored, and it’s kind of interesting, the most common one, the most popular one is a 50-question test. It was by a Cambridge professor, his name is Simon Baron Cohen.
Matt DeCoursey 05:40
He’s related to Sacha Baron Cohen, believes it or not, and Maura Yeah. Okay.
Peter Mann 05:44
For its cousin or something like that. And so, you know, it’s just a series of questions, and it’s just, you know, where do you score on this and a neurotypical person, you know, most people, typical people score 16, or 17. If you’re autistic, you tend to score 30. And up, and I scored a 43. I was like, oh, okay, I took, I took several others, and they’re all consistent with that. And that’s, that’s kind of what kicked it off. And then I went and got a formal diagnosis. But that was really challenging because the whole system is more or less set up for children. It’s not set up for people who are missed. The diagnosis is, you know, diagnostics are really, you know, the latest ones were set in 2013. So it’s not like, something that science is really understood for very long. It’s very much in its infancy in terms of understanding it, and it still has a long way to go. And so yeah, anyways, and so, you know, I eventually found a lady whose business is this and does it via telehealth, but that took some months of searching. There are just not the resources in place. And it’s, it’s, it’s, you know, really challenging because so few people do it. And for a lot of people, it’s not accessible because it’s pretty expensive to get done. And so anyway, so I got through all that. And last year, it was like, Yep, you’re officially diagnosed with, they call it ASD, autism spectrum disorder, which I don’t really like that title. It sounds kind of negative.
Matt DeCoursey 07:33
But it’s a term disorder. It’s like attention deficit disorder.
Peter Mann 07:36
Yeah. It’s like you’re defective. And, like, I don’t really think so. That’s, you know, that’s kind of viewing it through a deficit lens versus viewing it as just a difference. And so I think there’s still a long way to go. There’s just such a stigma. And so, you know, I’m kind of going out talking about it, because it really is just a difference. It’s just part of, in my opinion, part of diversity or biodiversity that you see in nature. It’s not, you know, there’s one right way to socially communicate or for your brain to work. There can be, you know, it can work differently.
Matt DeCoursey 08:13
So, you talked about the whole diagnosis of the neurodivergent categories, and I’m kind of in that, you know, I’m close to 50 years old at this point. And when I was a kid, they didn’t have it. They just called me disruptive. They didn’t have, they didn’t have a term, I wasn’t ADHD that there really wasn’t a thing. They weren’t throwing that term around. I remember not specifically not taking medication for it until I was in my teens. I’ve seen that medication change. I, too, hate the word disorder because there’s nothing wrong with me. In fact, I possess some hubris, and superhuman skills, when it comes to stuff, and I also come with things that I battle, and when I talk to any person anywhere, anytime, they all have the same things, there are things they’re good at, and there are things that they battle, and I don’t think that there’s a disorder nature to it. Now, I think that if I think most of the successful entrepreneurs that I know, like if I had to describe an entrepreneur like the world, the word crazy comes up a lot a little bit, you know, they’re they are different, and I think it’s that difference in perspective that as you mentioned, the late the TV show, and there’s like this I see patterns, I just see it a little bit differently. Well, when we describe, I think I talk a lot about, you know, are you crazy? Are you a genius? What is a genius? A genius and talent are often misunderstood because a talented person hits the target. Everyone can see a genius is a person that sees the target that no one else saw and then nails it. And you know, for you. Yeah, the thing that I so you’re a US Navy veteran, you’ve worked for Dell Al, you’ve been in, you know, working? Have you done a whole lot of different things really successfully? Do you think that the autistic nature of your personality contributed to seeing the target that no one else saw and hitting it?
Peter Mann 10:17
Yeah, and I think it’s. It’s also just the way I’m wired. Like, I’m not wired to be interested in social, just chit-chat, or I get dopamine from working. And so it’s like, you know, I’m not sure I’m necessarily smarter than anyone else. But I don’t think many people work more than I do. Because my brain is always thinking this way. And, you know, I don’t really enjoy parties, I don’t, you know, I’m not a fun person, like the person you want to go have a beer. But if there’s work to be done, I can sit and focus on it and really think about it deeply. And, and just put in the time and put in the work and do things that, you know, a lot of people just would find not fun to do. But you just have to, you know, suck it up and, and do it. And, you know, the other thing that neurodivergent people have is, I don’t know if you’re this way, but most autistic people are more bottoms up thinkers instead of top down. And when you’re a top down thinker, you’re kind of it’s, it’s more like, you’re filtering out some things, and you have to remind yourself to think outside the box. When you’re a bottom-up thinker, there is no box, you’re just looking at all the different options in details, and you’re trying to come up with a new or better way, or innovative way of doing something that’s not the default for neurotypical people. And so there’s an advantage, but it takes a lot of time to process all of that stuff. And when your brain is wired to like, that’s what do you do all day, seven days a week? It’s like, there’s no, there’s just no, like, Elon Musk people are like, how can you work 80 or 100 hours a week. And it’s like, that’s, if that’s where you get your dopamine from, that’s like going to a party for a lot of people and feeling energised. It’s like, that’s what, that’s what brings me joy. And that’s what you know, it’s fine. And it’s a game, it’s a puzzle to figure out. And it’s just, you know, keep working at it. There’s just, you know, you’ve got resilience, and, you know, persistence baked into that. And so I think when you boil all that together, I think there is a competitive advantage. You know, in my opinion, I think the hardest working groups of people are first generation immigrants, or neurodiversity people, neurodivergent people.
Matt DeCoursey 12:38
That’ll come out, that’ll come out described as Dr. And like, if I take a personality assessment, I’ll get like a 99 out of 100 for Dr. Which, unlike your description of yourself, actually makes me appear to be a very social person. And I can be right. I can be the person you want to go get a beer with, but I’ll probably never go with you. Just kind of isolate myself into this like, Well, I’m sure people have used the word obsessed about your work habits. I get that a lot. And so you mentioned having a built in side of focus. Mine is built in energy. And I think I’ve noticed as I’ve gotten older, that’s really something that the people that are my age seem to cut it. You know, when I was younger people were like, dude, can you slow down? Can you shut off tapping your pencil? Like, no, I can’t, you know, but as I got older, I learned to manage that energy a little better. And I’ve watched a lot of the people that you know, I mentioned, I’m not, it’s not a secret, you know, I’m coming. I’m a couple years short of 50 years old, and I still have that kind of energy. And I’m around people that are my age, and they’re just like, Dude, I can’t get up. I can’t get moving. But I’m also easily distracted. So I’ve just learned to create environments where I can where I can flex what I need to do now for me when I mentioned like you talked about the neuro divergence superpowers is when I do get locked in Oh, man, I can do like, I can do like the work of like, 10 people. But I have a difficult time. I can’t there’s not just a switch for that. I can’t just be like at nine o’clock tomorrow morning, I’m going to do the work of 10 people. No, I have to. I’ve learned to spot it. And honestly, everything about my reality that I’ve created supports that and knows that when I can tell my wife, hey, I refer to it as a science. I’d be like I’m working on something scientific and that’s kind of like our marital code word for I’m going to lock myself in my office till I come out. And maybe I’ll come out looking like Tom Hanks in castaway. Like a week later. It’s never quite that bad. But yeah, there’s a lot to it. Now. You know, as I mentioned, this is a common trait for a lot of people that are you know, they’re it’s that thinking differently that is good in and around a team. It’s funny you mentioned that like you when you’re describing, hey, when there’s work, I like to get it done and I put my head down and I crush it. I’m thinking, man, to me that sounds like a description of a responsible hard working adult.
Peter Mann 15:21
Yeah, the challenge is it’s not normal, it’s not normal. And so yes, society is governed by, you know, neurotypical people, especially extroverted social people that’s like, that’s like the peak of this hierarchy or pyramid. And when you’re not wired that way, you know, you’re towards the bottom of that pyramid. And it’s, you know, if you’re working for a company, it’s, you know, for autistic folks, it’s very difficult to survive the hiring process, because we don’t do well in interviews. We didn’t notice this generalization. But we tend to not make eye contact, we tend to, you know, sometimes need a little longer to respond to questions or not, you know, really have a great answer. If we haven’t thought about something before, we’re just really not set up for that social environment, that is the job interview process. But for entrepreneurship, 100%, because you control your destiny, and you can just play to your strengths. And the interview process for an autistic person plays to our weaknesses, just the way it’s structured, it really needs to change to be a little bit more inclusive, because it’s because it historically has not been in it’s, I don’t think it’s really intentional, or it’s just the kind of the reality, just from the lack of awareness for how people are different and what people need to be successful.
Matt DeCoursey 16:47
I think that, that one of the things that I’ve learned, and I’ve talked about this a lot is your strengths and your weaknesses, hold hands and walk down Main Street together, you know, and, and for me, speaking is a strength. But it can also be a weakness, because I can be a little too verbose at times, you know, and, and sometimes it’s hard to catch yourself in that moment and be like, shut up, stop talking. And then, you know, and so with that, I’ve also come to the realization that you’re never going to please everyone, no one’s alike. We’re all different. So you get what you get. Now, I have a question about whether or not you would give your autism back before you answer that. I want to remind everyone that finding experts, software developers does not have to be difficult, especially when you visit FullScale.io where you can build a software team quickly and affordably use the Full Scale platform to define your technical needs, and see what available developers testers and leaders are ready to join your team visit FullScale.io to learn more. So as I mentioned, you know, I’ve had this discussion mainly with ADHD people, because I think that that’s, that’s the thing I’ve learned how to spot but would you give it back? Would you give it back to the neurotypical?
Peter Mann 18:03
Now, I mean, definitely not.
Matt DeCoursey 18:05
I wouldn’t, you know, I’m just one person and, you know, I, I don’t have challenges that some autistic folks have.
Peter Mann 18:06
So I’m only speaking for myself. But to me, it’s been a huge advantage in the key is being able to play to your strengths. I mean, that’s the way this is with anyone, like if you get beaten down by your weaknesses, that’s a tough way to live. And I think a lot of it’s just having awareness for really where your strengths are, and where you can succeed. And, you know, and, you know, I remember back in the 90s, when I was at work, it was always like, you know, let’s, let’s work on your weaknesses, unless it was brutal. You know, you’re just everyone was focused on improving the weaknesses, and I don’t know, somewhere in the 2000 kind of shifted, and it’s like, you know, what, you don’t have to be great at everything, you just, you know, you just need to have the right traits and skills for for a given job. And if you align with that, then just play to your strengths. And you don’t have to be all things to all people. And that’s kind of refreshing that that change has happened, but it didn’t always it wasn’t always that way.
Matt DeCoursey 19:16
I feel like the boom in technology and tech companies has really played into the hands of the neurodivergent. And you know, you mentioned the interview process being difficult for people with autism. And so at Full Scale, you know, I employed currently just under 300 software developers, and we have kind of an inner joke we’re like, the weirder they are in the interview, the more we want to hire them like if they show up dress like a Jedi Knight, give that person a job offer right there. Because that’s, there’s a there’s an interesting quality about that, like if we had I even talked about that sometimes will our clients will interview someone and then they’ll say well, you This person wasn’t very, they weren’t very vocal, or they weren’t very outgoing and will say, Well, it’s a software developer, you know, like, if, if they wanted that you’re not trying to hire someone for a sales job here, you know. And now what I just mentioned, for a salesperson might not be great personality traits, but for, you know that people kind of end up down the path that they end up for different reasons. Now, we talked about recognising things and using them to your advantage. How have you done that? Like, how have you been other than creating your own environment? Or or, I don’t know, like, is there anything that stood out when you came to, like, I’ll lead, I’ll tell you what, I just quit carrying, you know, it was probably like, an eight to 10 years ago. And I was like, fuck it, if people don’t like me, that’s fine. There’s, at the time, six and a half billion people on the planet. And I mean, you know, it’s kind of like, I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, not everyone’s my cup of tea, either. It doesn’t, and also accepting that I don’t necessarily need to like, like you and want to be your best friend to do business with you or work with you.
Peter Mann 21:12
Yeah, I guess for me, when it comes to work, it’s really never been a challenge. I guess I worked for two Fortune 100 tech companies. And, you know, I got to senior manager, director level, but I didn’t see myself going above that, because I wasn’t political, I wasn’t, you know, going out to parties, I just wanted to get the work done, and let the work speak for itself. And that’s not always how it works there. And, you know, I didn’t know I was autistic at the time, it was funny, they put me through this assessment, this full day assessment with I don’t know, Psych psychologists and role playing and, and then there’s, you know, pretty big company of hundreds of managers that went through this, I scored second, for any of the analytical or problem solving, and in that I was at the absolute bottom for just like the social interaction. side. And it’s like, when they were, you know, just kind of grilling me on that I was like, I don’t really care. That’s just not who I am. And, you know, I, you know, I just, I don’t know, I just never really let that let that bother me, even before I knew I was autistic. And now that I know that I am, it’s like, alright, let’s, you know, just like just wired that way, I’m not going to, you know, feel weak, because I’m not, I’m never going to be a greeter at a store. And I know that, and I don’t, you know, have an interest in that. For me, the work has never been a problem. It’s more of the like, like, personal relationships is really where it’s a problem. And you know, with my wife, you know, she would, before I was diagnosed, you know, I just remember, that’s really where more of the issues come from, what is it? It’s a function of like expectations? And if you pour your heart out to someone, and then that person’s just like, blank, and there’s no reaction? And all I could say is, I have no words like, I don’t even know what to say. That’s not That’s not the right answer for what’s being looked for. But now that we know that I’m autistic, the expectations have changed. And it’s not this uncomfortable, awkward, difficult situation that I would say it was before. But as it relates to work, you know, really, it’s really an advantage to me, it’s more of a challenge on the personal relationships side.
Matt DeCoursey 23:40
If it makes you feel bad, or my wife thinks I’m a robot. It’s just like, do you know there’s things called emotional man that come into many of our lives? I’m lucky, I don’t know what you’re talking about. So I asked ChatGPT what some of the advantages of autism are. And it has replied by saying that there’s no universal advantage. Each person experiences the condition differently. However, some people with autism have reported some specific benefits. I realized I actually checked the box on a few of these. Not the first one. So the first one it says is attention to detail. Do you have a high attention to detail? Yeah, 100%? I do not. I do not? Well, I do and I do. Sometimes I do. But it’s not like the key driver for me. Is that like, Are you as they say, the devils in the details? And I do recognise that I just think that not everything needs to be the details that don’t matter.
Peter Mann 24:38
Yeah, I mean, for me, a big part of autism is hyper focus, which is you know, it’s I don’t know if it’s a word that I really didn’t know until the last few months is mine on tropism, which is auto tropism. Okay, yeah. That’s a big thing, you know, so what I’ve noticed is there’s artistic therapists or psychologists, they have the best insights like they are spot on in terms of describing or identifying things. And those artistic folks that came up with the concept of mono tropism as an underlying or big theme, you can read about it, Wikipedia has a pretty decent article on it. But it’s this hyper focus or state of flow. And when I’m looking at something or thinking about something, I can shift into a higher gear that I know most people don’t have. And, and I get lost in a world in my head thinking about something and you know, you kind of look like, Well, you’re a loner, or you’re isolated or, and to me, I was watching a, I guess, I guess, a talk with one of the Virginia Tech professors here locally, yesterday, and he was talking about virtual reality. And, you know, they’re like, Oh, you’re isolated, and you’re lost. I’m like, that sounds exactly what autism is. Like. If you ever put a VR headset on, and you get lost in that world, and your your, your, like, lose track of everything that’s going on around you, you obviously can’t read anyone’s facial expressions, what you’re wearing, right, the VR headset, but that’s what it’s like, but I get that with ideas and thinking about things. And that is exactly what it feels like. It’s like, it’s like, you know, like, the good chemicals are flowing. And you just, it just feels like all this information and stuff is just, you know, moving to your head. And it’s and I know, that’s not a that’s not a normal thing.
Matt DeCoursey 26:42
Yeah, I know that well, the hybrid, that’s what I was describing earlier that I’m chasing, like, I would love to be able to put my I think everyone would love to be able to put themselves into I describe it as like in the movie Limitless when Bradley Cooper takes the pill, you know, and all of a sudden, it’s like you’re activating this huge percentage of your brain, not just part of it. And it’s like, yeah, and the key word there is you really can’t get lost in that. Now when I’m on that wave, I try to do anything I can to stay on it. And I’m actually that’s part of why I’m trying to like, I want to try to learn how to put myself into that. And it is a flow state as you mentioned, and it also means you can flow with it for a long time, it also means you can get knocked out of that flow pretty easily. Okay, so the next thing I do have the exceptional memory describing me once again, I’m not autistic, but the neuro I find there is an overlap with some of the neurodivergent things. So the exceptional memory now, it says with autism, especially comes with facts and figures. And I don’t have this as much as I did from when I was born till I was 40. I used to literally not be able to forget a face more than I could and I don’t I can’t. That kind of slipped away from me. I don’t know where that went. But when it comes to memory, there are certain things and oftentimes including shadowed like to forget is so where are you on that?
Peter Mann 28:12
Yeah, totally. I remember facts and data. And I’m not like a facial person, that’s more of a social thing. And that’s kind of not my strength, but if it’s like a numerical or data point, or you know, price on something like I’ll remember. And then you know people would be in a meeting. It’s like I think we paid about, I’m like, oh no, we paid like $87.32.
Matt DeCoursey 28:40
People out because there’s no questioning.
Peter Mann 28:44
Because they like they know that it’s correct and I’m like I don’t even know where that came from. I wasn’t even thinking about that three seconds ago.
Matt DeCoursey 28:53
Yeah, the computation and and once again, I was better at this when I was younger, maybe I’m losing it as I get older. I used to be able to do like profit margins down to like the 1,000th of a point and people would be like, dude, like check it they’re like, like just pulling out their calculator. I’m like, No, it’s 40.382 or something. I don’t know where that came from. But yeah, that then makes me want that I don’t do that as much anymore. I wish I could. I think it’s honestly said that if you don’t use it, you lose it. I just didn’t really need to do a lot of that stuff. But I find myself checking so Alright Chris, I think this is the one that stands out for a lot of people is creative talents and exceptional music or artistic abilities is what’s listed here. Do you have either?
Peter Mann 29:38
Yeah, I’m more of a math music person. I never really liked cord and music theory.
Matt DeCoursey 29:44
It made sense to you easily as opposed to most people that are like I don’t get it.
Peter Mann 29:51
Yeah, to a certain extent but I think it’s I don’t even know if it’s like my taste in music is you know, there’s a lot of I don’t know if this is gonna sound snobby. But like Pop music to me is so boring, so repetitive and so like, not interesting. It just doesn’t like doing anything for me. But I’m like, I don’t get why this is popular. Like,
Matt DeCoursey 30:13
I’m a champion guy. I like the song to be different every time. Give me a good 23 minute song with only one minute lyrics in it, and that’ll help me focus.
Peter Mann 30:24
Yeah, that what I would say is within, you know, autism, there’s a number of CO occurring conditions, and ADHD is a common one. And so you often see, you know, that’s why when they say it’s a spectrum, or whatever, it’s autism, at its core is really just a difference in the way of thinking, perceiving and socializing. And then there’s all these other things with you know, could be ADHD can be cognition can be speech. And then like echolalia, which is I don’t know, if you ever saw Rain Man, where they had like 97x band, the future of rock and roll, like when he kept repeating that it was pretty that’s like echolalia is when you hear something, you just repeat the message. It’s just like, I do that sometimes, I get it stuck in my head, man like things and it’ll just like, I’ve described my and once again, like not, you’re just kind of comparing similarities of the neurodivergent here, but I wish that wasn’t the case.
Matt DeCoursey 31:12
Because I’d sometimes describe my thought process as a blender full of bottle caps. You know, like too many too many loops, playing. And I’ve actually worked hard to try to learn how to clear that I actually hired a mindfulness coach. And she reminded me that our own thought processes are just programmes that we’ve created. So we can often change those programmes, but to be aware of them is a key ingredient of doing that. Okay, this next one for different reasons, honesty and authenticity. And it talks about people with autism who have a strong sense of honesty, honesty, and authenticity, but often don’t understand the social cues that encourage dishonesty. I think part of what goes with this as well as I’ve known people that are, that are in the spectrum, or really adjacent to it, don’t sometimes understand what they’re saying might well, that that honesty and transparency, transparency, and authenticity is often poorly placed in its context. And its use, you know, like saying things to someone that you just feel like you’re being honest about now, for me, I have this quality too, but I’m just honest and authentic. And it pisses a lot of people off. It’s not, it’s not due to I don’t think it’s a neurodivergent thing. For me, I think it’s just a personality trait. I’m very upfront. And that’s abrasive to a lot of people. Has that had either of those transferred over into your existence?
Peter Mann 32:53
Yeah, I’ve seen it a lot. I’ve personally I don’t, I don’t, I think I’m aware enough that I know, like, when, you know, to kind of hold back, I sometimes just won’t say anything, which I’m like, I’m like, you have this, like, you know, if you don’t tell the truth, it just, it’s just just eats away at you. Like folks that are autistic tend to be misunderstood. And, you know, some of the differences are just a much higher sense of social justice. And I think telling the truth is part of that, and just, you know, but there’s also an issue in companies where you’re perceived as being rude because you don’t really have this need to fit in. And you don’t really see hierarchies of people. You know, you’re looking more at things and ideas rather than, like, who’s the most senior person in the room? So, you in that situation, like, say, the senior person says something and it’s really dumb. Not to sing well. Like, just shred the idea.
Matt DeCoursey 34:01
Or literally say, Hey, that’s not that’s a pretty dumb idea. That’s, that’s really Yeah, exactly. Those words, hey, this is a dumb idea. Why are we talking about this?
Peter Mann 34:10
And it’s 100% Correct. It’s just not appropriate for this social situation, but there’s this I don’t know if you know, i i It’s like telling the Lying is extremely difficult. And it’s just really uncomfortable. And it’s easier just to say what you’re feeling and being transparent. It’s just difficult. I mean, I imagined when I was younger, I probably did that. And it’s just my lack of awareness that I didn’t realize that I, you know, annoyed people. But I’ve, you know, I’ve kind of learned what people can take and not take, but it does then put pressure on yourself internally. It’s like how do I want to play this.
Matt DeCoursey 34:55
I’ve definitely learned these times where it’s just not worth it because here’s the thing is if you if you’re gonna bring Some of these things up, you need to be prepared to discuss them afterward, oftentimes, and sometimes I’m just like, I just don’t have the energy for it. I’m just like, Yeah, go for it, you know, like, but yeah, that’s but so one of the things, I feel like the workplace dynamic has become a little more accommodating to this, because, you know, we’ve, we’ve kind of over the last 20 years moved to move towards this fail fast, critical thinking kind of, it’s acceptable. Now, you know, it was, at this point, 15 years, 16 years ago, I used to work for Roland, the world’s largest maker of electronic musical instruments, and that’s a Japanese company. And the Japanese culture was very brutal, and a lot of regards for, for workplace dynamics that favors respect and like certain things, at the same time stable if you were in a meeting, and they would sit and someone said something that was a dumb idea. That was literally sometimes you hear, that’s a terrible idea. I don’t think he should have even brought people to cry from shit like that, you know, that’ll happen. I mean, and maybe rightfully so. But that’s that kind of thick skin. thing. Now, I don’t know, there. And then I do believe there are bad ideas and brainstorming, and we’re just trying to get them out of the way. So you know, Okay, last out of the five things on here, and you kind of alluded to this earlier, focus and determination. Now, focus and determination are borderline words. And I mentioned that earlier, you have terms like crazy or genius. Are you driven? Or are you obsessed? It’s, these are words given to observe people observing, because if you are that if you ask you, you’re driven. And other people are gonna say you’re obsessed.
Peter Mann 36:49
I see both. Yeah, I see both. I don’t really see much distinction between the two words.
Matt DeCoursey 36:57
Right. But those are but those are, but they would be taken in a completely different context. Because the word is saying, Oh, this person’s Peters driven. That’s it. That’s enough. That is complimentary. Complimentary, he’s hard working, he’s driven. He’s you know, but man, Peter’s obsessed. Now They’re two, they’re almost the same. You have to find a similar definition on those things. And I found that you know, that I’ve been studying people that do genius stuff, and what they all have is very similar. Well, okay, first off, most of the people that you find that the world finds to be the most successful, are without a doubt obsessed. That’s that obsession that drives them to go further. They get up off the mat, they’re up to work, they’re there early, they’re late, they’re just like not giving up. And I think that that’s a good thing. And a lot of regards, there is a price that comes with it. And I think that you mentioned it earlier on the social side, like the social and personal side, it’s tough, because when you’re obsessed with something, you’re that essentially means that even when you’re not doing it, you’re obsessively thinking about it, which makes it difficult for you to be fully present in other parts of your life.
Peter Mann 38:21
Yeah, I completely agree. Yeah. I mean, that that describes me to a tee. I think I saw a video on Steve Jobs not too long ago. And he was giving an example. Yeah, kind of about the obsessed or the, you know, crazy people that go and do things. It’s like a sane person would never do this. Like you would give up. Like, you wouldn’t stick with it through, you know, and see things that other people don’t see when you know, so many people have told you like, this is a fool’s errand, like, you’re headed down a path that it’s never gonna work out. And you know, for me, and I think it’s common with a lot of autistic people and probably neurodivergent folks, you know, in general is your, I don’t know, for you, but for me, I was like, so expectations were so low for me that like when I’m doing well, people that knew me when I was younger, we’re just you’re just baffled. They’re like, how, like, how are you doing what you’re doing? Because, you know, expectations from you know, from my family were just so ridiculously low like they were, I’d even be able to have a job. And now I could see it myself, and for some reason, I have this inner confidence that you know, I can do things that just wasn’t evident to really anyone else.
Matt DeCoursey 39:42
So I was a terrible student. I barely graduated from high school, I dropped out of five colleges. And in the era that you and I are from, those aren’t badges like now. Almost all of you can like I don’t know, there’s some really successful people that there’s a lot of data out there but you I came from a family of doctors and lawyers. And I wasn’t that. And you know, like you said that was, so I was a terrible student, because if I was interested in the topic, I’d get an egg. But if I wasn’t, then I would barely pass it. And I mean, I mean, barely, if I even did. And so with that there were really low expectations around the time that I was in my mid 20s, I kind of got tired, I hadn’t really done anything in life. At that point, I wasn’t really on the path to doing it. And through my own observation, I kept seeing people that were, quote, successful. And I said, man, I have all those same qualities, I can do all that same stuff. And in many cases, I felt like I could do a better job of it. So what’s holding me back? And I think that as I’ve studied human achievement over the last several years in depth, it’s that self doubt and that negativity are things you have to shed, if you want to climb if you want to, if you want to make the ascent towards exploring your own greatness, those are definitely two things that are going to that are going to hold you back and, and pull you down. And remember, and I just believe that in the end, it’s about what you feel about yourself and what you can accomplish. And what you do that matters. The rest of it’s just observation and noise, which look at the complexity of unwrapping, what I just said into a reality for most people is very difficult, right? Like, hey, don’t quit caring about what everyone else thinks, well, in there, but there is a lot of truth to that, because other people tell you, you can’t do stuff. It’s you who chooses whether or not you’re going to believe that.
Peter Mann 41:41
Yeah, and I think, you know, I, I’ve never felt that pressure to fit in. And I think part of fitting in is listening to what other people say, and I just didn’t really care what they said. And, you know, that’s maybe a bit weird, but, you know, I could see a path for how things were gonna work out. I wasn’t great at verbalizing them. But you know, I, it wasn’t just some crazy idea. And you know, I could see where I wanted to be, and then I can work backwards from there. And like, yeah, I can, I can totally do this. And I don’t know, that’s just kind of how my brain works. But it’s just kind of shocking, because I struggled like you in school, especially elementary school. I don’t even know how I got through elementary school, they just pushed me through, I really struggled on the test.
Matt DeCoursey 42:29
That’s what was baffling for me, as I’d show up. And I’d test and I’d be like, in a lot of stuff, I’d be like, in the top of the group, you know, like top 3% kind of scores. And then I would just be terrible in school, because I was, quote, disruptive, didn’t really know what to do with it. They didn’t really know how to treat it. In fact, like, sometimes they just put me in the corner. Which isn’t great. anymore. I don’t think they do that. Hey, I was alright. A lot of those people work for me now. So we’re good with that. hurt a lot of there’s a lot of, you know, these stories. It’s like, Hey, can all the A students stand up? Okay, and then okay, you’re the ones that are going to go through college and graduate as valedictorians can all the BS students stand up, okay, you’re the one that’s going to probably go and find good jobs and do a lot of different things. Can all of the C students stand up and then all the C’s, all of you AB students are probably going to work for these folks. And, you know, that’s like a real thing. That I find that yeah, and, you know, there’s definitely I don’t want to downgrade education. But I mean, because there’s a lot of smart people doing a lot of smart things. But I don’t know, some of the richest people in the world didn’t go to college. So what are you gonna do? Alright.
Peter Mann 43:45
So it’s going to add something to that. I think with school, it’s kind of like those that get the A’s. It’s kind of like, you can follow rules. And you could, you know, take the test, but when you get out in the real world, it doesn’t work that way. It’s like Simon Sinek talks about infinite games versus finite games. We’re schools of a finite game, like there’s no rules, and there’s no, you get out in the real world, the business world, it’s like there really are no rules, like the rules change, the competitors change. You can be creative in ways that you can’t be in school, different versus very much confined. And so in some ways, those people that go through school with straight A’s and never really struggled, are really not set up for the real world. They don’t like it, I don’t know, I’m taking a punch and struggling to get through things. And you know, when you’re in your 20s, and the first time you’re struggling and you’ve never struggled before, it’s like you’ve really not faced adversity. You know, I think that I feel sorry sometimes for kids that just glide through school and then they get out and then they really struggle. Yeah, you know, I think there’s Some advantages to you know, taking some hits along the way and then adjusting course and persevering to overcome it, because that really sets you up for success later. Because you’re gonna get hit with things that you have not prepared for, you know, in the business world.
Matt DeCoursey 45:17
Well, speaking of success, if you’d want to have success, hiring software engineers, testers and leaders Full Scale can help. We have the people and the platform to help you build and manage a team of experts, just go to FullScale.io. There’s a link for that in the show notes. All you need to do is answer a few questions and let our platform match you up with our fully vetted, highly experienced team of software engineers, testers and leaders at Full Scale. We specialize in building long term teams that only work for you once again, learn more at FullScale.io with me today, Peter Mann, and you can learn more about Peter’s company, oransi.com link for that in the show notes as well. I think I own some of your products. By the way, I want everyone to click the link to see what those are. So here we are, at the end of the show, like Peter, my shows with founders with founders freestyle. Peter, what would you like to say to everyone on the way out?
Peter Mann 46:12
Wow. Now I really enjoyed the conversation. I liked hearing about ADHD from some of your experiences. You know, I think neurodiversity or neurodivergence are real advantages, not disadvantages. It’s just how you frame it, you know, in it, and, you know, historically, it’s been viewed negatively if you say you’re dyslexic, or you’re ADHD, or you’re autistic. And it’s not. I think there are a lot of strengths we bring to the table. You know, autistic folks, you know, just a bit stereotypical, but, you know, they can be really good at focusing on programming or math or problem-solving. But there’s also, you know, creativity in coming up with new ideas and new innovations and inventions, and HDA, HDA, II, ADHD folks have the same thing. And I see a lot of people I’m connected with who have ADHD that are just super creative. I mean, like, you talked about the energy that you’re able to pour into something and coming up with some really interesting, new ideas, or new designs are new products. And I think, you know, if you’re wired that way, it should not really be yourself as deficient or defective. Like you have strengths and play to the strengths. And I think those that work at companies that are hiring people should really look at your hiring process, and how do we not exclude these folks through the hiring process, because that’s the reality of what’s happening. I know within the Autistic community, it’s as high as 85% are unemployed, which is just astounding. And so I think there’s just, you know, you know, there’s just so much more that we’re going to learn about, you know, conditions, these conditions, which, but I think, you know, if, you know, we live in a very competitive world, and you know, compete with the best you need some of the best people on your team, and they don’t all look, they don’t all look the same. And so this is just kind of my advocacy, just to really promote, we really need different people, within organizations to really, you know, realize our potential.
Matt DeCoursey 48:31
I like to ask people what their superpower is as an interviewer and hear what they have to say. And, you know, everyone has superpowers, but if you look at any movie about a superhero, there was that time when they were discovering and learning about what those superpowers were. And then they go through a whole process of learning how to control and struggle with it and all this other stuff. And really, in the end, that describes most of the people I know that have neurodivergent qualities about them. And it’s, and I’ve talked to a lot of people that, you know, I’m sitting here going, I wouldn’t get my ADHD back. I think it’s a strength. It’s like a superpower. I talk to some people, and they’re like, Dude, I would love to get rid of this. This is the biggest problem in my life. And I just think, man, you know, maybe you just haven’t spent some time trying to learn how to put the lightning in the bottle. Because when you can uncork that thing at a time that you need it, it can be really powerful. And, you know, Peter, I agree with you on the hiring side of things. I think that the quote system is geared towards, you know, having, you know, doing certain things, and I think schools like that, too, you know, like, I mean, according to my teachers in school, I should have never been successful. And I’m one of them. And, you know, I think that a lot of people that I went to high school with might have told you the same thing, and I’ve even run into some of them. I’ve gotten older, like, Dude, you did really well for yourself. I’m like, the way you’re saying that implies that you thought I wouldn’t. And I mean, but really, in the end, we’re all the authors of our own biography. So what’s the title of yours gonna be? This is what I’d like to ask everyone. And I don’t know, I really just think that that, you know, I’m not going to get all weird and may Trixie, but like it is all a construct, you can, you know, like the reality that you choose to believe, which is one where you can and not one where you can’t, in my opinion, is a better place to just kind of be out over time. I mean, I talked to a lot of people that say, oh, I want to do this, I want to do that. And I say, I’ll just sit well, why aren’t you? And they’ll say, I don’t know, because I can’t. I’m like, is that really true? Or is that what you’re telling yourself? So, you know, really, in the end, it says it’s never gonna happen fast. You know, mastery and expertise take time to evolve. It takes reps, it takes weeks, it takes months, like no one. You know, some of us may have more talent or skills or interest in certain things. And I think all three are key because I’ve known some people that are really talented at certain things. He doesn’t have any interest in doing that. So they never polish it. They don’t become obsessed with it. They don’t really get into it. But you know, figure out what you like and what you’re good at, tell yourself you can, and start figuring out how you can do it. And then don’t be surprised when you do. I think it’s a good place for us to end that conversation. Peter, thank you so much for joining me.
Peter Mann 51:35
Yeah, thank you so much, Matt.