October is ADHD Awareness month and the theme this year is “Discovering New Perspectives.” With that in mind, I wrote this blog to offer my own perspective and talk about how ADHD has impacted my day-to-day in the marketing environment. I also had the pleasure of interviewing the talented musician Georgi, to find out her opinions on some of the symptoms and stigma she’s experienced through having ADHD.
Marketing has always been fast paced – People naturally develop blind spots for things that are always in front of their eyes (take a look at your nose, it’s been a while). This means new ideas, new creatives & new ways to stand out are always needed. In my opinion, it’s a misconception is that a good marketer needs to keep up with trends. This is true if you want to blend in… but good marketers need to set trends & break moulds. Herein lies a solid connection & a set of advantages to having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder – ADHD.
Marketing in itself mirrors our symptoms, and probably worsens them to an extent. Ads interrupt everything now. Long term concentration is an enemy of a marketer, as for our success, we need people to be distracted. Click on one of our pages & have your eye caught by another & before you know it, it’s 3am & you’ve clicked on every blog post on a site – if the content is good. This strength, however, can also be the downfall of clickbait sites. An eye-catching title and visual can without a doubt draw people in. If your content doesn’t live up to the name though, people will leave as quickly as they came.
Nobody gets bored faster, loses interest quicker or notices more than us. The perfect test audience for figuring out if your new idea will capture people’s attentions, for chances are, if you captivate us then you’ve likely hit a gold mine. For the above reasons, you’ve likely also got a good model for what the interest patterns of your target audience will look like, because we’re naturally drawn to things which engage us, more so than the average person who’s just trying to keep up with the latest fad. We are certified superfans of anything which holds our interest for more than mere moments – as long as content remains fresh and personable.
As well as being ideal for customer/audience models, we also
have a head start when it comes to making marketing material. One of the
biggest advantages I can personally vouch for, is creating fresh and
out-of-the-box ideas. The amount of thoughts and ideas whizzing through our
brains is paralleled with Neo from the Matrix plugging in his brain and
learning Kung-Fu in moments. There’s even a good chance that we’ve already
thought in depth about things before they’re even suggested – because “what if”
scenarios are our comfort zones.
Like all superheroes though, we have our flaws and weaknesses. One of the lesser known symptoms of ADHD is known as Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria – RSD. This can manifest differently from person to person but in a nutshell, we hate failing. Both criticism & making mistakes are especially hard dishes to swallow for people with ADHD, as it can trigger dysphoria, regardless of how good the intentions were behind the criticism. This is likely because we never exhaust our supply of ideas, but a lot of them probably don’t fit the bill. So, when an idea is shared outside of a brainstorming session, it’s probably quite a personal gesture as we’ve picked one out of millions to share.
Another more cliché and obvious weakness is concentration.
Although the condition is called “Attention Deficit Disorder”, quite the
opposite is true. We’re probably better at focusing than our neurotypical
cousins, we just lack or struggle with the option of choosing what we focus on.
The phenomena is aptly called Hyperfocus & means that when we’re engaged in
a task, the rest of the world ceases & all our brainpower is aimed in one
direction. Think of a computer which is powerful but running fifty tasks at
once, then closing off everything in the background & using all the
computational power on a single task. Everyone’s areas of Hyperfocus will
differ depending on interests and talents. Me for example, I can write or draw
for hours and during that time, nothing else will exist except what’s in front
of me. Some of the most affluent artists and thinkers have ADHD and produce
their best work in this meditative state. Just a few prodigious names from a
long list are – Howie Mandel, Ozzy Osbourne, Adam Levine, Michael Phelps &
even Albert Einstein is rumoured to have the condition.
Read the comprehensive list here. Famous People with ADHD [100+ Actors, Entrepreneurs, Athletes, Musicians & More!] | Ongig Blog
Be mindful of your colleagues. ADHD aside, everyone is skilled in different ways & from a business standpoint, you succeed when we succeed. A common thing that a lot of people with ADHD will likely relate to is that people seldom understand how one can excel so strongly in a number of areas but then struggle with a simple task, like checking emails. Admin is a recurring weakness across the board & I’m sure for many marketers with ADHD, is the biggest hurdle. We aren’t the best at following through, even on the things we love doing (it’ll be a miracle and personal triumph is this doesn’t join the hundreds of other blogs I started and never posted). But, with a little understanding and some adult conversations, we can be empowered with alternative ways to address tasks which are inherent weaknesses for us.
There’s a good chance that most people won’t even admit their condition due to the stigma which has been associated with ADHD, largely by popular media. The immediate image conjured up is probably something like a misbehaving child, or a person who’s unreliable and off with the fairies. Like most stereotypes however, these are far from the truth, harmful and offensive.
So, if you have ADHD, let’s be proud of who we are & demonstrate not only our strengths but be vocal about our struggles, as historically we are born to be prodigies in whatever manages to hold our focus. If you work with someone who has ADHD, be mindful & try to ensure that your understanding of the condition is based on observed fact & not misplaced stereotypes.
Here is a solid information pack with links to further resources, for both employees and employers – Microsoft Word – Employers guide to ADHD draft v1.docx (adhdfoundation.org.uk)
More information on ADHD Awareness 2021 can be found here – ADHD Awareness Month – October 2021
I caught up with Georgi below to find out how ADHD has affected her day to day life in the music industry.
ADHD is different for everyone and effects everyone’s lives in different ways. What is one thing you think ADHD has helped you with & one thing which you find more difficult because of ADHD?
ADHD has definitely helped me be a more creative person, I don’t think I would have as many ideas/ambitions as I do if I didn’t have ADHD. However, it definitely affects my productivity/following through on the ideas I have as often larger tasks become too overwhelming.
Is there anything you do, day to day, which helps you manage your time better?
Something I used to do was to set an alarm for every hour of the day so that I wouldn’t hyperfocus on one task all day.
What sort of career or job would you recommend to someone with ADHD? Do you think there are some things that someone with ADHD would be better at?
People with adhd are often better in freelance work as their timetable can be catered to a brain that gets very distracted by things or manual labour jobs that tend to involve a person’s whole body/ attention to complete.. Although I think with the right support and work environment then anyone with ADHD should be able to work in any job.
Some people with ADHD experience “Hyperfocus”. Is this something that you’ve experienced & if so, do you find that you perform better at tasks you can Hyperfocus on?
I find hyperfocus to be both useful and a nuisance. It can be really helpful to get lost inside a task for hours, however, sometimes this makes a day less productive as you can’t really control what you hyperfocus on.
Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria (RSD) is an often-overlooked symptom of ADHD. Is this something you’d experienced before & if so, is there anything you do to help overcome this feeling?
RSD is definitely something I deal with and it’s often hard to get over it. I try to reverse the feeling of rejection and use it to motivate me to keep trying at the thing I was rejected for, for example, a job interview or something.
Is there any advice in general to someone suffering with ADHD?
I think a good piece of advice for anyone with ADHD is not to be hard on yourself and just let yourself experience & explore your own brain as well as the way you see the world and don’t feel bad that it isn’t always like everyone else.
Is there anything you’d ask other people to be more understanding of when it comes to dealing with people who have ADHD?
I wish people would understand that ADHD doesn’t always look like a small child who can’t sit still, it comes in many forms and if someone tells you they have ADHD don’t make assumptions on what they might be like.
Check out her music below.
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