EP 38: The Unburdened Leader Roundtable Sessions: ADHD And Leadership with Tara Newman and Lindsay Padilla

adha Oct 22, 2021

If you want to lead yourself well, you have to know yourself well.

The tricky thing is, it can be surprisingly hard to really know yourself.

We live in a world where we are told by others–on repeat–who we should be and who we are.

We have gotten so good at being who we think we are supposed to be that we end up believing there is something intrinsically wrong with who we uniquely are.

Especially when it comes to behaviors, personality traits and abilities associated with how your nervous system operates.

We tag the word disorder onto neurological differences like autism and attention deficit and hyperactivity which pathologize aspects of being human.

This dangerously narrow view of health and functioning decreases everyone’s ability to better understand the incredible resources we have in ourselves and in those around us.

We all are trying to figure out what makes us tick and how we can improve our work and life.

And that is what today’s Unburdened Leader Roundtable guests did recently–and in the process, they were each formally diagnosed with ADHD–which helped them connect the dots on so many aspects of their life and start to lead themselves and their businesses with more confidence and clarity.

Dr. Lindsay Padilla is a former community college professor who accidentally started a business while on the tenure track. Hello Audio takes your course content and creates private audio feeds to make learning on the go much easier for your clients, blending her background in education and course creation.

Tara Newman supports service providers in creating premium offers and scalable sales systems so they can significantly increase their profitability through her podcast, The Bold Money Revolution as well as her program, The Bold Profit Academy.

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • The challenges of getting an ADHD diagnosis as an adult, from overlapping diagnoses to even finding a clinician who works with adults
  • Unpacking the stigma around taking medication for ADHD and how Tara and Lindsay have shifted their mindset around it
  • How their different experiences in school have impacted and inspired their work as adults
  • How getting a diagnosis has helped Tara and Lindsay shift from frustration to accepting and embracing the way their brains work at work and in their relationships
  • Why the personal development and course creation spaces need to get more inclusive and accessible

Learn more about Tara Newman:

Learn more about Dr. Lindsay Padilla:

Scroll Down to Access the Full Episode Transcription:

Rebecca Ching: If you want to lead yourself well, you have to know yourself well, right? The tricky thing is it can be surprisingly hard to really know yourself. We live in a world where we're told on repeat who we should be and who we are by others, and let's be honest, it's hard not to believe them, especially when you're told maybe you talk too much and need to settle down or when you're coached to hide your pain and suck it up because showing your emotions is weak or when you're taught your strength and passion is a bother to others so you edit and shrink to make others feel more comfortable.

Sadly, we learned early on who we should be to belong, who we should be to keep the peace, and who we should be to simply stay safe. We've gotten so good at being who we think we're supposed to be that we end up believing there's something intrinsically wrong with who we uniquely are. Whether you're working towards a promotion at work or wanting to stay in a relationship or simply avoid being misunderstood, it often feels like you have to exile parts of you just so you can move forward in life. You end up spending so much energy figuring out who you need to be to belong and be safe that really knowing who you are gets lost in the noise. The stigmas around certain personality traits and abilities are only further perpetuated, especially when it comes to behaviors and personality traits, and abilities associated with how your nervous system operates.

Now, we tag the word disorder onto neurological differences like autism and attention deficit and hyperactivity, which pathologize aspects of being human. Holding a dangerously narrow view of health and functioning decreases everyone's ability to better understand the incredible resources we have in ourselves and in those around us. Difference is not disordered. Now, let me repeat that: difference is not disordered. But still, differences can threaten a sense of belonging in our world that still supports a toxic normal that is harming all of us. How we talk about differences still feels like it falls into this unhelpful binary of normal and not normal paradigm. I'm of the belief that the more people who know and own their differences (especially the unseen differences), they will cultivate a culture that sees these differences as strengths instead of disorders or problems.

Now, we're all trying to figure out what makes us tick and how we can improve our work and life. That is what my Unburdened Leader Roundtable guests did this year, and in the process, they were formally diagnosed with ADHD which helped them connect the dots on so many aspects of their life and start to lead themselves and their businesses with more confidence and clarity. Both of these guests were recently on The Unburdened Leader podcast, and I knew I had to bring them together for a roundtable discussion on their recent diagnoses as adult women with ADHD.

My first guest is Dr. Lindsay Padilla, who is an ex-community college professor who accidentally started a business while on the tenure track. Now, she's the CEO and cofounder of the Hello Audio Software. All of her business ideas were born out of her tenure track years of teaching adults online at community college along with a ridiculous amount of learning she's done in all things education and the years spent growing her course creation business online.

We're also joined by Tara Newman who supports service providers in creating premium offers and scalable sales systems so they can increase their profitability, and she does this through her podcast, The Bold Money Revolution as well as her program The Bold Profit Academy. Now, Tara's got decades of entrepreneurial experience and a masters in organizational psychology and is uniquely qualified to teach leaders to run businesses without sacrificing their health, relationships or integrity by establishing behaviors, habits, and rituals aligned with their vision of success.

Now, I want you to pay attention to how Tara and Lindsay unpacked their different experiences with school. I think this is really important and notice how they each saw themselves before and after their formal ADHD diagnosis. Also, listen to how their respect and understanding of themselves moved them through grief to leading themselves and their businesses with more confidence and clarity. Now, please welcome back Dr. Lindsay Padilla and Tara Newman to this special Unburdened Leader Roundtable podcast.

Dr. Lindsay Padilla and Tara Newman. Welcome, you both, to this roundtable!

Lindsay Padilla: Thanks for having me, it's good to be here.

Tara Newman: Thanks! Yeah, this is gonna be fun.

Rebecca Ching: It will be fun, and we're gonna touch on a topic that is very relevant and very personal to the both of you. We're gonna talk about ADHD. And so, I'd love for you just to kinda start off with what do you wish people knew about how ADHD impacts how you show up in work and life. Tara, why don't you tee this one off first.

Tara Newman: Sure. You know, and I guess -- so when I was diagnosed, I was diagnosed after my son was diagnosed, and it wasn’t until I was diagnosed -- I should rephrase. COVID and ADHD was not good --

Rebecca Ching: [Laughs] Yeah. Yeah.

Tara Newman: -- for my family. Remote schooling, lack of continuity, any kind of coping skill that I had to manage ADHD naturally and normally, it was no longer working. So when my son got diagnosed in seventh grade was when I was like, "Oh, that's what I have!" This year, he was in tenth grade. So we're talking three school years later, I hadn't done any research on what it meant for him to have ADHD. What was he experiencing? You know, simultaneously with his ADHD diagnosis, he got diagnosed with double vision, so we actually went immediately into -- and he was in seventh grade when they found out this poor kid had been seeing double. Like, bananas! So we went straight into working with him on his vision and not really dealing with the ADHD. 

And so, I hadn’t done any research, but when I was diagnosed, then all of a sudden I started doing the research, and I was really shocked at how every part of my being was impacted by symptoms of ADHD. It was really shocking, and for the last 12 years I had been in and out of doctors' offices trying to figure out "what was wrong with me" because I was so exhausted all the time. And so, I was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue, you must have a gluten allergy, you must have an Epstein Barr tighter that is active, we need to detox your liver. Twelve years of this.

Rebecca Ching: Oh, my gosh.

Tara Newman: And nothing really happened. I contacted my doctor and I was like, "I don’t think it's physical. I think it's ADHD and having to process life in this way that is creating a level of mental fatigue and brain fog which is why everybody kept thinking gut issues or, you know, whatever. I think it's ADHD." He was like, "It's possible."

Rebecca Ching: I see Lindsay nodding. What are you cosigning with right now?

Lindsay Padilla: I mean, I'm cosigning with the brain fog part and the, like, mental overwhelm. I think part of the reason why I decided to get diagnosed this year -- I feel like I knew I had it. You were the first person I messaged. I was like, 'Wait. If I want to get diagnosed, what do I do? Who do I look up?" Even the ability to find help online was really -- and, of course, navigating the healthcare system is just a whole other thing. So I was like you probably have some idea of this. Mine was all through watching TikTok videos and starting to follow Instagram accounts. That knowledge of, like, oh, I see myself in this, and running a business was when I was in the most overwhelm. This is somebody who has a doctorate, had to write a dissertation, and did all this schooling. I knew how to do school. I didn’t know how to run a business. And so, that's what, I think, made my ADHD come out, and my coping mechanisms for school were not the same for running a business. I think other mental health issues -- I know there's comorbidity with ADHD, and so I think other mental health issues that were happening, the burden I was putting on myself as a breadwinner, money issues -- and when I was in charge of money and there wasn't, like, a salary coming in, those were things that were, like, setting me off the rocker.

When I got diagnosed, she was like, "You obviously know how to do school, and success was important to you in school, so you did it, you made it work. These might have been some of the things you did to do that. So you didn’t think it was a problem, but then when you got the entrepreneurship, there's no teacher giving you a grade, there's no passing so you're just with your own thoughts." Which, again, I didn’t know that ADHD folks had more repeated thought patterns that happen in a very negative way. My husband didn’t have that, and so that spiral where the coping mechanisms weren't the same, that's what made me go, "Oh." 

It was almost when I got out of that fog of running the business and started running this tech company that I had the capacity (I think I told you this, Rebecca) to explore having ADHD. I didn’t have that capacity when I was, like, in it.

Rebecca Ching: So just to make sure, it was so full to take the time out to really -- it just felt like it was too much. Is that right?

Lindsay Padilla: I think, for me, I haven’t been in EMDR therapy in a while. I think it was more like the capacity to be like, "Oh, yeah, I'm gonna go get help with this now." It felt like the next step, but I needed the information that I thought I had it, I guess, which I didn’t have earlier. 

Rebecca Ching: Were there any stigmas or fears around getting a formal diagnosis. Tara, did you have any?

Tara Newman: I don’t think so. I mean, it was actually generally difficult to find somebody locally who would see an adult with ADHD. 

Rebecca Ching: Yeah.

Tara Newman: And so, I felt lucky to find somebody and be able to have that conversation. I chose medication. That was 100 percent stigma. There was a lot of stigma there for me around medication.

Rebecca Ching: Tell us more about that.

Tara Newman: You know, I think that we were -- you know, the circles that I had run in had been very health-oriented, very holistic, very food is medicine type of circles, and all that can be true, but I had already done all of those things. When you look at all of the holistic ways to approach ADHD and increasing your dopamine and specific things that increase your dopamine, whether it be food or activities or something like that, I was already doing all of those things. I love how Lindsay went for EMDR first because then is it ADHD or is it trauma? Well, she kind of weeded that out. That was big for me too. We had to look at whether this was trauma or ADHD. I had already done trauma work, so there was still that residual piece to it. 

That's actually why I say I am on medication, because I want to destigmatize that for people, that it's okay to need that kind of help. Better living through pharmaceuticals.

Rebecca Ching: Yeah, ADHD really is a spectrum, and it's very nuanced. It even shows up differently in men and women, often. There's some overlap for sure, and it is tough because right now there is such a lack of trust in healthcare. That's a whole other conversation, but there has been a lot of stigma around medication. Tara, what was the biggest shift for you? In a nutshell, going on meds for you…

Tara Newman: I'm someone who won't even take Tylenol. 

Rebecca Ching: [Laughs]

Tara Newman: I'll barely take a Tylenol, and I think it's also a pendulum shift from the generation and stuff that happens in my family where my mom will take -- my mom used to work in a medical center, and she would take medication not prescribed to her but that was leftover in the cabinets. I have a long line of prescription drug abuse in my family. And so, I kind of swung the pendulum and went in that direction. So, you know, for me, though, it's just been a journey of saying I'm not gonna be that person, right? Like, I have autonomy here in how I approach the medication that I'm on. It's actually been a really fun journey to have control over that and dialing into what is the best medication and for when is this the best medication. You know, I've been on medication for, like, six months and saying I need these milligrams for these days and this milligram for these days and having some flexibility where I have control over what I'm putting in my body, and yes, I'm putting something in my body.

Rebecca Ching: How has this formal diagnosis helped you lead yourself better? I think you touched on that already a little bit, Tara. How about for you, Lindsay? How has this formal diagnosis helped you lead yourself better?

Lindsay Padilla: I recognize that I had a different way that my brain worked than my husband. That was, like, the first mirror that I had, and one of the things I think about when I think about medication -- because I read, of course, a bunch of literature once I got the diagnosis -- it was explaining how, like, you know, without medication, inside a person with ADHD in their brain it's, like, a very messy traffic intersection. There's no lights. There's no one organizing the traffic. Everything's like, trying to squeeze through, right? It's messy, but the same amount of information is coming in. And then with mediation it's like there are traffic controls happening. When I heard that, I was like, okay, so medication supports my brain and the connections that are happening as if it was a traffic source and makes the process smoother. It's not that it really alters who I am. I think that's what I was worried about with medication. 

So when I think about leading myself better, even choosing mediation was part of that process, because I also chose medication, and it was the same thing, Tara. It's the generational stuff, right? I think, in the early 2000s even, I remember watching -- there was this epidemic of young kids getting, you know, dosed with ADHD, and oh, my gosh, the school system, the Sir Edwards TedTalk was like -- you know, there was something happening in the world and that was so bad. My brother got diagnosed when I was a kid. He didn’t have it, but they took him through the testing, and it was all about drugging and getting him to calm down and stuff. And so, I carried that in my head. It was all about drugging kids. 

You brought up the autonomy that we have as adults. We are adults making that decision for our body. I'm not doing it for a kid, or a teacher's not saying it has to happen. This is a very, like, clear choice, and I can control it exactly with the dosage. Once I learned that no, you don’t have to take it every day, no, you don’t have to take a lot if this is what you're experiencing on it, I was like great, this sounds like an experiment. I'm just gonna see what happens and how I feel, and I have control over myself and the worry about whether it changed me. So when I think about leading myself, I feel like it's advocating for myself which has been another process that I've been doing over the last year of just, like, yeah, I'm gonna do medication, I'm gonna do research on what I wanna do research on, and I want help with this. I want to see what it's like to, like, turn off my brain just a little bit. How does that help me in the day to day? The focus and the extra thoughts and the anxiety, I mean, that weighs on you too.

So, like, you can read about the medication and, obviously, with any medication there's potential complications, there's potential addiction. There are all these things, but, you know, living with anxiety is not very great for yourself either. So, like, that's what you're weighing. It's not this very simple choosing medication is a bad thing because you're altering your state, it's, like, the other state isn’t helpful either. And so, I've been thinking about it from a perspective of advocacy and thinking about when I think about leading myself and how can I support myself to be healthy and happy and joyful and all the things that you wanna do while you're running a business, potentially, or dealing with life stressors just all the time.

Rebecca Ching: That's awesome. Yeah, Tara?

Tara Newman: I think being diagnosed with ADHD and then, obviously, subsequently choosing to go and take medication has given me a permission to advocate for myself.

Rebecca Ching: Mm.

Tara Newman: Almost like I needed a reason to say, "No, that's not true about me," or, "That's not how my brain works," or, "I'm sorry, I'm just different. That's not gonna work for me," and speak up, because I never realized how much every piece of feedback I've ever received in my life, whether it be getting in trouble with my parents or feedback in school or feedback at work or feedback from people on Instagram, every single piece of it was related to a symptom of ADHD.

Rebecca Ching: Mm. And then, just to get granular -- first, I just wanna say I love the self-advocacy piece in differentiating from being a kid and getting diagnosed and the power and empowerment of it as an adult. I have a memory around the 90s, so maybe it bled into the 2000s too around this. There was this sense of just get him on meds, and get him to calm down like you said, Lindsay. We were doing differential diagnosis. We weren't assessing for trauma. We weren’t seeing if they were fed well, what's their home life like, you know? Then, it was just like let's get everyone to act the way we want them to act in the classroom or whatever space they were in, and I'm like, no, this is not okay. So I almost pushed it away, but then, I have a kid on the autism spectrum and looking at things so differently seeing this is how you're wired. This is just a part of you. The world still doesn’t totally get it. 

What I'm finding, especially with the leaders that I'm working with and seeing it with other people in my life, personally, it is quite the super power once you can manage it and have a break, like you said, from the mental load, Lindsay -- the anxiety. I love the picture you painted. It's, like, a lot of traffic without any stop signs or stop lights. I bet you a lot of people are like, "Yes! That's it!" I'd love for you to talk about how your ADHD has inspired you and your work at this stage. Tara, why don't you start off?

Tara Newman: Yeah, sure. First of all, I did not do well in school. I would lose time in class. It started around middle school. So when my son was in seventh grade I was like oh, of course, this was me. And then, in tenth grade it gets worse because the expectation of your ability to self-mange, right? I'm like oh, well, of course, this was me. And so, I didn’t do well. I barely got into college. The community college that was known to take anybody with a pencil and a pulse didn’t really want me. 

By that point, everybody told me I was unmotivated. "You're just unmotivated. You're too into boys. You're whatever." Then what happens -- my son's neurologist even said it: "Well, by 12th grade he's not even gonna need medication because he's gonna be engaging in more electives, and they're gonna be things that he's chosen, and they're gonna be things that he's interested in." I was like oh, my god. I made honor roll in 12th grade, and that's when I was like I'm smart. I can do this. So when they told me I couldn't go to college I was like, "No, no, no we're gonna talk about this," and I negotiated my way in. 

I had to take a whole bunch of classes that were no-credit classes to prove that I literally understood fundamentals of the English language and mathematics and things like that. I taught myself how to study in a way that worked for me, which was a lot of work I'm not gonna lie, like, a lot of work. I spent a lot of time studying and wound up transferring to a top research university and graduating Magna Cum Laude and was really successful in that post-grade-school-type environment. 

From that experience is how I learned how to have executive functioning skills and that I was actually really good at setting goals and I was actually really good at accomplishing things because of the hyper-focus. I learned how to use that for my benefit, but also teach other people how to do this as well. It became the foundation of my coaching and high-performance habits, and the ability to achieve a goal and the ability to implement something might not be a strength of yours, right? How can we make this work for ourselves? For me, that's how it's really informed my work.

Rebecca Ching: That's awesome. How ADHD has inspired you in your work. It shows up in women, particularly girls, as kind of daydreaming or spacey and often a little bit more in their heads, and there's this pressure to get out of your head more. We just have this desire as a culture. This is, like, the machine versus how do I, as a teacher, as a leader, as a parent, as an employed or manager, how can we help create spaces that adapt and get curious versus you're not fitting this one way. That's where I see the shame has just come in. But really, it's just the environment didn’t bring out the best. It didn't support you. I think that's something that we are at a big reckoning with right now.

So Lindsay, how has your ADHD inspired you and your work? 

Lindsay Padilla: Yeah, it's funny hearing the stories of school because "get out of your head," I hear that so much. Hearing Tara's journey, too, in education, I think, for me, it was like in my family I was the smart one. I was labeled that very early, so part of it was proving that that as true. I think what's funny is with ADHD, hyper-focus is a big part of it. I thought that that's what you just had to do to study, and I remember telling my college friends -- we hung out recently, after I got diagnosed, actually, like, a month after -- I was like, "Yeah, and I'm learning about all of this stuff." Hyper-focus, I used to call it reverse ADD. Me and my husband used to call it reverse ADD, where I would focus on my computer. He could talk and do all this other stuff. I wouldn't even answer him. I could not say anything back. I was like, Oh, it's reverse ADD. I am so focused. Little did I know it was an actual symptom.

My girlfriends were cracking up because we were all in a sorority together, so we lived together. They were like, "I used to watch you study and I was so jealous of how focused you could get." I was like, "I had no idea." They're like, "Yeah, if I just had a third of that." It would all be the night before; it would be cramming. It wasn’t this, like, amazing process, but it served me. I enjoyed it. I liked school. I told myself I liked school. I liked most classes. I was curious about it. I was, like, intellectually curious. I was able to use that, and that was a coping mechanism that I didn’t realize was a coping mechanism. I just thought that's what you had to do in school. 

So anyways, I think now, my inspiration knowing that hyper-focus -- I mean, hyper-focus is a pretty cool thing if you think about it. It's quite a flow state, and I wish I could just turn it on, on things I hated. I think that's the hard part. It's the difference between states of being so obsessed and forgetting to eat, where my husband is bringing me food, to not wanting to do anything and lay and watch Love Island for days, and then feeling guilty about it. Those are the two states. There's no in between just doing typical day to day things. So once I started learning that that's, like, normal in the ADD space, then it was like, I started to not feel so bad for it. I think one of my inspirational things is being able to say no to stuff. Like, well, my brain will not be able to do this. So someone else on the team should do that, and, like, that's it. Just recognizing it as such.

And so, I think that people know exactly what my brain is good at, and the reason why I think a lot of people with ADHD -- of course, they're CEOs and visionaries, because I think that that's something that is very common as well. We're not in the minutia; we're in the really big picture. It gets me excited. That's what you need, someone driving the company. Then, if you're telling me to, then, execute the project, big no, no. That's what was happening in my personal business. There weren’t enough people on my team to support me and I didn’t have the diagnosis to say this was happening. I had friends that were so successful, and I'd just be like oh, my gosh. I wish I was as motivated as so, and so or I wish I cared about a goal as much as so and so. And now, I'm looking and going, "Oh, I wasn’t set up to do it like that." And so, it has been very empowering. That's why it's inspiring because you're like great, in the right role, I mean, it is pretty cool. We need this type of brain in certain roles, but the other roles would literally kill them. Most of society is set up in that regimented organized way. So we're killing people, basically.

Rebecca Ching: Yeah, it's really harmful. We're traumatizing them. It is, like, a slow kill, and it could contribute to anxiety, depression, relational distress versus just what you so beautifully said: "Hey, this is not in my lane. This is not in my brain, so I'm gonna delegate to somebody else." It's not a shame thing or a you failed thing, it's just --

Tara Newman: If you want this done well, I am not the person to do it. [Laughs]

Rebecca Ching: [Laughs] If you want this done on time, well, yeah. Not me. 

Tara Newman: Yeah, I could be, like, a workhorse on other things. It's actually interesting, Lindsay had posted something on Facebook probably a couple of months ago, and it so inspired me. So, you know, I think we demonize working in women. Sometimes, that hyper-focus, for me, I could go, "Oh, you're gonna burn out. You're gonna do this. You're gonna do that," and Lindsay had a whole post and she was just like, "This is my time, head down, build." I was like, "Yeah, girl! Like, head down, build, write." I knew exactly -- I know that feeling, and that's been my last year to 18 months as well. It just was my time, and I was like I'm gonna do this thing and I'm gonna be inspired, but I also didn’t really talk about it because I felt really shameful about it. So when Lindsay was like, "Head down. Build," I was like, okay, permission.

Rebecca Ching: I appreciate you saying that, too, because there is that stigma around work and women, in particular. That's a really good point, and especially when you have the superpower of focus with things that you're passionate about and care about. It's weird how there's a negative thing versus "way to go."

Lindsay Padilla: You know, I think for me, I'd been doing a lot of the things that you would do to manage or to live with ADHD and that was really cool, but it also highlighted some areas that I was like wow, I had no idea this was why I was struggling with this. I mean, if you think you have ADHD, I think you should get evaluated because I learned so much more about myself through the evaluation. It took three people to help me get evaluated. 

So I completed the evaluation, my husband reviewed it and was like, "No, you're not answering this appropriately." My father reviewed it, and he was like, "You're not answering this appropriately." The therapist sat down and was like, "I think you're underreporting these things." Because we have so normalized what's not normal, and so it was really hard for me to actually assess myself. But then once I did, and once there were people around me who were helping me see, you know, who I really was and not masking those things, all of a sudden, things made so much sense. The one thing that's helped me the most, and everybody's gonna laugh: Peloton. 

Rebecca Ching: Hmm.

Lindsay Padilla: I am not an affiliate for Peloton, but the way they gear their fitness classes and things like that -- so, for example, I used to do CrossFit, and they used to make fun of me in class. They used to call it Tara-splaining, because they would have to repeat the instructions of the WODs so many times because I was present, but I wasn’t hearing it. That's just part of the ADHD. Then, having to remember all the different components of the WODs, count all the plates on the barbells while the timer's going -- I loved the exercise, but it was mentally exhausting for me or I get bored quickly. Now, I'm like all right, I'm gonna do a 20-minute Peloton ride. Oh, that was fun. I feel really good. The dopamine's going. I'm gonna do another 20 minutes. Oh, awesome, tis was so much fun. This was great. This really got me through. I don’t have to be like, oh, my god, I have to do an hour of working out today? I get to chunk it down and make it interesting and get my brain working around it. That was just one thing that's been a huge tool for me with my ADHD and my health. 

Rebecca Ching: Yeah, I cosign that. All three of us are Pelotonites, Peletonies, Peletoners. I don’t know what it is. [Laughs]

Tara Newman: Yeah, they don’t have a name for the people in the community, surprisingly. 

Rebecca Ching: [Laughs] Yeah, for you, what breakthroughs or solutions have you found that benefit others fueled by your ADHD?

Lindsay Padilla: Yeah, you know, I think the big one that comes to mind in the tool hopping that I did a lot in my business for organizing my ideas and thoughts. [Laughs] I kept blaming these tools that I was using. Yeah, and it had nothing to do with how cool the tools were, what they looked like. I pretended it was that I was a visual person. It was none of that. It was just ADHD. It's just really hard to organize your thoughts. And so, we are on ClickUp now, but one of the things I've done is created a board -- I don’t know if this is similar for you, Tara, but there's something along the lines of object blindness, but that's not really true, because we're not two-year-olds, so that's not really actually what's happening, but this idea if it's out of sight out of mind. There's this feeling that when I have a thought, it's probably a really good idea, because I have had really great ideas, so I want to hold all of them. It's almost like hoarding of my own ideas. And so, that’s what always breaks whatever system I'm using, is this hoarding that doesn’t get sorted into something.

I finally just created a process, I don’t know if I succumbed to it, I don’t know if it is part of the diagnosis, I don’t know if it's meds (it could be all of it, right?), but I have a parking lot, and that's where stuff goes. I rarely look at it, but I feel so comfortable that the thing was captured. That's what I was trying to say to my husband. Derek was telling me -- I was asking him, "Oh, do this thing." He was like, "Okay, cool. I'll do that later." I was like, "You don’t have to write it down? How is this a thing?" He was like, "Oh, my brain's a runway. There are planes that land and take off." I was just like, "What?" Like… it makes no sense. You just have tasks in line in your head? What? And so, learning that that's not how my brain works means I need support in a very different way, and I think I just admitted there is no tool that's gonna save me from this. It's accepting it, and then it doesn’t give me any anxiety. The anxiety was coming from me not having a place to catch it, me maybe feeling like these amazing ideas were never getting done or whatever. 

And so, I just have this board with the parking lot. The things I'm committed to doing, the things I'm doing, the stuff that's on hold, and the things I've done. It's this basic board, and it's basically only for me. No one on my team is watching me. It's the only thing that's worked so far in running my business. I think that task management, that’s the thing that was overwhelming me with my business, because it never stops. There's no end. There's no end of the semester, right?

Rebecca Ching: No.

Lindsay Padilla: It just keeps coming. And so, I think it ended up being a mindset thing of like okay, cool. I don’t have a runway. There was a woman on TikTok that was talking about the reverse funnel, that ADHD brains are like a reverse funnel. So a normal funnel, Derek has all this stuff coming in, right, in a neurotypical brain -- all of this information coming in, and then important things come out. They have a plan, there's an order of importance, there's a filter happening. In an ADHD brain it's opposite. One thing coming in creates all these other things that you can't control. I'm like oh, shoot. One thing can create, in your own mind, an avalanche of things, ideas, topics. There's no conception of priority, none of that. When I heard that, too -- 

Tara Newman: It all has to happen now.

Lindsay Padilla: -- these visual metaphors. It all has to happen right now. It's all important. It's all so important, and just even showing that to my husband he goes, "Now I get it. Now I get why these things that panic you don’t panic me." Even just working with my husband, I think that has been huge. Working with people who are neurotypical and giving them these ways to visualize how your brain feels -- how it feels to be in your brain -- is just really helpful for both sides. They're like oh, cool, now I don’t have to, like, get mad at you and vice versa, right -- get flustered, all the things.

Rebecca Ching: That's beautiful. 

Tara Newman: Yeah, it's been, actually, a game changer being diagnosed and sharing that diagnosis with my husband because it has resolved one, a lot of conflict, and two, has gotten him to really understand the things that would kind of make him a little mental about me. He'd be like, "Why are you doing this? Why is this here? What's happening?" You know? It's reduced his frustration, and then it's reduced my feeling bad or guilty about the things that he is frustrated by. He'll pick up on things now. He'll be like, "You’ve walked in a circle three times, and it looks like you don’t know where you're going, and you're in your own home."

Rebecca Ching: She needs something.

Tara Newman: "Do you know what's going on right now?" And I'm like, "No!" He's like, "Have you taken medication?" And I was like, "No!" He's like, "Maybe a small dose." [Laughs]

Rebecca Ching: [Laughs] Oh, that's good.

Tara Newman: Just to break the circling feeling. He's super funny. 

Rebecca Ching: Isn't that cool to have those mirrors? We need those mirrors to reflect back. You were gonna say something else, Tara. Go ahead.

Tara Newman: Yeah, you know, for me in business, I'm with Lindsay on the tools and the apps and the things like that. I finally understood, when I was diagnosed, why I can't function inside project management software. It's all the things coming at me all the time, and my mind just cannot register it. So Slack has actually been really helpful if you use Slack the way Slack is intended to be used. Most people use Slack as a communication tool, but it's not. It's actually meant to be a centralization tool of all your technology. And so, I get all my Monday notifications in a Slack channel. I go to the Slack channel, and I just action on the things that I've been tagged on. I don’t ever actually have to open Monday because my brain will explode if I have to open -- I will start to cry. Like, I can't, but I know that people need things from me, so if it all filters into my Slack channel -- so I have, like, a channel for my Monday updates, I have a channel for Google Doc things, and it just makes things so much easier for me having one place.

Rebecca Ching: That's awesome. So I think it's really important to get customizing things and figuring out what works for you, and not trying to compare to this collective other or this standard that isn’t even really attainable or representative of our world.

I'm curious, too, how do you think entrepreneurs' spaces can serve as a means that can destigmatize? Let's go with Lindsay.

Lindsay Padilla: I was gonna say I think Tara said it earlier is talking about it (I think that's one of the first things), and recognizing that -- you know, I think it became really clear to me when I did more research on what ADHD was that there are a lot of coaches that promote a way of being in the world that does not work for me. Noticing that and just being like okay, cool, I don’t have to listen to that person. They're definitely not coming from a place of care of empathy or understanding. It is like fall in line; this is how to do it because this is how I did it. And so, I'm just recognizing that a little bit more from a neurotypical, I guess, perspective. Like you said, there are other things that are wrong with it. It's not just neurotypical brain processing types of things, but it tends to fall on that because it's about success, right?

But yeah, so I think talking about it, pointing out those problems, I think, is some of it too. I'm seeing a lot more ADHD coaches come out. There are just more spaces being created for folks, and some of those spaces are cool and some of them are like meh, a little much. It's always good to be in community, you know? And so, I think there's a lot of power in that. 

I think the work Tara does is doing a lot for people in this space. I think there are people that are recognizing the diversity of coaching and certifications and all the things people are getting pushed through and being like, "Hey, this isn't set up for everybody. How can I do that? And so, I do think that right now we're in a time where people are exploring ways to improve those kinds of processes and systems. And so, I feel like it's happening right now and we're a part of it for sure. You even just having this conversation, I think, is a part of it too. 

Rebecca Ching: For sure. Thank you. How about you, Tara?

Tara Newman: Listen, I think that we really need to unhook from the cult-driven, pseudo-psychobabble that is the personal development industry. 

Rebecca Ching: Can I get an amen to that?

Tara Newman: Like, period. End of story. Go educate yourself. Go look at what you're propagating. Actually think critically, just don’t use think critically as some kind of epithet that you're sending someone because you don’t agree with what they're saying. But there is a tremendous amount of nonsense and BS. Listen, I've been engaged in personal development since I was 17, right? I can be like that worked; this didn’t work. That makes sense; that doesn’t make sense. This is an inclusive comment; this isn’t an inclusive comment. But there's so much ableism in the personal development space that these noncertified coaches are propagating, and we've gone to the point where we've convinced everybody that they can create multiple six-figure, seven-figure businesses by copycatting and mimicking what they're seeing.

So now, we have people who are promoting this type of thought that don’t even know that they're doing it or don’t even know why they're doing it because they weren’t even told that they are doing it. [Laughs] You know what I'm saying? So because it worked for this one person who was charismatic as hell and was able to enroll clients with charisma -- you know, I think there's a whole harsh portion of this that really needs to be unpacked, and myself included. I've been looking at it, and I've completely changed the trajectory of my business over the last year as I've been unpacking and looking at these things. The second thing is, is anyone who is in the course design space who is, like, an online course creator, please go and get an instructional design training, because you are creating things -- also, use Hello Audio -- but you are creating things that are not inclusive for all learners, and you are also not considering the educational trauma that people have had.  

Rebecca Ching: Yes! Gosh, good point. 

Tara Newman: These places are rife with people who are not getting results, because these things don’t work. They don’t work. It's not about packaging your amazing ideas, recording a Zoom call, and selling that recording, and calling it a course. So get some education in instructional design, but inclusive instructional design and work towards truly making your programs inclusive. And you know what? It's expensive. And so, you know what? When you find a program that's doing this, pay them. Pay them, because it's worth it. You're gonna have a much better experience, and give feedback if you are somebody that's neuro diverse or who does learn differently or you're blind or you're deaf or whatever your disability is, give feedback on how they can make it better, and then give them the opportunity to make it better because in my program we're wholeheartedly creating the most inclusive space that we can create, and there are things that I have to go back and look at again because I didn’t take into account every disability or every need for inclusion, but it's more inclusive than most.

Rebecca Ching: Thanks for that, Tara.

Tara Newman: This was a hot button for me. 

Rebecca Ching: Mm-hmm. Yeah, Lindsay, any follow up to that or anything land particularly with you what Tara just shared?

Tara Newman: Also, can I add one more thing?

Rebecca Ching: Yeah, please.

Tara Newman: So also consider your business model, and have you not been taught a business model that's not accessible to you because of your neurodiversity.

Rebecca Ching: Can you get more specific on that, Tara?

Tara Newman: Sure, I can. So there were a lot of things that were -- especially in the online business space and traditional online business tactics that when I first came online just were not accessible to me. First of all, I mean, the pace at which people think that they should be moving and succeeding was not accessible to me, but beyond that, I see these funnel schematics like when we have a funnel-style business, and my brain does not process that well. And so, I don’t have a business that requires elaborate levels of funnels. I'm not saying it doesn’t work. It doesn’t work for my brain. Mass programs where they have hundreds and hundreds and thousands of people coming in don’t feel good for me. That really doesn’t feel accessible to my brain to handle the volume that's required for a business like that. So that's not how I run my service-based business. There are other business models and other options to make great money and have things feel manageable and inclusive and accessible for us.

Rebecca Ching: Yeah, that's really important and not quick and easy. It's gonna take a lot of thought and work and testing, and there's some vulnerability to that, but to create something that really is welcoming for all and not just in word but in action and in design, as you're so wisely noting. 

You touched on it briefly, but maybe in a nutshell, how has ADHD (for better or for worse) impacted your relationships both personal and professional? You both touched on your family and your partners, but how has that impacted your relationships?

Lindsay Padilla: Yeah, I think it gave me and my husband a tool to be able to point something out and be like this is what I'm thinking about this situation. It almost neutralized the emotion behind some mistakes or issues that were happening. One thing I remember learning -- again, on TikTok as I've referenced it a bunch of times. I think it was Chalene Johnson who did this one. She was talking about, like, reorganizing her husband's clutter and wanting to put his stuff away, but then your own stuff was actually out everywhere. I was like oh, my gosh, I do that all the time. I see something out of place of his and it bothers me. But she -- it's basically -- ADHD, it's a distraction. My stuff is not a distraction because, like, I put it there and there's, essentially, some level of I need to be able to see this to be able to, like, take action on it so I'm leaving it out, but when I see his thing it's a distraction because I didn’t choose to put it there, right? And so, I have to tidy it up. 

Something as simple as that made us both laugh out loud, and then be like cool, so, like, that's why you're moving my stuff. I don’t have to, like, overreact and yell at you to correct it. There's no correcting. Before I knew I had ADHD, too, I think there was stuff with the dishes. He was like, "Don’t put it in this sink. Put it in this sink." I was like, "Okay, you can tell me that, but, like, you know it's not gonna happen," and we didn’t know why, and this is a thing where you're just like there's no logic behind it, but it's, like, this is how my brain is processing this thing. Leaving cabinet doors open, all of these tiny things that you're just like why is that a thing, and I think you just start to respect each other more in a different way. 

Then, you bring up personal relationships with friends. There are text messages that someone will send me, and I have every intention of replying, and then I forget. Then, I go back, and I literally feel horrible. I feel like I'm the worst friend ever. And so, now, having that knowledge that like, oh, if it's not top of mind, and that notification doesn’t stay unread, I won't reply. It creates this cycle of, like, am I a bad person and a bad friend. And so, even just being able to acknowledge that and be like, "Hey, my brain -- I really actually wanted to reply to you, I swear. I'm not a bad person." I think if you have people close in your life that you do really care about those relationships you can just point that out and just be like, "I'm cool if you re-text me. I'm not gonna be weirded out by that. I actually need you to do that to get something out of me if it's important."

So I think yeah, you're just catching those little nuances that what has been normalized in a neurotypical way like, "Oh, wow, she's such a bad person because she doesn’t reply to my texts," is like something else is going on. That's key

Tara Newman: Right.

Rebecca Ching: Instead of a value judgement like she's a flake or she's being rude it's just… 

Lindsay Padilla: Mm-hmm, yeah, the value. The assumptions made on the other side of it, yeah.

Rebecca Ching: For sure. How about you, Tara?

Tara Newman: You know, I think it's interesting. Like with Lindsay, what she was saying about friends because, you know, as I've been learning about ADHD and the challenges that it has for people with ADHD to hold friendships and to do things that are deemed as acceptable in friendships like remember birthdays or send cards or, like, things that we've made important, but, like, is that really the most important thing or can we redefine what it means to be a friend? And so, I've been doing a lot of rumbling around friendship. What are the boundaries that I need to have there? 

So starting with "oh my god, I'm a terrible friend," because of a lot of what Lindsay said, and in comparing myself to people who maybe do those things but not even for the right reasons. Like I have some family members that are pretty obsessive about some things like that, and I actually know they don’t really give a shit. They're just trying to, like, keep up appearances or whatever. But really evaluate how I show up as a friend, how they show up as a friend. How do I want to show up as a friend, and then what are the boundaries and support that I need to show up that way? it's been less friends but not afraid to go deeper. So the depth of my friendships have changed because I've let go of a lot of the what it means to be a good friend, and I've recreated what I think it means for me to be a good friend. 

Having a checklist of all the people who I do want to have a deeper relationship with and having a Sunday morning routine of drinking my coffee with them and checking in with them either through Voxer or text. It's been housing all my friends in one place on Voxer to say okay, I'm not messaging you on Instagram. I'm not messaging you in text because then you're gonna get mixed in with my kids and my husband and the soccer coach, right? Having a special space for them, especially since they're not particularly local, and setting time aside on my calendar that says if I'm gonna connect with a friend on Zoom, this is the time we connect on Zoom and really putting a process in place that allows me to feel supported in that way. Also, being honest and being like, "You know, this isn’t something I do well. So if this is gonna piss you off, sorry. It can happen." With my team too, just being like I'm having a moment. I'm emotionally dysregulated. I am feeling rejection sensitivity. I'm whatever, object permanence problems, and I'm very clear about that in, like, this is what I can do. This is what I can't do. We just onboarded a new executive assistant. The role was created around my ADHD in terms of editing things and reviewing things and revising things.

Really building in that support and also with my kids, apparently, I've read a lot of things about ADHD and hormones in women. As they have children and then as they go through menopause, there are women that are being diagnosed at, like, 55 years old because they think they have early onset Alzheimer's, but it's the first time they're realizing that they have ADHD and it's gotten to a point that its so bad because of the hormones with menopause. This isn’t very studied, because the male doctors don't want to study female hormone interactions on a situation that they don’t even really want to acknowledge exists in women. Really understanding how this has impacted motherhood and what things were like in pregnancy and having a lot of grief over things like that, but also having those conversations with my kids and being clear around where my differences are gonna be as a mom and why they might see their friends' moms doing certain things but your mom isn’t gonna do those things or here's how I can be the best mom with my superpowers and my gifts in this area, and here are the things I can't do as a mom.

Rebecca Ching: That's powerful, and you touched on the research, and, you know, there is definitely the gender bias, but also the complexity of it's hard to study hormones because they vary, cycles vary. There isn’t something set, and so the complexity, let alone the bias of studying ADHD in women, has been so prohibitive in getting important data out there. So I appreciate you mentioning that, and I really appreciate just how you're setting up life, work, and your friendships. It isn’t about us constantly adapting to others. It's about creating some sort of reciprocity and mutuality in our lives. 

I want to wrap up this conversation and just ask you, knowing what you know about yourself now and your powerful nervous system, what would you share with your younger self? How about you, Tara.

Tara Newman: You know, I felt like such an outsider and an outcast my entire life because I was different but didn’t know why and combined with people just saying that basically it wasn’t okay, so I think, for me -- and growing up in a family where my mom was very extroverted and we'd go on vacation with, like, 20 people, I mean, this is not okay for me with the way I process things. Giving that child permission to be herself and to communicate what she's feeling and what she needs and to not get stuck in it has to be this way just because society says it or just because maybe your mom is different or -- you know, that you get to be an individual.

Rebecca Ching: Mm, very healing. How about you, Lindsay? What would you share with your younger self knowing what you know now about your powerful nervous system?

Lindsay Padilla: Yeah, I mean, I think my ADHD lead me into really cool places. I think it's part of the reason why I decided to be an entrepreneur and leave teaching. So there was some confidence that came with it and, kind of, rebelliousness. Yes, I was told, you know, to stop talking and to, you know, get in line, those kinds of things. I think there was more damage done more recently with the entrepreneurship stuff tied to ADHD just because I think I could have probably achieved more in graduate school, and I could have maybe gone to an R1 school or something like that. And so, I think part of me and my ADHD was a little rebelliousness because I wasn’t really good at being a student but I knew what the minimum bar was. And so, I think I set a bar low for myself when I was a kid, to make sure I was able to succeed and not push myself. Then, I think, as an entrepreneur, one of the first things I said to the therapist when getting diagnosed -- because I was nervous that I didn’t have it. Like, what if I don’t? She's gonna tell me I don’t have it, and it just doesn’t explain a lot. I just remember crying and just being like oh, I have such compassion for the Lindsay who was running that business and the way that she was trying so hard and comparing herself. 

So, like, I almost want to talk to Lindsay five years ago and be like this game isn’t set up in the way that you recognize, and it's gonna be hard, but it's worth it because then when you do recognize what your powers are, you can go really far if you surround yourself with the right people. So, you know, a lot of grace and compassion for the Lindsay who was doing what she was trying to do with the capacity that she had, and it wasn’t a lot. And so, I would say good on you going on getting help and learning not to compare yourself as much as you were and that you can do really cool things. I think Hello Audio is that divide that happened. I was running that business, and that was the one that was really hard. It's not like this company's any easier to run, but I know so much more about myself, and there was a separation of I'm gonna do this differently. And so, Hello Audio's become this thing that's allowed me to, I don’t know, really honor what I'm good at with what I learned in that other business. So yeah, I took two parts to that answer if that's okay.

Rebecca Ching: Always. Always. Thank you both for this conversation. I know it's just the beginning of many important ones that you'll be having in all the circles of influence you're in. I really appreciate your leadership, your heart, and your wisdom, and your courage. I really value you both. Lindsay, where can people find you if they want to connect with you, Hello Audio, and learn more about what you're doing?

Lindsay Padilla: I am hanging out a little in our Facebook group in Hello Audio. I think that would probably be the place that I'm the most active. Then, Instagram stories when I decide to do them. [Laughs] I go in phases, as we do with ADHD, so I'll do, like, 100 stories and then I won't show up for a month. So those are the two places. I'm Dr. Lindsay Padilla most places online, and then the Facebook group for Hello Audio is helloaudio.community.

Rebecca Ching: Thank you. How about you, Tara? Where can people find you if they want to connect with you?

Tara Newman: They can connect with me by listening to the podcast, The Bold Money Revolution podcast, and if they want to directly connect with me that’s Instagram @thetaranewman. Just slide into my DMs. That's what I do over there.

Rebecca Ching: Awesome. Wonderful. Well, thank you very much for your time. This is an important conversation. I know many will benefit from it and feel a little less alone so thank you for showing up today.

Lindsay Padilla: Thanks for having me!

Tara Newman: Thanks for having me!

Rebecca Ching: Owning all parts of you means knowing all parts of you, but it sure is hard to know who we are while living in a culture that constantly reminds us who we should be and how we should be. The journey to move through these expectations could lead to years of feeling lonely and misunderstood from hiding and denying aspects of you that you’ve been told are a problem.

Now, on this Unburdened Leader routable episode, Tara Newman and Dr. Lindsay Padilla shared their journey to owning all aspects of who they are with respect, curiosity, and compassion. When they were recently diagnosed formally with ADHD, they experienced validation and liberation. They were given context and understanding on who they've been their whole lives and data that they were not broken, just different. This information helped them connect those dots while healing their relationship with their story.

Now, I'm so thrilled about this conversation, and I'm, grateful for leaders like Tara and Lindsay for speaking up about their neurological differences and how embracing this aspect of themselves is helping them better know themselves while leading and running their businesses better. The more we embrace differences as strengths, the more we will create cultures that are set up for different ways of thinking, working, and connecting instead of perpetuating a toxic normal. 

What parts of you or your story are you hiding from the world? What support do you need to better understand your nervous system, your mental health, or your origin story, and how can you create spaces that are more welcoming to differences and support neurodiversity when you step into a deeper sense of knowing who you are without pathologizing or demonizing aspects of yourself, you discover a power in a knowing that becomes unshakeable. You become an unburdened leader.

Leading is hard, and leading is also often controversial as you navigate staying aligned to your values, your mission, your boundaries. Navigating the inevitable controversy can challenge your confidence, clarity, and calm, and you don’t mind making the hard decisions, but I know sometimes the stakes seem higher and could bring up echoes of old doubts and insecurities during times when you need to feel rock solid on your plan and action. Finding a coach who gets the nuances of your business and leading in our complex and polarized world can help you identify the blocks that keep you playing at safe and small. Leading today is not a fancy title or fluffy bragging rights, it is brave and bold work to stay the course when the future is so unknown and the doubts and pains from the past keep showing up to shake things up.

Internal emotional practices and systemic strategies are needed to keep the protector of cynicism at bay and foster a hope that is actionable and aligned. When the stakes are high and you don’t want to lose focus, when you want to navigate the inevitable conflict both between your ears and with those you lead, when time is of the essence and you want to make hard decisions with confidence and clarity, then Unburdened Leader Coaching is for you and where you deepen the capacity to tolerate the vulnerability of change, innovation, and doing things differently than the status quo.

To start your Unburdened Leader Coaching process with me, go to www.rebeccaching.com and book a free connection call. I can't wait to hear from you!

Thank you so much for joining this episode of The Unburdened Leader. You can find this episode, show notes, ways to sign up for the weekly Unburdened email, and other resources along with ways to work with me at www.rebeccaching.com.

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