#007 - Autism and the Untapped Potential /w Rebecca Beam & Chad Hahn

Show Notes

Episode Contents

 

In this episode we will answer some of the following questions:

  • What misconceptions there are surrounding autism and what misconception’s Rebecca had when she took on the role as the CEO of auticon US
  • Where autists outpreform neurologically typical employees and what types of challenges they face
  • How auticon employs autistic individuals to solve some of the most complex problems for their clients and how they provide them with cutting-edge solutions
  • What auticon‘s training process for people on the spectrum looks like
  • What accommodations need to be made for people on the spectrum and how companies need to change their interview and hiring process to employ a more neurodivese workforce
  • What intelligence agencies and large corporations around the world already have neurodiverse programs and how they are leveraging people with disabilities for their purpose
  • Why not more companies are hiring people on the spectrum
  • How companies need to stop focusing solely on social skills and experience during their hiring process
  • Why people on the spectrum produce better managers and in some cases are better managers themselves
  • Why every company should employ neurodiverse talents and what recommendations my guests have for companies wanting to employ a more neurodiverse workforce
  • And finally, why this area will be the next big wave of innovation.

 

Summary

 

  • In order to tackle some of the most complex challenge we face as a human species, we need all people with vastly different talents, background and skillets involved - it doesn't matter if these talents have disabilities or disorders. The time where we could be picky on who to include has definitely passed.
  • Sure, we humans are hard-wired to like people who are similar to us. But in today‘s world that is becoming ever more complex, we need people from all walks of life that are not only different, but also think and yes, might even act very different from ourselves.
  • There is no shortage of talent - only a lack of imagination to include those people who currently don‘t fit nicely into companies’ standardized interview process so they can tick off those boxes that lie to them in reaffirming their candidate is the right fit for the company.
  • There‘s a famous aphorism that says „Beggars can‘t be choosers!“ If companies are complaining about a shortage of talent and they’re not willing to adapt their hiring, let alone their interview process, but on the other side there are so many untapped talent pools out there, companies have absolutely no right complaining.
  • What about older professionals that are above 50 years of age, which German companies in particular love to discriminate against. And why are companies still expecting the date of birth on CVs? What possible insights do you expect from that information other than to discriminate against older professionals. Why not just substitute the DOB with the candidate shoes size?
  • Or think of mothers in maturity leave. Most companies are pretty slow in allowing employees to work from home. Why not let employees take care of their children and work from home. Shouldn‘t the result by itself matter and not where and how employees achieve these results?
  • Remember, the time before there was online banking? Does it really matter from where you do your banking nowadays? Of course it doesn't. So why don‘t you apply the same thinking with your most valuable asset companies have?
  • Rebecca & Chad dismantled almost every possible excuse companies like yourself could have to avoid hiring neurodiverse people. If companies are not quite ready yet to hire such people, they can outsource their projects to companies such as auticon, Passwerk and other and have these talents solve your complex problems or have these talents work along side their current teams and gain some experience with working with neurodiverse people.
  • For companies to be able to hire people of all walks of life, not just autism or any other disability, they need to stop solely relying on social skills when it comes to hiring. Companies need to stop the compulsive behaviour of forcing or retraining people on the spectrum to behave more like non-autistic people and change your interview process.
  • Remember, the list of things you are not supposed to do in a job interview is practically a definition of autism, as Steve Silberman, the author of Neurotribes, a book which looks at the evolution of autism, said so eloquently.
  • Companies don’t need to say they require X no. years of this or that, or the other, or these degrees and certifications, because, sorry to break it to HR people, at the end of the day those things have very little correlation with on-the-job performance for anyone. Especially in a more volatile and uncertain world.
  • The Florida State University reviewed 81 studies to look for a link between an employee’s prior work experience and his/her performance in a new organization.
  • They found no significant correlation between the two. Even when people had completed tasks, held roles, or worked in functions or industries relevant to their current ones, it did not translate into better performance.
  • The conclusion? Experience doesn’t predict a new hire’s success.
  • Chad is another good example of this. Remember at the beginning of the interview, he mentioned, he didn't have any experience in social work, but was able to solve a pressing problem his wife had, that actually had extensive experience and formal training in social work? But yet, Chad with his very different background and his personal experience with autism, he was able to solve this problem.
  • Often it takes people from a very different backgrounds to solve a very big problem. Even the inventor of the digital camera, Steven Sasson once famously said: Innovation best comes from people who really know nothing about the topic.
  • Companies need to focus on strengths not deficits! And look for two things during and interview process:

1. Coachability: give someone feedback and see how they do.
2. Learning agility: Throw a bunch of new tools at someone and see how well they can learn it.

  • And as a result companies can take someone, who has never done the thing that a company is hiring for, they have very high degree of confidence that they’ve found someone that will not only be good at their job but great at it.
  • Large companies such as SAP and Microsoft are leading the pack with their neurodiversity programs.
  • In 2013 SAP launched a program where they currently employ 160 autists, across 13 countries. And SAP’s Autism at Work program has a 90% retention rate of hires on the autism spectrum because it creates a system of support around those employees.
  • Similar results can be found at Microsoft.
  • And, it even makes better managers - as these companies have proven.
  • If governmental agencies such as the GCHQ and the Israeli army have neurodivese programs, why can‘t private companies?
  • To address those out there listening that feel out of place, see under appreciated, different, have a disorder or a disability, be encouraged by the following:
    • You should look at yourself as a color. You may not be everybody‘s favourite, but one day you will meet someone or a company who needs YOU to complete their picture (or their team).
    • There‘s also a famous quote that says: The razor blade is sharp but can’t cut a tree; the axe is strong but can’t cut the hair.
    • Essentially meaning that everyone is important according to his or her own unique purpose.
    • So no one should ever look down on anyone unless they’re admiring their shoes as the old adage goes.
    • You’re perfect just the way you are, you shouldn’t feel the need for any blending or social camouflaging.

 

Links & Resources Mentioned

 

Links Mentioned

 

Articles Mentioned

 

Books Mentioned

 

Videos Mentioned

 

Studies Mentioned

 

Companies Mentioned

 

People Mentioned

 

Follow/Add the Podcast Host/Guest on:

David C. Luna:  LinkedIn | XING |

Rebecca Beam (President at auticon US) LinkedIn | Twitter

Chad Hahn (Founder of MindSpark Inc.) E-Mail LinkedIn | Twitter

Episode Transcript - Click to Expand

Note: This transcript of the episode was machine-generated and has not been edited for correctness. It’s provided for your convenience when searching. Please excuse any errors.

[00:00:00] Guest (Chad Hahn): I really think the next wave of innovation is going to be around human capital, the management, not necessarily technology advancement, which we know will continue and likely accelerate, but it's how do we as individuals? How do we, as humans capitalize on that and how do we allocate our human capital in the right way?

[00:00:18] And in many respects, it's the notion of what our director of innovation, a gentlemen named rod Collins terms as. Collective intelligence, right? Getting the greatest ideas from the greatest group of people. And I think that's why you see so much interest in neurodiversity.

[00:00:38] Host (David C. Luna): Welcome to innovation, no correctness, a podcast, all about innovation and transformation hosted by David Luna, author

[00:00:46] Guest (Rebecca Beam): keynote speaker and founder

[00:00:48] Host (David C. Luna): of gamma digital

[00:00:49] Guest (Rebecca Beam): and beyond

[00:00:50] Host (David C. Luna): David and his guests discuss

[00:00:51] Guest (Rebecca Beam): real world practical advice. On how to best harness the creativity of your employees and go from idea to product, giving you unique [00:01:00] perspectives and insights into their success

[00:01:02] Host (David C. Luna): all while

[00:01:02] Guest (Rebecca Beam): separating, hype from reality

[00:01:04] Host (David C. Luna): and replacing bullshit.

[00:01:05] Bingo. With common sense, let's jump right into the show. Welcome back to another episode of the innovation correctness podcast. I'm not going to lie. I've been looking forward for quite some time and making this episode. So in this episode, we'll cover some of the following questions, what misconceptions there are surrounding autism and what misconceptions Rebecca had when she took over on the role as CEO of Otter con us.

[00:01:31] Where artists outperform neurological typical employees, and what types of challenges they face, how auto and employees, autistic individuals to solve some of the most complex problems for their clients and how they provide them with cutting edge solutions. What are the cons training process for people on the spectrum looks like, and what types of accommodations need to be made for people on the spectrum and how companies need to change their interviewing.

[00:01:55] Hiring process to employ a more neuro diverse workforce. What [00:02:00] intelligence agencies and large corporations around in the world already have no diverse programs and how they are leveraging people with disabilities for their purpose. Why not more companies are hiring people on the spectrum? How companies need to stop focusing solely on social skills and experience during their hiring process and why people on the spectrum produce.

[00:02:18] Better than managers. And in some case are even better managers themselves. Why every company should employ neurodiverse talents and what recommendations my guests have for companies wanting to employ a more NuOrder diverse workforce. And finally, why this area will be the next big wave of innovation.

[00:02:35] My guests today are Rebecca beam and Chad Hahn, who are involved in the founding of mind spark, which now belongs to other con auto Kahn is an international technology consulting company that exclusively employees. Adults on the autism spectrum. As it consultants, they provide services such as quality managements, including transformation, migration, data analytics, data now security and deep web analysis, as well [00:03:00] as compliance out of condoms based in Berlin it's headquarters.

[00:03:03] And yeah, currently employs more than 200 people around 150 of whom are on the autism spectrum. Our account also has offices in. The UK United States, Germany, France what's land and Italy, DOK Musk, who has a son on the autism spectrum launched out of Khan back in 2011. The launch was actually inspired by the Belgian company called Pacific other kinds concept to employ people on the autism spectrum.

[00:03:28] As technology consultants has since been acknowledged internationally, and they have received numerous awards, which include the IQ award sitcoms innovation of pitch award. New work award, social enterprise, UK word, just to name a few. And even sir, Richard Branson himself has invested into AutoCAD. And then in 2018, Oticon acquired mind spark.

[00:03:50] So to introduce my two guests briefly, Rebecca beam is president of auto con U S. She oversees the operations for the company and is responsible for the [00:04:00] domestic growth of the company. She is not only a tech veteran of Silicon Valley's tech sector since 1998, but her career also included senior leadership roles, sourcing and developing human capital for some of the leading tech firms, including fortune 500 companies as one of the shareholders and advisory board members of mine spark in 2014, she became very passionate about improving the 80% unemployment rate amongst people on the autism spectrum and the need for these talented individuals to be employed.

[00:04:30] Chad Han is a partner overseeing the digital and technology practice or intimidate advisors. He's also a serial entrepreneur with 20 years of experience having sold two successful businesses. And he's also founded mind spark now, auto con, which unlocks the talents of people with development disabilities by teaching them software QA testing and employing them on enterprise projects.

[00:04:54] And just a quick reminder, I want to make this podcast much more interactive. So what does that mean? You can either [00:05:00] suggest a guest or topic or send your feedback via email, or even better as a voice message. This allows me to add your feedback to the podcast where all listeners can profit from your feedback and my response.

[00:05:12] Just go to innovational correctness.com and click on either suggest guests or topic or leave voice message. Or if you prefer just send an email to info@gammabeyond.com. Also stay tuned until the end where I as always tried to reflect on the interview and extract the key takeaways for you without further ado, let's jump right into the interview.

[00:05:36] Welcome to the podcast, Rebecca and Chad

[00:05:39] Guest (Chad Hahn): are very happy to be here.

[00:05:40] Guest (Rebecca Beam): Thank you, David.

[00:05:41] Host (David C. Luna): Thank you for having us glad to have you, before we start, would you mind introducing yourselves to listeners?

[00:05:46] Guest (Rebecca Beam): Sure. I'll start. so I am the U S president of audit econ. I started with mine spark, which was acquired by audit in June of 2018.

[00:05:58] My background is in [00:06:00] staffing and helping people start their careers and build their careers in technology. And I do personally believe that there's a job out there for everybody. To take their talents and skills and apply them in the workplace and meaningful jobs. And so when Chad introduced me into mind spark, when he had founded it and asked me to come and help, I saw this overlooked population that we're so smart and so capable and not able to get jobs.

[00:06:33] It hit my heart heavily. And I, it became a passion of mine to work with individuals on the autism spectrum and help them start their careers in tech and build their career.

[00:06:43] Guest (Chad Hahn): My background's in technology consulting. I've been heavily involved in the technology space for over 20 years. I started in.

[00:06:51] Technology straight out of college. I'm also a bit of a serial entrepreneur. And one of the ventures that I co founded was mine [00:07:00] spark. And it was this notion of certainly we'll be talking a lot about it, of creating job opportunities for autism spectrum disorder. And that's how rec Rebecca and I got involved in this particular space.

[00:07:12] And she and I have known each other for many years. Like I'd say Rebecca, we've probably known each other for 20 years.

[00:07:17] Guest (Rebecca Beam): Probably more.

[00:07:21] Host (David C. Luna): So made you start mind spark in the first place. Did you have someone in the family with autism or what led to that decision?

[00:07:29] Guest (Chad Hahn): It was actually my wife, she's a social worker.

[00:07:32] She runs a nonprofit that provides independent living support services for people with developmental disabilities. And, I started to get introduced to a lot of people that she was working with. who are diagnosed with autism and I was very naive about it, autism spectrum disorder at the time.

[00:07:49] And I just remember thinking how intelligent everybody I met was and how it seemed odd to me that my wife would express frustration [00:08:00] about how hard it was for these individuals to get jobs and thinking that it just doesn't jive with the experience I have with them. And in learning more about the, about autism and about the capabilities of people I was meeting, I translated that in yeah.

[00:08:15] To STEM fields and the technology world that I live in and thought, I wonder if there's a way that we can train and improve boy, these individuals to perform software testing. Which is part of technology that requires the very skill set. Did it look like these individuals had, pattern recognition, attention to detail and that sort of thing.

[00:08:33] And that's really how the idea started

[00:08:35] Host (David C. Luna): basically saw potential in people with this condition and tried to apply it in a practice.

[00:08:43] Guest (Chad Hahn): Yes. And there's a, an interesting anecdote that I often talk about when I talk about how mine sparks started, one of the individuals that. my wife introduced me to was gentlemen named max Matius.

[00:08:55] And when I first met him and shook his hand, he asked [00:09:00] me a question. He said, what's your birthday. He didn't say hello or anything else, you just say, what's your birthday? And so I gave him my birthday and he told me the day of the week I was born on, I just calculated it. This had, and it turns out that he's a calender and we don't want to perpetuate any stereotypes about, individuals with autism being savant and the whole rain man concept.

[00:09:19] But that really stuck with me. And I thought to myself, if there was any way to harness the capabilities of these people, it certainly was demonstrated through that anecdote.

[00:09:29] Host (David C. Luna): We mentioned autism quite a few times, and before we continue, it would probably help the listeners to know what autism exactly is and how that say differs from Aspbergers.

[00:09:40] Many people can maybe put a. A finger on it, but can't really explain what autism is. So would you mind explaining those terms and if autism is even the correct term to use,

[00:09:51]Guest (Rebecca Beam): autism is a developmental condition that affects information processing, it's diagnosed through a qualitative differences in social [00:10:00] interaction, communication, repetitive behaviors, and our interests.

[00:10:04]it's a spectrum condition. So that means that. there are different traits and people can have a combination of those traits. Asperger's is no longer recognized diagnosis here in the U S it's been brought into the DSM. So autism spectrum disorder can be with, or without speech or language delay.

[00:10:24] And when Asperger's was a diagnosis, it was without speech or language delay. but now it's part of the full spectrum, at audit con We believe and really listening to our employees and how they would like to be referred to as a whole. And we found that most individuals on the spectrum want to have be for PR referred to identity first, meaning autistic, rather than someone with autism and our employees here.

[00:10:54] Prefer to be referred to, as someone on the spectrum are autistic.

[00:10:58] Host (David C. Luna): So someone on the spectrum is [00:11:00] the correct or more acceptable form of addressing somebody with autism,

[00:11:05] Guest (Rebecca Beam): correct. That are autistic, rather than someone with autism.

[00:11:09] Host (David C. Luna): Maybe someone can also explain to the listeners what it's like being on the spectrum.

[00:11:14] Guest (Rebecca Beam): Neither chatter. I are on the spectrum. So me personally, I could not answer that people that I've worked with, I do see that many, maybe have social anxiety, our anxiety of some sort, when you've met one person on the spectrum, you've met one person. So just like us, everybody's different and everybody experiences things differently.

[00:11:37] I. Can see some commonality in some of our employees, for example, light sensitivity to sound and Jen overall, anxiety and in some situations.

[00:11:50] Guest (Chad Hahn): And I think it's also worth mentioning that we shouldn't think of a spectrum as linear it's fairly multi-dimensional. So each trait represents a dimension [00:12:00] where autistic individuals.

[00:12:01] Can fall on some end of that spectrum for that trait, whether it's audio sensitivity to light social anxieties, what have you. So it's fairly multi-dimensional and people shouldn't think of it as you're either on one end of the spectrum or the other.

[00:12:18] Host (David C. Luna): Now, some of the listeners might come across the term high functioning artists.

[00:12:21] Can you explain what that exactly is?

[00:12:24] Guest (Chad Hahn): Sure. In my time, with mine spark and working with auto ICAN and just learning more about the autism community is that there's a general rejection of. Functional labels. So the label, high functioning versus low functioning and rather, focusing on the individual and their identity.

[00:12:42] However, I will say that the general, I guess the general definition of a high functioning, autistic is somebody that has strong verbal language and can generally pass as non autistic might also think of. These individuals as, not having any cognitive or behavior [00:13:00] issues, but maybe more social anxieties that are actually quite prevalent, amongst the general population.

[00:13:05] Host (David C. Luna): So Jen, you just mentioned the movie, the rain man. How accurate are Hollywood movies such as the rain man, the accountant in portraying people on the spectrum? What do they get? And where do they completely missed the Mark?

[00:13:17] Guest (Chad Hahn): The stereotype perpetuated by those movies is that an autistic individual is a savant of some sort.

[00:13:25] And that's why I often hesitate to, talk about that anecdote because I don't want to perpetuate the stereotype. The one about max Matius and being a calendars savant. Having said that, savant syndrome, I think that's what it's called is, a completely separate thing from autism in general.

[00:13:42] I think Hollywood is getting better, through new TV shows and movies that. At creating a more accurate portrayal of autistic individuals. I would say the vast majority, that of autistic individuals that we've worked with, that we've gotten to know. they're not savant. If they [00:14:00] are of some sort, it's really amazing.

[00:14:02]it's just, a wonder to behold, but that's more the exception than the rule. It's probably a vast exception.

[00:14:08] Host (David C. Luna): Yeah. And I think it comes back to us humans, having the desire in the natural process, wanting to categorize things in people, essentially simplifying the world around us. So this categorization is a natural cognitive process.

[00:14:23] If you will, where we place individuals into social groups, be it man, versus woman black person versus an Asian or a white person. And just as we categorize. Different objects. We categorize people into social groups or memberships, and when we do so we start to begin to respond to those peoples as members of a social group, rather than individuals.

[00:14:45] And that's sometimes a quite hard thing to not forget,

[00:14:48]Guest (Chad Hahn): Hollywood's job is to sell the notion of a hero, And the hero has super powers. And if you're going to portray somebody as a savant, they've got a mind superpower. And we know [00:15:00] in reality it's quite different. Of course, Hollywood movies are meant to suspend our disbelief, so they just have a different job.

[00:15:07] Host (David C. Luna): What are some other misconceptions? The general public has about people on the spectrum.

[00:15:12] Guest (Rebecca Beam): So we recently did a video on stereotypes, and we asked this question of our autistic staff and. The answers came back, that maybe we're perceived as lazy or that we don't want to work, or that we can't do well in the workplace that we're either intellectually disabled our geniuses.

[00:15:34] So these are some of the feedback that we got from our own staff. I think some of the other misconceptions that only boys or men can be autistic. And there are many women who are diagnosed less than boys, but we're finding that. It could be because of the diagnosing criteria. Some people believe it's something that they'll grow out of, or that it's a disease that can be cured and all of these are misconceptions.

[00:15:58] Host (David C. Luna): So I'll be sure to link [00:16:00] that video in the show notes below. So Rebecca, when you took over Oticon U S I assume not all things went smoothly and maybe you had some misconceptions of yourself about people on the spectrum, not having. Worked with them before. So what were some of these mistakes or misconceptions you had and what did you learn from them?

[00:16:17] Maybe you can share some of them with the listeners.

[00:16:19] Guest (Rebecca Beam): Sure. one of the first mistakes I made was when I joined the company, I decided to do some house cleaning and redecorate and paint walls. And I did that over a weekend. So the employees came into a new environment on, on Monday. And what I didn't realize.

[00:16:37] Is that change can be quite challenging for some individuals on the autism spectrum. And that change was very radical. So many didn't like the color or many, expressed, their dislike of. The change in general. So I learned that you're going to make changes like that. You need to prepare your staff in [00:17:00] advance so that they can expect it and they know what's coming.

[00:17:03] I also learned that it's an incredibly important to treat. Each person as an individual and to get to understand them as a person, and that relates to accommodations. So if you, if one person needs something that doesn't mean the other person needs the same thing. So learning how to manage from a compassionate and individualized.

[00:17:26] Perspective was very important. And I think that in itself is what has made this environment so very special for our staff.

[00:17:36] Host (David C. Luna): So there's also been a lot of research that shows that artists aren't perform neurological, typical children and adults in a wide range of perceptional tasks, such as spotting patterns in distracting environments.

[00:17:49] And according to an article on nature, which I'll also link in the show notes below. They also aren't performed in auditory tasks, such as discriminating sound pitches, detecting visual structures and [00:18:00] dimensionally manipulating complex, three D shapes. Where else do artists generally outperform people that are not on the spectrum?

[00:18:07] Guest (Rebecca Beam): Yeah. So here, pattern spot bring in just general attention to detail. Male is, you know what ha I found that's making our analysts so great at quality assurance. I like to say they are wired to be better. We see our employees. They're extremely goal oriented. They can be perfectionist. they will put a lot of focus on a singular task so that it's completed perfectly.

[00:18:35] They also tend to be very honest. And so when you get feedback, the feedback is a real answer. these are the things that we noticed. However, again, I always like. To tell people when you've met one person on the spectrum, you've met one person. So although attention to detail and pattern recognition is a common trait.

[00:18:56] It's not a trait in all.

[00:18:58] Host (David C. Luna): Has there been any [00:19:00] research or has anyone tried to extract the different way of how. People on the spectrum process information and come up with these unique and unconventional solutions and how they are able to do these extraordinary feats so that people that are not on the spectrum, like myself can also profit.

[00:19:20] So I'm thinking something along the lines of many math savant, for instance, when they do complex calculations and they explain how they do it, they. Basically use colors to represent numbers, and that could be applied for people that are not in the spectrum. Has anyone tried to do that or has there been some research in that direction?

[00:19:40] Guest (Chad Hahn): Not aware of any studies or research in this area? I'm sure some research is being done, but my understanding is that. when MRI studies have been done, it's showing that I'm autistic, individual's brains just light up differently, or a different place he says than, it neurotypicals for particular [00:20:00] tasks or thought process.

[00:20:01]if if a lot of it, this is genetic, then I'm not sure how much can be extracted to teach an individual whose brain might just be wired differently to think the same way. But there may be some studies out there.

[00:20:13] Host (David C. Luna): Some people may argue that autism is advantageous and shouldn't be classified as a disorder at all.

[00:20:20] Similar to what we see with HSPs or highly sensitive people, which now is considered an inborn trait and has been found in over 100 species with clear survival advantages. Would you generally agree with that sentiment?

[00:20:35]Guest (Chad Hahn): I would say that it's not a, it's not a disorder. It's a different operating system.

[00:20:40] The notion here is that disorder is probably not the right word. It's certainly a difference, but I think it's also important to be clear that autism is a disability and that while many aspects of autism. Can be advantageous. There are also aspects that can be very difficult. And [00:21:00] if you think about it, individuals again on that multi-dimensional spectrum that are on a far end of the spectrum.

[00:21:06] So maybe their sensory sensitivity is very acute. maybe their ability to process language is very acute. maybe they don't speak. it's certainly a disability and, I don't think we can discount that.

[00:21:18] Host (David C. Luna): Yeah. I really like the slogan. Autism is not a processing area. It's a different operating system.

[00:21:23] Guest (Rebecca Beam): And that slogan actually came from one of our employees in Europe. And one day he just said autism is not a processing error. It's another operating system. And, we thought that was really neat.

[00:21:36] Host (David C. Luna): You mentioned something interesting, which reminded me of the award winning UCLA professor and author

[00:21:43] And he tried with an EEG to map brain patterns or distinctive cognitive processes to Corey Young's work and Myers Briggs personality types. And to see if there's any validity behind the personality types. And indeed he did find very distinctive [00:22:00] cognitive processes among these 16 personality types, and that can massively help people to get into flow more often and how low threshold activities can actually help people engage more creatively and improve their workflow or learning.

[00:22:17] So I found that very interesting. So even though some people may seem very similar, they could exhibit very different brain patterns and their brain could light up very differently. From someone that might seem on the outside very similar. and I'll be sure to link that book as well. It's called the neuroscience of personality and is actually backed up by real science.

[00:22:37] So how does outcome and especially employ people on the spectrum and what types of work do they do in these client projects? Can you give us some concrete examples of some of their works and some of their maybe extraordinary feats that they deliver to their clients? Sure.

[00:22:55]Guest (Rebecca Beam): at oughta con 80% of our staff is on the spectrum.

[00:23:00] [00:22:59] And in here in the U S most of those individuals are acting as QA analyst or QA automation, engineers, but across, Europe and we're in Australia and Canada, our staff works in a myriad of technology areas. Whether it's data analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, cybersecurity compliance reporting.

[00:23:24] So we do all kinds of different projects here in the U S we are focused on software testing and software testing automation. We structured our program around teaching software testing. We felt that it. Is a very trainable skill and a good entree into technology. And we're giving opportunity to individuals with a high school diploma.

[00:23:52] Many of our analysts do have college degrees are advanced degrees as well. we have many [00:24:00] stories of success and how we have made a difference in projects and have been able to find. Anomalies and data that have then saved companies, tremendous amount of money. All of our people are working predominantly in technology related roles.

[00:24:17] However, we do try to hire individuals on the spectrum for other roles within the company. For example, our finance person is on the spectrum as well as my assistant. So we have found that they perform extremely well in software testing.

[00:24:33] Host (David C. Luna): So it seems that they're mainly involved in very technical and cutting edge fields solving very complex problems.

[00:24:41] Would that be an accurate description?

[00:24:43] Guest (Rebecca Beam): Absolutely. we have. Story after story, especially in Europe of our analysts, being able to solve extremely complex problems. And I would also, just like to mention that, we've been asked before, isn't it [00:25:00] disruptive? And the answer isn't that what you want.

[00:25:02]many companies are talking about how they need disruption and. Way of thinking, and it's no better way than to have somebody on your staff that has a different way of thinking about a problem and a different way to solve the problem. So he had found the advantages of having an individual on the spectrum within a team to be quite beneficial to the team.

[00:25:30] And problem solving.

[00:25:31] Host (David C. Luna): Yeah. And I can confirm this in my innovation consultancy, and I see this on an almost daily basis in innovation projects. So when companies are trying to solve very complex problems, they have a tendency to use convergence thinking. So include people that are related to the project in the workshop.

[00:25:49] And I always focus and tell the CEO that always looks at me and was like, you really want to include people from controlling accounting, admin. And these other departments [00:26:00] into the project, into the workshop and always, yes, the more diverse we can create the group, the more divergent the ideas will become, and the results will be much better, but it's quite funny that the companies are not really utilizing.

[00:26:14] And realizing the potential of a group of the population that can solve very complex problems in a very unorthodox and different manner. And we need more people that are different and think different. So I find that quite astonishing and sad sometimes really that very different people don't get included into the process.

[00:26:35] Yeah. That's

[00:26:36] Guest (Chad Hahn): an interesting point.

[00:26:37] Guest (Rebecca Beam): One thing that's worth mentioning is that here at ATA con traditionally, we had a non-autistic staff member conducting our training and our training is four weeks and it's in software testing and automation. And when we lost just our trainer, we tapped. one of our autistic resources on the shoulder and said, would you like to try [00:27:00] to train and fence?

[00:27:01] He has become our trainer. Our success rate of graduation has increased tenfold.

[00:27:09] Host (David C. Luna): Wow. That's extraordinary

[00:27:10] Guest (Chad Hahn): point. I wanted to make follow on what you were saying. David is I really think the next wave of innovation. Is going to be around human capital management, not necessarily technology advancement, which we know will continue and likely accelerate, but it's how do we as individuals?

[00:27:27] How do we use humans capitalize on that and how do we allocate our human capital? And the right way. And in many respects, it's the notion of what our director of innovation, a gentlemen named rod Collins terms as collective intelligence, right? Getting the greatest ideas from the greatest group of people.

[00:27:44] And I think that's why you see so much interest in neurodiversity. And how you starting to see that permeate within enterprise prices, because people are starting to catch onto the fact that if you've got a diverse group of ideas and you can have, I have that divergence, you can convert [00:28:00] a better solution.

[00:28:01] So I agree with you in that regard.

[00:28:04] Host (David C. Luna): Yeah, absolutely agree. And there's so much untapped potential. There's no question about it. So there's also government intelligence agency, which I'm not a big fan of most of them. Anyway, the British GCHQ, which have a neural diversity program, which recruits people with conditions such as autism got Lexia and dyspraxia and.

[00:28:23] Built on the idea and I'm quoting the former director, Robert Hannigan. He says, we need all talents and we need people who dare to think differently and be different. And there's also a Israeli army unit called right. I believe it's nine nine zero zero. Where according, at least to the Atlantic. Yeah.

[00:28:41] Testing people act as the eyes. Yeah. The ground for very highly sensitive operations, analyzing very complex images that come from the satellites and essentially help save lights. And what I found most striking about that is. These are government agencies and companies should [00:29:00] be at the forefront.

[00:29:01] They should be much faster in adopting innovative ideas. And yet they're not even hardly tapping that potential. It companies are solely focusing on technology to become, say 10% more efficient. Why, if there's so much potential elsewhere. So Rebecca, you mentioned the training process. What does that entail?

[00:29:21] And maybe we can start at the interview process. Have you found someone on the spectrum that could be potentially a good fit? How does that whole thing take place? Can you give us some insights?

[00:29:31] Guest (Rebecca Beam): So David, we have. Two tracks here at odd con one is through our training and the other one is if an individual has a background in technology, we can hire them straight away and bring them onto our staff.

[00:29:47] So I'll start with our training program. Our training program is four weeks and the criteria to be accepted is a high school diploma and really desire. When we do our [00:30:00] assessment, we start with an informal chat. We prefer to refer to it as an informal chat because the term interview can be quite daunting for individuals.

[00:30:10] So we, we start with an informal chat and then we'll welcome them in for an assessment. We do some cognitive type test and we're really looking for not whether they get the right answer or not. It's how. Coachable. they are, will they interact with us because as they're training, there's gonna need to be a level of interaction.

[00:30:34] And so once they get through the assessment and they're accepted into the training, they go through the four week course. If they pass, they can qualify as a paid intern. And from there through the internship, they become an analyst and there's a whole career trajectory for individuals who already have a skill in technology.

[00:30:55] We'll hire them straight away. We do a workshop and the [00:31:00] workshop is a workplace readiness workshop within this workshop where again for their ability to work in a team for their, Ability to communicate and problem solve. And, but we do focus a lot on workplace readiness. One of the other things that we do here is we have a job coach internally, and this individual works with, our staff around career goals are perhaps things that they might want to.

[00:31:29] Work on to, be able to work better in a team environment, that type of thing.

[00:31:35] Host (David C. Luna): There was actually a concept I came across not too long ago, which had two components to the interview process or how to evaluate an interviewee. And the one was culpability. Give someone feedback and see how well they do.

[00:31:49] And the other one was learning agility. So throw a bunch of new tools at someone and see how well they can learn it. So that seems very similar to what you're trying to do. [00:32:00] Is that correct?

[00:32:00] Guest (Rebecca Beam): That's yeah, that, yeah, absolutely. And I would say the coachability piece is the biggest piece because as we're teaching someone a new skill.

[00:32:09]you have to be willing to be coached and interact and work with another individual to learn that skill. and we do this through independent study and group set, in a group setting study and also one-on-one. And we want to look for the capability of an individual to perform well in all three scenarios.

[00:32:32] Host (David C. Luna): Companies seem to be solely focused on social skills when it comes to hiring. And I'm not saying that's wrong per se, but it excludes a lot of potential. Shouldn't more companies change or adapt their whole interview process instead of forcing a retraining people on the spectrum to behave more like neuro-typical people or shouldn't we just get rid of, or stop on relying on credentials experience that actually have very little.

[00:32:59] Correlation with [00:33:00] on the job performance. What's your opinion on that?

[00:33:03] Guest (Rebecca Beam): No, I agree. Absolutely. And we do see companies starting to change the way that they do their interview process. There are quite a few, autism in the workplace, program starting up. You've. Probably heard about Microsoft's program SAP program and they are specifically adjusting the, that they interview and, get to know the individual.

[00:33:29] And I do agree that we need to stop looking at. certain criteria for employment, for example, college education, many individuals that are on the spectrum are not able to go to college. Not because they can't pass a course or get through a course, but it can be. the anxiety of the social aspect fact that can prevent them from being able to attend college.

[00:33:58] And this criteria of [00:34:00] having a college education, I think should be set aside because we have many individuals here on our staff that are incredibly, they're high performers and they do not have a college degree. things like in an interview having. Having to have somebody look you in the eye to be able to hire them.

[00:34:20]many individuals on the autism spectrum will not look you in the eye, but that doesn't mean they're not going to be a great employee and perform well.

[00:34:28] Host (David C. Luna): Yeah. And there's also something I would like to add, which I find very strange. On the one hand side, you have companies complaining about the war on talent or the lack.

[00:34:37] Of qualified employees here, Germany, especially almost every company complains about that issue. And I always tell companies there's only a shortage of talent in politics, but the other hand you have a huge potential, especially since the European commission, It says that in the EU, they could face a shortage for up to, I think it was 900,000 [00:35:00] skilled it workers by next year.

[00:35:01] And the global unemployment rate for people on the spectrum remains around 80%. So you have a huge pool full of untapped potential yet. The companies are complaining that they have a lack of talent. Now, is that just a lack of imagination? Are they lazy? Is it a lack of awareness? So if there are some many advantages in hiring neuro local employees, and there's a shortage of qualified people where almost every company has a complaint about this issue, why aren't there more companies he's hiring more neurodiverse people.

[00:35:33] Is it really just lack of awareness, fear, a fear of costs of hiring these people. What is it? What do you believe is the,

[00:35:41]Guest (Chad Hahn): I would say that there's definitely a lack of awareness at play and in many respects, we started in mind spark to tackle this very problem. This problem of tremendous it demand.

[00:35:52] Demand for skilled it workers and a supply, a talent pool that, in the autism [00:36:00] community that was particularly untapped. Now we know not everybody in the autism community is going to be right for particular it job, but that's no different than the population in general. Some people are not right for certain jobs.

[00:36:13] But the idea behind Mon mine spark was really to see if there was a way to unlock the talent or help unlock the talent of this untapped pool of resources that can help meet the demand. And, we were able to show that there is a way to train individuals who maybe don't have the it background needed.

[00:36:33] To start a job, get them trained so that they can work on that job and then hire people who do have an it background, but it happened to be on the spectrum and help them find a career path as well. Now I will say this, I think the world has changed, right? the notion of neurodiversity, I think worldwide, but particular brilliant.

[00:36:51] The U S is a big, hot topic amongst large enterprises. And it's not just the Microsofts of the world or the SAP of the world. [00:37:00] Germany, a T and T a lot. And other large enterprises are very interested in increasing neurodiversity in the workplace because it is something that will help propel the company forward.

[00:37:11] It goes back to what we were talking about before David, the notion of people thinking about problems in a different way. Generates a greater solution. So I think we're getting over the awareness issue and the next issue is going to be more around training, right? And that's another area where audit con and companies similar to audit con can help, companies who've had some experience.

[00:37:34]training individuals on the spectrum, autistic individuals to move in Thai jobs, helping disseminate that training so that we can get more people employed. I think you're going to start seeing a lot of movement in that area as well.

[00:37:46] Host (David C. Luna): Yeah. That seems like a very encouraging trend. And let's hope that more and more companies, especially in Germany will continue to realize this untapped potential.

[00:37:54] Guest (Rebecca Beam): I do find though that some companies are afraid, of making a mistake. [00:38:00] And when they hear the term accommodation, they, I away. So I think it's, the education process of these companies and corporations of what needs to be done and how to support the individual. And I. I do agree with Chad that companies are opening their doors more or to individuals on the spectrum.

[00:38:22] But I think there's a lot of work to be done to, educate the corporations on the benefits and how to support the individual.

[00:38:31] Host (David C. Luna): Rebecca, you mentioned accommodations. So what are some of the basic accommodations or requirements employer you need to have in order to better cater towards, be more on the spectrum friendly environment or to basically attract more neuro atypical people?

[00:38:47]I would assume for instance, in open office, be the exact opposite of what. Someone with autism, for example, would want, does that assumption even correct? And what are some of the basic requirements [00:39:00] I would need to have as an employer to attract this type of talent?

[00:39:03] Guest (Rebecca Beam): Interestingly enough, David, the open office concept.

[00:39:07]we thought that would. Be something that our staff members would not like. And it was quite the opposite. When we were building out our new office in Culver city, we were looking to put cubicles and for everybody to have their own private space and the team, said, no, They wanted to have an open workspace so that they could work together.

[00:39:29] And so that concept definitely is false. But one of the things that, I do find very important is not to have bright overhead lights. many individuals on the autism spectrum do have a sensitivity to light. So in our offices, we do not turn on fluorescent lights. We have lamps and low lighting for our staff.

[00:39:52]also, allowing staff members to wear noise, canceling headphones so that they can concentrate noise [00:40:00] sensitivity, can often distract our staff from being able to accomplish their tasks. So we give them the option to where the noise canceling headphones are listened to music. other things, healthy snacks.

[00:40:13]that's something that's very important, making sure that our staff is, provided good nutrition and, frequent breaks the opportunity to get up from your desk frequently and go take a walk, at those are the things that. That we find help our staff

[00:40:30] Host (David C. Luna): that was surprising. I would have thought that open offices as the exact opposite of what they would want, but, there you go.

[00:40:36] There's a misconception that I had. I personally, don't like open offices, but there you go.

[00:40:42] Guest (Rebecca Beam): Or I do find it's really important to have a quiet space, have a space where they can get away and be alone if they feel the need to.

[00:40:51] Host (David C. Luna): Companies that are on board with hiring more neurodiverse, diverse people and people from all walks of life, how would they need to accommodate and [00:41:00] change their interview process to make it much more inclusive and attract these types of talents?

[00:41:05] So if there's a HR person out there that's listening, what would they need to do? Ideally?

[00:41:11]Guest (Rebecca Beam): we find that, starting with a phone discussion is always best. We feel the interview should be, more focused on testing the skills and the knowledge that is needed for the job, rather than testing their soft skills and their ability to engage.

[00:41:29]Asking for answers and writing our over email can also help an individual, express themselves, for the job, but not necessarily be put in the position of having to be in front of an individual. As they're answering. There are so many different ways that you can adjust your interview process.

[00:41:48] That is autism friendly.

[00:41:50] Host (David C. Luna): So at the beginning of the interview process, it seems to be more focused on the actual skills and the actual job that will be done. Correct. So what are some of the concrete challenges an employer would [00:42:00] have when hiring someone on the spectrum?

[00:42:02] Guest (Rebecca Beam): It's an in person interview. I think, it can sometimes be uncomfortable when a person doesn't make eye contact with you or fidgets are, you can visibly see that they're uncomfortable, but to still accept that and to just listen to the answers.

[00:42:21] And listen to what they're saying instead of how they're behaving, because that's really important. You're looking for the skill you're not looking for, unless it's, a job that requires incredible soft skills. That's probably not the right job for that individual, but if it's a tech job and you're looking for somebody who's proficient in development, you should be looking at that skill.

[00:42:44] Not necessarily. The way they interact with you.

[00:42:47] Host (David C. Luna): My follow up question would be then how do you determine when and how to modify your interview process? If you're completely inclusive, you have a job description and someone applies and that person [00:43:00] might not be aware that he's on a spectrum or has some other condition.

[00:43:04] How do you determine when to modify your interview and how? I would assume that's not quite easy.

[00:43:10] Guest (Rebecca Beam): I would agree. companies have a certain way, typically have going through their hiring processes. a lot of organizations now are having autism at work programs and specifically hiring individuals on the spectrum for searching jobs.

[00:43:28] And in those instances, they are changing the way they go about interviewing. I believe that if that's not the case and you are not aware that the individual is on the spectrum, but you're interviewing the person and that they're uncomfortable to perhaps in the moment modify the way that you go about interacting with the person and create a more skills based assessment.

[00:43:56] Host (David C. Luna): Okay. So let's say a company is basically on board with the [00:44:00] idea of hiring people on the spectrum, for instance, for a project, which they have. Yeah. They want to solve a complex problem, but they're not quite ready to hire people on the spectrum themselves because the black, the skills, or are just not ready yet and are still maybe afraid of doing it.

[00:44:16]and they want someone like other con to hold their hand or try out this concept of including. These types of people on projects, where they need to solve very complex problems and see some of the results that they can achieve for themselves. How would that whole process work if I, as a company would approach other con?

[00:44:38] Guest (Rebecca Beam): Sure. So the. when we work with our clients and we understand the requirement, we will find the individual and our staff that is best suited to work in that environment. We do firmly believe that integrating individuals with autism onto projects and the workplace has many benefits for our clients, not only in [00:45:00] the way of solving complex problems, but also, in a way that.

[00:45:05] Individuals will understand and be educated that yes, I can work with somebody on the autism spectrum. So at audit con the secret to our success is we place the individual in the project and we provide a support mechanism through a job coach and a project manager. And the job coaches respond ability is to identify the accommodation that are necessary to help this arc staff member.

[00:45:34] Be successful in the workplace, ensure that those accommodations are being met by the client. Also educate them, Oh, how to work with somebody on the autism spectrum and just be there as a general support mechanism for both our employee and the client. And then our project manager deals more with support from the technical side.

[00:45:57] So if our employee, [00:46:00] needs help on a. Particular technology than our project manager is there to support that person. So that support piece is key to our success at the clients.

[00:46:12] Host (David C. Luna): At first thought, it seems very logical to include a support person that ensures that all the accommodations are met for someone on the autism spectrum.

[00:46:21] But if I were to. Hire someone on the spectrum. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have thought of that to include someone that makes sure that all the accommodations are met for someone on the spectrum.

[00:46:32]Guest (Rebecca Beam): And David, it can be as simple as Bob does not like his hand shook and we have had employees that have done major presentations in front of sea level.

[00:46:44] However, They have anxiety around being touched. So our job coach will just go in and make sure that the individuals who are going to be in the meeting, know the accommodation [00:47:00] and don't shake Bob's hand and eliminates the anxiety. And lends itself for successful meeting

[00:47:08] Host (David C. Luna): at this point. I think I, and probably a lot of listeners are wondering how do the customers act, especially if it's someone say from sea level, has there been any pushback from say a CEO that is confronted with maybe some foreign accommodations with, okay.

[00:47:25] I'm not allowed to shake his hand, but he's presenting to me and he lacks basic social skills. Why is he even here? has there been any pushback on what are the reactions of some of the customers that might view these very stranger peculiar accommodations as, as foreign to them, as there been any feedback in that direction?

[00:47:46]what's been your experience so far?

[00:47:48] Guest (Rebecca Beam): Overall, our customers have welcomed us with open arms, because again, there is a tech talent gap. And they need the talent. They're trying to [00:48:00] solve more and more complex problems. And they do know that a diverse way of things can help them do that. It's so easy through our support with the job coach and the project manager.

[00:48:12]it's pretty seamless. And, we do find that. That our clients have open arms for us and our staff.

[00:48:19] Guest (Chad Hahn): And also David point I wanted to make is, every company that's interested in neuro diversity is going to be a along a different maturity level scale, right? People are companies that are more mature from a neuro diversity standpoint are likely to want to stand up their own, neurodiversity department, where they're going to do direct hiring of a neurodiverse, of neurodiverse individuals.

[00:48:43] Including autistic individuals. Then you're going to have companies that are not far enough along on the maturity scale. Not because they don't have the desire, but again, it comes back to maybe a lack of awareness or fear. if you're a VP or an executive at a company and you're interested in neuro diversity, [00:49:00] but you're worried about how to make it successful or what the cost might be for accommodations or whether it's just going to be too hard, then you have fallback options, Options. Like Oticon. Where you can either hire into or hire a vendor like Omnicon to have their employees work at your location, at the client's location, with the necessary accommodations and support, like job coaches and, and project managers. But then you can also simply outsource the work you need.

[00:49:30] To a company like OD where the work can be done in their office, where the accommodations are already well set up. And they are already far along on the maturity scale when it comes to neurodiversity and in all three models, you're helping to move the movement forward. So there's a lot of options for companies depending on where they are on the scale and what their comfort level is.

[00:49:52] And one of the things that Rebecca and I often talk about is how any company. That moves into this space [00:50:00] either by hiring directly neurodiverse talent or autistic individuals, or by simply working with companies like OD ICAN. And there are other companies out there in the space, they are pushing forward a social movement through value creation, not through, not just through philanthropy.

[00:50:18] And that's really where we see the movement pushing forward more quickly. And that's, what's most exciting to us.

[00:50:25] Host (David C. Luna): Yeah. And Chad, just dismantle about every possible excuse companies could come up with to avoid having to hire neurodiverse people. And yes, it should be just about the result. If your employees do their best work at night or in a coffee shop, and that produces the best results.

[00:50:41] Then that's all employers should care about and companies have multiple options. They can either outsource the work to Oticon. So their talents can solve the issue that the client is having. Or they can hire people from audit con hire these talents and work alongside the client. And learn [00:51:00] from that experience to maybe hire more neurodiverse or people on the spectrum later on themselves.

[00:51:05] So there's actually no excuse anymore for companies to not try that. Or as Nelson Mandela famously said, he never loses either he wins or he learns. So a follow up question I would have to, that would be. There might be some companies and people out there that are still skeptical and are quick to judge and say things like, these types of companies only hire people on the spectrum out of sympathy or out of charity.

[00:51:34] What would you tell these people?

[00:51:35]Guest (Chad Hahn): I would say that the models, like the one mind spar CAD, the one audit Khan has the one that several companies around the world have. Really nullify that argument and the notion here again is let's drive society forward through value creation instead of philanthropy, the company that wants to help hire a neurodiverse population to check off a box, [00:52:00] or to meet.

[00:52:00] Some federal mandate, but they don't really care about them movement. they may be doing it from sympathy standpoint, but honestly, David, we've seen very little of that. If any, in our instance, variance with this movement, what we've seen overwhelmingly. Is that companies, people we're all humans.

[00:52:19] We all want to help, create opportunities for all people, including, autistic individuals or individuals on the spectrum. And if there's a way to do that through, through the free market system, through value creation, where. Nobody's getting a handout, but rather the individuals that are performing a task are doing it just as well as anybody else, regardless of, whether or not they have a condition.

[00:52:45]Dan you've created a model where society can move forward into neurodiversity because it's a. A better, it's a better way to make progress as opposed to, because, maybe it's something you want to do from a sympathetic part [00:53:00] of your humanity. And so their entire companies like OD ICAN that you whose whole existence is employing individuals with autism because they do a good job.

[00:53:09] Not because, maybe it's something people want to do from a philanthropic standpoint.

[00:53:14] Host (David C. Luna): Yeah. I couldn't agree anymore. I'm not a big fan of, federal handouts. And I think in my view, it's better to give people a longterm perspective or opportunities and giving them a job and making them work for money as that not only gives them responsibility, but also a purpose and meaning in life.

[00:53:32] And that might not be the most popular way of thinking, but my view it's the most sustainable instead of giving them handouts where they don't have to do anything. So I absolutely, and wholeheartedly agree.

[00:53:44] Guest (Chad Hahn): Yeah. And companies are happy to pay for it. if they're asking for service and that service is provided by a team of individuals, Who just happened to have autism and a work product is good.

[00:53:56] The companies are happy. They're happy on two levels. They're happy [00:54:00] because they got the job done and they were able to help support a cause.

[00:54:04] Host (David C. Luna): Yeah. And it brings us back to what you mentioned, Rebecca and Chad is, raising the awareness with companies that they have. Such untapped potential that they could be using, but aren't using yet.

[00:54:15] Guest (Rebecca Beam): Absolutely. It's all about education and breaking down those barriers and the fear of getting it wrong. And I think the more we educate society and the better we'll be and opening our doors to higher individuals on the autism spectrum are individuals with disabilities. In general.

[00:54:35] Host (David C. Luna): So there might still be some companies that are still hesitant saying, why should I change my hiring and interview process and invest all this time and effort for accommodations, et cetera, essentially being worried about the increased turnover or what is even the turnover with people.

[00:54:54] On the spectrum?

[00:54:55]Guest (Chad Hahn): our experience empirically is that the, turnover rate and [00:55:00] attrition rate, with, our autistic employees is extremely low and I don't have exact figures, but Rebecca, you might, but it, in our experience, it was extremely low. and that's certainly going to be attractive to any company because turnover's always a problem for every company.

[00:55:16] And, for all the reasons you mentioned, right? It's the retraining costs of a loss of productivity costs and that sort of thing. And if we were to ask the question, why is the attrition rate. So much lower for autistic individuals. I don't know that it has anything to do with autism, to be honest with you.

[00:55:34]if, you're an employee and you're at a company where you feel valued and you believe in the company's mission. And you enjoy the people you work with. Yeah. Things feel good. You're going to stay there. and so in many respects, a attrition has to do with how aligned the individual and the company, the individuals in the company are with each other, as opposed to, what sort of, neuro neurodiversity condition that they might [00:56:00] have.

[00:56:00]it's just in our experience, one of the things that I used to love about the employees at mind spark was just the look of satisfaction on their faces when they did it. Good job. And you just can't replace that feeling. We're, we're humans, we're hardwired to have a sense of belonging.

[00:56:15] And if you're somebody who's dealt with a lot of adversity in your life, because you're on the autism spectrum and, societal norms, don't jive with the way that you look at the world and think about things. And that's, you felt outcasted because of that. And you come into an environment, that's got the right kind of accommodations for you.

[00:56:36]that gives you interesting work, that helps to train you. And you feel aligned with the company's mission, you're going to have that sense of satisfaction. And as a result, you're going to be very loyal to the company. And I'm sure that has something to do with the lower attrition rate.

[00:56:53]but I also think that companies can't sit on their laurels, mind spark, before it was absorbed by Oticon OD ICAN [00:57:00] other companies in their space, any company, The world's changing. People are changing. Their values are changing and companies have to change with it so that they can continue to attract and retain talent, regardless of whether they have autism or not.

[00:57:14] Guest (Rebecca Beam): I would agree with that. And, often say to the company from speaking with you have to invest in your staff. to keep them happy and that investment can come in the form of accommodation, or it can come in the form of training. But I do find that our staff is very loyal to us because we care about them as an individual and they feel very supported.

[00:57:40] And I think any person in a workplace that feels supported by their employer will remain loyal. And stay at the company.

[00:57:47] Host (David C. Luna): Yeah. And I think that's a challenge that every company has, is how do they retain their employees and how do they retain their best talent? So the question I would have as well is wouldn't that [00:58:00] fact of managing very untypical employees or non-typical employees make better managers because they're forced to adapt their managing style, their skills, their way of interacting with employees.

[00:58:14] Wouldn't that fact in itself make better managers.

[00:58:17] Guest (Rebecca Beam): Yeah. I have found that, by working with my staff, I've not only become a better manager, but I've become a better parent. I have two children learning how to have a more factual communication style has been incredibly beneficial in my life. And many individuals on the autism spectrum are quite factual and they prefer to have.

[00:58:41] Factual communication. And, this has helped me, and I know as a manager also having the compassion for each individual has made me more compassionate. Overall in my life, why

[00:58:57] Host (David C. Luna): aren't more companies [00:59:00] hiring these types of talents that are willing and able to solve very complex problems in the face of talent shortages, as they always say.

[00:59:09] So is it just a matter of educating these companies, raising awareness, why aren't more companies hiring these towns?

[00:59:17] Guest (Rebecca Beam): And I think it just boils down to education of the corporations and the individuals and the managers. and we're going to get there. at AWDA con we have a goal by 2023 to have a thousand employees working for us who are on the autism spectrum.

[00:59:33]and these employees will be both in our offices, but also integrated into other workforces. And that's. Going to raise awareness.

[00:59:42] Host (David C. Luna): That's a nice segue to one of my last questions, which is what are your top recommendations for companies wanting to employ more neurodiverse employees on a longterm basis?

[00:59:53] Guest (Rebecca Beam): Yeah, I think being willing to listen, being willing to learn, being willing to adjust your. Your [01:00:00] practices flexibility. And so to get involved, I recommend, I talked to many companies, I do a lot of lunch and learns and it's not always around what oughta Khan can provide. It's around the benefits of neurodiversity in the workplace.

[01:00:17]starting there just a willingness to listen and learn. And they can reach out to me at any time and I will speak to them. I will speak to their teams and begin the education process.

[01:00:30] Guest (Chad Hahn): And I think it's also important, for any listeners of this podcast who work at a company where you think the company might want to get involved in.

[01:00:39] And this movement is to think about it this way. Rebecca and I talk about this, I think we're on a building wave of the next social movement. we've had social movement around, all sorts of human rights. Women's rights. racial rights, rights for individuals in the LGBTQ community, right?

[01:00:58] We see these [01:01:00] movements happen to push society forward. And I think the next great movement is to neurodiversity and companies like OD ICAN and others who work in this space are starting to break down the. The barriers that make it very easy to get involved in the movement in the ways that we had talked about before.

[01:01:16] And so I really think something special is going to be happening over the next five to 10 years, in 10 years from now, we may think about it neurodiversity and its benefits. the way that we think about LGBTQ rights today versus, 20 years ago. And so it's very exciting time, because of that.

[01:01:34] And there are very easy ways to get involved in the movement. If you're interested at all in this space, start doing a little research or have a phone call or two, I guarantee you, all it takes is one phone call. With, people like Rebecca and I, or other people in this space or companies in this space, to be able to head down the road of increasing neuro diversity in your workplace.

[01:01:57] And it's not even just a workplace thing, it's just [01:02:00] increasing your exposure to neurodiversity in general, because it will achieve better outcomes. It's simply because when you have a divergence of opinion and a diversity of ideas, better outcomes are produced. It's the whole reason I read a book about six months ago, the famous book, the cathedral, and the bizarre, and it was about, it's about to open source movement and the late nineties and early two thousands.

[01:02:26] And this ability of individuals working on a part time basis to create software that rivaled. The software that was created by, companies like Microsoft in a more traditional sense. It worked because there was a diversity of ideas coming into a particular problem domain. and, if you translate that into neurodiversity, if you have people who think about problems in a different way, you're going to get a better outcome.

[01:02:51] And that the key to getting involved is a simple, it was a phone call or simple as Googling. and you'll be able to move down this path.

[01:03:00] [01:02:59] Host (David C. Luna): Yeah. An open software was considered a very crazy idea back in the time. So you have a bunch of people working together that are very diverse and they're developing software that is supposed to be better than very well funded homogeneous companies like Microsoft.

[01:03:15] And look at where we are today with open software. And that just shows what the power of diversity can achieve. So my last question would be how do listeners that want more of you or wants to engage in a conversation with you too? How do you want them to contact you or what is the best way to contact you?

[01:03:33] Guest (Rebecca Beam): I think for me the best way would just to be, an email to our info at dot us. And so I N F O at a U. T I C O N dot U S.

[01:03:47] Guest (Chad Hahn): Yeah. And for me, follow me on Twitter. chatty Han, can also email me directly, hello@chadhan.me just first name, last name.me. and I love to speak with people about this topic.

[01:04:00] [01:04:00] Host (David C. Luna): Yeah, I'll be sure to include all that in the show notes. If listeners want to get into contact with you. So is there something I didn't touch on or forgot to ask you during the interview that I should have asked?

[01:04:11] Guest (Rebecca Beam): I think one of the things that's really important to note about audit con is that we have such tremendous investors.

[01:04:19] People who invest not only their money, but their also their time in seeing us succeed. Probably the most recognized name of our investment team is, serve Richard Branson. And he's really focused on helping us build a more inclusive society T to include neuro diverse employees. So we appreciate our investment team and our advisors tremendously because that's.

[01:04:49] Allowed us to succeed

[01:04:50] Host (David C. Luna): now that we reached the end of the interview. I want to not only give you my thoughts on the interview and some additional insights, but I also want to address those companies that [01:05:00] remain reluctant to hire very different people or still believe in the myth that there is a shortage of talent, especially in Germany.

[01:05:06] And remember what Chad said, the next wave of innovation will come from human capital. I believe in order to tackle some of the most complex challenges. We as a. Human species face. We need our people with vastly different talents, backgrounds, and skillsets. It doesn't matter if these talents disabilities or disorders at the time could be choosy and picky on who to include has definitely passed.

[01:05:30] Sure. we, humans are here wired to like people who are similar to us, but in today's world that is becoming ever more complex. We need people from all walks of life that not only. Are different, but also think, and yes might even act different from ourselves. It's on the following. I really want to encourage more companies.

[01:05:49] It needs to change their thinking and to take it the roads less traveled to uncover these untapped resources and talents. There companies, you know who you are, why do you [01:06:00] reluctantly still want to believe in the mess that there is still a shortage of talent in the marketplace. Quit making up excuses.

[01:06:06] There's no shortage, right? Talent, only a lack of imagination to include those people who currently they don't fit nicely into your standardized any of your process. So you can tick off those boxes that lie to you. In reaffirming, your candidate is the right fit for your company. There's a famous aphorism that says beggars, can't be choosers.

[01:06:26] And if your company is complaining about the shortage of talents and you're not willing to adapt your hiring, let alone your interview process. But on the other side, there are so many untapped talent pools out there. You have absolutely no right in complaining. That's like me saying, Oh, I can't find a job.

[01:06:43] There's a lack of jobs out there because I'm not willing to learn new skills or work more than five hours a week for anything less than say $200,000 per year. Of course, there's going to be a shortage of jobs for me. What about older professionals that are above 50 years of age, [01:07:00] which German companies in particular love to discriminate against.

[01:07:03] And why are you still expecting the date of birth on CVS? What possible insights do you expect from that information? Other than to discriminate against older professionals? Why not just substitute the date of birth with the candidate shoe size? Or think of mothers in maternity leave. Most companies are pretty slow in allowing employees to work from home.

[01:07:21] Why not let your employees take care of their children and work from home? Shouldn't the result by itself matter and not where and how your employee achieved these results. And funny enough with the current Rhona virus jobs that were not possible remotely are all of a sudden possible because they are forced to do isn't that convenient. Remember the time before there was online banking, does it really matter from where you do your banking nowadays? Of course it doesn't. So why not apply the same thinking with your most valuable asset you have in your company? I get it. We humans and companies too, can get very creative in making up excuses on why not to do [01:08:00] something or try, but during our interview, Rebecca dismantle almost every possible excuse companies like yourself have to avoid hiring neurodiverse people.

[01:08:10] For company is not quite ready yet to hire such people. You can outsource your project to companies such as or others, and have these talents solve your complex problems or have these talents work alongside your current team and gain some experience with working with neurodiverse people. Now, is it going to be an easy fix?

[01:08:30] No. you make mistakes along the way helped you while you learn and become a better and more inclusive company. And he, because of it, absolutely. And for you to be able to hire people from all walks of life, not just autism or any other disability, you need to stop relying on social skills. When it comes to height, your companies need to stop the compulsive behavior of forcing or.

[01:08:51] Retraining people on the spectrum to behave more like non-autistic people and change your interview process. Remember the list of things that you are [01:09:00] not supposed to do. And an it job interview is practically the definition of autism as the Silverman. The author of NeuroTribes a book, which looks at the evolution of autism.

[01:09:10] So eloquently said, you don't need to say you require X number of years of this or that or the other. Or these degrees and certificates, because sorry to break it to your HR people at the end of the day, those things, very little correlation with on the job performance for anyone, especially in a more volatile and uncertain world here, I'll cite one of the many studies for you.

[01:09:32] The Florida state university reviewed 81 studies to look for a link between employees work experience and his, or her performance in a new organization. Guess what they found. They found no significant correlation between the two, even when people had complete tasks, held roles or worked in functions or industries relevant to their current ones, it did not translate into better performance.

[01:09:55] So the conclusion experienced does not predict a new hire success [01:10:00] and share does a really good example of this. Remember at the beginning of the interview where he mentioned he didn't have any experience in social work, but was able to solve a pressing problem. His wife had. That actually had expense, extensive experience and formal training in social work, but yet Chad, with his very different, tech background and has personal experience with ah, fantastic people, he was able to solve this problem.

[01:10:23] And it often takes people from very different backgrounds to solve a very. Big or complex problem. Even the inventor of the digital camera, Steve Sasson wants seamlessly, said innovation best comes from people who really know nothing about the topic. And that's something we tend to forget. So you need to focus on strengths and not deficits.

[01:10:44] And look for two things during the interview process one coachability. So giving someone feedback and see how well they do. And secondly, learning agility. Throw a bunch of new tools at someone and see how well they can learn it. So that concept really stuck with me. And as a result, [01:11:00] you can take someone who has never done the thing that your company is hiring for, and still have a very high degree of confidence that you've found someone that will not only be good at their job, but really great at it.

[01:11:11] Large companies, such as SAP and Microsoft are already leading the pack with their neurodiversity programs in 2013 SAP launch there. Program where they employ currently 160 artists across 13 different countries. And as a PS autism at work program has a 90% retention rate of hires on the autism space from because it creates a system of support around those employees.

[01:11:37] So something that Rebecca and Chad mentioned in regards to audit cons, very high retention rate and similar results can be found at Microsoft program. And it even makes better managers. As these companies have proven, I would even argue it's better than any expenses. So seminar for your managers. And if governmental agencies such as the GCA que and the Israeli army have neuro device [01:12:00] programs, Kent, your private company.

[01:12:02] And finally, also want to address those out there, listening that feel out of place under appreciated different, have a disorder or disability, and want to encourage you by saying. You should look at yourself as a color. You may not be everyone's favorite, but one day you'll meet that someone or that company who needs you to complete their picture or their team.

[01:12:24] And there's also a famous quote is sums us up quite nicely as well. The razor blade is sharp, but it can't cut a tree. The ax is strong, but can't cut a hair. And essentially that means that everyone is important according to his or her own unique purpose. And that's why you should never, ever look down on someone unless you're admiring their shoes as the old adage girls.

[01:12:46] You're perfect. Just the way you are, and you shouldn't feel the need for any blending or social camouflage. So I hope I could at least encourage some of these are very reluctant companies to do different things, to hire different people, [01:13:00] even if they act completely different, even if they lack basic social skills they might also have, and that you just have not discovered yet, or that's completely untapped.

[01:13:09] So don't be afraid to hire very good from people. And yes, it's going to be uncomfortable. People that are different will challenge your. Current views that you have the current processes, the current culture, but that's a good thing.

 


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This podcast looks at innovators and companies that are changing the game and how they took their initial idea and created a game-changing product or service, while giving you unique perspectives and insights you’ve probably haven’t heard elsewhere.

David and his guests discuss real-world practical advice on how to best harness the creativity of your employees and go from idea to product or service that has the potential to radically transform your business.

They also share lessons they’ve learned along the way to effectively accelerate, incubate and scale innovations within small, medium and large enterprises, all while separating hype from reality and replacing bullshit bingo with common sense.

The show is hosted by David C. Luna, author, keynote speaker and founder of GAMMA Digital & Beyond.

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