Today, I interview Carol Vincie who shares a compelling story of her journey to discover and embrace her own voice despite the challenges posed by Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Carol’s story reflects the struggle many face when dealing with these conditions, as she navigated a world that often misunderstands or stigmatizes them.
Carol’s lack of a voice revolved around her undiagnosed ADD. She lived for decades and decades with undiagnosed ADD. 30 years ago the person she was living with suggested she see a therapist. The therapist’s comment was “You have been far too successful to even consider ADD”. She closed the box on that discussion for another 3 decades.
When Carol discovered a name for her condition it took her 3 years to open her mouth to anyone. A coach spent another 2 years nudging her to realize her ADD was responsible for her vision, creativity, and boundless energy.
Her journey of self-discovery and acceptance ultimately led her to view ADD and ADHD not as limitations but as superpowers, unlocking a new perspective on how these conditions can be harnessed as strengths.
Carol’s mission and passion is to accelerate the discovery journey for entrepreneurial business professionals. To assist them to recognize their gifts and talents that come so easily they fail to value them. To provide direction to position themselves in roles that highlight their Super Powers.
Carol is a serial entrepreneur who started at 16, a successful corporate executive for 25 years, and a venture capital participant. She is a #1 best-selling author, a video Podcaster, a public speaker, and an online course creator.
Her mission is to shift the conversation from focusing on ADD and ADHD as deficits to celebrating strengths. Carol’s work includes a card deck that guides individuals through awareness, acceptance, and action, providing valuable tools for personal and professional growth. Through her inspiring journey, Carol Vincie encourages us to embrace our unique abilities and change the way we perceive and approach ADHD and ADD.
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Transcript of Interview
Transcript of Interview
Find Your Voice, Change Your Life Podcast
Podcast Host: Dr. Doreen Downing
Free Guide to Fearless Speaking: Doreen7steps.com
Episode #120 Carol Vincie
“Unlocking Superpowers: Embracing ADHD and ADD”
(00:35) Doreen Downing:
Hi, I’m Dr. Doreen Downing, and I’m the host of the Find Your Voice, Change Your Life podcast. What we do here is invite guests who have a story to tell about not having a voice. Not only that, but we get to hear what the journey was for them to find their voice. And I would like to say that voice isn’t just something you, all of a sudden someday go, “Hey, I have a voice.”
No, it really is a process to discover more of who you are. Actually, we have lots of voices, but the one that’s most powerful for you. The one where you are standing out in the world, standing up, expressing your truth. And that’s what we get today with Carol Vincie. Hi, Carol. Good morning. Carol is somebody I met online a couple of years ago, and her story is profound.
I’m very excited to share it with you today. I won’t tell you the details yet. Let me just give you a brief bio of what Carol sent to me. Carol is a serial entrepreneur who started at 16, a successful corporate executive for 25 years, and a venture capital participant. She is a number one best-selling author, a video podcaster, and a public speaker.
And an online course creator, and we’re going to hear much, much more about your life today, Carol, so that people can see the successful you. You’ve got your image in the background for people who are just listening. The video is happening, and I get to see Carol, and it looks like is this your book cover?
(02:36) Carol Vincie:
This is actually a card deck cover. A card deck could let me get into my story and then I will share how the card deck came to be.
(02:48) Doreen Downing:
Oh, this is exciting. Ready, set, go. Carol. You have a history. Let’s dive deep first. And that’s something that helps us know you better today by knowing who you were when you were growing up.
(03:08) Carol Vincie:
Thank you, Doreen. I grew up in a household where defects were not acceptable to reveal. Because you didn’t want to reveal any vulnerabilities, the demands of performance were extreme. I got a 98 on a math exam one time, and my dad wanted to know what happened to the two points. I also grew up at a time when very little was spoken about ADHD, which was assumed to be a little boy’s challenge that they grew up and grew out of, but nothing was spoken about it. And absolutely nothing was spoken about ADD or ADHD in females. Whether it be teachers being able to recognize it, or as recently as 30 years ago, the person I was living with at the time suggested I see a therapist.
And the therapist’s comment to me was, “You have been far too successful to even think about ADD.”
(04:11) Doreen Downing:
Oh my goodness, that’s shocking to hear. I’m a therapist, so I can’t imagine but it was 30 years ago, right?
(04:20) Carol Vincie:
It was 30 years ago but that’s not that long ago, while it is the last century, it’s not ancient history.
And so I went home, closed the box, and lived for another 30 years. With the overwhelm and struggling with behaviors that were out of the norm. One of the frustrations is that women are expected to carry so many more responsibilities in the household. Then our male partners or spouses, we give them grace. When that’s the absent-minded professor or they come home from work after an exhausting day, when you had the same exhausting day at work and yet you’re still responsible for a clean house, the meals being ready, the kids dropped off and picked up from appropriate school and social and after school activities on top of an exhausting day.
(05:16) Doreen Downing:
Yes, I’ve got a couple of things already happening for me as I listen to you. First, the early environment where there was a lot of expectation placed on you, and if you had this kind of high energy whatever ADD means for a young kid, it feels like you didn’t have enough room to be yourself.
(05:41) Carol Vincie:
Exactly. I was forced to conform, and the closest I came to understanding, I always sat next to a boy whose last name started with an S, and he during every class would sketch these incredibly accurate car images during class. And clearly, that was his gift. I have no idea what he’s doing now, but I’m hoping that he’s in some design role.
But the teachers would barely notice, or if they did, they’d just say, “Pay attention and move on.” And only 40 percent of teachers are trained to recognize the symptoms, even today. Medical doctors only get four to six hours in all of their medical training to focus on ADD or ADHD. And I use both terms, because a female colleague said to me once, if you only spoke about ADHD, I would have ignored your work.Because that’s my brother. Typically women don’t have the hyper characteristics. And yet a close friend of mine said your hyper behavior is your brain never stops, which is true, but I don’t fidget. No, some people are so fidgety with the activity that it can be distracting.
(07:01) Doreen Downing:
That’s a great distinction that you just made around your need to be physically going at high energy, but your brain is always.
(07:11) Carol Vincie:
Yes. And people say, when are you going to retire? And I don’t think I got the retirement gene.
(07:18) Doreen Downing:
So before we move on in your life some story that was great about the little kid in the class. What would be an example of you and your ADD early on in life?
(07:33) Carol Vincie:
What I discovered as I look back over my history, it’s one of the ways I managed it was with physical activity. I lived a mile from school, which was just inside the border of being able to qualify for a school bus. So I would walk a mile back and forth to school every day and sometimes twice if I had some other activity. And that physical activity, along with the fact that I’m trained as a classical pianist, which people don’t recognize, but it is a very physical activity provided that the exercise secretes additional dopamine in your brain, which is one of the things that science has proven is one of the deficiencies in the ADH or ADD brain. And so those physical activities, I think, close the gap in terms of the dopamine deficiency that allowed me to appear normal, if that’s an appropriate description of the condition.
I didn’t pick where my parents bought a house, I didn’t pick where the school was, but that gave me regular activity, and then in fifth grade, I started playing the piano, which I did through college, and when I started working, I started playing tennis. Again, another physical activity.
(08:57) Doreen Downing:
This is wonderful already. I’m learning so much about A D H D. Thank you for filling in some details that probably the listeners don’t quite understand, and this idea that you were also somebody who played music. I’ve heard that music does something for the brain.
(09:15) Carol Vincie:
Yes, there have been some studies that show, and there’s a half a dozen classical music, actually, recordings that will help people focus.
I played in an orchestra in high school, but nothing capable of performing some of the Brahms and Beethoven symphonies that they recommend. But, yes music was an essential part of my routine. And I remember, occasionally I would get lax and my mother would say, we’ll just call the piano teacher and cancel this week’s lesson.
And I would run to the piano and practice, and she used the same technique on my sister. My sister would run to the phone and dial the number.
(09:59) Doreen Downing:
I just think that you and imagining what I would imagine activity is, but sitting at a piano and then being infused, like you say, with whatever happens with classical music.
And to me, it feels like you naturally must’ve just found something that would be good for you, good for your brain. Isn’t that amazing?
(10:23) Carol Vincie:
Absolutely. My instincts are amazing. As a three and four-year-old, my nickname was Bunny. Because given a choice between a piece of candy and a raw cucumber, I actually picked the raw cucumber.
And this was years and years before nutrition was on the tip of anyone’s tongue. But I just knew that there was something about the candy that made me feel bad, whereas the cucumber was energizing. Yes, so and those instincts have carried through almost all of my life before I was able to put a label on my conditions.
(11:05) Doreen Downing:
Yes. Before we get into the labeling, whatever happened to the breakthrough of that we’re talking about voice. Before we can go forward. Let’s talk about you earlier in life. Like what you’re talking about up and through college. Probably. What about your sense of having a voice?
(11:26) Carol Vincie:
I was shy and people can’t imagine that at this point after the basic training in my 1st year job. My boss sent me to a Dale Carnegie class because I was so reserved and so shy. And then I joked they regretted that investment because after that I never shut up. But it just took a little bit of a nudge to uncover what was buried inside me. And it really was buried, but there was a lot there.
Oh, I love it. What strong opinions on just about everything.
(12:05) Doreen Downing:
Okay. Oh, that makes sense. Doesn’t it? From a family where you couldn’t speak up, but yet you had instincts, and you have ideas and you had perspectives and you probably have an amazing gift inside.
(12:20) Carol Vincie:
The banner that you see is for a card deck and one of the sections talks about the superpowers that come with the condition.
I do not address the defects and deficits. We’ve been beaten up. All our lives with that part of the condition, but I talk about being a visionary. Being creative, being a problem solver, having incredible energy. One of my colleagues talks about me as the energizer bunny because I’m always doing something.
And I go through a whole bunch of others because sometimes these gifts and talents come so naturally. To entrepreneurial business owners that they fail to value them. So I take people through the process of looking at each one of the 15 that I’ve identified and seeing what role it’s played in their lives.
(13:19) Doreen Downing:
Good. What was the breakthrough for you? I hear Dale Carnegie’s course helped release the inner voice and the voice that was strong and had opinions. It’s wonderful, but you still didn’t know you were or didn’t identify yourself as having a certain, I guess you might say, we’re talking about it as a superpower.
(13:46) Carol Vincie:
We’re not talking about it as a condition. What they’re talking about is superpowers. Again, my instinct came into play. And I can say this now because they can’t fire me after 25 years and a number of years of retirement, but I couldn’t write three lines of code if my life depended on it.
I actually had to plagiarize the COBOL and FORTRAN examples that were part of our training class for my study group. And I joke that if I wrote three lines of code, I’d bring every computer in the country to its knees. It didn’t click. My brain doesn’t work that way. And yet solving business problems was my strength.
So I was able to position myself in jobs that didn’t require technical support, but where I was able to work with clients and spent nine months in the back office of a brokerage firm with a team of six people documenting the paper flow in the back, in the cage, in the back office of a brokerage firm.
And we produced an 1100-page document in nine months, based on my abilities and my instincts. Interview people to recognize what the critical points were to find things that they really didn’t want to talk about because they were violating all the SEC rules that they should have been following. And again, that was instinct.
And when I went to school, they didn’t teach organizational development or any classes like that. I was a math major with an economics and physics minor. But again, that instinct, that craving and not being able to be satisfied with illogical answers, that there was something in my brain that drove me for a reasonable explanation of everything.
(15:41) Doreen Downing:
You told the story about the therapist who said, “Hey, you’re just way too successful or you’re waiting.”
(15:48) Carol Vincie:
Yes, I was far too successful.
(15:51) Doreen Downing:
And nothing’s wrong with you except for your ambition and success. But you accepted that for a while and you said you went on for another 30 years.
What was the breakthrough that you have this wonderful superpower and name?
(16:08) Carol Vincie:
I was invited to a seminar at UBS. The international financial firm. I was on the mailing list of one of the speakers and I thought that would be interesting. Let me attend. So I registered and showed up and this is another message that I want to get across to business owners, the partner who scheduled the meeting with his senior managers in the room and his opening comments to them were, I want you to pay careful attention to these three very successful male entrepreneurs because you have people on your staff who have these skills, they will not conform to the normal nine to five behavior that everybody else is required to show up at nine and stay till at least five.
But if you don’t treat them well, they will leave, go work for our competitors, and we will never catch up. And that is a well-informed visionary manager, because he recognized that there was something about us, and he probably couldn’t describe it in more than a couple of words. But the point that he said, we will never catch up because they have skills and talents that can’t be bought or taught.
Huh and then the presenter that I knew went through a list of 25 characteristics, and I was sitting there going, Oh, my God, that’s me. That’s me. That’s me. And so at the end of the seminar, I had a label for my condition, but for the next three years. Yes. I wouldn’t speak a word of it because of the negative stigma that exists.
Oh, yes. Everybody talks about the defects and deficits, how limited your abilities are. How you can’t do things, how you’re always having a messy house or have clutter or are late for meetings. And it was a coach that I encountered. She had a program, but she did an hour interview with each of the potential candidates to make sure that you were right for the group.
She just didn’t take your money and let you in. And in the last two minutes of the interview, I happened to mention ADD. And she goes, “Oh my God, why didn’t you say that earlier? That’s your unique selling proposition.” And I was like, zip her back off, right? For two years, she nudged and cajoled. And just kept supporting me until I was able to in small groups say, I struggle a little bit with this and I can’t do that.
And gradually, I became more comfortable. And as I became more comfortable, I was able to create this card deck. The card deck consists of three segments. Awareness of the symptoms, because one of the other statistics is about 50 percent of people with ADD or ADHD are dyslexic, so we’re not likely to curl up in the corner on a rainy day with a book, right?
Because that’s too hard work. And somebody sent me a report once that said, for dyslexics, it takes five times more energy to read.
So think about being on an exercise bike that you’re capable of pedaling, and then somebody raises the level five times and see how hard that is. So we don’t read. So a lot of us don’t know the symptoms. A lot of therapists aren’t aware. And one of the things that surprises even marriage counselors are families with ADD or ADHD, particularly when it’s the woman, a 25 times, 20 percent more likely to divorce.
(20:29) Doreen Downing:
Oh, you have all these statistics. You’re really informed before I hear the other two. I want to take a brief break and we’ll be right back. I’ll be here waiting.
(20:55) Doreen Downing:
Hi, we’re back with Carol Vinci, who is fascinating today, telling us all about ADD and ADHD. It’s a whole new view thinking of this. As being a superpower, not something that reduces you and makes you a little off from the mainstream, but makes you really valuable in so many circumstances, Carol’s done a deck, a card deck, and we heard about the first one awareness, and you had two more that you were going to talk about.
(21:30) Carol Vincie:
Yes, the second one is acceptance. The superpowers come, as I said earlier, so naturally to us that we sometimes fail to value them. And it takes people a while to really absorb that into their being to say, yes, I can do that. Yes, I’m actually excellent at that. And so let me raise my hand when somebody is looking for someone.
You may need those skills and position yourself to be recognized, and rewarded for that contribution to the growth of the business or a project. Because one of the other statistics you mentioned, I’ve been doing a lot of reading and research is that people with ADD or ADHD are likely to have a 17 percent lower income over the course of their lives.
So think about how that would impact your retirement payments, and the quality of vacation that you could go on. What you could provide for your family and then the third section, and this happened almost by accident. I was intending to have 30 cards in this deck, one a day. And then all of a sudden I said, “Oh, how unprofessional.”
I took people to the edge of this cliff and said, “Have a good day.” So the last segment is action. Huh. What steps are appropriate with this new information and insights that you might integrate into raising your hand more often for positions? Yes. Delegating tasks that you would never do if your life depended on it recognizing that you can’t do everything, right?
Yes, you can have it all, but not at the same time. You can’t even have all of the tasks that are required in your life. So figuring out how to outsource them with a virtual assistant, a part-time employee, and then build to full-time staff and just be comfortable with that. So what else? Are you in the right job? Are you getting recognized? Is it appropriate for you to change the other statistic, which I think is underestimated, it’s estimated officially that one-third of all small business owners have ADHD. Because we don’t play well in other people’s sandboxes.
(24:00) Doreen Downing:
That’s why you have to have your own. Make your own sandbox.
(24:03) Carol Vincie:
My experience is that number is probably closer to twice that number. And it is because we don’t follow rules. We’re not comfortable with the pace of promotions or responsibilities that work is allowed to have and then that has become the other part of my banner, which is you want to leverage these superpowers, not just accept them.
That’s the first step for you to say, okay, I recognize this is a superpower. I’m good at this. This is my contribution to the business. But then, how do I build a team that does the things that, as I said earlier, you wouldn’t do if your life depended on it? And I use this example, the 1 800 JUNK. Yes.
Trash trucks that look like they’ve always been hand carried from location to location because they’re always spotless and that thrived so much during the pandemic shutdown, because everybody was cleaning the attic and cleaning the garage and the local trash company said, wait a second our monthly fee is just for garbage, not for unloading everything in the attic was actually started by a guy who has continuous flow of creative ideas, but can’t execute.
So he was smart enough to hire a team that does the execution for him. And that’s part of what I do now, is to work with business owners, and organizations, to use what I quote from Jim Collins in his book, Good to Great, is get the right people on the bus and put them in the right seats. Recognize when you don’t have the skills, You need to accumulate a team that will cover the things that you won’t do or can’t do.
(26:02) Doreen Downing:
What you’re talking about is how you can be a leader and you don’t usually think that what you’re doing today is really bringing so much to the surface about a new perspective on what we can have around, and another thing is that you keep saying we, I love the way that you’re identifying yourself in the community. So it’s not like they, it’s we.
(26:28) Carol Vincie:
This whole program and routine is based on my personal journey. Yes, because I had to do my own acceptance.
(26:39) Doreen Downing:
Oh, yes. I heard about that. You told us it took three years and then another two years and I think that it seems like what I’m getting today and we’re talking about voice.
You are voicing and you’re standing out saying hurrah for us.
(26:55) Carol Vincie:
Exactly. Yes, I want to change that whole mindset and actually, when I started the card deck, it had a very different name, and when I changed it to Celebrate, that actually changed my personal energy as I was talking about it, as I was doing recordings, and that was interesting.
Just that single word made this huge difference. And one thing that people may say, I don’t know, how do I celebrate? I’m just barely getting through the day and now you want me to celebrate. It is a step-by-step process and that’s why there are 15 cards with various symptoms.
And I also asked people to create their own list because those were based on my personal experience. That’s not the only experience that’s out there. So I want people to use those as an example, and then create their own issues that they need to confront. Deal with, accept, and move on. And that may take more than one card a day.
And that’s also what I include in the videos that go with the cards. Is this your journey? It may take a day. It may take a week. It may take three months. But you need to give yourself that space and time.
(28:24) Doreen Downing:
Wonderful. Before we come to a close, I’d like to ask a question because typically we think of this as a diagnosis for young children.
Used to be young boys, but now it is girls or boys. What would you say? Is some of this applicable that can younger people relate to or help empower them?
(28:50) Carol Vincie:
I have never raised children, so I haven’t addressed children’s issues, but it is hereditary and it’s actually more hereditary than height.
So there is somebody in the household. You can blame it on the in-laws, as I say, but there’s some direct connection and it could also be the grandparents. If you understand your own behavior and your own struggles, that will help with children, but it was also suggested that I partner with somebody or people who do deal with children, and they might be able to use my material.
So there might be a partnership or an alliance or affiliate with this material. So I’m definitely open to that. But the material that I’m working with and the target market is entrepreneurial business owners. Yes. Not even franchise owners. Franchise owners are going to follow A, B, C, D, and E. In that sequence, because that’s the requirement of the contract that they’ve signed ADD and ADH people. Are you kidding me? There’s no way. I’m going to start at M and work in both directions.
(30:10) Doreen Downing:
One of the things that I get today is that what you are saying could help parents. Be more understanding in helping their children come to awareness and acceptance and take action early on in life. So I think that there’s lots of opportunity for what you’re talking about in your card deck to spread beyond business.
This is wonderful. Thank you so much.
(30:39) Carol Vincie:
For the parents to be patient with their offspring, it’s not a choice yes, we can focus on things that are interesting and challenging. So if you’re trying to get your child engaged in something, don’t make it a task, make it interesting, make it a challenge, make it exciting, because then they will be happy to follow directions and get it done.
(31:04) Doreen Downing:
Wow, so much yet to learn. Thank you. We’re coming to an end. Carol, I want to give you an opportunity to look back on what our conversation was today. And is there something else before we end that you would like to share?
(31:19) Carol Vincie:
I just want to summarize. Number one, it impacts both males and females.
We don’t grow out of it. We learn to mask the symptoms, but we’re still dealing with the internal struggle, and that takes a tremendous amount of energy to appear normal. So the risks of undiagnosed or unawareness, because some people have told me, I don’t want to label, I don’t need to know, but that impact on the drain on your energy is not positive. And you can accomplish a tremendous amount. You can have a huge impact, whether it’s at your job, in your family, or in your community, when you recognize the superpowers that come naturally. Thank you.
(32:08) Doreen Downing:
Yes, this is such a positive spin on ADD, and ADHD today. Thank you, Carol.
(32:18) Carol Vincie:
Doreen, I enjoyed it very much. I appreciate the opportunity to get my message out to more and more people.
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Get started now on your journey to your authentic voice by downloading my Free 7 Step Guide to Fearless Speaking: doreen7steps.com.
Get started now on your journey to your authentic voice by downloading my Free 7 Step Guide to Fearless Speaking: doreen7steps.com.