ADHD for Smart Ass Women with Tracy Otsuka #13 Ep 248 Educating Neurodivergent Students with Former NYU Professor and Author Sivan Hong
We think when we are 20 years old that this is the only way. Right? We see this linear path. You go to college, you get an internship, you get a job, and that's what you do for the rest of your life. And that is just not true ever. That's so limiting. If you stick us in a box and leave us in that box, we are never gonna meet our greatest potential. If you would have asked me 10 years ago, I thought you'd be crazy that I was an author, and then I'd be doing podcasts.
Thomas Edison, Richard Branson, John f Kennedy, Mozart, Michael Jordan, Will Smith. That sounds like a list of highly successful titans in a variety of occasions. Why is it that we rarely hear that they have or had ADHD? And you know what we hear even less about? Serena Williams, Emma Watson, Mel Robbins, Whoopi Goldberg, Agatha Christie, Erin Brockovich, Cher. Yeah. The successful women navigating ADHD, and that's exactly why I started this podcast, ADHD for smart Ask women. I'm your host, Tracy Otsuka. I'm a lawyer, not a doctor. A lifelong student, now a coach.
I'm also the creator of your ADHD brain is a okay, a system that helps people like you figure out what they should do with their life. And we're here today to talk ADHD, your strengths, your symptoms, your work arounds, and how you proudly stand out instead of trying to fit in. I credit my ADHD for some of my greatest gifts. And you know what? I spy a happier life for you too. So without Further ado? A shiny new episode is starting now. Hello. Hello. Hello.
This is Tracy Otsuka. Thank you so much for joining me here for episode number 248 of ADHD for smart ass women. I hope you'll subscribe to this podcast and our newsletter at And you know but my purpose is always to show you who you are and then inspire you to be it. In the thousands of ADHD women that I've had the privilege of meeting, I've never met a one that wasn't truly brilliant at something, not one. And so, of course, I am just delighted to introduce you to Siobhan Hong. I got that right, Siobhan.
You did. You did. Brilliant.
Brilliant. Wonderful. So Siobhan Hong is a dedicated professional with over 2 decades of experience across multiple industries and roles. This includes esteemed positions as a professor at New York University Stern School of Business and as a former partner at the Bridgespan Group. In her current endeavor, Siobhan is the author and illustrator of the best selling children's book series, The Super Fun Day Books, of which I have one of them. Yay. Hi. Which celebrate the triumphs of neurodiverse children as they face challenges with determination and courage.
Her work has been recognized by NBC and News 12. And beyond her writing, Siobhan is an active trustee on the board of the Rita Allen Foundation, where she contributes her expertise and passion for making a positive impact. Outside of her professional life, Siobhan is a devoted mother devoted wife, Mother too. Right?
That that makes you
totally lovely children along with her cherished dog and cat, and she resides in Connecticut. Siobhan, did I get all that right?
Perfect. Perfect. Wonderful. Welcome.
Welcome. Welcome. Well, as you probably know in this podcast, we always start out with the ADHD story. So would you mind sharing yours with us?
Sure. So like many of us, with a later diagnosis of ADHD, You and I was younger, growing up in the seventies eighties, nobody really looked at girls and said, oh, you have ADHD. Right? That just Wasn't a thing. It was always this, this boy thing, the boys who couldn't sit still and jumped around and whatever. It was never a girl thing. So nobody ever raised it. And when I became the mother of 2 incredible boys who also both have ADHD, They were diagnosed. And suddenly I started to say, you know what? There's a lot of what goes on with them that goes on with me.
And my husband, who is the least ADHD person on the planet, would stop and look around the house and be like, Which one of these things doesn't belong? And it was clearly him. And so my kids said, look, we went through the testing, and they were little, but we went through testing mommy, you have to go do it too. So I was like, okay, I'll go. And, and I came back and I was like, I have ADHD. And they all high fived me and they said, welcome come to the club, mom. And my husband just shook his head and was like, of course you do. Like, have you ever watched you unload the dishwasher? Right? Like 3 dishes get put away and then you go off and do something else. And eventually, in the course of the day, all of the dishes get put away.
But it is never in a linear kind of streamlined process. And so it wasn't a huge surprise, but I wasn't diagnosed until I was 47.
Okay. So a lighter in life diagnosis. So once you knew it was ADHD for certain, and you had the benefit of hindsight. What are some of the symptoms that you always wondered about, but now you recognize them as, oh, duh, it was ADHD. So
I have this incredible need to fidget all the time. And even as we are talking, I have a fidget in my hand because I could never sit in front of a computer without a fidget. But again, back in the seventies and eighties, when I grew up, The word fidget was a complete unknown and they didn't have such things. And I used to literally take the metal dry cleaning hangers out of the closet and sit there and bend them because I needed something to use as a fidget while I was doing whatever it was I was doing, watching in TV or talking on the phone to my friends. I could never just sit still. My other challenge was, was around focus. You know, so many of us see this, but for me, it was around reading and writing and spelling. I could not spell for the life of me.
And it wasn't that I don't have a brain and couldn't actually memorize it. I just could not focus on it. It was not something that interests me. And I remember coming home from 2nd grade with a literal f on my report card. Again, that's what they did in the seventies eighties, in spelling because that was not the way my brain was going to work. And, and, and it impeded my ability to kind of love books and love literature and love writing. Because as I would read the page, I would skip 5 sentences and then get to the next thing and sort of get a sense of what I was reading and get a sense of what I was reading enough to get through, but not really to the point of enjoying it. It was absolutely kind of a huge labor for me.
And it was one of those things that when I finally got the diagnosis, it was part of me, there was a sense of anger. And I think many of us go through this when you get diagnosed late in life that you're like, wait a minute, like, nobody noticed this? Like, This was so kind of textbook obvious. And I had to struggle and fight through that and think over and over and over again, that there was something wrong with me because I would see all of my friends sitting with the book and devouring it and enjoying it. And for me, It was something that was completely inaccessible. And so in hindsight, I wish I had known. Right? It would have done wonders for my self STEAM, it would have done wonders for my sense of self. And of course, I had the benefit of, you know, later on in life life when audiobooks became more accessible. I remember listening to them as tapes in my car.
I started to love literature and loved books and and saw what was the big deal that I never was able to understand before.
Shavon. Yeah. Do you think that maybe you have dyslexia? I mean, it's on the spectrum.
You don't have dyslexia.
So it was not paying attention.
It was not paying attention. It couldn't grab me enough for an a sustainable amount of time Uh-huh. To be able to get me to focus on it. Right? Because I was tested for that. That was something people knew about and that was not it. But the way I think about it now is that if we had had audiobooks, I would have jumped to them. Yeah. And, you know, what I tell my kids who also have similar challenges with focus on reading is that you would never tell a blind person that they don't read because the words come into their brain through their fingers.
Yeah. So why would you tell a neurodivergent person that they don't read if the words come in through their ears?
It doesn't matter how the language and the beauty of the writing shows up in your mind. What matters is what you do with it there. And for me, this is a different way than I'm able to access that. And now absolutely love it. And I read over a 100 books a year. Because I can't put them down. There's always something going on with the book. And again, I'm able to read and do something else.
Right? I can walk
through it. Reading such a social
construct too. Right? We've decided that that's how Yes.
You test someone's intelligence, and whether or not they can learn.
That's right. One of the stories I tell my kids is is, but, you know, the movie Oppenheimer recently came out, but there's this scientist called Niels Bohr and he's a Nobel prize winning physicist. And he was the guy who figured out a structure of the atom. And he was one of Oppenheimer's teachers and mentors. And he couldn't write his own dissertation because He couldn't sit there and have the focus to literally write out stuff because his brain was going too fast. So his mother had to write it for him. He never wrote anything. And yet he was easily one of the most brilliant men of his generation.
But if you had judged him on how well he could write an essay in school, you would have given him an f. So it doesn't matter the path these things take, what matters is the end result. What matters is what you do with that information.
Completely, absolutely, 100% hallelujah. So are you combined type?
I am. Yes. Very much up.
Fairly physically hyperactive. You were telling me about Fidget. But Yes. I've never met Someone who is purely hyperactive. I don't even know if there's such an animal because I think there always is that component where, you know, The thinking,
thinking, thinking, thinking. Keeps go I think it for me, they're just connected. Yeah. They're so connected. But, Yes. I agree with you. I'm not sure I've never just I've ever met just the hyperactive type. But apparently, they exist.
So Yeah. I can't find his
cell phone. You know? It's a elusive animal somewhere in the woods. So tell me about your experiences with ADHD around emotion.
So for me, I can be very grounded, which is interesting because It takes a lot for that spike to show up for for that time where, like, you know, suddenly I look and feel like I've lost control of those emotions. The bar is really, really, really high. Yeah. But when I hit that bar, then it's a complete kind of disaster. And I have learned over time, obviously, the triggers for what sets me in that space. And I tend to have a lot of sensory challenges, which again, I had no idea about before. I just thought that I was an introvert. And so I didn't like to be in rooms with lots of people, but it's really the noise and, and all of those inputs.
And those are the things that can set my emotions going. And I need to find a quiet place to kind of decompress and bring it all back. But but it took a long time for me to figure out that that was the kind of thing that would trigger.
What about things like stuff and clutter and, you know, like you walk into a big box store.
Yes. Oh, does that bother you too? You will never see me in Walmart. And, and I thank goodness for Instacart because I never have to step foot into a Costco again. Right? Like, those places are not where you would find me. Never. Yeah.
I don't know why I'm okay with Costco. And I think it's because over the years, I know where everything is. And you know how when you walk into Costco, Everything kind of feels brown to me. Yeah. I think we're
the warehouse. Right. Right. It's not so pretty.
But but, I mean, I don't consider Walmart pretty. To me No fan of visual pollution. Right? Because there's so much color and so much stuff and frankly, so much
crap. Yes. I agree. I agree. And look, I, I find that in my house. Right? Like I am constantly getting rid of things. Mhmm. I'm got like, Mary Kondo has nothing on me.
Like, I am cluttering 247, and my poor kids, when they come back from sleepaway camp, they're like, well, what happened to this and this? And I'm like, yeah. And it disappeared. Oops. You're 4 member.
No. I'm I am and I think when you hear people talking about ADHD, The supposition is always that your house is a big disaster. Your car is a big disaster. And that's not true for many of us. I think for a lot of us, I can't think. I can't function if there's clutter. I I call it visual pollution. I just cannot.
So everything has to be in its place. And I'm probably the opposite, a little neurotic about it.
Oh, I couldn't be anymore like Thank you. Right? Like, no one's allowed to eat in my car. And, like, everything has to be and my kids are like, why are we always 5 minutes early? Because I'm like, you don't understand if if I am not 5 minutes early, we will never show up. Yeah. Right? Like, this is what I need Mhmm. To keep my life in order. And if one little thing is out of place, the whole house of cards comes down. Right?
So Yeah.
This is what I need, and this is just the way it is.
Yep. And I'm the mom and that's why.
That's right.
Okay. What about, and I guess this would be growing up, but, you know, we can also talk about today. What about the social stuff? Has that ever been a
challenge? It hasn't actually been that much of a challenge for me. And again, we all, you know, we are a spectrum term 2. People talk about autism and being a spectrum, but we really are a spectrum. And, you know, when I look at my kids, they certainly don't have any issues with visual clutter whatsoever, and they have ADHD. Right? So for me, that was never one of those things.
So I don't think I had that issue when I was younger either. I remember my mom coming into my bedroom, it being a disaster. My drawers were such a mess that there was no point. She just literally pulled it out, like, to try to reconstruct it. She would pull the drawer out and she would dump it all on the floor. And I would have to start from square one because it was such a mess. Yes. At school, I was the one where the teacher would, you know, be opening up desks and it'd be like, Oh.
And then she would throw all my stuff up, you know, on the floor. Were we still like
that too? It this I feel like we've become this way Yeah. As a tool to help us survive in a world that isn't so chaotic. Yes. Right? Like, we if we weren't like this, we would fall apart. Right? So we've learned to be this way over time, but it's not our natural
state. No. Absolutely not. So The social stuff was not a problem. Is that what you said?
It was not a problem.
No. Okay. Do you actually find that that might be one of your gifts?
Yes and no. So yes, because it can be when I want it to be. And no, because I'm a huge introvert. But I'm one of these introverts that fakes being an extrovert whenever I need to be. And I can turn that on whenever I want. So it hasn't been a problem, but the real me is the person that never wants to go out and wants to sit in my pajamas and, like, binge Netflix, or a book, or whatever it is. But I can become that person. Right? I can put on that mask and be that person when I need to be that person.
However, is it a struggle meaning, okay, I've got this dinner that I have to go to tonight. I don't really want to go. And if I had my choice, I'd wanna stay home. But once I get myself out the door and I show up, I love
it most of the time. Mhmm. Right? Like so many of us, you know, I always ask my husband, I'm like, how many people are gonna be at this? And how many of them do I Actually, no. And how many of those people do I like? As we've gotten older, I think many of us Women have said, we are not gonna be social to be social. We are going to be more exclusive about who we let into our inner circle and keep those really good friends close. And I think that's what I do. And so when I go to one of those events with with somebody who I adore, then it's easy and fun. But unless they're in that inner circle, then the mask is on and the mask stays on all
night, which that isn't
fun. No. And then it comes home and I'm exhausted and I need, like, 2 days to kind of recoup
How do you do that with young kids? Because I remember when our kids were young, We literally had something every day. It was and I am a extrovert off the charts. I've gotten more introverted as I've gotten older, which is weird, but I know I have. I was overwhelmed by all of that, and I cannot imagine. And when we use extrovert and introvert, assuming we're using the same definition where you get your energy.
Correct? Ex
internally or from other
people. Okay. So So this is perfect because it circles back to what we were talking about earlier. I literally sit at the basketball game with earphones in listening to an audiobook. Uh-huh. Right? And and I'll take it out to say, hi, how are you, whatever. And then I put it back in. And, and I get to there and watch 2 kids basketball games with all the noise and all the inputs and all the people and all the chaos and just zone into my own little space.
And I do that quite often. And, you know, some people may think I'm being rude and I'm sorry for that because I'm not that's not really the intent. Mhmm. The intent is how do I get through this in a way that allows me to be present for my kids when they're done with the game and we're in the car and the ride home, and that I don't need to just kind of chill out. Right, that I can be there for them because that's the
priority. And there aren't parents who just constantly come over and bug you?
Yes and no. Some of them will get the hint quickly and then some of them don't, but, but then I can put on my, you know, leave me alone face. And Again, I'm not trying to be rude. I'm just trying to get through the basketball, the kids' basketball game in the way that makes Possible for me to not fall apart at the end of the
day. Okay. So let's talk about this. Why did you decide? And I don't know if I mentioned the books. I wanna mention the name because I think it's important for what we're talking about here. So, Benny j and the horrible Halloween, George j and the miserable Monday, Emily d and the fearful first today and Avery, is it c? G. Avery g. Yeah.
Scary end of school. So Why did you decide to write these books? How did all this come about?
So I realized that when my kids were really, really young, that they needed tools to get through some of the challenges and anxiety and worries that come along with having ADHD. And we know, particularly with young kids, that change can be very, very hard. Mhmm. And these books are actually true stories of things that happened to my children and how we ended up working through them. And so the example of Benny Jay and the horrible Halloween was that my son was in kindergarten and there was a Halloween parade at school and he had his costume on and I couldn't get him out of the car. And I'm like, what do you mean? It's a Halloween. It's cool. This is like the Best day ever.
You're gonna have a parade. There's gonna be snacks. Everyone's in costumes. Could not get them out of the car. No way. You sat in the car for the whole hour and a half of the Halloween parade. And when the whole thing was over, I could get him into school. And I felt as a parent, like, I had what have I done wrong? Like, I have just completely failed this kid because I just assumed that his experience was going to be typical and it's not typical.
Right? And so, what were the things going on for this child that would make a different day at school feel scary? And so, we started to talk about them. And so, it's, you know, all of a sudden the schedule is different. Well, That's a big deal. Right? Like, when you're used to having reading time, the first thing when you walk in and it's not gonna be like that, That can be hard. Or all of a sudden, all the kids are wearing costumes. So what if I don't recognize my friends? All of these worries came out and we were able to learn what they were, understand those worries, and then put a plan in place to help him so that the following year, he would be able to come in and enjoy the Halloween parade. And he does. And so Each of these books are structured, very, very structured, in terms of laying out the child's worries and concerns, and then creating the solutions that come along with those concerns.
And there are little things in there that show you that these kids are neurodivergent, so they have fidget toys or they always talk about their schedule. I never used the specific terminology because the books are designed for kids, you know, from 3 to 8 or 9 years old. And Not all of these kids have been diagnosed. And frankly, not all of these kids have been told what their diagnosis is, and it's it's not surely not on me to force parents to do that. But it gives the kids the tools to talk about their worries and it gives the parents the tools or the teachers the tools to talk about the solutions to those worries, to make that change feel a little less daunting.
Yeah. And I think too that, you know, all of these diagnoses are spectral. So they may never be diagnosed. Right? That's right. They may have certain traits of, you know, ADHD or autism or learning challenges or whatever, anxiety. Yes. So Had you always wanted to write some books or was this purely for your kids?
So, No way. Because as you heard earlier, I hated reading and writing and anything that has to do with a book and can't spell for my life. And so this felt like the most absurd thing that I would ever come up with, but I did love to doodle. So I started doodling the illustrations and the characters. And
They were so cute. And that's when I was like reading this going, who does she do this? Like, You wrote a book, but you also made these
illustrations. I did. I did. You're creative. Thank you. Maybe it's just the control freak in me that did it, and I didn't trust anybody else. But I made them particularly simple. And I did this for a reason because I remember reading books to my kids with the most incredible illustrations.
And my child will look at the illustration. And in the far back of the picture would be like a little red bird on a tree that has nothing to do with the story. And the question would be like, well, why is the red bird there? Right? And because of the ADHD would distract them, You know, they're so distractible from what's happening. It would take the book off course. So my pictures are deliberately simple. My font is dyslexic friendly. And I actually, not surprising, offer my books all in audiobooks because kids like to learn in lots of different ways. And so I'm really trying to make them super accessible for neurodivergent kids.
But I'm also trying to make them accessible for neurotypical kids. Because one of my books, the one with the the child in Halloween, he needs to wear headphones because the Halloween parade's gonna be really loud. Mhmm. Well, if the normal typical kids in the classroom see a book with a child wearing headphones, and then they see a child in the classroom assume wearing headphones. Well, suddenly, that jumps out so weird. Yeah. Right? We normalize these differences. We normalize the fidget toys.
We normalize as the funny bouncy seats that these kids may need to use in order to get through the day. And then it becomes okay. Right? It becomes something that isn't seen as
different. What are the future plans for the series?
I have a holiday book coming out, which is the first one that hasn't that doesn't have anything to do with school, but it was something that parents had asked me to write. Because as we know, there's a lot of change that happens in the winter holidays and the house looks different and the flashing lights and the noise and the guests and all the things that come along with that. So that book will be released soon. And then I have to figure out and see what's next. But so far, there's been a really nice demand for the books. Every one of my books has been number 1 on Amazon for children's books with disabilities. So there was a need. And, you know, less than 1% of children's books out there are for neurodivergent kids.
Yeah. And, you know, there's so many more kids than that. And so I just love hearing when any author comes out with a book, a kind of help our kids and help them see how incredibly cool they are.
When did you start writing these and how many do you have now if you include the one that's coming out during the holiday?
I have 5 now. They're all also in Spanish.
And Of course, they are.
I love it. You know the type. This is who we are. Right? We never do anything like small.
But this happened like after COVID. Right?
They I started writing them during COVID. And I had this Hubert that was like, oh, sure. I can do this. I had no idea what I was doing. I was a complete neophyte. And I released my Halloween book in February. Because it didn't even dawn on me that, like, why would you release a Halloween book in February? Why not? But that's when it was done. Right.
And So, but it still went to number 1 in its category. And I was like, okay, I'm onto something. And so I had already done the one about Mondays because the school anxiety that my son was facing, particularly about Monday morning, was huge. And so I was able to release that one fairly quickly. And then it took me a little bit to do the other ones. But I hyper focus when I start working on these, like, It's just like, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. And then it's good. And then the hard part is, you know, talking about them and getting the word out.
Right. What would your advice be for parents of kids
with ADHD? Focus on their positives. ADHD is such an incredible strength. It gives us kind of a perspective of the world that other people don't have. And unfortunately, as we know, our kids hear over and over and over again, how they are wrong because the education system doesn't fit them and the world doesn't fit them. And it is up to us to constantly point out all of the things that they do and they are, that is absolutely incredible because if we don't, how are they going to see it? Right. That with on us to not be like, you didn't clean your room well. Right? Like, who cares? It's on us to be like, I can't believe you came up with this incredibly creative story. Good for you.
Right? Like, we have to focus on the things that matter and on their strengths.
I absolutely love that. And I couldn't agree more. I'm curious with the school system that they're in. They're in Connecticut. You have a really strong education system, right, in Connecticut?
So what particularly in the town that I live in, Yeah. Pentagon has one of the largest education gaps in the United States. But in the town I live in, we have one of the best public school systems in the country.
And what about for neurodivergent kids? Is it still, do you think one of the best or are they missing the
mark? So, I had to pull 1 of my kids out, send them to private school because my kids are two e. Yeah. Which for people who don't know it twice exceptional, which means they test gifted, but then they also have ADHD. And that is a hard mold for any school to fit. Right? And public education is not designed very well to hit kids at the tips of the standard deviations. Right? Like, they do a really, really good job with 90% of the kids. But it's hard to do it for the others. And so I spend a lot of time kind of enriching them on my own and working with them on my own.
And I feel like I'm lucky that I have the resources to be able to do that. And yet that you still would get a better education here than most places. But it's hard for kids who are in a system that's not designed for the way their brain works. The private school my son goes to, he has 3 different classes a day that require movement, in addition to recess and and snap time, because they recognize how important movement is to
learning. For all kids.
For all kids. But but until we can get that into the public school system, it's not there yet. And they're in like the most incredible district and the most welcoming and supportive. And when I give them ideas, they listen. So my older son needs multiple inputs to think clearly. So, you know, when he watches a movie, he's also playing on his switch. He couldn't just sit there and watch the movie. Like, he needs multiple inputs.
So I was able to go to his 4th grade teacher and say, He's going to play on his Rubik's cube while you teach. It doesn't mean that he's not listening to you. It actually means he is listening to you. So let him sit there and solve the Rubik's cube over and over and over again. He's not distracting anybody else. And he will actually be able to learn. And his teacher was amazing and was like, Great, fine. Let's try it.
And it worked. But most teachers are not gonna be able to do that or may not be willing to do that because They don't know that that's actually how this child learns. He's not going to be staring at you and listening. That's not the way their brains work. That's not the way they learn. And so often, it's like eyes on us, you know? And Right. The eyes on us thing, That doesn't work for kids with ADHD.
Absolutely. So I know That you like talking, and this is a perfect segue. You like talking about the future of educating neurodivergent students. And so When I got your email and I saw that you were a professor at Stern, former professor, you're not doing that
anymore. No.
Okay. So then you can really talk to me, can we? Our brains want it all. We love anything that is new, bright, sparkly, different, but that's often what keeps us distracted and feeling all over the place. So I have something that I know can help you. It's my free master class called, what do I do with my life from chaos to confidence? This popular class will give you the tools to make faster, more confident decisions that actually serve you so you're doing what you really want to do instead of what others are telling you that you should do. You know, we try so hard to fit in when in reality, That's the problem. With our ADHD brains, our brilliant ADHD brains, we're not meant to fit in. We're actually meant to stand out.
So that begs the question, where are we actually meant to stand out? Join me at spy happy dot me forward slash mc. That's spy happy dot me forward slash m c, and let's find out together. Now let's get back to our podcast. I saw that you were a professor at Stern, Which is the school of business at NYU. And so I have a daughter who graduated from NYU during COVID, and she's now in law school, never had a problem with school, always A top achiever. And so, of course, I thought
that it
it must be because of our brilliant parenting. Right?
Of course. And we take a lot of
credit. In her class, she went to a Catholic school. In her class, there were Almost 40 kids, and I think 9 girls, and the rest were boys. And I would look at some of these boy parents with the kids that were climbing up the walls, and I would think, Why don't you get your crap together? Right? So judgy, so certain that it had to do with parenting. And then I had Marcus.
Being a boy mom is a whole different story.
Oh my gosh. Well, you know, I think my daughter actually does have ADHD. She's been talking about it for a while, but her ADHD looks more like my ADHD and probably more like your ADHD because you must have been a very strong student once you figured out the reading thing.
Yeah. Yeah. I I was. It just took me 10 times more work to do it. Right. Me too. Then right.
Yes. But I it's always in her head kind of stuff, and that's what I see and how she like, the emotional regulation when something goes wrong. She just gets super anxious and just winds herself up. And I'm I'm less like that, so I almost wonder if she's more ADHD even than I am. But anyway, my son got into NYU. He got into, Tish as a rapper.
That's unbelievable. That is amazing. I think that's the best thing I've heard all
month. But what he rapped about was The model minority. You know, he's half no. He's a quarter Japanese. And so, you know, the internment camps and all of that. So, you know, he at least was smart enough to take his rap because that's not what he was rapping about before. I mean, I used to just be, Marcus, no. You know? So that's what he did.
He got himself into NYU. Of course, he got there and he decided he loved finance. He loved economics. He loved and he's always been like that. He's always been the kid, didn't do particularly well in math starting in high school. Once he's dyslexic. He has dyslexia and he has ADHD. And once they started mixing up the numbers and the letters, that's when he started to have more struggles.
However, he's one of those kids that just calculates everything in his head. So he decided that, you know, he wants to study finance. Well, You know the deal with NYU and we were literally just talking about this last week. The frustration of How difficult it is at NYU if you start in a certain school, certainly to get into Stern. I mean, it's literally impossible. It's harder than getting into Harvard to make that switch. And so his comment to me was the kid and he has a lot of friends that are in Stern. He's now a senior, by the way.
The comment he made to me is that, if you don't start out literally in high school working towards this goal, You just cannot compete. You haven't had the internships. You don't have the contacts. You haven't been part of the clubs, and it's impossible to get in. And so he didn't even bother to apply to Stern because he knew given you know, he did not do well in high school. So he knew given his track record, all of that stuff. No summer internships. He hadn't taken the advanced math, so he was at a disadvantage.
He couldn't do it. And he was so frustrated because even now he says There are so many classes that he wants to take, you know, finance type classes. But because he's not in Stern, he can't take them. And so if you're not on that path early on, you just can't get on it. Right? You can't take the classes that you need. You can't get the internships. You can't get into the clubs, and we know that the ADHD brain, the neurodivergent brain is often 3 plus years behind, so, you know, it takes us some time to catch up. What do you advise? What he ended up doing is he actually did get a banking internship and he he liked it.
But then this last summer, because he had he changed his major, he couldn't even get an internship. So we ended up and I can't remember what the certification was, but he just spent the summer getting a certification that nobody has when they get out of school. And it's I think it's a like a 6 month program. He did it in 6 weeks. The 3 hour exam that apparently you have to keep retaking because people don't pass it. He passed it the 1st time and it didn't take him 3 hours. It took him, I think he said 23 minutes. He aced the accounting, so can teach himself anything.
He cannot sit in a class well. And now he can, because now he's sort of learned, he's trained his brain.
But what do you do? What does
a kid like that do? Because he's beyond frustrated. He wants to get there, and he's thinking, I think I need to go and get a master's. Like, he doesn't know what else
to do. So in this particular case, he's right. He should go get an MBA. Not because of what he's going to learn in the classroom at all. That's not the value of an MBA. You can teach yourself everything that you would learn from it in academics, in an MBA. What he will learn and what he will get from that is a network of people who, your peer group from a good MBA program will be the ones that you rely on to help you in your career kind of further duration. And those programs all provide some are internships and things like that in access.
So even if you've never taken a finance class in your life, you could go in and do that. So for someone like him, that's what I would do without a doubt. It will help him jump ahead of where he's at. And finance is a great place for him because interestingly enough, many, many finance professionals are neurodivergent. Yeah. They really, they really, really are. And so he will find a good home there if that's his path. But When you think about this from a more macro perspective, we have a tendency to change our minds and get bored of things.
Yes. And then go on to the next thing. As an undergrad, I was a math and physics major, and then I ended up getting a master's in game theory. And then I ended up with a doctorate in international relations. And then I got an MBA. And in between that, I worked as a scuba instructor. And I did all these random things because we don't just pick 1 thing and go and that's it. And so that's okay.
Right? Like our path is not linear because our brains aren't linear. And we should just go with it because at every single point there, I learned something and I could bring something new to the table that the other people in the room didn't have. And so when I finally stopped going to school and got a career. I was able to move very, very quickly in consulting and very quickly in that path that I was looking at and was able to get a teaching job at at Stern, even though I didn't have a finance degree ever. Right? We think when we are 20 years old that this is the only way. Right? We see this linear path. You go to college. You get an internship, you get a job, and that's what you do for the rest of your life.
And that is just not true ever. Right? Like, particularly when you have a brain like ours, that's so limiting. We have so many different ways to see the world. We are so creative. And if you stick us in a box and leave us in that box, We are never gonna meet our greatest potential. If you would have asked me 10 years ago, I thought you'd be crazy that I was an author and then I'd be doing podcasts. I'm an introvert. What am I doing talking to people? Right? You're good at it, Siobhan.
You're fine. That that mask, we were talking about earlier, but he should not feel like the choices he made limit him at all. Great. The fact that he got into Tisch and was a rapper, he puts that on his resume, that will open so many doors because it shows how interesting and unique and brilliant he is. Because to be a rapper, you need to be a great poet. And that has a lot to do with mathematics. Right? These things are all related and the right company is gonna see that and they're gonna get it and they're gonna get him. Right? So these are all of the right steps he made.
He didn't make a mistake. His path is just gonna look a little different than his friends, but I guarantee that at the end of it, he will be so much further along than any of
them. Absolutely hear what you're saying. I think what he struggles with is unlike us, I know we had to
study a lot harder, but
we did well in school. He he can do he's actually a brilliant writer. So in the major he's in a he's in sociology. So in that major, he's like, mom, it's depressing as hell, but I'm good at it. But that's not what he wants to do. And so the thought of more school because he doesn't really believe in school. You know? He's like, It's the way schools teach that's the problem. And so why would this ever change? The system works for people in academia.
Right? They're That's course. Invested in keeping it the way it is because it worked for them. They don't understand.
But there are some MBA programs that look different. Oh, Okay. They do. Some of them it's only a year and part of the time you're working. And in MBA programs, it's a lot of group work. Right? You're not sitting there studying on your own. He hates working in a group. But Again, there are different programs.
He shouldn't just say, okay, this is what a typical MBA looks like, and this is the only model. Right? There are a bunch of different types of models for MBA programs that mix and match. And so he may not be sitting in a classroom. He may not be doing those traditional things. And they're all at decent school. So like, he just needs to do a little research. It's not one size fits all. It's not the way
undergraduate. It's
not. Mm-mm. And you're It won't feel that way.
And he's actually taking classes, hopefully. So it's not like undergrad where there's certain classes you have to take. You actually get to pick what you want to to do.
There will be some very basic classes that you will have to take to make sure that somebody, you know, who may not have an accounting degree has take it in accounting class. Okay. Okay. But it's usually a semester worth, and that's it. And if he's taken the class and has you know, can show that he's taken it, they're not gonna make him take it.
Okay. Well, thank you for that.
You're welcome. I was
like, stern professor, she doesn't know what she's in for.
Very serendipitous. Right. And it's a great school.
There's no question about that. And I think, honestly, that's his level of frustration. Most of his friends are in Stern. That's who he hangs out with. You know, he did a semester abroad in Prague, met everybody there, and he's like, these are my people. We think alike. We Yeah. They're just at a you know, they've had they haven't not had the struggle, and I think they figured out really early what they wanted to do.
But who knows, Siobhan?
Right. I think they may Right. They may not wanna do that anymore.
Exactly. I'm thinking, oh, well, their dad did that. Their grandfather Other did that. And so that's why they're doing it. And Marcus, like, we're like, why do you wanna go into that?
You know? Who knows? Like, my husband was an English major and now he works in finance. Right? Like Yeah. This path that again, when you're 20, you think there's only one way. Right. Right. And there's an infinite number of ways. And, and again, this path that he's taken will make him stand out. It makes him interesting.
Okay. Okay. And they do care about that.
They do care about that.
Okay. Because, you know, from the outside, you're thinking finance? Would they care?
No. No. They care. They care a lot, actually.
I love that. So what are the ADHD traits that you feel are responsible for your success?
I think early on, as we talked about, it makes us work harder.
Right? Oh. And and so getting to that level of kind of perseverance that we didn't have a choice but to have, I think is really, really useful. There's also for me, this sense of fearlessness. Right? That hubris I talked about earlier. Sure. I'll write a children's book. I know absolutely nothing about this. I may not illustrate it.
And, like, whenever like, That furolessness, I think is a huge gift. And again, for me, it's also this like creative thinking. Right? Like, I'm always looking at things differently. I'm always trying to come up with different solutions to things. Nothing is ever straightforward. And, again, that drives my husband crazy that it's never straightforward. But it's never straightforward, and that's a gift. Right? That's a huge, huge gift.
I agree. I love it. And do you have a number 1 ADHD workaround that you use often that you might wanna share with us?
I think for me, the biggest one is setting reminders on my phone. Like, and I know people talk about this, but like, I don't know how I ever lived without it. Like my phone and my watch are constantly going off and I'm like, oh yeah, that's oh yeah, that. Because it keeps me on task in a way that I would never be able to Yeah. Tasked otherwise. I just get I like hyper focus. And then I'm like, I remember in grad school, forgetting to eat. Like, I would just be like in my zone and like, that's not good for anybody.
So yeah. Especially not when other people rely on me and I'm a parent.
Yeah. Exactly. Exactly. There's a whole another level. Right? Yes. It's not just you. So, Siobhan, where can people find you? Where can they find your books? All that.
I am the only Siobhan Hong in the entire world, which is really great. So you can just look at my website,
I tried to find you. Okay. and then all the other because you're on Instagram. Right?
I'm on Instagram as sivan_hang_author.
That's why I couldn't find
you. Okay. And because I have a personal Instagram account because Meta doesn't let you have a, a professional Instagram account without personal Instagram account. Apparently, I was never on social media until I became an author. So again, because introvert here. I was just like, that's all like, oh, I have to market my bookstep was a complete shock to me. I thought it was gonna be like JD Salinger.
I could
fit in like a hole and no one would know why I was mistaken. But, yeah. So you can find me there. I post a lot about neurodiversity, and my feed really focuses on our strengths and and how to be positive parent. There's enough out there that tells us all the things that's wrong with our brain and what's what's wrong with our kids. I don't need to be another voice there. So, and then my books are in Amazon and Barnes and Nobles and all sorts of places like that. Everywhere where the books are sold.
Yes. But you can also get them on my website too. And I have, again, they're in Spanish. And I also have free parent and teacher guides for all of my books that were designed by a school psychologist, to help facilitate, you know, a conversation in a classroom with the books and those are free for download. That's brilliant. For me, it's all about getting them out there. If anybody says go become a children's book to make a lot of money, they are wrong. It has to be something that you do out of a passion for what you're doing.
You're mission driven, like
Exactly. I think all of us with ADHD. I love it. All of that will be in the show notes. Siobhan, thank you so much for spending time with us here today with your introverted little brain, The introverted big brain. Thank you. Thank you, Tracy. So that's what I have for you for this week.
If you like this episode with Siobhan. Please let us know by leaving a review. Our goal is to change the conversation around ADHD, helping as many women as we Possibly can learn how their ADHD brains work so that they too may discover their amazing strengths. As always, you're listening to ADHD for Smart Ass Women. Join me over at Thank you so much for listening, and I'll see you here next week. You've been listening to the ADHD for Smartass Women Podcast. I'm your host, Tracy Otsuka, and we're available on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, And Google Podcasts.
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