Autism, ADHD, and Entrepreneurship with Jeremy Nagel

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[00:00:00] Yvonne Heimann: Hey, Hey, everybody. And welcome back to Boss Your Business. And today I am extra excited to bring you Jeremy. Jeremy is a neuro divergent software developer turned startup founder. You sold your startup smooth messenger to message media in 2022. And you are now working at message media as a product manager.

[00:00:27] But you also have a new startup called Focus Bear, which is a productivity and work life balance app for people with ADHD. Welcome Jeremy. I'm happy to have you today.

[00:00:41] Jeremy Nagel: Great to be on the show. Thanks for having me.

[00:00:43] Yvonne Heimann: So I'm curious, you are a business owner with autism and ADHD. When have you been diagnosed and I'm curious if that was fairly simple in your case or if you had [00:01:00] struggles to get that diagnosed?

[00:01:02] Jeremy Nagel: I got a pre diagnosis with autism seven years ago. That was a process where I spoke to someone who was more of a counsellor. And they didn't actually have a medical degree or anything like that. So it's more of you might have autism. It seems pretty likely, but you need to get it confirmed. And that costs money.

[00:01:21] And that was a barrier to me at the time, because I was at that point running a business that wasn't very profitable. And I didn't have the 3, 000 available to splash out on a diagnosis.

[00:01:34] Yvonne Heimann: What? So seven years ago, how old were you at that point?

[00:01:39] Jeremy Nagel: 27.

[00:01:39] Yvonne Heimann: 3,000 at 27 is quite the, quite the bill, no matter what, how even that pre diagnose, how did that have an impact for you?

[00:01:52] Was that a moment of, Oh, now things are starting to make sense or did that pre diagnose had [00:02:00] any kind of impact on you?

[00:02:02] Jeremy Nagel: It did help in, in some ways, what it meant is that the self judgment that I had, because I had always found it very hard being in situations where there's a lot of background noise, and I'm trying to work as a software developer and people are talking around me.

[00:02:19] I couldn't really cope in that environment. And also realizing that I get very drained in prolonged social situations, especially if they're unstructured and if there's a lot of people and it feels very full on had always judged myself as basically being flawed. There's just something wrong with me. I can't do it.

[00:02:38] I'm unlike other people. And I didn't see that difference as being a good thing. I saw that as being, I'm not fitting in. I'm not good enough. So in some ways, getting the diagnosis was helpful in releasing some of that judgment. But I think actually at the time that I got that pre diagnosis, it also was potentially not [00:03:00] helpful because I started to live up to the stereotype.

[00:03:04] I was in a relationship at the time and I was on a trip with my ex girlfriend and it was meant to be a skiing holiday. I was meant to be spending time with her but I had work deadlines to do and I was spending most of the time when we got back to the lodge just working on my laptop and I remember her being really upset by that and saying, why aren't you even making eye contact with me?

[00:03:31] Why aren't you spending time with me? And I said something to the effect of, well, I'm sorry, I'm doing my best. I, I have autism. This is better than I've done in the past. And I don't think that's the right way to approach it. It's sort of me leaning into the, the challenges rather than noticing that those are challenges and actually explaining to her and saying, I, I care about you.

[00:03:57] I, I'm feeling a little bit [00:04:00] overstimulated at the moment and I, I need some time to myself.

[00:04:04] Yvonne Heimann: That's been a bit of a learning. Yeah. And I was, I was hoping exactly for an answer like that because I think a lot of us official diagnose or not. Finding that balance between, Oh my God, it finally makes sense. And, Oh, this is me now.

[00:04:30] And listening to you and you looking back at that. We can already tell that that has changed at some point. So how, slash, when did. You focus more on the advantages and how our brains work, how no matter if, if autism, ADHD, or neurodivergent in general, I like to look at the advantages [00:05:00] where it's like, if I get focused on something, I don't hear anything.

[00:05:05] I don't see anything. Don't even talk to me. I'm not going to listen, but it's just, I'm so focused on something. That's how it shows up for me. And it sounds like you did make that jump from, okay, there might be some downfalls, but Hey, there's also a lot of advantages. How, how did you make use of that for you?

[00:05:27] When, when did that switch? How did that impact your business?

[00:05:31] Jeremy Nagel: It's probably always been something that I've leaned into without realizing it. The ADHD side was actually a big surprise to me. I hadn't ever thought that I had ADHD until I went to get my autism diagnosis confirmed, and big tick on the autism side.

[00:05:49] He also started to notice some of my answers indicated that I might have ADHD as well. And that, that was very surprising to me, but it made sense in retrospect, [00:06:00] my inability to do one job. I always had multiple jobs and multiple businesses and I. I thought that's just what I had to do because I, it didn't seem like any of them was quite the right fit.

[00:06:16] I wasn't getting what I needed from one of them and I had feedback that people were saying, what's wrong with you? You know, the advice is just focus on one thing. There's books about that just one thing at a time and I could never do it. And it looked like I was failing that I wasn't really making much progress with any of the businesses.

[00:06:38] But. Then actually it was an excellent way to do it in retrospect because I was trying out different products and different services and I, I was testing each of them and then I found one that actually resonated, which was Smooth Messenger and that ended up being very successful in the end. So I think that's [00:07:00] one of the ways that I lean into it and just doing a lot of things and.

[00:07:05] I guess the, in order to do that, in order to do that well, I've realized I need a team because I, I've got too many ideas and I'm, I'm not good at continuing to work on an idea until it's fulfilled. I'm good at the start. I, I get into hyper focus like you described and the, the first initial phase of the business, I'm very excited about it and I make a ton of progress in a very short order and then I get bored with it.

[00:07:31] But if I have other people alongside me, then they take care of the boring stuff and I can then, I feel reinvigorated after I've seen them make progress and I go back into it again.

[00:07:42] Yvonne Heimann: For everybody listening, what you don't see is I am giggling behind the scenes because I'm like, oh my god, I feel that so deep.

[00:07:54] And I literally, when clients come to me, I tell them the exact same thing where it's like, I am big [00:08:00] picture. I am the framework. I am not the integrator. I am not the nitty gritty, all the stuff. I need somebody to pick up behind me. And finish this off. So it's like, guys, you need to watch the video.

[00:08:16] Seriously. I was just giggling behind the scenes where I'm like, I hear you on that one. And I am assuming and as you guys know, I do get some information before guests come on. So I do have a little idea already.

[00:08:32] With the multitasking and the, the multi passionate aspect that both of us have, I am assuming that you probably have the same habit as me of doing all the things all the time, every day, all day.

[00:08:53] And suddenly it's like, damn it. I didn't sleep enough hours. I actually forgot to [00:09:00] eat. Don't even think about hydration, which as we all know, easily can end us up in full on burnout mode. I'm assuming that happened to you too. Probably not, not just as you mentioned in, in the questionnaire, when you was, when you were selling your business, I think that was a high.

[00:09:21] High stress situation, high, high burnout situation to how, how do you deal with that multi faceted and multi passionate energy, which fuels us, but also drains us.

[00:09:38] Jeremy Nagel: I find it hard to manage because like you described, I tend to blend things together and that can result in me just working nonstop all day until nine o'clock.

[00:09:50] And like you said. forgetting to eat or eating very late in the day, not really taking care of myself. So I've, I've had to [00:10:00] basically create rules for myself where I set alarms and I have things in my calendar saying, okay, it's time to now go do a workout. It's time to meditate, time to eat your lunch.

[00:10:12] Cause without that, I will just not remember to do it. And then. Even though it's, it's okay to do that for one day, but if I do it for multiple days in a row, then I, I start to have micro burnouts. And if I do it for months on end, then I get into a full on burnout. So it's really important for me to be taking the long game here and to be thinking about not just I'm on a hyper focus high and it feels like I could keep working forever, but instead bear in mind that if I do that, then it's going to have consequences.

[00:10:44] I'm not going to be as effective tomorrow. So if I think about my average level of productivity, it's actually better for me to ignore or try and avoid some of those temptations to keep on working and instead be a bit more struck, more structured.[00:11:00]

[00:11:00] So that's been my, my journey recently creating structure in my life.

[00:11:05] Yvonne Heimann: And. I'm assuming you probably have a similar busy brain as Mia. Do you find... Building that framework of how your day looks like having lunchtime blocked out and, and those time batching, whatever you want to call it, having those routines down.

[00:11:27] How is your brain working with that?

[00:11:31] Jeremy Nagel: It does help. I find It works best for me if I have someone else doing those activities with me. Phenomenon called body doubling, where if you have someone next to you, ideally doing the same exact thing that potentially just being nearby. So for example. Eating lunch with someone else, then I'm actually going to eat lunch at that time because we've got an appointment.

[00:11:55] I've got a personal trainer that I work out with and it's in my calendar. Whereas if I [00:12:00] just do it on my own, I'll probably leave it until later in the day when it's not ideal to do it. And I've got accountability buddies that I check in with about meditation and things like that. So all of those strategies help a lot.

[00:12:13] Yvonne Heimann: I love that. Yeah, it's having a framework and a routine ready to go for me. Just takes away the, okay, what do I have to do next kind of thing? And for all our neuro spicy audience out there that has struggled with specific times, so I have a friend up in Canada who is literally time blind that she gets the same as we go full on focus.

[00:12:41] And. She looks at a clock and she just doesn't see the time. It doesn't make any sense to her. She was able to find a clock that looks a little bit like an egg timer with, with 15 minute increments, 30 minute increments, [00:13:00] and they show up in red. So she visually, rather than looking at the numbers, sees a specific timeframe and it tells her, Hey, you have like 10 minutes left.

[00:13:09] Before you need to do the new thing and it has worked wonders for them. So guys, if you're listening to this and you have the struggle of that time blindness, I'll make sure I'll find you the link for it. It's on Amazon somewhere. Where

[00:13:25] Jeremy Nagel: Might be the time timer. I've seen that one as well, where it's got a big triangle so you can see the time visually ticking down.

[00:13:34] Yvonne Heimann: And it's, she's always been struggling with it because she's like, I, and she knows she cannot take appointments at the bottom of the hour. It's 30 minutes at 30 minutes. She can't, it needs to be the full hour or she's just going to skip it. So it's. It's really interesting to see the different ways of how all of the different ways of [00:14:00] neurodivergent shows up and how my friends or me turn them into a superpower.

[00:14:08] And as I mentioned in the intro of Jeremy already, You. Started in your initial startup and actually ended up selling it. The whole Smooth Messenger. Can we dive a little bit deeper into this? What, what is Smooth Messenger and how did you end up? You are still a youngster. I'm sitting here at my forties and I'm like, okay, I get to learn a lot in this episode.

[00:14:37] What did Smooth Messenger do and DAS, it's still running. And how did you, how did you come about this and how did you end up selling it?

[00:14:49] Jeremy Nagel: It was, it is a SMS integration for Zoho CRM. Zoho is a business operating system where it's got CRM, bookkeeping, marketing, automation, 65 [00:15:00] different apps. And I fell into doing consulting work for Zoho.

[00:15:05] After I graduated from uni, I found a volunteer project with Zoho Creator and they ended up paying me for it. And I thought, I'll just keep on doing this. It seems like a fun type of work. My previous businesses were in that space as well. I, I had several iterations of a Zoho consulting business where I, I grew it too fast and hired too many people and then had to do the whole reverse E myth situation where I then went back to it just being me again.

[00:15:34] But then I've figured out cashflow management and figured out that actually consulting is not really great for me, but building products is really good for me and I had done another integration with Zoho marketplace where I'd built a product, put it on the marketplace. It's a bit like the app store where independent developers can create an app.

[00:15:55] I'd done a, a round robin lead assignment tool for Zoho [00:16:00] CRM previously. And that had gone okay. So I had some credibility in the Zoho world, because people had seen that I'd been doing it for a while, I'd done a bunch of videos, hundreds of videos about Zoho, so I was, I didn't have that many subscribers, I had maybe 1, 500 subscribers.

[00:16:20] But I was, I guess, considered an influencer in the Zoho world, and that meant when I made my SMS integration, it was able to get adoption quite quickly because I'd, I'd been around for a while. The other Zoho consultants knew me and trusted me. And even though there were many other SMS integrations already on the marketplace.

[00:16:41] Smooth Messenger ended up growing a lot more quickly than the other ones and getting a lot of traction quite quickly. And then ultimately after about two years of operation, I was approached by MessageMedia where they had already done integrations in HubSpot and Salesforce, and they wanted a Zoho integration.[00:17:00]

[00:17:00] And they thought rather than building it themselves, they would tap into what I'd already built and the customer base that I already had.

[00:17:06] Yvonne Heimann: I love that. And guys, that's That shows how important relationships are, how important it is to, to help others, because you already had the base to be like, got a new toy, go play with it.

[00:17:23] Now you ended up selling Smooth Messenger to MessageMedia in 2022. You were still on there as product manager, however, life never gets boring. We always like a new project, right? You decided to start your new startup, which is Focus Bear and from me digging into it and looking, it completely aligns with all the things we've pretty much already talked about with being neurodivergent, being on the spectrum, ADHD, all the things where our brains [00:18:00] just goes haywire.

[00:18:03] And from looking at the website, it's like, the perfect tool to tell us what to do. It becomes your body double kind of, am I saying this right?

[00:18:16] Jeremy Nagel: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I guess part of the inspiration was that I, I saw that I was better at doing workouts if I had someone around, but it's hard to find a friend who's consistently available.

[00:18:27] So I was thinking if I can have something that will be there when I'm doing my habits, then I'm going to workout more consistently, meditate more consistently, and that's going to have flow on benefits for the rest of my day. So that was the original idea of the app, that it was a, an app to help me with my morning routine initially.

[00:18:48] And then I realized, actually, I really need something in the evening because I, I would keep on working until nine o'clock at night. So we added in a feature where at, originally it was at nine [00:19:00] o'clock, I couldn't use my computer anymore unless my wife put in the password and that was really helpful.

[00:19:08] I've now ratcheted it back. Nine o'clock is still a bit crazy. So now it's more like after five o'clock, I don't work and that's been really helpful. I'm just creating limits, because it means that I still end up working the same amount, but instead of starting a bit later in the day, or instead of starting in the morning being sleep deprived, I've got eight and a half hours of sleep.

[00:19:30] I can start my day at 6 a. m. and I have a really productive day because I begin it with some exercise, some meditation. And I'm not, I'm, it's impossible for me to use work apps during that time because my pattern was I'd wake up and I'd just have this gnawing pit of anxiety in my stomach of what kind of emails might be waiting for me because I'm in Australia.

[00:19:51] Most of the customers you can relate.

[00:19:55] Yvonne Heimann: I can relate just a little bit with that one. Yes.

[00:19:59] Jeremy Nagel: Yeah, [00:20:00] yes, it's hard when you've got customers in other time zones because they're having, they're using my product while I'm sleeping, which is great in the sense of passive income, but not great if they have problems because I'm not there to help them.

[00:20:14] And I, my pattern in the past was to wake up and to go straight to my emails, which is not a relaxing way to begin the day and also not a good way to help my brain be productive because I'd just be in firefighting mode all day. So I really wanted something that would basically block me from my emails until I had done at the, at the beginning, 15 minutes of a morning routine.

[00:20:38] So I had start with a five minute run, five minutes of meditation and five minutes of planning my day. And that, that is quite a small set of habits, but it's all the time that I felt I had at that time. And now it's more like a two hour routine with half an hour of exercise and 20 minutes of meditation and a few other things like that.

[00:20:59] Yvonne Heimann: God, [00:21:00] maybe, maybe one of those days I make it to 20 minutes of meditation. I'm, I'm fighting a 10 minutes right now. Welcome. Welcome to

[00:21:07] Jeremy Nagel: building it up is my tactic. I started with five minutes and have been adding a minute per week.

[00:21:14] Yvonne Heimann: Yeah, I think Jeremy just called me, called me out without wanting to call me out.

[00:21:19] I definitely have dropped my my meditation practice of the deep and it is time to catch up on that again. Which brings me to guys, yes, it's all about habits. It's all about frameworks and, and setting yourself limits and intentions, but don't beat yourself up. Yes. Yes. I might have unknowingly gotten called out from Jeremy here just because I seriously need to pick up my meditation practice again, but that's a me thing.

[00:21:51] That's not a you thing, Jeremy. And. It's, it's has been a busy season right now to, to [00:22:00] finish some projects for me to get the book out and all the things. And I'm okay with that. I still got movement in. I'm still reading. It's just the one habit of meditation has been falling off the tape and a little bit, and we'll catch it up again.

[00:22:13] I'm not going to beat myself up about it. So guys do me a favor when you are starting to implement new habits. First of all, as Jeremy just said. Start slow start easy. Don't start with trying to get to 20 minutes meditation. Oh, I mean, it's not gonna happen Start with five minutes not even with three minutes and then build up on it start with one habit add a second habit add a third habit look into habit stack and all the things and Look into focus bear.

[00:22:45] I really love, I love the whole thing around it. Not just the app, but, it was interesting. I was scrolling through the website. You call yourself yourself, the chief bear or Bayer. I love the whole branding with it. Guys, [00:23:00] go check it out. You're going to have the link in the description and tell me, tell the audience, where is the best place to connect with you?

[00:23:11] Jeremy Nagel: LinkedIn or on the Focus Bear website are the best ways. If you search for Jeremy Nagel on LinkedIn, I'd love to connect with you or fill out the contact form on the Focus Bear website.

[00:23:21] Yvonne Heimann: And as always, links are going to be in the description. You don't have to remember anything. You just can click right on it.

[00:23:28] Go check out FocusBear. Go connect with Jeremy. Thanks so much for coming on. It was a fun episode. Thank you so much.

[00:23:39] Jeremy Nagel: It's been great.

Autism, ADHD, and Entrepreneurship with Jeremy Nagel
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