ADHD Expert & Entrepreneur Kristen Carder Regretted Spending $10k on a Mastermind Program

ADHD Expert & Entrepreneur Kristen Carder Regretted Spending $10k on a Mastermind Program


Check out all episodes on the My Favorite Mistake main page.

My guest for Episode #197 of the My Favorite Mistake podcast is Kristen Carder. She is a serial entrepreneur and mindset coach for adults with ADHD. She's the host of a podcast: “I Have ADHD.”

Her website with her “FOCUSED” group coaching program:

In this episode, Kristen tells her favorite mistake story about spending $10,000 on a “mastermind” group that was not at all what she expected. Why was there a gap between her expectations and reality? When did she realize there was a problem? What did she do and how did she learn from this, as a coach-ee and a coach? We also talk about mistakes related to understanding ADHD and living with it — at work and in our personal lives.

As she always says on her podcast, she's “medicated, caffeinated, and ready to roll.”

Questions and Topics:

  • When did you realize it was a mistake? Did you ask for a refund? 3 reasons why not…
  • When should somebody join a “mastermind” instead of getting 1×1 coaching?
  • Lesson learned: explicitly lays out WHAT a mastermind is when she sells one
  • Red flags that you’re getting bad info about ADHD?
  • Why ADHD is not simply a “gift” or a “superpower”?
  • How do you define ADHD?
  • The inability to direct attention
  • Trouble regulating impulse – attention and emotion?
  • You were diagnosed in college… I was diagnosed last year at age 48… what led to you getting diagnosed?
  • Causes? Differences in the brain?
  • A mistake to tell people at work that you’re ADHD?
  • Kristen's episode: Should You Tell People About Your ADHD?
  • Explanation not an excuse
  • Her FOCUSED coaching program

Scroll down to find:

  • Video of the episode
  • Quotes
  • How to subscribe
  • Full transcript

Find Kristen and her podcast on social media:

Watch the Full Episode:


"What I usually do [now] is I only buy from people who have helped me for free." - Kristen Carder

"This is why I chose this as my favorite mistake, because I learned so much." Kristen Carder
Kristen Carder "If your reason for sharing [your ADHD diagnosis] is to build connection and community with your colleagues, the question that I would first ask is, 'Do my colleagues have the capacity? Have they shown a history of being able to honor what I say, validate my experience, and hold space for the nuances of my life?'"  Kristen Carder

Subscribe, Follow, Support, Rate, and Review!

Please follow, rate, and review via Apple Podcasts or Podchaser or your favorite app — that helps others find this content and you'll be sure to get future episodes as they are released weekly. You can also become a financial supporter of the show through

You can now sign up to get new episodes via email, to make sure you don't miss an episode.

This podcast is part of the Lean Communicators network.

Other Ways to Subscribe or Follow — Apps & Email

Automated Transcript (Likely Contains Mistakes)

Mark Graban (0s):
Episode 197, Kristen Carder, host of the I Have ADHD podcast.

Kristen Carder (6s):
Just as a human, of course, we are all making mistakes constantly, and as a human with h d there is no lack of mistakes in my life.

Mark Graban (23s):
I am Mark Graban. This is My Favorite Mistake. In this podcast, you'll hear business leaders and other really interesting people talking about their favorite mistakes, because we all make mistakes. But what matters is learning from our mistakes instead of repeating them over and over again. So this is the place for honest reflection and conversation, personal growth and professional success. Visit our website at My Favorite Mistake To learn more about Kristen, her podcast, and more, look for links in the show notes or go to If you like the episode, please share it on social media.

Mark Graban (1m 3s):
It would be great. It would be really helpful if you could go to Apple Podcast or Spotify and, and post a rating or a review. As always, thanks for listening. Well, hi everybody. Welcome back to the podcast. My guest today is Kristen Carder. She's a serial entrepreneur. She's a mindset coach for adults with ADHD, which is, that's why I invited her here. I've, I've listened to so many episodes of her podcast. It's called, I have ADHD since I got diagnosed last year, myself formally is having ADHD. So search for, I have ADHD wherever you're listening to this. Or you can go to her website,

Mark Graban (1m 43s):
So, Kristen, thank you for being here. How are you?

Kristen Carder (1m 45s):
Hey, Mark. Thanks for having me. I am very well, thanks. Yeah, it's a cold, rainy day here in Pennsylvania, so I'm just trying to stay warm.

Mark Graban (1m 55s):
Yeah, it's kinda a cold snow on the ground day in southern Ohio, so, pretty similar, but the, it's funny, the answer, well, at the beginning of all your episodes, you always kinda announced three things. I didn't know if that was gonna be your answer to, to how you do

Kristen Carder (2m 14s):
Medicated, caffeinated, ready to roll.

Mark Graban (2m 18s):
The same here. So, medicated, caffeinated, hopefully not overly caffeinated. Oh,

Kristen Carder (2m 23s):

Mark Graban (2m 24s):
And, and likewise, likewise, ready to roll. But, you know, again, like, as I, you know, started really trying to deep dive, learn about ADHD last year, again, your podcasts have been so informative and I feel like it's, it's good information, you know, so, you know, the sources and, and the people you cite. And, and so, you know, just between all the information and just the way you share about yourself and your ADHD journey, that's, that's been helpful and inspiring for me. So, again, thank you for

Kristen Carder (2m 58s):
That. I'm so glad. Thank you for saying that. Yeah, I'm, I'm really glad to hear that.

Mark Graban (3m 2s):
Yeah. And so I think, you know, we'll, we'll delve into that topic later on here, but as we always do here, I don't know, you know, if your story is related to D H D or not, but you know, the different things that you've done in your career, Kristin, what would you say is your favorite mistake?

Kristen Carder (3m 18s):
Hmm. It was such an interesting process to think through, which would be My Favorite Mistake, because just as a human, of course, we are all making mistakes constantly. And as a human with ADHD, there is no lack of mistakes in my life. And so it was a, a very interesting journey to, to think through. But I would say that My Favorite Mistake was about two years ago, I joined a mastermind, and I'm gonna use that term very loosely.

Kristen Carder (3m 60s):
It was a mastermind. I made a investment into this program. It was a $10,000 investment, which is not small. It's not a small investment. And it turned out to be not at all what I thought it was gonna be. Oh,

Mark Graban (4m 19s):

Kristen Carder (4m 20s):
I know. It did not help me in the ways that I thought it would. It was, I mean, I can go into detail. I, I joined, I was so desperate for help, and I was so desperate for community and connection. So for those of you who don't know, I run a large coaching membership and there aren't a lot of people running memberships. And so I wanted to have, I wanted to get into a mastermind where there was a community of people who were running memberships. And I just thought like, if I could just get into this mastermind, this is gonna solve everything.

Kristen Carder (5m 2s):
This is gonna be the, which is like red flag. This is gonna be the thing, you know, that I, I'm going to not be lonely anymore. I'm not going to feel directionless. I'm gonna have the support that I need, and I fill out an application. I pay my $10,000. I get into the Mastermind and find out it's, there's a hundred people in this mastermind. Now, I don't know about you. And for those of you who are not in the coaching world, like masterminds are like 10 to 20 people. That's, that's

Mark Graban (5m 37s):
What I would've

Kristen Carder (5m 38s):
Thought. Right. That's a true mastermind. And I went in with a lot of assumptions. I assumed that it would be smaller. I assumed that I would have access to the coach, which I did not at all. So the coach showed up once a month on a Facebook Live q and a for 10,000 bucks. And I thought that there would be actually, the one part that, that was true to what I thought it was gonna be, was that there was a sense of community.

Kristen Carder (6m 18s):
But the problem is that that was on Facebook. And for anyone with ADHD, social media is just a rabbit hole, right? Right. So I would go on during my workday, because this was a work task, I would go on and try to get information or connect with the community, and then I would inevitably be distracted and go down the Facebook rabbit hole and really not be able to like, get back on board with my work. And so I would say that that was a, a very big mistake. I wish I had gathered more information, you know, upfront. I wish I hadn't made assumptions.

Kristen Carder (6m 59s):
I wish that I did not trust other people to run programs the way that I run them, but I do my due diligence. I did not do that. I learned a lot, which I know we're gonna talk about. But, but that, I would say, I mean, $10,000 right down the drain is kind of how I look at it. Right down the drain, it's gone. Yeah.

Mark Graban (7m 21s):
Well, you know, I'm sorry to hear that. And I mean, it doesn't put the $10,000 back to say, you're not the only one who's made that mistake. You're not the only one who's come on this podcast and shared

Kristen Carder (7m 32s):

Mark Graban (7m 33s):
Similar mistake, you know, along those lines, do you, I was gonna ask some follow up questions. Do you think Sure. You, you mentioned, I mean, we can get ourselves in trouble. Mistakes are often born out of assumptions that turn out not to be true, or lack of information or, you know, lack of information is filled in by assumptions. Do you think they, to what extent did they oversell it versus you just assumed differently?

Kristen Carder (8m 2s):
Great question than

Mark Graban (8m 3s):
The reality.

Kristen Carder (8m 4s):
Great question. What's fascinating about this, and I would put this as like another layer of the mistake, what I tell my clients, and what I usually do is I only buy from people who have helped me for free.

Mark Graban (8m 23s):

Kristen Carder (8m 24s):
I think that's a very good way to make an investment, is if someone can help you for free, then it is usually safe to invest, because most of the time, their paid content is gonna be even more helpful. And that did not happen with this person. I did not even take the time. I, I didn't take the time to let him help me for free. I was just like, I want it now. Let's go. I was very much in a place where I thought the answers were outside of me, and I needed to go find someone else who had the answers.

Kristen Carder (9m 8s):
And I think that's really common for humans, especially humans wanting to reach big goals, especially humans wanting to reach big goals, who are doing it for the first time. And so I was really like, you know, this is my first time charting this territory, navigating this territory. Someone else knows how to do this. I'm not the one who knows, so I need to go find that person. Oh, here's someone successful. Oh, they help people with memberships. Perfect. I'll just make sure that I get in their sphere and I'll just give them my money so that they can solve my problems for me. Rather than really believing like, okay, I actually know what I'm doing, and I actually have the capacity to answer these questions for myself.

Kristen Carder (9m 55s):
I just really need to lean in on what I already know about my clients, about my business, and about myself. Yeah.

Mark Graban (10m 5s):
Well, I, I mean, I really appreciate you sharing, you know, the story and, and, and, and those reflections around that. It's, you know, it's tough when we have that moment of realizing, did I make a mistake? I mean, did that happen? It almost sounded like it happened very early. Yeah. In membership. Did you try, did you explore, like, can you get out of this? Could you get a refund? What happened to trying to process at the moment? Was it a mistake?

Kristen Carder (10m 35s):
Yeah. In the first month, as I began to explore the materials, there were a lot of like training videos in a, in a membership portal. And I am all about training videos. Like my member has, my membership has that as well. It's great. But they were really lacking in substance. And so I would click through the videos and be like, I already know this crap. Like, literally, that's what I would, I would be like, I already know this, like, not solving any of my immediate pain points. And then after we had our first q and a where I was like, wait, what? Like, this is it.

Kristen Carder (11m 15s):
I mean, so my members within my focus program, I'm in there three hours a week. They like, that's very different from one hour a month of a q and a. Right? Right. So like, oh, my word, I, I just could not compute. I was like, where's the rest of it? That's really how I felt. Wait, where's the rest of it? I don't understand. And so in that first month, I was like, crap, I think I made a mistake, but I was not thinking of asking for a refund for two reasons. Number one, actually, maybe three reasons, probably three reasons. Number one, I had the money to invest.

Kristen Carder (11m 57s):
So I wasn't investing from a place of lack. I was investing from a place of, I had a budget for it. I just put that money toward the wrong thing. Right? Number two, I, this is so personal, I don't know if I should share it. It's hard to be a company owner and get requests for refunds. I'm in that position, right? Yeah. And I know that that's difficult. And so I think I was maybe taking a little much too responsibil, a little too much responsibility for like, the way that they would feel. And so I was like, I don't need, like, I have the money. It was my mistake. I don't need to request a refund.

Kristen Carder (12m 38s):
And I forget the third reason. I think I did have a third reason. Oh, maybe I just wasn't confident enough, or really, maybe I just felt it was my fault. Like, it's my fault. I didn't do my due diligence. I did. So I didn't wanna like, put that on them. I was like, it's, this is pretty much my fault. So, and I didn't, I wasn't even in a sales funnel for them. I went out, I found them. I said, oh, you can solve my problem. And I got in. You know? Yeah. So if I felt like they oversold it, I probably would've,

Mark Graban (13m 8s):
And you might have had a, if you will, a spidey sense, if it was hard sound That's true. Or oversold. That's true. Could be a turnoff. Right?

Kristen Carder (13m 17s):
Yep. That's very true. Yep.

Mark Graban (13m 20s):
So I'm curious, like, you know, do you have advice for others or as you think through, you know, for people who maybe haven't tried a mastermind type format, are, are there certain situations where one-on-one coaching is really the only way to go versus being part of a group? Do you have thoughts on that?

Kristen Carder (13m 36s):
This is why I chose this as My Favorite Mistake, because I learned so much, so much, I learned that people need to be taught what a mastermind is. That that it, you can't just call something a mastermind without actually defining it. What does that mean? It's such a buzzword right now. But it is, you know, in our industry, the coaching industry is not regulated. And so we're all just making crap up. And it's important to know that it's really, really important to understand that if you are considering investing in a coaching program, in a membership, in a mastermind, you need to have that person specifically define the terms for you.

Kristen Carder (14m 27s):
And so, I sold a mastermind this past summer, and I was, I like explicitly laid everything out. You know, no more than 10 people. We will meet three times a month with me. I will be there for an hour three times a month, and then you'll meet one time a month as a mastermind group of peers, you know, without me. And so, like, defining those terms, that's what, what I consider to be a mastermind that would work well for like the ADHD brain. And so I would for sure say get everything very clearly defined. And I do think the number of people inside of it matters.

Kristen Carder (15m 7s):
If it's more than 25 people, in my opinion, and in many expert leaders in the coaching industry, that's not a mastermind, that's a group coaching program, which is totally fine. That's totally fine. That's a good thing. It's just, it's just a different product. And so, and then my third thing would be, which I already said before, make sure the person helps you for free before you ever pay them a cent. Yeah. You have to have, to have, to make sure that someone has the ability to change your life for free. And if they can do that, then they're probably worth investing in.

Mark Graban (15m 50s):
Yeah. And, and, and again, I mean, I'm gonna make the pitch for your podcast. I mean, you, you and your podcast have helped me greatly for free. And you know, I've, I've looked at your, your program and all. I'll make sure there's a link in the show notes. It's called Focused and yeah, you'd like to ask you a little bit more about it at the end, but, you know, related to your story, it sounds like you've taken, I appreciate what you've said about learning Yeah. So much. And it seems like then applying some of those lessons to your own business and the people that you're serving.

Kristen Carder (16m 20s):
Yes, absolutely. And one thing that I would actually like to add as well, is that I made an intentional decision about three months into the Mastermind to just not put any more of my time or effort into it. Wow. Okay. So it was a year long program, and I intentionally, like thoughtfully made the decision, I'm not giving my time to this anymore. That was very hard to do because of like sunk cost fallacy, right. That

Mark Graban (16m 55s):
Came to mind. Yes.

Kristen Carder (16m 56s):
Oh my goodness. Like I, I put so much money into this. I've already like, put quite a bit of time trying to get as much out of it as possible. And if I choose not to continue with it, it is really solidifying. Like, this was a fail, this was a straight up fail. And that was a hard decision. But I, I literally did like a cost benefit analysis. I would pay $10,000 to get out of this, to never have to think about it again, to not have to feel badly about this again, and to like, get rid of this on my calendar. I, I, I'd pay money to get out of it.

Kristen Carder (17m 37s):
And so then I was like, okay, well th that's important to notice. And that was really like the period of time where I was able to forgive myself. Like, yeah, this, this was a mistake and it sucked and, and there's loss, like money loss, time loss, pride loss, like there's loss, right? Yeah. Right. And then also just live in the reality of it's actually better for me to let this go and move forward without it. So that was a really important part along the journey. Yeah.

Mark Graban (18m 11s):
Well, there's so many good lessons there. And you know, both, again, back to like the economics terms of like the opportunity cost of your time and mental energy is one thing, but then when you talk about forgiving yourself or you know, showing yourself some grace, and, and that's one thing we try to celebrate here, is we all make mistakes. And, you know, I mean, it, you know, we try to find a balance of like reflecting without beating ourselves up. Maybe easier said than done sometimes, but for sure at some point you have to process it maybe and move on.

Kristen Carder (18m 44s):
Yeah, for sure. And, and do just a quick cost benefit analysis. Like, what is it gonna cost me to keep going with this, and what are the actual benefits that I'm getting out? You know? And, and when you can really look at it from that perspective, I think a lot of us would let go and just move forward. Yeah.

Mark Graban (19m 4s):
Well, I hope listeners now are doing their own cost benefit analysis that they will continue listening. I think they're getting a lot outta what you're saying here. And, and Kristen, again, thank you for telling that story, you know? Well, I have here, I mean, you know, there are a lot of questions I think related to ADHD know, as you lay out on your website, you know, you've been studying this a long time. I think it's helpful when someone lays out here are my, my teachers and my influencers. Yeah. Yeah. And that comes through in what you share in the podcast. This is not just your ideas you're sharing, you know, again, like from other things I've looked, you know, in any field, there's, you know, maybe, maybe this is a question to ask you. You know, I'm not asking you to name names or trash and other podcast or, but there, there are some podcasts where you feel like, this seems really well inform versus another idea where're like, well, this is just one person's opinion, and I put yours, you're sharing your experiences and thoughts and opinions, but it seems well-informed are are there mistakes?

Mark Graban (20m 2s):
What would be a mis what would be mistaken in information? Let me try to frame it as a question that way. If somebody's researching or learning about ADHD, like, what's something that, if you heard it being said, that it would give you pause and say, wait a minute, I don't know if this is a good source.

Kristen Carder (20m 20s):
Oh, dear. That is a really good question. I love it when people are willing to cite their sources. I think that's really important. And I really do try to do that a lot with the podcast, which is just kind of funny because I'm like popping in references to scholarly articles, you know, from the oh N B H I or whatever, the National Institute of Behavioral Health. But I think that citing sources is important.

Kristen Carder (20m 59s):
There are certain things that when people say them, and I'm gonna, I'm, I'm gonna go ahead and say it, but there are certain things that when people say it, I, it does give me pause. For example, if someone is talking about the gift of having h d, like h d is actually a gift, and h d is actually a superpower that really gives me pause into, I, I stop and think, do they really understand the brevity of this diagnosis? Do they really understand the depth?

Kristen Carder (21m 40s):
Have they done enough reading and enough research and enough studying to understand that untreated ADHD can lead to so many devastating side effects, including like a shortened life expectancy. So like, this is not something I, I know that there are people that wanna put a positive spin. I don't think we actually need a positive spin. I think that people who are really grounded in reality can look at something like an H diagnosis and know that it is something to be taken seriously, but also that we can truly thrive and reach our pot, our potential beyond that diagnosis.

Kristen Carder (22m 23s):
But I would say that that is my biggest red flag. When someone approaches the conversation about h d as a gift or as a superpower, immediately my radar is going off because it shows me that they haven't done a lot of research and reading, and no, okay. Other than Ned Hollowell, God bless Ned Hollowell, no. ADHD expert ever says that it's a gift. When, when you look across the, the board of psychologists, psychiatrists, Dr. Ramsey, Dr. Barkley Sol, like all of the people, nobody is saying it's a gift.

Kristen Carder (23m 5s):
Those who are doing the research, those who are in the trenches of the diagnosing and treating the disorder, none of them are saying it's a gift. And when Dr. Hollowell, bless his heart, was on my podcast, I very respectfully and kindly confronted him about like, you know, you say it's a gift, but like, how can you say that? And what he, what he so graciously explained was, when it's treated, when it's properly diagnosed, when it's taken care of, there are so many gifts to be found in the person with ADHD. And like, I was like, yes, hallelujah. Totally cosign.

Kristen Carder (23m 47s):
So yeah, I, I think that that would probably be the number one thing. Okay.

Mark Graban (23m 52s):
And then we, we kind of jumped into it, and a lot of people don't know, and this is one area where you were really helpful for me, is like coming up with a definition of ADHD. I probably should have asked that before diving in some of the details. And, and you do it succinctly how when someone says, Hey, Kristen, what is ADHD?

Kristen Carder (24m 10s):
I love that question. So I'm gonna read from my notes because part of having ADHD is having poor working memory, which means like those really beautiful phrases do not stay in our brains for very long. Okay. So ADHD stands for Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, which is a terrible name for it, because we do not have a deficit of attention. What we have is an inability to regulate our attention. So ADHD is a disorder of regulation. We struggle to regulate our attention, our behavior and our emotions.

Kristen Carder (24m 50s):
And I think that that is the most, like concise, succinct definition. We struggle to regulate attention, behavior, emotions. We have just as much attention. Yeah. It's just usually on the wrong thing. Yeah.

Mark Graban (25m 5s):
And that phrase has stuck with me, though, that beautiful phrase of the inability to direct Yeah. The attention. And one thing that I've learned is I finally came to grips with ADHD being something to take seriously of that was causing problems. Not like rock bottom. Yeah. Losing jobs, losing relationships, crashing cars every 60 days. And, you know, some of the symptoms or manifestations of ADHD are not, you know, I mean, it's not at the extreme Yeah. End of things. But I realized it was, it was causing problems. One of those around attention, I've learned the difference between not wanting to pay attention and not being able to pay attention.

Mark Graban (25m 50s):
And as I've learned as I've gone, you know, even with medication, it does not make boring stuff interesting. But the problems that were manifesting both professionally and sometimes personally, was wanting to pay attention and, and, and really struggling with why, why can't I, why am I driven to go do something else right now? Yeah. And it was hurting professional relationships to some degrees. Yeah. It didn't look, I mean, I, I, I've apologized to a lot of people of like, you know, times where I felt like I wasn't giving attention. I was losing out. It, it may have come across as disrespectful, you know, to them.

Mark Graban (26m 30s):
And, and that's something that has been easy, I wouldn't say easy or solved or fixed. Yeah. But that was, I, I, I think that, you know, like it's, it's, it's like the ADHD you know, brain says, okay, well that's interesting right now, and that that's something I need to do, wanna do, I want to do right now. Not even so much the need, want. Right.

Kristen Carder (26m 51s):

Mark Graban (26m 51s):
Be a better, a better word. And, and so then there was that piece of it. But then, you know, I'll tell you what was an eye-opener for me, and this is that bad social media habit. I got something, I've got something good out of kind of mindlessly scrolling through Twitter. And I found an article that was basically about ADHD and emotional regulation. And I had only frand. So there's my mistake, I'm gonna share, I only, you know, I feel like a ADHD attention deficit, the inability to regulate attention, you know, am I understanding? Correct me or fill in some details here. It's the same part of the brain that makes it hard to regulate emotional responses to things.

Mark Graban (27m 33s):
And it was sort of similar to like, I know I sh I want to be paying attention, but I feel like I can't, there would be that moment of I'm firing off an angry email. Yes. I shouldn't be doing this. This is about, but like that compulsion or, you know, and, and it's kind of embarrassing to admit who likes to admit a lack of self-control.

Kristen Carder (27m 51s):
I know.

Mark Graban (27m 52s):
But there, that, when, when, when, when that article and that eye-opener about, okay, this is not just about attention, emotional regulation piece is as much a thing to work on. At least for me, that was one discovery. And the mistake of not knowing that. And, and the mistake of not taking h d seriously enough in, in, in terms of, well, the only mistake I'll share, and I feel like I'm starting to give a TED talk, I won't do that to you, but I made the mistake of thinking I could effort my way out of it that I needed to just care more and try harder. That's, that's, that was, yeah. No, that didn't work.

Kristen Carder (28m 29s):
So I would love to reframe a little bit of what you're saying because you are taking those on as your mistakes. However, I would say, like the one that you just mentioned, I thought I could effort my way out of it. I believe that we're taught as kids and adolescents in school that we're smart, but we lack motivation and effort, and you just need to try harder. And so I want to say that maybe that wasn't your mistake. Maybe that was teachers and parents and coaches and other people saying to you, listen, mark, mark, you're smart.

Kristen Carder (29m 10s):
Like, what, what's going on here? You just need to try harder. You need to do better. And then we take that on, right? As our own self-talk, as our own thoughts. And then also, how in the world would you have known that emotional regulation was a part of ADHD? Sure. Because listen, nobody hands you a pamphlet when you're diagnosed with ADHD. They should, right? I should make pamphlets. I should send them, actually, that's a brilliant idea. This is, we're gonna put a pin on that, right? But everyone who's diagnosed with ADHD should be told, listen, this is not a deficit of attention. You're gonna have a hard time regulating your attention, regulating your behaviors, regulating your emotions.

Kristen Carder (29m 52s):
These are things we should be told, but we're not told. And so it takes scrolling through Twitter and coming across an article and saying like, oh, I never knew. So I would say that's an d h D industry mistake. Yeah. Not your mistake. There you go.

Mark Graban (30m 8s):
Well, thank you. And I, I've been trying to find the balance of realizing, you know, there, there are things I can work on Yeah. Without shaming, so Yeah. Yeah. Get outta shape.

Kristen Carder (30m 18s):
So, good

Mark Graban (30m 19s):
Spiral of feeling, making myself feel bad for not paying attention and for sure reaching out. I think the best thing I did was reaching out to a counselor saying, Hey, I need to talk about these things. And you know, I, I had a copy of Ned Hollowell's driven from distraction on my bookshelf for more than 20 years. And I never read it. And I forgot how it got there. But see, like I've, I've been in denial about this Yeah. For so long. But lemme lemme bring it back to you and your story a little bit, Kristen. I mean, you were diagnosed in college, but not everybody gets diagnosed as a child. I got through college or maybe, you know, we find ways of masking or compensating Kristen. Totally. But, but if you don't mind, like, tell us your story of like, what led you to either asking questions about this or somebody saying, Hey, Kristen, you may be ADHD.

Kristen Carder (31m 8s):
Ironically, my answer goes back to Ned Halliwell's book Driven, driven to Distraction. So my dad read that when he was in his forties. So I was like, in my teens, and he subsequently was diagnosed with D H D, and then he started to nag me about it. You have h d you have ad and like when you're a teenager, your dad is like, he doesn't know anything. I'm like, yeah, whatever, dad. But it wasn't until I was in college, I was double majoring. I was drowning. I was getting A's and F's and not much in between. I was depressed. I was like suffering from disordered eating. I had high anxiety.

Kristen Carder (31m 49s):
I mean, I was n it was not good. And I finally called my mom and said, you know, dad's been talking to me about H d I think I'm finally ready to like, go see if that's what this is. It was a very brief evaluation. Now I understand that like it was the dude that diagnosed my dad, and I think he already had it in my mind that I had it. I mean, luckily I am, you know, I do have ADHD, but like, it probably wasn't super legit evaluation, but he was like, yep, you meet the criteria. Gave me medication and I, like, the medication for me was so helpful.

Kristen Carder (32m 31s):
It's exactly what I needed to kind of snap me out of the pit that I was in. And the next semester my grades went on the fridge, it was, was just like, it was so amazing. Of course, pills don't teach skills. So, you know, I was still very low functioning, but at least I wasn't suffering the way that I was. Yeah. And then about 15 years later, I was diagnosed again by a psychiatrist and, and yeah, it was just kind of a confirmation of the diagnosis. Yeah.

Mark Graban (33m 5s):
And it's tough because it seems like what I, what I went through and what others have gone through, it's, it's based on surveys and behaviors and how certain things happening. There's no brain scan. There's no blood test. But I was gonna ask, I mean, it, it is a difference in the brain, but it's not so easily diagnosed as like Yeah. Run you through an M R I and we see the ADHD there,

Kristen Carder (33m 26s):
Right? So Dr. Ahman actually does a lot of work with F M R I imaging, and he does scans. And I'm not really sure, but like, I think there's a little drama in the industry because I, I, it seems to me that Dr. Ahman is an outlier and that there's like the group of psychologists and psychiatrists who are like the in crowd. And then there's like Dr. Ahman who's in the out crowd. I'm not exactly sure what, I wish I could sit down with these dudes and be like, so tell me like, what's the tea? Give me the scoop. I, so I do know that he does do certain brain scans and yeah, like the frontal lobe will likely look a little bit different.

Kristen Carder (34m 9s):
But it, I think it, what is very hard is, is does it look different because of ADHD? Does it look different because of developmental trauma? Does it look different? Because I mean, I think there could be a number of factors. So if there was a blood test that showed like this genetic mutation or whatever, that would be super convenient. But yeah, we don't have that. It is kind of just like gathering threads from your life of behaviors and of mistakes. You know, if someone, like, I can sniff it out in, in 30 seconds when somebody comes to me and they start a conversation and they start talking about their life pattern, I'm just like, I know that I cannot clinically diagnose you, but like, oh my word, please go get evaluated for ADHD, because it is like, we all have such similar stories.

Kristen Carder (34m 55s):

Mark Graban (34m 57s):
So this has been, you know, really, really helpful, really interesting. And we're, we're just scratching the surface. So again, I really would recommend people go check out Kristen's podcast. Incredibly helpful. One other phrase, you know, I think this is a phrase you used dev neurodevelopmental disorder.

Kristen Carder (35m 14s):
I do. Is,

Mark Graban (35m 15s):
Which is different than saying a, a quote unquote disease.

Kristen Carder (35m 19s):
Yep. Yep.

Mark Graban (35m 20s):
I forget, would you lump it into mental health or is

Kristen Carder (35m 23s):
It Yes, absolutely. Yep. Yep, yep. You

Mark Graban (35m 26s):
Would. Okay.

Kristen Carder (35m 27s):
Not everyone loves the term disorder, which we, again, I love having that conversation because I think we could have like a really beautiful sparring on people who see the word disorder as being a negative. And people who see the word disorder as being validating and freeing and helpful. And I, my perception is that both perspectives are perfect. If you don't love the word disorder, just use the word condition, neurodevelopmental condition. That totally works. If the word disorder is validating and freeing and helpful for you, use it, it's great, whatever. But yes, neurodevelopmental, so that refers to it's in the brain and it's a developmental disorder, meaning it has impaired the way that you develop.

Kristen Carder (36m 15s):
So some fun facts about ADHD people with D h D are about 30% behind developmentally. That means that, like the ad, while the neurotypical brain might be fully formed at age like 22, 25, the d h d brain like an a h D or is not going to land until they're in their thirties, it's very rare that an ADHDeer will have a fully formed brain until they're in their thirties. And when I think about myself at the age of 18, making career decisions, you know, I thought a music degree would be a great way to go. I was 18 years old, but I was really functioning at about age 14.

Kristen Carder (36m 57s):
Right. And so, like, we don't let 14 year olds make decisions like that. And so just knowing like I was developmentally behind or delayed, that's really helpful for me to go back and forgive myself for getting a music performance degree.

Mark Graban (37m 12s):
Oh, what, what instrument or Vocal?

Kristen Carder (37m 15s):
Vocal. Yeah. And then I minored in piano. Oh,

Mark Graban (37m 18s):
Okay. So one other question I wanna squeeze in before asking a little bit about focus and the program there. Sure. Is it, is it, it's maybe hard to generalize, but when, when might it be helpful or when might it be a mistake to tell people that you work with about an AD HD diagnosis?

Kristen Carder (37m 37s):
That is a very loaded question. I actually have a podcast episode on this. It's called, should You Share your ADHD diagnosis? And I would say, first of all, I don't know. I don't know. Sure. It's going to differ for every human, at least here in America, h d is covered under the Americans With Disabilities Act. And so depending on the severity of your ADHD, you may be able to get accommodations at work. If that is your reason for sharing that you would like to get accommodations.

Kristen Carder (38m 17s):
It's a really good reason to share. If your reason for sharing is to make an excuse so that you don't have to be held accountable, it's not a great reason for sharing. These are my opinions, by the way, this is, these are Kristen Carder's opinions. If your reason for sharing is to build connection and community with your colleagues, the question that I would first ask yourself is, do my colleagues have the capacity? Have they shown a history of being able to honor what I say, validate my experience and hold space for the nuances of my life?

Kristen Carder (39m 3s):
Right? And that goes with anybody that you're thinking about telling. This is nobody's business. Nobody needs to know. I'm very open with my diagnosis, obviously, like it's my life's work. But that is not true for everyone. And so what I always say is, this is nobody's business. You don't have to tell a soul if you don't want to. If you choose to tell, make sure that you're telling people who have a history of being validating, understanding, kind, open. If you want to tell, let's say your mom, but your mom has a history of dismissing mental health, then maybe you tell her, but you expect to be dismissed.

Kristen Carder (39m 47s):
I wanna tell her because I want her to have this information, but I know she's gonna dismiss me and I'm willing to tolerate that. Right. So it, it's a really nuanced conversation, but I think that understanding why you want to tell someone is really important. So at work, if it's like, I need accommodations and I know that I deserve them because it's covered under Americans With Disabilities Act. Great. That's a perfect reason to tell.

Mark Graban (40m 12s):
So Mark Graven opinion here, that was really good advice, especially thinking of, you know, the situational element of who are you telling. And I, I think another phrase I picked up from, from your podcast, it's an explanation, not an excuse. Yes, I have probably said that 300 times. Yes. In the last nine months. Because I think that, I think that that captures it.

Kristen Carder (40m 33s):
It's so important that we first understand that for ourselves, and then we help our loved ones understand that as well. So when I forget to stop for milk on my way home, like when my husband texts me and he is like, Hey, can you stop for milk anywhere home? And I'm like, sure. And then I don't stop for milk on my way home. I don't just say, oh, which by the way, is because I have poor working memory and I can't hold the things in my brain, right? I don't just say, oh, well, ADHD hahaha and go about my business. I say, oh my gosh, I'm so sorry. I should have put a reminder in my phone because I know that I don't have a good working memory.

Kristen Carder (41m 14s):
I'll go pick up the milk now. Right? It's very different. It's a different type of conversation, but it is an explanation and it's a very good one. It's a very good explanation. But then we have to take responsibility ourselves for that and say, okay, this does explain it. So now what am I gonna do?

Mark Graban (41m 34s):
So that was a perfect segue, final question here. As much time as you have to talk about focused the program that you have that goes beyond medication to think about, okay, well what are strategies and, and things that we can and should be doing. Tell, tell us a little bit more about that program.

Kristen Carder (41m 48s):
Yeah, it's the joy of my life, so focused is a group coaching program where ADHD adults from around the world gather for community and support and coaching. So I, as the coach, lead coaching sessions, and I teach strategy classes. However, I am not the tips and tricks person. In my opinion, tips and tricks are all Googleable, and you shouldn't pay me for tips and tricks that you can Google, right? And so what I teach in my coaching program is how to accept yourself and your ADHD, how to let go of shame and regret from past mistakes.

Kristen Carder (42m 37s):
How to be persistent in going after your goals, even when it's hard, even when they're not exciting, even when you don't wanna do it anymore. How to engage with your finances even though you feel like you've made millions of mistakes with your finances. So the approach that I take is a very, what I like to say, I practice causal coaching. So I don't do accountability coaching, which is like, you know, let's break it down and make a plan and then I'll hold you accountable. What I practice is causal coaching, which is let's get to the root cause of why you're not doing that thing that you know you want to do.

Kristen Carder (43m 17s):
Why aren't you doing it? Let's figure it out. And let me coach you on all of that drama so that you can hold yourself accountable because you are smart and you know exactly what to do. Nobody comes into focused being like, I don't know what to do. Everyone knows what to do. They're just so pissed that they can't make themselves do it. It's like, why can't I just make myself do the thing that I know I should be doing? And so that's where an expert coach comes in and helps you to decipher and determine, okay, let's uncover that. Let's unpack that. Why aren't you doing it? Spoiler alert. Most of the time it's an emotion. Most of the time it's shame or regret or defeat or self-judgment or self-loathing.

Kristen Carder (44m 3s):
Most of the time it's one of those emotions that we've never been taught how to feel and process. And so a big part of our working together is me holding up a mirror and saying like, here's what's going on. So that you can see that reflected back to you. And then teaching you how to process your emotions, which we are all deficient in every single eight h deer. So deficient in recognizing emotions, naming emotions, processing emotions, soothing emotions, regulating emotions, all of that. And I have a whole course on that, but we, I mean, really, I would say like the crux of the program is that because our emotions fuel our actions.

Kristen Carder (44m 49s):
So if we're not taking the action that we know we should be taking, then we need to look at the emotion and say, what am I feeling? Or what am I not willing to feel? That's a long explanation. I don't know. I just, it's so fun. I, I love it so

Mark Graban (45m 4s):
Much. It's a good explanation. And, and the website spells out, you know, very clearly what it is, what it is, what it's about. So I, people hope people will go check that out. We've been joined here by Kristen Carder. Her podcast again is, I have d h d. And again, I'm, I'm, I'm so glad to be able to, like, it's weird. I've listened to your voice for many, many hours and never been able to interact with you. So the next time I'm listening to you to an episode, I'm have to try not to jump in and ask you a question. But Kristen, thank, thank you for all of that, and thank you for giving your time and your story and your insights here today.

Kristen Carder (45m 40s):
It was my pleasure, mark. Thanks. It's been fun for me too. I'm so glad we got to meet.

Mark Graban (45m 44s):
Well, thanks again to Kristen Carder. If you wanna learn more about her podcast, her focused program, and more, look for links in the show notes or go to As always, I want to thank you for listening. I hope this podcast inspires you to reflect on your own mistakes, how you can learn from them or turn them into a positive. I've had listeners tell me they started being more open and honest about mistakes in their work, and they're trying to create a workplace culture where it's safe to speak up about problems because that leads to more improvement and better business results. If you have feedback or a story to share, you can email me

Mark Graban (46m 24s):
And again, our website is MyFavorite

Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's upcoming book is The Mistakes That Make Us. His latest book is Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. He also published the anthology Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.