Oct 26

here’s to the crazy ones

“Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

Rob Siltanen

Guys, I have a confession to make. A lot of people ask me how I do it. How do I balance family and the pizzeria and the consulting and the new projects and training and activities and Maadi Halloween and all the million things that are currently going on, including having just moved to a new home. I’ve thought very hard about whether I should share this secret, but after careful consideration, I’ve decided it’s time.

Well, first of all, I am learning to delegate. Helmy and I have designed this business, along with all others we are involved in, with a plan for it not to need us in the long run. Most entrepreneurs get very attached to their ideas or contributions and are often unable to detach themselves from the day-to-day. Not me. Not Helmy. We realized that creating brands and businesses is something we love to do, and we don’t plan on stopping at just this pizzeria. Make no mistake, it has been a wonderful proof of concept. But is that it for us? No! :)

My secret superpower is that I have ADHD. And like Spiderman’s uncle once said… with great power comes great responsibility. No?

Like everything in life, there is a good side and a bad side of ADHD. One of the worst things about ADHD is its name. As a self-proclaimed communications professional, I believe that ADHD needs a total rebranding, and I am prepared to help by starting to look for a better name (in my capacity as ex-Copywriter). The best name I’ve found so far is “Variable Attention Stimulus Trait”. Because I don’t have a problem with attention, just in the way I assign it or am able to regulate it sometimes, from the perspective of a neurotypical brain. Anyways, I am what they call “neurodiverse”. My brain is built and wired differently. Some areas are smaller, others are larger. The way I produce and process dopamine is different from “neurotypical” people, and that results in different behaviours and traits. My whole nervous system is DIFFERENT.

I have combined presentation ADHD, which in the DSM means that I display traits of both inattentiveness and hyperactivity. The other two kinds of ADHD are Predominantly Inattentive Type, whereby no symptoms of hyperactivity are present; and Predominantly Hyperactive/Impulsive Type. Some people are both, like me, which is the third type of ADHD.

But to me, these traits have served me well, despite not knowing where they came from for all my life. Even though I appear clumsy and inattentive sometimes, and I am very forgetful, and I have bruises everywhere, and I have time-blindness… I am also able to hyper-focus on things I love to do and finish in a few hours what others need days to do. I have infinite ideas, and I am very creative. Being a dreamer is something I would never want to change about myself! I just had to find the right place to channel it, and the corporate “real” world doesn’t offer very many avenues for loud girls who like to break the mould and sometimes appear to have a problem with authority because they have trouble following instructions, hate working on someone else’s schedule, prefer project-based deadlines, and prefer to improvise and create. PLUS in the Middle East and Arab world… oh man…don’t get me started.

Unlike the stereotypes attributed to people with ADHD, I am great at maths, gifted in writing and languages, I find comfort in structure and systems (I follow them well but have trouble creating them), and we all know how helpful that is for a baker, or even for an AVPN Pizza Maker!

Instructions? No. Structure? Yes. It’s different because for me, it’s more important to understand why I’m doing something, rather than just doing it. And structure implies logic, systems, connections. Unlike instructions, which imply compliance.

My boundless energy - aka “hyperactivity” - meant that for most of my life, I was very athletic, and it has helped my body withstand a lot of abuse when I have been less…healthy… and when I have had to birth three children in just over 3 years. Being pregnant and restless and hyperactive meant that I kept teaching yoga and walking many many kms per day, running up and down stairs, carrying groceries, and going about my daily life. It also meant that I was able to spend hours and hours on my feet when we started working on this pizzeria, with an 8-month-old infant at hand. By the time we opened, I was happily juggling between making pizzas, serving clients, answering calls, managing a team, training a team, making and delivering bread, working on new brands, writing a book, and running our whole online presence…while mothering three children 5 and under. I can’t help it. It’s how my system works, and if my hyperactivity isn’t projected on the outside, it reverts to the inside, and that’s when things get nasty.

The only bad part in all of this was that I did not know I have ADHD and I only found out a few months ago, after suffering a severe burnout. I was not giving my mind and body the rest it needed. But I am now in a better place and understand that the answer to most of my ailments is just…rest. Guilt-free rest. And yoga. Also time outdoors and some greenery. It’s why we live and work in Maadi! Plus, I understand why I spend all my money on travel now, which I not only plan on keep doing, but on designing into my lifestyle :)

I finally understand myself, and can channel my superpower in the right direction. For me, my ADHD diagnosis was all the therapy I needed, and after fiddling with medication, I have decided not to suppress this side of me, and to try working with it, rather than against it.

Seeing as October is ADHD awareness month, I thought it would be appropriate to bring this up now, and to mention that we will be looking for more people like me to build a dream team of doers, thinkers, dreamers and believers. Thanks to my ADHD, I am a jack of all trades. It’s true that I never stuck to any one job long enough, but that professional corporate “instability” led me to open my own business, and people with ADHD are 300% more likely to launch their own startup! You see “unfinished projects”, I see experience, motor skills building, fast learning, an unquenchable curiosity and thirst for what’s next! I see an ecosystem of multidisciplinary skills, knowledge, talents and interests that are able to be linked in the most creative of ways.

I am so very thankful for my ADHD, although I know this experience is not the same for everyone (trust me, I inherited my ADHD, and for that particular family member, it was and still is truly disabling). Even though I have had to traverse very hard and dark times in my life, I am glad that my own curiosity and ability to “see the bigger picture” (as opposed to the details, which bore me to death) have led me to using my ADHD as my ultimate enabler .

People who are hyper-specialised often quote the “jack of all trades” quote, but they never end up finishing it to the end, probably because it makes them feel so insecure about the ONLY thing they know how to do in life. I spent my whole life in a toxic cycle of disappointment and failure every time I tried to find my “forever job”, including this pizzeria, but quickly found myself demotivated and unable to push through the stages I find less fun and boring and repetitive, which happen to be right around the time when most neurotypical people start feeling safe and comfortable. I always looked at people who were able to keep the same jobs or keep doing the same thing for decades like they were aliens… What kind of brain is able to do this? What kind of person is able to feel fulfilled doing the same thing forever? What is THAT THING for me? Why can’t I find it? Why do I keep getting bored right when I get good at something? Am I the alien?

No I am not an alien, I just suck at follow-through. Now I know why. Who cares? I’ll stick to what I’m good at, and find a team who is good at what I suck at!

Here’s the full quote, for the record: “A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one”.

That is especially true for startups.

Because we are back at “startup” phase, if you can call it this. We are starting up a new kind of “agency”, and we will be needing more neurodiversity in our universe. Jacks of all trades. People who see the connections where others do not. People who are good at being DIFFERENT. This is not to say that our job descriptions won’t appeal to the neurotypical majority; on the contrary, we need you! This is just to say that if you are neurodiverse, like me, we have a space for you at WTC. If you are on the Autism Spectrum, have ADHD with or without hyperactivity, or feel different in any way…you are welcome here, this is a safe space. And we need you too!

Keep an eye out for new job announcements coming soon. Helmy and I will be building “The Mothership”, and we’ll be looking for people with multidisciplinary skills. If you think you’d be a good culture fit, you can send us your CV, portfolio, letter…or any way you’d best like to present yourself, anytime to themothership@whatthecrust.com

And follow us on Instagram for more!

Until we meet again…

With love,