neurodiversity in business

Neurodiversity in Business – Interview

In this podcast episode, Kevin Britz, Lunchtime Series Host, discuss with Monique neurodiversity in business and how  it impacts leadership, productivity, and time management.

If you prefer to read, you can find the article below, or simply press play to listen to the episode. Enjoy!



Tell us more about you and your work

My name is Monique Lindner, I am originally from Germany and I am known as The Time Alchemist.

I help people to reclaim their time, increase their energy, and save their sanity and I do that with time alchemy which is a combined holistic approach to time management, leadership, mindset, and energy efficiency.

How have you discovered that being autistic is part of your personality and how do you use that to enhance what you do today?

Three years ago, during the pandemic, I started writing a book about my framework, The T.I.M.E. Method.

I was really focused on writing and it was very interesting because I started to feel that lockdown life was kind of my life.

My editor who is also a friend of mine started making some suggestions, as in funny but also not so funny, like “have you seen this meme about how lockdown life is the typical life of autistic people?”. She started pointing out a lot of things about how I was working with her, how I got stressed about little things and so on.

So I told her that my sister is autistic but she only found out three years ago. My friend looked at me and asked, “And you are not?” “Well”, I said, “no one really told me“.

So after that episode, I started researching what autism is because nowadays it is something very stereotypical portrayal.

The way the media put out autism is that autism is a disability: autistic people throw temper tantrums, we cannot look directly into someone’s eyes, we are dumb, we cannot speak so well and we are simply just not smart enough to exist in this society.

I obviously made this a bit more dramatic but that is what comes together.

The more I delved into the research, the more I found out about neurodiversity.

Having dyslexia is also neurodiversity, but everyone thinks it is just that people don’t know how to read and write.

In reality, it is how our brain process information differently and there is a circuit in our brain that can be much faster or slower on how the information is processed.

The brain of dyslexic people takes the information in 3 dimensions, in pictures, and in 3D objects. A “p” and a “d” look very similar so they mix it all up.

With my research, I found out that ADHD is also neurodiversity.

And my conclusion is that neurodiversity is not a disability. However, there are people who like to be identified as a person with a disability because their need for support is much stronger, so they need to be able to apply for funds for disability and things like this. This is not my case so I don’t identify myself as a person with a disability.

I don’t believe autism is a disability, I think what leads to a person on the spectrum not having the support they need, is what leads to the learning disability or the nonverbal causes of autism. Autism itself is literally just the difference in how our brain processes information.



neurodiversity in business

Why is important to have a conversation about neurodiversity in business?

A lot of entrepreneurs that start businesses get to a point where they have to make a decision to run a solo show or keep hiring people.

If you hire people chances are high that you hire someone with neurodiversity. And the funny thing is that most of these people don’t even know they are neurodiverse.

You will be shocked to know that 80% of the research on neurodiverse people has been done on white men.

This is why women have problems getting proper mental health care because all research has been done on men.

Autism manifests differently in individuals, and if you want to learn about neurodiversity in business is important to recognize that the experience of autism varies across different demographics. For instance, autism in a white adult woman like me is different compared to autism in a black man or an Asian woman in China. Likewise, the expression of autism can differ for a child in Africa. Each person’s experience with autism is unique

You will definitely have a neurodiverse person on your team whether you are aware of it or not, and you want to know and understand the science of it, how to treat them, and how to get the best out of this person.

neurodiversity in business

How does your autism show up in business for you?

Many people mistakenly believe that the autism spectrum is a linear concept, but that’s not the case.

We want to get away from the terms “high functioning” and “low functioning” autism because there is no such thing.

Whether you are autistic or not, high functioning and low functioning is a degrading term that is sometimes used to say if the person is functioning well in a neurotypical word or not.

As a society, we need to stay away from the thought that neurotypical is the standard and that is what we want to conform to.

We want to make diversity a standard, so everyone has a place and everyone is a norm, or better, no one is a norm.

This way, an autistic person does not have to mask and function highly in order to be accepted.

If someone is nonverbal, they still can be a genius because they have other special interests or abilities. Some people who are nonverbal are extremely intelligent, they just don’t tell you because they don want to speak with you. They have other forms of expression than their voice, and we need to accept that and let them be how they want to be.

As an autistic person, I am very good with looking people in the eyes but don’t talk to me between the lines because I don’t get it. This can sometimes lead me to trouble because people who are outside of the spectrum want me to read between the lines. and I just take things literally.


How does autism affect productivity?

I believe it affects communication in the workplace rather than productivity.

I have to say, my productivity is pretty good. I am more productive than other people because I have hyper-focus that other people don’t have. I also love structure habits and routines, so I am well organized. In general autistic people love structures.

In regards to communication, if I have someone as a leader or someone in my team who doesn’t understand that I am autistic and keep sending me messages “in between the lines”, I would get very frustrated.

The communication needs to be very concise, clear, and extremely precise. People have to tell me exactly what they want.

neurodiversity in business

Are there any other areas that people could pay attention to or notice when people are neurodiverse?

Yes, there are a few things to take into consideration with neurodiverse people, especially with neurodiversity in business, and I will talk specifically about autism but it can also be applied to ADHD.

Repetition of a topic: when hearing someone talk about the same topic that we are not interested in, over and over again, we can get really frustrated.

– Sensitivities: most autistic people have sensor sensitivity like noise, touch, smell, and taste. If you recognize that someone is especially in shock to hear loud sounds, you need to take this seriously because autistic people can get physical pain from noise or from strong smells. You have to be sensitive to that, even if you cannot understand it.

I have nerve pain from being in cold air conditions and from noises, so I have to make sure to have noise-canceling headphones all the time with me.

– The executive function that people sometimes miss out on. Some people can be extremely well functioning in their business but back home they are not able to do the most basic things.

For instance, if they are interested in one difficult business task, they carry out that task because they like it. While maybe they will avoid doing something as easy as the laundry because they don’t like to do that. So it becomes a difficult task for them to do.

– Questioning: If you have someone in your team who asks questions all the time, wondering why they have to do the task the way it was instructed and not in another way, chances are that they may be neurodiverse. Neurodiverse people need to understand the reason why they need to do something in order for them to make sense for them, otherwise, they cannot do the tasks.

How do we make a difference when we lead people?

The first thing to do is to not invalidate people. Do validate them, even though you don’t have experience with neurodiversity, even if you have no idea of how a person can experience such a different reality as you.

Do say “Your experience is real and I believe you”. That is the most underrated thing someone can say to you just to say “I see you, I hear you, and I want to help you, but I need you to tell me how can I help”

The neurodiverse person must be able to voice a certain form of a need or something that can be done at the moment to be supported.

Many neurodiversity people practice this. I always ask people to turn down the volume or to turn off the AC.

As a leader, if you invalidate the neurodivergent person, you invalidate the whole experience of their life. You cannot say that someone is being too sensitive or that they are overreacting.

I experienced quite a few of those things much later because in Germany we don’t have air conditioning. I went fully under the radar because some of my traits are really German: always being on time, and questioning everything. My friends told me I was just “extra German” when I told them I was autistic.

It is really important to understand that our experience in this world whether we are autistic or not it is different from someone else’s experience.

Everyone experiences this world differently. so as a leader, the best you can do is validate them and then ask questions. So instead of saying “ok I’m going to turn the AC off”, just ask first a very specific question like “Do you want me to turn the AC off?

We need specific yes/no questions. Not questions of the type “what do you need”

Autistic people have more neural pathways on a neuron which means all the info that comes in is much more amplified, noisier, tastier, etc.

A person with ADHD needs extra stimulation in order for them to stay in focus mode because the brain always wants to go back to survival mode, it is kind of the opposite of autism.

Time Management Tips for People with ADHD and Autism

For people with ADHD the best is not to plan ahead too far in advance. The optimal for them is to plan their day ahead the evening before. Plan tomorrow today.

They can also do it in the morning.

They must choose the 3 main tasks that will move the needle forward the fastest. To identify these tasks I always ask these questions: Is it going to make you more money? Is it going to give you time back? (for example automation, team management, etc.) or is it going to create an evergreen system that will make you money evergreen in the long run? For instance, creating a course, or something like that will not give you money straight away, but later.

It is good for people with ADHD to schedule time for procrastination between these 3 tasks. They need to choose 15-minute slots in between the tasks.

Most people with ADHD need a break after 1 hour or 45 minutes.

They can also use the Pomodoro method: focus for 25 minutes and then have a 5-minute break.

During this break, I recommend getting up, stretching, get water. Sometimes you want to check your Tik Tok App. Just set the timer to 5 minutes and do whatever you want.

Another productivity tip for people with ADHD is to compartmentalize your day.

For instance: Monday is admin day, emails, accounting, etc. Tuesday is socials and content day, Wednesday is a client work day, Thursday is recording videos day, and Friday is meetings day.

This is great because the brain does need a lot of time to switch between tasks, so the less you need to switch tasks the better.

In regards to productivity tips for people with autism, the longer time you can focus on one task, the better. Remove distractions, and put your phone away. Make sure you have written out what steps you have to follow and follow them.

Another good tip is to carry out tedious tasks on days when your energy is already not at its highest. This is because most tedious tasks are tasks that you don’t have to think about but they take you a lot of your energy. So you want to do them in a lower energy stage, you just need to do them but not think about it.

Lastly, I want to finish this conversation by pointing out that neurodiversity is not a disability it is a superpower and we need to know how to hone it.

If you are neurodiverse, get to know more about neurodiversity and use it as much as you can for your benefit.

Neurodiversity in Business - Interview
Neurodiversity in Business - Interview


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The Time Alchemist

I’m Monique

also known as
The Time Alchemist.

Time Alchemy is the courage of breaking your life and business down into pieces, looking at the patterns you are living and moving within daily. 

It is the art of leaving what is not serving you, finding those pieces that support you and your needs & desires and designing new ones to fill the gaps. 

Time Alchemy is the science of restructuring your life and business so it will serve you in the best possible ways, to fulfil you, to bring you joy, to ignite your passion and enrich your life (and bank accounts!). 

As your guide, I am here to help you transmute everything that is not serving you, into a life & business that let’s you thrive. 

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