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Episode 30: Gerard Atkinson Episode 30

Episode 30: Gerard Atkinson

· 46:50

Welcome to episode #30 We’re thrilled to be joined by Gerard Atkinson today. 

Gerard is a director at ARTD Consultants. He is well-versed in program and policy evaluation, business analytics, and data visualization. His expertise extends to market and social research, financial modeling, and non-profit, government, and business strategy. A dedicated advocate for neurodiversity, Gerard serves as a board member for various Australian not-for-profits and advises on diversity, equity, and inclusion committees within the research and evaluation community. Outside of his professional endeavors, Gerard is a keen trail runner and was trained as an opera singer.

Welcome to the show Gerard!

  1. JN: Can you tell us about your experience with neurodiversity? When did you realize that you weren’t neurotypical? What challenges did you face? What is it like now?
    1. Diagnosed as autistic in 2019
      1. But always felt outside the neurotypical norm.
        1. Always felt different from others
          1. In terms of processing information.
          2. Experiencing the world.
          3. Was able to mask and was highly intelligent
            1. Placed in the gifted bucket.
      2. Diagnosis gave a new framework to experience the world
    2. Motivated by seeing other friends go through the diagnosis.
    3. There is a lot more awareness around autism, the challenge is around the way society is structured, not necessarily people with autism.
      1. Still a lot of opportunities not taken
  2. JC: What "work" projects are you concentrating on?
    1. Evaluation consultant
      1. Governments will design a program, roll it out and spend a lot of money
      2. Answers questions: “How effective was it?”, “Was it worth it?”
      3. Currently manages 10-12 evaluations at one time
    2. Evaluation framework
      1. Program logic:
        1. What activities are we doing?
        2. What outputs will that create?
        3. What outcomes will that generate for the target group?
          1. Short term
          2. Mid term
          3. Long term
        4. Sometimes measuring outcomes indirectly by measuring other things
          1. If we can’t measure this directly, what can we measure as a proxy?
        5. Being data and method agnostic.
  3. JN: How about the rest of the time? What do you enjoy doing in your off time?
    1. Peaks and Trails 50k at Dunkells
      1. Long run
      2. Training via
        1. 25k trail run.
    2. Weight training (several decades)
    3. Music
      1. (former opera singer)
      2. Sing
      3. Art
    4. Gardening
  4. JC: What does your morning routine look like and how has it evolved over time?
    1. 5:30 am wake up 
      1. go for a run - social but not too social (or weight training)
      2. Coffee
      3. Newspaper
    2. 8:30 am begin work 
       During COVID bad habits of getting straight into work after waking up. Changed habits by working with a mentor. Created a covenant with himself 
  5. JN: What do you do to optimize productivity during your working hours?
    1. Lives by calendar
      1. Chargeable work
      2. Non-chargeable work
        1. E.g. capacity building
          1. Supporting staff
      3. Tries to block out free time so staff can get time with him.
      4. No phone calls out of the blue.
      5. When there are calls
        1. Have some social time, some small talk.
    2. Deep work vs empowering team
      1. Blocks out deep work
        1. Will tell the team: “This is deep thinking time” - I need something urgently, put it through email.
  7. JC: What is one habit you'd like to remove from your life (either a bad habit or one that takes up too much time)?
    1. Coffee
    2. Mindless scrolling (LinkedIn)
  8. JN: How do you switch off at night?
    1. In bed by 9:30 pm
      1. Looks after recharge time.
    2. Wind down routine
      1. Chat with wife. Looking at memes.
    3. Doesn’t drink much alcohol
      1. Because affects the sleep cycle.
  9. JC: What resources (books, philosophies, apps, sensory toys) do you find most helpful for productivity and habit formation?
    1. Calendar/Microsoft Bookings
    2. “Thinking Fast and Slow” Daniel Kahneman 
      1. Masking = system 2 for ND people. Whereas NT people are in system 1 #short
    3. David Mayster - thought leader in the consulting industry “First among equals”
      1. Sounds great! Tough job to get the high performers to shine but also get coordination!
    4. “Let my people go surfing” founder of Patagonia
  10. JN: Where can people connect with you or find your work?
    1. LinkedIn
    2. Website (needs updating)
    3. Research Society conference in Melbourne
  11. JC: Do you have any final words or asks for our audience?
    1. 1 in 3 neurodivergent Australians are unemployed vs 1 in 6 for the disability workforce and 10x higher than the general unemployment rate
    2. ND workers have insight, qualifications, and experience yet are often not able to reach their full potential
    3. Autism, ADHD, and dyslexia diagnosis rates are increasing - we need to make sure there are jobs for them. 
    4. Eliminate barriers to employment 
    5. Need ND people to be transparent so that there are role models 

Joey’s creativity course


Listen to Focus and Chill - productivity tactics for AuDHDers and other neurodivergent folks using one of many popular podcasting apps or directories.

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