Find Community If You Have ADHD– It’s Life-Changing

Find Community If You Have ADHD– It’s Life-Changing

Today our guest host, René Brooks, shares some of the details about her own journey with ADHD and reflects on some of the more serious struggles she has experienced along the way. The Black Girl, Lost Keys creator talks openly about leaving an abusive marriage, checking herself into a psychiatric hospital, as well as what it was like to lose her job and no longer be able to afford her ADHD medication.

René also shares how she began to build back her life by learning about her own ADHD, creating the super popular and amazing ADHD resource, Black Girl, Lost Keys blog, becoming a coach; and how she thinks everyone who has ADHD needs to find community.

“You feel normal. And you start to see these things that you do, or the impulsive way you behave not as evidence that you’re a terrible person who will never get it right, but just as part and parcel of this ADHD thing that you have.”

CLICK HERE to listen to René’s first appearance on Distraction in October 2020.

CLICK HERE to read René’s article in Healthline that is mentioned in this episode.

We want to hear from you! CLICK HERE TO TAKE OUR LISTENER SURVEY. Or write an email or record a voice memo and send it to [email protected].

Distraction is sponsored by Landmark College in Putney, Vermont.  It’s the college for students who learn differently! Landmark offers comprehensive supports for students with ADHD and other learning differences, both on campus and online. Learn more HERE!

We are excited to share that René Brooks is continuing her guest-hosting of Distraction through November and December! René is an ADHD coach, writer and advocate who also has ADHD herself. From Black Girl, Lost Keys website: René Brooks is a late-life ADHD success story. After being diagnosed 3 times as a child (7, 11 and 25) she was finally able to get the treatment she deserved. René decided that her passion for helping others sirhould be put toward peopl with this disorder who are struggling in silence or shame. She started Black Girl, Lost Keys to empower Black women with ADHD and show them how to live well with the condition. 

Check out this episode!

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A Reminder That Your Past Does Not Define Your Future

A Reminder That Your Past Does Not Define Your Future

Jacquelyn Phillips ‘ life story is one of hope and triumph. Just by reading the back cover of her book, Comfortably Uncomfortable: The Road to Happiness Isn’t Always Paved, you can tell she’s been through a lot. 

“Jacquelyn hated herself. She sabotaged everything she did before she even started… her upbringing was toxic… her marriage was crumbling… her friendships were built on lies… she tried to kill herself…”

Jacquelyn talks with Dr. Hallowell about her life, childhood, and the  low points that made her finally decide to choose a new path for herself in this open and frank conversation. Jacquelyn’s story is an incredible reminder that we all have the power within us to change.

Click HERE to get a copy of Jacquelyn’s book.

Jacquelyn’s website: GrownUpGrowingPains.com

If you have a question or comment you’d like Dr. Hallowell to address in an episode reach out to us! Write an email or record a voice memo and send it to [email protected].  

Learn more about the programs being offered this summer at Landmark College! There’s a summer program for high school students, a summer bridge experience, and a college readiness program. Go HERE to learn more. Landmark College in Putney, Vermont is the college of choice for students who learn differently. 

Learn more about our sponsor OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the #1 Omega-3 supplements for the past twenty years. Ned and his wife, Sue, take them every day. Distraction listeners will SAVE 20% on their first order with the code: Distraction at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media and produced by Sarah Guertin. 

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It’s Nice to Hear You – A Matchmaking Experiment

It’s Nice to Hear You – A Matchmaking Experiment

At the beginning of the pandemic last year Heather Li found herself out of work and newly single. She was lonely, living in New York City, and had a lot of time on her hands. So she decided to create a dating experiment, solely based on the exchange of voice messages between two people. Each “experiment” lasted for 30 days, with each pair sharing one voice message a day with their match. And brilliantly, Heather documented it all in a podcast so we could follow along and listen to what happens. 

Heather shares with Ned what she learned about her own communication style and the role vulnerability plays in really getting to know someone. It’s a fascinating conversation about the power of voice and the power of connection.

Listen to Heather’s awesome new podcast at It’s Nice to Hear You.

From the podcast’s website: IT’S NICE TO HEAR YOU explores human connection through the power of voice. The podcast is created from a matchmaking experiment based on the exchange of voice memos. It shares stories about compatibility, vulnerability and empathy, narrated by the creator of the experiment and anchored by the voices of a few strangers who participated.

If you have a question or comment you’d like Dr. Hallowell to address in an episode reach out to us! Write an email or record a voice memo and send it to [email protected].  

Learn more about the programs being offered this summer at Landmark College! There’s a summer program for high school students, a summer bridge experience, and a college readiness program. Go HERE to learn more. Landmark College in Putney, Vermont is the college of choice for students who learn differently. 

Learn more about our sponsor OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the #1 Omega-3 supplements for the past twenty years. Ned and his wife, Sue, take them every day. Distraction listeners will SAVE 20% on their first order with the code: Distraction at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media and produced by Sarah Guertin. 

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5,203 Things To Do Instead Of Looking At Your Phone

5,203 Things To Do Instead Of Looking At Your Phone

It’s more important than ever to slow down, look up from whatever device you’re on and take a few moments for yourself. If you’re not sure what to do in those few moments, author Barbara Ann Kipfer has plenty of ideas for you! The list-loving lexicographer and editor of Roget’s International Thesaurus joins Ned for a lighthearted chat about recognizing the simple things in life that bring you joy.

Barbara’s books mentioned in this episode:

5,203 Things To Do Instead Of Looking At Your Phone

14,000 Things To Be Happy About

Dr. Hallowell’s new book, ADHD 2.0, comes out January 12th. Pre-order Now!  Click here to pre-order your copy of ADHD 2.0.

Check out #NedTalks on TikTok! @drhallowell

Thanks to our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness! Dr. H takes OmegaBrite supplements every day and that’s why he invited them to sponsor his podcast. SAVE 20% on your first order at OmegaBriteWellness.com with the promo code: Podcast2020.

Click HERE to learn more about our sponsor, Landmark College, in Putney, Vermont. It’s the college of choice for students who learn differently. Dr. H has an honorary degree from Landmark!

Do you have a question or guest suggestion? Send an email with your thoughts to [email protected].

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin and our recording engineer/editor is Scott Persson.

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode is below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:
This episode is made possible by our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness. I’ve taken their Omega-3 supplements for many years and so has my wife, and that’s why I invited them to sponsor my podcast. I’m proud to have them. You can find all of their products online at omegabritewellness.com and brite is intentionally misspelled, B-R-I-T-E Omegabritewellness.com. This episode is also sponsored by Landmark College. Another institution that I have warm personal relationship with in Putney Vermont. It’s the college of choice for students who learn differently. Learn more at lcdistraction.org.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Hello, and welcome to distraction. I’m your host, Dr. Ned Hallowell. No matter pandemic or not, we’re all becoming quite addicted, if not addicted, at least to [inaudible 00:01:04] to our various screens and other electronic devices. And we have a guest today who has a book out titled 5203 Things to Do Instead of Looking at Your Phone. She’s pretty remarkable. This lady has written 80 other books, including 14,000 Things to Be Happy About, that has over 1.2 million copies in print. And I can tell you that’s a staggering number. She has a PhD in linguistics, a PhD in archeology, a PhD in Buddhist studies and a BS in physical education. My gosh. Barbara Ann Kipfer, did I pronounce that right?

Barbara Kipfer:
Yes, you did. I’m a hundred years.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You’re amazing. And it’s an incredible. 80 books and three PhDs and a degree in physical education. Did you have a favorite sport?

Barbara Kipfer:
I wanted to be a football coach. That was the plan. I loved basketball, but I wanted to be a football coach. And then I got to college and my advisor said, “Really? You’ve got to be kidding me.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, you marched to the beat of your own drum.

Barbara Kipfer:
So I ended up being a sports’ writer, which was great, but I was working in Chicago and that meant working late at night until the wee hours of the morning in a big, big city. So I said, “What else can I do with words?” And I thought about dictionaries because I had read them. That was the kind of book I like to read, it was dictionaries. So I became a lexicographer and that’s what I’ve been doing for 40 years.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Wow. Well, you don’t write sports anymore?

Barbara Kipfer:
I don’t, but I am very much interested in writing some books about sports in my future life.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I’d love to ask you a few questions about that. So you became a lexicographer. I wrote my undergraduate thesis in college about a lexicographer.

Barbara Kipfer:
Are you serious?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I’m dead serious.

Barbara Kipfer:
Who did you write about?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Samuel Johnson.

Barbara Kipfer:
Oh, there you go.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. The first dictionary of the English language. He also wrote a few other things, and his definition in his dictionary of a lexicographer was a harmless drudge.

Barbara Kipfer:
I know. A harmless drudge.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Exactly. But you’re much more harmful than that, I think.

Barbara Kipfer:
Well, I don’t know. I am a drudge though. You see how much I like to work?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes, that’s wonderful.

Barbara Kipfer:
The thought of retirement is-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Don’t do it-

Barbara Kipfer:
My husband will tell you, not something I like to entertain.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Don’t do it until you have to. I’m 70 years old and they’ll have to carry me out, but I’ll do this as long as my brain allows me to.

Barbara Kipfer:
Well, my first thought when this pandemic started was I’m going to lose my job. And by golly, thank goodness I still have it. And it’s just amazing. I thought the company I worked for would start going downhill and they’ve been rising. You can’t predict things.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. No, you sure can’t.

Barbara Kipfer:
Everything you worry about doesn’t happen, everything you don’t worry about that’s what’s going to happen.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So I’m sure all of our listeners are waiting with bated breath to hear some of the 5,200 and three things we can do, instead of-

Barbara Kipfer:
You think we’re going to give some away, huh?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. Give some away.

Barbara Kipfer:
Well, here’s the thing. When I first got an iPad, which was a while ago, I’m not an early adopter, but I’m a fairly early adopter. I would leave the thing. It would just be there for emergencies. I never looked at it. The kids and my husband would say, “Why do you have an iPad? You never use it.” Now, the thing is another appendage. I actually probably use it more than my computer. And it’s just addictive. When I finally picked it up and started using it, it became addictive. I think that’s why phones are for a lot of people. My phone stays in my purse and I don’t use it. But the iPad that became my thing, I guess. And if I don’t have something to do reading a book, petting the cat, doing something useful, I pick the thing up for no reason and I just scan and say, “What app can I open and look something up?”

Barbara Kipfer:
It’s not good. I don’t have to explain that to anybody. It’s not good. So I started thinking, I love to make lists. I had told my publisher, Workman Publishing, many times I had ideas for things to do for people, things to do at the beach, things to do at a museum that were a little different, like a little out of the line sort of what you would normally do in those places. And then finally, my editor about two years ago, Mary Ellen ONeill said, “Why don’t we do a book about things to do, but make it about instead of using your phone.” Which was a brilliant idea. I’m going to give her credit because I didn’t come up with that part of it. So this is about what you can do when you’re about to pick up your phone or you’ve been messing with your phone. And then you say, “Wait a minute, how useful is this for my brain?”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Over the past few months, I’ve spoken to my friend, the founder and creator of Omega Brite Wellness, Dr. Carol Locke, about the benefits of taking Omega Brite’s, Omega-3s, CBD and other supplements. Here’s a clip from one of those conversations. Now there are many different products, brands of fish oil. Why is Omega Brite the best?

Dr. Carol Locke:
What I can speak to with Omega Brite is it’s a very different formula than typically what you can get in the store or online. And Omega Brite is clinically proven. We have over 10 studies in major academic centers showing Omega Brite improving mood, helping with bipolar, with depression, with ADHD, with anxiety, with inflammation. So it’s a very proven product for you to gain these benefits. And these benefits, we know, come from Omega Brite. You can’t get that with a typical Omega-3, which has say 180 milligrams of EPA in it. That just isn’t going to provide that benefit.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Distraction listeners, you can save 20% on your first order at omegabritewellness.com by using the promo code podcast2020. I want to tell you about Landmark College in beautiful Putney, Vermont. It is the best college in the world for students who learn differently with ADHD, for other learning differences or autism spectrum disorder. It’s fully accredited, not-for-profit offering bachelor’s and associate degrees, bridge programs, online dual enrollment courses for high school students and summer programs. They use a strength-based model at landmark, which is the model that I certainly have developed and subscribed to.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
To give students the skills and strategies they need to achieve their goals in life and really expand upon what they believe they’re capable of doing. It is just a wonderful place. And I can’t say enough good about it. I myself have an honorary degree from landmark college of which I am very proud. Landmark College in Putney, Vermont is the college of choice for students who learn differently. To learn more, go to lcdistraction.org. That’s lcdistraction.org. Okay. Let’s get back to today’s topic. Can you give us some of the 5,203 things I, or anyone else can do instead of looking at our phones?

Barbara Kipfer:
My idea for it is you open the book to just any place, just randomly open up because it is a random list. So I’m going to do that now. I’m going to open it and it says, play a game of paintball. Okay. Roll around in your office chair, dance in the moonlight, they could bake a dessert, interview a person you admire. I didn’t make that up, it’s really in the book. Feed a squirrel carefully, excuse a blunder, frame something you painted, invite friends for a hike, make a salad, create a space to do yoga, open a drawer and sort the contents. There are a quite a few in here. Little things to do around your house that you may have put off, forgotten about, or really need a reminder of. So here’s one, picnic on the fire escape, map out your ideal road trip, flip or turn the mattress, open stuck windows, donate your old books, balance on tiptoe, play in autumn leaves and eat all your spinach.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
These are great. And how did you come up with them? Did you just sort of sit down and let your mind wander?

Barbara Kipfer:
I did that. And what I did was because I’ve written a lot of list books. I kind of just page through those to trigger some ideas, because it’s really easy to think of things to do with your devices. So I figured you got to get back into the mindset of thinking about what things involve no devices. So I use my other list books that seemed like a fair enough way of going about it. I looked at some books that were written for kids. Most of them were pretty dated about things kids could do and things kids could do outside in the backyard and things like that.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Sounds fun.

Barbara Kipfer:
It wasn’t easy getting to this number. I’m pretty good at making lists and I’m pretty good at making lists where I don’t repeat myself, but I needed a lot of help double checking the manuscript afterwards to make sure I did not just repeat something like they’re slightly different wording.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You came up with 5,203, but that’s nothing compared to your book about 14,000 things to be happy about.

Barbara Kipfer:
Yeah. But it’s nothing compared to my database, which is on my website, which has 176,000 things to be happy about.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
176,000 things to be happy-

Barbara Kipfer:
176,000. And I can tell you, there’s no repeats in that either.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
How in the world?

Barbara Kipfer:
I’ve been doing that since I was in sixth grade. So now we’re talking about 50 plus years that I’ve been writing down things to be happy about. Somebody who interviewed me said, you must have done three or four a day during this whole time. And I do, I just still find so many things to write down that are things to be happy about.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Can you name off the top of your head some of your favorite things to be happy about?

Barbara Kipfer:
Oh yeah. Blueberry muffins, that was my first entry. I love things just simple stuff like the feeling of receiving a genuine compliment. That is something we remember for a long time.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, that’s a very good one.

Barbara Kipfer:
Study hall in the school, hot tomato soup. I have a lot of food entries. Somebody asked me once, “Why are there so many food entries?” And I said, “It’s better to read about food than eat all of it.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. That’s really cool.

Barbara Kipfer:
And most of the stuff that I write into the database, which… When the book was published, I said to Peter Workman, I said, “Now, what do I do?” And he says, “What do you mean now what do you do? Don’t stop. You’ve done it up to now. Just keep writing down what you like.” And that was very inspirational to hear. A book being published doesn’t mean you should stop doing, what’s your favorite thing to do.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Absolutely not, Barbara.

Barbara Kipfer:
So I read things that authors write that are so poignant. Here’s a phrase, the closing eyelids of the day. I read that somewhere and it’s like poetry.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes. And you have the soul of a poet, but the mind of a lexicographer.

Barbara Kipfer:
Right. Well, remember dictionaries are actually lists to. So dictionary [inaudible 00:16:08]. I’m the editor of the Roget’s International Thesaurus, that is one big list there.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Wow. You’re a regular genius, Barbara. I’m amazed.

Barbara Kipfer:
No, I just work hard. No genius.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
No, you have a lot to work with. You’ve got massive talent. Well, listen, we’re out of time, but what a great read for anyone who wants to just keep something by your bed, 14,000 Things to Be Happy About and 5,203 Things to Do Instead of Looking at Your Phone by Barbara Ann Kipfer, what a wonderful kind of book to have right next to you. And I can tell every single one of those things is something that all of us could benefit from doing instead of looking at our phone. Thank you so much for joining me and joining my wonderful audience, who I’m sure-

Barbara Kipfer:
Thanks for the invitation. I enjoy your work very much.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Thank you so much. Thank you so much, Barbara. Well, that’s it for today. Thanks so much to Barbara for joining me. Her book, 5,203 Things to Do Instead of Looking at Your Phone is available online wherever you buy your books, or you can click the link in our show notes, and please continue to reach out to us at [email protected] That’s [email protected] and follow Distraction on your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We’re trying to really beef up our social media presence. And please remember to tell your friends about this podcast. We want to keep growing our wonderful Distraction community. And while I’m praising social media, I should also say you should get Barbara’s book. So you won’t just stay glued to social media.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. The podcast is recorded and mixed by the super talented Scott Persson, a genius in his own right and produced by the equally talented genius laden, Sarah Guertin. I’m your host, Dr. Ned Hallowell saying goodbye for now. The episode you just heard was made possible by my good friends at Omega Brite Wellness. I take their supplements every day and that’s why I invited them to sponsor my podcast. Shop online at Omega Brite and that’s B-R-I-T-Ewellness.com.

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Ned Believes Every Day Should Be Gratitude Day

Ned Believes Every Day Should Be Gratitude Day

Ned celebrates World Gratitude Day by sharing his appreciation for the life and service of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

October is ADHD Awareness Month and we want to hear your ideas for the show! What topics should we cover? What aspect of ADHD do you want to learn more about? Write an email or record a voice memo with your thoughts and send it to [email protected].

Thanks to our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness! Distraction listeners, you can SAVE 20% on your first order with the promo code: Podcast2020 at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

Click HERE to learn more about our sponsor, Landmark College, in Putney, Vermont. It’s the college of choice for students who learn differently.

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin and our recording engineer/editor is Scott Persson.

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode is below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:
This episode of Distraction is sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. Shop [email protected] That’s B-R-I-T-E, OmegaBritewellness.com. And by Landmark College, offering comprehensive support for students with ADHD and other learning differences. It is the college of choice for students who learn differently. And I have an honorary degree from that college. Learn more at lcdistraction.org.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Hello, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell with a mini episode of Distraction. Monday, September 21st was guess what? National world, not national, World Gratitude Day. What a great day to reserve, ideally every day is world gratitude day. We’re alive, and the more we can give thanks the better. But I thought I would comment now on World Gratitude Day by speaking about my own personal gratitude. And I am sure I share it with most of you, if not all of you, for the life and service of the great Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I don’t think you could really have anything bad to say about this woman and you could have so much good, so much good.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Even those who disagreed with her, absolutely diametrically like justice Scalia, loved this woman. They would disagree, write nasty opinions to each other, and then go to the opera together. That’s the way it ought to be. She was the hardest working woman you could ever imagine. People who clerked for said they became like her family because she was never not working and they were the people who were around her. She worked so hard for women’s rights. Much as Martin Luther King is to Black people’s rights and civil rights, you might say Ruth Bader Ginsburg is to women’s rights. And I remember the exchange in the movie about her, where she’s talking before the Supreme Court and one of the Justices says to her, “Ginsburg, where in the Constitution does the word woman ever appear?” And Ginsburg responded, “Well, your Honor, nowhere in the Constitution does the word freedom appear either.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And you know, she was brilliant, witty, dry, but beyond every reckoning, fair, honest, believing in truth to the best of her ability to discern it and trying to render opinions that would advance the cause of justice wherever she could. Never did she ever sell out. Never did she ever come under the rubric of someone else’s sway. Never did she ever give into the power of popular persuasion or peer pressure. She was her own woman, but a woman very attached to all of humanity, very attached, deeply committed, there to serve all of us. There to serve all of us, not a selfish bone in her body.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I am so grateful for the life and service of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. What she did for me, my family, my town, my state, my country, my world. That woman did so much in her slight frame with that characteristic tilt to her jaw and twist to her lips. She just was wise, brilliant, big hearted, a great, great woman. So join me in commemoration of World Gratitude Day and make World Gratitude Day become every day in your life. And maybe to give it a jumpstart, just think of the life and service of the wonderful, brilliant, loving Ruth Bader Ginsburg. This is Dr. Ned Hallowell with a mini episode of Distraction.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, I want to once again thank you to our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness. I’ve been taking their omega-3 supplement for years and recently started their CBD supplement as well. OmegaBrite products, I trust them because I know the woman who’s in charge of the company, Harvard medical school graduate. She’s very fussy about quality, efficacy, and is always looking to make sure that the product she has is the best in the business.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And Distraction listeners can save 20% off their first order with the promo code podcast2020 at OmegaBritewellness.com. All right, well next month, October, that’s the month that comes after September. See, I’ve still got my brains. October is ADHD awareness month. So be sure to reach out to us with your questions, thoughts, and show ideas. We love, love, love getting these, it sends shivers up and down my spine. Your emails and voice memos will affect what we do in October. So please take charge, send us your email or voice memo with an idea, a comment, a thought, a show, a recipe. We don’t care, we just love to hear from you. And send them to [email protected] That’s the word [email protected] Remember to check us out on social media, please, we’re trying to beef that up. Distraction is on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. This podcast is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is the wonderfully talented Sarah Guertin and our recording engineer and editor is the equally, if not even more talented, Scott Persson, with two S’s. This is Dr. Ned Hallowell saying goodbye for now.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The episode you just heard was sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD formulated by Omega Brite Wellness, creators of the number one omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. Shop online at OmegaBritewellness.com.

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Mental Illness Affects 1 in 5 Families

Mental Illness Affects 1 in 5 Families

Mental illness is so prevalent in the U.S. that we now have a reduced life expectancy as a result of 2 specific causes, and the pandemic is only making things worse. Dr. Ken Duckworth, the chief medical officer for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), joins Dr. H to talk about how his organization helps those with bipolar disorder, PTSD, OCD, schizophrenia, depression, thoughts of suicide, and other conditions.

Looking for help? Learn about NAMI by clicking HERE.

Is there a topic you’d like Dr. Hallowell to explore in a podcast? Write an email or record a voice memo on your phone and send it to [email protected].

Learn more about our sponsor, OmegaBrite CBD. Distraction listeners can SAVE 20% on their first order with the code: Podcast2020. Shop online at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin and our recording engineer/editor is Scott Persson.

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode is below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:
This episode of Distruction is sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third party tested and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
If anybody here is listening to Ned’s podcast and lives with schizophrenia, or loves someone with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, severe post-traumatic distress, has had a suicide attempt, NAMI is a great group. It is a great group, and one thing you’ll know is that people will listen to you. They won’t dismiss you, they know how hard this is, they know how much pain there is in this, and they will embrace you.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Hello and welcome to Distruction, I am your host Dr. Ned Hallowell. I am really excited about our show today. As you know, I have some very special people in my life and one of those is Dr. Ken Duckworth. I’ve known him since he was a resident back at Mass Mental Health Center, and I used to call him one of the living saints of this world. He’s an amazing man, he’s a Harvard professor, a psychiatrist and the Chief Medical Officer for NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Ken and I share a personal history in that both of us had bipolar fathers, and that’s what brought us into the field. We exchange stories about that often. Ken is also double board certified in adult and child psychiatry, and he’s completed a forensic psychiatry fellowship, there’s nothing he doesn’t know about. He’s also an incredibly devoted dad to his three wonderful, brilliant daughters and has made them his top priority throughout his life. Another thing we share with me and my three kids and him with his three kids.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
We over the years have grown up together and even though I’m a little bit older than he is, he is one of the most special people I know. Without further ado, let me welcome my friend the…

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I’ve got to meet this guy if any of that’s true.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well he is.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
[crosstalk 00:02:35].

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
It’s you Ken, just look in the mirror.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
[inaudible 00:02:37] all right, so I want to start with a story if I may.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Please.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
This is about Ned, and in 1986 I took the radical path which was extremely unfashionable, to write about my dad’s bipolar disorder as the reason I wanted to become a psychiatrist. This essay was very personal and intense and real, my father was a very good man with a very bad illness. I spent a lot of time at state hospitals, police coming to the house and then on alternate summers or falls or winters, my friends and relatives saying, “How come you got the nice dad?”

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I’m like, “Yes, I did get the nice dad,” but there was an asterisk there which is that, his bipolar disorder was quite severe and it made a big mark on me. This is 1986, this is NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness had just gotten started. I thought, “I’m just going to write the truth because for God’s sake I’m going into psychiatry. Surely someone will understand what this is like and have been through a personal experience.”

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Little did I know how naïve that was and I went to 15 of the best programs in America. 14 of those people ignored my essay, literally talking to me about my major in Political Science or my passion for college football, which is ongoing. I went to the University of Michigan and no, I don’t want to talk about Ohio State.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
One person that I interviewed with the day before I saw Ned in Boston, at our world’s famous Harvard Institution, said to me, he’s the only person besides Ned who I met the next day who took a look at my essay. He said, “So, you want to help your father, that’s a terrible reason to become a psychiatrist.” I say that with an accent because he had an accent.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
He apparently was a very famous person because I was a 26-year-old scared kid out of medical school, I didn’t know what that whole thing was that he was a world famous psychoanalyst. I said, “Well, I have been traumatized by this experience, but I loved him very much. I thought it might be good if I could see if I could make a difference because I know a little bit about what it’s like to love someone with a severe illness and see them for their strengths.”

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
He further ridiculed me and before I left and I walked out to my car, burst into tears and didn’t even finish the interview with that world famous program, I asked him, “One last question,” and again I sound like I have confidence but I don’t at the time. I’m a kid, I know no one. I said, “What would be a good reason to become a psychiatrist?” He paused for a minute, I think nobody had ever asked him that hard of a question. Paused for a really long time and he said, “Well, if your father is a psychiatrist, that would be a good reason.” I said, “Don’t we have something of a workforce shortage in the field?” Like I did say it, I got in one punch but then I left and I even skipped the free lunch, which is very unlike me if you knew me at all. I walked in my car, burst into tears and the next day I met Ned Hallowell.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Now, I’m going to finish this story about this world famous hospital flash forward 14 years and I’m the commissioner of mental health and this hospital does something very bad to a patient. When I called them into my office I wanted to remind them that I had the power to shut their facility because I was over licensing and control. What I did is, I didn’t do that of course. Maybe wonder what kind of person I was because I did have the power to actually harm them back, but I said, “I’d like to tell you a story.” I told them this story about how they had treated me when I was a nobody, but now I was the commissioner of mental health with power over their facility. I don’t know if they listened to my story, but it was very therapeutic to tell it.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
That next day I got up and I thought, “Maybe psychiatry isn’t for me.” I liked cardiology and I noticed they drove nicer cars than the psychiatry. I thought maybe I could just switch my whole orientation and just go into cardiology. I like talking to people about their hearts, it seemed very concrete and I really thought that morning that it wasn’t for me.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
After 14 programs had ignored me, one program had humiliated me, the last interview I did was with Ned Hallowell at the Massachusetts Health Center. The other three people I interviewed with at Mass Mental Health Center were very nice, but they also ignored my essay. It was just too much to take on, I mean you want to deal with this guy’s problems and his issues and how does that fit into who he is?

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Ned read my essay and I’m going to say 45 or 50 people I interviewed across America, he was the only person who read the essay, looked at me and said, “What a great thing. You know what this is like. Do you know what a difference you can make in people’s lives?” When Ned said that to me, I made a decision to move to Boston from Philadelphia. I’m still affiliated with the same Massachusetts Mental Health Center three decades later.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
It matters how you talk to people and it matters how you talk to them about their vulnerabilities. Ned was encouraging and supportive. You also encouraged me to pursue my actual interest, which was the first person and family experience of living with a condition and try to master it.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Then of course I found the National Alliance on Mental Illness or they found me, and I’ve been their National Medical Director now Chief Medical Officer for 15 years. I found this community of people who live their first experience and the family experience and Ned’s encouragement, pursue what you want to do. You might actually have some knowledge or advantage through your traumatic experiences that will help you be a better doctor.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
That’s a long story about Ned, but it’s the crucial story of my becoming a psychiatrist because for that one day after I was humiliated at the world famous Harvard Institution down the street, I thought seriously about becoming a cardiologist.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well I’m glad you didn’t do that Ken.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I do drive a Mazda, it should be noted I could be driving a Bima, but psychiatry is my calling. I just needed one person to respond to my essay with an affirmation or at least an inquiry of, why was that important? Ned you made a big difference in my career and I shall never forget that.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, thank you so much and you in turn have made a huge difference in the lives of thousands if not millions of people around the country. With various kinds of mental illness, do you want to just talk a little bit about, what are some of the misconceptions in the general public that you could disabuse people of?

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Well I’d start with the idea that these aren’t real illnesses. Back in the day before this thing called mental health parody, I testified before Congress in multiple state houses that my dad had bipolar disorder which easily could have killed him if he didn’t receive medical care, and his medical care was the bare minimum. I had the misfortune of having cancer as a psychiatric resident and I could have been dead of course through an illness that would have killed me if I had not attended to it.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I said and somehow in our society, this is in the 1990s, cancer is considered legitimate, [inaudible 00:10:11] casseroles they call you a hero. They offer to cover for you, they send you flowers. My father after his manic episodes was isolated, alone, people wouldn’t talk to us at church. Church is supposed to be theoretically nice people, who would all move away from us after a manic episode. I thought, this was a big part of my life in my 40s which was to fight for this idea of mental health parody.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
These conditions are real conditions. Is it true that there’s things that we don’t know about the brain that’s absolutely true? Is it true that I can’t tell you how lithium works to save people’s lives? It’s true. Might have something to do with membrane stabilization, but is it true that we don’t really know how the antipsychotics impact voices? The answer is, it’s really humbling because there’s a lot we don’t know. The fact that we don’t know a lot about the brain has nothing to do with the fact that these are real conditions.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
If you need to any further proof, I mean look at the evidence on suicide which has gone up steadily over the last two decades. From 1999 to 2018, we’ve had essentially a straight line of increase in suicide. At the same time we’ve had an increase in overdoes deaths too to opioids. These two illnesses together are conditions, are outcomes together are for the first time in 100 years caused a reduction in the American life expectancy.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Really? Wow!

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
The deaths by suicide and the deaths by overdose, the French continue to smoke their brains out, drink coffee up to the max and their life span keeps expanding. This is an American problem, and it has something to do with health disparity, it has something to do with the complexity of the uninsured but it has a lot to do with the fact that mental illnesses are not fully treated. Because of our problem with opioids, we’ve seen a lot of premature death.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
When you say mental health parody, Ken, what does that mean, mental health parody?

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Mental health parody means your insurance company can’t give you unlimited visits to see your oncologist, which of course as a cancer patient when I was a young man, I was allowed to do anything I wanted to. I think my treatment probably cost half a million dollars, while final copay was 50 bucks. Cancer was legitimate, my illness was legitimate. Was I grateful? I’m incredibly grateful. Medical science saved my life but the insurance company at the same time would have $500 as your outpatient psychotherapy maximum.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
That meant I could go see an oncologist twice a week if I wanted to, but I can only see a mental health practitioner perhaps five times if they charge $100 an hour. If they had the courage to charge 250 an hour, I only had two sessions that were covered. This is the inequity that was structured into the mental health system and into health insurance.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Mental health parody was a big cause celeb of mine personally and largely National Alliance on Mental Illness made this happen. The first version was 1998, Domenici and Wellstone. Domenici was a Senator from New Mexico, Wellstone a Democrat from Minnesota and they together had family members with serious mental illness. They got it, and they did version kind of 1.0 and then later on Patrick Kennedy with the affordable Care Act and all the activity after the housing collapsed 2008.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
This amendment was tied to it, and to make the long story short, mental health access has improved. I think a lot of people still feel that we’re not at true parody yet. That means treating them exactly the same, but I do think we’re going in the right direction.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
What percentage of families in the country have at least one member who does have a serious mental illness?

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
The answer Ned is one in five Americans would endorse, one in five families have a person who would endorse an anxiety disorder, a depressive disorder. Another mood disorder like bipolar disorder, psychotic disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder, OCD, these are kind of the major categories. For serious mental illness the number is smaller, that’s about one in 17 people has a condition that is severely impacting their functioning. That is brain based and it involves emotion, behavior, cognition that is severely impacting their functioning. Frequently with work, relationships and their health and self-care.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. What percentage of people who could benefit from help from a mental health professional actually consult the mental health professional?

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
That’s a good question. We think less than half of people with most mental health conditions actually get help.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Wow!

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Well the good news is since we’ve done this whole mental health parody thing, the number of people who are seeking help is increasing. We saw this in the pandemic. NAMI has a helpline 1-800-950-NAMI which is staffed by individuals with first person experience or family experience. Our calls went up very substantially.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Wow!

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
The other thing which was surprising in the pandemic is the American mental health field not known for sprinting, pivoted in three days to become a teleservice. The experience of the therapists and the patients has been very positive, although not universally positive, but I think it’s a new way of delivering care that’s here to stay.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
The therapists were surprised that the people always show up, that the cancellation rate is low. That they don’t have that first five minutes of accession where they can read CNN online because the patient show up on time as they do for their professional meetings or other Zoom calls during the course of the day. The patients notice that it’s convenient, they get heard and they don’t have to pay for parking or fight traffic.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I think that for people who don’t have a lot of privacy, it’s important to have a phone service covered so people can go into their car. If you live in a studio apartment with another person and part of your experience is to talk about that person, privacy can be a challenge. I do think there are people who are a little bit paranoid of technology. There are people for whom this isn’t an ideal setup. I think if you talk to people they’d rather see somebody like you Ned in person, but given the fact that we’re in the middle of our first pandemic in our lifetime, the rules have changed. I think the mental health field has responded.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
They’ve changed by using Zoom or some other platform, that’s one.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Any platform that they’ve been using has made a difference, and it’s interesting the other fields of medicine have really struggled. How do I do ophthalmology care? How do I take care of people’s knee problems? Well, those things are very hard to do virtually but because our skillset is listening, judgment, empathy, compassion, and thoughtful reflection and potentially recommendations, that’s a skillset that’s ongoing.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
We can’t touch the patients. We’re not supposed to take their blood pressure. We have to be thoughtful about what we’re trying to do here in the field of medicine and it turns out mental health is an incredibly easy thing to apply to the tele space. I think that’s been a great gift.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Do you think that will continue after the pandemic is over?

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I do think people will want to see their therapist in person. I think they’ll want to, but now that they’ve been thrown into the deep end of the teletherapy pool, and realized they can swim pretty well, I think a lot of people are going to say, “You know, it’s an hour to drive to Sudbury,” you probably don’t charge people for parking Ned at your office.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
No.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Sudbury’s not next to my house, so if I want to come see you as a professional, be an hour commitment going out, an hour commitment coming back, I’d had to pick up some apples in Concord on the way. It’s four hours round trip, so it’s a big commitment. If I could see you by pushing a button, then go back to work or engage in child care or do any other tasks that might be relevant like cooking dinner for the family, I think I might choose to do that some of the time. Some other time I just break down and make the trip.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, I have been taking a new supplement called OmegaBrite CBD. Listeners know that Brite is spelled, B-R-I-T-E, so it’s Omega B-R-I-T-E CBD. As I had mentioned before, OmegaBrite CBD was created by my good friend Dr. Carol Locke, graduate of Harvard Medical School and her company, OmegaBrite Wellness. They have been making the number one omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well Carol and her team decided to break new ground and having set the standard for purity, safety and efficacy in the world of omega-3s and they’ve brought that same commitment to excellence to their new CBD supplement. I take it myself, it helps me with my reactivity, my impatience. It kind of just puts a smoother edge. It’s in no way is it a buzz or a high or anything like that. It’s way more subtle, but it’s a very noticeable subtle effect and one that I have come to really appreciate as I take it every day.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
All right, get OmegaBrite CBD online at omegabritewellness.com and now Distruction listeners can save 20% on their first order by using the promo code podcast 2020. That’s podcast 2020, go to omegabritewellness.com and order OmegaBrite CBD. You’ll be glad you did just as I am.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
What about the person who’s listening now and is saying, “This living at home and this keeping social distance is starting to drive me crazy.” That’s not a mental illness but what should that person do?

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Well first of all I don’t think anybody likes it. Although I have one friend who’s a psychiatrist who’s a severe introvert, who seems happier. He works out of his basement, has lunch with his wife every day. I go over to his backyard every other week, we stay at 20 feet away from each other and chat. I think his quality of life has improved. Now, this speaks to how individual this all this.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
True.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I of course I’m an extrovert.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes you are.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I struggle to not see my friends. I don’t like not going down to my coffee shop at the end of my street and hanging out, and talking to the owners. The owners are hiding in their masks, it’s not a convivial environment. In fact, all the tables have been removed.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Oh gosh.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
You can have a standing chat for two minutes, nobody checks in about my daughter who used to work there, but there’s something lost there. I guess what I would say is isolation is hard on all of us. If you have an anxiety disorder, depressive disorder, it’s a challenge. You have to figure out, how do you stay connected with people?

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Connection is crucial for mental wellbeing and it doesn’t solve all problems, but through your faith group, through AA, through anomie connection, through some other vehicle. I have a Monday night meeting with four friends, we used to go out to dinner once a month and now we meet once a week. It’s fun.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s wonderful.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I actually look forward to it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s wonderful.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I have a friend deficit disorder during the variation on the thing you study. It’s hard to be isolated.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
It is.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
It is weary. I will say that, I do think it’s going to be a very long haul, like I don’t think the vaccine’s going to turn up and everything’s going to be okay. I think we’re up for a pro crafted experience, so figuring out what your inventory of coping skills is. Mine happens to be connecting with friends online, family reunions of sorts online. We’re doing a memorial service for a beloved member of the family this week in New Jersey. I didn’t really want to do it but somebody really wanted to get us together.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Oh good for you.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I’m driving to New Jersey and I’m going to see the family and it’s not the way I wanted to see them. I wanted to have a party and hang out and toast the family member, but what we’re going to do is have lunch under this tree where our little grave sites in Cape May, New Jersey and we’re going to have lunch. Elbow bump, and go back to our respective corners, extremely suboptimal.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I have come around from opposing this idea to believing it’s probably better to make it a choice to be connected.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Oh yes.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
You mentioned that your family’s in North Carolina, see and they’re cousins right? There’s some risk there, but there’s a lot of benefit in the connection.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes. There sure is, I mean it’s essential. I mean we’ve learned social isolation is as dangerous as cigarette smoking.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Yeah, it’s really not a good thing and so I really think we miss the boat when we called it social distancing. We should have called it physical distancing from the get-go. I think you’ve seen in this entire pandemic that we’ve missed several big boats. Telling people not to wear masks because we were trying to secure them from medical providers I think has confused a lot of people. Giving the impression that young people can’t really get the virus so they can feel free to party on at the beach. Again, just some young people duly noted.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I think we haven’t done a very good job and by calling it social distancing, I think we missed it. The idea is we have to stay away from each other because the virus is transmitted physically. Socially you got to stay connected to your people.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Absolutely. Absolutely.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
You really have to because that’s an antidepressant and an antianxiety treatment.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I call it the other vitamin C, vitamin connect.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
There we go, vitamin connect. It’s also good for people who have addiction vulnerabilities.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, absolutely.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Connection is really important. I have a friend who’s a physician who’s in AA, and on his birthday, I checked in on him on his birthday and he said, “I had a great birthday.” I said, “What made it great?” He said, “Well, I’m here in my apartment and I have been to two AA meetings and I got a lot of love in both of them. It was new and I called them in the middle of the day.” I thought, “This man has figured something out.” He said, “I’d be at meetings anyway and it turns out the AA platform is very well suited, and it might even be better because when on a Zoom call, somebody’s speaking, you get to see their face. You’re not spacing out in the room like you might be the rest of the time.”

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
He found something that meant something to him and this is the art of self-care. You have to find out, what is it that will help you get through this because this might be a long haul? It’s not good for people to lose their jobs, it’s not good for people to live with the anxiety of losing their jobs and coping with the anxiety of someone you love getting ill or dying. There’s a lot to cope with.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
We’re almost overtime, just coming back to irrational things and what to do to combat them, what can we do to dismantle the terrible stigma that still surrounds mental health issues?

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I prefer the words prejudice discrimination to the word stigma, because the word stigma itself is complication of how you think about things. What is the prejudice that you have for yourself if you were to say, “Can I join this club?” Every time a famous person comes out and says, “I have such and such a condition,”… Selena Gomez two weeks ago did a talk with NAMI’s CEO. I’ve had several chat with famous celebrities on NAMI’s Instagram page. People want to talk about their mental health conditions and so this idea I have prejudice against somebody gets broken down when you see Selena Gomez, one of the most amazing humans on the planet has said, “I think it’s okay to talk about the fact that I’ve struggled with bipolar disorder, that’s very helpful.”

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
The related thing about the attitudes is the discrimination. This gets back to our early discussion about mental health parody. The idea that you just structure and rules that jam people who don’t have illnesses that are considered quote legitimate end quote. This is why mental health parody’s an ongoing struggle, we continue to have lawsuits and interpretations and attorney generals review it.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
What are the conditions under which the race is actually fair for a person with mental health condition? Can you allow yourself to seek help? Still, a challenge for many men. There was a pretty good study a little while ago, showed that the more hypertoxic, masculinity men endorsed, the more likely they were to have very bad outcomes including suicide. The idea somehow being threatened by mental health is such an unfortunate piece of our culture and I think this ordinary human experiences… My dad’s bipolar disorder, hearing voices and believing that he was Jesus wasn’t great. It is 2.7% of the population plus or minus has this condition. It’s rooted in biology. It’s treatable for the most part. It requires a lot of self-knowledge and self-care.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Was it difficult? It was very difficult. Was it worse before there were things like NAMI and Selena Gomez to use two examples? Yes, it was worse. There’s a NAMI chapter in every major American city that’s doing connection groups and programming, educational work. Advocacy if you feel the service system is mistreating you or somebody you love. Well let’s fight to make it better. Mental health parody, that fight is not over. We’ve won some battles but that war is not over.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I feel like there’s a place to go now if you’re struggling with this, and you will be welcomed by people who are loving and creative. A community of people who probably didn’t start their lives thinking, “I want to be identified with a condition that it does not have a high status.” Like mental health problems, mental health conditions, turns out it’s an amazing group of people and I consider it my second family. NAMI is in my will.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I feel like NAMI helped to save my life by giving me a sense of purpose around these wounds I had. I feel so fortunate to have stumbled upon it, and if anybody here is listening to Ned’s podcast and lives with schizophrenia or loves someone with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, severe post-traumatic distress, has had a suicide attempt, NAMI is a great group. It is a great group and one thing you’ll know is that people will listen to you, they won’t dismiss you. They know how hard this is, they know how much pain there is in this, and they will embrace you.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I think the question about prejudice discrimination is, can you take the first step? I might be talking to your primary care doctor about the fact that you can’t sleep, you’ve lost 30 pounds, you’ve lost interest in everything. You’re thinking about giving away your possessions. That’s a classic depression, you could reach out to your primary care doctor. They prescribe most of the antidepressants in America, they help people, they might be able to refer you to somebody who does therapy. Or if you don’t want to go that route, you could start with NAMI and find a local NAMI chapter and say, “What are the resources that are out there? How can I find a path to be supported and connected while living with this particular challenge that I have?”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You go to nami.org, is that the website?

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Nami.org is where it’s at. We get millions of hits and we’ve become the dominant source of information for people in the last year. It’s been interesting to me to see that because I have tremendous respect for the other communities, NIMH, the American Psychiatric Association. More people seem to be seeking media inputs and lessons from our website, so people have come to trust NAMI and I’m grateful for that.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well that has a lot to do with you Ken I mean because you’re the face of it and the spokesman for it. There’s no one I know who’s more convincing, believable. You’ve done such a great job.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Well thank you Ned and if it wasn’t for you, I’d be practicing cardiology today, driving a BMW.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I think also the image problem would be helped if more people talked about, it’s hard to find a very creative person who doesn’t have either an anxiety disorder, a depressive disorder, addiction, or ADHD. It’s common among those countries or common among the highly creative people amongst us.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Yeah, if you want to do a treatise on this, Kay Jamison’s, Touched By Fire is the artistic temperament and mood disorders. It’s unbelievable-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, absolutely.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
… how many of the artists that we would hold out as our greatest artists were clearly quote touched by fire. Maybe not with formal diagnostic schemes but she goes through their-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
No, they were crazy as hell, I mean you know.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
… diaries, their writings, their observations and you’re absolutely right Ned.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right, it’s…

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
For many people.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, so it’s not to be ashamed at all. By the time I die I want people to wish they had ADHD because if you manage it right, it’s such an asset. It can ruin your life as well, but if listening to Ken if you’re listening and you know someone, don’t think of it as a marker of shame. Think of it as a marker of talent. I tell people overtime I don’t…

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Or of resilience.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
We all have to cope with something and the faiths conspired through genetics and environment and epigenetics to have you have a recurrent condition. You’re not alone with that, in fact there are millions of people who are living with these kind of things and together you can get a lot out of it.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I do want to say one thing that I still quote you about whenever I’m confronted with somebody who says, “I have a young child and he was just told he had ADHD.” I said, “Ned Hallowell would say you have a BMW brain and a Chevy hand.” They said, “How did you know he can’t write?” I’m like, “Well, it’s the Chevy hand, it’s right there. All the great ideas, he’s having trouble translating it.” A few things that you’ve said Ned have really stuck with me including one you said to one of my daughters who was diagnosed with ADHD, you said, “So you have the gift?”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes, exactly.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
It was a great moment, it was a great moment in her life because thinking about these things which have the potential to identify you as different or less than through a different lens, that there’s a possibility, there’s a potentiality inside of us.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. No, I don’t treat disabilities, I help people unwrap their gifts.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
That’s right.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I think that you do the same thing. What you’re doing it’s such spectacular work. I mean it really is, it’s a wonderful thing. I’m glad that NAMI is now the leading source of information. As I said that’s thanks to Dr. Ken Duckworth.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Well it’s a whole team of people, but I do think-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, I know, I know.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
… people trust a consumer family experience and we also made a decision about three years ago, every research study we cite is listed on the website. If you don’t believe what we say, click on the research study and you can see that it’s only 400 people but it’s the best study there is on this topic.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
We make everything as transparent as possible, goes back to the antiscience discussion we’ve had, I believe in science, I believe in education. I believe that people have the capacity to learn and make decisions for themself.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
If you want to see what the literature is on a specific treatment or an intervention, or on the risks or traumas that attend to certain things, it’s on the NAMI website and it’s all transparent.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yup, nami.org, N-A-M-I.org, not .com .org. N-A-M-I.org. Well you know Ken, I could talk to you for so long, this is wonderful. You’ve brought so much and you do so much. If people listening want to learn more and want to connect, feel a part of a growing community of people who have different brains and learn how to understand them better-

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
That’s right.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
… join a group [crosstalk 00:36:51].

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
The other thing you might want to check out and dish to our groups is, I run a session called Ask the Expert, once a month. Where I get the leading thinkers in American mental health to talk about different topics and people who join in.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Beautiful.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
We run about 1,000 people per session.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Wonderful, wow!

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Can ask questions and we cover everything from transcranial magnetic stimulation to minority disparities in mental health.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Wow! What’s the latest on transcranial magnetic stimulation?

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Well I think it’s pretty well covered by private insurance.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes, but does it work is my question?

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
It does have an acute indication, so if you fail on several meds, because nobody would start with an engine problem by doing a major overhaul of your engine. You would probably add oil first, check the timing of the engine. TMS does appear more invasive, but I took a three-day course at the Beth Israel Hospital in transcranial magnetic stimulation. I was impressed mostly by not the fact that when they zapped my brain it felt like a bee sting to the skull. Like I’m like, “How did they do a generic sham zap? How would you know the difference between that zap?” I was very interested in that.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I talked to the techs instead of listening to only the professionals and I [inaudible 00:38:18] about five of the techs. I said to them, “What do people say when they say our show rate is 95%?” I thought, “Okay, that’s telling me something, people feel they’re getting a benefit.” My understanding of literature Ned, is the maintenance use of TMS has not really been well established. I don’t think there’s really a research base for that and I don’t think it’s well established for bipolar disorder or psychosis.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
That would just be an example of a discussion, that if you have depression and the other interventions haven’t worked, there is some evidence there that this could be helpful to you. The side effects are apparently quite mild in terms of a headache or something like that. People show up at very high levels and it makes a different for people.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. You are a living saint and can’t thank you enough for taking time out of your amazingly busy schedule to join us. Listeners go to nami.org, N-A-M-I.org or go to Ken’s Ask the Expert, happens once a month. Join a chapter, get involved, suddenly you will feel so much less alone and so much more accepted. You’ll learn, you’ll gain knowledge which is power in and of itself.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Thank you all for joining us, so much thank you especially Ken. As I say, learn more go to nami.org and don’t forget, please reach out to us with your questions, comments and show ideas. We need them, we live off of them, we use them, and we produce them. Send an email or a voicemail to [email protected], that’s [email protected]

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Distruction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our recording engineer and editor is the estimable Scott Persson and our producer is the always vivacious and brilliant Sarah Guertin. I am your host Dr. Ned Hallowell saying goodbye for now.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The episode you just heard was sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third party tested and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com.

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Ned’s Short List of Good Distractions

Ned’s Short List of Good Distractions

Pandemic-life these days can be quite stressful, so finding ways to give your brain a break is key to maintaining a healthy balance. Our host shares a few of the things he’s been doing to take his mind off of the pandemic, politics and other upsetting topics in this week’s mini Distraction.

Reach out to us with your comments, questions and show ideas! Send us an email, or record a voice memo on your phone and send it to [email protected]

Learn more about our sponsor, OmegaBrite CBD! Distraction listeners can SAVE 20% on their first order with the code: Podcast2020. Shop online at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin and our recording engineer/editor is Pat Keogh.

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode can be found below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:

This episode of Distraction is sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one Omega3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third-party tested, and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com.

This is Dr. Ned Hallowell with a mini episode of Distraction. During the pandemic, each week, we do a mini episode that touches in some way upon this phenomenon that we’ve all been living within and today’s is going to be a lighthearted one. I want to talk about things that I have been doing myself to divert me from the perils of the day, to take my mind off of the pandemic, politics and other upsetting topics. I just thought I’d go down the list of what I’ve done either alone or with family members, not an exhaustive list, of course, but just a few things that came trippingly to my tongue or instantly to my mind.

One thing, I have been binge watching Schitt’s Creek. Now, if you’ve never seen Schitt’s Creek, it is funny. I really recommend it to you. My wife started watching it and she described it to me and I said, “I don’t think that sounds good.” It is terrific. It is uproariously funny. It is so, so, so, so funny. If you don’t find the show funny, something’s happened to your funny bone. Just thinking about it, with Eugene Levy, with the big eyebrows, it’s just hysterically funny.

I also made a purchase while waiting in line because we have to wait in line to get into certain stores, and the line outside of Whole Foods happens to have a bunch of hanging flowers for sale. So I bought two of these hanging flower pots, one predominant color pink, the other predominant color violet, and I hung them from hooks on our front porch. Now, when you buy hanging flower pots, you have to water the flowers. So that’s what I’ve been doing each day, and in order to water the flowers, I’m not quite tall enough to reach the watering can up. So I bought a little step stool. So I have my step stool on the porch, along with my watering can and I get up there every day or every other day and water these flowers. I’m telling you, it’s really rewarding to see them flourish and grow and they’re bushier, and hanging downer more, and just lovely to behold.

Also, someone left us a pot of pansies as sort of a gift during this time and I’ve been watering that as well and they are just flourishing. My gosh, there were a few stray strands of pansy in the original. Now it’s just like a pansy bush. So we’ve got the blue pansies, the violet flowers, the pink flowers and the porch, it just lifts my spirits. I also wrote a letter to David Brooks, the columnist in the New York Times. He wrote a column on Friday, the 26th, about five problems that we’re dealing with that I just thought it was a wonderful column.

I’ve also been cooking. I go online and I look for recipes and there’s a gazillion recipes online. They’ll have 32 ways of turning ground meat into a meal or 17 side dishes for the 4th of July, and I love these and I go download them, I print them out and next thing you know, I’m cooking them up. Like tomorrow, I’m going to make a vegetable chicken stew in the crackpot. Tuesdays is my day to make dinner, so I’ll put it in in the morning, and by the time evening rolls around, we’ll have this yummy, delicious stew. Online recipe shopping is another activity that I highly recommend.

Play with a dog. We’re lucky because my daughter is here and with her comes her a little Chiweenie named Layla. As you know, I think dogs are God’s greatest creation. Been playing with Layla every chance I get. Then when my son brings over his dog, Max, we had to play with both dogs and out in the backyard, the two of them rushing around.

Then one final thing I got for my daughter, because she really wanted this, a inflatable pool, above ground obviously, that it’s big enough for her to put a inflatable raft in it so she can lie in the sun, in the water, on the water and to see the smile on her face, when this thing arrived. It didn’t cost a huge amount. It was $300. I know that’s not nothing, but it was affordable and it was joy, joy, joy, joy. This is all along the lines of specializing. That’s my term for making the ordinary extraordinary. Turning what’s a dismal situation into one that’s a playful, fun, rewarding, interesting, engaging.

So that’s my little list. Binge-watched Schitt’s Creek, water the hanging flowers, write a letter to David Brooks, cook up new stuff, play with the dog and get something special for your daughter, in my case, it was this inflatable pool. Let’s try to do these things for one another. Let’s try to stay connected, even though we have to keep our distance. Let’s try to bring each other messages and vibes of goodwill, of joy, of understanding, of harmony. Let’s try to get along.

Okay, before I say goodbye, I’d like to remind you to check out OmegaBrite CBD. I’ve been taking the CBD supplement myself for nearly three months and I have noticed it’s definitely helping with my feelings of irritability and random anxiety. You can get OmegaBrite CBD online at omegabritewellness.com. That’s O-M-E-G-A-B-R-I-T-E-wellness.com, Brite intentionally misspelled. They have a deal for Distraction listeners right now as well. You’ll save 20% off your first order when you use the promo code podcast 2020. That’s podcast 2020. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third-party tested, and it works.

Please continue to connect with us. Share your thoughts, questions, and show ideas by emailing us at [email protected]. That’s [email protected] Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is the multi-talented and several voice levels, Sarah Guertin, and our recording engineer and editor is the impish and brilliant Pat Keogh. I am Dr. Ned Hallowell. Thank you so very much for joining our community and listening to our podcast.

The episode of Distraction you just heard was sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one Omega3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third-party tested, and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com.

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Gratitude And Pasta

Gratitude And Pasta

“Chris Schembra is a sought-after dinner host whose passion lies in facilitating profound human connection in a deeply disconnected world,” according to his website, Gratitude And Pasta. The connection guru joins our host for a lively conversation about his new book and how his “7:47 Club” dinners have fostered gratitude, empathy and human connection in his life and thousands of others.

To get a copy of Gratitude and Pasta click HERE. To learn more about Chris visit 747Club.org or email him directly at [email protected].

Reach out to us with your comments, questions and show ideas! Send us an email, or record a voice memo on your phone and send it to [email protected]

Learn more about our sponsor, OmegaBrite CBD! Distraction listeners can SAVE 20% on their first order with the code: Podcast2020. Shop online at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin and our recording engineer/editor is Pat Keogh.

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode can be found below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:

This episode of Distraction is sponsored by Omega Bright CBD formulated by Omega Bright Wellness. Creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. Omega Bright CBD. Safe, third party tested, and it works. Shop online at omegabrightwellness.com.

Hello, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell and welcome to Distraction. Today, we have a truly fascinating, interesting, and dare I say, unique guest. I only met him recently, but I feel like I should have known him for many, many years. He’s led a fascinating life that is still in its early stages, but he’s produced Broadway plays, he’s run businesses. He has really, I think, come into a very special place with his work on facilitating human connection. And as all of you listeners know, that’s my main squeeze in terms of what I feel most passionately about. Particularly in today’s world where we’re so disconnected and now, with the pandemic we’re having to keep even more distance.

And, and so the force of connection becomes even more important. He came up with a stroke of genius. He combined food with connection. I’ll let him tell you about these amazing dinners that he produces, but his book is called Gratitude and Pasta. And if you ever want to see a great cover for a book, get this book. It’s makes you want to go out and get a bowl of pasta right on the spot. But gratitude and pasta, and I will leave it to him to tell you about what it is. Because you’ve never heard of a program like this before, and you’ll want to sign up immediately. He’s truly remarkable. I’m sure he has ADD, although I don’t know that I’ve proved that. But I’m sure he does, because anyone who is as talented and multi interested and charismatic as this gentleman is must have this wonderful condition. So with that as an introduction, let me turn it over to my new friend, I hope. And certainly my new guest and acquaintance, Mr. Chris Schembra.

Chris Schembra:

Hey Ned, thanks for having me today and what an amazing chat we had on my LinkedIn Live last week. A lot of our guests wrote in saying how much they personally connected with your, not only message of connection being their vitamin C, but on the great work that you have done for so many years on the topic of ADHD. And my own mother who watched it, wrote in and said, “I don’t know if you knew Chris, but we pretty much based your entire childhood off Driven to Distraction.” And my mother ended up creating a lot of ADHD child and adult groups on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina when I was going through what I was going through. So first of all, thank you for doing what you do for the world. Your words and research means so much to so many. And I didn’t even realize you had impacted my life so much so, even from back in the day.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Well, thank you. That’s wonderful to hear, and it gives you an idea of how much older I am than you are.

Chris Schembra:

No secret there, Ned.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

So tell us this wonderful story about a bowl of pasta and a dinner party. It’s just a fascinating story, please.

Chris Schembra:

Thank you. You know, Ned, this story dates back to, really, July of 2015. And the story is still evolving even today with what’s going on in our country right now with this pandemic. But the story, to put into perspective, as you mentioned, I used to be involved in theater and show business and putting on plays and entertaining massive audiences, millions of people all across the world. And the tipping point in 2015 was that after five years of being in show business, everything looked great on the outside. But after coming back to New York City, after producing a Broadway play over there, I found myself feeling four things. Lonely, unfulfilled, disconnected, and insecure. Those are four feelings that have plagued me my entire life through my diagnosis of ADHD at the age of five, to be on cow tranquilizers for my entire young adulthood, to suicide, depression, rehab, jail.

I knew in 2015 that if I didn’t get my shit together again, I might as well end up back in that old habit train I had always walked down. And in that darkness, I thought back to, “I just got back from Italy. What did I love most about Italy?” Because Italy really changed my life back in 2015. I realized I loved the food the most. So in that darkness and that disconnection, I started fiddling with food in my kitchen and inventing different recipes and the [groany 00:05:23], amaretto and ice cream and gelato. And one day I invented a pasta sauce recipe and figured, huh, it’s pretty good, but I should probably feed it to people to see if it’s really even good or not. So one day I invited 15 of my friends over to our home for dinner and a ritual began. 6:30 p.m., cocktails began. 8:00 p.m., I wanted dinner served.

And so, at 7:47 p.m., we put the pasta in the pot. And because I was a lazy fella, I actually delegated 11 specific tasks, empowering the attendees to work together to create the meal. So we worked together. We sat down for dinner. And I’m a big fan of communal discussion, so I asked the simple question at that very first dinner. “If you could give credit or thanks to one person in your life that you don’t give enough credit or thanks to, who would that be?” See, I asked that question because for my entire life, I had watched people always asking the wrong questions. Usually when someone goes up and has a deep conversation with someone, they might ask, “What’s your biggest fear? What’s your biggest failure? What’s your greatest regret?” In my experience, those questions make people clam up. They’re very intimidating questions. So we asked the question that allowed people to tell story, not necessarily about themselves, but share gratitude of others.

And when you watch a storyteller telling a story about someone else, you learn more about them than you could have in years of knowing them. So at that very first dinner we witnessed the impact that pasta and working together and having simple conversations around gratitude had on that people. I mean, by the numbers, if less than six people cried, we would consider it a failed night.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

So your goal is to have everyone crying.

Chris Schembra:

My goal is to have everyone cry because then I don’t have to leave that night wondering, did I have an impact or not? Tears are the physical incarnation of transformation. And so, at that very first dinner I was hooked. I went from being a lonely, miserable, unfulfilled little guy in a bubble, to now starting to feel connection.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Yes.

Chris Schembra:

When I realized the impact that the dinners were having on me, I knew I couldn’t live without these dinners.

Chris Schembra:

When I realized the impact they were having on others, I realized I had a moral obligation to serve my community and help create connection in this lonely, unfulfilled society that we live in. And we just continued and it became a movement. And now, 400,000 relationships sparked later, we’ve had a good time, seen some good things and heard some good stories.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

And where do you hold the dinners?

Chris Schembra:

So we are… We hold the dinners all over the world. They started in our home. I mean, for that first year, we didn’t know what we were building. We just had one goal. And you may have heard this from many people with ADHD, is that I’ve done so many things in my life, but I was always bouncing around from idea to idea, getting people to finish my projects and picking up the loose scraps where I left off.

Chris Schembra:

And I said, “Let me just see these dinners through for a whole year. Let me see what these dinners would do for my life.” So in that first year, did 54 dinners every week, once a week for free in our home in New York City. We’ve had 808 people in our 350 square foot apartment in that first year. And then, they moved around the world and all that kind of good stuff. So we go into different towns and cities and countries, and we take over third party, residential venues and invite the people to have a nice family style meal. Instead of going to a restaurant where when you go to a restaurant you’re not treated special. They rush you in, then they rush you out. So we said, “Well, everywhere we do these dinners we’re literally going to take over an Airbnb or Peerspace or a Splacer for an entire night. And that is going to be the safe space for people to gather.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

And you have a set number, correct?

Chris Schembra:

When you bring 18 people together, it’s small enough to where everybody… It’s small enough to where everybody can share, but it’s large enough where the power of community is what creates that transformation. But then, we got better at our model and then we started realizing that what’s even bigger than the dinner table is the thought leadership of gratitude. And when we dove into the thought leadership of gratitude, regardless of what food is being served, then we could scale to even larger dinners. So then we started producing 160 person dinners and 400 person dinners. And we were on track… If this pandemic hadn’t happened, we were on track to producing thousand person dinners. And so, really, just as long as you maintain the connection between gratitude, storytelling, connection, and food, you can do anything at any size.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

And you have the same set schedule? You convene at 6:30?

Chris Schembra:

Yeah, pretty much. Of course, now that we’ve done everything… Now that we’re doing everything digitally, we’ve made 7:47… So, 7:47 p.m. at our dinners used to be the magic moment when everybody would work together and the pasta would go in the pot. And that was like, that became our brand. Literally, our company’s name is 747. But now that you don’t have to have that cocktail hour, the delegation of the tasks, now we do our virtual dinner starting at 7:47 to honor that part of eating together and sharing together without having to have all the early stuff.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

And they still go around and answer the question, “To whom do you feel grateful that you haven’t told how grateful you are?”

Chris Schembra:

When the pandemic started and quarantines, lockdowns began, and mind you, the interesting part about what’s happening now is that my life doesn’t look that much different than it did in 2015. Here we are in 2020, at the beginning of the year we had a book come out, and I was holding my book. And I said, “I need to bring this book to Italy, to show Rome what we’ve built because of her.” We built an entire movement and sparked so many relationships because of one city, Rome, Italy. So my dad and I, we hopped on a plane in February, and we brought my book over to Italy. Really wanted to show the good. Now, at the time, Italy was hurting. Italy was starving for connection. Italy, by mid February, it was already halfway in lockdown. The north was already fully locked down, and the virus started making its way down the coast to Rome. My dad and I left Italy, got back to New York City, and I had to put ourselves in a mandatory, two week quarantine.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

I’d like to take a moment to talk with you about the new supplement I’ve been taking for the past couple of months. Omega Bright CBD. That’s Omega B-R-I-T-E-C-B-D. Omega Bright CBD was developed by Dr. Carol Lock and her company. Carol is a graduate of Harvard Medical School and is a very smart woman. I know her well. And her company, Omega Bright Wellness, creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years, which my wife and I also take. Carol and her team set the standards for purity, safety and efficacy in the world of Omega-3s and have brought that same commitment to excellence in their new CBD supplement. I like it so much myself, because I have a habit, as many of us who have ADD do, of being reactive, impatient, irritable. Not on purpose, not when I’m in a bad mood. I just can be that way. And there’s something about this CBD supplement that has taken the edge off of that. It’s really nice. I like myself better, I have to admit. Please get Omega Bright CBD online at omegabrightwellness.com. Right now, Distraction listeners can save 20% on their first order by using the promo code, podcast 2020. That’s podcast 2020.

Chris Schembra:

Before America even caught onto the quarantine, there I was, alone, isolated for two weeks, feeling lonely, unfulfilled, disconnected, insecure. The same things I felt in 2015. So in that moment, in that darkness, we knew we had two ways we could have gone. We could have crawled in a hole, done nothing, or we could have listened to the needs of the community, pivot it into a digital experience and started serving the needs of the people we serve. So we did that and we happened to find this model that helps solve one of the biggest a-ha moments we were hearing from our attendees. Is that people came back every night, the digital dinners, because they craved meeting someone new.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Yes.

Chris Schembra:

In this world, now in quarantine, we just talk to our friends, talk to her family, talk to our coworkers. There’s no real opportunities to meet new people. And so, when people said, “That’s what we want the most out of it.”

Chris Schembra:

I looked at our digital dinners and said, “I don’t want to be just speaking on a stage digitally and having everybody listen.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Yeah.

Chris Schembra:

I want to be the facilitator, as we do in our dinners, I want to be the facilitator for them to have the stage, them to tell the stories and create the content.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Right.

Chris Schembra:

So luckily, Zoom has the ability for us to bring our attendees and place them into breakout rooms. So two different times, through our digital dinners, we place people in small groups so that they can meet each other and I’m not even part of it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

That’s wonderful, yeah.

Chris Schembra:

I’m doing the dishes, I’m texting on Instagram or something while they’re in the breakout rooms meeting each other. And so, that gratitude question serves as the connection point for one of the big breakout rooms for 15 minutes. I mean, it’s like throwing them out to the wolves. I have no control over what they talk about in those breakout rooms, but this gratitude question keeps them on track, and teaches them to be present, be better question askers, listen, because the other person on the other end of the line is likely lonely and needs you to listen to them now.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Yeah. That’s another title. You have chief question asker.

Chris Schembra:

Yeah. You know, we used to call ourselves… My job title at my own company, for what it’s worth, used to be founder and curator. And I always said, “What is a curator? Curating people or something? They sound like chess pieces.” And then, I was out in Los Angeles, I was sitting in a seat at a conference, a big summit, to my left was Jeff Bezos, to my right was Novak Djokovich, and in front of me was Kobe Bryant on the stage. Right in front of me, it was Kobe Bryant. And Kobe, at the time, was talking about his, Dear Basketball, which was the poem that became a short film, then would end up winning the Academy Award in 2018. And I wasn’t even listening to Kobe. I was watching this short, bowler cap, bowling shirt wearing, short guy named in Cal Fussman interview Kobe Bryant. I didn’t listen to a word Kobe said. I watched the style of which Cal Fussman asked his questions. In that moment I realized that was the true power in the room. That was the true opportunity for the audience to connect to Kobe’s messages, were well-placed questions.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

So you became the chief question asker?

Chris Schembra:

Yeah. So pretty much on the spot, Cal became a dear friend and mentor, and I changed my job title to founder and chief question asker.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

That’s wonderful. Now, if somebody wants to get invited to one of these dinners, what do they do?

Chris Schembra:

They email in [email protected] and either myself or someone from our team will respond. And we’re doing virtual dinners pretty much every night of the week between 20 to 100 people.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Wow.

Chris Schembra:

And it’s been a great joy and they’re completely free. So if you’re listening to this and you’re feeling isolated, you’re feeling lonely, you need somebody to talk to.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Yeah. So let’s say it again, [email protected]

Chris Schembra:

Yeah. But if you come, you got to make two promises. One is, that you’ll show up on time at 7:47 p.m. sharp. And two is, that you’ll come with an open heart and a willingness to ask deep followup questions and create the safe space for others to have a voice. Because when you can allow others to have a voice, you’ve created true connection, as you call the other vitamin C.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Absolutely.

Chris Schembra:

So needed in today’s day and age.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Vitamin connect. That’s what we need more than anything. If you charge nothing for the dinners, how do you make your money?

Chris Schembra:

So for the first dinners we did back in 2015, we made a promise to ourselves. Give the people what they want. If it takes a year, it takes year, but give the people what they want. Serve the needs of the people, and you’ll do two things. A, you’ll have built and become as good at your product, at your service offering as anybody can imagine. And B, you’ll have built up so much goodwill and social capital by giving your gift to the world that people will come back for years to come wanting what you have. And in this time, everybody’s going through some sort of tough time. And if I can give those in need, and those in need has a different definition today. Those in need doesn’t just mean the poor person on the corner, the sick person in a hospital. Those in need means the person at the top of a company with 20,000 employees who has to lay off half his staff, or do something else to make sure nobody starves. Who knows what people are going through?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Right.

Chris Schembra:

We can give to those in need as Adam Grant proved in his wonderful, ground shattering book, Give and Take. He found that it’s the givers of this world who ultimately become the most successful. And we happen to have had a good run of success in recent years and are able to be afforded the opportunity to give in this time of need. Because the relationships you invest in when times are tough, will ultimately lead to great lasting loyalty for years to come. Loyalty is, we know is cheaper than acquisition. So if we have a client that’s struggling or a referral partner, or a friend, or whoever, serve them now, knowing that all it takes is a couple of those relationships to really support us for years to come. For us to have a productive and profitable revenue stream for many years to come ..

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Well. If any of you listening want a quick dose of meaningful connection tonight, just email Chris, [email protected]. It’s such a beautiful concept in the way you have engineered it to work so wonderfully well. And then, yes, you’re supplying what I think, I know the world is starved for, meaningful connection. And that wonderful opening question that you, the chief question asker asks, “Who is someone to whom you feel grateful that you don’t usually thank?” And I remember when I was on your podcast, you asked me that question. And my answer was a dog from my childhood. So it doesn’t have to be a person, but I imagine it usually is a person. Is that correct?

Chris Schembra:

Well, the story you told about your dog is one of the most beautiful stories we’ve heard in all our history. But some people come in and share stories of personal liberation. They share stories of overcoming fear. They share stories of regret or shame. Some of the most beautiful things will happen. Some people will forgive their mothers. Some people will thank their ex-girlfriend for making them gay. Some people will… Two people have come out gay around the dinner table, the same night, one night. Amazing. Some people will thank themselves.

There’s no shortage of the different types of relationships that we often overlook, whether it’s on purpose or not. Some of the toughest relationships in our lives that continuously fail us or continuously criticize us or continuously put us in that deep, dark corner. We should thank those relationships because that fuels our want to be better, to be successful. The people who failed us, sometimes, are the greatest to thank because they gave us that chip on the shoulder. So it’s amazing when you give people the platform to share a story and not about themselves, but about others, but you really get an opportunity for connection.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Absolutely. This is just wonderful. Well, I have a feeling that you and I are going to be interacting for years to come. But today, if you’d like to get Chris’s book, Gratitude and Pasta, great title, you can find it on Amazon or at gratitudeandpasta.com. And as I said before, you can find Chris on the web at 747club.org. Or email him at [email protected]. When I first saw 747, I thought it was something about airplanes. But no, it’s because that’s when you put the pasta in the pot, at 7:47, precisely. Don’t be late.

Chris Schembra:

Yeah, don’t be late.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Go to one of these dinners, get Chris’s book. And most of all, open your heart to his wonderfully needed, compelling, and very exciting message of creating a connection. And please continue to connect with us, share your thoughts, questions, and show ideas by emailing us at [email protected]. Thank you so much, Chris Schembra. Thank you so much for being here and really, I’ll say to you what you said to me. Thank you for what you do. It’s a tremendous service that you’re providing this world and you visited the depths to find what needed to be said. And now you’ve risen to the heights and you’re delivering it to us all. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Chris Schembra:

And thank you, Ned, for being open to our connection in the first place. I mean, the email address you just gave your listeners here today for them to reach out to you, I must say to your readers, it works. My little cousin, Chris, Christopher Gayda, he reached out to you and you were kind enough to take the call and make the introduction. And here we are, so. That Chris is one a heck of a… He’s a budding, future superstar of our world. And I’m honored that he’s my little cousin and I’m honored that he brought us together because a lot of good’s going to come from this relationship, Ned. I’m excited about it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Me too, Chris. Very much so. Thanks a million.

Chris Schembra:

All right, my man. Talk to you soon.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. The podcast is recorded and mixed by the unbelievably talented Pat Keogh. And our producer is the equally, unbelievably talented Sarah Guertin. I’m Dr. Ned Hallowell and thank you so very much for listening.

The episode of Distraction you just heard was sponsored by Omega Bright CBD. Formulated by Omega Bright Wellness, Creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. Omega Bright CBD. Safe, third party tested, and it works. Shop online at omegabrightwellness.com. That’s O-M-E-G-A-B-R-I-T-E wellness.com.

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Stop and Smell the Roses May Be a Cliche, But It’s Still Good Advice

Stop and Smell the Roses May Be a Cliche, But It’s Still Good Advice

Dr. Hallowell reveals the details of a special day he recently shared with his family, as he reminds us that during the pandemic it’s especially important to take time to appreciate the small things.

Reach out to us! Send us an email or record a voice memo and send it to [email protected]

Learn more about our sponsor, OmegaBrite CBD! Distraction listeners can SAVE 20% on their first order with the code: Podcast2020. Shop online at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin and our recording engineer/editor is Pat Keogh.

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode can be found below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:

This episode of Distraction is sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe third party tested, and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com.

Hello, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell, and welcome to a mini episode of Distraction, another in our series of episodes during the pandemic. This time, I’d like to talk about savoring a day. These days we’re preoccupied, and anxiety is the order of the day. But I’d like to give you an example of a day I, myself savored. Talking from my own experience, because I know it firsthand, and it only occurred Father’s Day. But I think it could stand as an example for all of us, along the lines of savoring a day. Now, I had a lot of help, and I think that’s the main point. To savor a day, it helps if you have help. So, it was Father’s Day, and I was lucky enough that all three of my grown children were around. And so they started the day off, my daughter, Lucy and her brother, Tucker, by going out and gathering up groceries, and making this wonderful breakfast for me of hash browns, and Tucker’s special scrambled eggs with mushrooms and onions in them. And bacon and sausage, and strawberries and blueberries in a bowl, and coffee.

And just a feast of a breakfast. And it was a very hot day. What we had planned for the afternoon, was the two boys and Lucy and I, were going to go off and play a round of golf. Well, it was so hot, Lucy said, “I’m going to stay and work on dinner with Mom.” Because they were making this special dinner for me. So off we went to a little golf course, because it was Father’s Day, it had been hard to find reservations. And it was a little golf course, about 40 miles West. So we drove, and drove, and drove. And I was worried we were going to be late, but we got there and it was this charming little golf course in a small town called Lunenburg. And we were able to reserve two carts, and play the whole round for just $50 for a foursome, which is unheard of. And yet Tucker and Jack and I went out and started to play.

And it’s not that I love golf, I do love golf, but I’m very bad at golf. But what’s wonderful about it, is I play with my boys, mainly with my boys. But my two boys are good and they can just pulverize the ball. I’m 70 years old with two artificial hips, but I hit it, I get around, I complete the holes. Now and then I’ll actually hit a good shot. And yesterday I sank some long putts, 30, 40 foot putts, amazing that they go in. But most important was seeing my boys just exalts. They compete with each other, they rag on each other. They’re just having fun. They’re living life. They’re just the embodiment … To me every time I’m with them, my greatest wish in life was to give my kids the happy childhood I wasn’t lucky enough to have had. And Sue and I succeeded in providing them with that. It’s just always an experience of enormous satisfaction, unlike really any other. To see them grown up and happy, and healthy and just out having fun, luckily enough with me.

So we had our wonderful round of golf and came home, and there were Sue and Lucy working on, again, this dinner, which was going to be grilled halibut and swordfish, along with coleslaw and these very special potatoes, new from Ina Garten, a recipe. They’re roasted potatoes, they’re to die for, and asparagus with hollandaise sauce. We don’t usually have that, but I happen to love hollandaise sauce, so Sue made that. And then Lucy for dessert, made this delicious strawberry rhubarb tart. And all that food, along with some wine, the five of us, my wife Sue, and the three kids sitting at our new picnic table, which was their father’s day present to me. Again, it was for me a perfect day, a perfect day highlighting what are the most important elements of life for me, being with my family, loving them, active with them, golfing, eating, drinking, kidding one another, along with Lucy’s dog and Jack’s dog.

So we had two dogs in the fray, of course, Layla, a tiny little dog, Lucy’s dog, a Chiweenie, and Max, a 110 pound, enormous mutt, made of everything, but the handsomest dog you’ll ever see, two years old. And I went to sleep that night, just sleeping the sleep of good life. It was the sort of thing you say, “Well, if I die tonight, I will have had a wonderful life.” I guess that’s what I mean by savoring. You’re at peace, not to say there aren’t problems. Yes, of course, there’s always problems. Life is problems, life is loss, life is struggle, life is difficulty, but it also is an experience to savor, if you give yourself a moment to do so.

Real quick though, I’d like to thank our sponsor, OmegaBrite CBD. I’ve been taking the CBD supplement for about two and a half months now, I truly have, and I highly recommend it. OmegaBrite CBD is safe, third party tested, and take my word for it, it works. In my case, it takes the edge off my anxiety. Get OmegaBrite CBD online, at omegabritewellness.com. Distraction listeners save 20% off their first order, by using the promo code podcast2020. That’s podcast2020.

And remember, please, to reach out to us with your comments and questions. We love hearing from you. If you have a question, comment or show idea, record your thoughts as a voice memo, and email it to us at [email protected].

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is the beautiful, talented Sarah Guertin, and our recording engineer and editor, is the well loved and beautifully talented Patrick Keogh.

The episode of Distraction you just heard, was sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third party tested, and it works. Shop online at omegabritetwellness.com.

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Turning Tragedy Into a Catalyst for Connection

Turning Tragedy Into a Catalyst for Connection

Dr. Hallowell once thought about practicing medicine on a hippie commune! What??? This surprising detail about our host emerges as he reflects on the past and shares his hope for the future, as it relates to Black Lives Matter and the global pandemic.

Share your thoughts with us. Write an email or record a voice memo and send it to [email protected].

Learn more about our sponsor, OmegaBrite CBD! Distraction listeners can SAVE 20% on their first order with the code: Podcast2020. Shop online at OmegaBriteWellness.com/podcast.

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin and our recording engineer/editor is Pat Keogh.

Photo by Kelly Lacy from Pexels

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode can be found below.


 

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

This episode of Distraction is sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third-party tested, and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com.

Hello. This is Dr. Ned Hallowell with a mini episode of Distraction. As usual, we’re releasing one episode a week related to events going on in the world. Last week, I talked about George Floyd and what I’d learned from all of that. And today, I’d like to make a comparison. I was in high school and college in the late sixties and early seventies, and it was a very important time for those of us who came of age in that era. We had the horror and injustice of the Vietnam War, which took the lives of many of us. But simultaneously, we had the burst of hope that is caricaturized these days with hippies, and the age of Aquarius, and all that.

But it, in fact, went much deeper. We were literally believing that we could create a new world, summed up in John Lennon’s song, Imagine. The Beatles in many ways epitomized the spirit of that era, the spirit of imagination, and playfulness, and hope, and love being the universal value. And it really captured my imagination and the imagination of many of us. In fact, the reason I went into medicine, as opposed to the more logical way of making a living for me, which would have been to become an attorney or go to business school, was because I wanted to help people, literally. I know that sounds corny, but that was the zeitgeists that we were all caught up in. Love, reach out, help build communities. And although I wasn’t a hippie, at one point, I thought, “Well, I could go be a doctor on a commune.”

Now, it didn’t turn out that way at all, but there was tremendous hope and naive, no doubt, but it was really heartfelt hope. And it all fizzled, but that fervency has always stayed with me, driving me. Connection is indeed continues to be my chief value. My chief recommendation is to connect, to love, to build bridges, to come closer together. And how I think it relates to what we’re seeing now is we’ve been put through a major test with the COVID epidemic and then the George Floyd tragedy. And much as Vietnam set us off protesting, this has also set us off protesting. But I’m hoping, and I’m actually believing, it well may usher in an era of connection, of coming together, of community, of finding and building bridges, of finding ways of commonality, of stopping pigeonholing people, as you know, it’s a red or blue state, or this candidate or that candidate, taking us beyond soundbites and actually getting to know one another. Because the more we get to know one another, the more we’ll find that we have in common. The more we get to know one another, the more these political differences won’t matter.

I always think of, in my generation, John Kenneth Galbraith and William F. Buckley who were at opposite ends of the political spectrum, absolutely opposite, were very close friends. They would rip each other to pieces in a debate, and then they’d go out and have a few beers together. And more recently, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Justice Scalia who were again at opposite ends, but were close friends, would go to the opera together.

That’s the model that I would love to see us take this trial that we’re going through, and turn the tremendous tragedy of all of the people who’ve died due to COVID, and the single tragedy of George Floyd, and turn those events into a catalyst for harmony, a catalyst for coming together, a catalyst for putting down our cudgels, and our weapons, and our insults, and our demonizing of the other side, and saying, “You know, we have so much more in common than we have in difference. Let’s band together and do what the Congress doesn’t seem to be able to do and create policies of unification, of discussion, of sharing rather than policies of condemnation and separation.” I really think it could happen. Much as I caught the fever back in the sixties and seventies, I think our young people are catching it now. I hope so.

Well, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell for Distraction. Before I go, I do need to thank our sponsor. Otherwise, we couldn’t be on the air. Our wonderful sponsor, OmegaBrite CBD. It’s formulated by Dr. Carol Locke of Harvard Medical School and her company, OmegaBrite Wellness. I myself have been taking their CBD supplement for about two months now, and I highly recommended. It helps me with my irritability. I can be pretty grumpy. OmegaBrite CBD is safe. Third-party tested, and best of all, it works. Get OmegaBrite CBD online omegabritewellness.com.

That’s it for today. Please reach out to us with your questions and show ideas. We love hearing from you. Love, love, love. Write an email or record a voice memo on your phone and send it to [email protected]. Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is the lovely, and talented, and graceful Sarah Guertin .and our recording engineer and editor is the ballerina-esque Pat Keogh.

The episode of Distraction you just heard was sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third-party tested, and it works. Shop online omegabritewellness.com.

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One Mom’s 17 Year Journey to Find the Right Treatment

One Mom’s 17 Year Journey to Find the Right Treatment

Marla and her husband have been searching for nearly two decades to find the right treatment plan for their autistic son. After many years of countless therapies that didn’t work, a spontaneous friendship turns out to be a key player in the dramatic transformation of her son.

Full Disclosure: We found Marla, heard in this episode, through our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness. However Marla’s story is her own. We did not send her any questions in advance and the conversation heard here is a spontaneous one.

Share your thoughts with us. Write an email or record a voice memo and send it to [email protected].

Learn more about our newest sponsor, OmegaBrite CBD! Dr. Hallowell takes the supplement every day because it’s safe, 3rd party tested, and it works. Shop OmegaBrite CBD online at OmegaBriteWellness.com/podcast.

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin and our recording engineer/editor is Pat Keogh.

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode can be found below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:

This episode of Distraction is sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD. Safe, third party tested, and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

It really is beautiful to see finally, after a 17 year journey with my son, to finally hit something that has made such a transformation in our lives for all of us that we can all just breathe out now and be like “Finally, finally,” and it’s beautiful because he can express now himself where he didn’t have that ability to express themselves. Now, he’s nonstop.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Hello. This is Dr. Ned Hallowell for Distraction. We have a wonderfully interesting guest today, a woman from California. She’s clearly a wealth of energy, intelligence, ideas, and creativity, so I will welcome to the show Marla Roque-Wylie. Did I pronounce that properly?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

You did. One of the first.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Wow. Let me let you lead the way and tell me the journey with your first child.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

My son was born in 2003 and I had him at the Portland Hospital in London, and when he was born, as a mother, I just had an intuition, I knew something wasn’t right. It led to this journey five months after that, they were saying there were something wrong, they couldn’t quite pinpoint it, and I said, “Oh, you know what? I don’t like being in a foreign country. I want to go back to my roots, go back to California and work with the doctors in California and just an infrastructure that I know well because the NHS is quite tricky and hard to decipher and navigate,”” so I went back home.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

How could you tell right away that something was up?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

It was like having baby Yoda. Children are supposed to cry, children are posed to be difficult in the first 12 months, right? This child didn’t cry, this child didn’t have the normal traits and features that you would have of what would be considered a typical child. He wasn’t hitting the markers, he wasn’t cooing and awing, he wasn’t walking or sitting up, all those things, they weren’t there.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

How old was he when you came back to the States?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

When I came back to the States, he was already two and a half years old by the time we got here.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

You went to California.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Yes.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Meanwhile, you had retired from a very successful career.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Correct. I had retired, I had had a wonderful career in the fashion entertainment industry, singing-songwriting, and in the fashion industry and then in the restaurant industry, and so definitely busy, never slept, enjoyed my life.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

You were married to a man who… What was his business?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

I was married to a man who was racing motorcycles, quit that and became a contractor and started doing custom cabinets and building homes.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Is he still doing that?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Yes, he is.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

I’ll bet both of you have ADHD. Anyone who rides motorcycles and becomes an entrepreneur, that’s a very special relationship you have.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

We complement each other on that.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Marla, you know that you’re singing my song. This is what ADHD is all about, the positive and the negative. So here you are with a two and a half year old little boy, and what happens?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Immediately, a friend of ours suggested that we see our local, what they call the regional center, and so they come into your home and then they do a series of tests that they run on the child, and then that’s when they sat me down and said “Listen, we believe that your child has autism, has ADD, perhaps ADHD, we’re not sure yet,” but they put us immediately on a 40 hour a week therapy where he was getting speech therapy, they were working with him every day to help him with his gross motor skills, his fine motor skills, and just helping him to learn to speak.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

This is starting at age two and a half.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Correct.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Where did you find this help?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

I found this help from a gentleman whose brother actually has down syndrome and was familiar with the system in California, and he was the one who pointed us in that direction, because had he not, I would have never known what to do or where to go.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Sounds like he steered you in a good direction.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Absolutely. I’m a true believer of people come in at the right time and I’m so grateful for that because that human connection, to be able to just have someone say “I have a brother who has down syndrome and he’s the poster child for kids with down syndrome. This kid has come so far. You should try what my mother did.” Of course I wasn’t going to say no to that option.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Of course. So take us along. What happened?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

We went through many years. I have to say Irvine has a phenomenal program where they have early intervention and my son was placed in the program and they worked with him starting from the age of three and there was a schooling that he went to, but as I soon discovered as he was moving up in his age, autism isn’t the same across the board meaning that you can’t treat every child the same because everybody’s spectrum disorder differs in some way, shape or form, and so what happened instead of us seeing progress in our child, we saw him regressing to the worst of his class, meaning whoever was the lowest of his class, he would then distribute traits of that child, and that’s when concern went into our minds for my husband and I saying “Are we really doing the best thing for him?”

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Teachers would always say “We can’t work with this child. He’s not there, he’s not focused. We can’t even get him to just have eye contact,” and they recommended the typical drugs, like Ritalin to calm him down or Adderall, and that’s when we really saw our son start going off the deep end. And when I say deep end, he would always complain about voices in his head or a buzz while he was taking these form of medication.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

How old was he then?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

At this point, he was in fourth, fifth, and sixth grade.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

So he was like 10, 11, 12?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Correct, yes.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

That’s when you tried him on stimulant medication?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Yes.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

It just caused a lot of side effects.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Major side effects. We didn’t even recognize who our son was anymore.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Why did you keep him on the meds for that long?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

We kept him on the meds for that long because as parents, you’re not well informed, you don’t know. You don’t get a manual. No one hands you a manual and say “This is how you live with a child who has ADD or autism” or whatever label they’ve put on your child. As parents, you go into this survivor mode. “How am I going to save my child and how do I give him the best future possible?” So you trust the individuals around you and the individuals around us were promoting and pushing from teachers to doctors that this was the key secret to saving our child, to getting our child on the right track, so we didn’t think to think otherwise.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

You were told that these medications which were causing terrible side effects, rendering your child into someone you didn’t even recognize, the experts were still telling you to keep giving the medication?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). So what had happened is at one point, my husband who as a child was on Ritalin, he said, “I stopped taking them because I had the same feelings that our son is having. I just pretended when I go to the office every day, I was taking them, but I wasn’t,” and he goes, “And I did so much better, but nobody knew,” and so that’s when we made the decision that even though time has advanced and we thought, “Oh, maybe the medication’s better now, today, I don’t know if they added something extra to it,” we decided that’s it, we’re done. We’re closing the whole system down, and that’s when we decided that we had to try something else, something more holistic.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

So this was five years ago.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

If I can put that into perspective for listeners, Marla got terrible medical advice. As someone who’s been treating ADHD for 40 years and using medication, when the meds work, they’re wonderful. They’re a godsend. They operate like eyeglasses. They help you focus, they help you gain control over impulses, they’re wonderfully symptomatic treatment. They don’t get at the underlying cause, but like eyeglasses, they do provide really good symptomatic treatment. But when they don’t work, they either do nothing or they cause, which happened to Marla’s son, various side effects, and the obvious thing to do when that happens is to stop the medication. So the doctors should have said to Marla and her husband, of course, stop these meds. They’re producing terrible side effects. Instead, they told her to push on which is crazy. I mean it just flies in the face of common sense, but she’s quite right. People tend to trust the doctors and do what they’re told to do, it was just obviously bad advice, and that’s what gives medication a bad name.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

So if you’re listening and say “Well, I’ll never go near medication,” don’t take that, that’s not the lesson here. The lesson here is to see a doctor who knows what he or she is doing and get the benefit of medication if you can but absolutely do not take it if it causes any side effects other than appetite suppression without unwanted weight loss, which usually usually does happen. I’m really sorry you had three years of seeing your son turned into someone that he’s not. How did you get the courage to just say “We’re done with this” even though doctors were telling you to continue to give the meds?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Because my husband and I sat down and we said to ourselves, we’ve exhausted our finances in trying to do everything. We were out there, we tried everything, brainwave activity, any new thing that would come up for autism, we say “Okay, we got to give that a try. Let’s save our money and we’re going to put our son here. We’re going to do this,” and it got to a point where our bank account was dwindling and we were frustrated and our child was frustrated, and of course I had my second child and that was a handful at the same time. You’re dealing with one child who has “A condition” as they call it, and then you have another child who you don’t want them on the same path and you’re almost living in fear but you want something new for them.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

We could see that our daughter was hitting all her markers, it wasn’t the same as her brother, and so when she came to that age as she got older, she was a huge pivotal change for us in that she was working with her brother without even knowing it. Does that make sense? Because she would talk to him and there was what I think was the missing denominator is that human contact, that someone that’s on the same level.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Yes, absolutely. I call it the other vitamin C, vitamin “Connect,” and it’s the most powerful medication we’ve got. We really need each other and physical contact and face to face contact is really important. So you had that thrown in, and then what did you do? You’re off meds and you’ve got your daughter and your son together. What’s his name by the way, his first name?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

His name is Andrew.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

So you’ve got Andrew and your daughter is…

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Aprilia.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Aprilia?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

What a beautiful name. Does it mean something?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

As I said before, my husband raced motorcycles. Aprilia is actually a manufacturer in Italy of Italian race bikes, but it’s also a flower.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

It’s a beautiful name. She can wear that badge with honor. Not many girls get named after motorcycles.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

No, they do not.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

So what did you do? Here you are, you and your husband. You look for other kinds of treatments. What did you find?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

We spent the thousands and thousands of dollars to do the brain therapy and where my son was sitting in front of a screen and I would drive two hours to the location and drive two hours home, and after a year and a half of doing that, we saw a little bit of a transformation, but it wasn’t that big.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

You said brain therapy. It sounds like it was a neurofeedback?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Correct. They would put like this device, he would put these headphones and it would make these sounds and then they work on this computer, and sometimes I would be sitting there watching my child and I’m like, he almost looks like he’s in the zone or he’s not all there, and then he would come home and there would be zero interaction. No eye contact and it would just be like “Okay, someone just now took our son away from us.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Yet another treatment that was counter-productive.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Correct.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Oh boy. So now, what is he, about 15?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Now what he’s done at this point, we said “Okay, we’re going to stop.” We’re not going to do any meds, nothing, and what we’re going to do is he had adversity to certain types of food, the textures and whatnot, and we made it creative because I love cooking and that was my passion, I decided to make food and the nutrients that was going into his body something that could aid him, and so I would just make creative, fun, healthy food that in the first, he was opposed to it, and then something clicked and he was like “I want more of that. I want more avocado. I want more of whatever it is you’re making for me,” and so I was getting him to eat textures like broccoli and artichoke, things that he would never eat. It was like I was getting tired of the chicken tenders and the hotdog. I was like, “No, we need to move on,” and once we hit that, we started to see a change and I said, “Wow, this is different.”

Marla Roque-Wylie:

With his sister and the age, they’re six years apart, they started interacting with each other and another huge, I think it’s part of what you were saying, your vitamin C, we got a dog.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Oh yes, you have no idea. That is at the top of my list.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

We got a yellow lab.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Good for you, bless you. It’s not for no reason that God spelled backwards is dog. I’m telling you, the connection to the dog-

Marla Roque-Wylie:

I’ve never heard that. That’s amazing.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Yes, it’s so true. These dogs are God’s messengers. I’m so glad you did that. So you got a yellow lab.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

We got a yellow lab and I mean it’s the most hysterical thing because I mix my son and the dog’s name up all the time. So I’ll call my son by the dog’s name and I’ll call the dog by my son’s name and the reason being is because we got the runt of the pack and we think that our yellow lab is the child himself because they have similar traits. The dog’s name is Noriyuki, we call him Nori for short.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

You got Nori and Andrew.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Yes.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

That’s so wonderful. How old is Nori now?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Nori is now coming, he just turned six years old.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

You’ve had him for how long?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Six years. We got him when he was four months old.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

You got him when he was a puppy. Wonderful.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

we got the dog, and I never wanted a dog. I was like completely against it And my daughter was “We need a dog.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Marla, how could you be against a dog? You just envisioned poops everywhere, right?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

No, it’s not poops everywhere. I think I may have a bit of OCD and so for me, a dog that sheds, that means me vacuuming like every two hours, and to the point where my kids are they’re afraid of a vacuum because I vacuum five to six times a day. It’s a white furry dog.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

“Here comes mom with the vacuum again.”

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Exactly. They’re like, “Not the vacuum.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

“Not that please.” That’s so funny, but you allowed, you gave in, you got this wonderful angel of God called the dog. Andrew must have just loved him.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Andrew loved him, my daughter loved him, my husband, and funny enough, the dog has been the biggest transition for myself to the point where I mean now, it’s like my husband and my dog fight with one another who’s going to get to sleep with me. The dog or the husband.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

That’s so adorable. That’s one of my absolute number one recommendations. Before I’ll prescribe an antidepressant for a patient, I say you should get a dog first.

[BREAK BEGINS]

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

I’d like to take a few moments to talk with you about OmegaBrite CBD, a supplement created by OmegaBrite Wellness, one of our wonderful sponsors of Distraction. After 20 years of leading the industry in Omega-3s, OmegaBrite is now bringing those same processes to the busy and noisy world of CBD. OmegaBrite and Doctor Carol Locke who’s created the whole thing have set the standards for purity, safety and efficacy, and that matters a lot because the world of CBD is like the Wild West these days. OmegaBrite CBD is organically grown, research driven, and the same commitment given to it and excellence as their Omega-3 supplements which are the best around. I myself have been taking the CBD supplement for a couple of months now and it’s worked wonderfully to help me with my sort of impatient reactivity. Get OmegaBrite CBD online at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

[BREAK ENDS]

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

So now you’ve got the team and you’re using nutrition, the dog, your daughter, connection, vitamin connect. Is that when you found out about supplements?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Yes. I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Doctor Carol Locke when I was at my church doing a woman’s night and there was this beautiful woman there and me, being the bubbly person I am, said “Hi. You know anyone? No? You’re going to sit with me tonight,” and we embarked on this amazing friendship and I would go out of my way to include her in any kind of activities that I was doing, and she is the most humble, quiet, gracious woman I’ve ever met. Never spoke about the fact that she had a company that makes supplements or makes anything to be quite frank. She never spoke of herself and there were ladies, we formed a group of women and there were ladies in our group who, unfortunately, we all started having some health issues of some kind, and so I guess the doctor in her couldn’t help but be quiet, and then she spoke up and said, “Well,” one night we were dropping her off after a meeting and she goes, “Why don’t. you ladies take these home, these supplements, and give them a go and try them out?”

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Myself and another friend took the supplement home and started taking them and we started to see that this OmegaBrite supplement that she was providing us was a big transition for us in the way we were feeling, and we were having one of the ladies that was taking it, she was having problems with her knees, I was having issues with arthritis and it was helping so I was like “Wow, this is good,” and then one day I was talking to her about my son saying that I’m struggling with my son. He’s in his junior year, he’s failing his classes, he’s taking chemistry and I really need him to pass his classes but he couldn’t focus. I said, “You wouldn’t happen to know anything like or what I can do? Actually, you’re a doctor, you may have some insight.” So she asked me to have my son start taking the full broad spectrum which is the CBD and to put him on OmegaBrite. It’s kind of like a fish oil, right?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

I know it well. In fact, Marla, OmegaBrite is a sponsor of this podcast and Carol Locke and I have been friends for about 20 years. She’s a brilliant doctor, graduated from Harvard Medical School, but as you said, very modest, but her product is the best I think Omega-3 product out there. It’s very quality controlled and for those of you listening who don’t know, Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids, that means your body can’t synthesize them, and since your brain has a lot of fat in it, all the sheets that wrap around your nerve cells like the insulation on electrical wires are made of myelin and that contains a lot of essential fatty acids, so unless you eat salmon and mackerel all day long, most of us don’t get enough of it, and so these essential fatty acids are really important for brain function.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Correct. So we put my son on it, and let me tell you, as God is my witness, my husband and I said to each other, “If only we had met this woman years ago, what would have been the trajectory of our child?” Because it is a day and night transformation. We had a child who was not looking to pass any of his classes this year. He just finished and closed the school year off last Friday, and once he started taking the supplements and taking the OmegaBrite products, for the first time, the joy in that child, like he was expressing himself, he has taken up writing and has written several books now that he’s put together in his room.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

He went from having all like F in four of his six classes to finishing the year with two A’s, two B’s, and two CS, and just in three months, he got his grades up, was passing, was present, and that’s with emergency distance learning as well, so that’s a big transition for anybody who’s on the spectrum and kids going from being in a classroom to sitting in front of a computer at home, kids on the spectrum don’t like change, but he took it in great strides. Now, when you see pictures of him, before, you would have to tell him where to look, and we used to have this comment, “Look at the black hole, the black hole.” Now he knows.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Now he knows where to look and it’s night and day, and it’s amazing because I’ve had people saying “What medication did you put him on or what did you do?” The teachers are asking and I said, “I did nothing but have him take OmegaBrite and I had him take a full broad spectrum of just one pill in the morning and then one in the evening of the CBD, the full broad spectrum, and that has changed my son’s life. Literally changed it where now this child is out there, he’s not living with insecurity, he doesn’t have the fears, all these traits, these negative traits that he has has now dissipated and he has this incredible, just like a new found love for life.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

That’s just so wonderful.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Isn’t that beautiful?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Did you do one of them first? Did you start with the official, with the Omega-3 first?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

I did the CBD first and I-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

You did the CBD first, really?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

I did CBD first because I was at this point-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

I’m sorry to interrupt, but when was that?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

This was now three months ago.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

So you just started?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Yes.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Oh my God, so this has been a very rapid transition.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Oh my gosh, that’s why we’re so blown away.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Because I was going to say the CBD product is new, they didn’t have it until recently. So you started with the CBD three months ago.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Yeah, three months ago. So basically when COVID started, just before COVID, I just started my son on it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Then when did you add in the Omega-3 supplement?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

I received them in the mail and as soon as I got them, I started him, like I started slow, like I put one a day and then I said, “Oh, maybe I should up it to two,” and then now he will say, “Oh, I feel like I only need one” or “Oh, I know too,” whereas before, he wasn’t even a part of what… He wouldn’t explain or he wouldn’t tell me, “Oh, I need this.” Now, he’s at this point where he’ll tell me if he needs another one at the end of night or he’s like “I’m good. I’m good for today.” It’s because he’s in tune now with himself.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

I’m just saying, what we’re talking about are two different products. One is OmegaBrite CBD, the cannabinoid product, and the other is the fish oil product, the Omega-3 supplement, and just between you and me, I take four of the CBD pills, capsules every day, and four of the Omega-3 fish oil capsules every day. My wife and I have been taking them, the fish oil for many years, and the CBD just came out, so I started taking that as well, but this is just wonderful that it worked that quickly to bring that much of a change.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

I mean that quickly, I didn’t expect to see. I’ll be honest, I was skeptical, because my husband and I have been through so much. I was skeptical and I thought I’ll do something nice, I’ll go ahead and order it and we’ll try this out, but I wasn’t having big expectations for it to work. Now that I’ve seen how big of a transformation it’s been in my son, I just contacted Doctor Carol to see if it’s something that could possibly be for my daughter because if-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

It’s for all of us. I mean it work, Marla, but everybody should take it, really. It’s the most powerful anti-inflammatory there is and inflammation is what drives most diseases, from obesity to hypertension, to heart disease, to dementia, and it’s good for all of us, so you don’t have to have some condition to benefit from fish oil or the CBD either. I recommend them to everybody.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Absolutely. I loved what my husband did. He took it and broke it down to me and said all these years that we paid, anywhere between $250 to 350 bucks for a 30 minute session, whether it would be for ABA therapy or whether it be for occupational therapy, you name it, right? How many hundreds and thousands of dollars went down the drain, and when you look at the price point for the product and when you see what we are seeing, the transformation in our son, one can only say you would be a fool not to take it, right? Because if you have that great of a result in such a short time, I mean we’re talking three months here and you can see that much of a difference in a child, for our child, for myself included because I started to take the product, I have seen a massive change in myself as well, and to the point where our friends are recognizing that, and so now I’m promoting and saying this is what it is.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

I’m not taking the blue pill, the happy pill, these pharmaceutical things that are on the market and they’re saying “Yeah, just take this one.” I’m not having my afternoon martinis or drinking myself. I’m taking my Omega-3 supplement. I’m taking my CBD pill that I’ve ordered, and it’s making a world of a difference for our family, and then you put that with the dog being here and just the communication, it really is beautiful to see finally, after a 17 year journey with my son, to finally hit something that has made such a transformation in our lives for all of us, that we can all just breathe out now and be like “Finally, finally,” and it’s beautiful because he can express now himself where he didn’t have that ability to express himself, now he’s nonstop. Now it’s like, “Wait, where’s the pill so we can make him be quiet a little bit so we can get some rest?”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Just to give some balance to what you’re saying, it won’t do this for everyone. You’re not claiming nor would Carol claim it’s a wonder drug for autism or ADHD, but I think we can say with absolute confidence that it’s good for everyone, and how much it will help you, you have to try it and see, but it’s certainly worth trying it and seeing because sometimes you do get dramatic results like you got. Most of the time, because I prescribed it to all my patients, you get some degree of improvement, and not only in mental functioning but in your joints, your stamina, your energy, all of that, so that’s why they sponsor this podcast because I’ve had such a great experience with it not only with my own self and wife but my patients as well.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Your story does stand out. That is remarkable and really wonderful, but it’s not unique. That kind of thing does happen, absolutely does happen. I’m thrilled. So your treatment plan was connection with your daughter and with the wonderful dog and healthy food and getting off the wrong treatments and getting on to the wonderful OmegaBrite CBD and the Omega-3 supplements.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

I think the last part of that is, and it’s an element that I think a lot of people throw out, but I think it’s the element of love. When parents, when we’re trying to do the best for our kids, we’re stressed out of our minds and the love component goes out the window and we don’t think to add that bit and sprinkle it on top of everything else we’re doing because we’re so at the end of our rope, right?

Marla Roque-Wylie:

When things start to go right and all those things are put into place, the last component on top of like him taking the supplements was we didn’t have any more stress from having to work harder because we need to spend so much more to pay for all the therapies, we didn’t have any more therapies to pay for, so for us, there was “Okay, you know what? We can breathe a little bit,” and when you have that opportunity to breathe and to be able to just hug your child, to laugh with them, to not be so always trying to look where’s the negativity here, where’s something wrong, I think that changes the whole aspect of what’s going on.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

When you have all of those things, when you have community and the communication going, then you find the right supplements for you, you’re eating healthy, then he feels confident, he has the strength, he’s doing exercise for the first time where his joints and everything is moving in the right way that they’re supposed to, it changes how everything goes and I’m really looking forward to continuing with our supplements and seeing where this takes not just our son but our whole family.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Absolutely. I would disagree on one point. Love wasn’t the final ingredient, it was the first ingredient. Love is the most powerful tool that we’ve got and we doctors don’t prescribe it nearly enough and recommend it, and whether it’s in the form of getting a dog or just trying all the things you tried, that was love in action. You and your husband were trying anything. People say to me, “How can you believe in God?” I say to them, “Well, you believe in love, don’t you?” Nobody says no to that, and I said, “God is love, and if you believe in love, you believe in God. Where you find love, you’ll find God, where there’s no love, there’s no God,” and that’s my way around the skeptics. I firmly believe that God is love and your story is evidence of that. The power of the devotion you and your husband felt.

Marla Roque-Wylie:

Absolutely. 100%. I mean this is God’s story. The fact that I met Doctor Carol in a church, didn’t know she wasn’t even a doctor, and I always call it a divine intervention. It was meant to be, and just not having that fear of saying “Oh, I can’t turn to her,” but actually, because of my respect for her and my love for my child, I was brave enough and had the courage to say, “Is there something that you could help me with this?” I’ll never look back. Now, all opportunities are ahead of us and we’re really, as a family, excited for our son and excited to see what his senior year will be like in high school.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Absolutely. This has been wonderful. Thank you so much. That’s all the time we have for today. Thank you, Marla, for taking the time to join me and share your son’s experience with us.

Marla Roque-Wylie: Thank you.

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. The podcast is recorded and mixed by the wonderful Pat Keogh and our producer is the equally, if not more wonderful, Sarah Guertin. I’m Dr. Ned Hallowell, and thank you so much for listening.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

The episode of Distraction you just heard was sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD. Formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD. Safe, third party tested, and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com.

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Shift Your Focus from Getting to Giving

Shift Your Focus from Getting to Giving

Bob Burg believes that providing value to others is the path to success. He joins Dr. H for a conversation about why one person is more successful than another, along with his 5 laws for success. And Bob would know, his book The Go-Giver has sold over 1 million copies and he is one of Inc. magazine’s 100 Great Leadership Speakers!

Bob;s book: https://thegogiver.com/

Bob’s website: https://burg.com/

Do you have a question or comment for Dr. Hallowell? Write an email or record a voice memo and send it to [email protected].

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin (@sarahguertin) and our recording engineer/editor is Pat Keogh.

Click HERE to listen to this episode!

A transcript of this episode can be found below.


Bob Burg:

Don’t have making money as your target. Your target is serving others. Now, when you hit the target instead, you’ll get a reward and that reward will come in the form of money. The money is simply the reward for hitting the target. It isn’t the target itself. Your target is serving others.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Hello, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell, and welcome to Distraction. Today I have a very interesting guest who I am truly looking forward to interviewing because he’s expert on a lot of stuff. At the center of what he does is what we emphasize here, namely, the wonderful art of connecting and giving. He’s written a book with John David Mann called The Go-giver, great title, The Go-Giver. Not the go getter, but The Go-Giver. And it’s sold a million copies and translated into 28 languages. Wow, that’s a lot of languages, and he has a new go Give-Giver series called The Go-Giver Influencer.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

In any case, Bob is an advocate, supporter and defender of the free enterprise system believing that the amount of money one makes is directly proportional to how many people they serve, which I think is a great way of putting it. He’s also an unapologetic animal fanatic as am I, and as a past member of the board of directors of Furry Friends Adoption Clinic and Ranch in his hometown of Jupiter, Florida. What a wonderful overview, The Go-Giver. So Bob Burg, welcome to Distraction.

Bob Burg:

Well, thank you. What an honor to be with you.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Oh no, the honor is all mine. Let’s just jump right in. You have five laws that will bring you both personal effectiveness and professional success. Is that correct?

Bob Burg:

Yes sir.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Well, what are those five laws?

Bob Burg:

Before I even get to the laws, if I may, they’re really based on a premise. And it’s a fairly simple premise, and that is that shifting your focus, which is really the key, shifting your focus from getting to giving. And when we say giving in this context, we simply mean constantly and consistently providing immense value to others. When you’re that person who can take your focus off yourself and place it upon others, trying to bring value to them, make their lives better. They want to be a part of your life. It really results in a very mutually beneficial relationship.

Bob Burg:

So there are five laws, as you mentioned, and those laws are the laws of value, compensation, influence, authenticity, and receptivity.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Can you say something about each one?

Bob Burg:

Sure. The law of value is determined by how much more you give than you take. The law of value basically says when you focus on providing someone with an immensely valuable experience, everyone wins. Really money is an echo of value. And this is true in any business, and it’s also true in any kind of relationship because to the degree that you really place your focus on bringing value to another human being, whether it’s a friendship, whether it’s a relationship, whether what have you, that’s the degree that not only is that person going to feel great about it, but you’re actually going to go into profit yourself.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

The cynic might say, “What about these people who make gazillions of dollars and add very little value to the world?” Do you think the amount of money a person makes is in fact proportional to the value he or she adds?

Bob Burg:

Let’s put it this way, in a free market based economy, yes. And when I say free market, I mean no one is forced to do business with anyone else and that government’s legitimate function is to protect the marketplace, protect people from force and fraud, but otherwise leave people free to voluntarily exchange with one another however they see fit.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

How about a professional athlete who makes $25 million a year compared to the fifth grade school teacher who makes maybe $50,000 a year, works harder than anyone could ever imagine, dedicated to the children, who adds more value to the world, the professional athlete or the school teacher?

Bob Burg:

So there’s two issues there. One is, well, law number one is about the value you provide. Law number two, the law of compensation has to do with how many people’s lives you impact. So while that teacher who does a wonderful, wonderful job, we even have one of the people in the book, in the story in The Go-Giver, one of the mentors is a former school teacher and I’ll tell you about that in a moment. So the school teacher who does a wonderful job, they might touch the lives of 100 children in a year wonderfully with tremendous value, okay?

Bob Burg:

But this athlete who’s making $10 million a year, they actually touch the lives of millions and millions of people. And so it’s well worth it to the owners of those teams to pay them those kinds of salaries.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Now, when you say touch the lives, touch the lives, they don’t improve the lives. They provide entertainment. And it’s a pretty big stretch, in my opinion, to compare entertainment with the kind of gift a school teacher gives to the children.

Bob Burg:

Now, when I say touch their lives, no, they didn’t do so in a way in which they personally got to know this person and encouraged them or whatever, but because value is in the eyes of the beholder and the viewing public in this case decides what’s of value to them, the market speaks, the world itself is not necessarily fair. The marketplace though actually is when you consider that the people in the market, the consumers are the ones who get to make the decision.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Well, what’s the second law of your five laws?

Bob Burg:

This is the law of compensation. And it says that your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them. The mentor in this part of the book, her name was Nicole Martin. She was the CEO of Learning Systems for Children, LSC. She started out as a teacher and she was very frustrated after a few years because as much as she loved teaching the children and as much as the children loved her and the parents loved her, she was very frustrated by the money she was making. She was also very frustrated by the bureaucracy with which she had to work.

Bob Burg:

So what she did is she had had a computer software system that she put together on the side that could teach masses of children how to learn different topics in a way that was much easier for them. So she developed this company and now she’s touching the lives of millions of kids through this software.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

What’s the third law?

Bob Burg:

This is the law of influence. And it says your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interests first. Simply understanding that the golden rule of business, of sales, of life is that all things being equal, people will do business with, refer business to, allow themselves to be influenced by, want to be in relationship with those people they know, like, and trust. And there’s simply no faster, more powerful or more effective way to elicit those feelings toward you and others than by moving from that, I focus or me focus to, and other focus.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

And you know, Francis of Assisi, in giving, we receive.

Bob Burg:

That’s right. Very much.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

And what’s the fourth law?

Bob Burg:

That one’s the law of authenticity. And this is the most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself. What really keeps a lot of people from living authentically and showing up authentically is that they don’t have the self-confidence to do so. They don’t recognize their value both intrinsically and the value they bring to the market. So that’s why it’s very important to really understand our strengths, our weaknesses as well, of course, but to understand our strengths and embrace them so that we’re able to lead with them.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

And being authentic does take courage. Of course, the cynics say sincerity is the key to success. Once you learn to fake that, you’ve got it made. And number five.

Bob Burg:

This is the law of receptivity. And the law of receptivity says the key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving. Giving and receiving are not opposite concepts. They are simply two sides of the very same coin and they work in tandem. So it’s not, are you a giver or a receiver? You’re a giver and a receiver.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

I love what you’re saying, but my experience as a psychiatrist teaches me some of the dangers. I have over my 40 years in this field, worked with a lot of patients who are unbelievably generous, incredibly giving, and they’re taken advantage of right and left. It’s like lambs to the slaughter and they’re taken advantage of by very shrewd mean-spirited people who end up making off like a bandit with a lot of money and the kind, generous person who has been the lamb led to the slaughter is left feeling kind of bereft and saying, “Why am I so good?” And the answer to why they’re so good is it’s just the way they are.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

They’re born generous and humble and some other people are born greedy and ready to take advantage of people. Do you acknowledge that that also can happen?

Bob Burg:

Well, sure, it does happen. But being a go giver should never, ever be confused with being taken advantage of. If someone’s being taken advantage of, it’s not because they’re a generous kind person, it’s because they’re doing things in such a way that they’re creating the environment to allow themselves to be taken advantage of.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Sure. There are people who set themselves up to become victims and they need to work on that. But then there are other people who are simply very deliberately generous and to the rest of the world, they may look as if they’re being taken advantage of, but as far as they’re concerned, they’re following their principles. They do believe it’s better to give than to receive. And they do believe if, I’ll give you the shirt off my back. And they do that. That’s in keeping with their basic core beliefs.

Bob Burg:

In that case, they’re doing something out of strength, not out of weakness.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Correct. Absolutely. That’s what I’m trying to say. That you can be a great strength to be a relatively impoverished generous person.

Bob Burg:

Well, okay. So here’s the thing. Let’s take Mother Teresa, for instance. Okay?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Sure. Let’s take her.

Bob Burg:

She was a woman, a saintly woman who lived in poverty, but she was a very rich woman. I mean, she could receive a lot of money. She just chose to give it all away because that was congruent with her values. My feeling based on my experience is of someone’s being taken advantage of possibly. It’s not because they’re generous, they’re being taken advantage of constantly because that’s what they do.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

I got your point there, Bob. I’m just saying there’s other people who are not in that category you’re talking about who are simply very generous because that’s what their principals have them do. I’m thinking of the school teacher versus the hedge fund manager. And they are two very different kinds of people.

Bob Burg:

One reason a school teacher doesn’t make as much money as he or she could is because it’s really not a free market system they’re working out of. If education was a free market system, the real good ones would be making a lot more money than the bad ones, but it doesn’t really work that way. And I realize, again, that opens up a whole can of worms, but that’s why if someone’s going to be a teacher, if they can find another way to be able to add value to even more people, then they’re going to make more money if that’s what they choose to do. And of course, everyone does what they do based on their own principles.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

There’s another note here in your bio, one golden nugget of advice from a drive by mentor totally shifted your perspective and played a big role in your success. Can you tell us about that?

Bob Burg:

Yeah. It was after I had been in sales for a couple of years and I was doing pretty well, but I was in a real sales slump and I came back to the office one day, really discouraged. And I think he saw me as not coming close to realizing, and he said, “Burg, can I give you some advice?” And I said, “Yeah, please do.” And he said, “If you want to make a lot of money in sales,” he said, “Don’t have making money as your target. Your target is serving others. Now, when you hit the target,” he said, “You’ll get a reward and that reward will come in the form of money. The money is simply the reward for hitting the target. It isn’t the target itself. Your target is serving others.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Adding value to their lives.

Bob Burg:

Right. Exactly.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Boy, Bob Burg, I could talk to you for a long time. We’re running out of time. If any of our listeners would like to download chapter one of Bob’s wonderful bestseller, The Go-Giver, visit his website at thegogiver.com/join. And to learn more about Bob, go to burg.com. You must get a lot of ham jokes, huh?

Bob Burg:

Oh, are you kidding? Absolutely. Hamburger, iceberg.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Well, you’re spreading a wonderful, wonderful message that our world really needs. And you frame it in such a way that a person should be motivated to be a go giver because it’s how you get what you want. And it really is in giving we receive, a lot of people don’t realize that and they play it close to the chest and they don’t release anything. And it’s not a great way to live. But you are, I can just tell talking to you, you’re just right out there. You’re totally authentic. You’re totally enthusiastic. You believe in what you’re saying, and it really comes through. The Go-Giver, what a great message. And thank you so much for being my guest on Distraction.

Bob Burg:

Thank you.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:

Again, learn more about Bob. Go to burg.com. Get his book, The Go-Giver, and you can download the first chapter by visiting the website thegogiver.com/join. And please continue to connect with us. Share your thoughts, questions, and show ideas by emailing us at [email protected]. That’s [email protected] And again, our thanks to Bob Burg, a wonderful message that he lives out very clearly and has delivered to over a million people through his book.

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. The podcast is recorded and mixed by the incredibly talented, wonderfully opinionated Pat Keogh. And our producer is the delightful Mary Poppins –esque, Sarah Guertin. I’m Dr. Ned Hallowell. Thanks so very much for listening.

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