To kick off The ADD Entrepreneur Podcast, I interview Ross Fruin, Co-Founder of Portland, OR based direct-response marketing agency, SearchLogic.
My favorite quote from this episode is:
We live in a world where our education system has not evolved much from 100 years ago.
If you’re unable to listen, the full podcast transcript can be read below:
Nick: Hey. Welcome to the ADD Entrepreneur.
This is our flagship podcast and I’m really excited to kick this off with an entrepreneur with ADD, who happens to be a good friend of mine.
So today we are joined by Ross Fruin, one of the co-founders and the CEO of Portland, Oregon-based paid media marketing firm SearchLogic.
How you doing, Ross?
Ross: Good, how are you doing? Thanks for having me.
Nick: My pleasure, man.
Ross: Glad to be the first.
Nick: Yeah, me, too.
Do me a favor.
Before we jump into my list of questions, tell me a little bit about SearchLogic.
Ross: Yeah, so SearchLogic is a direct response marketing agency, like you said, located in Portland, Oregon.
And we started about five years ago, this is our sixth year as of January. And we are primarily with mid-market brands, companies that, you know are kind of in the, I guess, $100,000 to a half million dollar a month in digital advertising spend range.
And one of our more primary focuses recently is really B2C and B2B allegiant companies that have to integrate sales cycles and sales teams into the process of just helping brands understand how to connect all those pieces of the puzzle together and how to optimize them individually based off of data they have on each part of that process.
And so we’re a small team. About 20 of us here. And, yes.
Nick: It’s not small at all.
Ross: Yeah, well, I guess it depends on what you’re comparing it to, right.
But, it’s certainly not been an easy experience but it’s definitely been fun and excited to talk about some of the hurdles, I guess you could say that I’ve had to overcome personally with my ADD and all those types of things.
Nick: No, totally.
It’s funny because it’s more and more socially acceptable, I think, not only to have it but to talk about it.
But it’s still never…at least for me it’s not become something that is, like, easy to talk about just yet, because it’s still…it’s still, you know, it’s that second D.
Like, it’s still called a disorder.
Ross: A disorder, yeah, well and I think that’s a good point, you know, I can’t imagine in 20 years…I think that compared to 20 years ago, so if you look at a gap of 40 years, I mean, the amount of people that are gonna struggle with some type of this is just gonna be outrageous because people are growing up with everything instantly, you know, at the tips of their fingers.
And I think it’s partially a…it’s obviously, I believe at least personally that it’s partially genetic, right?
Some people have it worse than others but I think as a byproduct of how we engage now with media, I think that everybody is gonna have it to some extent compared to what people have now.
Nick: I could not agree more.
With that said, let’s dive right in here.
A couple things. Some of these are gonna be more like transactional, just so, you know, me and everybody listening can get a sense of sort of what your life cycle of dealing with this has been like and then some of these are gonna be, you know, give you the chance to expound a little bit more and have some personality come out.
The first one is how old were you when you started displaying signs of ADD?
Ross: Yeah, so I think, unfortunately, I really wanted to potentially sit down with one of my parents and ask them some of these questions before I had the interview.
I didn’t have enough time. I think I personally started to realize it really once studies and formal education, I guess, became more formal.
So really, it was junior high, after elementary school, when things were much more, you know, if you look at, at least how I learned in elementary school, things were…there was a lot more hands-on stuff.
There was a lot more kinesthetic and visual learning and I think as you progressed into, or at least me personally as I progressed into junior high and high school it became much more about reading, about writing, stuff like that, and I think that’s when I really started to have issues with it that caused performance problems as it relates to my success as a student.
Nick: It makes sense.
That sort of dove-tails perfectly to question number two;
Which is who was the person who noticed it?
It sounds like it was you.
Ross: I think it was me.
I think that my parents probably noticed before me as it relates to maybe grades and stuff like that and I think that my dad, you know, my father is like one of the people in my life that I just attribute so much of my success to, because I think that one of the things that I was really blessed with at a young age was at least one parent that understood this and, you know, didn’t…like I think a lot of parents are so quick to be like,
“Well, you know, you need a drug or you need blah blah blah”
because it’s just, you’re outside of the box and they don’t know how to deal with it.
And I think my dad has always had a very entrepreneurial spirit so I think that he got it and there was a lot of grace for it, but none-the-less, I think that they figured it out early on just because of performance.
You know, my mom was always very traditional and she was a teacher herself, or actually just retired last year. So she mostly…she didn’t understand what was happening, there wasn’t a lot of grace for it.
But, yeah, I think I realized, like I said to your last question, thinking back now more and more, I think that I knew I had some issue early on, you know, in grade school.
I think that I didn’t start to really realize that it was something that other people struggled with, like kinda the awareness that ADD was a thing probably until, you know, more like high school age.
Nick: Oh, totally. My first and second-grade teachers thought I had like a learning disability.
Ross: Yeah, absolutely.
And I think that’s the part that…hopefully we’ll get there, but that’s the piece that I think that I’m just more and more passionate about, because I think so many people leave high school feeling like they’re inadequate individuals because, you know, they struggle with this.
And for me that’s something that I fought for 10 years, for a decade after high school, trying to just realize this, like it doesn’t mean that I’m not intelligent, it’s just I learn differently.
I focus differently, I focus on different things. So, hopefully we’ll get into that, but yeah, I think…I definitely think my parents definitely noticed a little bit earlier that it was something I had.
Nick: Yeah, that makes a ton of sense actually.
All right, with all that said, number three…again these actually are flowing way better than I thought they would considering this is your first run through this as well.
Were you professionally tested and diagnosed?
Ross: So, I believe at a very…I think like my mom had our family go to this counselor and I kind of remember this guy vividly.
And I think this was probably sixth or seventh grade, it was right around the time when my parents had gotten separated.
And I think I remember her saying that he gave me some test for it.
I don’t remember taking it, maybe that was intentional, I don’t know, but I did…the first time I personally got myself tested, I think it was around the age of 25, you know, when I was kinda like a couple years into my first career, and it was starting to just kind of piss me off.
And so I went to this psychologist or psychiatrist, or whatever…I forget which one it was.
But, you know, it was goofy, it was kinda like before marijuana was legal in Oregon.
Getting a marijuana ID card was kinda the equivalent of just finding the right doctor and saying like,
“Hey, you know, I have XYZ problem”
and he’s like
“You need weed”
And I think, you know, my experience of being prescribed something or being diagnosed “by a doctor,” you know, I remember going to him.
And he’s like, “Do you have problems focusing?” And I’m just like, “Yeah, like is that really a test?”
And I remember he gave me this scenario, he’s like, “Imagine you’re…” You know, I forget exactly what it was but he’s like, “Imagine, you know, you’re working on your house and, you know, you’re putting up Christmas lights, and you go to grab your ladder and then, you know, you get to the ladder and you forget what you were doing,” or something like that.
It was like this just obscene scenario and I’m like, “I guess and then…”
It was bizarre. It wasn’t like…it was nothing what I was expecting.
I was expecting to take some, like, written test where there was this conclusive evidence that I had this, you know, massive learning disability.
And at the end of it, he said, “Yeah, I think it’s something you struggle with.”
And again, questionable how he came to that conclusion, but none-the-less I feel like internally I knew that I had it, so I didn’t need validation from a doctor, other than really to attempt to try to solve the issue so to say.
So yeah, I did get diagnosed.
It wasn’t…I didn’t…like, I didn’t think it was a very convincing diagnosis, but yeah, I don’t know.
I’d be curious about like did you get diagnosed with it?
I know you’re the one asking questions, but I mean I’m just kinda curious, like I’ve never actually talked to anybody about, you know, any formal testing that’s been done.
Nick: Yeah, so it was like, in second grade when the signs, like…I had to go to the principal’s office like 15 times in 2 years in Catholic School.
In second grade they were like;
“You know, your son’s got some sort of learning disability, like, something is wrong with your child.”
So, they took me and got me tested for a couple of things. I remember it was done in Philadelphia and it would be real expensive like insurance didn’t cover it because my parents were talking about this.
And then when it came back that I had ADHD, initially they were like,
“Well, Ritalin, your son needs to be on Ritalin.”
And my mom was all about it. Like, me and my mom didn’t like get along when I was a child.
Probably because of this, it’s probably a big part of it. But my dad was like pretty vehemently against putting me on Ritalin. So, instead my parents picked up our whole family and moved us, like new house, new town, new school because they found a school that actually had what they called an “Enrichment Program.”
It was based on like an I.Q. threshold, and it was like, you know, kids that were being disruptive because they were just bored to fuckin’ tears in regular class.
I was getting my school work done in first and second grade in like an hour and we had six hours to do it.
So like I’d sneak out and go wander the halls and, you know, go to the water fountain, and do things that seven and eight-year-olds do.
So yeah, a formal diagnosis came, but my parents were thankful for…opted not to have me develop a chemical dependence at an early age at least.
Ross: That’s great. Cool, that’s cool to hear.
Right, so moving on here, number four is;
How did this affect your relationships as a kid and a young adult?
Ross: Yeah, great question.
You know, as far as like social awkwardness or, you know, communication challenges or anything, I think that I was lucky that was not affected.
I always had a lot of friends and stuff like that and I don’t think it affected me that way. I think the one way, you know, when I look back is I was not put in an enrichment program.
You know, part of the thing I want to discuss at some point is just like what really motivates ADD people and why, I think looking back on it, why I didn’t do well.
And, you know, I was in high school, I got into a program essentially for people who were basically done, like for people who were essentially like, “I’m ready to give up high school.”
And so thy had this program at our school called the alternative program, and it was essentially kind of like another form of learning.
It was very visual, it was very kinesthetic, there was a lot of hands on, there was a lot of projects, but it was very well known that it was kinda for the “outcasts.” And so I think, it affected my relationships in the sense that like anybody who goes into any class like that ends up getting some form of like bullying or whatever term you wanna use to call it.
And so I think in high school, although I did have a lot of friends, like, I think I was that guy, you know what I mean?
And so I think it affected relationships in that way and ultimately created a lot of insecurity later on that I had to deal with.
So, I think that was probably the biggest thing.
And I think secondarily to that, as a young adult I think one of the largest effects it maybe had is just…and actually currently, I think if I were to say currently, where is the biggest area it affects me, and a lot of times it has to do with conversations.
So, I’ve learned over time how to deal with my ADD on like a daily, like a macro, like daily basis. And I think some of your questions are gonna address how I’ve done that with different tools and stuff I’ve used and how I organize my day, but the challenges that I really have and I think when the ADD comes out the most for me is like when I’m in a conversation with my wife or one of the other people here and, you know, maybe they’re not getting to the point as soon as my brain can
Yeah, exactly. I think that I can understand things, I learn quickly, I get my brain wrapped around stuff quickly, and I think sometimes in conversations where I’ve gotten it but it continues to drag on, I really start to lose focus and it’s not because I don’t care. It’s just because my brain is literally just going so fast from one thought to the next. And so, especially in a marriage that could…
Nick: Oh, it’s been huge.
I’m writing a post on how…like on the downsides of ADD and it’s 100% interpersonal.
Ross: Yeah, and so I would say that’s the biggest one is like there’s times where…you know, and thank God that I’ve been blessed with such an amazing wife.
Like, I think there’s times where sometimes I just have to say like, “Wait, what?” And she has to go back and kinda repeat as I realize that I’m thinking about, you know…
Nick: …the next project.
So, I think that’s probably the biggest way I would say that it’s affected relationships with other people.
I think my first answer was more so how it’s kind of affected me personally from a relationship level.
Nick: Yeah, no, no, no, that was a good round answer.
What was the most identifying characteristic that you saw in yourself, and has it changed, you know, over time, over the past 20 years?
Ross: I think the part we just talked about is probably the one piece that hasn’t changed a lot. I think that’s the most…I think that’s the biggest thing for me that I really haven’t been able to overcome because I just think it’s the most pure form of what ADD really is.
And there’s not a lot of mechanisms that I can use in a conversation to fix it.
Like, there’s mechanisms I can put in place in other areas of my life to stay organized, to stay on task.
There’s not, at least that I haven’t found it, or god if somebody that’s listening to this knows something to be able to utilize it in the middle of a conversation, you know, to help you with it.
So, I think that’s the one piece that I would say is still the most challenging.
But I think over time, or earlier, the most identifying characteristics has really just been reading and homework at a young age was just incredibly hard for me, when I wasn’t passionate about it, to stay focused.
And I think that’s still the case. I have a methodology for how I get through a lot of books every year.
You know, I read a lot of ’em on Blinklist, summaries, and if I think they’re good then I’ll go to Audible, and so I consume a lot of data through Audible, and then if it’s something that’s really, really good…just finished “Ego is the Enemy,” amazing book, so then I’ll take that and I’ll actually go through it and actually read it because I’m just not somebody…and I came to grips with this a long time ago and like thank god for technologies like Audible.
I’m not somebody who’s gonna read a book a week.
Like, I just, it won’t happen.
And me attempting to do that is fighting my biological makeup and I can get through it and get just as much out of it if I can listen to it while I’m stuck in a car for 45 minutes every morning.
So, yeah, I think over time it’s been fairly consistent honestly. I’ve just learned how to deal with it in most areas.
Nick: Yeah, no that’s pretty much on point with at least how I see myself, same challenges, for the most part, just my perception of them and how they affect mostly conversations more than anything and probably more so with my wife than anybody else.
It’s funny to think about in that context.
Like, she’ll want to tell me how her day goes and I care and I am paying attention and I genuinely want to know, but 15 minutes into the conversation I’m thinking about a work project and I almost can’t help it.
Ross: Absolutely, 100%.
Do you take any medication to help control your ADD?
Ross: There’s coffee.
I tried the two main guys, which are Ritalin and Adderall.
I wasn’t a fan.
Were they effective?
I think so but I mean those things are…it’s bad shit, in my opinion.
You know, I ended up going…I’ve had, this is completely a side note, I had a heart procedure done in high school because I had an arrhythmia, and I’ve always just had like a fluttery heart that reacts to stimulants and so, like a lot of times if I drink too much coffee my heart will start pacing.
It will get like double beats and, you know, I’ve seen cardiologists for this many times over the years and it’s completely normal but some people just have it and some people don’t.
And so whenever I would take Ritalin or Adderall it would just kind of kick my body into this state that…it was just uncomfortable.
Again, it did help me focus but just the side effects for me personally were way too…they just weren’t worth it. And yeah, quite frankly, I didn’t enjoy it.
My opinion on the facts…I mean, there’s some people that I do truly believe like, that need the chemicals.
I just think it should always be a last resort as opposed to I feel like a lot of the culture at least in the U.S. is sort of start with medication…throw drugs at the problem and if that doesn’t work then we’ll look for alternatives.
Ross: Yeah, absolutely.
I vividly remember this one kid in my science class in high school who, you know, his parents had him on this stuff and I forget which one it was.
You know, they’re both forms of synthetic speed, you know it’s an amphetamine.
And so he was just a different person, it was like it just sucked the life out of him and it was like he was just brain dead in his class.
He was un-vocal and he didn’t communicate and then when he was off the stuff it was like a totally different person.
So, I think that’s really…I remember this really funny Kat Williams skit, I’m not gonna try and repeat it, but in one of his stand-ups he was talking about how…you know, it was this joke about his school counselor for his children tried to tell him that he needed ADD and he goes into this whole thing about how absurd it was.
I’d encourage you to look it up because it was hilarious.
Nick: I will.
Ross: Anyways, yeah, I think it just really sucks the life out of people and again, I totally agree that as a last resort I think it works…and quite frankly, I don’t think that my ADD was severe enough, you know?
I think that a lot of people probably have it significantly worse.
And I didn’t have the H part, the ADHD. You know, I’ve known people that just have the hyper like off the wall, all the time energy.
Nick: That’s me.
Ross: Yeah. I wasn’t blessed with that so to say. Sometimes I wish I was, but, yeah, so, definitely tried it, didn’t love it, probably won’t use it again.
Nick: So, moving out of the ADD focus and moving more into the entrepreneurial side of the conversation;
Do you remember what your first business idea was?
Ross: Yeah, I was thinking a lot about that.
I can’t say that I remember the first idea because I mean I think that as an entrepreneur it’s like I have ideas almost daily, you know, like how to… And I think the first thing I pursued is out of…you know, my father again, he made me start work when I was 14 years old and I remember one of my first jobs in high school, or I think it was actually right at my last…I think my senior year and then like for like 6 or 7 months afterwards I worked at Jiffy Lube for a year and a half and this guy that I worked with one day said…you know I don’t know how we got on the conversation, we were talking about buying cars, and he was a car guy and I’m a car guy, and you’re a car guy, I know that.
And he was like, “Do you know there are these auctions you can go to and you can buy cars for like $500?” And my immediate thought was just like, “Yeah, there’s no way.” So he’s like, “No, just look it up.”
And so I looked up this car auction and I went to it and I bought the first car…I bought a 1984 RX-7 for $130.
And it ran and drove and so I took it home and cleaned it up and I sold it for, you know, I don’t know, $1000 bucks or something and so that’s when… That was like my first actual legitimate, you know, oh, I guess I can’t say legitimate.
It wasn’t like a registered company with the state or anything like that but I basically for, right outside of high school, for a solid year and a half made pretty decent money.
I would just go to auctions and buy cars and sell them and that lasted for a solid two years. But really, I mean my first legitimate business was SearchLogic which I started, you know when I was 28.
Nick: Yeah, what did you do with it? So, it sounds like you sort of tested the waters a little bit.
Ross: Yeah, I think I avoided…what I did was I avoided getting a job at that age.
I think that was, you know, I think that was my goal at that point was to, you know, do a little bit…I did a little bit of college, a year, and I think during that period is when I was doing the car thing and then after that, I kind of had more of a career until I started SearchLogic.
Who was your biggest entrepreneurial influence while you were growing up and then who is it now?
Ross: Yeah, definitely growing up was my father, you know, and I can say this, I know that this wouldn’t bum him out or anything.
I think my father was someone who really learned entrepreneurialism too late in life to really do much with it.
He always worked really hard but he didn’t really understand the concept of working for yourself until he was in probably his mid to late 40’s and it was just…that’s not to say it’s too late, because people do that all the time, but it’s harder.
It’s harder to do that when you have the obligations of family and all those types of things.
And so, I think by no means was he like financially successful in that respect, but I think what he did was the concepts that he learned he just kind of pounded into my head at a really young age.
You know, I read “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” at 19, and say what you will about that book, there’s a lot of stuff in there that…
Nick: I like that book.
I like the perspective.
It’s like “The Millionaire Next Door.”
It’s very conceptual. Exactly.
For perspective, it’s very conceptual.
I think the things about it where I’m just kinda like…I walked away from that book at 19 thinking like the reason to be an entrepreneur is because, you know, you don’t wanna work a lot and you wanna make a lot of money.
And like, at least in my experiences those are far from two things that have been…true I think over time they do, the reward is not in the first couple years of starting a company, but anyways I digress.
My dad, you know, my dad was a huge influence.
He was always talking about…and he was in a multi-level marketing company for a while and, you know, again, I’m not a fan of those, but I do know a lot of people that have been in them who came from a world of employment, right, and I think what those businesses do well at is actually ingrain in people the idea of entrepreneurialism.
And so I think as my dad did that, he very much passed that on to me and again, he didn’t pass on like wealth, he didn’t pass on any sort of actual business or idea, but I think just the perspective of, you know, and passion for going and doing something on your own.
I think without that I’d probably be doing something much different.
Who would you say is your biggest influence now at this point in your life? At this point in your business?
I think I have a couple.
I would say that probably towards the top of the list is one of the guys on my board and, you know, he actually ran a local agency here in town that…I think he grew over 30 years to you know $30 or $40 million and ended up selling it to a really large Fortune 500 company.
And he’s just one of those people that’s just…he’s so wise, you know, he’s been through every single possible scenario you can think of related to people and relationships and I think for me that’s the big differentiator in business is people and how you treat people and how you deal with people.
You know, at SearchLogic I’m not the only owner, I’m the CEO, but I have other founders here and other directors that we work with and I think just some of the knowledge and wisdom that he’s passed on to me as far as it relates to emotional intelligence, as far as it relates to people and dealing with people has been just…I will say that probably without him I don’t know that we would be the company we are at this point.
I think that the influence has been that large.
Nick: That’s big.
That was awesome. Awesome answer.
What routines or rituals do you practice to stay productive?
Ross: Yeah, great question.
So, this is a big one for me.
I think this was really what we were just talking about the mechanism stuff. I think this is the one thing where I’ve really learned to try and kinda grab this ADD thing by the horns and control it to the best I can.
I think, in my opinion…so I have a couple tools I use and I think all ADD people need a place to kind of dump their thoughts because for me there’s just so many things that enter my brain and if I don’t “release them” and get them somewhere they just kinda stay in there, so I keep thinking about them.
So, I have a simple tool, I just use Evernote.
I have it on my phone, I have it on my computer and, you know, if I’m in the middle of working, and some idea comes up, some other project in the company or some other project for my brand or, you know, whatever it is, I just make sure and write it down and that kind of helps me to mentally release it at that point so that I can get back to what I’m doing.
And it also just creates a log for stuff that kinda needs to be focused on at a later time.
Nick: That’s an interesting point, though, like just getting it out, like sometimes just get it out, put it somewhere, file it away for later just so it’s…
Ross: Right and especially, I think even non-ADD people, what happens is if stuff like that comes into your mind, especially if it’s something that’s time sensitive, something that is impactful in some way positive or negative I think that we just have the tendency to dwell on it.
And for me personally I think that if I dwell on those things it can just go into this spiral of an hour and a half of like what have I just done, you know.
So, that’s the first part.
The second part is I use an app called Priority Matrix, I don’t know if you’ve heard of that, for my daily tasks and actually set it up.
I got this idea from, there’s a guy that works at HubSpot actually.
I think he was like the former growth marketing manager, wrote an article about like all the tools he uses just to like hack his….”hack his time.”
And so he had this method called the one big thing and in this priority matrix, there’s four quadrants. And so on the top left they have this thing that says, it says one big thing, and so all that is is like, I start my day, or I try…this is all assuming I do all these things on a day to day basis, right?
I’m normally pretty good at it, but I start my day and I look at all the tasks and projects I’m focused on. I’d say what’s the one thing, the big thing, right, the elephant or the whole eat the frog concept, right, what’s the one thing that I need to get done, the biggest thing I need to get done today?
So, that goes in the top left. The next quadrant on the top right is just kind of like medium things, like what are some of the medium sized things that have to be done? And I usually put like one or two, maybe three of those.
And then bottom left is small things, so you know, tasks that take less than 10 minutes that need to be done for the day I put in the bottom left. And the bottom right, there’s a quadrant that just says if there’s time. So, if there’s time at the end of all those things getting finished that’s what I focus on, if not then I’ll just pass ’em.
Nick: I use a Chrome browser that’s very similar. It just builds all that in.
So, every time I open a new tab that’s what I’m greeted with. Like, what’s my one main task that I set every day and then like my list of other tasks that I drag and drop in priority order. It’s called Momentum Dash.
It’s actually a really cool app that I’ve been enjoying.
Ross: Momentum Dash.
I’ll have to check that out.
Part of, I think what’s so important for me and probably what has been the hardest part of all this stuff is just morning routine, because that’s when I do some of these things.
You know, I have two kids and a wife that works and so sometimes the biggest challenge is just making a frickin’ list for what I have to work on for the day.
Nick: It’s amazing how hard it is to do that sometimes.
So, that’s kinda what I use on a daily basis and then long term, this is the third tool I utilize, is Trello which I’m pretty sure you guys utilize as well at IFTF.
Nick: We’ve actually moved to Asana but, yeah, I use Trello for content projects.
Ross: Got it.
So, essentially any project or task that will take longer than a day it goes in Trello and so Trello’s the first part of my routine in the morning as it relates to getting an idea for what I need to focus on that day.
So I start in Trello and I really just go through like what are the things I’m working on at a high level?
I don’t know if you’re a fan of the scaling up or, yeah, so you know the whole rocks thing.
So, what are the rocks I’m focusing on for the quarter, like what are the quarterly objectives, what are the monthly objectives?
And then I look at those and I kinda say like how does that relate to what I have to get done today? And then of course as a CEO, you’re well aware, it all gets derailed.
You know, I get, “Hey, Ross-ed,” all day long and that’s just part of it, but yeah, so those are the three things that I have utilized that I’ve found worked well. It’s taken me a long time, I mean I’ve tried, I’ve tried so many different things.
I’ve tried every…probably every app imaginable or almost everything to just to figure out how to get a control of this and I think those are the ones that have worked for me fairly well I would say.
Nick: So, that’s got a funny segue into;
Do you have any quirky habits or behaviors?
Things that like you may not even be personally cognizant of or you weren’t until somebody sort of pointed them out to you?
Ross: Yeah, I mean, I think the biggest one is I’m just fidgety. You know, I’ve played the drums since I was eight years old and so just I’m always like tapping on stuff and, yeah, I can’t not like have a pen in my hand and be twirling it, or, you know, I think that’s probably the biggest thing that comes to my mind. That certainly drives other people crazy at moments.
Nick: That’s a good example. I’m not too dissimilar from that. So in terms of other people;
How do you get along with other folks with ADD? Do you have any employees that have ADD?
Ross: I think. I mean, certainly, I do. Yeah, I mean, I think that one of the key partners here definitely has it to an extent. You know, we’re a team of data people and so I think for the most part a lot of those people, it’s not something they struggle with.
I don’t know that there’s a lot of other people, I think, you know there…I’m not gonna name names or positions, not that I think they would care, but yeah, there’s definitely two or three people that I think have it equally, you know, probably less or equally than I do.
And I mean, I think I get along with ’em fine.
You know, I think I get along with ADD people to some extent better as it relates to business relationships at a high level just because I think there is grace, right, they understand.
I think that’s part of, going back to your question about like, “How does it affect your relationships?”
I think that the hardest thing that dealing and communicating with people that don’t have ADD is, you know, they just don’t understand.
They can’t conceptualize what it’s like to be in the middle of a conversation and just completely lose focus. And so I think communicating and getting along with other people with ADD has been…I don’t know, I’ve certainly never noticed any struggle with it, partially because there probably is that level of grace.
What would you say are your most and least favorite things, aspects about ADD?
Ross: Yeah, I think the most is that, in my opinion, and maybe this is not part of my ADD, but I think it’s part of what has come with it for me, is I just think that it allows me to think really quickly.
I can move from one thing to the next and grasp it. I’m not saying I can move to one thing from the next because I’m not focused. Like, I learn things really quick.
I understand concepts fast and I’m ready to move on and tackle the next issue. And so, again, I don’t know if that’s ADD, but it certainly seems, and I mean, you tell me if you agree or not, it certainly seems like something that has been common amongst people that have it.
Nick: No, that’s a pretty common characteristic.
So like, if you think of the two sides of the coin, there’s the symptoms and then there’s sort of the attributes. And the attributes tend to be strengths, you know, obviously strengths can be weaknesses in certain scenarios but the ability to absorb very large amounts of information very quickly, learn very quickly, see different routes and paths usually to the end of a solution.
It’s a form of creativity, but it’s just because, you know, your brain works different. You know, everybody goes…you know, you’re trying to make it around the block, everybody else may go up make a left, go down to the next block make a right, and make a right.
An ADD person may make a right and go halfway down the block, take an alley and cut down a side street and get there. You know, it’s the same amount of time, just a different path.
You know, my least favorite thing as you put it earlier, I think it’s the second D, you know it’s just a stigma.
It can be a tough thing to have at a young age and in an environment where people interact with each other via, you know, putting each other down and stuff like that.
It’s just very much how high school was and amongst my group of friends and so I think at that age I think just the stigma of it being a disorder versus being a different way that people engage with the world.
That’s how I see it, right?
People are different and ADD people are maybe more different in some ways.
They’re certainly, of the 80/20 rule, they’re the 20 or lesser percent.
They’re outside the box and I think as everything else in the world that’s in the 20%, it’s perceived as…you know, people don’t know how to deal with it. And so, I think that’s just the hard part is just the stigma. I think that you nailed it earlier.
Nick: That makes a lot of sense. I actually agree with a lot of that.
Would you say ADD has helped you grow your business?
Ross: Yeah, well, I think, yeah.
I mean, it’s a tough question. I think just going back to the last question, I think that it has in the sense that I see myself here as somebody who’s very well rounded and I think that goes back to that last question, which is I have an ability to learn especially technical things I’ve learned, like, over time.
I can just learn quickly to enough level to where I need to understand something conceptually and we’re at a size in the company, I think I’ve told you this before, like I’ll be the first to admit it’s been two or three years since I have actually personally gone in and like managed an account or like done some of those things.
But I know everything enough conceptually to be able to hire the right people for it, to be able to tell if we’re taking the right direction and so I think that being able to learn so many things like that quickly has helped me immensely, absolutely.
Nick: Okay, awesome. Getting down to the end here.
What’s your favorite book on either business or productivity and why?
Ross: Yes, I have a number. Can I only have one?
Nick: No, not at all.
Ross: Okay, so I think one of my, and this is top of mind, so keep that in mind.
I think, I just finished “Ego is the Enemy” and we have a mutual friend, I won’t name him, but he’s probably told you about that book. It’s by Ryan Holiday.
Ryan Holiday was the chief growth marketing director at…not Urban Outfitter, what was the company with the CEO who just kinda went crazy? The clothing company.
Do you know what I’m talking about?
God, it slipped my name. Oh god, I forget his name. His name is Dove, Dove…anyways, he worked for that guy and he’s just, he’s had a lot of incredible business experience.
And so he wrote this book “Ego is the Enemy,” and it’s just all about how detrimental ego is in life and business, and I think what was really, really interesting in that book for me is he actually described insecurity as a form of ego which I had just never heard anybody make that connection before.
And I can’t regurgitate how he did it but it was just so brilliant. I think that, in my experience, I think that you’ve known from us working together, I think for me SearchLogic and what makes us unique and what I’m most passionate about business is all about people and building people up and, you know, working with people and I think it’s just one of the hardest parts in business, especially at the executive level is just, is keeping egos checked.
And so I think for me that was such a…it was one of the best books I’ve read in a really long time. You could argue it’s not a business book but I think there’s just so much application in it. And the other one is…
Ross: Yeah, I mean there’s a ton of application for me personally.
I mean, we utilized a lot of the stuff.
A lot of the concepts our last director off-site went through some of the stuff that they talked about so it’s been really helpful for me. “Five Dysfunctions of a Team” is one of my favorite just on teams and business books and learning what a good team is, how it works together, and what are the foundations of a team, and so that’s a good one.
And then more of like just the foundation ones. “Good to Great” is always a great one. I love a lot of the philosophies that he teaches in there about what a great leader is versus a good leader.
“Scaling Up,” and then “The Great Game of Business,” are probably my most favorite like actual tactile…I think that you’ve read both of those?
Ross: They’re very tactile.
They’re not as much philosophical as some of the other books I just mentioned where they’re like, “These are the things you need to do to achieve x,y,z.” So, I’d say those are definitely my top five at the moment.
Nick: Those are all great books. I
‘ve heard of all five. I think there’s two in there I haven’t read that are already on my list, because I’ve been recommended them by several people so, I know that those are solid.
Very last question I got for ya then I’ll let you go because we’re coming up on our time limit here is;
What advice would you give to an aspiring entrepreneur with ADD?
Ross: Yeah, so I think the first thing you have to do is you have to unlearn what society has taught you about ADD, which is that it’s bad.
You know, everybody’s different and there’s not a perfect personality that leads to success. That’s been one of the most eye-opening realizations as an entrepreneur is like you look at…if you read 100 business books you’re gonna come to certain conclusions based off of correlative data and as an SEO guy you obviously have the whole correlation versus causation thing is always talked about a lot.
And I think that’s equally true for leaders and successful leaders.
If you look at 1,000 CEOs, yeah, 60% of ’em are gonna wake up at 5 in the morning, right, and 60% of them are gonna do certain things, but that means there’s 40% that are like not doing those things and they have a complete different way of operating.
And so I think you just have to be so incredibly careful to understand that who you were made as or evolved as or whatever it is that you believe is not wrong.
It’s just that, you know, we live in a world where our education system, has not, in my opinion, evolved much from 100 years ago.
You know, when the main form of media was broadcast radio, right, before you had a frickin’ device in your pocket that could access, literally like, almost all of the information in the world and learn anything almost instantly, and so I think that times have changed and I think that the “systems of education” have not adapted.
And so, yeah, I think my biggest advice is just you have to understand that, at least now right, that the third D as you put it is still a D. It’s still there.
That’s still how, as far as the education system’s concerned, that’s still how they look at it and you gotta understand that being outside the box is fine in my opinion, and I’m sure you’d probably agree it’s a better place to be.
It’s just harder and you have to overcome some things, so I think that’s the big one. And then I think lastly, you have to figure out what your gifts are and what motivates you.
I think more than any other group I’ve ever worked with ever, I think that entrepreneurs and people with ADD seem to be driven intensely by vision and by mission and it’s damn near impossible to get them to focus on something they don’t give a shit about.
But when they’re passionate about something, when they see the vision, we see the end of the tunnel and what’s possible, and what they can do…you know, watch out.
Like, I think that that’s been my experience, so when I look back at education, I think that part of the reason why I probably didn’t do as well as others is because I wasn’t passionate, right, it didn’t fuel me, it didn’t drive me. And I think that when I’m excited about something, you know, going back to what’s the best cure for it, maybe that’s the answer, maybe it’s doing stuff that you love, you know?
Nick: Yeah, engineer a life where your responsibilities are attached to things you’re passionate about in one form or another.
Ross: Yeah, and I think going back to, you know, just going back to the thought about education, I think that there’s people who are working on it, I’ll say that.
I don’t know that it’s going the right direction. It’s such a massive institution to be able to change, right, on a macro level, but if you look at stuff like Khan Academy, anyone who’s seen, you know Salman Khan’s TED Talk.
It’s just there’s little things, it’s like his recommendation of like having homework be done in class and having the lesson part be done at home, where some people learn at a different rate.
Having peer to peer, you know, help. Like, these are things that are not…don’t require massive amounts of change but make massive amounts of impact.
So, I think that it’s great to see that’s happening. You know, online schooling’s becoming more and more popular so, I think it’s going the right direction.
And like I said, you know, we have a device in our pocket now that’s 32,000 times faster than the guidance computer on the rocket that sent people to the moon.
It’s on the tips of our fingers and so I think that I look forward to seeing what people like Salman Khan and some of the other people that are really pioneering how we change the way that people are taught will deal with people like you and like me and the rest of the world who has ADD or AD.
Should we just start calling it AD?
Nick: That was an awesome perspective, man.
I really appreciate that. I just want to thank you again before we wrap up here. Just thank you for coming and thank you for giving, you know, everybody your time.
I know you are an extremely busy person and I really appreciate you taking some time to share your thoughts on the subject with us.
Ross: Absolutely. Yeah, it was my honor, thank you very much.
Nick: All right, man.