Why Most #Eventprofs Have ADHD/ADD and Why It’s a Good Thing

This is a guest post by Michelle Bergstein. Also known as the Event Marketing Maven, Michelle lives, eats and breathes marketing for the hospitality, event and meeting industries. You can find her on Twitter or online at BeatCreative

For those creative types out there, and I know most of the event industry is, we find ourselves with so many ideas fluttering around our heads. We lie awake late at night (heck I can’t sleep, as I write this at 1am) with our minds still processing, noting new thoughts, inspired by all the information overload, that we can’t seem to shut off. As a marketer working inside this amazing industry of events, many of my clients can’t seem to slow down. My specialty of sharing that same mindset has allowed me to help reel them in and produce extraordinary collateral. Putting their vision into words and marketing it into something tangible is truly a gift I proudly posses.

Recently, my 5-year old son, a budding kindergartener, was officially diagnosed with ADHD. It’s been said that it’s a genetic thing. I wonder if the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree? My child is scrutinized in school and there is a never-ending daily tally running of his redirects. Those redirects include: not focusing, talking off-subject, and being overly hyper and excited, which are all viewed as a bad thing. In our industry, we celebrate creativity, passion, and excitement. Great minds can see so much as to what is going on, so yes it is hard to focus.

I do question today’s school system – they are overwhelmed, they want everything easy, and if there is a problem, or they have to work harder, the easy answer is medication. They want to stifle the creativity, and conform to strict learning parameters in order to meet state standards. When did we lose our path and here’s why we shouldn’t stifle creativity:

A parallel of ADHD symptoms opposed to the creativity it yields proves an interesting comparison to most of our industry’s most talented creative practices:

The Symptom:

Kids with ADD/ADHD can never pay attention.

Children with ADD/ADHD are often able to concentrate on activities they enjoy. Though, no matter how hard they try, they have trouble maintaining focus when the task at hand is boring or repetitive.

The EventProfs-plaination:
Just like kids, we rather work on projects we enjoy. We all get bored easily and we are distracted by shiny things, but our trade helps make typical boring activities fun!

The Symptom:

Impulsive Behavior Hyperactivity Symptoms:
Being always on the go, often talking excessively frequent shifts in conversation, not listening to others, not keeping one’s mind on conversations, and not following details or rules of activities in social situations.

The EventProfs-plaination:
BRAINSTORMING: the most profane and ingenious ideas are hatched when our minds go from one thought to the next.

NETWORKING: A staple and must in our industry and to eloquently engage in conversations to one colleague or even potential client to the next. Shift in conversations are essential to keep it interesting as well as mastering how to exit a conversation appropriately.

The Symptom:

Forgetfulness in daily activities (for example, missing appointments, forgetting to bring lunch).

The EventProfs-plaination:
TECHNOLOGY: is our friend, our savior and serves as our reminder and assistant. Our memories juggling all the responsibilities we face become spotty at best, we need a helpful boost more frequently than less!

The Symptom:

Frequent shifts from one uncompleted activity to another.

The EventProfs-plaination:
To perfect things, you have to shift. There’s always an incomplete draft that helps our work evolve into greatness and we continue to build upon it until complete as it is always seems to get better upon each event.

The Symptom:


The EventProfs-plaination:
We work so well under pressure and we’re faced with all the time. How is this a bad thing? Some of us produce the best at the last minute!

In Conclusion

To reference @JoanEisenstodt and her great advocacy of implementing elementary learning principles at meetings. There is a notable shift in program development trends for meetings and events, all diverting back to the fundamentals of elementary school class learning. Yet not emulating the practices of public elementary schools of today.

When I was growing up, we had no homework in kindergarten. We socialized, experimented with many artistic, crafts, and creative hand-eye orientated activities. Those days are long gone, but the principles are successful. Everyone learns differently, and I believe my child, just like many of us, learns differently.

Learning by hands-on exploration is the way of the past and should be of the present and future, we need to let our minds be creative. I hope it evolves back to the way it once was. We turned out pretty darn good, didn’t we?

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Comment Policy Comments
  • Michelle,

    as the editor of this blog I want to share my appreciation for sharing such great tips and amazing experience.

    I don’t usually interfere in guest posts but on this occasion I believe meeting and event industry professionals should stop and read.

    This is by far one of the best pieces this blog ever hosted.

    • Thanks so much Julius, this topic is near and dear to my heart. I appreciate it and look forward to the responses from other #EventProfs who share these same struggles!

  • Jill Kaplan

    “EventProfs-plaination” Love it!

  • I love the EventProfs-plaination! As a mother and wife of someone who suffers from ADHD I can relate and I appreciate it. Thanks for sharing!

  • Fantastic Michelle! This is such an interesting perspective! I am going to think about this especially in relation to CREATIVITY!

  • It does seem that what might be a troublesome diagnosis at five or six is later what makes us awesome at what we do – thank you for staying up all night thinking and writing this and sharing your story.

    • Thanks Tahira! It is our creativity that fuels us in all that we do! It was a pleasure to share and thanks for your feedback!

  • A wonderful way to share “EventProfs-plaination” It’s so helpful not to have a negative term for all that creativity.

  • In my day, that was called having crabs in your pants and believe me, I had plenty of those. A school friend of mine had crabs in the pants,too. The teacher put the dunce cap on him and stood him in the corner. In about five minutes took the cap apart, opened a window, jumped out and went home( first floor) His mother brought him back the next day. Later on he went to college, he became a doctor in the early ’60’s

  • Connor Robertson

    This is a great post! As a child at school I suffered all of the above symptoms but was never taken to a specialist regarding the matter. I was a real ball of energy, (still am!). For me; It is all about finding the right teacher/tutor/ mentor to direct that energy in a positive way and finding a real passion, people.

  • Melanie Manseau Daniels

    I have always looked at my daughter as being magical. Her creativity is unparalled. The ideas she comes up with are inspiring. Her ability to always see the light is remarkable. I wish I had half the energy she has! I have often told her she’s going to be the best and most loved babysitter in the world because she’ll be able to keep up with the kids and think of super fun things to do with them.

    In full disclosure though, her exuberant energy has also been a frequent source of frustration for both she and I. Her inability to look me in the eye for even 5 seconds and hear a direction has been hard. I don’t want to put her in a mold, but I do want her to complete a task and have the pride of doing so. Even cleaning her bedroom has many times turned into an 8 hour affair (no exaggeration here) and caused great frustration for herself, when it would take me a mere 10 minutes. And I’m all about teaching her to fish, and not feeding her the fish. I want to empower her!

    The very things that I love so much about her and truly admire in her, are the very things that drive me crazy about her. Just trying to be honest! There are two sides to every coin and the perspective we take has far reaching implications. I have labeled all these things her magic, because she is truly a magical girl, the school calls it a deficit and problem, and her doctor calls it ADHD.

    I agree with so many points that you made in the entry above and I appreciate the strengths perspective you shared. It was encouraging and helpful for me to read about a specific career where her gifts could be appreciated and valued. And wow, do I wish I could reform the perspective of traditional education that seems to squash the energy in order to conform to the norm. Who ever said that sitting down would help a child gain cognitive skills!? If she needs to stand, let her stand. And I use the word “need”, instead of “want” because it is a need for her, not a behavioral preference, which could then imply behavioral resistance. Your entry so resonated
    with me!

    One thought though on the medication bit. I have always been adamantly opposed to using medication with my little fireball. I was scared it would dull her magic. I admire her energy and sparkle. In fact, as a clinical social worker I even designed a home based program for kids with ADHD, to avoid the use of medication (this was years ago before my daughter came along… funny how the stars align at times). I have spent countless hours modifying our home environment, using charts, index cards, etc etc to help channel the endless energy into productive tasks when needed (like getting that room cleaned, doing homework, etc.). However, I have recently been away from my family a lot to care for my ill mother. As a result, those modifications haven’t been used as much and her energy seemed to be spiraling out of control and the look in her eyes was that of pure frantic chaos. It was hard for me to see. And I felt bad for her.

    So, in my guilt ridden state for not being the parent I wanted to be at that time I decided to give medication a try… scared of what it might do, but telling myself it was only for a month or two until I was able to get things back on track. Well, wouldn’t you know, my fireball came home that day and said, “Mom, I feel so calm inside of me. It feels good [smile]”. And then in a whisper as if to reveal some newly discovered secret she said, “And guess what, I think I’m smarter now too!” She was beaming ear to ear and I could tell she was proud of herself. Of course my response was, “Oh honey, you have always been very smart, maybe it just didn’t feel that way because you were interested in so many different things at once”.

    The lesson I learned was maybe I should be more open minded to all options, even medication. And that medication did not dull her out or stifle her creativity in any way at all. She still had that same sparkle and enthusiasm. It just gave her an inner calm and an ability to focus that in turn helped boost her self-esteem. Just my two cents.

  • Luna Oxenberg

    As a former kindergarten teacher – now event producer – you couldn’t be more correct. Good luck explaining that to his teacher – but you might try. Somehow the world functioned only a generation ago without people being “ADHD”. My father in law, is a very successful reported, and classic ADD dude.

  • Jane

    Hi Michelle
    I wholeheartedly agree with your comments. I teach Event Management and I would say that there are a few of us who have worked in the industry and seem to have these traits. Another trait that is also inherent in Event Manager s and colleagues is OCD. Don’t know if you would agree?

Julius Solaris
Editor, Julius Solaris

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