Kelly Gordon shares her inspiring story of how she went from growing up in an abusive home to building her own digital agency and finally, teaching others how to communicate like her. Learn how her autism counter-intuitively helps her communicate as we...
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Srini: Kelly, welcome to the Unmistakable creative. Thanks so much for taking the time to join us.
Kelly Gordon: Thank you so much for having me. I'm so excited to be here today.
Srini: It is my pleasure to have you here. So I was introduced to you by way of one of our former guests. I Christine McAllister, who told me that you had a story that the minute I read the description, my immediate reaction was holy shit and hell yes.
Srini: I want to have Kelly as a guest. I want to start by asking you, what did your parents do for work and how did that end up influencing where you've ended up and what you've done with your life?
Kelly Gordon: Oh, I love it. This is why I love you. It's a whole thing. Okay. So my parents my mother, when I was born was an RN in the neonatal intensive care unit.
Kelly Gordon: And my father at the time was in construction. My mother quit her job and didn't work again after I was six. And my father had his own business where he moved from construction to antique restoration into custom cabinetry. So for me and we might get into some of this later on drop all of this now, but like we.
Kelly Gordon: When everything hit like in 2008, and earlier than that, like that was the big one. And then before we lost everything, we lost the house, we lost the car, we lost everything. And for me, the driving force in my entire value system and why I get up everyday and do the things that I do is so that I'm never ever in that position ever again.
Kelly Gordon: So that is what they did. And then what they did not do shaped me in.
Srini: How old were you when that happened?
Srini: Okay. So at the age of 14 you're obviously in adolescents at that point old enough to understand everything that's going on in the world around you, very different than it would be. If you were like a three-year old, what did that do for your own perception about the value of money and wealth and success?
Kelly Gordon: What's interesting is I am going to go back a little bit farther because ever since I was really little, I want to say, my mom would send me into the store to get something. So I was old enough to do that. But not enough to do anything else. I was like hyper aware and I don't even know the word that I didn't have enough money to buy whatever it is that she wanted me to get.
Kelly Gordon: For example, she wanted me to go in and get a piece of bread or loaf of bread. I would not go in with anything less than a $20 bill. Like I was like scared or embarrassed or whatever that I wouldn't have enough money. So that I think was super entrenched early on. And as I got older, it morphed in really weird ways that we don't have any money.
Kelly Gordon: People with money are not generous or kind, or that they're bad people in some way that they're not sharing it, that they did something that we're not going to do that. Cause we're more moral than that. And that was. Really entrenched my entire life from very early well into adolescents in Orlando.
Srini: Yeah. To build a successful business, I think any one of us has to change that narrative. And I, there's always a quote about money that Seth Godin says in one of those programs that always stayed with me and he said, money is a story. It's a story for investment bankers who make $3 a second and peasants who make $3 a day.
Srini: And I wonder, have you overcome that scarcity mindset? And if so, how, and how do other people do it?
Kelly Gordon: I would like to say now I have overcome that I had a recent experience where I was testing, like sending a new contractors, some, a payment or something, and the end to test it. I just sent a test payment, not everything that I owed them.
Kelly Gordon: I chose interestingly in my brain to send a hundred dollars. And when he said, I don't like you were testing it, it worked, but I don't know why you sent a doll. Why you didn't just send it. And in my at that moment, I overcome the scarcity, right? Like I was not overly, emotionally attached to the other $99.
Kelly Gordon: That it just was like, Hey, we're just going to test this and we're gonna send that out. So for me, I think it's going to be probably a lifetime. Maybe even everybody to have to focus on that in some way and not tiny sort of intrinsic value or emotion to money that it is. It is a story I love how simple put that puts that.
Kelly Gordon: But I would like to say that I am over it, or at least over the hurdle, the biggest hurdle of it and moving to the other side. But I coach a lot of people beginning entrepreneurs and that is such a big thing. The way that it raises its head, which is so interesting to me an early entrepreneur I teach digital agency owners, but is what they charge that they are only willing to charge what they are comfortable paying.
Kelly Gordon: What it's worth, or, and it's such a low number, right? Like it's, but it's all rooted in this same place that everybody's on a different spectrum of that journey, but it raises its head really big there. And we do coach through it. That has to be that it is the kind of the way that I put as okay, if, say you owe me a thousand dollars and that seems what if we call them coconuts? What if you say this and you okay. You don't have a thousand coconuts. That's cool. There's a L there's for some reason, less of an emotional trigger with, Hey man, I just don't have a thousand coconuts to give you for this. Then I don't have a thousand dollars.
Kelly Gordon: Like even saying it out loud, like I can feel it in my body that it feels different. And it's that is such an interesting thing to me that everybody, I think, struggles with or tries to overcome their own.
Srini: Yeah. I, I grew up in an Indian family where my dad drives an $80,000 car and now, cause he's a tenured professor and has done well for himself, but he'll drive across town to save 15 cents on gas.
Kelly Gordon: 'cause that mentality just doesn't go. I think you have to actively be aware of it and then work to understand why it's there. I don't think that, yeah, I don't think that we can stop behaviors. I think we have to replace them. And but at that, that can only come from an understanding of why certain.
Srini: That's the, my dad and I will have this debate when he'll ask me to do stupid chores around the house. And like my cousin, who's a postdoc at Boulder an, a hardware engineer who just got a job interview at Tesla that poor kids spent the entire Christmas vacation.
Srini: Cleaning my parents' garage and helping my uncle. It, I told my dad, I was like, I'm not going to help you for shit. I'm like, I will do the job, but I will put an ad on Craigslist and I will get a teenager in here. Who's in high school to spend the week doing this. And he's that's not how you're supposed to think about these things.
Srini: And I was like, I'm an entrepreneur. I delegate shit that I don't want to do. Like my time is worth more than that. And that logic really didn't compute for him. But it's funny, you bring up this whole idea of how much to charge, because this is a conversation I've had with people in my own private membership community, where I encouraged each one of them to raise their prices by 20%, even though they were all scared shitless, the minute they did, some of them came back and said, we just paid for the cost of being part of this program because of what you told us.
Kelly Gordon: It's huge. And people will argue with me as a whole thing. But if you are talking to the same person and they believe in what you're doing, they trust you. You've told them the plan. They know the outcome. They're not going to not work with you for 20% more. It's not going to happen. Like it's not going to be a hurdle.
Kelly Gordon: That hurdle is internal. It is not an external.
Srini: I think the reason that this had always struck me was because Dan Kennedy actually in his wealth attraction seminar mentions that he routinely, when takes, when he takes out a client he institutes a 200% price increase. And everybody pushes back on him and being Dan Kennedy.
Srini: He also institutes a commission as part of his, working with them. So naturally he benefits tremendously when he does that. And they're all apparently stunned when somebody actually pays I'm
Kelly Gordon: stunned, cannot believe it. It's a whole thing. I don't, I do find it interesting that they could sell it being so shocked.
Kelly Gordon: But I hope that it in the people I work with too, like in their brains, Sell something and not believe in the price that much, that it literally had nothing to do with the price.
Srini: Yeah. I remember I got paid just what was an absurd amount of money, which I won't mention on Arabic, because it sounds obnoxious to basically show up you over zoom, like over a virtual meeting for a conference for a pharmaceutical company, and literally spent five minutes basically as the MC introducing the speaker.
Srini: It was one of the biggest paydays I'd ever seen from a speaking engagement and I was stunned, but then I did the math in my head was like, all right, let me get this straight. This is a pharma company. Let's say they have 10 drugs, $30 a month for every person who either takes this drug, spend.
Srini: Put multiply that times a million people, and that's not counting what the insurance companies are paying us like, okay, these guys are printing money. This is pocket change for them.
Kelly Gordon: No, it's huge. I'm glad I'm not the only person that does stuff like that, by the way I go out in the world and I'm like I wonder what this is.
Kelly Gordon: And try to do some of the math backwards and I'm always. I mean as entrepreneurs, like I'm, I have my office and I'm in my office now and I spend time in here, but I try to get out in the world because it really does remind you a what's available in the world, just in general, all of the creativity and things, but also how much money there is in the world, right?
Kelly Gordon: If you're not getting your piece of it, chances are, it has something to do with knowledge, access, or confidence, knowledge and access can be solved very easily. And then the other is going to take a little bit of time, depending on who you put yourself around, but it's a solvable situation.
Kelly Gordon: We're about to jump into today's podcast. But first here's a message from Queensland health children, aged five and over and now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine it's clinically tested and proven to be safe and effective for people five years and older, having your child vaccinated will protect them from becoming seriously ill from COVID-19.
Kelly Gordon: For more information, talk to your GP or pharmacist or search COVID-19 kids vaccines.
Srini: Hey, it's Trini. So one of the things that makes it possible for us to make this show is by selling sponsorships to advertisers. And one thing that would be really helpful in terms of helping us get more sponsors that are relevant to you and useful to you is that if you tell us a little bit about you, who you are, and you can do that by filling out this quick email@example.com slash pod survey, the questions are about you demographic information and information.
Srini: That's helpful to the team that sells ads for the show. And if you're someone who wants to buy ads, you should definitely get in touch. It'll only take a few minutes. Easy way for you to help the show. Again, that's understandable creative.com/pod survey, and there'll also be a link in descriptions of most recent episodes.
Srini: If you're listening to an older episode, thanks and stay tuned for the rest of the episode. Speaking of solvable situations, I think that makes a perfect segue to the main reason that I wanted to have a conversation with you. When Christine referred me to you, she said, you have to talk to Kelly.
Srini: She is a communications coach who was diagnosed with autism and overcame it. And I thought, wait a minute, like those two things are the most unlikely comment that was ever, like how in the world is somebody. Make a career out of something that literally is the thing that is, almost, defines their challenges.
Srini: So first let's talk about one, how old were you when you realize this, or, your parents realize this, how did it affect your relationships growing up? And then, we'll get deeper into it, but let's
Kelly Gordon: start there. I knew that I was different. I just didn't know why.
Kelly Gordon: And so I was homeschooled from sixth grade on and I was isolated in that way. I competed. I'm going vendor or was, and so I was really isolated in that way and took a I'm a super late bloomer. So that's a whole thing. And I never really realized why things were so hard, but I did realize through trying to communicate in certain ways or being reprimanded in certain ways that I didn't think that other people were struggling in the way that I was.
Kelly Gordon: And I knew that their brains didn't work in the way that I did, but I didn't have any vocabulary for that. My throughout my whole life. So I'm 35 now. And it wasn't really brought up as a diagnosis until I was 33. So I didn't know what it was. I was just in a situation of trying to get through and do the things that I needed to do.
Kelly Gordon: This was actually even after my father died he died of pancreatic cancer really quickly. 2019. And my mother went into a nursing facility where she is now still. So all of this was after a lots of things that happened in a really difficult 18 month period of my life, which sent me to therapy.
Kelly Gordon: Based on that's really where that came from, where she was realizing I think some of the things that was making my brain really different and the way that I mostly understand it now is it makes me really black and white gray spaces are really difficult. And which is probably why you're like, how do you communicate, right?
Kelly Gordon: How does that even correlate here? My mother's borderline personality and only was diagnosed in that same periods only a couple of years ago. And we just knew my mother as being her. But after my father died, lots of things happened. Learn lots of things that the family calls, what happened, the changes have been in her at fault.
Kelly Gordon: So this has been lifelong for her struggle. She has not tried to get any help. So I was raised in that kind of chaos. I'm not sure how much you understand about borderline personality or anybody listening here, but just basically it is that they are extremely emotional all of the time and have zero ability to control themselves.
Kelly Gordon: And it's a very volatile situation all of the time. And it's really difficult. I actually recently met somebody whose mother was borderline, and we instantly connected because nobody understands what's happening or how to even describe what it could be like to be raised in such a volatile situation.
Kelly Gordon: And it could be whatever set her off today wouldn't tomorrow. So it also was very unpredictably volatile, which has its own. Issues for children, I'm also an only, so it was just me. And there's actually a television show called lie to me. I'm not sure if you've ever love it. Oh my goodness. Love it.
Kelly Gordon: Always have I'm rewatching it lately and there is a character, it's the Monica, Raymond character. And similar to her shows. She was raised in a very volatile situation and she learned how to. Essentially lied to me is about, can you detect if somebody is being deceptive in any way and it pretty much, that's wondering about it, watch that it explains a little bit, but because I was in a state of needing and feeling like I was in a survival state all of the time, I can tell the second that something changes in someone.
Kelly Gordon: There the way that they feel their energy there. I can tell from a look that something has happened from a tone change, the way that they've stopped using their hands or started using their hands or what they're touching, or just the fact that something has changed. I can tell it instantly. Now you don't know necessarily what.
Kelly Gordon: And that is a little bit harder for me because of the spectrum issues for me. That, that is still a bit of a mystery, but I know that it's happened and sometimes I can know it sometimes I don't, but it can set you off internally because that is a gray area. I don't know. So
Srini: What I wonder know there, multiple questions that come from that.
Srini: So you and I, while you and I are having this conversation, do you have sort of an ability to just inherently sense where my energy is at and how engaged I am because of that?
Kelly Gordon: If it changes, I'll know it.
Srini: Wow. Now, if it were to change, if you suddenly picked up that something just is off here, Shreeny doesn't seem engaged or it looks like he's distracted by something.
Srini: You mentioned that you wouldn't necessarily know why you would sense it. What would your typical reaction be if that happened? Not that's happening now because no, it's not your,
Kelly Gordon: yeah. I go into what's called overfunctioning and so this is really, again, lots of therapy. It's a whole thing, but because I was trying to make it better or stop it or keep it from happening.
Kelly Gordon: I can and do, try to then pull you back in, in a way that you might not necessarily feel. So interestingly, this whole skill equates really well to sales by the way, but because I can feel it and then bring it back again. I don't know why I can't see you. It would be different if I could see you.
Kelly Gordon: So I might know what, Hey, you looked at his phone, he just got something right. Or, something happened in the background, but I can't see any of that. So I will just know that something has. And then I'll try to bring it. Yeah. Great. Yeah.
Srini: Okay. So this actually raises a question about what, most people who, only kind of experience, what it means to be on the spectrum through sort of media portrayals and books.
Srini: We read misunderstand about it because I don't know if you've ever seen the TV show Paris. Which is probably one of my favorite TV shows of all time. One of the families finds out their son has Asperger's when he's, five years old and watching the development of that character is probably one of the most.
Srini: Intriguing parts of that entire show because, they have to basically figure out all sorts of ways to work with them. And it turns out that, he's got all these sort of, weird quirks, some of which make him brilliant at certain things. And, socially like very difficult to deal with.
Srini: Now, you mentioned that you can instantly tell if something changes in somebody and for board. That one of, at least as I understand it. And this is why I wanted to ask this question. One of the challenges that people on the spectrum have is being able to read facial expressions and emotional cues.
Kelly Gordon: And that's, so that for me again, through lots of therapy and things like that is understanding that was created from my childhood, that it is a survival technique that I learned, but interestingly, I may or may not. So let's just say for arguments that you could do the same. You would probably have a much stronger idea of why.
Kelly Gordon: I probably don't know why. I have a hard time distinguishing if what is causing it because of, again, that's a gray area of understanding, maybe, Hey, maybe you told me something earlier, something might be happening. I might not go back to that. I might not know that because I am now. In that survival mode.
Kelly Gordon: And I can't think out of it other than to make sure that you're okay, so that I can then feel okay again.
Srini: Yeah. So that's what I was wondering. So if you said something and it didn't land well, you would know that something has changed, but you wouldn't have
Kelly Gordon: sometimes I don't know why. And some of my friends say, Kelly, for a lot of the things that you understand and you're smart and all of these things, how did you not see that comes up in my life all of the time.
Kelly Gordon: And it's. I'm on the spectrum. I didn't see that. That was not something that I might have understood or could have seen coming or understood about somebody's behavior. Human behavior might not understand why. So I just, I can understand that.
Srini: Yeah. You mean? So let's talk about this whole idea of a spectrum, right?
Srini: Because in my conversation with you, you and I were talking off the air here about an episode that, we aired with somebody who was on the spectrum and it ended up, have been, we had to take it down because the person was so upset. There's a wide range because as I'm talking to you if I didn't know this backstory, nothing about the way you're communicating with me would make you seem like you're a person on the spec.
Kelly Gordon: So interestingly, so
Srini: why is that perception like created, like why do we have this perception of it's rain man or something, Elon Musk
Kelly Gordon: fair. I think media has a lot to do with that. The spectrum is a really long and wide place. There's lots of reasons why things are, may not be, but also things similar to my childhood that might have effect.
Kelly Gordon: How something has been developed or something that might have been developed in a hyper sensitive way that may not have been in others. So I think that, TV, media, things like that, movies have a big impact on where that lands and, we're also different in how we were raised, what we came in contact with.
Kelly Gordon: So like when I w this was, early teens, well into my twenties, I would carry a notebook around with me when people do this, they mean. When this happened, this, like I spent an incredible amount of time trying to learn what was going on. Because I didn't understand. And still now again, I might recognize that it happened, but I still may not know why I could go to a close friend of mine and say, I don't understand this.
Kelly Gordon: And that's when I get the response. They'll tell me they're kind. But I don't, in their brains are like, I don't know how you can do that.
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Srini: Yeah. So that's what I wonder then is, how does this impact your, your friendships, your relationships, all of that when you communicate what is it like for you to form a deep bond with somebody versus somebody who is not on the spectrum?
Kelly Gordon: Interestingly, two of my closest friends are on the spectrum.
Kelly Gordon: And that just, we didn't know that about each other until later. I'm actually, I wouldn't want to say maybe three are in that same place. So we're resonating with each other on a level that we didn't understand at the time. Mo I am, again, I think because of the fact that I am on a spectrum, I am as upfront and honest as a person probably comes because otherwise, it just does. It doesn't compute for me. I don't know how to live in that space. When it was joke from actually when I came out many years ago that everybody knew, but me. So instead of me saying like, Hey, guys, I'm gay. It was, Hey, now I know. And so like when I came when I was telling them about, that I'd been diagnosed on the spectrum, it was.
Kelly Gordon: Hey now I know, right? Because they understood, they were not shocked in any way. The people closest to me. And interestingly, you brought up some things that we were talking about off air. One of them was a little bit of the alter ego effect, and there's books about that, that in certain situations we can become this person.
Kelly Gordon: So who I am in my professional life. And who you're talking to now, of course is the same person as I am off camera and offline. But to. I have learned how to live in this space in a way that I can communicate in this way that doesn't, I wouldn't say always at all, correlate to personalize.
Srini: Wow. You know it at the age of 33. And I think it sounds like to me, like you inherently knew this for a very long time, but what does that do to your sense of identity when you are actually told this, or, you get this, formal diagnosis or label because, often once somebody labels as a.
Srini: We can, given to that Pygmalion effect and say, okay, that's who I am. So I'll give you an example. I have no natural musical aptitude at all, and I hadn't, band director who the dad picked up the tuba, literally the day I picked up the instrument said, you're going to make all state band for no good reason.
Srini: I have no idea why the hell is. To this day. And I did, and it was just him planting that seed made me want to live up to that expectation. But then there's, the situation, for example, like you get diagnosed with autism as a label or being on the spectrum as a label. And I wonder like how that shapes their sense of identity for better or worse.
Kelly Gordon: I think I'm glad that I didn't know it when I was younger because at this stage of my life, I know who I am. And I think if I had the. It would have potential potentially of course we'll never know, but it could've made a different, a crutch of some sort that I might not have gotten to the success that I have been able to get to because I didn't have that.
Kelly Gordon: Interestingly, also my brain doesn't work in that way. Start coming off labels, it's Hey, my childhood was, abusive, emotionally abusive and traumatic. I'm an alcoholic. I've been so afraid years, I'm gay and I'm autistic, but I don't go through every day at all thinking of any of them because I'm just me.
Kelly Gordon: And I know that there's things that I can do in the world. And I just continue forward. I actually attribute that to the spectrum behavior of literally just not caring.
Srini: Okay. Most people, are incredibly sensitive to things like that. When we get told certain things by our parents, my parents live my entire life, told me that I'm absentminded, which to some degree is true until I got diagnosed with ADHD.
Srini: I was like, oh cool. Now I have an explanation for all of his behavior. Okay. So how do you, do, if you're not somebody who like you, who just doesn't give a shit, how does somebody begin to disconnect these limiting labels or that they, basically get from people around them from their sense of identity?
Kelly Gordon: I think that, given everything that happened in my life and some of the things that did happen throughout my childhood, a big thing does stick out that if I ever wanted to do anything. The question that my parents would ask was, is there anybody else in the world doing that thing? And if the answer is yes, then of course you can.
Kelly Gordon: And if there isn't, then you just might need a little bit more time. So to me, that's just how my brain has always worked. That I don't see anything that is me as that limitation because people are doing it. So of course I can, I just have to figure out how, and I, Time. I try to spend with my coaching clients and consulting clients is we talk a lot about grit and resilience and how to get those things right.
Kelly Gordon: For me, I think trying to overcome all of the things that I've tried to overcome, I have those things and I can sit here at my computer and did for a long time to get to where I am day after day. Failing and not making the money that I should, all of these things, but it is rooted in that grit and resilience, which I think has something to do with how I think about it.
Kelly Gordon: But I want to, and spend a lot of time trying to teach people how to get there. It's just a really hard thing to do when they're trying to overcome things that have happened to them or what they think about.
Srini: Let's talk briefly about coming out. I've had a handful of guests here who have been gay or, ah, not straight.
Srini: And they, each of them had a very different experiences coming out. Some of them had, just overwhelmingly positive experiences and others literally became a strange from their parents. So what is it, for somebody like me who is straight, who doesn't understand this experience?
Srini: What do you want me to know about the experience of coming out?
Kelly Gordon: It's funny, I've been asked this before and I don't think that I'm a good person to tell you that because mine was completely uneventful. I told my mother sitting at the island in the kitchen, I was about 23 or 24 and she said, okay, good.
Kelly Gordon: Tell your father. And I did. And he said, I love you. And that was it. That was absolutely. I have never, once in my life felt marginalized by my sexuality. Which is abnormal and arguably, maybe it's just because that don't pick up on that, right? Like maybe that's the spectrum of stuff being like, I don't know what that is, but it's not this, cause that's not a thing.
Kelly Gordon: I have no idea. But have plenty of friends who over the years have experienced, a wide range of that from what I experienced all the way to, having to go to get the gay out camps, right? That's still a whole thing and being estranged from their families. Yeah.
Srini: I saw a documentary about that, about a Christian cult of that, that literally, tries to get, I don't remember the, there was a documentary on Netflix about this and we're like, holy shit, this actually exists.
Kelly Gordon: It's still a thing
Srini: that is unreal. Like here we are, 20, 21 on the verge of 20, 22 and something like that still exists.
Kelly Gordon: And it crazy to think about. I guess I'm isolated or the people that I hang out with. It's just not a thing, but that stuff still exists in the world.
Srini: Yeah. Okay. So I think the thing that, like I said struck me most is the combination of two things you had never imagined going together, being diagnosed with being on a spectrum and becoming a communications coach.
Srini: Like how in the world did you find your way to that? What is it that you have that enables you to be so good at that somebody who, has a brain that doesn't work like, or wouldn't necessarily have
Kelly Gordon: we'll start with how I got here. So I actually went to school for website development and programming.
Kelly Gordon: And when I got out of school, I started working at local companies and then started my company in 2000. When the whole economy was down, it was great. But move from website development, into marketing. Now our lead generation company my agency is, and it's just been moving forward since then.
Kelly Gordon: And, from that point to get me here now, I work with some digital agency owners and things like that. And I started my coaching program to teach them how to do the agency. But then during this coaching program, we're sending out these forms for them to fill out what do you like about it?
Kelly Gordon: What did you think that it was? What was it, what's keeping you here, all of these things that we wanted to know about the program, and I was started getting back responses from lots of people in very D different countries, different positions, things like that, that I want to learn to communicate like you.
Kelly Gordon: And I'm like, And so this started years ago. And so that was the first time where I came into contact with. Maybe the, I didn't understand it at first, but I knew that they were there for that, that I, that they wanted to learn to communicate like me. So we got them all in a room, started talking more about it and trying to figure out, what that meant.
Kelly Gordon: Cause that was still a great space for me. Like I didn't have any definition of what that meant. And, in, from the lens that they were talking about the time it was, client management, sales, talking to employees and contractors in a way to get things done in a efficient manner while that person still feels empowered and happy.
Kelly Gordon: And I guess maybe been resilient through the process. And so the, this kind of. Morphed over the years where now I'm asked to speak to other coaching groups and things like that about emotional intelligence, connection, communication, and how. Those three things can fuel anything that you want to do. I think in life, honestly, but at the lens that we're usually talking about it, it's through business.
Kelly Gordon: Cause those three things, if you can have any sort of understanding of those three, you are going to be so far ahead of when anyone else is going to be crazy.
Srini: Yeah. So your clients, when you know, they came to me with all of this, they know that you're on the spectrum. No,
Kelly Gordon: because I haven't diagnosed.
Kelly Gordon: You're going to have.
Srini: Let's talk about that. You take something like being on the spectrum and you turn it into a combination of emotional intelligence, communication, persuasion, all the things that enable you to accomplish things that everybody here probably listening, wants to be able to accomplish.
Srini: How do you cultivate all of those things? Because I remember there's a class in business. You know that you take cold organizational behavior and it's all, and it's funny because half of those things are, the books that I read now in many of the guests that I have in the podcast.
Srini: And I think every student, in our first year, I was like, this is a bullshit class. It's the most sort of soft, class with the least concrete things. And then you get out of business school and you realize that was the most important class you took.
Kelly Gordon: No, that is probably, I wish I can't remember who I was having a conversation with, but somebody.
Kelly Gordon: About how they wish that there were more like at the time you didn't know, but then as they were graduating and going into a managing companies, that they wished that they had more of that knowledge or training or information to be able to be in roles where we were trying to look after people essentially.
Srini: Yeah. So talk to me about that. The process that walk people through to enable them to be more effective in all these areas.
Kelly Gordon: So my biggest thing, and it comes up in our coaching programs, but, they're like, I will not communicate like Kelly and I'm like, I don't want in any way ever for any reason to make a bunch of MES running around.
Kelly Gordon: You and me both. It's just not a thing, but I want them to understand how to think around things. So the way that I start them off, and this is, even for me still a process that we're all still learning and how to do this because I'm trying to take. Part of my spectrum, me stuff that I might not understand why it's still there.
Kelly Gordon: And that decade or more of carrying a notebook around trying to figure this out and reading all of the things, how do I take all of that and teach somebody well in this and the people that, that want to communicate like me, that I was communicating about? They it's overlaid on business.
Kelly Gordon: So I try to, every time they come to me with some. Try to outlay and have them verbally outlay the steps that got them there and to look around it and find any open door that they possibly can. It might not be the right path. It might not be the best thing, but how many different ways can you look at this thing that I think comes from my, autism and spectrum that it's trying, I'm trying so hard to figure things out all the time.
Kelly Gordon: Cause I don't understand them that I try. I can see lots of different sides of. And then if you can see lots of different sides of it, then like the more I get to know you, the more that I would know, which one of those would suit you more. And then I can tailor that to you. Okay. His brain works in this way because I could never control how mine worked and it didn't understand, but I could in a very black and white way, try to understand how you did.
Kelly Gordon: And if I could understand how you did that, I could communicate with you. And then when you get good at it, you can do that. To other people as well, and you get better at understanding their certain types of people and how these types of people do interact and engage. And once you can put people into a kind of a finite number of buckets, then you know how to communicate.
Srini: Yeah, this is something I've been tasked you about the notebook, all these things that you write down. Do you have them encoded in your brain at this point?
Kelly Gordon: I would say so. Yeah. I actually went through this whole process and I burned all of the books after it was years that I hadn't used them.
Kelly Gordon: And I was like, I feel like I've made it, it was like one of those like rites of passage kind of thing, I think. And I burned all of them and felt okay I'd made my business. I, have people working for me, I was successful. I'm not saying that I don't learn every single day, but I do.
Kelly Gordon: I just, I'm not that person anymore.
Srini: Yeah. Outside of the fact that you don't understand, why people react the way they do sometimes even though you instantly know something has changed, what are the challenges that you face in communicating with people? What are your biggest ones?
Kelly Gordon: So this, I think comes down to the difference in me like business wise and personal personality wise, or personally, like if you change, I'm probably not going to take it personally or think that something's going to go wrong in our relationship. But if it was a personal relationship, it triggers that instability because of my early childhood.
Kelly Gordon: It's coming from that, that if something changed, it meant that love was being taken away. So the alter-ego that comes in business, doesn't fear that it's not a thing. We don't have that, but in personal relationships it does, which is why I behave differently.
Srini: Okay. And so then how do you resolve conflicts in your personal life?
Srini: Like what does that experience like for you
Kelly Gordon: learning every day? The communication is hard. I find that I struggle with the what I recognize as being the autism side of feeling. Everything extremely all of the time. And that is hard to manage when you have emotions like that and to control yourself and be aware of the other ones while you're being triggered probably by the other person.
Kelly Gordon: Anyway that for me is the biggest struggle. And I do find that when people say or ask, what's the biggest thing that, that feels, like you are on the spectrum. You're autistic. It is. Everything that happened, that you feel all of the time is so intense and how to chill that out, to have any idea of how to move forward or how to communicate.
Kelly Gordon: You have to settle that down. And that can be hard for you and for whoever you're talking to.
Srini: So it seems to me like that also could have some profound benefits as well in terms of being a creative person, because my sort of instinct with creative work is, how does this make me feel?
Srini: Everything is driven by that my sort of default rule when I write something or share something. And when I cut an interview in the middle, it's basically because I was like, if I'm not going to feel it, nobody else will.
Kelly Gordon: I find that to be the hardest thing to teach. I do even wonder if you can teach it.
Kelly Gordon: Yeah.
Srini: One other thing I wonder, we have referenced parents yours throughout this conversation. You don't for parents who are listening to this, who might have, kids on the spectrum. Given that you've overcome what seemed almost impossible odds what advice would you give them?
Srini: Especially if you know that they're severe or, not as.
Kelly Gordon: Too, this is going to, you're going to think this is so weird. One of them, but two of the things that may have made the biggest impact in my life, like to date as a 35, like we're talking about a lot of time here, right? Is going to therapy, having the ability to talk through things.
Kelly Gordon: My, the first couple of times that I went to see my therapist, she was like, I'm hearing a lot of, I don't understand, yes. And the anxiety that can cause the stress that can cause can permeate lots of things. But I was so stressed out all the time because of not being able to fully understand, I think myself or trying to be potentially even a person that I wasn't and being.
Kelly Gordon: Yeah, I think goes back to the labels. Not necessarily that I felt labeled, but it made me feel more comfortable that it was defined if that makes sense. And massage therapy that I've been going, I get a weekly massage, a half of the last, I don't know, three, three and a half years every week without fail.
Kelly Gordon: As, cause I'm also somebody that's don't tell. I don't want to hug you. I don't particularly want you to touch me. You know what I mean? That's just not something that I'm gonna do or wants to happen in any way, very spectrum me. And so I avoided it forever.
Kelly Gordon: I'm like, I don't want that cause anybody to touch me. But having that allowed muscles that don't get to relax and, have that very therapeutic time changed my entire life. Wow.
Srini: Yeah. I remember reading the book, the body keeps score, and I had no idea that massage was such a powerful thing and touch was such a healing thing.
Kelly Gordon: That is an excellent book. Anybody like that is so true. I read that it must be about a year after I started getting massage therapy. And now I can identify okay, there's certain parts of my body. Get super tight. My, my neck and shoulders. It is ridiculous how tight that they can become.
Kelly Gordon: It. It's just the stresses of things. And I think, again, the maybe not feeling completely comfortable though. I can, I sound like I'm completely comfortable, right? Not so much because see, my face is bright red. I can feel it's hot. And there's this heat thing that happens, but I can modulate my voice.
Kelly Gordon: I've learned to do this in this professional way. Just trying to be transparent for people that think that everything's completely fine and normal, it's not. But the body keeps, the score is understanding that these things happen and that we do have traumas and those emotions are stored in certain places.
Kelly Gordon: And, being able, through, I do deep tissue, therapeutic massages but it really helps release some of that. And it's amazing what you feel afterwards, even from somebody that's no, please don't touch me.
Srini: Yeah. We touched on it briefly and I want to, bring us full circle.
Srini: We alluded to the fact that, our sort of media portrayals of people on the spectrum or, things like rain, man. We have that show on Netflix, dating on the spectrum. And then I think the only one that I think in my mind, I feel does a really good job of not, painting this awful picture as a show called atypical.
Srini: I don't know if you've seen it. They've done a really good job. Yeah. As somebody who is on the spectrum, what do you think that people who create media about this need to understand, and don't misunderstand, and those of us who can consume this media misunderstanding and, what would you want to change about how we portray all of this in the media?
Kelly Gordon: It's I can equate it to, being gay and seeing like gay people being portrayed in media. It's a little bit better now than it was, but it's always this various Deborah stereotypical hyper-focused thing. And it's the same way I think for people on the spectrum, because like I mentioned before, it's so long.
Kelly Gordon: And so why. That you could be anywhere on it for any reason. And to be able to portray that in a way that people, I think who don't experience the thing or know somebody who is, can understand that I, I would at least to think they're doing the best that they can, but I think that it's still very hyper-focused and stereotypical.
Srini: Wow. Wow. This has been absolutely incredible and you can just fulfilled with, riveting stories and all sorts of, funny nuggets and, wise moments. So I want to finish with my final question, which I know you've heard me ask what do you think it is that makes somebody or something unmistakable?
Kelly Gordon: How'd it make somebody feel for me? For me? I don't think it matters. Anything else. But how it is that you show up and how it is you make people feel
Srini: wow. Wow. I think that, that makes a really fitting end to a very thought provoking conversation to add where can people find out more about you, your work and everything else that you're up to?
Kelly Gordon: Definitely. So the easiest way to find me is to go to the Kelly gordon.com and everything I'm doing about.
Srini: Awesome. I can't thank you enough for taking the time to join us and share your story and your wisdom and insights with our listeners.
Kelly Gordon: I thank you so much for having me the conversation. You try to understand how it might be or, what are we gonna talk about?
Kelly Gordon: This went in a direction I absolutely love and how upfront and honest and transparent everything is. I love it.
Srini: Awesome. And for everybody listening, we will wrap the show with that.