Mark Shayler – Neurodiversity Celebration Week 2022
How did you start your day today? Do you have a morning routine? What do you have for breakfast, do you think a good diet is important?
I get up early. Around 5.30. I walk each morning for an hour with my wife. It’s been a real salvation over the last two years. After that I run a qigong class online three mornings a week. The other mornings I spend time with my family which now includes my granddaughter. I eat porridge and fruit or lentils and a couple of eggs for breakfast. A good coffee and a glass of water. I drink 3 litres of water a day and need to start early to get it all in.
How do you stay active? And what do you do to relax?
To stay active I run, cycle, do peloton, do yoga, and of course my qigong session. I used to play rugby at a reasonably high level and ran and jumped at County level. I defined myself by moving. But then I stopped. About 10 years ago I realised that I was moving less. The bike cured that, and once more, moving has become central to who I am. I’ve discovered how much I love swimming recently too and that has been a game-changer.
Have you read anything good recently?
I’ve read three great autobiographies. Billy Conolly’s, Bob Mortimer’s and Bobby Gillespie’s. All amazing. All showing a different life to mine. Also, the Overstory by Richard Powers which has shown me something of the secret life of trees.
Which 5 Albums would you want to have with you on a desert island?
Oh my, this is tricky.
The Stone Roses first album
Elvis Costello’s King of America
The best of Billie Holiday
Gil Scot Heron and Jamie XX “We’re new here”
The best of the Pet Shop Boys.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received and who was it from?
You only regret the things you don’t do. No idea who told me that I’m afraid.
When you were young, what did you want to be when you were a grown-up? And what was your first Job?
A pro rugby player. Nearly but not quite. My first job was as an environmental consultant for Bradford Council.
What do you do now and how did you get into it?
Ha ha. It’s not too different. I’m a sustainability consultant who also advises on and leads innovation programmes. Additionally, I teach people to find their voice and show brands how to stay interesting.
Creativity and thinking differently are often credited to neurodiversity. Would you say that is true? And if yes, could you give an example?
I think so. I have four kids and a wife with dyslexia and I have ADHD. There’s a lot of creative thinking and it’s utterly joyous to see, as long as you don’t try to control it. I run innovation and creativity workshops (creativity is simply imagining a world that hasn’t arrived yet) and those on the ND side often ask the best questions, which in turn gives rise to the best answers and most exciting ideas. Sometimes starting the thinking is enough.
When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus, what do you do to get back on track? Do you have any hacks, tips or do you use any apps to keep you on track during the day?
I go for a run or walk.
Does being Neurodivergent affect new relationships? This can be professionally, socially or romantically.
I’m a bit “much” for some people. And I shy away from some situations. I really can’t predict which side of this spectrum it will in any given situation, but it’s usually the former and this can make things a little harder.
What makes you happy?
Moving. Listening to music. Spending time with my family. Spending time alone
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
My kids, always. My 31-year marriage, my granddaughter (not really my achievement). Running my business for 20 years. Our side project – reasons to be cheerful. Writing two books.
Do you have a Positive ND message to the world. Imagine you have a £5 million advertising campaign to spend on billboards all over the world, what would you say?
Things get better, things progress, when you’re two standard deviations from the norm.
The final question – where can people find out more about you? Do you have a website and social media pages? Please list them all.
This site hosts an inclusive collection of talks, blogposts and conversations that give us all reasons to be cheerful. We simply want to spread good cheer and hope in a world that can sometimes feel bereft of both. This site is a platform for ordinary people to tell ordinary stories. Except they’re actually extraordinary.
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