Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Dorsey McFadden, Founder of Live Happy ADHD, located in Richmond, VA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My name is Dorsey McFadden, and I am the founder and coach of Live Happy ADHD Coaching. I am one of the 15 million people in the United States that are living with ADHD. As an ADHD coach, I work with adults to help them live happy and healthy lives with ADHD! I am passionate about coaching adults living with ADHD and parents of children with ADHD. I aim to empower them to work with their unique brain, not against it!
Together, we develop techniques and approaches to better understand how to support themselves and their children.
I am more than a coach; I am a partner and an advocate!
Coaching is the facilitation of growth and change. A coaching partnership helps close the gap between who you are, what is important to you, and what you're doing so that you can lead a more satisfying and effective life. Coaches support our client's understanding of their ADHD brain and its related challenges and how it impacts their personal and professional life so they can utilize practical, realistic strategies to shift from chaos to calm.
Tell us about yourself
I was diagnosed around age 5 with ADHD in 1985. At the time, very little was known about the disorder; to me, it was only the reason I couldn’t pay attention - nothing else. Despite my diagnosis, I achieved academic success. I have a double BA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in Political Science & Communications and International Security Studies & Rhetoric. Before discovering coaching, I built a substantial career in the digital marketing field. To the outside world, I looked successful. In truth, I constantly struggled to keep up and appear "normal."
In my 20’s, I was plagued by mysterious medical symptoms that confounded doctors. After seeking answers for over ten years, I was at my wit’s end and wanted to give up on western medicine. In my 30’s, I found a functional medicine doctor who actually partnered with me on my health. This approach empowered me to take control of my own health. I also started to see a psychiatrist who specialized in ADHD.
All these experiences helped me understand just how much I’d accomplished despite the limitations ADHD had put on me. They also helped me to see the damage I was doing to my body by not paying attention nor respecting the differences inherent to an ADHD brain and body. By constantly masking my ADHD symptoms to fit into the world around me without showing my differences, I was putting my body under constant stress. These additional health issues were the physical manifestation of inflammation from years of trauma and anxiety I forced myself to endure (the effect of the sympathetic nervous system on the body when it is constantly activated).
My journey over the last 30 years has given me such a wealth of information in health, neurology, and ADHD that I knew I couldn’t go back to the Digital Marketing world after my 2020 Covid layoff.
One of my main driving forces in launching my coaching business to help people change their lives was having lost my older brother to addiction in 2019. He and I were both diagnosed with ADHD at the same time yet had vastly different experiences in life.
I let these things be my springboard into the world of ADHD coaching, consulting, advocacy, and educational work.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Finding a career that fuels and inspires me has been one of my biggest accomplishments as a business owner. I love that I have been able to create a job that doesn’t feel like work and helps others accomplish their biggest goals. I have realized what I thought success looked like was holding me back; I now find my true definition of success within and am now in a position to help my clients come to such realizations as well.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
One of the hardest things for me that comes with being a business owner is understanding that I need to prioritize myself and my personal time so I can show up for my clients and others with a full tank. Learning to manage my own time so I have space to refuel and restore was one of the tricky parts of business for me, but I find I have so much more to offer as a coach and person doing so.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- If you struggle with ADHD and want to be an entrepreneur, stop waiting for permission. If you do work that inspires passion within you, drives you, and allows you to use your natural talents - it won’t feel like work.
- Focus on what you do best and people to do what you struggle with. Bringing others onto your team can be a great way to keep on track, grow your business, and not fall short in any area.
- Find your community and grow with them. Business is better with others. Connect with those working in similar industries and toward similar goals and inspire growth within each other.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Along with Live Happy, I founded FlexYourADHD in October 2020 to increase awareness and support for people with Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The passing of my older brother after a lifetime of struggling with substance abuse and misunderstood and mistreated ADHD catalyzed me to understand my own ADHD better and to connect with other adults with ADHD - something I had never done before.
Over time, I grew the community, finding other individuals on similar paths who wanted to join the team and help develop the website, contribute to the body of knowledge, and support members. Many of these contributors also lead their own efforts to expand awareness of ADHD in their home countries.
We have ADHD, and there is nothing wrong with us. Our mission is to help others see what ADHD truly is, a difference in biology. Something that doesn’t have to hold you back. That doesn’t predetermine where you’ll end up in life. With the right knowledge and support, you can take control of your future.
Additionally, I’m speaking out because I want to help erase the stigma associated with mental health, specifically around the self-care required to live a happy and fulfilling life with ADHD.
As a society, we need to get rid of the “keep your skeletons in a closet” attitude. I want to help educate people about ADHD and all the different ways this neurodevelopmental disorder manifests. Society knows so little about it, and when you do hear it discussed, it's usually in reference to a squirrel. ADHD does not affect intelligence though it does mean you have a different type of brain. A brain that works differently, that learns differently.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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