Key Takeaways

  • Visual thinking is important in education and business, and people who are good at visual thinking are often gifted with mechanical skills.
  • Different kinds of thinkers should be recognized for their skills, as people with different ways of thinking have the capacity to bring something unique to their organization.
  • Hands-on education for young people is an absolute must. Removing shop classes from schools has resulted in a shortage of skilled workers in industries such as manufacturing and agriculture.
  • Labels don’t define a person, and exposure to different experiences is important in order to discover one’s strengths and interests.
  • Organizations need people with different types of thinking, such as visual thinkers and mathematics experts to grow.

Executive Summary

Hi everyone! Thanks for joining us on The Leader Show with Lou Carter. Today we cover the first part of Lou’s interview with Dr. Temple Grandin, a renowned author, and academic, well-known for her research in autism and animal behavior.

In this episode, the speakers discuss topics such as autism, neurodiversity, working with companies as neurodiverse individuals, and Temple’s new book Visual Thinking.

Now, let’s jump right in!

Visual Thinking Is Important In Both Education And Business 

Dr. Grandin gets the ball rolling by discussing her new book, “Visual Thinking,” which emphasizes the value of thinking in images and how individuals who think visually can contribute to businesses. 

According to her, people who are good at visual thinking often excel at mechanical skills. She cites her experience working with tradespeople who had invented innovative equipment despite not having finished high school. 

She also expresses concern that the education system is currently disregarding trade skills, with shop classes being removed from the curriculum, which she believes will have negative consequences on American society.

Visual Thinkers Are Required In Every Industry

Lou and Temple continue their discussion, touching on the challenge of math requirements in education and its impact on visual thinkers. Temple expresses her concern about how math requirements can screen out visual thinkers, stating that algebra is too abstract for her. 

She highlights that people who are skilled at fixing and inventing equipment are needed in various sectors, including the meat and automobile industries. 

Additionally, she points out that although computers run robots, someone with a visual thinking mind is required to design the tool that goes on the end of the robotic arm, which is controlled by a computer.

Thinkers Should Be Recognized For Their Skills

Moving on, the speakers discuss different kinds of thinking and the importance of recognizing them as complementary skills. Temple identifies as an object visualizer and photo-realistic visual thinker. She emphasizes that people with her kind of mind are good at mechanical skills, fixing and inventing mechanical equipment, and working with animals. 

On the other hand, there are pattern thinkers who are good at music and math and are traditionally degreed engineers. She also mentions verbal thinkers who think in words and are highly organized in their thinking. Temple expresses her concern about the loss of skills in technical fields and how it impacts various industries. 

It’s Important To Showcase Your Work During Interviews 

Next, Lou and Temple talk about how she got past red tape because of her autism and was able to show off her work. Temple shares that in interviews, she often showed off her drawings and pictures of her past work, which was how she got jobs. Plus, she mentions having designed the front end of every beef plant for Cargill. She landed the job by sending the CEO drawings, photos, brochures, and trade magazine articles.

On this note, the author emphasizes the importance of showcasing one’s work in interviews and urges the listeners to keep looking for doors to opportunity in career development. She also shares how she approached the editor of the Farmer Ranch Man Magazine to get his card so that she could write for the magazine, which helped her career.

Visual Thinkers Often Tend To Notice What Normal People Overlook

Subsequently, Temple highlights the little details she noticed in cattle behavior, which led to her work in animal behavior and welfare. She mentions that in the early seventies, the biggest barrier for her was being a woman, and her autism was not much of an issue for her. As a visual thinker, she noticed things that others tend to overlook, such as shadows that can scare cattle. 

She shares an example of a shadow, which she calls the spider monster, that appeared from an overhead structure in the morning and frightened Angus cattle. To fix it, the owner had to build a roof over it. Temple suggests that cattle are not afraid of getting slaughtered but are more afraid of shadows and little things that people tend not to see.

People With Different Ways Of Thinking Can Bring Something Unique To The Table

Then the speakers discuss the different ways of thinking. Lou brings up Vincent van Gogh’s “Starry Night” painting and how a mathematician found a mathematical pattern emerging in the turbulence model of the painting. Temple adds that this shows how people with different ways of thinking can bring something unique to the table. 

Furthermore, she mentions that there are different kinds of minds, such as object visualizers and visual-spatial thinkers, and it’s important to recognize these distinctions in scientific studies. She recommends using the search terms “object visualizer” and “visual-spatial” for more information on the topic.

Hands-On Education For Young People Is An Absolute Must 

On the same note, Temple highlights the most suitable jobs for different types of thinkers, such as photography and mechanical work for visual thinkers, mathematics and engineering for visual-spatial thinkers, and legal practice and education for verbal thinkers. 

She also emphasizes the importance of hands-on education for visual learners in technical fields and how the removal of such classes from schools has resulted in a shortage of skilled workers in industries such as manufacturing and agriculture.

Furthermore, she mentions that she helped improve technical systems for cattle ranching and meat plants by creating her own gate and other projects that reduced labor requirements, bruising, and workman’s compensation. She sold these projects strictly on economics, and her work also improved the environment for the cows. 

Labels Don’t Define A Person

Next, Temple emphasizes the importance of exposure to different things in order to discover one’s strengths and interests. She points out that many hands-on classes have been removed from schools, depriving children of the opportunity to discover their potential in fields like welding or programming, which is unfortunate. 

Grandin also warns against focusing on labels, citing a case where parents of an autistic child with a talent for math assumed they couldn’t teach their child programming because of their child’s diagnosis. She emphasizes the need for collaboration between different types of minds and highlights her upcoming book on visual thinking, co-authored with Betsy Lerner, as an example of such collaboration.

Organizations Need People With Different Kinds Of Thinking 

Finally, Lou asks Temple Grandin about the long-term success of neurodiversity hiring in organizations. In response, Temple mentions that, economically, organizations need neurodiverse individuals, and they need people with different types of thinking, such as visual thinkers and mathematics experts. 

Furthermore, she emphasizes the importance of attention to detail, which is a strength of neurodiverse individuals, and the need to avoid overgeneralization, which is a weakness of verbal minds. 

Reminder: The conversation doesn’t end here. Stay tuned for Part B, where we dive deeper into this topic

Thank you for listening! 


Lou Carter : We're here today with Temple Grandin. This is such a wonderful opportunity. One of Time's Most Influential Thinkers next to Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey. Temple, welcome.

Temple Grandin : Oh, thank you for being here. It's great to be here.

LC : Thanks for being here too, Temple. There's so much I want to ask you today and learn from you today…

TG : Okay.

LC : …About autism, neurodiversity, working with companies as a neurodiverse individual and learning about the autistic mind and your new book, Visual Thinking.

Visual Thinking and Trade Skills in Business and Education [1:28]

TG : Galley proof right here. You can pre-order on Amazon right now. Visual thinking and the kind of thinking that business really needs cause visual thinking in pictures is a different kind of thought. And people that are good at visual thinking are often very good at mechanical things. When I was out working on installing equipment that I had designed, I worked with a lot of very skilled tradespeople who often owned big shops, maybe barely graduated from high school, but they've taken shop class. They had 20 patents inventing all kinds of complicated equipment.   

And one of my concerns is we're losing that skill. They're getting shunned off in special ed. They took the shop classes out, and we're paying price for that right now.

LC : And oftentimes students may perhaps not be as good at algebra, so they stop going to trig or geometry. And you're saying, well help them go to trig and geometry, cuz that's visual thinking. So they can excel.

The Challenge of Math Requirements and the Need for Visual Thinkers [2:33]

TG : Well, this is the problem. And my concern about this math requirements screening out visual thinkers, I absolutely can't do algebras too abstract. I can do math that's related to something physical like pie times and radio squared. I can size hydraulic and nomadic cylinders, but as I say that, I'm seeing hydraulic and pneumatic cylinders on pieces of equipment. And what's happening is that the people I've worked with are retiring. They're not getting replaced. I've talked to a lot of people in the meat industry, but also in other industries like the car industry.

They need people who can fix equipment, who can invent equipment. People forget that maybe, okay, computers run the robotics, but somebody has to design the tool that goes on the end of the robotic arm. It’s controlled by a computer. It's not a computer. It's something that my kind of mind can design.

LC : And that's interesting what you said, my kind of mind and to understand this sort of is very important for us all. This particular shows the trunk line in your brain versus others you'd say, we say too typical developing brains and how that trunk line, could you tell us about that trunk line and how that enables more of a visual thinking and in effect gives you really leg up. You like the way you think.

Recognizing Different Kinds of Thinking for Complimentary Skills [3:53]

TG : All right, let's put the slide up about the different kinds of minds, you had that slide. Okay. There's scientific research now that shows that there is different kinds of thinking. I am an object visualizer, photo-realistic visual thinker. Everything I think about is a picture. Nothing's abstract. People with my kind of mind are really good at mechanical things, fixing mechanical things, and inventing mechanical things. Factories really need us. We're good at art, we're good at photography, and we're also good at working with animals, but absolutely can't do algebra. I worked with all kinds of metalworking shops inventing all kinds of equipment and the students had taken shop class. 

Then you have your pattern thinker. This is your music and math mind, your traditional degreed engineer, heavy in math. So, if we're building a food processing plant, for example, my kind of mind is all the clever mechanical equipment. I call that clever engineering. And the more mathematician does power water oilers, refrigeration, make sure the roof doesn't fall down. They're good at music and math. They think in patterns.

Then of course you have your verbal thinkers. Well, we'd sit in the shop. Those were called the suits. And very organized in their thinking, thinking words. I was shocked when I found out that other people didn't think visually the way I think. But when we start realizing that these different minds exist, we can figure out how they can have complementary skills and they, and that we need them on many, many different kinds of projects.

LC : And you have another way of thinking as well in your visual thinking book. Can you tell, can you tell us about that new one?

TG : Well, some people are auditory thinkers. There's some people who are auditory. And the first step is realizing that different thinking exists. Now when somebody gets a label, the types of thinking tend to be more extreme. Lots of people are mixtures of different kinds of minds, but we need the visual thinkers. Right now I'm very concerned about loss of skills. And I didn't realize how serious this was until 2019. I went to a state-of-the-art pork plant and all of the equipment, especially the mechanically clever equipment, mostly came from Holland.

And I went to poultry plant. All the equipment came from Holland, a hundred shipping containers because they haven't taken out shop class. And then the big shocker was, I read in the Economist that the state-of-the-art electronic chip-making machine comes from Holland. You see, you have the mathematical side of chip making, but you also have the clever engineering side. Very, very concerned about loss of skills. Yeah, you need us and we can't do algebra. I'm concerned about things like maintenance of electrical distribution equipment. This is something I look at everywhere I go.

LC : And something that really stood out in your work is how you got past all of the kind of red tape and were able to show off your work. I know you mentioned Dell and other companies that you've spoken and recommending really that in the interview phase you show off...

Using Drawings to Showcase Work and Finding Doors to Opportunity in Career Development [6:52]

Basically what I- an interview for me, was to show off drawings. Now this is some drawings from my book, Thinking In Pictures. It's a little bit torn. I've used a lot of video conferences, but I would simply show clients my drawings. An interview for me was showing off the work, put the drawings on the table, pictures of jobs.

In fact, I designed the front end of every beef plant for Cargill. And the way I sold that job back in the late eighties, as I sent the CEO, big drawings, some photos, my brochure, a couple of trade magazine articles, and 32nd Wow. Show off the work. And the other thing I did is I saw doors to opportunity. There's a very important scene, an HBO movie, which is true, where I went up to the editor of the Farmer Ranch Man Magazine and got his card. Cuz I knew if I wrote for that magazine that would help my career, that got me a free press pass to get in big expensive national beatings. And then I got the card for the National Cattle and Industry magazines and I wrote for 'em. This was a very important part of my career. Often people don't see back doors to opportunity.

LC : These doors that you identified. They're really these pivotal moments. They're watershed moments in your life that you discover and you can visualize and say, when I get that card, when I change or shift this process that you saw because you had seen this process that was really horrible. Right?

Noticing Little Details in Cattle Behavior And Overcoming Barriers As A Woman With Autism [8:26]

TG : Well, the first thing I noticed in going around all the feed yards in Arizona was cattle would buck at little shadows and things like that. And I often get asked, what was the biggest barrier in the early seventies? I can tell you, being a woman, autism was a non-issue. And I had to be really good at what I do.

But since I was a visual thinker and I didn't know, my thinking was different. When I did my first study back in the seventies, I noticed cattle notice little things that people tend to not notice. I often get asked of the cattle afraid of getting slaughtered. Nope. They're much more afraid of shadows and little things that we tend to not see. That's the stuff that cattle are afraid of.

LC : Like the flagpole, the flagpole you know the noises in the flagpole, no noises in the wind…

TG : Or, or here's a brand new one right here. I call this one the spider monster.

LC : The spider…

TG : This big shadow. This is brand new. This picture I took this year, but that's a big shadow from an overhead structure in the morning. It was not there. Everything was working fine in the afternoon, Angus cattle decided they were not gonna walk over that. So to fix it, they built a roof over it. So that's something I worked on just this year. No, they were afraid of the spider monster. A shadow from an overhead structure.

LC : So it's really what we don't see that when we uncover that we can allow for new systems to take place. It's what we, it's what other people.

Neurodivergence in Collaborative Projects and User Experience in Software Design [9:56]

Well, one of the things I want, we need all the different kinds of minds. I'll give you an example. My grandfather, MIT trained engineer, mathematical type of engineer from MIT was the co- inventor of the autopilot for airplanes years ago prior to the World War II. And he worked with another guy who was probably autistic. The other guy Haig Antranikian had this wild idea of three coils. Everybody else thought it was ridiculous. My grandfather goes, “Hmm, I can make that work.” So here's the mathematician, maybe working with a more visual thinker.   

And they tinkered in a loft for years, finally got it to work. And the stolen version was in every war plane in the US during World War II. This is where my grandfather should have had a lawyer, a verbal thinker. Okay. He needed a lawyer. So, you see there's a need for all the different kinds of minds.

LC : Hmm.

TG : A visual thinker who comes up with a totally different idea, the mathematician to make it work and a lawyer to prevent it from getting stolen

LC : [laugh]. The copyright, the legal, the programming and the visualization, the user experience. It's really about how to create an outstanding software product or a new processor, well,

TG : Let's say software. Some of the interfaces. I mean, I, this stream yard that we're on right now, I really like first time I use this, I've never even seen it before. Fine. That's an example of a good interface. Some of other stuff's complicated. See, this is where you need a visual thinker to go, Hey, don't make it so complicated. User experience matters.

LC : It does, the simplicity of it. And so that people don't increase their anxiety, which reduces learning.

TG : Well, you know, the guy that invented Zoom used to work for WebEx and WebEx wouldn't pay any attention to 'em. One of the reasons why Zoom took over is it's, it works. And I've had some horrible experiences on WebEx, where with one big company, I had to unfortunately to had my slides. I present them. We did a very crude phone patch to get through all the firewalls where I picked up my cell phone and called the host cell phone. He put it on the speaker next to his studio-quality mic. And that's how we did the talk. We'll leave out the name of the company.

LC : Isn't it funny? Like those kinds of simple ways of seeing the future, right? And you can do simple things of showing. Look how silly that is what you're doing. It's too complex. I can take my cell phone and make others see this and hear it, right?

TG : Well, I would, one had to explain to a tech person at a major corporation how to do a really crude cell phone patch that works.

LC : You know, and just to, I want to illustrate that for a second by, you know, what we see or what others who are potentially neurodiverse or autistic have seen. And just this I'd like to actually if, if we would, to Van Gogh and Starry Knight. What we didn't know about Starry Knight that I learned from you is that, well, there's a turbulence model speaking of autopilot that is emerging inside of his drawing that wasn't really seen until a century later. You know, what does that mean about what we just don't know about our…

The Distinction Between Object Visualizers and Visual Spatial Thinkers [13:04]

TG : No, I read that in a science magazine somewhere. I don't think Van Gogh knew anything about mathematics. He just made that pattern. And then a mathematician said, show showed that it followed a mathematical pattern. And actually I've discussed that in my autistic brain book. I've got some of the early research on the different kinds of minds.

And if you wanna look up some of this research, use search terms Object Visualizer. That's from me. And then Visual Spatial for the more mathematical mind. And one of the problems we have in a lot of the scientific studies is they've mixed those two together. And that's a mistake. They are different ways of thinking. One thinks in photorealistic pictures, other thinks in patterns.

LC : You speak about. And page 204, Jobs for Picture Thinkers, Jobs for Word Fact Thinkers and Jobs for Pattern thinkers. And then the AQ test, of course, which is the Simon Baron Cohen AQ test. But could you speak a little about that in terms of jobs that those different three types of thinkers may consider when they're….

Suitable Jobs for Different Types of Thinkers and the Importance of Hands-On Education For Visual Learners in Technical Fields [14:11]

TG : On my mind, photography. I've put, I've been interviewed for a lot of documentaries and I've talked to photographers privately and found out they were dyslexic or autistic. Also things like anything mechanical. I worked with several metal working shops where the owner of the shop was definitely autistic, undiagnosed. So, all kinds of mechanical things. And then working with animals because animals don't think in words.

And then of course anything with art, those things go together. And then for our visual spatial, they're gonna be a more traditional mathematically inclined engineer, computer programmers and all kinds of mathematics, physics, chemistry, I had subscribe to science and nature. But one thing that amazes me when I look at the chemistry articles is the beautiful symmetrical patterns that are in all kinds of molecules. I'm going, oh, I just would love to show this to the little math nerdy kids in elementary school.

TG : It's all pretty patterns, kind of amazes. I don't understand the math, but I do see the patterns in these articles. And then you have your verbal thinker. And most of education now is run by verbal thinkers thinking completely in words. And one of the problems is they overgeneralize one size doesn't fit everybody in school. And I think one of the worst things the schools did is taking out all the hands-on classes, sewing, art, woodworking, mechanics, welding, because these are the classes where the visual thinkers can excel.

And some of these shops I've worked with, it was a single welding class that opened the door. I'm not saying weldings for everybody, but the problem I'm seeing now, and I've talked to lots of factory managers, they can't find people now to fix equipment. We still have some places where the shops still exist. And it's mainly in the middle of the country, in the farming country where the kids are growing up on learning how to work on equipment.

LC : And when you, when you were on the cattle ranch with your aunt and uncle, you fixed the fence and you created your own machine.

Improving Technical Systems for Cattle Ranching and Meat Plants through Economics and Management [16:05]

TG : I made that gate. You could open the car. I actually did that. All the projects shown in the HBO movie are accurate. I actually did all those projects

LC : And you did it to help the cattle ranch, the cows and the noises around you and to create a system that was best for yourself as well. So you improved your environment for yourself.

TG : Well, that's right. One of the things I had to do originally is sell it strictly on economics. I could, you know, if it was a large feet yard or a large meat plant, I could you know, reduce labor requirements, reduce bruising, I could reduce workman's compensation. That was a big one that I used. And I could get the equipment in and I got a lot of equipment out there all through the nineties. And one of the problems was not managing it right. People thought they could buy the magical thing that solves all their problems. Now today it's the magic computer that's gonna solve all their problems. These things are not gonna replace management. And then I developed a very simple auditing program for meat plants. Very simple. I just measure five simple things like cattle vocalizations of falling down, stuff like that. And in 1999, I implemented that system and trained McDonald's, Wendy's in Berger came to do it.

And in six months I saw more change than my whole career. First thing I had to do was start managing stuff and repairing stuff was one of the first things they had to do.

LC : So you observed their system, you saw the inefficiencies in the human system and then improved it through a different thinking and operation.

Improving Animal Welfare through Good Management and Proper Facilities [17:39]

TG : Big and just moving small groups of animals. Um, instead of bringing 25 cattle up, you bring up, you know, 14 cattle at a time or in pigs, instead of bringing 20 up at a time, you bring seven up to the shoot at a time. Things that simple. I find I'm still having a talk about that. I just had gigantic conference call with really good people in Europe and had to get them down to seven pigs. I said, now just try it. Yeah. Then call me next week after you've tried it. It worked.

LC : It worked. So in the human system, is that really the most important, would you say? Not the most important. You...

TG : You have to have both on. You can have equipment that's designed so badly, it just simply isn't gonna work. You need the combination of both good facilities and good management and people to run things. You need to have both the management and the equipment. Now, one of the mistakes I made early in my career in the seventies is I thought I could build self-managing systems. No way. No way. Now people go, oh, AI's gonna fix all our problems. Mm-hmm. [affirmative], no, things are still going to have to be managed.

The other thing is the verbal suits need to get out of the office and find out what's going on out in the field. It was very interesting taking McDonald's executives on their first trips to farms and slaughter plants. It was like that show Undercover Boss. Animal welfare went from an abstraction, give it to lawyers, give it to the PR department to something real.

I'll never forget the day when the McDonald's executive saw a half dead dairy cow go in their product and he is going "We've got stuff, we've got to fix here." Getting the suits out of the office- really, really important. You cannot do it off a spreadsheet. And when there's been major supply chain disasters, I don't care what industry you're in, one of the things that's happened is, suits didn't get out of the office. When I talk about the suit cells, the verbal thinkers.

LC : And you learned that early on when you implemented your system, your this beautiful drawing- the suit system.

TG : Well that was yeah, that was a big Bison facility. And then I had other drawings that I can show you of some of my other drawings that are in my book Thinking In Pictures...

LC : The curve?

TG : The curve facility and the way I sold Cargills. I sent him a drawing of one of those curved systems. I sold the work. But then you still have to have management, especially on the night shift. People sometimes forget about what goes on in night shift.

LC : You know, and to go back, just the, the motivation behind that and your observation of seeing it go wrong in your earlier years and how people simply were poorly managing it. The verbal thinkers were poorly managing it and killing cattle. That must have been really a huge motivational factor to focus on the management aspect as well. When you saw the destruction that they could create.

Challenges with Middle Management and the Importance of Showing Your Work to the Right People [20:25]

TG : Well that scene in the movie where the metal plate got put in there. Yes. And it did drown the cattle. And that actually happened. I was furious and it got taken out. And where I had most of that kind of problem, middle management, that's where being a woman became a problem. Middle management. It was not the owners of the places or the top people. It was at a foreman level. That's where I had 90% of my trouble.

LC : Good. And those are some of the people who interview as well, aren't they? They're the ones who……

TG : Oh, that's right. And the other thing you gotta do is I gotta make sure I show the portfolio to somebody who's gonna care about it. Not your typical HR person. I made sure it got into the hands of the engineering department or in the hands of the head of the company. Portfolio has to be shown to the right people that will appreciate it. The other big thing, and I know a guy was not autistic, but took a one-semester community college course in drafting and got into the engineering department of a major meat company just by showing off a homework assignment he'd done on a water valve. I designed a lot of projects with him.

LC : It's incredible. Isn't how, you know, people with great will, great thinking and really an open mind and a caring mind with purpose can achieve incredible things.

The Concerns with a Lack of Hands-On Technical Skills and the Negative Effects on In-House Engineering [21:41]

TG : But we need, I'm concerned that too many of the people we need out there repairing factories and venting factory equipment are playing video games in the basement because they never took a shop class. Everywhere I go, I spent some time just a few weeks ago with someone who works in a car factory and right now they're working on putting in all these robots, but they've farmed all the work out. Factories are losing their ability of doing in-house inventing because some bad decisions I'm gonna have to use my industry as a model was shutting down in in-house engineering departments 20 years ago. Oh. It was cheaper to farm to work out.

That worked for a while. Now you gotta get it. Shipping containers from Europe. Yeah. We're paying the price for that now.

LC : It's true. And you know, let me ask you a question. Going back to neurodiversity, you know, what would you say your advice for how a company can actually create sustainable changes in neurodiversity efforts instead of these shortlived pushes? Like what is the l should the larger system be like?

The Value of Neurodiversity in Technical Fields and the Negative Impact of Removing Hands-On Education [22:43]

TG : Well, I'm gonna estimate that about 20% of the people I worked with, people that were doing design work machinery and venting people with patents, people with big machine shops and welding shops. People I worked with over a long career. I've been around since the early seventies. 20% of people owning big businesses were either autistic, dyslexic or ADHD. 20% of them. I went back to all the jobs. I wrote down the names. They were never formally diagnosed. These people are now retiring ones I've worked with.

Now the kids are shunned in special ed. They never get a chance to do hands-on things. They never get a chance in school to show the things that they're good at. Cuz those classes have been taken out. They're playing video games in the basement. They ought to be out fixing the power poles that are about ready to fall over that I just saw the other day.

LC : And they're not, you're noticing in these systems and they're going and playing video games and this is being wasted. Really. And so are, is it potentially…

TG : They're not even getting jobs in the video game industry.

LC : Yeah. They're not even getting…..

TG : Not even getting jobs there. They're collecting a disability check. There's a relationship here and okay, I've been out in some of the plants. We've got one plant that kept some in-house capability. They had to fight corporate to keep it. I went to another plant that was outside of the farming area where you still got some kids taking welding and stuff like that. I went and took one look in their shop that was 2022 and they can't build a little hydraulic thingy for me, they've lost all of their in-house capability. I could just tell by looking at the shop.

LC : This new concept of kind of this push for inclusion. Push for diversity. It's very temporary. And you know what I’ve heard from you is it, it starts with the individual search of the training, the development, but also the willingness to stick to the skills and the practice really. And not stay in the basement. It's up to the individual.

The Need to Avoid Over-Reliance on Labels: Insights from an Expert in Neurodiversity [24:33]

TG : Well, the problem is let's look at another thing with careers. Students have to be exposed to things to get interested. How to end up in the cattle industry? Well, I went to my aunt's ranch as a teenager. I was an easterner flying out to Arizona. Okay. The people I worked with that own either a small shop or a big shop, they took a welding class in high school. That gets back to exposure. I'm not saying everybody should go into welding. What I'm saying is you need to get exposed to a whole bunch of different things so you can find out what you're good at.

And I'm taking out all the hands-on classes. A lot of these kids are losing the opportunity to find out that they might be good at something like welding or good at programming. I've had parents that had an autistic eight year old brilliant in math.

Both parents were programmers and they didn't think they could teach their kid programming. They got so locked into the autism label. You know, and this is one of the reasons why I did the visual thinking book, this is my big lockdown project and I collaborated on visual thinking, which will come out in the middle of October with Betsy Lerner. She's totally verbal. I'd write the rough drafts. They wouldn't be that well organized. Betsy would just make them flow beautifully.

So, that's an example of my kind of mind object visualizer working with somebody who taught, who thinks totally in words. And I learned more about how Betsy thinks, very different from me. But it was an example of collaboration between the two different kinds of minds. Yeah. Pre-order on Amazon now. Shameless book promoter.

LC : No, I love the- the first part of my model is systemic collaboration in my book, In Great Company. So, what you're talking about is the collaboration for visual thinkers means that, like you said before about the programmer working with the lawyer, the IP lawyer working with the visual thinker for UX for the user experience or animal experience and is so essential. And that's collaboration.

The Value of Neurodiverse Thinkers in Business and the Need for Hands-On Innovation  [26:25]

TG : What I'm saying is these neuro, I mean, 20% of the people that I worked with in big commercial projects were neurodiverse. Absolutely! We need 'em. We need 'em for the business. We need those skills. I went out to the Steve Jobs theater. Okay. The Apple mothership structural glass walls, they're from Italy and Germany. And the roof carbon fiber came from Dubai. I tracked down all the vendors for the theater. I'm getting really interested in these things because I wanna sell it the same way. I sold my first cattle handling facility. I had to sell it on the economic basis. That's how I sold it.

LC : Because the global not nice to cattle.

TG : Yes, I wanna be nice to cattle, but that wasn't gonna sell those projects. And you need these people that are different kinds of thinkers. We need 'em

LC : Here in the US…

TG : Yes we do.

LC : Yes.

TG : Well, I was shocked when I went to the state-of-the-art poultry plant 2019, right before COVID shut everything down. And I found out that equipment came in from a hundred shipping containers from Holland. So, I'm very conscious of where stuff comes from and I go to a new plant. I'm looking at nameplates on machines and it's beautiful machinery. Beautiful. We used to invent that stuff, but that kid who should be inventing it now is playing video games in the basement and not even getting a job in the video game industry. Which would make me a lot less critical if they were getting a job in the video game industry or some other programming thing.

LC : I also, when I was reading your book, learning about how it could be cultural, you know, in the US we're focusing so much on the neurodiversity and autism that we're not seeing what people perhaps in Asia and Europe and are doing with their children, which is they're, they're encouraging them and thus they grow up and they accept all different ways of thinking. Like from Holland or from all these other…

The Need to Value Skilled Trades and Provide Opportunities for Different Kinds of Thinkers [28:12]

TG : People. That kid, the kid in Holland, took shop class and they also don't stick their nose up at skilled trades. We have a gigantic shorts of plumbers, electricians, all of these kind of hands-on jobs and what's happening. I don't even know if I could graduate from high school today, but some of the people I worked with that owned big businesses, barely graduated from high school. I know about three of them. Single welding class. That was the beginning. Started out doing tiny projects and then that business grew and one of 'em now has a corporate jet [laugh]. I had, I can't go into any details cuz they're not, they're not publicly disclosed.

LC : I understand that, it’s those who we do not see or in the regular patterns of thinking and learning that can be the most successful. It's just about unleashing it and enabling them to become truly great.

TG : But they have to have opportunity to, you see, the hands-on classes is where my kind of mind excels. When I was in elementary school, I loved sewing, woodworking, and art. Those were my favorite classes. I had a toy sewing machine called a Singer So Handy actually, sort of loved it. I made costumes for the school play on my Singer So Handy when I was in fourth grade.

LC : Huh. That's [laugh]. You see you. You say you sewed and you saw these opportunities. When did you take that sort of leap where you saw Oh, I can see in pictures. I can sew. I can draw. Yeah….

Providing Opportunities for Different Kinds of Thinkers [29:42]

I didn't know. I'm sorry about interrupting. This is one of my problems, I have being autistic, I'm a very slow processor. If I was a computer, I'd be an Intel 286 with the cloud

LC : [Laughs]

TG : That's what I'd be as a computer. So figuring out timing, I didn't know I thought differently. But by having those hands-on classes, it's a place where I could excel. I also, kids have gotta get out doing things. Field trips I think are important. Going to museums, seeing lots of stuff that's so important. I mean, Elon Musk has now disclosed that he's autistic. He always loves space stuff. And he read science fiction books. He also grew up working in with things in a shop too. The other big thing is that most of the people I worked with learned work skills really early on. I have granddads coming up to me all the time that find out they're autistic when the kids get diagnosed. They could be in computer programming, they could be an accountant, they could be someone building fences. Lots of different jobs.

LC : And that attention to detail understanding systems. What would you see as sort of you feel, how do you feel like determines the long term success for neurodiversity hiring? You know, what, what is it that would keep an organization going for neurodiverse individuals? Is it….

TG : Well, let's just, my feeling, I'm gonna approach it the same way I approached selling my first cattle handling facilities. Economically, you need them, period. That's how I sold cattle handling equipment. Selling equipment wasn't that hard. Getting people to manage it was hard. Yes. I said workman's comp. Boy, I milked that cow because I could save one or two big accidents a year in, in a large meat company. These corporations need these people. We need them. You need them. You need the visual thinker. You need the mathematics guy. You need some of these specialized thinkers. We need to pay attention to detail. See, the verbal mind tends to do leave out too many details. Overgeneralize.