Key Takeaways

  • Embrace different ways of thinking and approaches to problem-solving to provide opportunities for individuals to discover their strengths.
  • Visual thinkers need opportunities to showcase their work, which can be difficult if they have not been exposed to relevant experiences.
  • Recognize different ways of thinking and problem-solving in the workplace, and provide exposure to different career paths and opportunities to develop skills through mentoring.
  • Mentors and teachers are integral to any individual’s life and are crucial to helping neurodiverse individuals succeed.
  • Hands-on skills should be promoted to maintain economic growth and prevent the power supply and other equipment from falling apart.
  • The autism spectrum is vast, and people often get locked into the label, assuming that certain individuals can’t do certain things. It’s important to challenge these labels and look for opportunities for neurodiverse individuals to contribute their unique skills and talents.

Executive Summary

Ladies and gentlemen! Welcome back to the Leader Show with Lou Carter. We are continuing our conversation with Temple Grandin. Temple was the subject of the HBO movie bearing her name, played by Claire Danes, and is a hero to the Neurodiverse community and beyond. 

In the previous episode, she discussed various topics related to autism, neurodiversity, and visual thinking. She also discussed the importance of recognizing and showcasing different thinking skills and the need for collaboration between different types of minds. Today, she delves even deeper into the topic of neurodiversity.

So, without further ado, let’s look at the insights she shares in this episode.

It’s Important To Provide Opportunities To Neurodiverse Individuals To Help Them Discover Their Strengths

Temple sets the tone for the conversation by highlighting the need for embracing different ways of thinking and approaches to problem-solving. She emphasizes that the first step for business leaders is to realize that different kinds of thinking exist. 

On that note, Grandin shares that in her thirties, when she realized that other people did not think visually like she did, her surprise was immense. She explains that her thinking is bottom-up, where specific examples form concepts. Grandin also mentions that some people have no visual thinking at all, while others are more mathematical pattern thinkers. 

While neurodiverse people can build skills that they are not naturally equipped with, Grandin argues that innate abilities cannot be completely shaken. She uses examples from her personal experience, including her struggles with skiing and tennis. 

She shares an anecdote about a judge who found that kids in juvenile detention could weld better than kids in community college, emphasizing the importance of providing opportunities for individuals to discover their strengths.

Visual Thinkers Should Be Able To Showcase Their Work 

Next, Lou asks Grandin about the importance of individual behaviors and the need for diversity programs and neurodiversity programs. In reply, Grandin highlights the importance of exposure and mentoring for different kinds of minds, specifically visual thinkers. 

She argues that visual thinkers need opportunities to showcase their work, which can be difficult if they have not been exposed to art classes, shop classes, or other relevant experiences. 

Grandin also emphasizes the need for career exposure starting at a young age, followed by mentoring. She cites the example of Michelangelo, who dropped out of school at a young age but was exposed to great art and grew up with stone-cutting tools. He then started making art and was mentored, which led to his successful career.

Individuals With Neurodiverse Skills Can Help Drive Sales

Moving on, Temple Grandin discusses the importance of recognizing different ways of thinking and problem-solving in the workplace. She emphasizes the need for exposure to different career paths and opportunities to develop skills through mentoring and highlights the value of verbal thinkers in specialized sales. The author suggests that visual thinkers tend to possess in-depth knowledge of the products, enabling them to present the products more effectively to customers.

On a similar note, she mentions the importance of robotics classes for individuals with neurodiverse skills. She gives an example of how she would have been able to build mechanical parts of a robot if such classes had been available during her teenage years. She emphasizes the need for complementary skills in robotics and mentions that the technological cost is becoming a barrier for low-income kids who might be interested in robotics. 

Neurodiverse Individuals Should Be Able To Contribute Their Unique Skills And Talents Without Any Barrier s 

Temple recommends finding back doors for job opportunities and forgetting about the online application process.  For visual thinkers, it’s crucial to get their portfolio in the hands of the right people, even if it means finding unconventional ways to contact them.

According to her, the autism spectrum is vast, and people often get locked into the label, assuming that certain individuals can’t do certain things. Instead, she encourages the listeners to challenge these labels and look for opportunities for neurodiverse individuals to contribute their unique skills and talents.

Mentors And Teachers Are Integral To Any Individual’s Life 

Subsequently, Temple highlights the importance of mentors and teachers in her life. She mentions that her mother was her biggest mentor, who always encouraged her art and motivated her to move forward in life. Grandin also had a great science teacher who showed her how studying could lead to a career in science. Another mentor was Jim, a former Marine Corps captain turned contractor who hired her to design and sell and had a neurodiverse crew before the term even existed. 

Jim had an old businessman and a welder on his team, and he helped Temple get her business started by teaching her fundamental business skills. 

Overall, Temple believes that mentors are crucial to helping neurodiverse individuals succeed, and they need to be open to different kinds of skills and needs to get things done.

Hands-On Skills Should Be Promoted To Maintain Economic Growth

Moving on, Temple and Lou discuss the impact of technology on design, particularly the switch from hand drafting to computer-aided design (CAD). Grandin notes that while the internet has been helpful for research and CAD has improved design precision, there have been perceptual mistakes in drawings made by those who have not built anything and have only learned CAD.

She believes that the loss of hands-on skills has resulted in the need to import equipment from other countries and the devaluing of shop classes as a lesser form of intelligence. On that note, she stresses the importance of keeping these skills to sustain economic growth and to prevent the power supply and other equipment from falling apart. 

Lastly, the speakers discuss Temple’s book, “Visual Thinking,” and the importance of hands-on skills and experience in manufacturing. They mention the need to bridge the gap between education and industry and the importance of bringing back shop classes to encourage kids to pursue careers in manufacturing. 

Temple also talks about her interest in the chip industry and the need for different kinds of minds to work together in manufacturing. Finally, Lou wraps up the conversation by urging the listeners to read Temple’s book and watch TED Talk clip.

Thank you for listening!


Lou Carter : Time Magazine named her one of the world's top 100 most influential people. She was the subject of the HBO movie Temple Grandin, played by Claire Danes and is a hero to the Neurodiverse community and beyond. Grandin has been an outspoken proponent of autism rights and neurodiversity movements.

She's one of the first autistic people to document the insight she gained from her personal experience of autism. She's currently a faculty member with animal sciences in the College of Agricultural Sciences at Colorado State University. Studies show how neurodiverse employees can enrich workplaces through their specialized skills and the clear benefits to engagement and retention of existing employees.

They bring a stronger sense of psychological safety, awareness, and empathy to the entire organization, while positively impacting productivity from an economic, business, social and cultural perspective. We must hire neurodiverse people. We must change our mindsets. And today, Temple Grandin will not disappoint in her brilliant insights, deep knowledge, research, and real examples of why and how all should and must change our mindsets to one of abundance.

You know, when businesses are feeling likely, there are areas that we don't see. And for neurodiverse individuals for you and neurodiverse individuals, us all who can see systems, right? And pictures are able to see that inefficiency, right? Like you said. Yeah.

Embracing Different Ways of Thinking and Approaches to Problem-Solving [02:43]

Temple Grandin : I’ve been asked all the time by big corporations. What's the first step? The first step is realizing that different people think differently. That's the first step because in my late thirties when I discovered that other people didn't think visually, I was shocked. I'll show you how I learned it. I'm gonna make a little prop here on a piece of paper.

LC : Let me put this on.

TG : And I was at an autism conference and I asked a speech therapist. The first step that a business leader needs to realize is that different kinds of thinking and approaches to problem solving and doing projects exists. That's the first step. Then you start to see how the minds can work together. And when I first learned that other people didn't think in pictures like I did, I was shocked. I was at an autism conference, and this was in my late thirties, and I asked a speech therapist to think about a church staple, when you say a word to me like church staple, I start seeing the churches around the neighborhood. They come up, they are specific, they are specific examples of this category of things called church staples.

It's bottom up thinking where specific examples form concepts, and then I could separate them into chapels New England type cathedrals. As I get more and more information, that's the same way AI thinks. But when I asked the speech therapist to think about the church steeple, all she saw was that.

LC : She’d barely see it. That she just saw the chapel.

TG : Barely, barely, barely saw it. And then I've learned, and we've, I've got more research in the visual thinking book on Fantasia. These are people that have no visual thinking at all.  One of the reasons she became a speech therapist is she was a verbal thinker. If they're, if there's enough opportunities, people are gonna kind of gravitate towards the things that they're good at. But if they're not provided with opportunities to try different things, they're not gonna know that they be good at something. Like maybe computer programming. I tried it and I was terrible at it.

LC : Temple, can people build this skill?

TG : To a certain extent, yes, to a certain extent. You can build skill. You get into the old thing about nature versus nurture. I think it's about half and half, which are not gonna take an extreme object visualizer like me and turn me into a mathematician. That's not gonna happen.  In fact, the work, the research that's covered in both the autistic brain and the new book shows that the object visualizer like me and the more mathematical pattern thinker, spatial, visual, spatial, are actually opposite kinds of thinking. Yeah, you can build skills to a certain extent, but you can't completely fight the innate [laugh]. Let's take sports, for example. No matter how hard I tried in skiing, I could never learn to keep 'em together like this. I just don't have the balance. Now, I got better at skiing. I got it, so I could ski for fun, but I just could never do those beautiful Christie's. And other students would come in and learn that in one month.

LC : Now, hockey though, were you the, wasn't that your sport, Hockey?

TG : No, my sport,  tennis… tennis and skiing

LC : Okay.

TG : And tennis, I had a ton of lessons and I had a ton of skiing, tennis. I had a good forehand and a forehand, and a good backhand. But when you have to cross the midline, when you do the serve, this is called crossing the midline and occupational therapy. I never could get a decent serve.

LC : Yeah. And the midline, crossing the midline. And you know that takes a lot of practice, doesn't it?

TG : Well, I did a lot of practice and yes, I got better at it.

LC : You got better at it.

TG : Yeah. But I'm never gonna be a Tennis pro or, or a Champion skier. I got better at it. I can ski just for fun. But there's a limit how much you can build the skill. They, you see, and then the person that where they started tiny shop and it gradually grew. I had a, I met, I ran into a judge at the Denver Airport who works with kids in juvenile detention. You know what he told me? He sent me an email and he said, those kids in detention can weld better than the kids in the community college [laugh]. They're probably the fish thinkers [laugh]. And so they got a chance to do welding. It just took off. And that was so a judge. I just talked to him within the last year. It was real recent.

LC : I think that, you know, I'm talking to a lot of verbal thinkers lately about, you know, how to create these diversity programs and neurodiversity programs. You know, the bottom line to all this is it comes down to the individual and the behaviors. Yeah.

Importance of Exposure and Mentoring for Different Kinds of Minds [7:06]

TG : Let's start looking at the different kinds of minds. So let's start there. Visual thinkers. I don't, we're not going to the programming department. I think I mentioned before that the computer companies are reaching out on Microsoft, Dell, IBM. I've done talks for all of those. So, for the more mathematically inclined mind, there's been some good reaching out. But we also need things for the visual thinkers. And they need an opportunity to show off the work.

But it's gonna be hard for a visual thinker to show off the work if they never took an art class or they never did a shop class, or let's say they were mathematically mine is good at music. They never took a music class. You see what I'm learning? And I've talked to hundreds of people about how they got into their careers, especially people that were probably neurodiverse. How did they get into career exposure? 

You have to expose to a career that needs to be starting with young kids. And then later on mentoring. Let's take Michelangelo for example. Dropped outta school when he was 12 and kind of a dirty, grubby little brat. But he was running around all the churches and seeing great art. That's exposure. He also grew up with stone cutting tools, that's also exposure. So he started making some stuff and then he got mentored. So, exposure first and then mentoring.

LC : So that's a system right there. Exposure and mentoring inside of the system, because it can happen at any age. It doesn't have to happen in the, in the younger years. Yeah. Good. It kinda should happen.

Value of Verbal Thinkers and Specialized Sales, and the Importance of Diplomacy in Selling the Right Product to Customers [8:31]

TG : Different kinds of minds now. Some of the verbal thinkers. Okay. How about the autistic verbal thinkers, stream verbalizes love, history, love facts. There's a bank I talked to about a year ago, and they had hired these verbal autistic people to sell complicated financial products because they knew all the details of the products. There's been some very big successes in car sales because the person knew every single car. Well, now the dealer only had two cars on the lot [laugh] because of all the supply chain issues. But special, very specialized sales where,  they're valued for their knowledge of every kind of phone a store might have. That is, that's a skill that somebody buying phones would appreciate. They'd also appreciate not just trying to sell all the high-end stuff, but sell the right fault for that person.

LC : Absolutely. And, and to, you know, to provide that kind of knowledge to a buyer,  and to show the excitement for the facts,  and,  is just incredible. Right? I mean, it's sales requires the expression of knowledge and the, and why an incredible way for  individuals who artistic and who have that incredible knowledge to share the sales.

TG : Also, do not try to sell a customer the entire store.

LC : Exactly. [laugh]

TG : People appreciate that. Try to sell 'em the right car, the right phone, whatever the thing is, sporting equipment and how to do it diplomatically. I think in specific examples, let's say they're working at a sporting good store and there's some, but he wants to buy like the cheapest hockey stick in the place. Well, don't call it a cheap piece of garbage in the, no. Why don't you just say that's a beginner's stick. I think your kid might wanna get a little bit higher quality stick than that. That'd be a diplomatic way to maybe move 'em away from the absolute cheapest stick is gonna just break. You see, I'm, I just see things in specific examples.

LC : And have appropriate language as well.

TG : Well, that's right. This is where coaching on my very first job at Swift Plant in Arizona in 1974, I criticized some welding and said it looked like bird do do. And Harley, the old engineer pulled me aside into his office in private little tiny office in the boiler room, remember it really? And he quietly said to me,  you're gonna have to apologize for that kind of rude talk and whitey the welders in the cafeteria and you're going right up there now and apologizing. He also explained to me that Whitey was his employee. And if I didn't like the welding, I should have come to him. So explain to me quietly in private what I should do.

Now, there's some individuals on the autism spectrum where there's hygiene issues. You pull 'em aside in private and get it corrected. There's a scene in a movie where the boss slams the deodorant down. That scene happened.  That's something where people just have to clean it up. Just have got to clean it up. Eccentric's fine. Eccentric's not a… rude, filthy, dirty, slob that's not fine. No. That's something where you, there's a little bit of conforming you've got to do on that.

LC : And that's learning human systems. And because typically we'll go on and say, why do we need these things? Let's just wear the same clothes every day. Right?

TG : No. Well….

LC : [laugh] It’s easier, isn't it?

Importance of Specifics and Accommodations for Different Minds, and the Challenges of Flickering LED Lights for Neurodiverse Individuals [11:55]

TG : And then when I was at University of Illinois, somebody thought I was stuck up because I didn't say hi to everybody when I passed 'em in the hall. Well now I've learned to do that. You see, I have to learn social skills like being in a play. And this is where a good mentor pull your aside in private, tell you what you should do.

Now, let's talk about some accommodations I need. But I never asked for them formally. But I always always made sure I got them. Any task that involves sequence, I need to write down a pilot's checklist. I do not remember verbal sequence. I need a pilot's checklist for think, okay, unjam the copier, close out the cash register. Just thinking of simple stuff like that. There was a guy fired from a really good fence building job because you got a new boss and the boss goes [gibberish] and then he built stuff wrong.

TG : He had just been able to write it down. I can't multitask a crazy busy McDonald's window. That's where I should not be. A vagueness does not work. When I was in a project meeting designing something, I want clear boundaries. Okay, my project stops at this rail switch. I'm responsible for everything from this rail switch back. What stuff I can tear out, what stuff I can't tear out. You own the property on the other side of the fence. I'm seeing it now. Oh, can I have that pasture or not for the addition?

Okay, yes or no. You see on, I want a very specific sort of on the boundaries of the job. Now, if it's programming, don't just go and say, develop new software. That's too vague. You wanna say, I want software on this platform to do something specific. Now let that programmer design it, but tell 'em what the outcome of the project has to be and you've got a deadline.

TG : Oh, and I worked just fine with that. But specifics, vagueness is,  that's something that absolutely doesn't work. Some people will be bothered by noise. They might need noise canceling headsets. They might need some sensory breaks. And one of the big problems they've ne got now offices, and this would've been a big problem, some brilliant feed mill designers that I worked with is flickering on LED lights. 

And it all depends upon what dimmer switches on it, what exact bulb. On just the other day I was out of chicken farm and we took a LED light apart. I couldn't believe the cheap little power supply it had, no wonder it broke. And about, I'm gonna guess maybe 10 or 20% of people with a neurodiverse label will have problems with flickering light. And that has to be fixed. And one of the ways I found out a simple way to detect this, I like simple things. A lighting contractor came up to me at a bookstore and he says, take a fancy phone and film the room in slow motion. And I'd recommend doing some waving in the picture. Cause I wanna make sure you play it back in slow motion. 

And when you play it back in slow motion, you can find the cheap lights that flicker. And that's probably single worst thing that can happen in an office, especially if it has no windows. But it doesn't affect everybody.

LC : Just the best, just the best talent. [laugh].

TG : I had a student that had the problem and all and, and there's some dyslexia that's caused by,  a problem in the visual system. There's a,  the brain has to assemble the graphics file in the back of the head and there's something wrong with the software. The head injury can cause problems with that. Also just developmentally. But your best mill designer. And I tell teachers, why don't you look up feed mill and see these big complicated things that somebody with dyslexia is designing. And then when they retired, after their business got bought out, they invented a whole lot of complicated equipment for another industry

LC : Temple, I think a lot of people are probably asking at this point, how do you find people [laugh] that are neurodiverse? Because sounds like we really need them in a way because to be able to give somebody an outcome and tell them, say to them, could you create a system on it that's not easy to find.

Using Car Mechanics as a Tool to Get Autistic Adults Away from Video Games [15:43]

TG : Well, I can tell you how to get the autistic adults fully verbal, autistic adults off the video games. There's now been five or six successes with car mechanics, car mechanics. And what that adult found is working on cars was a lot more interesting than video games. And you slowly expose 'em to working on cars. One of 'em is repairing trains now for the railroad and they love him. Another one is doing oil changes. And he's doing it in a place where you get to see lots of different kinds of cars. Another one is doing custom cars. Yeah. We need to get them out of the basement and start exposing them to things like fixing mechanical things. Mechanics! See mechanics and art go together. I know that seems kind of weird, but they go together and I don't know of any other examples where young autistic adults were gotten off of video games with anything else. Well, five or six car mechanics successes.

LC : And also I would think software programmers, Silicon Valley, you know, they're basically brought into there right. By their parents and the top ones or, or sometimes they just go there cuz they create a new Y Combinator program.

Exposing Kids to Programming and the Limitations of Modern Computers [16:52]

TG : Somebody has to introduce the kid to programming. Exactly. The thing that bothers me is I'm seeing a parents with a mathematically minded child and they're both programmers, but they're so locked into the label, they don't think to expose the child to programming to see if they can do it. The other problem we have now, computers don't show their guts anymore. The old fashioned computers, you get the blue screen of death when the video game crashed. I'm gonna call it the blue screen of knowledge because it was covered with code that attracted the kid. That's how some of them had to keep these games going. But now computers just freeze and crash and they don't show their guts off anymore.

LC : And the code, now there's object-oriented, right? The code, and people can, a lot of the nerd first individuals can,  place in their objects. Right. As in coding. And I would think a lot of companies, like Intel, Dell, a lot of the larger companies and SAP even or mid-size, they should be looking for these skills.

Importance of Complementary Skills and the Accessibility of Robotics [17:57]

TG : Well, we need to be things like robotics classes. Okay, let's say robotics classes have been around when I was a teenager, I would've been the one building the mechanical parts of the robot. I would not have been doing the programming. Okay. This is an example of complementary skills. Okay. And the thing that's good about robotics is the robot has to do an assigned task.

Now, I think one of the problems that we've got right now with the robots, they're getting too expensive. I saw a really cool little junkyard robot class where it had a size and weight limit and you had to make it at it, you could buy some raspberry pies stuff and  the set of off the shelf electronics things and the rest of it, you just made it outta junk.

And, but if you have a robot that costs $20,000, well that's gonna screen out a lot of your low income kids that might be really good at these things.

LC : Exactly. And then to be able to find for that…….

TG : The other that's a mistake, cause I've been involved with some stuff right now where they're working on factory automation. The really clever tool to put on the end of a robot arm does not copy how a person would do the task.

LC : So, do you have any recommendations on you, you know, how neurodiverse autistic individuals can apply easier for positions when they're going through it? I know you have your school as well. You're, you,  you know, how can companies make the application phase more,  neurodiverse-friendly, more artistic friendly for, for individuals?

Finding Back Doors for Job Opportunities and Challenging Autism Labels [19:34]

TG : I tell parents and people that are looking for jobs find the back door. Forget all the online nonsense where the AI program just springs out. You've got to get the portfolio of your work in the hands of the right person. And, you might be in the supermarket line and there's an ID card hanging around somebody's neck, the name of a famous company on it, and you rip that bone out and you show 'em some drawings, some pictures, some programming. They're in the back door. That is something I figured out really early on. It's looking for those back doors and they're everywhere. Front door doesn't work. Okay. You don't have certain educational requirements. The AI program screens you out. You don't have this, the AI program screens out. Back door. You might sit next to him on the airplane at a bus stop.

TG : One time I called a wrong number and it was some important guy at Hewlett Packard [laugh], he's right here in Fort Collins. You just never know where you can find it. But the problem I'm seeing is autism's now a big spectrum. You're going from somebody who can't dress themselves to, you know, Elon Musk or Einstein who didn't speak until age three I'm. And people are getting locked into the label. They don't think the kid can do anything. I'm seeing 20 parents today where the 16 year old students are doing well in school, has never gone shopping, doesn't have a bank account, hasn't done any just normal regular stuff that people need to learn how to do.

LC : It's true. You know, like I said that, so it's really about seeing what's not seen. Right? And you know that it takes a sort of mindset for that, doesn't it? Saying, well, I can find people, I can show off my work. And for you, you saw the doors and you….

Importance of Exposure and Hands-On Learning: Insights from Temple on Mentors, Collaboration, and Aviation Industry [21:28]

TG : Another thing it helped me.

LC : Yeah.

TG : I was given a subscription to the Wall Street Journal when I was in high school and they had all these articles about big corporations and the people in them. You see, again, this gets back to exposure. And hell, I think that helped me to figure out ways to get into things. And I'm realizing now just how important that scene in the movie where I get the card and then after I got the editor's card, I produced a decent article.

I might not be able to do algebra, but I could write decently because my teachers marked up my work and made me correct the grammar.

LC : Hmm. So you had the mentors to help you to correct your grammar and to understand what's needed.

TG : Well, I produced a decent article and I produced it quickly. You know, this gets back to showing off the, showing off the skill.

LC : Also collaboration. Right?

TG : Collecting and you know, this is where I'm seeing, I see some moms that just can't let go when I suggested their kid go shopping by himself to buy printer paper, for example. And one mom said she just couldn't let go. I said, your 16 year old good student in school, you can't let go so he can buy printer paper. Every time I think about printer paper now, I see that.

LC : Is sort of being open to allowing the discovery themselves.

TG : Well, this is why I think one of the worst things the school's ever did is taking out all the hands-on classes. I'm gonna include theater, music, cooking, sewing, woodworking, welding, auto mechanics, drafting, computer programming. These are all things that kids need to get exposed to. And then they can find out what they're good at. I tried computer programming and couldn't do it, but I tried it, tried it on the exact same computer Bill Gates used.

LC : [laugh].

TG : You could do it. I couldn't.

LC : He wasn't using the Apple two plus. You, you

TG : [laugh] were using an old teletype terminal. I see it now. And it said, Rex says Hello. It's logged on.

LC : Those were the days.

TG : Much further than that. And he was a big mainframe at the University of New Hampshire and had a big teletype machine with a tractor feed on it.

LC : And the cards. Remember the cards?

TG : Oh, I did those for my master's thesis. I punched 5,000 of those things [laugh]. And when I tell my students it's like boxes full of boarding passes, [laugh] that you sort on a mechanical spreadsheet. My students now just can't believe it. The spreadsheets used to be mechanical.

LC : [laugh] The way we moved into Excel. This specialized thinking right? With that, that ordered data in a way that we could actually view it.

TG : Well, I sorted these cards by, you know, cattle weight- this was cattle handling research. Type of equipment used, type of feed yard. I mean, same stuff you'd do on an Excel spreadsheet, but I had big long boxes of cards. And then the program, you had your control cards. Boy, I had those… 

LC : …And it's the same way that an Excel spreadsheet would work. You ordered it in the way that you needed to. Right?

TG : Well, and I was an expert on the card sort and the key punch.

LC : Yeah. You created it. Now you're on your own system.

TG : And then I always like, they'll take those cardboard boarding passes and hold it up and say the evolutionary remnant of the IBM punch card

LC : [laugh], We gotta, we gotta get one of those to put on sometimes.

TG : Yeah, the cardboard ones not the, not those slinky greasy paper ones. The ones that they print out at the ticket counter.

LC : It was the beginning of everything.

TG : Well, they're the same size as an IBM punch card.

LC : Oh, they're so the same…..

TG : Yeah, they're the same size. And I can remember when everything with the airlines up, we had big phone books full of plane schedules and when they got the very, very first computers at the travel agency.

LC : You know, that's another question. The airline industry today is totally destroyed right now, the supply chain and the recruitment, it is just horrible. You know, that's a human system.

TG : Well I, even before COVID hit one of the airlines, I work going all the time, man, we used to have crew delays all the time. I found out they were booking flight attendants and pilots on 45 minute connections. And then that airline got a new CEO. He went out in the field. It was the first thing he did. And I saw the difference as a passenger. Cause I fly all the time. He put more time in the schedule and trying to, instead of trying to squeeze one more flight out of that airplane, let's put more time in the schedule. And then the crews now stuck in Boise when they should be in Denver.

LC : And they timed out.

TG : I see it. I've been on enough flights, but I don't, I'll never forget the flight where they had us all loaded. We are flight attendants. We had no pilots, [laugh]. And we sat there on the plane and 20 minutes later we got pilots, everybody clapped. And that's happening a lot less now. It's happening a whole lot less by one simple thing. The CEO went out into the field and he saw we, it wasn't be more cost effective to put more time in the schedule and not have these planes out of rotation. And crews stuck in the wrong place.

LC : And it takes a CEO who is able to make that happen and not have to go through a lot of bureaucracy. They have to be strong

TG : Well, he went out in the field, he went out. Well, he went out to the airport and talked to the people because I saw the change. It happened overnight and it changed the ontime schedule as a passenger. I was flying all the time. This was, you know, before COVID,  this happened. And the difference it made just putting more time in the schedule, the crew delays and the delayed flights went way down.

LC : So change can happen immediately.

TG : Oh, he did. He did it immediately. He found out that, I couldn't believe it, to the booked flight crews on 45 minute connections. And we just had crew delays all over the place. You put more time in the schedule. I, as a passenger, instantly saw the improvement.

LC : Amazing. We can't say the airline. I'm assuming [laugh].

TG : I won't think I'll leave the airline out

LC : We have to leave the…

TG : I have a policy of not naming clients unless it's something extremely good. Like,  doing the Cargill,  front ends.

LC : Well I have a feeling that you now have a, you have amazing amounts of experience with IP and law, with all the patents that you've created,  as well. So, you know, you've, you've learned, you've done so much. This, let me go to little bit more.

Addressing the Loss of Skills and the Importance of Mentors [27:59]

TG : I wanna help the kids that are different, get out there and get these good jobs. And yeah, I wanna convince business. You need these mines. I'm very worried about the loss of skills. Mm-hmm. I go to a meat plant now and I want a simple little piece of hydraulics built. And they don't have to shop to do it, they have to farm the workout. That's right. Now they should be able to do it in-house. That is a concern. And it doesn't matter what kind of factory, it's, they're having some of the same issues in the car factories. Cuz I've talked to people that manage 'em

LC : Temple. There's always an issue of perception. People seeing neurodiverse individuals that's different than them. And you know, in your movie, it shows how you had a special mentor. 

TG : I had a great science…. Let's talk about teachers and mentors

LC : Teachers and your mentors…

TG : Let’s start with my speech teacher, my mother encouraging my ability in art and encouraged me to expand my art beyond horse heads. And then I had a great science teacher. I was a horrible student in high school. I had no interest in studying. And my science teacher gave me all these interesting projects to do and showed me how studying was a pathway to becoming a scientist.

So, I can't emphasize not the importance of a mentor. Another mentor was Jim, the contractor. Jim Yule, a former Marine Corps captain, starting a tiny construction business. And he saw my drawings and he hired me to design jobs and sell jobs. He had a neurodiverse crew before anyone even heard of that term.

He had an old businessman that had a bridge club to advise him on business stuff. He kind of wild and kind of crazy guy that was really good at welding and building things. I don't think he really realized he was hiring a neurodiverse, but he was marine corps captain. And so he understood the needs of different kinds of skills to get things done. And he really helped me get my business started. He helped me become a corporation. Just basic business stuff that I had absolutely no idea how to do.

LC : And he gave, I would assume he gave structure too. Didn't he, that kind of structure?

The Importance of Hands-On Skills and Perceptual Mistakes in Design [30:14]

TG : Well, the structure was the job. Everything's by project. So, we'd land a job like those dip vats. And I remember when I took the job, I said, give me three weeks. I had absolutely no idea how to do the concrete work. Now I got on that phone and I got the drawings for how to do a reinforced concrete tank. I didn't try to wing that, but I went and I found the information.

LC : You researched, you did it to the standards and even better. Right? So you…

TG : Well then the parts I invented was the cattle entrance design. And so I got rid of having to have two people there with big fort sticks to shoving cattle down. The entrance design, I invented that. But other things like reinforced concrete tank, I just had to get specs for that. And I did that and there was no internet back then. I got on that horn and I started calling.

LC : And you found out about all the volume of the water so that….

TG : Oh yeah, I found all that stuff. People had to mail it to me in the mail. So that's why I said give me three weeks because I'd figured two or three days of solid phone calls and then they gotta send it to me by mail. But even now, I was looking for some specs one time in a dairy on really good sand for bedding dairy cows on.

And I had a hard time finding that online cuz it's in some textbook, you know, this is where there's still a place for the horn. I had one of my students get on the horn. They were looking for some genetics testing stuff for pegs. And she got so shocked. I actually talked to the inventor and we found a test that wasn't too expensive. I said, there's a place for getting on the horn and calling people up.

LC : It's incredible

TG : With the internet.

LC : And that gives that human connection to say, this is me. I'm working on this. I need a community.

TG : And I said, you're gonna get on the horn. That's what we used to call the phone up in the shape like a horn.

LC : Yeah, sure. [laugh].

TG : And, I found that my paper library skills transferred right over to the internet.

LC : Absolutely. The internet. The advent of the Internet must have been incredible for your research and your work and CAD design, the computer aided design. Now that's available.

TG : Listen, well, there's all kinds of things and, but what I found was interesting, watching the industry switch in the nineties from hand drafting to CAD, we started getting some weird mistakes on drawings. You'd have somebody that took the class, but they'd never built anything and they'd never drawn by hand. And we get strange mistakes like the center of the circle of the crowd pen was not in the center of the circle. They would change the dimension of the steps and didn't realize that they had to put in more steps. And this is major companies making these mistakes.

LC : The program.

TG : Yeah. They were not seeing the drawing. And I went, ah, you've made this ramp with steps like this. And then it went like that.

LC : Ah. So, that's something to be said is that you, the ability to see the mistakes encoding.

TG : Well, they weren't seeing the mistakes and these were a different type of mistake compared to something doing, doing a layout mistake for cattle. These were some more perceptual mistakes. And I'm still seeing 'em, I'm seeing some really bad drawings. I got a set of drawings where they left all the reinforcement rods out of it and just had it in the written spec. And I took a pencil and scribbled in all the reinforcement rods and said, take that back to that fancy engineering company and have 'em draw all that stuff in there. That's recent. That's three years ago.

LC : It's three years ago.

TG : That's three years ago. That's now

LC : It's incredible. I mean, we need this so much.

TG : We need, we need, I'm very concerned that the object visualizer is the one that can't do algebra. You need us keep the power supply equipment falling apart, plumbing, electrical, fixing equipment, inventing, you know, mechanically complicated equipment

LC : And Temple. You know, it's, it's that we need them economically for…

TG : We need them. We need these mines. And as soon as I get out away from the Central United States, so we still got farm kids coming off the farm,  we've lost our ability to make equipment. We're having to import it from a country, high wage country that has kept all the shop classes and doesn't sort of look at it as a lesser form of intelligence. Now, I work with brilliant people on big, complicated projects. It's amazing what some of these people could do. And they had barely graduated from high school.

LC : Well, you've said so much to help so many people at a temple and to also encourage corporate America, everyone, anywhere, to begin the process of finding these wonderful people who can help propel.

Bridging the Gap between Education and Industry [35:11]

TG : One of the things, well the, I know the computer company's been doing like sort of some hackathon kind of events and things like that for the mathematically minded, maybe we need to be doing a maker fair and that corporations can start doing from little kids need teenagers and get 'em working on mechanical things and finding out how interesting that is.

LC : Your conference in Boston each year? I know it stopped during Covid. Are you going to continue those?

TG : Oh, I'm still doing conferences. I got a trip to Alabama coming up. Oh, I do lots of talks at autism conferences and I talk about the skill loss. I'm trying to bridge the gap between the educators and the parents and what's going out on the industrial world. And I've got pictures, I show of the, of the plant where all the stuff had to be imported. And I said, you see everything out there on that floor, import high wage country because we took out shop class.

LC : Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. We gotta bring, and

TG : That's the reason for doing my book on visual thinking.

LC : There it is.

TG : Have the whole chapter here screened out. Yeah. They can't do algebra. I can't do algebra. And I managed to get out of it. Thank goodness it wasn't required for freshman math when I took freshman math. Can't do abstract math. I, there's nothing there to visualize. I have to relate math back to something real like a hydraulic or pneumatic cylinder. And then I can memorize the formula for that.

LC : And Temple in your book Visual Thinking, does it begin to show how, I know you're alluding to it as well, how we're bringing more chips to America. Intel maybe bring and in America is about.

The Importance Of Hands-on Experience In Manufacturing And Temple’s Interest In The Chip Industry [36:45]

TG : Well, we're building chip factories right now. Well, I probably can't get the chips to make the chip making machines. And I've looked into the chip industry. I got, I was supposed to tour a plant and the COVID kept me out, but they showed me the confidential inside video. Lots of conveyors, lots of stuff in there from my kind of mind to work on. Somebody else can do the programming, but you need my kind of mind. And we do not make state-of-the-art electronic chip making machine. It's from Holland.

The basic physics work was done here. We're not making that machine. You see, there's a connection that's really, really serious. Yeah. We gotta get those kids out of the basement, show 'em that there's a world out there in factories. A lot more interesting than video games. Much more interesting. And it can start with dragging 'em out of there. Get the old mechanic down there in the shop to start showing 'em how interesting cars are and then that can then spread to other things.

LC : Wonderful message and incredible work that you do. And so influential, amazing. Temple, I'm really honored to spend time with you today. And remember everybody come out and buy Temple's new book, Visual Thinking. Can we show it one more time?

TG : Yep. I'll show it one more time. And when you go to Amazon, make sure you put my name in there. Temple Grandin Visual Thinking. So it just brings up the book and not other visual stuff.

LC : I'm gonna put a link to it as well.

TG : Yeah. It's on Amazon. We're doing pre-orders right now and then I've got,  you know, a number of other papers online too about Visual Thinking. And the Autistic Brain book, which is available right now, does have some of the basic research that shows the difference between object visualizer like me and the more mathematical pattern thinker.

LC : And, I highly recommend Temple's TED Talk, which was extraordinary in so many ways and really brings light to the experience and ways that we must really hire neurodiverse individuals and organizations in a very specific way. Really wonderful talk. Well, temple, thank you so much.

TG : I really, really enjoyed talking to you

LC : I did too, Temple. Thank you so much.

TG : Thank you so much for having me. So, I'm gonna leave the studio and,  it was great,  being on your program.