Writing It Down w/ Author Game Designer Texas Football Wiz Chris Doelle

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Chris Doelle is a Marketer, Author, Public Speaker, Broadcaster, Game Designer, and Texas High School Football Historian. Chris was not diagnosed with ADHD until age 45. He simply thought he was just more intelligent and motivated than his cohorts. His doctor sent Chris for evaluation and the results showed the highest reading he had ever seen. When asked how Chris dealt with his ADHD, his lifelong need to make lists seemed to be the glue that has held it all together. He never goes anywhere without a half dozen notepads. Recently, Chris has created two tabletop board games that were both fully funded via Kickstarter. www.FridayNightLegends.com and www.SaturdayLegends.com When he is not working on one of his business ventures, Chris can be found on his property in South Texas clearing land, burning out stumps or working with the builder as they will break ground soon on the house he and his wife are having built. Today we’re talking about how he keeps it all together… Enjoy!

A little more about our guest today:  Chris was a class clown growing up and was always being creative. From writing action-themed short stories involving all his classmates and reading them to ever-growing crowds of interested students to singing contemporary pop songs to the pretty girls several years his senior, he was always up to something unique. He started his first company in junior high school – he built and repaired bicycles. This was quickly followed by a stint selling sports cards and comics. As the computer revolution began, Chris was instantly interested. He was writing code on notebook paper for a year before the first personal computers came out. At the same time, Chris began selling computer software to his high school and training the teachers how to use the machines as a Senior in their class. Chris was neither the most popular nor the loner. He flowed into and out of every clique of students easily. He played football but didn’t get involved in any other extracurricular activities other than student government. He is notorious for being the only student to ever resign as Parliamentarian – stating his reason as, “It’s a stupid position.” His grades were straight C’s because he would ace the tests with no studying but never turn in any homework. That balance left report cards showing him to be completely average. Just after high school Chris was ranked #13 in the world in Hacky Sack. He then put himself through college working four jobs at the same time. Before his schooling ended, he has found two people to do two of his jobs as less than he was being paid and became an employer – albeit unofficial. He studied Exercise Physiology and Psychology. In college he began racing bicycles – a love that has continued for decades amassing over 35,000 miles on the bike. Most nights during his 7 years of college however were spent playing Dungeons & Dragons where he was the Dungeonmaster because “his adventures were the most interesting” of their gaming group. Again, Chris did little school work while scoring 100% or better on most exams. If he did study, it was after D&D ended around 2am the night before a test. After college, he had a short stint in “corporate America” building the computer systems for the Greater Houston Area YMCA Association. This position allowed him to regularly support 35 different branch locations training staff, while installing and troubleshooting anything related to technology. The position was at the perfect time for Chris as the entire association, with his lobbying and encouragement, was transforming from just two PCs across the entire organization, to a computer on every desk all connected together by the high speed internet of the time – ISDN. This constantly-changing position was the only reason he lasted so long in a mainstream job. As boredom set in, Chris went back to his first love – self-employment. Chris continued to start, grow and run a wide range of businesses – a tech support company, a video production company, a cabling company, a photography company, a web design company. Most were either sold, closed or rolled into his current company Fresh Media Works – a full service marketing company he has run since 1996. With the exception of the 6 years at the YMCA, Chris has been “gainfully unemployed” for the better part of nearly 40 years. When podcasting came around Chris was already doing live internet radio and became officially the 5th person to publish a podcast. Since that time he has done tens of thousands episodes and hundreds of shows – spoken to business groups and universities about podcasting and it remains one of his great passions. Through his ventures in podcasting, Chris became a major player in the world of Texas high school football. His site Lone Star Gridiron has become the statewide leader in news and information on high school football in Texas. Happily (albeit bumpily at times) Chris married his high school sweetheart after being apart for years. They have four kids and recently become empty-nesters. 

***CORONA VIRUS EDITION***

In this episode Peter & Chris Doelle discuss:

:40    Intro and welcome Chris Doelle! 

3:05    When you were diagnosed? Tell us your backstory and how what made you different growing up?

5:04    On trying a lot of different things, what worked and what didn’t

6:25    On lists, deadlines and their importance in his life

7:35    On situations where failure to organize w/ lists, etc came back to bite you in the butt. 

7:55    On what tech tools to keeping things organized i.e. followupthen.com

9:00    On the difficulty of staying busy/finding balance with work and personal life

10:21    On being an extrovert with ADHD combined with physical introspective tendencies

11:15-  What drew you to games, and board games?  Ref: https://lonestargridiron.com www.FridayNightLegends.com and www.SaturdayLegends.com 

13:16    Tips on working partnerships with someone with ADHD

14:14    On finding and maintaining balanced partnerships

15:02    On functioning successfully around neurotypicals/what kinds of things changed w/ marriage

16:36    Tell people how they can find you and get more info on you? @chrisdoelle on Twitter  LinkedIN  his books on Amazon and at https://boardgamegeek.com/ 

17:06    Describe yourself in 15 seconds? 

18:04    Chris Doelle, thanks so much for taking the time being on Faster Than Normal, I appreciate it.  Guys, as always, Faster Than Normal, if you liked what you heard drop us a review.  We appreciate you guys being on the podcast , we appreciate people listening. We are, as far as I can tell, one of the top, if not the top ADHD podcasts out there, so I love that, and that was all because of you guys, and I am eternally grateful. If you have a guest that you think might work, or maybe it’s you, someone you know, You can always reach me via peter@shankman.com or @petershankman on all of the socials. You can also find us at @FasterThanNormal on all of the socials. We would love to hear from you guys, uh, it thrills us to no end when we get notes. Also, one final thing, if you have the book, if you’ve read Faster Than Normal the book, go on to wherever you bought it https://www.amazon.com/ or https://www.audible.com – whatever, drop us a review, you’d be amazed at how those reviews really, really help. As always, thank you for listening. ADHD is a gift, not a curse. We are looking forward to seeing you next week, you guys take care.

18:49    Faster Than Normal Podcast info & credits!

TRANSCRIPT: 

Hey guys, Peter Shankman. Welcome to another episode of Faster Than Normal, happy day, hope you’re having a great day and hope your world is spinning the right direction. Hope things are chill. Hope you’re enjoying life. By the time this airs, it should be,  I don’t know, mid-February or so, and I’m hoping that everything by then has calmed down and we’re all doing well.  It’s the third week of January here, I guess, and we’re moving forward here in New York, so I hope you guys are as well, love that you’re here. Always very grateful that you’ve tuned in. I have another great guest, every week we have great guests, this, this week is no different. Chris Doelle is our guest today, and I will tell you all about him.  And if I seem pretty calm, and much more calm than I usually am. in these episodes, I had a ridiculously hard workout today and I’m not sure, but I think half my brain fell out, uh, I was on the Peloton and I had the best output I’ve had in about 16 months, so I’m frighteningly calm today to the point where I’m like, not really sure if it’s, if this is the, I don’t know what’s going to happen.  Hopefully this returns, I return to normal, cause this is a little weird, but anyway… OK. Chris Doelle!  So Chris is a marketing expert. He makes marketing fun, he gets you more customers, but he’s also an author, a board game developer, a podcast consultant, a producer.  Sounds like someone with ADHD who does a lot.  He was a class clown growing up. He was always being creative, he wrote action theme short stories involving all of his classmates and read them to ever-growing crowds of interesting students. He sang contemporary pop songs to the pretty girls, several years, several years, his senior. I’m dying to know how that worked out for you.  He was always up to something unique. He started his first company in junior high school. He got into selling sports cards and comics, and then he immediately hit onto the computer revolution. so I’m guessing he’s about my age. He was writing code on notebook paper before the first personal computer came out at the same time, began selling computer software to his high school and then training the teachers, how to use the machines, which I love.  He was not the most popular nor the loner, he flowed in and out of every click of students easily, which is interesting…. children with ADHD, sometimes can’t do that. One more fun fact about him, he was once ranked 13th in the world in hacky sack. Chris, great to have you on the show, man. 

Peter, thank you so much for having me, and I have to tell you that I hope you return to normal too.   

A little, little calm, little calm for too many people. So tell me about, tell me about your brain. When were you, were you diagnosed? How did this, how, what, what, what made you different growing up? Tell us, tell us your backstory. 

Sure. Yeah, actually I wasn’t diagnosed til almost 50 years old.

Awesome. 

And I just always thought this is how the world works in, in, uh, you know, everything’s going all the time with my head, uh, and getting bored and running off and doing something else.  I love that I came across your book and your show to realize that now is the first time in my life, I’m realizing, wow, I’m not all that different, there are people like me out there. So, so yeah, um, I guess, yeah… at a, at a young age, um, I was always writing.  Writing was always my release. I would write, um, and, and you talk about imposter syndrome. I, I would write in elementary school, I’d write my name a hundred times on a piece of paper and come home and hand it to my Mom, and she’d go, what’s that for? And I’m like, so you don’t forget who I am. Oh, which was insane. But you know, it worked. And, uh, I think, I think the, the big benefit that I had, you said that, um, it doesn’t always work well to flow in and out of those groups. I think it worked well because of my Mother. Early on, she was such a supporter, always telling me you can do whatever you want, you’re amazing, you’re wonderful. So I believed it. I didn’t have those doubts that a lot of people with ADHD have. Um, so,, between her and my father who was extremely ADHD, but again, not to diagnose, um, I learned there’s nothing you can’t do if you try, so I tried everything. 

Tell me what worked and what didn’t, because one of the things about trying everything is that you have some great successes, but you have a lot of failures.

Oh, yeah. Yeah. I think what worked there was literally realizing that it’s only a failure if you don’t learn something. So I… I reframed everything and my wife now will tell me I have rose colored glasses. I always try to find the good in everything, the positive outcome, and it’s annoying as heck to her.  But, um, but that, that, that’s it, yeah. I would fail at things, but, at the end of the day, I would go, okay, is there something to learn from this? Is this something I need to work harder at and go back to, or is it something okay, I’ve done that move on?  Um, and I became a huge fan of lists. I have sitting next to me, as we talk, a stack of legal pads, uh, there must be 20 of them here each with a different subject, and so every time I think of something, I grab the right list and add to it. Um, without those lists, I’d be lost. 

And you discovered that when??? 

I discovered that probably junior high school, because I realized I can’t keep all this stuff together, you know, it, it came and went in, and popped in and out, and I’d remember,  great memory, but there’s too many, too much stuff there going on, as you know, to try to remember all of it. 

So lists are, I mean lists are just super important and just as much, they fall into the  same category…. as like having  a calendar, right, and making sure everything you do at any given point, is in the calendar, um, is that sort of, you know, you’re, uh, so if your default is lists, you also have like, does everything have to be written down and everything you have to do has to be like put together and all that?

Well, yes and no. I mean, if, if I want it, if it’s something that, um, I absolutely have to do, it goes down the list and it goes on a calendar and gives me a deadline, because as many of your guests have mentioned, and I, I, um, I went through and listened to all the shows, you know, just burned through them, just trying to get it all in, uh, and, you know, the recurring theme I saw was yeah, if there’s a deadline, it would happen. So, so that’s what I always do. I write it down if you know, I didn’t need it, if it was just something like, yeah, sometime I want to do this, then I wouldn’t worry about writing it down… I’d do it spur of the moment, but again, if it’s important, if it’s for business, if it’s for a client, if it’s for family, it’s got to get written down. 

Right. Have you… had a situation,, tell us about a situation where you, you forgot to write it down or you didn’t, or you look at it and, and it came back to bite you in the butt. 

Gosh, that’s probably on a weekly basis and it usually involves my wife, sometimes she said just in a passing comment, that I would categorize  in my brain as, “Oh, that’d be cool to do” 

Do you have any (indistinguishable) tools  that you use. Like I said, I swear by https://www.followupthen.com/  Do you have specific  tools that you…. tech tools that you use to keep the stuff flowing? 

Well, I use Google for most everything. So I use Google calendar and I have multiple calendars. I have one for each of my businesses, one for, uh, my wife, one for, um, things…I just, you know, that I have to go to cause I cover Texas high school football. So I have my schedule of places I travel, so that’s a separate calendar. I also use the Google to-do lists. Tasks List and it’s got multiple lists. So yeah, I do a lot of tech now, but I still rely on these pads 

And you’re doing this all by yourself, no assistant, nothing??

Not yet, although I called Megan and I said, Hey, can you help me? I need, I need what Peter has, wasn’t trying to steal her… although I would in a heartbeat if I could.  

Alot of people have tried, she’s very loyal, I’m very fortunate… very loyal, I should probably give another raise. Um, so tell me about, you know, one of the things I read about with you, is you are, you are  constantly on the move, constantly busy. How are you, and I’m sure… I’m sure that the busyness helps you and keeps your, you know, ADHD in check, like, like it does for me. How do you, um, find the balance between staying busy with all of the things you’re doing, um, and making sure you have a personal life, I.e. with your wife and, and I mean, you, you, you recently became empty nesters.  You had four kids, you know, how did you find that balance? And, and, and what tips can you tell the audience for finding that balance? Cause that’s not always easy. 

And I don’t know if this is the right answer for everybody, but the answer for me is, if it involves my wife, It takes priority over everything, so, but she gets it, she understands where I’m at and that I am constantly bouncing here, there and everywhere and crazy ideas and I’m going to run off and do it. Um, and, and she… she’s a nurse, so she deals with people all day. I work from home, so I do my marketing. I don’t see people, so she knows I need to go out and see people.  She, on the other end, doesn’t want to go out and see people, so she’s like “go, go, go.” And I think, I think travel helps us. 

Would you say that you are… so you’re an, you’re an extrovert 100% ??

Yeah. In the Myers-Briggs I’m an ENT J yeah, very much an extrovert. 

Interesting. 

But, but again, I do get, I do get introspective when I’m physical, like, uh, we’re working on building a house out in the country. I’m clearing land, burning brush, and I do that by myself and it is like a Zen thing. So yeah, I get very, this is my time.

Understandable. I mean, I think that we all have those moments where we have to do our own thing and only our own thing, you know? Um, I’ve had to explain that to people in my life in the past, like, Hey, you know, I’d love to see you this weekend, but I’ve been on for 14 straight days. I need a day.  I need to sit on my couch, for 24 hours, watch King of the Hill and just do nothing. You know, it definitely, it definitely gets to that. Um, tell me about, tell me about….um so we talked about the lists, um, you created board games, right? 

Yeah. 

Is that something that you, you found, you found? what drew you to that? And did you find yourself doing that in part because of ADHD? 

I’m sure I did because growing up when I was in grade school, I used to make up sports related games that I would do with dice and I would play entire seasons of these things. I would go to my Mom and show her the results, and I know it was boring to her, but again, she was so supportive, she’d sit there and listen, yes dear, that’s so amazing, that’s very cool. And so I’ve always liked games. Growing up… or not growing up, over the last 17 years, I’ve run a website called Lonestar Gridiron, which covers Texas high school football, and, uh, in that time have become one of the, one of the big players in Texas high school football media, uh, and so my partner who I’ve known since junior high school in that, uh, I’ve been trying to sell him on, let’s do a game, let’s do a game, you know, because let’s take advantage of this high school football stuff.  And he was against it… against it. ‘cause we both have computer backgrounds, it’s a lot of work.  And then I said, hey, what about a board game? Would you be up for that? And he said, sure. And it was on. And so our first game was Friday Night Legends, which is, it’s a football board game that allows you to play the greatest high school football teams of all time against each other, based on their real stats, so it let’s you coach them? Uh, and we sent ..since had….that was the Kickstarter, we, um, then came out with another two years later called Saturday Legends, which does the exact same things for college football. 

I love it, that’s brilliant. Tell me how… so you said your partner, when you work with, how do you, what tips would you give someone for working with someone with ADHD?  What have you learned about yourself that you tell people you tell your partner or whatever.

Know your strengths and be clear about your strengths with each other.  Uh, Mike, the, the partner, he is a, he’s a numbers guy. He can sit at a desk and crunch numbers all day long and he loves doing it, that would drive me batty.  So, you know, we, we, on our site, we have the most comprehensive list of statistics over a hundred years of Texas high school football. We have all their records, all their coaching records, all the team records, everything you can think of. I couldn’t put that together, but I’m the guy that gets out there and goes, hey, this is amazing, come check it out. Yeah. I’m the Steve Jobs, he’s the Wozniak. 

Love it, love it, having met Wozniak I totally, I totally get that, we all need a Wozniak. I think it’s fascinating because I think that a lot of people who are listening to podcasts have these great ideas and they do get stuck on that side of things where they’re like, I don’t know what, I don’t have the ability to do the math.I don’t have the ability to do the scheduling, whatever. And so yeah, you finding someone is, is probably the best thing you could possibly do. 

Yeah, and that’s why I need the Woz for my regular business still. I have it for the high school football,  that’s it. 

No question about it. Um, how long have you been married?

Uh, been married, interestingly enough, we’ve been married for 12 years, but we were high school sweethearts too, so we all, we each went off, had our own little lives, you know, I was the bachelor traveling all over the place and she was the steady one building her nursing career and we got back together.

How, before you were diagnosed, what was it like, you know, did you understand why you were the way you were when it came to, you know, your wife and how did you, how did you function? Uh, when, when we, when we’re ADHD, we don’t necessarily function the best possible way when we’re with other people.  Um, what did you have to learn and how did you have to change? 

Well, yeah, I didn’t realize anything was wrong, you know, and I say wrong, it’s not wrong because I’ve always viewed it, thanks again to my Mom’s influence… as a superpower. 

You didn’t realize anything was different? 

Different, correct.  Thank you, Yeah, and so I just thought this is the way I’m wired.  I thought maybe I’m smarter than most of the people I meet, but I didn’t think anything was all that different, so I thought this is how I deal with things. And again, I created compensations.   My, uh, my office prior to getting married, three walls, were floor to ceiling dry erase board so I would just throw things up, being very visual.  When I’d think of something, I’d jot it down, it was, it looked like mad scientist scrawlings. Um, after getting married, realized I can’t have that.  The wife wants the house to look nice, so I have a much smaller, dry erase board and it’s more organized. 

It’s about the little compromises, right? 

Yeah exactly, and it was worth it. It was tough at first because I’m used to being able to just reach to a wall and start jotting, but of course I can walk over there and jot. 

Tell me how, tell people how they can find you, uh, how they can reach out and get more info on you. 

Well, again, my name since it’s spelled uniquely it’s Chris, last name Doelle.  You search for that, you can find me anywhere. I’m… I’m on all the socials I’m on LinkedIn. I’m, you know, you name it, uh, really easy to find. You can find me on Amazon because I’ve got, you know, five books out. You can find me on Board Game Geeks because of the games, anywhere, you just search for me. 

One final question, um,  the Jack-of-all-trades thing, cause I get that right? I do this, I’m marketing ability, you know, how do you describe yourself to other people, right? If you, if you, if you, if your entire life is cats, for instance, and you have a cat blog and you do stuff with cats, I’m a cat person, I write about cats, you know, you do so many things that are not related.  How do you describe yourself in 15 seconds in the elevator? 

I literally just say I’m a marketer because everything I do involves marketing, uh, you know, because none of them would succeed without it. And, uh, other than that, I silo, I talk to people and say, if you know me as a board game guy, we talk about board games and we don’t go off on Texas high school football.  We can go off on books. We don’t, you know, I silo 

Very smart!  Chris Doelle, thanks so much for taking the time being on Faster Than Normal, I appreciate it. 

Oh you bet, cool. 

Guys, as always, Faster Than Normal, if you liked what you heard drop us a review.  We appreciate you guys being on the podcast , we appreciate people listening. We are, as far as I can tell, one of the top, if not the top ADHD podcasts out there, so I love that, and that was all because of you guys, and I am eternally grateful. If you have a guest that you think might work, or maybe it’s you, someone you know, shoot me a note @Petershankman.com.  Follow us on Twitter at Faster Than Normal, @Petershankman, uh, or on Instagram. We’re pretty much everywhere. We would love to hear from you guys, uh, it thrills us to no end when we get notes. Also, one final thing, if you have the book, if you’ve read Faster Than Normal the book, go on to wherever you bought it https://www.amazon.com/ – 

https://www.audible.com – whatever, drop us a review, you’d be amazed at how those reviews really, really help. As always, thank you for listening. ADHD is a gift, not a curse. We are looking forward to seeing you next week, you guys take care.

Credits: You’ve been listening to the Faster Than Normal podcast. We’re available on iTunes, Stitcher and Google play and of course at www.FasterThanNormal.com I’m your host, Peter Shankman and you can find me at petershankman.com and @petershankman on all of the socials. If you like what you’ve heard, why not head over to your favorite podcast platform of choice and leave us a review, come more people who leave positive reviews, the more the podcast has shown, and the more people we can help understand that ADHD is a gift, not a curse. Opening and closing themes were composed and produced by Steven Byrom who also produces this podcast, and the opening introduction was recorded by Bernie Wagenblast. Thank you so much for listening. We’ll see you next week. 



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