This week’s guest on Product Talk is HomeX Product Lead, Marton Gaspar, an expert in chatbots and AI with a background in psychology who created chatbot and data science startups before moving on as a freelance Product Coach. Diagnosed with ADHD at age 8 and Autism at 30, Marton joins host Patrick Blute to discuss product team empowerment and neurodiversity in tech.
Listen to the entire episode right here on Products That Count, on Apple and Spotify at the links below, and scroll through for the highlights.
An introduction to Neurodiversity
Being diagnosed with ADHD at an early age, Marton Gaspar says he “always knew he was a little bit different, but not enough for it to be ridiculously obvious”. Since learning of his Autism and Dysproxia, he’s taken up the mantle of empowering neurodiversity in the tech community.
“I went into product at startups, and I started working on all of these different really exciting projects. What I realized was, in every single meeting that I went to, I always had an idea that no one ever thought of, which becomes really useful at consulting when you can present an idea and that can be a shift.”
When bringing awareness to diversity in any form, be it in business or day-to-day life, it’s important to first understand the background and terminology. Marton has created a series of videos addressing the power of Neurodiversity in tech that you can view on his LinkedIn, connected here.
On bringing awareness to Neurodiversity in tech
Starting off the episode, Mardon explains that neurodiversity covers a range of conditions that can include ADHD, Autism, Dypaxia, Dyslexia, etc and that the community itself is diverse.
“Basically, your brain is structured differently. It’s processing information differently based on different conditions you have, and normally there’s a spectrum. So people are very different, even within the neurodiverse community itself. Two people with autism are not the same.”
“It can be hugely powerful to product teams to have people with different-structured brains. We know from research that diversity itself increases innovation. Neurodiversity is no exception, but it’s not being talked about as much, and I realized that it really should. If innovation comes from more and better ideas, then people whose brains are wired differently are bound to come up with different ideas”
“There are different reasons why people don’t dare to come out as neurodiverse. When I tell people I’m autistic, they start to have assumptions based on the limited knowledge that they have, and when you’re talking about a potentially vulnerable thing and you get met with assumptions, not questions, that can be challenging because essentially, you want to be more understood. I realized that the main issue is awareness.”
Advice for Product Leaders
Sometimes the most impactful advice is the most simple. Marton shares simple ways that both team members and product leaders can support neurodiversity.
“The most powerful thing you can do is just ask a question. Instead of jumping to conclusions, just ask. Also, don’t diagnose. Instead, ask about challenges.”
“You don’t have to be neurodiverse to have challenges. All of us struggle with some things and are better at others. The best thing, in my opinion, whether you’re a product leader, manager or a team member, is to just talk to each other about whatever they’re going through. It doesn’t matter whether you are neurodiverse or not. What matters is that in that particular area, you have a weakness. Let’s make a strength out of it by collaboration, communication and by supporting each other.”
“I’ll start off by saying 2.4% of autistic people finish university, and it has nothing to do with intelligence. Our lives are different, social interactions can be challenging, and there are different obstacles that we need to get through. When we’re talking about hiring, you kind of have to forget this elitist attitude, because it will not get you diversity. It will just get you the same person over and over again. Now, I’m not saying that person isn’t a really fantastic one, all I’m saying is if that is the only profile you have, you will be missing out on the power of diversity and neurodiversity.”
About the speaker
About the host
I am the Director of Brand & Sustainability for Transfix, a leading transportation solutions provider, combining tech and a best-in-class carrier network to reshape the future of freight. I am also a host for Product Talk helping bring product leaders together to answer the question: "What makes a great product?"