My Neurodivergent Brain with Annie Ruggles
What happens to the business owner who has obsessive-compulsive disorder? They figure out how their brains work and end up growing an amazing business and hosting an informative and entertaining podcast.

Okay, not everyone does that but this week’s guest, Annie Ruggles, sure does.

This week’s episode is the first in a series called My Neurodivergent Brain, where I talk to neurodivergent business owners…diagnosed with OCD, ADHD, autism, dyslexia, dyspraxia, and more. We talk about their experience in life and business, what their diagnosis looked like, how it’s impacted their business and life, and how they found their superpowers.

Annie has come to embrace her OCD and views her compulsions as grounding and self-soothing most of the time. She looks at her behavior and thoughts as sometimes self-protective and sees OCD as benefiting her client work.

I hope that today’s episode, and the rest in this series, help you to embrace your own neurodivergence and start to see ways you can embrace your uniqueness as a superpower that not everyone gets to experience.

About Annie Ruggles:
For over a decade, Annie has harnessed her Hulk-like disdain for hard-sales, tacky self-promotion, and overly competitive sleazeballs as inspiration to help people find better ways to grow their small businesses.

She has guided hundreds of people toward making deeper connections, lasting impressions, and friendlier, more lucrative transactions and conversations. Her pride and joy is her podcast, Too Legitimate to Quit: Instantly Actionable Small Business Strategies with a Pop Culture Spin. Visit her website and follow her on Instagram.

Links & Resources:

Time Stamps:

[4:21] – Welcome to Annie
[6:44] – Annie’s diagnosis and how she got there
[9:49] – There’s a beating up of yourself because you think you’re not good enough
[12:44] – Being OCD vs. a pain in the ass
[15:50] – Stress exacerbate the symptoms
[16:27] – When done right, compulsions are grounding and self-soothing behaviors
[18:48] – Is it compulsion or impulsivity from ADHD
[21:19] – How long ago Annie received her diagnosis
[22:02] – “Unwanted thought syndrome”
[22:40] – Self protective behaviors sabotage us
[28:02] – The benefits of OCD in client work
[30:35] – Ride the wave – when you’re activated you’re on fire
[33:22] – How COVID impacted small business
[34:28] – She can work next to people, but would not choose that
[35:31] – leaning into energy
[37:03] – We became entrepreneurs because we wanted that control
[38:55] – what do you need today in order for your brain to work as an asset, not a hindrance
[42:42] – If you’re resonating with these ideas, go to the doctor to get a diagnosis
[44:05] – Caution is helpful as self-protection unless it starts to mess with your quality of life
[44:31] – Give the thought a gentle kiss
[47:05] – More about Annie


Amber Hawley 0:01
business owners are increasingly being pulled in so many directions, feeling like they aren’t reaching their full potential in business and life despite their type aways. With my background as a therapist, entrepreneur, and as dropout with ADHD, I interview and coach high achieving business owners like you who want to stop struggling for success by using psychological systems, strategies, and the occasional care for entation. This is the easily distracted entrepreneur, your place to slay overwhelm perfectionism and shiny object syndrome so that you can get done what matters most to you.

Amber Hawley 0:41
Hello, hello. Well, I’m excited to bring you today, the first episode of a new series that I’m doing within the podcast. I’m calling it my neurodivergent brain where I talk to different entrepreneurs who are neuro divergent, which means ADHD, autism, OCD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, so much more all of the people who identify as having uncon, forming brains, and talk to them about their experience with their neuro divergence, how they, how it was to be diagnosed, how it’s impacted their life and their business, how they accommodate for it, and how they utilize their superpowers. And just, you know, hearing one person’s story, as a therapist stories are so powerful to me, it is part of why I love the work that I do is getting the honor of meeting people and really getting to know their stories. And I think there can be so much value. And my hope is that those of you listening whether or not you know, you have ADHD, or autism, or that you are neurodivergent, maybe you’ll see a little bit of yourself in them. And for those who are struggling or having those rough days, hopefully there’s some inspiration and connection that can be formed. So I really think it’s going to be a powerful series.

Amber Hawley 2:24
And I’m so grateful and honored that my good friend Annie Ruggles agreed to be my first interview in the series. And she’s just besides being one of my favorite people, and absolutely hilarious. She’s so transparent. And I just really appreciate that about her. And he was also on the podcast earlier this year where she talks about asking for the sale. And she is the founder of the non sleazy sales Academy, which I am a member and I think it is fantastic. You get so much value and feedback around how to word things, how to follow up how to ask for those sales in a way that feels really good to you. And she is also the host of the two legitimate to quit podcast, which I have the pleasure of being on before. And it’s couples, small business strategies with a pop culture spin and what could be better than that. Two of my favorite things. So if you want to check out her episode from earlier this year, we will have the link in the show notes. It’s episode 128. And I wanted to remind you that there are still a couple of days left to get the presale of the foundations of focused course for entrepreneurs that goes through everything to make your life and business better by being able to focus on what matters most to you and not burning out. So if you want to find out more information about that course and the discount, please head on over to Amber forward slash focus. And now let’s get into the episode with Annie Welcome back my friends.

Annie Ruggles 4:22
I’m just delighted to be here with you on a hot mic ready to tell all

Amber Hawley 4:28
I love it. Yes a tell all ooh, I that is good. That is good. I’ve already obviously said a little bit about you in the intro before we started recording but you are my favorite human Muppet as you describe yourself which is so endearing and wonderful honor and privilege to be your favorite human love it. I love it. I love it. I don’t know what I am of yours. Oh yes, I do actually know you do have a nickname for me.

Annie Ruggles 4:56
Do we want to say what the nickname is?

Amber Hawley 4:58
You can say the nickname I can take Yes,

Annie Ruggles 5:00
my husband and I refer to our mutually beloved Amber as the ginger monstrosity. Because we are quite, quite short. And Amber is quite quite tall, and her love for us and our love for her. It’s quite quite big. And her hair is quite quite red. So yes, she is our ginger mantra.

Amber Hawley 5:19
Yes. And it is a term of endearment it is it is all loving, so awesome.

Annie Ruggles 5:24
No, you want me on your show to be like you call me an offensive nickname.

Amber Hawley 5:29
Let’s talk about that. Let’s talk about how you hurt my soul every time we speak. Ah, I love it. Well, I am so grateful to you, because you were willing to take time out of your super busy schedule to help me in this series that I’m really excited to do called My neuro divergent brain. And I just wanted to feature amazing business people that I knew that are, you know, have different facets of neurodiversity, and just how how everything about it, like how it works for them, what the struggles are like your superpowers like how how you’ve adjusted your business to be supportive of your brain working differently. So thank you, thank you for agreeing to come on and do a tell all

Annie Ruggles 6:24
like a celebrity memoir. Before I’m famous. Let’s get into exactly

Amber Hawley 6:27
one day people, you will come back to this episode and be like, Damn, we know her so well. Awesome. Well, so if you? Well, I’m assuming you’re willing. Why don’t you tell people perhaps maybe what your diagnoses are? And you can if you want to share the story of figuring that stuff out? That would be fantastic, too. I think that’s always helpful for people.

Annie Ruggles 6:55
Oh, I’d be glad to. So what we believed as a child was a combination of anxiety and depression, pretty vanilla on each actually turned out. They were like, Oh, are you depressed? Because you’re anxious? Or are you anxious because you’re depressed. And it turned out neither. I have obsessive compulsive disorder. And I always say that I am blessed and cursed because there really are pros and cons. It has manifested throughout the years as bouts of anxiety or bouts of depression. But it’s good old plain Jane fixation that drives me every day. And so we found that out later in my life that it wasn’t anxiety or depression, but but some other thing. And what’s really interesting about that is that my dad also has OCD and is on the autism spectrum. And because of the combination of his OCD in his autism spectrum, he has like the Alice in Wonderland, Looking Glass Through the Looking Glass OCD of mine, where they’re very, very similar, but opposite. So you can imagine, on a great day, my dad and I are totally simpatico, but if we’re playing who’s OCD gets to drive today doesn’t work so well. So that was something that I also rebelled against for a long time because people go well, you have OCD, pre diagnosis, or like you have OCD. And I would look at my dad and I would be like, No, there’s someone in my house that has OCD. And I’m not exactly like him. And so therefore I must not fit the actual definition. I didn’t understand then that not all people with OCD are compulsive cleaner fixer adjusters. And so I had to kind of look at what it means to be on the obsession, heavy compulsion light side of things. Most.

Amber Hawley 8:57
I love how you articulate that so well. And this is why this is exactly why I wanted to do this series. Because I think, you know, as a therapist, who has been working with neuro divergent people for so long, like even in the beginning, you know, I because I’ve worked with kids with, you know, like ADHD and autism and and again, even that, you could see how it shows up different. But then you start working with adults and again, that people think that oh, this is the one way it shows up either ADHD or autism or OCD or whatever, they know, they’ve seen somebody in a movie or they know someone. And it’s like, it really is so individualistic. And and that’s the hard part too, right? Like you you’re like I don’t have that quality. And I think it’s going to be so great for people to hear how it can show up differently for people and also to see that in themselves. Because I don’t know if this is your experience, but I think for so many people like myself, my friends and the people I work with. It’s it’s like this beating up of yourself which is why we see A lot of anxiety and depression because they feel terrible. Like they’re just not cutting it. They’re not good enough. And then they find out No, actually, my brain just works differently. And I need to figure out a way to work with my brain. It’s so eye opening and like, affirming, right?

Annie Ruggles 10:14
I’m causing resistance in my own brain by not allowing it to perform optimally. It’s not that I can’t rein in bad behavior. I absolutely can. It’s not that I can’t self improve where, you know, get my neuroplasticity on, it’s not about that. Right. But at the same point, it’s about structuring for my nature, and structuring with how my brain uses energy and how my brain compiles thoughts, and how I self motivate and how I punish correct or reward myself, right. I have to work in concert with those things. Because if I don’t, then yeah, to your point, that’s when the anxiety pops up. That’s when the depression pops up. It’s not that I’m broken. It’s that I’m choosing not to behave in the way that I must.

Amber Hawley 11:04
Yes, exactly. And that’s, you know, and you touched on, you don’t have your more on the obsessive part than the compulsive part. And again, I think people like they always think of somebody who’s super clean, or I always think of that movie as good as it gets, which I love. I love that. I love that movie,

Annie Ruggles 11:23
dearly, dearly, dearly, dearly. And I think it shows people what an extreme, but very, like, by extreme, I mean, heavy, not rare, right? There are a lot of people living without reality. And I’m grateful daily, that that has not been my experience as of yet. And that I have the tools and the self awareness to work against that actively, right. But I think that movie gave people a really real lensing of what living with OCD can look like. But I think it also limits people’s idea of what OCD is. So like, I step on cracks. But I also do lock my doors multiple times, I am totally willing to treat other people well in the face of my compulsion, and then it just stresses me out. Right, I will modify my compulsive behavior, because my primary driver is exception is acceptance and inclusion. So I will forsake my compulsive behaviors, if need be in order to fit in or treat someone well. But then what happens is internally, I still have to find a way to vent that energy. Right. So right, I think that movie was really, really great. And then one thing that it sort of did temporarily around the time when that came out, which I’m seeing kind of come back, which annoys me, but you know, people are people is people really stop claiming, like, I’m so OCD. So, can’t believe that when my house is messy, Josh’s flat, ah, and it’s like, I wouldn’t not eat a meal and then be like, I am so anorexic. Right. Like, I wouldn’t claim it as an excuse for bad behavior. And that’s what I see. Highly anal type A people do is be like, I can’t help it. I’m rigid. I’m, like totally OCD. And I’m like, You’re not, you’re just kind of a pain in the ass. Like, right, right. So I think that’s something to have like this idea of what the idea and I think all nd people have this within their own cobbled together diagnoses or diagnoses of like, okay. People assume because of pop culture or references or people you know that ADHD looks exactly like this. It’s squirrel, and nothing else. Right? Yeah. OCD is that picture on my wall is broken. So let me change it and move it a centimeter and unlock my door. 50 times. That’s what we’ve been taught. But that’s not true. Yes, when I am ill, when I am not well, when my brain is not performing optimally, and I’m fighting myself toward my own wellness, which I do when I really kind of delay the healthier side of my compulsions. When I do that, I am choosing to what am I like when I when I do that? When I’m not behaving optimally? I exhibit some of those patterns. But not all of those patterns. Right. So when I was in a super dead end, extremely high stress job where I was being wholly disrespected in my 20s when I had no skill set anyway, then yes, I would be getting on Chicago public transit in the morning, getting three quarters of the way to work convincing myself that my tea kettle was on, and going back home and winding up an hour late for work, then that would happen twice a week or twice a month, right? Because I would just be so unable to grok with my anxiety over things, but running my own business is like parenting, there’s, there’s reason or cause for anxiety everywhere. And so if I don’t allow myself to process the emotion of stress, to process the emotion of confusion, and to give myself space to think that I won’t get anything done, and I may as well be back on public transit wearing about my teapot. Right,

Amber Hawley 15:45
right. And that’s Well, I think it’s like so many things like when we’re under stress, and we’re not, we’re not supporting ourselves in the best way. it exacerbates the symptoms. It doesn’t mean like, well, if you’re taking care of yourself, all the symptoms go away. That’s not It’s not that, like we always have it, but the extremes and

Annie Ruggles 16:05
my compulsions are just entertaining for me.

Amber Hawley 16:08
Right? Are and for me, I enjoy them too.

Annie Ruggles 16:12
But why wouldn’t walk normally if I can walk in syncopation? I’m just right. And so that’s the other thing too, is that I say, like I said, Before, I am blessed and cursed with OCD. When done right, my handful of compulsions that I do have serve as relatively healthy grounding, and self soothing behaviors, as long as I don’t get so into them, that I go on to plan it. And if I use them as a touch point, which is how my brain really designed them to be, if I use them as a touch, point, to ground, breathe and get back to reality, then awesome. It’s only if I spin out. And the compulsion has no value. But then I really start going, did I really just play online slots for 12 hours instead of working? Did I really just do that? Well, yes, that’s disorder. Dopamine. Right. Right. But if I need to walk in syncopation, because I’m about to do a keynote, and I’m well freaked out. It’s a hallway, people might look at me weird, but I’m gonna do it. Why not? It grounds me. Yeah.

Amber Hawley 17:23
And who cares? Like that’s yeah, it’s, like you said, self soothing. And that’s the being more open. I want to go back to the thing you said about like, how people will use diagnoses in like lay terms or to excuse behaviors. Yeah. Now, I’m going to admit that back in the day, I was guilty of this. Because I think it was just, it was like a way of saying, this is how I’m feeling. It was like a shorthand.

Annie Ruggles 17:47
I’m a queer person. And I used to use gay as a derogative. Like, we, there’s something conversational about that time period around the millennium, where we all decided that we were living in like post racist, totally woke. Who cares about being PC America, we are the world. We’re all best friends. So it’s fine. I got it.

Amber Hawley 18:07
Right. Right. Right. So then that’s the, and we used to like my sister, and I would tease my mom. And we would be like OCD, because and frankly, I do think she actually has Sometimes, though, that’s and that’s the thing. There’s like, well, it wasn’t formally diagnosed, but I see it now in her like thinking back, I mean, we always saw it because she is very compulsive, right? I now understand you probably, and she has not been diagnosed with ADHD. But I see it now that after I got my diagnosis, and I have those same tendencies, and sometimes, and this is the thing about neurodiversity? Exactly. Don’t say it, Annie. Don’t say it. But that’s the thing about neuro divergence, though, is like there are so many things that it’s like, there are so many people I know that they have these qualities or ways that their brain works or, or tics or things that happen. And they they might fall under autism, they might fall under OCD, they might fall under ADHD, but there’s so much overlap. And that’s where it’s like, is it compulsion? Or is it impulsivity from ADHD? And so there’s this ground, you know, this thing. And I’ve, I’ve said many times, like I go by the Dr. Ayman model of ATD. And one of my three types is obsessed or over focused is what he calls it. I call it obsessive, but he calls it overcast.

Annie Ruggles 19:25
And Hell yeah, that’s, I mean, that could be the word over focused, could be the title of my autobiography.

Amber Hawley 19:35
Because I have spent significant time with you and there are times where I’m like, Dude, there’s no way you don’t have some ADHD tendencies. Like I feel it. We’re talking about this podcast.

Annie Ruggles 19:43
I was like, do I count as nd and you were like, Are you kidding?

Amber Hawley 19:46
I know. I was like, What the Is that even a question? Like I don’t even know what you’re saying right now but but it is interesting because and I you know, I don’t know I only know my brain.

Annie Ruggles 19:57
Right? Calling on other people’s misconceptions, I have my own misconceptions of what it is or means to be nd or what it is or means to have a DD or ADHD or any kind of attention anything. I don’t know. No one tells you, no one tells you other than to label you. Hey,

Amber Hawley 20:17
reading, yeah, reading stuff. And even like, even if you read the DSM, right, like reading it in there, you know, we learn that in school, but when you see it in clients, and you’re helping them, and you see the different ways, the spectrum of ways that it shows up, it’s quite interesting. And that’s why I’m hoping this series will be really helpful for people. So I do appreciate it. But I did want to say like, now I sometimes will say I’m OCD ish. And like, I’ve had somebody lol Mahesh. Yeah, I mean, I’m an ish girl, but they emailed me and they were then they have OCD. And they were like, are you using it in a colloquial way? Or? And I was like, No, I actually do believe I have OCPD, which is a different version. It’s not the locking the doors 12 times kind of thing. But it is that obsessive compulsive like I do have I do have those things where if I hang something, and it’s off, I will sit and stare at it and think about it until I go and deal with it. I literally can’t let it go. And then but eventually I do. Right, like so there’s, there’s, it’s all of those things. So I really appreciate it. But so if you’re willing, how long ago? Or how many years? Have you known your diagnosis? Do you remember?

Annie Ruggles 21:24
I don’t remember. But I know it was in my early 20s. So at least like 15 years,

Amber Hawley 21:32
okay, so adulthood, so it was in adulthood

Annie Ruggles 21:34
adulthood, definitely. Whereas my childhood, from like 12 on we were 12 was trauma. So that was like just proper, like, being a child sucks. But from about 16 on they called it anxiety and depression for several years. And then it wasn’t until probably my last year of college or post college and people are like, oh, there’s something else going on here. Right. And there are many, many forms. The comedian Maria Bamford, who I adore calls her OCD unwanted thoughts syndrome. And that is infinitely closer to my version of OCD than the typical fixer adjuster. Don’t step on a crack break your mama’s back stuff. Right? Right, in that, you know, she’ll be going along. And this is definitely what happened to me, she’ll be going along la luna la la. And then it’s like a thought comes and cuts you off in traffic, I don’t know where, and then you can’t stop thinking it. Right. And so for me, and it also happens as a self protective mechanism, because we all have inner self protection, which is a weird thing, because we all know that self protective behaviors often sabotage the shit out of us. So, you know, I’ll be sitting there writing my book, feeling really, really good about things and you know, being in the vibe, and then somewhere, subconsciously, my brain will go, Well, this book might change things for you. And change is uncertain. And change is scary. What if your dad dies today? And then I will fix a what if my dad dies today? Should I call my dad? Should I stop the last time I say what is my calendar? Where’s the lesson? My dad had a physical what is the notes that I took on the lifetime my dad had a physical Why am I taking notes on my dad’s physical, I just saw my dad this weekend, he was totally fine. He had a little bit of a cough but it wasn’t RSP like now my whole thing is derailed because of one intrusive, unwanted thought. So then from there, what will happen is one or two things if I’m able to rein myself in, from maybe my dad will die today mania, am I able to do that I will breathe, I will ground I will do some self compassionate exercises, I will do a little bit of self forgiveness, maybe you know, try to get into my body shakes my butt a little bit. Or do something that I know delights and excites my brain, right to distract myself from the distraction. Or if I’m totally disordered, that’s when I will fixate all day and wind up turning on and off the oven 50 times and calling my dad 17 times when he never has his phone on and he’s probably at Lowe’s buying mulch, but I will convince myself by you know within the next hour that I was actually having some kind of intuitive episode and that my dad is in fact dead. Right? So it really is up to me in that one point of do I want to recognize this as my brain trying to self protect me in a weird, weird, weird, weird, weird way and treat myself with compassion and proactivity or do I want to lean into the freak out? get nothing done and do all of my unhealthy self soothing behaviors and sometimes that wins. Sometimes worried COVID Gentle whole pizza wins. Exactly. I So if I do, right, I can’t be optimal all the time. No, I didn’t know that I’m choosing that, right. If I’m choosing to behave out of optimal behavior, then I need to know that that is not something that I am doing or is happening to me, it is something that I’m choosing to participate in.

Amber Hawley 25:21
And what I want to point out, and that is, again, like when we’re talking about mild, moderate severe, like when people like when the the as good as it gets, the severe illness makes that ability to choose so much harder and sometimes impossible. Right? Right. But part of it is, you have done the work to have the awareness because it is awareness, and then it is learning those tools and strategies to support you in in soothing or getting back to a place where you’re able to move past it faster, right? Like because it because again, we don’t want this is where I see people beat themselves up of like, well, I know better, especially like I think about all my ADHD people and I do this. It’s like, yes, but sometimes, like you said, it’s like it’s either too overpowering. And once their anxiety is up, it exacerbates everything. And so then, yeah, there is a point, like you can make a choice. And then once it tips, the scales, sometimes it has to ride itself out,

Annie Ruggles 26:20
right? Well, I mean, when you’re when your frickin prefrontal cortex is shot, your freaking prefrontal cortex is shot like,

Amber Hawley 26:28
yes, yeah, if you’re fatigued, Austin, you’re overloaded, actively traumatized,

Annie Ruggles 26:33
if you are re traumatized. If you are, I mean, it’s not always purely internal, if you are dealing with an outside force, that is triggering the crap out of you, or mistreating you, how you respond to things is going to have to be affected, right. So it’s not always a choice. It’s just so nice when you can catch yourself.

Amber Hawley 26:54
Oh, 100%. And that’s the it, it does feel good when you can get to that place. Because, like, like you said, it’s, it makes things happen less often, like the really intrusive, problematic things, right? Or, like, lessens the severity or the time period. And, and I think that’s so helpful, because then I can tap into

Annie Ruggles 27:15
the positives. Right? Right, in that if I’m like, Ooh, I’m activated today. This brain of mine is acting a little funky, then I can also say, Well, what are the advantages of being in this state? The advantages of being an estate is my OCD makes me an amazing strategist. Because I have considered every single possible outcome. By the time everyone else has sort of ruminated on one. Now, it makes me bonkers, because I overthink as a natural behavior. So if I’m in a position where overthinking is common, you better believe I’m probably overthinking. But when it comes to my client work, one of the main things I hear all the time is I didn’t even consider that. Or if they push back on me. And they’re like, Well, I don’t feel right about this. I have another solution right up behind. People are like, how did you come up with that so fast? Because in the last 28 Mega seconds, milliseconds, whatever it is, I have considered the outcomes of 75 million options. Right? So having a heir and a spare is not that hard at all. When when you’re considering all the others. And so it’s in that moment where I can go, okay, having a weird day. What’s a good thing for me to do when I’m having a weird OCD day, admin stuff? Math, I hated math in school. I was it was the worst thing in the world. But my OCD brain loves problem solving. Right? So if I’m having an OCD flare up day, or I forgot to take my Prozac or something, so I’m a little bit off math, admin stuff, spreadsheets, cleaning my inbox, anything organizational, right, because that’s where the fixer adjuster stuff can come in as a positive. If I clean up my inbox, it will give me a sense of control. If I clean my office, it will give me a sense of normalcy, right? I can do that too, internally and externally. But the luxury of having my own business is less. I’m just booked up with client calls all day, and my clients know me, and I’m vocal about my nd and also just my general weird muchness, that, you know, if they see it a little bit on calls, they’ll be like, oh, and he’s very on top of things today. Sure. Let’s call it that. Right. But if I don’t have client calls all day, I do have the flexibility to say, you know, today is not a good day for creative writing projects, or for marketing copywriting, or for going out and making sales videos for people Oh, not a good day for that I’m probably going to be nasty to myself, I’m probably gonna overthink it, what I would send normally as like a one minute on edited draft, I might be tempted to edit 15 17 million times. Right? So anything where other people are judging it, anything that requires or includes a tone of validation, probably not the best thing I could be doing on an OCD day.

Amber Hawley 30:22
Hmm. See, that’s such great awareness. And there’s that flexibility, right of understanding, this is the space I’m in and I’ve got to acknowledge it and accept it. And yeah, I always say like, Let’s ride the wave. Like that’s, you know, we talked about this all the time, in all the different ways that you know, whether it’s autism, OCD, or ADHD, it’s like, sometimes, like you said, sometimes when we’re activated in an ADHD sense, we’re like, I’m on I’m on fire. Yeah. And I need to ride that damn wave and get so much shit done. And we usually can get done more than we could in a whole month. But there are the times where the land is dry, there’s no way and you’re like, I could do this, but I will have to drag this like surfboard, through you know, all the way across the ocean, and it will take forever, it will be painful, it will be miserable. You could do it. But that’s not a good choice, right?

Annie Ruggles 31:15
Unless you’re actually actively trying to get yourself out of your set pattern of thinking. Right, right. Which is like when I do math, you know, unless you’re really trying to bust your rhythms up and try something new, or get yourself out of a spiral, then yeah,

Amber Hawley 31:35
exactly. Yeah. And I just, I was just talking to someone else, a client who has OCD and talking about it is building that muscle of, of the things that aren’t, you know, not the creative stuff, because she also is really creative writer, as are you? And it was like, you know, that stuff? You can’t, you really need the wave to ride those, right? But on the other stuff, those little are things, those administrative things or those other parts of business that don’t require that level of creativity. You can build the muscle, like it still might be like, Oh, I don’t want to, but you can build the muscle slowly. And there’s strategies around that. Like that’s, you know, what I help people with, but, but yeah, so I love that you say that, though. And there’s such self awareness, like, understanding that I wonder for you in your win as a business owner? Like how long have you been a business owner?

Annie Ruggles 32:32
Well, years, 12 years.

Amber Hawley 32:33
So through the 12 years, my dad, my OCD,

Annie Ruggles 32:37
I’m like, what year? Is it? 12, 13? Is it 11? Is

Amber Hawley 32:41
it will say 12? Ish? I don’t

Annie Ruggles 32:47
mind being like, it’s been 11 years, one day and 22 minutes.

Amber Hawley 32:54
Exactly. So you’ve had a, you’ve had a long time to kind of learn these things. I’m wondering, have you seen, like, as you’ve been going through this process, and I would assume, even if people like when they pivot their businesses and structures change? Is that? Yeah, is that the stuff that you have kind of learned and noticed about yourself? Because my guess is when you first started, you didn’t recognize, oh, hey, this is a good day for I’m great at strategy on these days. Because this, you know, curious,

Annie Ruggles 33:22
that shut out during COVID When I had nothing to do but stare at my own. Like, I think that COVID was really hard for a lot of us and really amazing for a lot of us simultaneously, because of the forced self awareness of things. Yeah, just due to like proximity and boredom with ourselves and only ourselves. But you know, in the middle of all there are back toward the beginning of all there. I guess, one of the things I was doing while I was running my own company on the side is I was also the basically de facto director of marketing and sales for a software firm. And so that had a nine to five timeline, and an office to go to, and people watching my every move, because they either reported to me were collaborating with me or were sitting right next to me. And I knew that that wasn’t optimal for me, but I knew that I could do it. And so I did it for many, many years. And I’m know that I am capable of that. And how I see that now is I am full well of working a nine to five day, I am full well being with people all day, I can do these things. I can be in front of people all day. I can collaborate with people all day, I can talk to people all day, not every day. I’m also an introvert I’m just freaking loud. Right? But instead, what I now understand about myself is Yes, I am capable of those things. But if given the choice, I would not choose it and that discernment is important because I allow myself on unstructured days which I plan for I teach Monday mornings, Tuesday nights. And Wednesdays, I do not teach on Thursdays, I do not teach on Fridays. So those are my fully unstructured get on Zoom if I want to days. And as such, because I’m not having client calls a ton on Thursdays or Fridays, or because I’m not teaching on Thursdays or Fridays, if I want to sleep until 10. And then work until midnight, with a big fat nap or a walker Morion a pizza in between, that’s my prerogative, because I know that leaning into my energy and what my brain wants to do, when that option is available to me is an option I should take, huh,

Amber Hawley 35:40
that’s a good point you make because that’s, this comes up a lot with, with, again, friends, clients, whatever, that are neurodivergent talking about the energy it takes to mask and to be normal and to sit in, it’s like you are capable. But it’s an energetic load to do that. And it’s so you’re not getting they’re not getting the best out of you. Right? Because you’re having to conform to constructs that are really arbitrary. Really, right. They’re they’re just, it’s not about harnessing and utilizing the best of people and their skill set and their energy flow, you know, throughout the day. I mean, that was part of why I loved world, because there was like, Okay, you can come in at like 1011. And then you can stay till nine, you know, for people who are just morning people.

Annie Ruggles 36:30
Exactly. My husband Ryan works for Microsoft, Microsoft, like whole policy is get your work done. Yeah. Which is, I mean, if you have to be on a meeting, you have to be on a meeting. But beyond that, they work all over the world time zones are relevant to a company that big. Yeah. Right? Because they literally have every time and all around the world. And so I’m like, Well, if Microsoft can do that, and still get stuff done, then certainly my company of one and a half can get stuff done.

Amber Hawley 37:00
Exactly. Well, and I say Isn’t this the point we became entrepreneurs like to have control over our schedule and how we work and work best for ourselves. Right? Isn’t

Annie Ruggles 37:10
that what quiet quitting, everybody’s talking about? Quiet quitting. My definition of quiet quitting is people just no longer accepting to things as mandates that were never mandated of them. And the most likely thing that they’re gonna eject are things that are out of their nature. Yeah. They call it quiet quitting. I call it doing your job and honoring your nature.

Amber Hawley 37:32
No, that’s great. I think, yeah, there’s something to that. And that’s the, we’re lucky. We’re fortunate as, as business owners to be able to make those choices to support ourselves in that right.

Annie Ruggles 37:44
Yeah. Yeah, if someone made me be on an international video call at 8am. I’d be quiet quittin to.

Amber Hawley 37:54
I know, right, like every once in a while we can rally for something like that. But as I know, a lot of people that I work with, or when I’m scheduling, like podcast interviews or other kinds of things, people will say to me, Well, I could meet you at this time, but you’re not gonna get the best out of me. And I’m like, Okay. And I’m like, I love self awareness.

Annie Ruggles 38:13
Sometimes tough to date. You got to do what you got to do. Like I was on a webinar or something in Singapore, not that long ago, and I had to wake up at like, 430 in the morning. Did I want to do that? No. Did I try to make sure they got the best out of me? Yeah. Why? Because I wanted the opportunity. Would I do that to myself every day? No. Would I take a contract where I need to do that every day? No. Would I have like, keep a whole bunch of work into that same day when I know I have to wake up at 430? Ideally, no. Sometimes it sneaks by, right? Crazy days happen. But, you know, there’s always outliers. What do you need on a day to day basis in order for you to have your brain work like an asset and not like a hindrance that has to be square one? For nd entrepreneurs? What do you need today, in order for your brain to behave optimally, if you can get as close to that you’ll likely have a good day. And then if you can practice self forgiveness and self compassion and grounding and whatever your therapist and your doctors and your guides and your angels tell you you need to do on the days where your branch is not participating. Then, you know, some if we had Crohn’s we would have bad tummy ache days. We just have rough brain days.

Amber Hawley 39:33
Absolutely. Oh, I love that. See, this is why I knew you’d be the perfect first guest one self awareness but the way you can articulate it for people and I think that’s really helpful. I had written down like I was I wanted to touch on a little bit when you talked about like, when you talked about that scenario, like the thought of something’s gonna happen to my dad and and I wanted to say this just for people listening like there might be somebody out there like oh my gosh, that how happens to me, I want you to know like that happens to almost everybody, right? And Brene Brown talks about this as like foreboding joy. Yes, sometimes. And that can be from trauma history that can be there’s so many reasons. other shoe to drop. Exactly. And when you do have anxiety, and this is why often many neurodivergent people do get diagnosed with anxiety or depression. And sometimes that’s the battle I have with my clients when they’re trying to work with like psychiatrist or doctors have. They’re like, nope, nope, we have to address the anxiety. And we’re like, you have to address the ADHD, because the anxiety is happening because of the ADHD. Right?

Annie Ruggles 40:35
It is because your brain is overloaded.

Amber Hawley 40:38
Yeah, but sometimes people’s anxiety does have to be addressed first. Like, it just depends, right? But that’s the thing of like, there’s foreboding joy, and understanding that and working through that. That’s normal. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have this. But what you’re saying is, there’s that part, but for you, it’s gonna go all the way down the track and

Annie Ruggles 40:59
get your brain to stop thinking something. When you’re like, I’m gonna stop thinking this and not like, I don’t think about pink elephants. And then you think about pink elephants. Wait, I mean, like, you are doing other things, talking to other people. I’m making dinner talking to my dog having a conversation with my husband, and the whole time in the back of the mind is going. Your dad’s probably dead right now. He could be dead right now. Do you think he’s going into rigor mortis? Yeah, where is he? Is he in his chair? Is it within my mom, find him where it like, that’s the shit that’s happening in the background. If you can’t let that go, then maybe you have some compulsion and obsessions. My darlings, maybe Maybe so. But if you’re just having somebody go in your brain, you’re probably foreboding joy, a really important distinction because I have a doctorate in foreboding joy, call it a CD, but it is a skill that everyone can master.

Amber Hawley 41:54
Yes, yeah. No, I love that example. Because I think about this, there are times where, like my husband, and we have to go to like South Carolina now, which sounds like forever, but it’s only like an hour away to go to like orthodontist appointments for my kids. And And on days, there have been times where I’m when I’m having high anxiety are really stressed out. And it’s like raining, and I’m like, Oh my gosh, maybe we should cancel because what if something happens, and he slides off the road and his brakes don’t work and he dies. And it’s like a momentary thought, and I feel anxiety, and then I’m able to move past it and realize, oh, my gosh, I’m so anxious. That’s not going to happen, right?

Annie Ruggles 42:30
It’s another thing to drive down the road waiting to die.

Amber Hawley 42:32
Right? Exactly. So

Annie Ruggles 42:34
where I am on my very worst

Amber Hawley 42:37
days, right. And I wanted to make that distinction for people one, like if you if you think this might be you like go talk to a doctor, or, you know, go get an assessment. But that’s why I wanted to say that like to let people know, there. And again, there’s such a spectrum of this, but I think it’s the way you articulate is so helpful. So I just wanted to come back to that point

Annie Ruggles 42:57
high for it to rob you with too much life. Right? And so that’s,

Amber Hawley 43:02
that’s the thing, it’s the interference with day to day, like either

Annie Ruggles 43:04
drive down the road waiting to die, or I wouldn’t even leave the house. It’s not that I would have the thought we all have thoughts, but the thought would become law in my head. And so I would choose to either have to work against it or let it win. Right. So you know, there was a really horrible period of time in American history where we were having all these mass shootings in movie theaters, and I didn’t go to the movies for years. Hmm.

Amber Hawley 43:28
Yes, you know, and I will say, so that’s another that’s a great illustration where I have anxiety and I do where I, I actually did avoid theaters for a while. And I remember the first movie I went back to, and I am very conscientious of where I sit, and I am sometimes and still randomly, not every time we go to the theater, but every once in a while. I will be like, where like what would be the restaurant? Where should I do? How would I handle my kids? Like, yeah, what would I How would I, you know, cover my children because I’ve

Annie Ruggles 43:58
even in the middle of summer, so I can throw it over myself like a hobbit cloak, like, come on now. Right? But again, they’re all shades and spectrums of this. And caution is helpful as self protection, unless it starts to mess with your quality of life. And if your precaution or caution, or anxiety is driving the bus, then it’s time to talk to somebody, it’s time to work on that it’s time to take back power for yourself. But you know, when those thoughts come up, one of the ways that I was taught it, and then I gotta go, one of the ways I was taught this was when I was studying meditation, and they gave the example of oranges on a conveyor belt. So there are oranges coming down a conveyor about getting ready to go into the supermarket. And in order to be sold, the oranges have to be stickered, right, we all have those we’ve all accidentally like eaten an apple sticker or maybe like what the heck is in my mouth. But you know, let’s assume that all oranges need to be stickered it can be sold If a thought goes by, and I immediately flip out about it, and I squash it, then the stamping machine comes down and it ruins the orange. Right that orange is not sellable any more I have ruined it, I have beat myself up, I have moved past it, I’ve ruined it. Whereas if the orange goes by, and I don’t address it, I let it just slip by, I’m like, I’m not even going there today. Then what happens is the oranges back up at the end of the conveyor belt, until I have a jam. Right? And so what they say in meditation, which I so love, is give it a gentle kiss. When you have a thought, give it a gentle kiss that gentle kiss of sticker on Orange, right? Acknowledge the thought, acknowledge that it’s happening. Practice self compassion in the moment, and reframe or move past the thought as quickly as you can. That way, you’re not beating yourself up in a way that harms you harms your clients or harms your work. But you’re also not stuffing it so much that eventually one day, you’re going to have a really big blowout.

Amber Hawley 46:05
I love that. Thank you so much. I knew before we hit record, I was like, dammit, we cannot talk beforehand, because I knew that we would if we had recorded this whole hour, it would have been amazing. But next time gadget, but yeah, exactly. I know. I was like, but life but life happens. So any was on the podcast before and shared her actual, you know, expertise and prowess. And we will link in the shownotes to her other episode because it really is fantastic. And she has done a guest training in my membership that people just absolutely loved. And I refer to it all the time when new members come in. I’m like, Okay, go check out that one because it’s so valuable. Talking about sales buyer types. Yeah. So, obviously, what I love about you too, is that you, you know, you’re you’re acknowledging all of these things, and you’re also this amazing, super talented business owner. So can you tell everybody just right now like what’s going on? What what are you what’s out there for you what what they should be aware of when they want to find out more about you.

Annie Ruggles 47:06
As you are in a podcast player right now and you would like to stay in a podcast player then just head on over to to legitimate to quit my show, which is instantly actionable small business strategies with a pop culture spin. And if you don’t know where to start find my episode with Amber where we talk about all things mental. And so I Married an Axe Murderer. I also have a book project available all over the internet right now. It’s only a few weeks old at point of release called the coach who would not sell so if you identify as a coach with sales avoidance, make sure you grab your free copy at

Amber Hawley 47:46
I’m telling you people, it is fantastic. She you are so great at breaking things down for people. So we have to go Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. And this has been super helpful.

Annie Ruggles 47:56
I love you. I love your brain. Thank you for having me

Transcribed by

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