If you’d like to listen to or watch our interview with Nik, the episode is available on YouTube, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts.
- Nik's Journey with ADHD: Nik discussed his personal experience with ADHD, including his diagnosis and how it has shaped his understanding of himself and his approach to life.
- Content Creation for ADHD Awareness: Nik talked about creating content related to ADHD, highlighting the challenges and the need for a niche focus in the highly competitive field of content creation.
- The Role of a Scientific Team: He mentioned the importance of his scientific team in his work, helping him to create accurate and informative content about ADHD.
- Personal Well-Being and Productivity: Nik emphasized the balance between mental well-being and productivity, critiquing the extremes of hustle culture and advocating for working in harmony with one's neurodivergent traits.
- Future Plans and Projects: Nik shared his future goals, including continuing to build on his existing content, raising more awareness about ADHD, and possibly writing a book if he feels mentally prepared for it. He also mentioned his ADHD Achievers newsletter as a resource for people interested in following his work.
Beaux: Hi, and welcome to Brainstorm Changemakers by Tiimo! In this series, we're talking to experts, activists, and movers who are shaking things up in the neurodivergent space. My name is Beaux, my pronouns are they/them, and I’m the Inclusion and Belonging Lead at Tiimo, a Danish neuroinclusion company that gives people the planning power to take charge of their daily lives.
Today, I have with me Nik Hobrecker. Nik is the founder of ADHD Vision, which is a global movement aimed at increasing productivity and self-awareness for neurodivergent people that don't want to sacrifice their mental well-being. With over 200 million views worldwide over the last two years, Nik has built a loyal following of people who are inspired to live their best lives with their brain. Hi, Nik. We are so happy to have you! I would love if you tell us just a little bit about yourself.
Nik: Sure. So, first of all, thank you so much for having me. Delighted to be on this Changemaker series podcast; it means a lot to me. My name is Nik. I'm 25 years old. I got diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 19 in college. You know, we have a very similar upbringing, as we discussed earlier. We both, um, I was raised internationally, raised in Germany in the beginning, and then for seven years, I moved to Dubai. And I studied entrepreneurship in college. I always had a calling towards entrepreneurship. If that was ADHD related or not, I'm not sure, but probably was. And yeah, then I started a pretty successful career in sales.
I moved to London after college and I got promoted like four times within three years. I'm like, "Is this me? Is this my brain? You know, what's happening here?" At this point, I was already diagnosed with ADHD. I went through therapy when I was in college, I should mention, before, which is when I got the diagnosis and know my whole world explained itself to me in that one moment.
So many questions answered. You know, thank you so much to everybody that had literature back in the day that I could read, you know, Dr. Ned Hallowell, Dale Archer, you know, really the key figures over time for ADHD. And yeah, then whilst I was in sales, I actually started creating content about ADHD, actually already started in college on YouTube, but this was a bit more of a lower quality production. I put a lot of time into it, didn't even show my face, had a little character called Bob who was on the screen kind of waving or like an animated character. And then at some point, I was just like, 'Listen, I think I can reach a lot more people, spread awareness about ADHD, and teach them how to thrive with it like I did if I show my face.' I did that and during that time, a little app called TikTok made its first appearance, which then also obviously helped reach more people. We then grew to, you know, over 2 million followers on all platforms where we are now within just under two years. And yeah, I'm pleased to say that a lot of people, you know, relate with the content. I'm grateful to all the feedback that I'm getting.
And yeah, now I'm a full-time content entrepreneur and trying my best to educate people on ADHD. You know, I've got my own scientific team in the background, always fact-checking and making sure I don't impulsively make videos about something that I want to, you know, that's not science-related. And yeah, I just also share my own experience. You know, I think there's a lot of things behind the label ADHD that don't get talked about enough. And, you know, I've got this life lesson series of mine where I talk about how certain symptoms impact your life and you know, what I've learned over the last six, seven years to help counteract that, to help thrive with ADHD. So that's me in a nutshell, if that's a nutshell answer. But that's definitely.
Beaux: Awesome. Yeah, you also shared, you know, that when you got your diagnosis, that kind of like explained so much about you. And I'm wondering, what actually helped you figure out that you're neurodivergent and what made you seek out a diagnosis?
Nik: Great question. I always felt, and you know, it's such a cliche saying nowadays, but I really did feel like I was different from a lot of people in school. A lot of people didn't really weren't on the same wavelength that I was on. You know, I felt like I was always two steps ahead or two steps behind. And I had a few people that I related with. Turns out they, you know, usually also had ADHD because we're just on that same level. And then, you know, I didn't know what it was. I just didn't know what it was. It was an open question mark for me, which is when I decided to seek therapy, you know, within the second or third session, I don't really remember that well. But that is when the ADHD question came up from the therapist, and I was like, 'Well, this sounds interesting.' She gave me a book which I just devoured. Right? The only time you can read a book with ADHD is when you're interested. And I devoured this book. It was gone. And within, then I finished it within like a week. And all questions answered. At that point, you know, I ended up going to a psychiatrist, got my official diagnosis that way. In Germany, you know, ADHD wasn't that big of a topic back then. Nowadays, we're slowly getting there.
Beaux: Yes. And yeah, what was that diagnosis process in Germany like? What are the hoops that you kind of have to jump through?
Nik: Yeah, it's not easy, but it wasn't hard for me. I was very fortunate that I had access to a very good therapist who knew what she was talking about. And, you know, like I said, after the third session, it was already suspected that I have ADHD. So, you know, it was first seeing the therapist, her referring me to a psychiatrist who then gave me a long questionnaire with behaviors that, you know, again, every single behavior was just describing my life. My partner at the time also got one, so I was evaluated by her. I evaluated myself. We went back, we had a talk for about 60 minutes, which is when I got the official diagnosis.
Beaux: Okay, cool. And what would you say the overall neurodivergent landscape in Germany looks like? You know, you said that we're working on the language and kind of the acceptance of neurodivergent diagnoses, but how does it compare to maybe the US or the UK, who are maybe a bit ahead?
Nik: Yeah, it's interesting. I'm, you know, I can't speak too much on the German diagnosis. Obviously, I did get one, but ever since then, I've been traveling, you know, and my content mainly reaches English-speaking countries. Right. You've mentioned the US, the UK, where everything is a lot more at the forefront. You know, it's talked about more, and in Germany, I did get the feeling that it wasn't talked about as much, there wasn't that much in the media. But nowadays, you know, you've got some German shows that recently got sent a few clips from people who are now actively talking about their ADHD right on these shows. So I think we've just started, and I was, I think, very fortunate enough to be part of this big movement that's happened over these last few years where people are just more mentally, or more aware of their mental health. Want to talk about it more and are just really, you know, courageous as well for being so open. And obviously, social media provides a perfect platform to do that. So I think we're getting there in Germany, that's for sure.
Beaux: You talked a bit about how your audience is mainly in English-speaking countries. Have you ever created any content in German? And also, is there language to talk about neurodiversity and affirming ways in German?
Nik: Oh, for sure. So I think, you know, I just recently I was at the airport in Hamburg and I saw a book from a German book about ADHD, ADHD in adulthood. And I was, I thought it was quite awesome because it was literally in a bookstore, one of the first books. So it really shows that, you know, the topic has reached German minds, it's reached the culture and do I want to ever create content in German? 100,000%. I think my content, you know, in English obviously can reach a similar amount of people in German. But my goal is just to raise as much awareness and help as many people as possible. And, you know, seeing as German is, or sorry, English is the kind of world language and I can reach, you know, maybe even a billion people with within with the English language, it's the reason for why I'm sticking to English at the moment. I do always get people in my DMs or in the comments, you know, and asking me things in German where obviously I respond in German. But yeah, it really comes down to the possible reach that you can have, the amount of people that you can reach with, with the content, you know, you know?
Beaux: Absolutely. Yeah. You talked a bit about, you know, Bob back in the days and you're not showing your face too. How, how, how has your content changed since you were diagnosed?
Nik: It’s changed so much, really for the better. I mean, looking back at the content I used to make, I'm obviously still very proud of it and it's always very humbling to watch it because, you know, I've come a long way since. I still stand behind everything I've said back then. That was just, you know, a bit too simplified, I think. So now, nowadays, you know, I read a plethora of books on the subject and, you know, I talk with a lot of experts and it's just with ADHD, there's no one size fits all answer. And so everybody has different versions of it, you know, and it's just important to be mindful of the fact that detail also helps when creating or when trying to help people.
So, for instance, in these life lessons that I do, they’re only 60 seconds long, but I really try to, you know, look at ADHD from the top and then kind of very quickly dissect what the main problem is, right. And then what the solution is. So my goal is to create 50 life lessons. These 50 life lessons, I think in my head are already there. If I should ever write a book, that is the first book that I will write, the 50 ADHD life lessons, because I think there's just so much to talk about in regards to ADHD. It's not just, you know, it can be as simple as, you know, you should exercise more, you should eat the right food, of course. But when it comes to daily struggles, everybody has a different environment that they're in, right? So to really reach people and to show that, you know, they are not alone, it does take some kind of it takes a bit of analytical brain work to get there. So I really love I'm a real nerd about ADHD. That's what I’m trying to say.
Beaux: Hence your science team as well. Do you think, do you think you found neurodivergent communities through your content creation? And if not, where have you found your neurodivergent community?
Nik: Yeah, I mean it’s the most awesome community ever out there. The one that I have is so validating and, you know, just also for me. I'm not just making this for other people. For me, it's incredibly gratifying to read the comments on my posts, seeing people relate to this. I do these life lessons based on my own experience. Having people relate to them is one of the main reasons I do what I do. It's what gets me up in the morning and motivates me to keep going, especially my ADHD brain.
Beaux: Yes, absolutely. Tell us a bit more about ADHD Vision and the spark that created that world.
Nik: Yeah. The name came quite randomly, as it usually is the case for content creators. You know, like Smosh, Equals Three back in the day, they had these random sparks. I'm not comparing myself to these big accounts, but just trying to say that everyone has this moment of, 'Yeah, that's the name.' For me, ADHD Vision is two-fold. Firstly, there's a vision for ADHD, a mountain that everyone with ADHD can climb with the right tools. That's why the logo is like this mountain peak. Secondly, it's about the way you see the world with ADHD. It's not just about being distracted. It's a whole different way of seeing the world, which often the media and people without ADHD don't pick up on.
Beaux: Yes, awesome, cool. And, you know, what are the benefits of being a content entrepreneur, being your own boss? And what are some of the downsides?
Nik: Definitely, there are a lot of upsides, but also a few downsides. Deciding to become my own boss was the most liberating thing ever. When you have ADHD, putting yourself in a box and trying to fight with someone else to get your ideas across can be limiting. You shut down and don't produce your best work. What I've found is that you need to authentically live your freedom. Content creation does that for me. I can create content about my ideas within three days, which works well for my brain. But it's not easy. I haven't taken days off for two years. Recently, it was the first week I took off from content. I'm always thinking about it. As Dr. Hallowell says, 'We've got a Ferrari brain with really bad brakes.' That's one of the issues, finding how to put on those brakes sometimes. Fortunately, I've got an amazing team around me, Dani, Janine, who help me get organized and build up this toolkit of helpful resources for people with ADHD.
Beaux: I'm also wondering how you and your team come up with ideas for content. Is it mostly inspired by your own lived experience, or have you run out of ideas in that regard?
Nik: The nice thing about our brain, Beaux, is that we never run out of ideas. That's one of the main benefits of having ADHD, this constant creativity. I find myself coming up with content late at night. I'm positively obsessed with these niche behaviors about ADHD. We come up with content by first having a theory. I ask the scientific team if it could be correct. We look at existing studies in the field to help prove that theory. For example, we had a big video on TikTok about listening to the same song on repeat with ADHD. It got like 10 million views. The reason for that is studies show when people listen to their favorite song, it produces a lot of dopamine. And it's not just about the dopamine production. It's about the anticipation before your favorite part of the song. For us, dopamine is everything. It's an easy and predictable way to boost mood or motivation naturally and immediately. We also cited other studies on theta waves and how they make you calmer. So, we look at big topics on social media and explain them scientifically. That gives more backbone to it because everybody nowadays just thinks, 'Yeah, we all have ADHD, right?' We don't want to stigmatize ADHD or tell everybody they have it. We want to show them through structure and entertainment why this symptom is linked to ADHD.
Beaux: I like that, too. It also makes research accessible for folks who don't have the capacity to focus on like a 20-page research document. So I really like that as well.
Nik: And I can't either. I can't either, Beaux, you know, that's why I've got my team and they summarize it greatly. You know, we've got Claire Sawyer who is working with us and she does a great job, and yeah, I couldn't do it without them because honestly, research is great. You know, we have to give the utmost praise to all the scientists out there, but it's very difficult to access for the average person with ADHD. So that's why, you know, instead of writing a book, I prefer to create short-form content that can easily be consumed for the ADHD brain, basically.
Beaux: Excellent. Yeah. Also, I'm wondering what a day in the life for you looks like.
Nik: Oh, very boring.
Beaux: How do you. Yeah, how do you structure your day to be friendly to your brain?
Nik: Yeah, boring. People always think I have these crazy days, you know that I’m always traveling. I am always traveling, right, so I do need this novelty to help me stay inspired and motivated. Right now I’m in Cyprus, um, you know beginning of the year I was in Thailand, um these are places that are incredibly beautiful and I love the videos that we can shoot there and it just also gives you different perspectives and, you know, I need that so my brain always needs this touch of novelty um, like overarchingly within a year, you know with like five, six different destinations and then also daily.
So what I like to do is, I always like to stay on top of new ideas. You know, there’s always I don’t only want to make my life about ADHD because we are all more than just our ADHD. So what I like to do um, you know, I shut off after 5 pm. I close my laptop, no more ADHD-ness from that point onwards. And then I read a book, right, about something completely different. So my favorite movie of all time is Interstellar and um I recently started a book called The Science Behind Interstellar where he actually explains so this was the person who had the idea for this whole movie who got Christopher Nolan the director involved. And, for me, that’s a beautiful escape you know but it’s also something completely new. You know, physics. Um, it’s just quantum physics is the word I was looking for. Um, it’s something completely new, completely different from what I do and I need that you know.
But day to day, going through my day from A to Z would be. Wake up, try to get a workout in, you know go for like a short run out in nature if I can. Get sunlight in my eyes for the first hour after waking up you know, go outside. I then plan my day. I have different productivity tools like Sidekick Browser, you know, where I’ve got a nice little list I can go through of what needs to be done. I don’t plan in too many things cuz that’ll get me overwhelmed, I like to prioritize my top three things and then I just start. You know, I go with the flow. I try to do the most difficult thing first, usually that’s a workout, right? Because my brain just wants to do what it wants to do. But I found having goals next to you at all times throughout the day, like on your browser for example, and Sidekick Browser is something I can really recommend you know this is not sponsored or anything. Um, but it’s a great tool for entrepreneurs and um, you know just having that on the side always keeping you on track is something I found that helps as well.
Food-wise I like to keep it high-protein, right. So I don’t like cooking, I feel like I know people like it, I don’t. Um, I try to I try my best to do meal prep, right. And I also have different services that um send me meals, right. High in protein, complex carbohydrates, just you know to really keep my brain on the level that it needs to be. I don’t take medication because it’s very important for me. Um and then I usually get another workout in after lunch where my brain kind of dips. So this is when I go to the gym, you know, have a bit of a harder session and then you know that workout provides me with energy for four hours after that. I sometimes have to be careful that I don’t overdo it with the workout because then I can’t sleep. Sometimes my brain goes so haywire in the gym. I just keep, you know, trying to up myself and I’m very competitive in that way and I realize that’s also my ADHD. Um, but there’s nothing better than being competitive with yourself. You know. So um, I know I kind of jumped through all the I kind of jumped from place to place to place with that answer but I hope that kind of helps.
Beaux: Absolutely. Yeah. And do you have any advice for neurodivergent folks that maybe want to get into content creation? How do you get started?
Nik: Yeah, it's a great question and I think it's a great opportunity nowadays to be able to get into content creation. And I think it's a very ADHD-friendly job or occupation because, you know, you're your own boss. We need that freedom, like I said, and you can be very creative. It's just difficult in a certain sense because you first need to build something up. So, I didn't make the jump out of my full-time job until I was quite comfortable, you know, financially. And then, you know, once you're at that point, you need to really have systems in place to help you sustain your income because as a content creator nowadays, with TikTok, Instagram, everything changes from day to day. You know, the TikTok Creator fund doesn't pay as well as people might think. YouTube ad revenue, YouTube is a whole different game, right? And to really put in a lot of effort for the content. So, my advice would be to just be aware of the fact that it's very fun, but that everybody wants to do it right now. So you're really going to have to find your niche and keep going from there.
Beaux: So in the age of hustle culture, I'm wondering how you think about the intersection of mental wellbeing and being productive and also how you feature both in your content?
Nik: Yes, I think it's important to not praise hustle culture too much. I think it's a great tool to get motivated and to get inspired. But at the same time, hustle culture gave rise to this whole mental health movement in my eyes because a lot of people felt like they couldn't be themselves. You know, they had to suppress their emotions to get to this ultimate destination, whether that's money, success, happiness. You know, I learned that the journey is the destination, right? So having fun on that journey, being yourself is where it's at. And, you know, working with your brain and not against it. We can't force ourselves to concentrate with ADHD. We can't force ourselves to do a lot of things. But once we discover authentically what we live for and we follow that path, that's where we have abundant energy, you know? So I think hustle culture should come after discovering who you are, what you want to be, and following those interest-based paths instead of just money. Because for us, that's going to lead to burnout, you know?
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