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For All Abilities

Jan 20, 2020

For All Abilities – The Podcast Episode Four - Will Wheeler Living Well With Dyslexia 


In this episode, I interview Will Wheeler of The Dyslexic Evolution. We discuss the challenge of dyslexia, his struggles in school and work and his ultimate use of dyslexia as his super power that allowed him to start The Dyslexic Evolution and write a book! 

To connect with Will, please go to the or follow him on LinkedIn (Will Wheeler), Instagram @thedyslexicevolution or Twitter @thedyslexicevolution

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Please follow me on Instagram @forallabilities, LinkedIn (Betsy Furler) and on Facebook (For All Abilities). Go to our website for information on our software that enables employers to support their employees with ADHD, Dyslexia, Learning Differences and Autism.

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Transcription of Episode Four with Will Wheeler


Unknown Speaker  0:05  

Hi, everybody, and welcome to for all abilities. I have another special guest today. I want everyone to meet Will Wheeler. And he is talking to us from Australia and it is four o'clock in the morning has time. I cannot believe you're doing this at four o'clock in the morning. Well, I feel so honored that you would you would take valuable sleep time to talk to me. So welcome.


Unknown Speaker  0:31  

Yes, thank you very much for having me.


Unknown Speaker  0:33  

Yes. And I would like to start just by Why don't you just introduce yourself ahead and tell us what you're doing currently?


Unknown Speaker  0:40  

Yeah. Nice. Thank you. Um, well, so obviously, my name is Will Wheeler. I'm from Australia. And I'm actually the director and founder of a company called the dyslexic evolution and we're all about building the next generation of dyslexic leaders, entrepreneurs and really helping people to develop in careers and really go on to try to achieve great things. So, yeah, look that that's a lot about what I'm doing. And, you know, I think I'm really I get so excited when I speak about dyslexia and, and even, you know, my journey as well and being able to help people to be able to look at themselves differently and go and achieve great things. So that's a little bit about me. So I hope that's helpful.


Unknown Speaker  1:27  

Yeah, so I think we have the same mission.


Unknown Speaker  1:30  

Yeah. Right.


Unknown Speaker  1:32  

Yeah. So I found you on LinkedIn. And


Unknown Speaker  1:36  

I'm welcome dive into more about what you do professionally. But I want to start off with by talking a little bit about your childhood. Yeah. Um, how did you grow up and when were you diagnosed with dyslexia and kind of how did that come about? Yeah,


Unknown Speaker  1:51  

yeah. Yeah. Yes. So look, I you know, I come from a really great family. My parents were very supportive people. And for me, I was the oldest some. So I, I'm assuming when you've got kids and you've got a few kids, the first kid is sort of the test a kid because you haven't had that before. So I guess once I started going to school, you know, it was it was very, very early on that I started to realize, even myself and obviously my teachers and my parents that I was struggling, I just didn't understand what teachers were really trying to teach me. I would get in trouble all the time. And I remember getting in trouble for things that I just had no idea why I was getting in trouble for things. So I think it must have been around about grade four that my parents went and got me tested and It came back that I was dyslexic. Now. I, you know, my parents and my mother especially they really didn't know, I suppose what to do, you know, probably there was this big, taboo around that type of thing to sort of be like, Oh my God, your son's got a disability. And you know what, for me? It was it was an interesting time. But the best thing what my parents would start doing is, is I remember as a kid that always be pointing out to me very famous people who were dyslexic and successful and saying, see that guy there. He's dyslexic. Say that person. They're they're dyslexic. And oh, no, it's a very confusing time for me because I would always think how how have these people been able to achieve what they've been able to achieve? Where I'm here, hitting myself in the head because I can't even understand what the teacher is trying to teach me. So, you know, in those early days it was very it was very confusing and, and and I remember going through a lot of emotional types of things in in certain situations because there were what there are lots of things where I was brilliant at a lot of stuff so back in school I was brilliant at sports and some art and very creative where I then struggled big time in your normal mathematics and English and, and all that type of thing. So it was an interesting time for me back then. And you know, I tell you the truth, thinking back then I never thought I would be at a point that I'm at now and working towards the future. So it was interesting times.


Unknown Speaker  4:58  

Yeah, and that's it. One of my goals for this podcast is to get have some parents listen to the podcast as well. So they if they have a young child that's just been recently diagnosed that they realize it might be hard now, but there's hope and there's a light at the end of the tunnel. Yeah. So what happened? Did you What did you do after you had finished school? Did you go on to university? Did you go into the workforce? What did you do?


Unknown Speaker  5:30  

Yeah, yeah, look, I think and this is a big thing that I share is I'm not sure if it's the same in the United States. But what I found especially when I was in school, that if you fail school, you're you're never going to be able to achieve anything in life. That was something that was really drummed into us in school back in the late 90s. And going into the early 2000s. You know, I actually ended up failing school I got the lowest grade possible out of everyone in our grade. So you know what I left school thinking, Okay, well, I've just failed school. I'm not going to go on to achieve anything. I'm dyslexic, you know, and that's what and that's what I started thinking. I started thinking, you know what, I'm dyslexic. So that makes sense why I found school so I just better get used to being nothing. I've been able to go and achieve really nothing. And for a long time there I I went through a lot of things like depression and all of these things that really just drove me into the ground. So you know, I ended up becoming a huge drug user and I had a big alcohol problem. And you know, that control my life for the best part of almost 10 years. There.


Unknown Speaker  7:01  

You just felt like you couldn't do anything else.


Unknown Speaker  7:04  

Well, to tell you the truth, I didn't realize it at the time it was really, you know, because I probably started using drugs and all that type of stuff in probably towards the end of high school. And what that what that really, you know, the thing that I really enjoyed about it back then was like, I was struggling with depression, but I thought depression would be that I was crying all the time, but I wasn't I just fell down and I didn't realize that was depression. And, and what I would do when I would use, it would just be I just be able to block everything out. So I didn't even have to think about that. Okay, I've failed school. I was struggling in school. I was dyslexic because it just blocked everything. Yeah. And it was like it was like my medicine. So for a long time. It it really controlled my life because I thought that's going to be me for the rest of my life. So, you know, that was a big issue for a long time. And I think, you know, what I did start to find, but once I did get into the workforce, because I just ended up getting just to your normal, you know, warehousing job and nothing against warehousing or anything like that. But I always, I don't know, I always sort of knew that I could go on and do better stuff. But because I was told that I, if you fail school, you're never going to go onto anything. I had that there. And I and I believed it for such a long time, which held me back.


Unknown Speaker  8:51  

You didn't realize you didn't. You didn't know how to use your strength.


Unknown Speaker  8:54  

Yeah, well, no, not at that point. And it was interesting because people would say to me Hey will, you know especially once I got into the workforce because I started to be able to do things differently, I started to be able to progress a lot differently to others and do task differently because I had to because I was dyslexic. So so what I found was, people would start seeing me doing things that I started progress pretty quick in my career in warehousing and really made my way up the chain really quick. And I used to have people come to me on my god will, it blows me away as a young kid your age is doing what you're doing. And you know what, even when people used to tell me that I still would be like, Yeah, but I'm dyslexic. I'm never going to get any further than this. And so I was my own worst enemy for a long time there and I suppose it until it got to a point where Someone actually told me that I would never achieve anything in life. And I'd always be the same and really, I suppose rips my heart out. I that was that was the coal opcon to go, you know what I'm going to make change and I'm going to prove to myself how good I really am. So sometimes it takes bad to turn into something good. And then that's when I started to develop from that.


Unknown Speaker  10:27  

Wow, so do you think in the warehouse Job did you have a manager or someone who really believed in you thought you were doing a good job? Like how how did you how did you start? Kind of rising up? You know, going up the chain there?


Unknown Speaker  10:44  

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, I did. I did have a boss who. He was a he was a nice guy, but I tell you what he was he was tough. He was like, I look at his leadership style, and I don't know how Call it leadership style, but I look at it now that I see so many flaws to to what he used to do, which is quite negative, but he did believe in me and he did give me opportunities to rise. So I do take my hat off to that, but there were many occasions where I look back at it now and I'm like, Oh my god, I can't believe that person would do that. So you know he he did give me good opportunities but he was stuck in that old school way of you know, you work hard for your money and if you're not working you go sweep the floor and you know, there was none of this this day and age like, you know, it's like his way or the highway type of thing. So it way completely different thing. But you know what, I got to a point working there, and I found that I thought, you know what, I'm going to Take that next leap, and see if I can actually really try and do something with myself now. So yeah, it was that and that's probably like around the bat. I was dead from about 2000 to about 2007 2008. Um, and then I just had to get away from it because it I just felt like I needed a change.


Unknown Speaker  12:26  

Uh huh.


Unknown Speaker  12:29  

So yeah, it was it was it was interesting times.


Unknown Speaker  12:33  

So what did you do after that?


Unknown Speaker  12:35  

Well, for me, I really, you know, that was when Pete that was when someone really said to me that I was never going to change. I was afraid of change, and I'd always be the same. So it, it sort of it sort of made me you know, think okay, you know, all these people are telling me so many great things about how good I am and all the This type of stuff, you know, I really need to maybe try and change what I'm currently doing. So, you know, I was still, you know, partying really hard. I found that I was that was probably holding me back. So I was like, You know what, I just need to get away from everything. So for me, I just went, you know, I'm going to sell everything. I'm going to pack everything up and I'm going to move overseas. Now before that, you know, my parents are fantastic, but I was still relying on my parents for so many things like they would tell me when I'd have a bill I needed to pay. They would tell Wow, do you know what I mean? I will check your mail today and you've got this or, or what I even still I wasn't even living at home but my mail was still going to my parents house. And you know, it was just like I had never had to really stand on my own two feet. And by moving overseas, so I moved to the UK for two years. It was sort of like okay, I know nobody there. If I have a problem, I can't rely on my parents who I can run to. So what it started to do I was starting to actually you know, think on my own two feet having to deal with life myself and not have to rely on other people. And that was where I really started to develop and and another really interesting thing that I started to learn was that you know, people did like who I was, I was a cool person and you know, I have this great thing of being able to connect with people and and build relationships really fast and people do look up to me type of thing. So I lacked a lot of things, but probably the biggest thing that I learned was I was over in the UK was that, yeah, I did struggle with a lot of stuff. And I was dyslexic, but I just started to develop, you know, to do so many other things. And it was over their head that I actually was able to teach myself to read better. And that was because when you're a backpacker, or whatever that is, you're so poor. It's so hard to go out and, you know, do things every day. So I would be at home and I would hear about books that people wouldn't be reading and I just went, you know what, I'm going to just try and read this book because I there was this the book scar tissue for the Anthony Kiedis from the Red Hot Chili Peppers biography, and I heard everyone talking about it. I'm like, Man, I wish I wasn't dyslexic so I could read this book. And I you know what? I just got to a point where I just grabbed the book sat down, and I had a rule That if I couldn't pronounce a word, I could not turn the page until I got that word, right, because I had a lot of time on my hands because I couldn't afford to do anything. And you know what, what I found was that I would finish a page and I understood it. I would then finish a chapter and I understood it. And then I was finishing another chapter in another chapter. And I'm like, Oh, my God, I'm getting this because usually, I would read a book and I'd be in one ear out the other, I'd have no idea what it was about. And I ended up finishing the book. And now I know that doesn't sound like much, but that was the first book I ever completed from beginning to end and our thoughts myself, I'm like, Oh, my God, this is amazing. I never thought I'd do that. And people like looking at me like, okay, yeah, right. But to me, that was a real turning point. Because I had achieved something that I never thought I'd be able to achieve ever. And it was it that was a big turning point as well, because I started to think, hey, look, if I can do something that I once thought I was never gonna be able to do. What else can I do?


Unknown Speaker  17:18  

So I like opened up your mindset to every everything else in the world. Yeah, I can read this. I can, you know, we everything else, which means I can do everything else. I'm sure I mean, it just that I can imagine that was huge for you.


Unknown Speaker  17:34  

Yeah, it was and it was sort of like, and I remember even sitting at the place I was living at at the time, because I knew I was getting ready to come back to Australia. And I was I remember sitting there and I'm thinking, Okay, you know, you've had a good couple of years away from home. You know, you've really got to start thinking about where do you want your career to go because I remember saying to myself, Self before I left to go to the UK, is that I want to make something of myself I want to use the time that I spend overseas to learn about myself and then come back to Australia and really build a career and really build something that people are going to, you know, really look up to type of things. So it was a time where I was like, Okay, well, now I'm coming back to Australia. What am I going to do? Maybe I should do some study because now I can actually read you know, maybe I struggle with writing and punctuation and all that type of stuff. But let's give it a go and see what happens. So yeah, that was that was interesting in that point, and then obviously, you know, I went on and did you know a lot of study and all that and it was just amazing within probably about a year and a half. I done Study and I was doing all these amazing things in my career just started to flourish. And I would start to win awards for what I was doing. And I was running rings around people who'd been doing what I this viewed these new jobs and what I was doing for about five years and I was running rings around these people. I'm thinking, this is only the beginning and imagine what I could be doing in in a few years time. So yeah, definitely my career really flourished once I really applied myself so it was interesting times.


Unknown Speaker  19:37  

Yeah, so So currently, do you. You run your business and do you do anything else? Do you work for anybody else or you're completely running your own business?


Unknown Speaker  19:49  

Yeah, look,


Unknown Speaker  19:50  

I'm probably with what I'm doing. You know, no one else does what I'm doing in the world you know, you cannot find a place That is solely about dyslexic leadership. And that's fantastic because I've tried to look before and I have never seen it. Yeah.


Unknown Speaker  20:13  

It's very rare, right?


Unknown Speaker  20:14  

Yeah, definitely. So you know, it's, it is very new and here in Australia, it's the whole neuro diversity, I suppose movement. It is still only at the early stages. So you know what Tizen is really leading the way. And it was actually interesting to yesterday, I was actually speaking at a conference and I was actually speaking with the I was sharing the stage with the, the doctor who actually invented the term neuro diversity. So you know, for me, I'm now up there sharing my story and what my company does with wealth. Renowned doctors now so you know,


Unknown Speaker  21:02  

that's amazing.


Unknown Speaker  21:04  

Yeah, it is, is pretty cool. I still have to pinch myself but here in Australia where we're really working hard on really building that, you know, really building that following around neurodiversity, because it's not even Australia. I do and you know, I'm connected with people all over the world. And


Unknown Speaker  21:26  

it's Yeah, it's I would say it's I said, I would say the climate is the same here in the US where Autism is really gaining traction. Yeah, definitely. Really the bringing light to neuro diversity in general. Yeah, yeah. We have a long way to go though. Yeah,


Unknown Speaker  21:44  

it is. It is. There's a and it is it's like that everywhere. But you know what the cool thing about it is, it is changing and what's going to happen it was actually interesting speaking with and her name's Dr. Judy singer. It was that actually interesting because when she came up with the word, it was more about trying to create a movement that was away from disability. And because, you know, a lot of people who do have neurodiverse who are neurodiverse and neurodivergent, sorry, they don't define themselves as having a disability. You know, you know, you know, for me, I'm probably back when I, you know, was in school and, you know, for years there after school, yeah, maybe I did probably see myself as a disability had I had a disability, but that was because that was what everyone was telling me in school. But now I'm able to go and do all these amazing things and inspire people. No, I don't have a dis I don't feel like I have a disability. I have probably more abilities to go in the right thing. So it's actually in thing but yeah, where it's definitely changing. It's just taking time and I think a lot of that is based around educating neurotypical people about probably the advantages to it,


Unknown Speaker  23:14  

rather than the negatives to it.


Unknown Speaker  23:17  

Right, right. Although I don't know their that that. I don't know that they're really that many neurotypical people out in the world. They're just some of us that fit in that box in a little bit more traditional way, I think.


Unknown Speaker  23:30  

Yeah, yeah.


Unknown Speaker  23:33  

You know, as you know, I'm very passionate about people being celebrated for their strengths and, and being able to use their strengths, to their to their advantage and to the world's advantage. I think our world allowed everyone to work to their strengths, rather than being constantly judged on and trying to build up your weaknesses. Yeah, world would be such a better place everybody would be happy, more valued, and Everybody would be more productive. Because, you know, there are some things that I can do, but I'm not really very good at. And when I try to do those things, I'm just not very productive. You know, I can, I can get it done. But it's not necessarily done well. And it's not playing to my strengths.


Unknown Speaker  24:21  

Yeah, definitely. Yeah.


Unknown Speaker  24:23  

It's it for all of us. It's, you know, if we can do the things that we're really strong at, and we just get so much more accomplished, and we're happier and life is just so much. Living life is better when you're doing it with your strikes.


Unknown Speaker  24:38  

Yeah, definitely. Definitely. And, you know, I think this is where a lot of employers are really missing the mark. They, what I'm finding is a lot of employers just don't understand like out here that someone may be neurodiverse and straight away that going into the other I don't know box like, Oh my god, what what's going on, you know, this person won't be able to do this, okay? That That means that they're going to be they're going to cost us more money than what they're going to make. But you know, that's, that's so wrong in so many ways because you know, once people are put into a situation where they can work to their strengths, so if they're neurodiverse, a lot of their strengths are actually a lot stronger than other people's strengths because they that's what they're brilliant at doing and that's what defines them. And a lot of the time people are being put into situations where they can't prove who they are. So people straight away, put them into that category going, Okay, well, they can't do that. We can't really help them to progress or whatever. And you know, their careers go more Really in the wrong direction because of that.


Unknown Speaker  26:02  

Right, right. And it's a, you know, it's a waste of that employers time and that employees time and waste of money with all the really needless trying to cram a space square peg into a round hole.


Unknown Speaker  26:22  

Yeah, just


Unknown Speaker  26:24  

as, as opposed to


Unknown Speaker  26:28  

using someone to their ability, and I've even heard of situations I was consulting on this one case, and they brought me in as a consultant. And this woman was telling me how they she had this great employee and he was so good at his job and on and on and on. And she said, except he's really bad at taking notes. And I said, Well, what does he taking notes on? And she said, Well, he's assigned as the note taker for the team.


Unknown Speaker  26:55  

Oh my god,


Unknown Speaker  26:57  

and he has dyslexia. Oh my god. Got your solution?


Unknown Speaker  27:01  



Unknown Speaker  27:03  

find somebody else to be the name.


Unknown Speaker  27:05  

But also to, it doesn't necessarily have to be that someone else needs to be the note taker, there's actually programs that he can put out there so much. You know, and


Unknown Speaker  27:18  

that's why I was asking, Why is he taking notes? Because if he needs to take notes, you know, we have apps for that, right? We are different apps and other tech tools are so much out there that, that I can suggest a supports. But if he doesn't need to be taking notes for the team, if, you know, it's like, Don't make him do that. Like, it's something that's like, they're very most difficult thing. Yeah, definitely. Be that creative graphic artists that he has.


Unknown Speaker  27:50  

Yeah, definitely. Definitely. Definitely.


Unknown Speaker  27:54  

Well, well, thank you. This was so interesting, and I want you to tell my audience How they can keep in touch with you, you mentioned that you've written a book and or you're in the process. So tell us about that and how people can keep in touch with you and learn more about your organization and all of that.


Unknown Speaker  28:16  

Yeah, great. Um, so yeah, look, um, it's really funny. I never thought in a million years that I would have ever thought I'd write a book, but you know what, I've I'm almost finishing writing my first book, the book of dyslexic motivation and pitches. And you know, and it was really funny people say it's really hard to write a book, but I've actually found it quite easy. It's just my spelling and grammar probably isn't the best but you know, I work my girlfriend, she's fantastic. And she looks at a lot of my stuff and I use a lot of tools to be able to help me through it, but, you know, I was been able to finish the bulk of up to the last chapter. Now and then I've gotta go through editors all that but it should be at probably in maybe early 2020 I'm hoping for. I just want to make sure it's right. And it's going to probably be in paperback and it will be digital as well. So, if you are dyslexic you can actually have it read back to you. Right? Yeah, yeah, definitely. So also too. I have my podcast the the dyslexic professional podcast. There's only a few episodes on there at the moment and I'm pretty sure that's available on iTunes Spotify can't even remember the rest but


Unknown Speaker  29:46  

yeah, all those places where do you listen to your podcast? Yeah, yeah,


Unknown Speaker  29:49  

yeah, exactly. I'm pretty sure you could go on to our website, the dyslexic evolution calm and access the podcast from that, plus Please subscribe to our website or like for follow our social media pages.


Unknown Speaker  30:06  

Awesome. Well, it has been a pleasure talking to you today. Thank you so much for sharing your super interesting story. I know it's gonna motivate a lot of people and help give hope to a lot of people and their parents. Right. You Thank you. Well,


Unknown Speaker  30:23  

thank you very happy.


Unknown Speaker  30:26  

And I look forward to I'm going back to bed. Yeah.


Unknown Speaker  30:33  

Yeah, that it's amazing. It's in the middle, and I would still consider it the middle of the night.


Unknown Speaker  30:39  

Yeah, well, I haven't even really been to sleep yet. I was so like, I had a big day today at this conference. And I was like, you know, I'm just gonna have a bit of a nap and then I'll talk to you then I'll go to bed.


Unknown Speaker  30:52  

Yes, well, good night.


Unknown Speaker  30:54  

Yes. Thank you very much.


Unknown Speaker  30:57  

Thanks so much for joining me,


Unknown Speaker  30:58  

no problem. Thank you.


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