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For All Abilities

Mar 30, 2020

On this episode, I interview Will Manzanares - speaker and writer  On the podcast, Will talks about his recently published book “I Can’t Read” about his life with dyslexia. 


To connect with Will, please follow him on LinkedIn (William Manzanares) or on his website at His book is available on Amazon in paperback form, Audible audiobook and for Kindle. I Can't Read: A Guide to Success Through Failure


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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Full Transcription from




Betsy Furler  0:05  

Welcome back to for all abilities, the podcast. Thank you so much for tuning in. And I hope this podcast helps you understand all of the amazing differences we all have, and how valuable those differences are. Please subscribe rate and review the podcast anywhere you're listening to it. Today I have a special guest will I'm going to have him tell you his last name because I cannot remember people's names from one moment to the next. I'm so terrible and I've butchered so many podcasts, guests names. So I just decided I'm going to have them introduce themselves. And we'll his written a book about his journey with a reading disorder. And he's going to tell us all about it. So welcome to the podcast. Well,


William  0:55  

hey, thanks for having me. Yeah, I'm William man's nurse. The Fourth, I hated spelling out my name in preschool because I have a long last name. But to that I like to go by will. And yeah, I'm I'm glad you could have me on the show. I think you're doing a great thing to raise awareness for those with learning differences. And I did recently publish, I can't read a guide to success to failure. And the great part is I do have that slash through it because you You and I are having the conversation prior to the show about is it I read or is it


Betsy Furler  1:32  

Yeah, when I was looking at I was like, Oh, I don't know how to. I don't know how to tell my listeners about the name of this book. But I think it's a great title. The front cover looks fantastic. I was meant to tell you that earlier when we were talking. I love the whoever you had to the graphic design, they did a great job or you did it yourself. It looks fantastic. And I would love for you to tell us A little bit about yourself. So let's start at the beginning when you were a little boy. So what were you like as a child in, you know, preschool elementary school.


William  2:11  

I was really creative in preschool. And I remember hating kindergarten, because that's when you first half to start reading. I didn't know I was different till I got to the first grade. And then didn't really pay much attention to it till you know my mom said they wanted to hold me back was the second grade that I realized I had an issue because the second grade teacher her first year of teaching put me back in first grade reading. So I'm a second grader in first grade reading. So I've already started filling that less than less than in the tournament holding back but I remember crying because we were taught in first grade. I remember the teacher I don't know how I remember this, but it was part of that for thinking is we're going to be the class of 2000. So I thought that meant something big millennium. I didn't know what any of that words meant, but I knew something big so I need to be out of it. So my Mom never held me back.


Unknown Speaker  3:02  

But oh my god.


William  3:05  

Yes. Which now I look back 20 years. Oh,


where did they all go?


Betsy Furler  3:11  

I know Time flies so fast as a whole amazing though that your mom thought to do that. I mean that I think that is really important.


William  3:19  

I mean, people ask and we met integrate. If people are on Facebook, there's so many great dyslexia and learning difference and they say disabilities, I always like to call it a difference. Ages and that's how we met and you have to find people like you to feel normal, I guess is the word and that's the word that gets thrown around a lot. If you're dyslexic is it's not normal, or, and I hope that I can erase that stigma. And I'll go with my personal side when I was the ages. If we were on a topic about business and entrepreneurship, I would say I started my first businesses in my room. I would sell candy back to my sister from holiday. When she ran out in November, my mom would always tell those stories. So I was always creatively trying to make money because we came from, you know, I want to say were poor, but it felt something different. And I could feel it. I knew something was different. My parents I knew money was tight. And,


Unknown Speaker  4:13  

uh huh.


William  4:14  

Looking back, I can almost say the empathy. That dyslexic share was something I could sense and I think kids have a great sense of the world around them. But mine was business. I always liked opening businesses. I tried everything you could do for a kid that was legal, I guess. Was that was where I shined. So through school. It was always focused for me when they would ask you in earlier Elementary, what are you going to be when you get older here take these tests. I just remember answering yes to anything that sounded like business. So I don't know. It was always trying to skew what I saw as my future. So that was what I was good at. And what I focused on


Betsy Furler  4:57  

what was middle school like Middle School in high school,


William  5:01  

I mean, I think we all have different memories. I mean, when you look back and I, it's interesting now that I put it in my book, it's almost like writing and telling your story purges your your soul of any negativity. So it's kind of out there, it's gone. It's in the book, it was my, my experiences. I think like everyone else, we're just trying to find a way to get along in the world. And we want to have a sense of belonging. And this was before all this social media, so we were just kids.


Unknown Speaker  5:30  

Uh huh. And


Betsy Furler  5:34  

what about after high school when you graduated from high school? When did you did you go to college? Did you go to a job, I went to community college


William  5:41  

and then started working. I already had a job in high school, but I kept that going and just progressed in that and then had an opportunity to work a couple other jobs and get into kind of the area of the business of convenience stores that I'm in now.


Unknown Speaker  5:55  

Uh huh.


William  5:57  

All along that way, just did what you were supposed to do. I guess I've never shared this on a podcast, but it was one of those things in my gut, you have everyone telling you you have to have these degrees and I am not, please if you have a degree Don't get mad with the statement, but you have to have these degrees to succeed. That's what I remember about school barding you with you need this to succeed. And internally, I thought, crap, I struggle with reading. So I'm gonna have to work at this or work a little harder. And so I didn't finish my bachelor's degree I dropped out my daughter was born when I was 21. So I focused on starting a business and a few other things. And I guess there was always that self doubt of all your friends and the people around you who went on to college who got a Bachelor's who were telling you and wanting you to succeed and get a degree. And then when it happened, that was my confirmation bias. And confirmation bias means you look in the world for something to confirm your own bias was say Working among businesses and all these people who have a degree who can't find a job, I was already working on making my own job, right started back as a child feeling less than because everyone else can succeed around you with what is so hard. And looking at a word and not knowing what it is. If someone has that they know what I'm talking about. And if someone has that they're the ones who can look at the title and go, they instantly get it. And that's where the story began was just me wanting to self learn, and self teach myself and keep working at it and working harder and working, working, working, not just to graduate and get a, you know, an associate's degree in college or anything else. But just to tell myself, I can do it.


Betsy Furler  7:44  

Right, right. I think our culture put so much emphasis on our education that we're we're really educating kids for the Industrial Revolution. And we've moved way past that. And, but we're still educating kids in that way. And we're also So putting so much value on academic skills, and then you get out in the world, so I have a I have a undergrad, bachelor's and a master's degree. I'm a speech pathologist by training. And I did well in school. I am like, you know, I did fine. Like it was easy for me. But you get out in the entrepreneurial world because now I have a software startup. And I have to unlearn a lot of things that I learned to do that helped me succeed academically. And so the those what we're teaching our kids in school is not just a, you know, not not just not needed, but it's actually harmful. And when you get out there and you're an entrepreneur, so I was just was having a discussion today with somebody about the harm we're doing to our kids. Right now in this college bound culture, and everybody has got to go to college and really sending the message that you're less than if you don't. And we need to stop doing that.


William  9:10  

I couldn't agree with you more in in with the Industrial Revolution process of school teaching. And I just want to scream like, if percent of the population one in five are dyslexic, so that means 20%. Well, more than 20, but one in five of the products coming out of the school system are not working. No other business in this world would let a manufacturing process of 2001 and five of the products not working happen, but yet the bureaucracy of school systems allow that. Right? What it does allow and this is where I don't I'm not one who knocks the school system. And I'm not one if you've in my book, I don't go into details or blame because as soon as I hear someone making an excuse or blaming a teacher or something, I want to stop and go you can fix your own situation. That's the whole premise of my book is take the cash out of your life. But it's frustrating to see that but they don't want to change it. And then they call it a disability and I call it a different ability. And through the years of not understanding what I had, and then discovering audible in my 30s you guys know my age if you doing the math. I digested hundreds of books, hundreds and hundreds of books in the last couple years and it changed everything.


Betsy Furler  10:31  

Yes, I love audible too. So I shared with you in the interview, and I believe I've shared on the podcast before that I have corneal dystrophy. So I have a disease called lattice dystrophy and basically deposits are forming on my corneas in a lattice pattern. My eye doctor says it's just beautiful when you see it under the microscope. I'll have to take her word. And so my ability to read has been going down Over the years, and I can still read with the glasses, but it's very hard on my eyes and it's not as enjoyable as it used to be. And but audible has been that has been a lifesaver for me and I consume so much content, listening to books in my car, especially and then every night, I listen to a book as well.


William  11:23  

See, and I hope I think there's, it's a great correlation of anyone who loves podcasts, pick up an audible book or an audiobook and just start listening.




yeah, I it's, I'm just so wanting to spread the joy of reading to those who don't know it. And when I first started talking about this openly, people who have never suffered with anything, don't understand. This book wasn't necessarily for them, though. Parents have reached out to me who don't have dyslexia who've never had any problems who can't relate to their kids and they they For the book. Yes, that feels good. And I guess the biggest thing for any viewer listeners is there, we all have differences. But what brings us together is our commonalities and the cool common traits shared by Dyslexics aren't shared by every dyslexic, but it's something I brag about. Even if you your kid doesn't show it now, I was in my 30s until I could fully understand my whole life to go back and go, Wow, the cause and effect and every cool trait of dyslexia that I think is super cool. I have Wow, that explains so much. But if you know it at your young age, or if your parent or you know that your kid has it, and that's great. And then the parents who think it's a death sentence, I'm like, wow, what are they what though, man? There's so many cool things with it. I explained that in my book, but it's just one is I can listen to audiobooks at the highest speed. and retain the knowledge. So Wow, I can do that's impressive I wish I could have done as a child. And not everyone can listen, I've met other dyslexic I've been trying to find others dyslexic who can listen to higher speeds. There's some kids. I saw in that group we said Who? Their daughter to listen at two times, but it's because it's new. I said, Yeah, but when she's older, she's gonna be able to listen to it at the highest speed and retain Yes,


Betsy Furler  13:23  

I can listen it two times, but no, sometimes 2.5 depending on how tired my brain is. So tell us about how did your book come about? What did you What made you decide that you wanted to write a book?


William  13:40  

I've had a lot of setbacks and start startups in my life and businesses that I have always came out stronger after the words and people. You know, just assume that about me. Well, during one of my businesses, it was getting harder to hire people and of course, the money So what's the younger generation I don't take any of that. I think it's just you got to find the people, you got to work for it. So instead of making it easier to get a job, I made it harder. I made everyone read the customer rules by Lee Cockrell, he worked at Disney World. And years of his career, and he talks about his Disney experience in customer service, want to increase the customer service at my company, I made it a requirement. Well, then I had this crazy idea of trying to get everyone to read a book a month. And that didn't go over very well with employees. And it's something led to another and I finally sat them all down at a company meeting and explained to them my story of struggle in school. And that it's a passionate thing for me now because of audible and how I want everyone else to feel the joy of reading. That led to people sharing me their stories about their loved ones. And it got me to look into it more and realize not only was I not alone, but I am millions upon millions of people struggle with reading 32 million in this country can't read. And then there's different levels of proficiency. Have reading inequalities and it's frustrating that it's not talked about. So I said, I'm going to put my entrepreneur skills to the test and not write a book about business, but write a book about my own personal struggle and triumph.


Betsy Furler  15:14  

That's amazing. And yes, the statistics shocked me. Still, it shocks me that over 20% of the population population in the United States cannot read.


William  15:28  

And then you have the different levels of proficiency during tests that show you that people aren't understanding exactly what they're reading as well.


Betsy Furler  15:35  

Right. And that's an even bigger percentage. And it's just it's it's amazing that our culture continue our society continues to push this and to push the our old way of teaching, especially when what I still see a lot of are the child's having difficulty reading So they just teach them the same, how to read again, the same way that they taught him the first time. That didn't work. It's like


William  16:09  



Betsy Furler  16:10  

that does not work. We need to move on to something different, but it's just I help I help parents fight for their kids frequently to get better services, more services, outside services if needed, but that everyone deserves to be able to use their strengths and to not have to be focusing on their weaknesses all the time.


William  16:36  

Thank you for doing that for those parents. And I hope if parents are listening to this, they don't see dyslexia as the doomsday for their child that they can show them the celebrities and the business moguls who are dyslexic and use that as a point of they made it you can and yeah, believe so much in this country that our self determination is who we need. Come. And if you take all the negative self talk and there's lots of other things that go along with this, I've seen correlations with depression and other things. Of course, it is depressing being in a classroom and feeling stupid and feeling less.


Betsy Furler  17:12  

Yes. Yes. And then sometimes being out in a workplace and being made to feel stupid.


William  17:20  

And trust me it doesn't, doesn't just go away just because you do that I've even more people don't say you're openly dyslexic. I did I do a lot of social experiments. And I took a job for a while and they didn't like that I was openly dyslexic. So they questioned my intelligence and I thought how, okay, to me, if you go off and live your dream and go make your own business and do something that actually helps people, then you're living something if you're trying to work in a huge corporation, then I think the school system is for you. But it wasn't for me. It just reminded me of things of being in school and it's not a death sentence. It's not a doomsday sentence. It's an opportunity to now find the resources that are available like audible like we disgust are these other programs that exist that were created by fellow Dyslexics who struggled who then created and made something better for the next generation.


Betsy Furler  18:10  

Yes, and the speech to text is so great and spell check and all the different spelling things. Another Do you know the AP American word speller.


William  18:21  

I don't not familiar with that.


Betsy Furler  18:23  

I love that out. And I don't know if you have difficulty spelling. But what I like about American word speller is that you can type in the word You know how sometimes you type in a word, and it's so far off that the, the word prediction doesn't work. So with American word speller, you can type in like I always use the word pneumonia as an example. You can spell it you know, and II W and OMA. And it will, it will come up with pneumonia and the definition of the word and it's it's amazing. It's amazing. We have tools


William  19:00  

like that. And then some of the quirky says that someone might realize is if you keep spelling the word wrong so much that it's spelled wrong in your spellcheck, and somehow you accidentally saved it. So now you can't spell Yes.


Betsy Furler  19:10  

Yes. Now, now it thinks that that's how it's spelled.


William  19:14  

Yeah, Grammarly is a good one on a Google Chrome I've done some copying and pasting back and forth or between Microsoft in that to make sure I'm spelling something correctly or, and the English language in itself is hard. There's it's


Betsy Furler  19:27  

very complicated.


William  19:29  

Yes. Speaking it's great, but to actually write it becomes more complex but no, it's not a death sentence. It's not an Doomsday it's an opportunity to have the knowledge to know that your kid can work around this with these tools that exists now that people that like we went through wish we had those and you're getting to discover things that you know you need now and it's great.


Betsy Furler  19:57  

So will tell me before we go on To tell me one story, and I didn't prepare you for this. So I'm sorry. But I want you to tell me one story that someone has told you about either hearing your story or reading your book. Tell me something that somebody else has told you about how that helped them or how that made them feel.


William  20:22  

I was gonna pause for that because I keep hearing a ringing in the background when you were talking.


Betsy Furler  20:26  

Yeah, we can wait a second.


Unknown Speaker  20:32  

Yeah, it's my friend's phone.


Betsy Furler  20:35  

I'm at somebody else's house cuz I'm out of town.


William  20:37  

I've done that on the road before too. So thank you.


Betsy Furler  20:43  

Okay, I'm going to restate the question. Okay. Okay, well, one more thing. Before we wrap up, I would love for you to tell us something that someone told you either that after they read your book or after They heard your story. What's Tell me somebody's feedback on what it means to them to have you come be so brave and vulnerable and coming forward and telling your story.


William  21:12  

I think out of all the comments I heard the most humbling one was, I've never finished a book in one sitting from cover to cover until I read your book.


Unknown Speaker  21:22  

Wow, that is


Unknown Speaker  21:23  



William  21:25  

And I'm gonna start reading more books that you recommend. And


Betsy Furler  21:29  

that, yeah, that that's that. I bet that gives you some some satisfaction on a job well done with writing your book.


William  21:39  

I think it gives that little boy who cried himself to sleep and wished he could do all this that satisfaction. I think it gives hope for those kids who still haven't told their parents that they struggle. Mm hmm. Maybe not have all the best resources that someone out there wrote this for them.


Betsy Furler  22:00  

Yeah, can you imagine when you were seven, being able to look into the future and seeing that you wrote a book?


William  22:08  

I actually mentioned some of that idea in my book where I wished and thought and hoped and said, I wish I could just read a book superfast and then when audible came along and could, yeah, I think like Walt Disney once said, dream it, if you can dream it, you can do it. And I dreamed and instead of sitting around and waiting for it to happen, I worked at it so hard that reading now is such a blessing. And I never thought it would take me anywhere. I was just trying to survive in the classroom. And I was just trying to better myself one, one word at a time. And it led to all this and I'm hoping we can together work at erasing the stigma and changing the school system from that factory mindset to a more holistic approach and not letting anyone feel dumb or superior in the classroom because that goes with them and right delete leaders, the best leaders are the ones who were kicked the most or felt internally less than. And the ones who try to make people feel less than are the ones that need the most help. Mm hmm. Because I don't I brag about this stuff now with the dyslexia, but I brag about it in the sense that I'm hoping to inspire others. I know I've made a few people upset going well. Yeah, yeah. Okay, so how many books Have you listened to today? You know?


Betsy Furler  23:34  

Well, um, tell my audience a little bit about how they can buy the book and how they can get in touch with you. If they would like to either get in touch with you or get to know more about you.


William  23:47  

Well, I know my last names hard to spell so I came up with , we'll talk because I figured that way easier than the whole thing. And then you can get my book on Amazon. I can't read a guide to success. failure. And it's of course, it's available on Audible. And since you've been such a great host, I'd like to give a couple copies away on your show. So if someone wants to reach out to you, I'll send them some free copies. Awesome.


Betsy Furler  24:12  

Okay, yeah, I will. I'll figure out how to do that. And I will put it in the show notes. For any, I guess the first two people that contacted me and want a free copy. We will send those to them. Thank you so much for that.


William  24:28  

It's my pleasure.


Betsy Furler  24:29  

And well, thank you so much for being on for all abilities, the podcast today, you have been a fabulous guest. And to all my listeners, please review the podcast and do the rating and subscribe and tell all your friends about it. And we'll be back next week. So thanks, will it was wonderful. Have a great afternoon.


Unknown Speaker  24:56  

You too. Thank you