STARTING UP WITH NO LIMITS: ENTREPRENEURS WITH DISABILITIES
ADDVOCACY LIFE SKILLS AND COACHING
A career that started in skilled trades quickly changed when the British Columbia-based company that Keith Gelhorn was working for cut its staff from 77 to four in six months. To make matters more complicated, he was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) shortly after.
“I had a lot of problems with organization, getting orders right, and following things in a linear path,” says Keith, explaining the symptoms he had before he was diagnosed. “I was good at little pockets of things but couldn’t link everything together,” adding that easy tasks sometimes took him twice as long to complete.
Unsure where his career was going to take him next, Keith decided he’d pursue his first passion in social work—a path he was told not to take years before. “I wanted to get into social work when I was coming out of high school and going into university but it took me about four years to do two years worth of school,” he explains. “When I came out of two years of college, I tried getting into the University of Victoria but I only had about a 70 per cent average and they wouldn’t let me in.” This led Keith to a ten-year career in skilled trades as a plumber before he started his own business ADDvocacy ADHD & Life Skills Coaching, a service designed to offer support and guidance to people diagnosed with ADHD.
But prior to his entrepreneurial debut, Keith knew he had to do his research. Seeing the thousands of ADHD coaches south of the border, he noticed Canada was lacking in the field. “I thought this would be a good opportunity to go back to school, so the school that I went to is called the ADD Coach Academy in New York,” he says. “The timing wouldn’t work out for it if I stayed in BC, so I relocated [to Nova Scotia] and went to school for disability supports and services, and then did coaching school at night.” Soon after, he started ADDvocacy ADHD & Life Skills Coaching.
Focusing on lessons in organization, time management, relationship building, and educating in ADHD, Keith now coaches 30 students from the Nova Scotia Community College in Eastern Canada, in addition to a contract with non-profit groups throughout the province. And his experience running a business with ADHD himself has been life changing. “I’m always cooking up new ideas and I’m finding it really helpful in terms of being creative,” he says. “A lot of things come to me quickly so the amount that I’ve been able to accomplish in two and a half years of doing this is pretty phenomenal.”
In 2013, Keith took his accomplishments further after he received the 2013 Entrepreneur of the Year Award from the Nova Scotia-based Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Network (EDN). “That was pretty significant given the fact that I had all these challenges,” he says. “I had such a rocky career over the years so winning that was pretty substantial. The spinoffs from it have been huge.” Now with a seat on the EDN board of directors, Keith was able to land additional contracts, further helping the growth of his two-year-old company.
“It’s just funny that you can take something that was a disability and turn it into a major positive,” he says. “This year, I just got back from a high school tour with a business coordinator from EDN. We talked to high school kids about entrepreneurship and just different alternatives.”
In addition to his full-time coaching career for people with ADHD, Keith continues to encourage entrepreneurship for young people despite their disabilities. “Find out as much as you can about the disability and reach out for mentors and the resources around you. Working for yourself could be extremely rewarding.”
Looking ahead, Keith hopes to fill the support needs for ADHD sufferers throughout Nova Scotia, help other entrepreneurs kick-start their businesses, while also collaborating with other ADHD experts to write a book.
- The Nova Scotia ADHD Action Group – #nsADHD facebook.com/
groups/nsADHD (formally the Dartmouth Youth and Adult ADHD Support Group)
- Chelsea Demings Photography – Official photographer for the Nova Scotia ADHD Action Group & Community Information Session
- JJ Kent Trio – Official ambient music for the night
- Stephanie Goulding – Graphic Designer for the Nova Scotia ADHD Action Group
- ADDvocacy ADHD & Life Skills Coaching – Keith Gelhorn – Educational Strategist / ADHD Coach / Trainer
- Erica Baker & Associates – Bonnie Waugh (Registered Psychologist / ADHD Coach / Psycho Educational Assessments)
- The Self Help Connections – (Support groups, Peer Support, Wellness Recovery Action Plans, Anger Management, Addictions support, etc)
- Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Network
- Teamwork Cooperative & The Workbridge
- Sparks Fly – Luke Macdonald putting silent stationary bikes into k-12 classrooms
- YMCA of Greater Halifax / Dartmouth – Employment Centre of Halifax
- Nutrition Blueprint / Performance Blueprint / The Life Pod – Ricky Goodall Nutrition Coach / Mindfulness Practitioner / Pro MMA Fighter
- Laughter Yoga Dartmouth / Certified John Maxwell Leadership Coach/ Mental Health First Aid Trainer– Bruce Miller
- Canadian Mental Health Association
- Autism Nova Scotia
- Oxford Learning Centres
- Sugar Shok Candy – Stacy Cayea – Entrepreneur Extraordinaire / Dartmouth Downtown Business Association community builder
- Raven Spirit Reiki – Janet Harrison
- Doterra Essential Oils
- Mike Price – Autism Guru
- Maggie Lyons – Assitive Technology / Disabilities guru
- Thrive Academic Coaching – Cate Wallace
- Investors Group – Rebecca King (Disability Tax Credits)
- Common Good Solutions – Social Enterprise
- Nova Scotia Peer Support Program – Margie Achibald (Certified Peer Support Specialist)
- Eastern Passage Liberal MLA – Joyce Treen
- Guardian Pharmacy – Pharmacist to answer medication questions
- HR-Pros – Human Resources Pros
- Happy 2 Organize – Andrea Josey is a professional organizer
- YOUR NAME HERE? Contact me if you would like to be an exhibitor? Did I mention it’s *FREE*??
For more information, Contact Keith @ 902-580-ADHD / NovaScotiaADHDActionGroup@
Should be pretty easy to remember 🙂
In January, I secured the ability for ADDvocacy ADHD & Life Skills Coaching to provide coaching at every post secondary institution in Nova Scotia.
In April I was selected as the 2013 Entrepreneur of the year by the Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Network (EDN) as well as voted on their Board of Directors.
In May, I was contracted by the Self Help Connection to facilitate Anger Management Training and provide peer support for their clients.
I graduated with Honors from NSCC with a diploma in Disability Supports and services in June and enrolled at Cape Breton University where I am pursuing a Bachelors of Arts in Community Studies. My contract with the Self Help Connection ended in August but the following week I secured a contract with the Teamwork Cooperative & the Workbridge providing my services to their clients.
September didn’t start as planned, with a 2 week stint in the hospital but I quickly recovered and my coaching practice was full with 30 NSCC students as well as clients through the Teamwork cooperative. I am looking forward to working with everyone come the new year! I also added a new support group on the 3rd Wednesday of every month from 6:30-8pm at NSCC (Akerley Campus) in Dartmouth.
In November, I was selected as one of 16 up and coming entrepreneurs in Nova Scotia as a “High Flier” through the Canadian Youth Business Foundation (CYBF). This program runs through June 2014 and is focused on improving sales and marketing.
December was busy, the semester wrapped up and the students and I prepped for a 3 week break from 1-1 coaching. I wrote the exam to become a Certified Peer Support Specialist and just have the practicum left to do in order to check that off my to-do list. I was also interviewed and ultimately accepted into another CYBF initiative called the moMENTum program. This secures 6 months worth of business coaching starting this month and will be a great addition to the High Fliers program as I ramp up for expansion in 2014.
2014 is shaping up to be another exciting year with a lot of great opportunities in the works! I have my eyes set on expansion, a few national conferences and a province wide contract with EDN that will be rolling out this spring. I am also fortunate to have some amazing / inspirational clients who are the backbone to the business and wouldn’t be where I am without their determination, hard work and openness to change.
What are your S.M.A.R.T. Goals for 2014?
Got some more great press in the Chronicle Herald in the past few days 🙂 This came out in the Halifax Chronicle Herald in the Weekend Metro Edition and in the Dartmouth Edition today! Not was I voted as the 2013 EDN Entrepreneur of the Year, but I am also a proud member of their Board of Directors. EDN is an awesome organization that helps entrepreneurs overcome barriers and take their businesses to the next level!
On December 17th, 2013 I wrote the exam to become one of the first Certified Peer Support Specialists in Canada!
Next step is a 40 hour placement and culminates at the end of April at the National Peer Support Conference http://www.psac-canada.com/ncps/ in Halifax 🙂
Well, last month I was selected to be a part of the High Fliers club and it is proving to be a great investment of time! This month, I added a business mentor / coach to the fire 🙂
I have my eyes set on expansion and on a National Conference in June. Timing couldn’t be better!!
In the early stages of a business, good advice and help navigating the business world are invaluable. That’s why CYBF is offering young entrepreneurs like you, who do not need financing, the exclusive opportunity to work one-on-one with a business mentor through a limited time offer – CYBF moMENTum!
Mentors and entrepreneurs will spend six months working together, building a strong foundation for the business and setting the course for success in the future.
CYBF moMENTum provides you with:
*A mentor to help you get your business off the ground or take it to the next stage
*One-on-one matching with an experienced mentor that has been pre-screened and trained by CYBF
*Access to CYBF’s community of over 5,000 members including entrepreneurs and mentors through networking and peer-mentoring opportunities (both local and virtual)
In November 2013 I was selected as one of 16 up and coming entrepreneurs throughout the province as a High Flier through the Canadian Youth Business Foundation.
Selected entrepreneurs and their business ventures include:
Keith Gelhorn, ADDvocacy ADHD & Life Skills Coaching ltd, Ricky Goodall, Collison Sports, Moses Robicheau, Laugh It Up, Kyle Williams, KTM Services Group, Kristy O’Leary of Scout and Burrow, Jamie Newman, JCN Performance Consulting Ltd., Rosemary Murphy of The Townhouse Brewpub & Eatery, Jon Fraser, Stromline Technologies, Laurie Dolhan of ContractMe.ca, Brad Hiltz of Good Wood Fuel Limited, Chris Mahoney of Train Clean, Megan McCarthy of DraftCAM, Jessi Gillis of Highland Drive Storehouse and Highland Drive Catering and Matthew Pickup of Fosch Capital.
“This year we really focused on the entrepreneur and their potential for business leadership. Each High Flier impressed us with their drive to succeed, passion for business and positive, can-do attitude. We also considered their commitment to the business and its opportunity for growth. The High Fliers selected have the desire to learn and to apply those learnings to business growth” says Nicole Osmond, Director of CYBF Atlantic. “CYBF has more than 16 years’ of experience supporting young entrepreneurs to reach their potential. We are thrilled to play a role in their business success.”
ABOUT HIGH FLIERS
A program created by Canadian Youth Business Foundation, High Fliers is supported by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) and Nova Scotia Economic and Rural Development and Tourism. It intends to attract Nova Scotia business leaders of tomorrow, providing them with the resources they need to make their ambitions a reality. Deadline for submissions is 11:59 p.m. on Oct 25, 2013 at www.highfliers.ca.
I am looking forward to seeing what this program has to offer and taking my business to the next level!