Career and life coach leverages intuition and creativity to help neurodiverse clients discover their unique strengths and match them to their life’s purpose
Carroll Schuller “gets” people. As an intuitive guide and thought clarifier, she applies her diverse talents as a career coach to help clients answer tough questions such as: What is the right career path for me? Should I leave my job and start a business? How can I get my life in order?
“Some people are stuck in an unsatisfying job and want to switch career paths, but they can’t conceptualize their strengths and connect the dots to find a career they are better suited for,” explains Carroll. Fortunately, Carroll has a knack for connecting those dots. She started Organic Blueprints, a business, career management, and life coaching company, twenty years ago. “I help clients move forward and identify the best solutions – both personally and professionally – for them. It is important that everyone find their way to success,” she says.
Leveraging Neurodiversity to Uncover Strengths
Carroll started her practice for individuals with neurodiverse brains often characterized by learning disabilities and attention disorders. She empathizes with her clients’ challenges since she was first diagnosed with learning disabilities at age thirty, but did not really understand what that meant. At 46, as vice president of a small multistate corporation, she discovered the hard way that she was much more adept at managing staff in the field than following protocol in the corporate office.
That painful experience led Carroll to consult a neuropsychologist to learn how her brain worked. The doctor told her the bad news first: “You can’t read, you can’t find your way anywhere, you can’t recognize people, and you can’t recall or sequence information.” Carroll asked for the good news: “You can figure people out faster than a computer ever will.” Carroll says her disability is not a liability, but rather something she has to work around using a variety of accommodations. As she explains it, “I’m a smart person who’s always flunking.”
Accessing Knowledge is a Lifeline
Reading was always difficult for Carroll, but she is a living example of how access to knowledge can change a person’s life. Carroll has trouble with visual processing and couldn’t read print books or articles easily; as a result, she was not well informed and did not speak up very often. Her strategy was that if she heard something three times, then she concluded it was valid information.
At age 49, Carroll discovered that when she listened to a book as opposed to reading it, she had an entirely different experience. Once she discovered audiobooks on tape and, later, ebooks on Bookshare, she devoured everything she could get her hands on. Her vocabulary improved dramatically and she started contributing to conversations.
“As a business person, if you tell me about a particular book, I can find and download it from Bookshare immediately,” says Carroll. “I don’t have to struggle to get it. I love Bookshare! It’s a lifesaver for me. I use it for almost everything.”
Carroll continues, “Having technology is like having a car or clothes – I can’t live without it. Text-to-speech audio support is my #1 accommodation. Most people don’t understand the significance of being able to get information when you want it in the format that you want.”
Finding the Sweet Spot for Success
Once Carroll identified her strengths, she quit her job and took a recruiting position. “I hired tons of people really fast by putting the right people in the right roles,” she says. That taste of success gave her the confidence to start her own coaching business in Richmond, Virginia. She uses a sports-based methodology with four phases – strategy, tactics, practice, play – that is very effective for her clients.
About half of her clients are business owners and half are making life and/or career changes. For business owners, some have to adopt a style that’s not natural to them to run their business and they become unhappy. Others need help managing different personalities.
“What makes Carroll exceptional is her unique “gut instinct” – honed by years of work experience, life experience, business acumen, and a keen intellect – and the personable and concrete way she provides steps to move forward no matter what obstacles, real or perceived, are present.” – Former client
She helps clients who are on the wrong career path, or want to start their own business, to prioritize and execute a plan. During the assessment process, clients complete three profiles to gather data to see what they have a knack for. She also coaches a small number of young adults, mostly men, who need stability, structure, discipline, and a sounding board to get through school successfully.
Paying it Forward
When it came to personal giving this year, COVID caused Carroll to view her donations differently. She wanted to support people who have disabilities or have experienced hardship, so she gave to Bookshare, a food bank, and another nonprofit that assists people with mental illness. And she continues to share her gift of helping people uncover their unique strengths and “find their lane.”