Turning a difficult situation into a positive outlet is characteristic of successful people, and Cindy Monroe is one such individual. An entrepreneur, leadership coach, podcast host, author, wife, mother of two, and founder and executive chairwoman of Thirty-One Gifts, Monroe grew up with ADHD, a neurodevelopmental disorder that can complicate performance in school and work.
People with ADHD are often stereotyped negatively. Although they may display hyperactivity with a shorter attention span, the notion that children or adults with ADHD are not smart or creative is entirely wrong. Having ADHD means having a very active mind, which can be harnessed to perform favorably. Monroe’s life is a testimony to this fact.
As a child, Monroe found it difficult to sit still and focus like other children her age. Naturally, this had a negative impact on her school grades, as the curriculum was not designed to accommodate the needs of children with ADHD. Despite this, Monroe continued to work hard and learned to channel her symptoms into productive endeavors.
After graduating in business from the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, Monroe worked in telecommunications and insurance, but she continuously imagined new ways to grow. She started a small gift catalog business in the basement of her Chattanooga, Tennessee, home with a friend.
As the business grew, Monroe applied her creative mind and relentless energy to the venture, leading product innovation, new systems development, and more.
Under her leadership, the company reached nearly $800 million in sales, with over 100,000 independent consultants in the U.S. and Canada, and more than 1,000 employees.
She recently debuted her first book, “More Than a Bag,” sharing her journey from being a child with an active mind to becoming an experienced entrepreneur. She has also recently launched her podcast, Permission to Lead with Cindy Monroe, to encourage other women in leadership to flourish at both work and home, despite their personal challenges.
Throughout her life, Monroe has subverted the stereotypes attached to ADHD. It must be acknowledged that people with ADHD have their fair share of difficulties, yet these difficulties should not serve as identity markers. An active mind can often innovate, and Monroe would be the first to encourage anyone with ADHD to turn what others might perceive as setbacks into strengths.