Transcript: Navigating the World as a Misfit | May 06, 2019

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, white shirt, and spotted brown tie.

A caption on screen reads "Living an atypical life. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says THERE IS NO DOUBT THAT
FOR MANY PEOPLE, FEELING
DIFFERENT MEANS FEELING
EXCLUDED, LEFT OUT AND LEFT
BEHIND.
AND WHILE THAT CAN BE
OVERWHELMING, FOR SOME IT
BECOMES AN IMPETUS AND EVEN THE
VERY THING THAT GIVES THEM THE
STRENGTH TO EXCEL.
ANDREAS SOUVALIOTIS FITS THAT
BILL, AS HIS MEMOIR - "MISFIT:
AUTISTIC. GAY. IMMIGRANT.
CHANGEMAKER," LAYS OUT IN
BRILLIANT DETAIL.
HE'S THE CREATOR OF THE WORLD'S
FIRST ECO-REWARDS APP AND OF THE
POPULAR WELLNESS APP
CARROT REWARDS, AND WE'RE
PLEASED TO WELCOME
ANDREAS SOUVALIOTIS TO OUR
STUDIO FOR MORE.

Andreas is in his mid-fifties, bald, with a trimmed gray beard. He's wearing a blue jacket over a burgundy sweater.
A picture of his book appears briefly on screen. The cover is orange and white.

Steve continues IT'S GREAT TO HAVE YOU BACK HERE.

Andreas says IT'S GREAT TO BE HERE.

Steve says THAT IS ONE HECK OF
A TITLE, I'VE GOT TO SAY.

Andreas says THANK YOU.

Steve says DID YOU COME UP WITH
THAT?

Andreas says I SURE DID.

Steve says IT SUMS IT UP IN
PRETTY QUICK WORDS.

Andreas says I INTENDED IT TO BE A LITTLE
BIT IN YOUR FACE ON PURPOSE
BECAUSE TO BE HONEST WITH YOU, I
BELIEVE THAT LABELS REALLY,
REALLY MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
I FIND LABELS LIBERATING.
SO I WANTED THE BOOK TO TELL YOU
THE STORY FROM THE GET-GO,
BEFORE YOU EVEN FLIP IT OPEN,
ABOUT THE FACT THAT THIS IS
ABOUT A REALLY DIFFERENT PERSON.

Steve says YOU GO BEYOND THAT.
YOU CALL YOURSELF DIFFERENT.
YOU CALL YOURSELF WEIRD.
HOW COME?

The caption changes to "Andreas Souvaliotis. Author, 'Misfit.'"
Then, it changes again to "Navigating the world as a misfit."

Andreas says I CALL MYSELF WEIRD ALL THE
TIME BECAUSE I AM.
AND TO BE HONEST WITH YOU, WE'RE
ALL DIFFERENT.
THE WHOLE THEME... THE REASON I
WROTE THE BOOK FRANKLY IS FOR
YOUR KIDS, FOR EVERYBODY'S KIDS.
THE IDEA IS TO INSPIRE YOUNGER
PEOPLE TO NOT GO THROUGH MUCH OF
LIFE AS I DID TO TRY TO QUASH
THE THINGS THAT MADE THEM
DIFFERENT BUT HARNESS THEM EARLY
IN LIFE.
THINK ABOUT WHAT MAKES YOU
DIFFERENT AND THINK OF THEM AS
AN ASSET.

Steve says WHAT YOU WERE A
LITTLE KID, YOU WENT ON TV AND
YOU DID A TRICK WITH A CALENDAR.
TELL US ABOUT THAT TRICK.

The caption changes to "Andreas Souvaliotis. Navigating the world as a misfit."

Andreas says SO I WAS BORN ON THE
SPECTRUM.
I WAS CERTAINLY NOT DIAGNOSED
UNTIL MUCH LATER IN LIFE BUT I
WAS DEFINITELY ON THE SPECTRUM
AND YOU'LL KNOW RIGHT AWAY WHEN
I TELL YOU ABOUT THIS.
AT THE AGE OF FOUR AND A HALF, I
WAS ON NATIONAL TV IN GREECE
TELLING YOU THEN WHAT DAY OF THE
WEEK IT WOULD BE TODAY IN THE
YEAR 2019.
SO I COULD... I HAD MEMORIZED AN
ENTIRE CALENDAR'S SUNDAYS,
BECAUSE THEY HAPPENED TO BE IN
RED AND THAT COLOUR STOOD OUT
FOR ME.
ONCE I MEMORIZED THOSE 52
SUNDAYS, I COULD EXTRAPOLATE
BACK AND FORTH NOT JUST WITHIN
THAT YEAR BUT THROUGH MULTIPLE
YEARS AND TELL YOU WHAT DAY IT
WOULD BE ON JANUARY 4TH, 2025.

Steve says DID YOU HAVE AN
UNDERSTANDING AT THAT YOUNG AGE
THAT THAT WAS AN EXTRAORDINARY SKILL?

Andreas says NO, NO.
IN FACT, THROUGHOUT MY CHILDHOOD
AND ADOLESCENCE, THAT STUFF NOT
ONLY FELT A BIT NATURAL TO ME
BUT IT ALSO FELT VERY
UNCOMFORTABLE, PEOPLE WERE
POINTING AT ME ALL THE TIME AND
SAYING, LOOK AT THAT GENIUS.
LOOK AT THAT WEIRD KID.
IT MADE ME FEEL MORE WEIRD AND
MADE ME FEEL LIKE AN ABSOLUTE
OUTCAST INSTEAD OF MAKING ME
FEEL SPECIAL.

Steve says IN WHICH CASE DID
YOU TRY TO TAMP DOWN THAT SKILL?

Andreas says OH MY GOD, DID I EVER.
IT WASN'T JUST IN NUMBERS, IT
WAS IN MUSIC.
I WAS CELEBRATED AS A MUSICAL
PRODIGY AT 6, 7, AND 8.
WHY DO I HAVE TO BE SO DIFFERENT
FROM EVERYBODY ELSE?
WHY ARE THEY PUTTING ME ON THOSE
STAGES?
WHY AM I WEIRD IN MY SOCIAL
INTERACTIONS AND WHY DON'T THE
OTHER KIDS LIKE ME AS MUCH AS
THEY SHOULD LIKE ME?
ALL THAT ADDED UP TO HUGE
INSECURITIES AS OPPOSED TO
SPECIAL PRIDE.

Steve says YOU'RE, AS YOUR NAME
SUGGESTS AND AS YOU'VE ALREADY
TOLD US, YOU'RE FROM GREECE
ORIGINALLY.
HOW OLD WERE YOU WHEN YOU CAME
TO CANADA?

Andreas says 18.
YOU MEAN WHEN I ESCAPED TO
CANADA.

Steve says OKAY, THAT'S A GOOD
WAY TO PUT IT.
YOU ESCAPED TO CANADA.

Andreas says YEAH.

Steve says THAT'S YOUR WORD.

Andreas says YEAH.

Steve says WHY DID YOU FEEL THE
NEED TO ESCAPE?

Andreas says I REALLY WAS RUNNING AWAY
FROM ALL KINDS OF
MARGINALIZATION.
I'M SURE YOU KNOW PLENTY ABOUT
HOMOGENEOUS EUROPEAN COUNTRIES.
GREECE IS ONE OF THOSE.
MY BIRTH COUNTRY IS A BEAUTIFUL
PLACE BUT IT'S MADE UP OF ONLY
WHITE PEOPLE WHO ARE ONLY
OFFICIALLY HETEROSEXUAL.
THEY ALL THINK THAT SAMENESS IS
THEIR BEST ASSET.
AND SO THE THING THAT STICKS OUT
ISN'T PARTICULARLY WELCOME, AND
I CERTAINLY WASN'T VERY WELCOME.
I WAS THE GAY KID, I WAS THE
WEIRD KID, I WAS ALL THE THINGS
THAT THEY DON'T LOVE.
AND I WAS REALLY RUNNING AWAY
FROM THAT.
I WAS BLESSED WITH A BIT OF A
CONNECTION TO CANADA BECAUSE MY
DAD USED TO WORK FOR A CANADIAN
AIRLINE.
SO I KNEW THIS COUNTRY AND I
KNEW EVERYTHING ABOUT ITS
PLURALISM AND INCLUSIVENESS AND
I WANTED TO GO TO A PLACE THAT
WOULD ACCEPT ME.
I LITERALLY PACKED MY BAGS THE
DAY I FINISHED HIGH SCHOOL.

Steve says WHAT DATE WAS THAT?

Andreas says 1981.

Steve says 1981.
HERE'S AN EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK...

A quote appears on screen, under the title "Better off dead?" The quote reads "I remember the first time my dad said it. Then he said it again a few weeks later. And he kept saying it, in one form or another, for many years. It was that horrible line about how it would be easier for him if one of his sons died than to find out he had a 'faggot' son."
Quoted from Andreas Souvaliotis, "Misfit." 2019.

Steve says ANDREAS, HOW OLD
WERE YOU WHEN YOU FIRST HEARD THAT?

Andreas says MAYBE SEVEN OR EIGHT?
AND, YOU KNOW, HERE'S AN
INTERESTING THING ABOUT IT.
IT MADE ME REALIZE WHO I AM
SOONER THAN A LOT OF OTHER GAY
KIDS BECAUSE WHEN SOMEBODY PUTS
IT IN YOUR FACE IN SUCH A
HORRIBLE WAY, WHEN SOMEONE
SHAKES YOU WITH IT AND TERRIFIES
YOU ABOUT IT AND SAYS, "YOU ARE
THAT TERRIBLE THING," IT JUST...
IT MAKES YOU TOTALLY AWARE OF
IT.
I PROBABLY WOULDN'T HAVE
REALIZED I WAS GAY UNTIL MUCH
LATER IN CHILDHOOD, LIKE MOST
KIDS DO.
BUT SOMEBODY PUT IT IN FRONT OF
MY FACE IN SUCH A HORRIFYING
VERSION.
AND MY DAD, BY THE WAY, WASN'T A
REGRESSIVE GUY.
HE WASN'T A REDNECK OF ANY KIND.
IF ANYTHING, HE WAS A
PROGRESSIVE MAN FOR HIS TIME AND
PLACE.
BUT IT WAS THAT TIME AND PLACE.
AND SO I GREW UP LITERALLY
TERRIFIED OF WHO I WAS.

Steve says HOW DOES A
PROGRESSIVE MAN, EVEN FOR HIS
TIME, USE THAT KIND OF LANGUAGE
TO HIS OWN SON?

Andreas says 1981 OR 1971, WHATEVER THAT
WAS, SOUTHERN EUROPE.
YOU KNOW?
IN SOME PLACES IT STILL HAPPENS
TODAY.
HONESTLY.
I MEAN, THINK OF THE LAWS THAT
PEOPLE ARE PASSING RIGHT NOW IN
PLACES LIKE KENYA OR ZIMBABWE,
RIGHT?
IT DOES ACTUALLY HAPPEN.

Steve says SO WHEN YOU WERE...
AT THE TIME YOUR FATHER WAS
SAYING THIS TO YOU, YOU JUST
SAID YOU WEREN'T SURE EVEN
YOURSELF WHAT YOUR SEXUAL
ORIENTATION WAS.
AT WHAT POINT WERE YOU SURE?

The caption changes to "Connect with us: Twitter: @theagenda; Facebook, agendaconnect@tvo.org, Instagram."

Andreas says OH, I WAS SURE THAT DAY.
UNTIL THAT AGE... NO 7-YEAR-OLD
KID SITS AROUND AND THINKS WHAT
IS MY SEXUAL ORIENTATION?
IT WASN'T A TOPIC.
WHEN SOMEONE SAYS TO YOU THERE
ARE TWO KINDS OF PEOPLE OUT
THERE, THE ONES THAT HAVE THE
RIGHT SEXUAL ORIENTATION AND THE
ONES WHO LIKE THE SAME SEX.
AND I WOULD RATHER HAVE A KID
DEAD THAN A KID WHO LIKES THE
SAME SEX.
AND I THOUGHT, OH, THAT'S WHAT I
LIKE.
IT WAS A WAY OF SHOWING YOU WHO
YOU ARE.

Steve says WHAT WAS YOUR
MOTHER'S VIEW?

Andreas says EQUAL.
SIMILAR.
SO IMAGINE GROWING UP LIKE THAT.
AGAIN, I DON'T FAULT THEM.
THEY WERE PRODUCTS OF THEIR ERA
AND THEIR ENVIRONMENT.
I THINK THEY WERE VERY COOL FOR
THEIR ERA AND THEIR ENVIRONMENT,
BUT THEY WERE CERTAINLY NOT...
IT CERTAINLY WASN'T AN EASY
PLACE FOR A GAY KID TO BE
GROWING UP OR AN EASY FAMILY.

Steve says AFTER YOUR PARENTS
UNDERSTOOD WHAT YOUR SEXUAL
ORIENTATION WAS, YOU HOPPED ON A
FLIGHT.

Andreas says MM-HMM.

Steve says WHAT DID THEY TELL
YOU?

Andreas says UM, ACTUALLY, THEY HOPPED ON
A FLIGHT BECAUSE THE COMING-OUT
HAPPENED WHEN THEY WERE VISITING
ME IN WINNIPEG.
THEY HOPPED ON A FLIGHT HOME AND...

Steve says I'M TRYING TO
IMAGINE PARENTS GETTING ON A
FLIGHT SAYING I HOPE OUR FLIGHT
CRASHES SO WE DON'T HAVE TO LIVE
WITH THE RAMIFICATIONS OF WHAT
WE HAVE JUST LEARNED.
HOW CRUSHING WAS THAT FOR YOU TO
HEAR?

Andreas says WELL, I WAS A 22-YEAR-OLD KID
AT THE TIME AND I FRANKLY HAD
THE SELF-CONFIDENCE OF AN
AMOEBA.
I WAS CRUSHED.
IT WAS OWN OF THE LOWEST POINTS
OF MY LIFE.
IT WAS A TURN-AROUND POINT OF MY
LIFE.
THAT WAS THE LOWEST OF THE LOWS.
I REALIZED AT THE MOMENT, I'M ON
MY OWN.
I HAVE TO BUILD MY OWN
SELF-CONFIDENCE AND SELF-WORTH
COMING OUT OF THIS.
WHAT HAPPENED ALSO WAS WHAT
HAPPENED A FEW DAYS LATER WHEN
MY MOM MADE ME GO TO ONE OF THE
MOST PROMINENT PSYCHIATRISTS IN
WINNIPEG.

Steve says WAS THIS PART OF
CONVERSION THERAPY?

Andreas says NOT OFFICIALLY OR MAYBE THEIR
ATTEMPT AT FINDING A HINT OF
CONVERSION THERAPY OUT THERE.
I WENT TO SEE THIS GREAT
PSYCHIATRIST WHO REALLY WAS A
GREAT PSYCHIATRIST AND WAS
WELL-KNOWN IN WINNIPEG AND THE
FELLOW LOOKED AT ME AND SAID WHY
ARE YOU HERE?
AND I SAID, WELL, BECAUSE I'M
GAY.
HE LOOKED A LITTLE STARTLED.
HIS NEXT QUESTION WAS, WHO SENT
YOU?
DID YOU COME ON YOUR OWN OR DID
SOMEBODY SEND YOU?
I SAID ACTUALLY MY PARENTS SENT
ME.
HE LITERALLY CLOSED HIS BOOK IN
FRONT OF ME AND STARED ME IN THE
FACE AND SAID WE'RE DONE.
I SAID WHAT DO YOU MEAN?
HE SAID IT'S NOT YOU THAT HAS TO
SEE ME, IT'S YOUR PARENTS.
I JUST FELT SO LIBERATED.
IT WAS SUCH A SPECIAL MOMENT TO
BE TOLD, PERHAPS FOR THE FIRST
TIME IN MY LIFE, BY AN EXPERT
THAT I'M THE NORMAL ONE, RIGHT?
THAT THERE WAS NOTHING WRONG
WITH ME.
I'M JUST NORMAL.
AND THAT OTHERS WHO DON'T THINK
THAT THIS IS NORMAL PERHAPS NEED
MORE HELP THAN I DO.

Steve says SO THAT HAD A
DRAMATIC IMPACT ON YOU?

Andreas says THAT WAS KIND OF THE
BEGINNING OF THIS
CONFIDENCE-BUILDING PHASE OF MY
LIFE THAT CONTINUES TO THIS DAY.

Steve says DID YOU EVER, DURING
THE COURSE OF THIS TIME IN YOUR
LIFE, WISH OR PRAY THAT YOU
WEREN'T WHO YOU WERE?
DID YOU EVER WISH OR PRAY THAT
YOU WERE NOT GAY, THAT YOU WOULD
BE HETEROSEXUAL.

The caption changes to "Andreas Souvaliotis, @souvaliotis."

Andreas says NOT JUST ON THE GAY FRONT,
FOR SURE, IN TERMS OF MY SEXUAL
ORIENTATION, ALL THE TIME.
IMAGINE HOW MUCH EASIER LIFE
WOULD HAVE BEEN HAD I BEEN A
STRAIGHT MAN BACK THEN?
THAT WAS THE LINE I WAS USING ON
MY PARENTS.
DO YOU REALLY THINK I'M DOING
THIS ON PURPOSE?
IMAGINE HOW MUCH EASIER LIFE
WOULD HAVE BEEN THE OTHER WAY?
YEAH, FUNDAMENTALLY, BEFORE THAT
MOMENT OF CONFIDENCE FROM THE
PSYCHIATRIST, I JUST SAT THERE
ALL THE TIME AND SORT OF FELT
MISERABLE ABOUT WHO I WAS.
BUT NOT JUST ON THE GAY THING.
AS AN AUTISTIC MAN WHO DIDN'T
HAVE A DIAGNOSIS, BACK TO MY
POINT ABOUT HOW IMPORTANT LABELS
ARE, I WAS SITTING THERE GOING:
WHY AM I WEIRD?
WHY AM I SO UNFILTERED?
WHY CAN I NOT HOLD ONTO A JOB
FOR VERY LONG?
ALL THE THINGS THAT MADE ME KIND
OF QUIRKY AND EDGY AND WEIRD, I
WAS CONSTANTLY REGRETTING THEM
AS OPPOSED TO EMBRACING THEM.
THAT'S WHY THE BOOK.

Steve says DID YOUR PARENTS
EVER COME TO ACCEPT YOU FOR WHO
YOU WERE?

Andreas says YES AND NO.
THEY WERE FIGHTING THEIR NATURE.
THEY WERE FIGHTING ALL THEIR
PROGRAMMING IN SOME RESPECTS.
AND YET THEY TRIED PRETTY HARD.
ONE OF THE MOST SPECIAL MOMENTS
OF MY LIFE WAS ON MY 40TH
BIRTHDAY.
MY NOW WIDOWED FATHER CAME TO
VISIT ME HERE IN TORONTO AND HE
SAT NEXT TO MY INCREDIBLE SPOUSE
AND AS MY PARTNER WAS DESIGNING
ALL OF THE BANNERS THAT HE WAS
GOING TO HANG DURING THE PARTY
AND ALL THE SPECIAL PICTURES HE
WAS MAKING AND SO ON ON THE
COMPUTER, MY FATHER SAT NEXT TO
HIM FOR A COUPLE OF HOURS IN
UTTER FASCINATION.
THEN HE WALKED UP TO ME AND
SAID, CAN I TAKE YOU TO LUNCH?
I SAID, SURE, DAD.
I WAS SO SURPRISED.
MY FATHER HAD NEVER DONE SUCH A
THING.
WE WENT OUT ON A SPECIAL
SON-FATHER LUNCH DATE.
WITH HIS PIPE HANGING OUT OF HIS
MOUTH, HE LOOKED AT ME WITH AN
AFFECTIONATE LOOK AND SAID, I'M
GOING TO TELL YOU ONE THING IN
CASE I'M NOT AROUND SOON.
I WANT YOU TO KNOW I THINK YOU
ARE SO LUCKY.
I SAID WHAT?
I SAID YOU ARE SO LUCKY BECAUSE
YOU HAVE SOMEONE IN YOUR LIFE
THAT LOVES YOU AS MUCH AS YOUR
PARTNER LOVES YOU.
I THOUGHT, WOW, THAT IS AS MUCH
OF A TURN-AROUND AS ONE COULD
HAVE HOPED FOR AFTER HOW MUCH I
HAD BEEN THROUGH.
SADLY A YEAR LATER, HE WAS GONE.
THAT'S ONE OF THE SWEETEST
MEMORIES I'M LEFT WITH FROM MY
DAD.
IT WAS SUCH A TURN-AROUND.

Steve says WE'VE TALKED ABOUT
YOUR SEXUAL ORIENTATION.
LET'S DELVE DEEPER INTO YOUR
AUTISM.
HOW OLD WERE YOU WHEN YOU
FINALLY GOT THAT OFFICIAL
DIAGNOSIS THAT YOU'RE ON THE SPECTRUM?

The caption changes to "Thinking differently."

Andreas says OH, THIS IS SOMETHING YOU
WON'T BELIEVE.
THE OFFICIAL DIAGNOSIS CAME A
YEAR AGO.
AS I WAS WRITING THIS VERSION OF
THE BOOK, WHICH IS THE MORE
HONEST VERSION OF THE BOOK,
THERE WAS A PREVIOUS VERSION OF
"MISFIT" THAT BECAME A BEST
SELLER AS A SELF-PUBLISHED WORK,
IF YOU CAN BELIEVE IT.
THIS VERSION REQUIRED A LOT MORE
DETAILED ATTENTION.
TO BE HONEST I WANTED TO BE MORE
BLUNT WITH THIS, I WANTED THE
WORD AUTISTIC ON THE COVER.
I DIDN'T THINK IT WOULD BE
APPROPRIATE UNLESS I HAD A
SPECIFIC DIAGNOSIS.
FRANKLY, IT WAS SUCH A BLUNT
DIAGNOSIS.
IT WAS LIKE I'M A COMPLETE...
LIKE, I'M OFF THE CHARTS KIND OF
ON THE SPECTRUM.
SO I WAS 54.
BUT I'VE KNOWN FOR A LONG TIME.

Steve says I WAS GOING TO SAY.
YOU'VE BEEN OBVIOUSLY... YOU
HAVE SUSPECTED THAT THIS WAS...

Andreas says YEAH.
I'VE HAD FRIENDS WHO ARE
SPECIALISTS IN THE SPACE.
FOR THE LONGEST TIME THEY WOULD
SMILE AT ME AND SAID, OF COURSE
YOU'RE ON THE SPECTRUM.
IT'S SO OBVIOUS.

Steve says YOU SAY IT'S SO
OBVIOUS.
YOU AND I HAVE BEEN SITTING HERE
TALKING 10 OR 15 MINUTES ALREADY
AND I WOULD NOT HAVE GUESSED FOR
ONE SECOND THIS WAS AN ISSUE FOR
YOU.
WHAT AM I MISSING?

Andreas says ONE, IT'S CALLED A SPECTRUM
FOR A REASON.
I'M DEFINITELY AT THE HIGHER END
OF FUNCTIONING FOR THE SPECTRUM.
ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS TALK TO
SOMEONE WHO HAS KNOWN ME FOR
MORE THAN 15 MINUTES.
THEY WILL TELL YOU THAT THERE IS
ABSOLUTELY NO DOUBT THAT THIS
WEIRD GUY IS ON THE WEIRD
SPECTRUM.
AND I SAY "WEIRD" IN A POSITIVE
WAY.
I THINK WE ALL SHOULD EMBRACE
THAT.
THE SECOND THING I WOULD SAY TO
YOU AND I HEARD THIS FROM THE
THERAPIST WHO DIAGNOSED ME LAST
YEAR, WE ALL DEVELOP COPING
MECHANISMS AND INSECURE LITTLE
KIDS LIKE ME WHO HAD TO OVERCOME
ALL THE SUPERFICIAL WEIRDNESS
AND HAD TO FIT IN SOMEHOW WORK
REALLY HARD AT DEVELOPING THOSE
COPING MECHANISMS.

Steve says YOU'RE NOT FAILING
TO MAKE EYE CONTACT WITH ME.
YOU'RE NOT DEMONSTRATING ANY
PARTICULAR TICKS OR UNUSUAL
BEHAVIOUR... THIS IS AS
BLESSEDLY NORMAL, I'M SORRY TO
USE THAT WORD, THIS IS AS
BLESSEDLY NORMAL AND INTERESTING
A CONVERSATION AS I'VE EVER HAD.

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live."

Andreas says I'VE TRIED SO HARD TO BE
NORMAL, SO HARD, FOR SO MANY
YEARS.
I CAN TELL YOU EVEN NOW WHEN I'M
MEETING WITH MY COLLEAGUES, THEY
ARE AWARE ALL THE TIME BECAUSE
OF COURSE I'M NOW OPEN ABOUT IT,
THEY'RE AWARE ALL THE TIME OF
HOW MANY LITTLE OFF-RAMPS EXIST
IN MY BEHAVIOUR.
HOW MANY TIMES I AM NOT NORMAL.
AND, YOU KNOW, YOU SHOULD HAVE
MY SPOUSE ON THE SHOW AND ASK
HIM BECAUSE THAT WOULD BE QUITE
REMARKABLE.

Steve says HERE'S HOW YOU
DESCRIBE IT IN THE BOOK, AND
WE'LL BRING THIS GRAPHIC UP FOR
PEOPLE TO READ ALONG...

Another quote from Andreas' book appears on screen, under the title "Finally making sense." The quote reads "All my quirks, my barely controlled social awkwardness, my extraordinary math and music skills, my chronic and frustrating discomfort with eye contact, my obsessive love or order and routine, my trouble coping with disruptions and unexpected events -all of it now started to make sense."

Steve says YOU'VE DESCRIBED HOW
IT HAS HAD AN IMPACT ON YOU.
YOU HAVE A BROTHER.

Andreas says I DO.

Steve says NIKITAS.

Andreas says PRONOUNCED BEAUTIFULLY.

Steve says THANK YOU.
HE'S ALSO AUTISTIC BUT LOWER
FUNCTIONING THAN YOU.
IS THAT THE RIGHT EXPRESSION?

Andreas says THAT'S RIGHT.

Steve says HOW ARE YOU TWO DIFFERENT?

Andreas says MY BROTHER IS... FIRST OF
ALL, EVERY AUTISTIC PERSON IS
DIFFERENT FROM ANOTHER.
YOU DON'T SHARE THE SPECIAL
SKILLS OR SPECIAL QUIRKS.
MY BROTHER'S SPECIAL SKILLS ARE
IN A DIFFERENT AREA THAN MINE.
HE HAS THE MOST EXTREME,
EXTREME, PHOTOGRAPHIC MEMORY YOU
WOULD SEE IN A HUMAN BEING.
IF YOU WATCHED THE MOVIE "RAIN
MAN," THAT'S MY BROTHER.
HE WOULD MEET YOU TODAY AND MEET
YOU AGAIN IN 37 YEARS AND TELL
YOU HOW MANY POLKA DOTS
EXISTED ON YOUR TIE THAT
YOU'RE WEARING TODAY.
HE'S UNBELIEVABLE THAT WAY.
NOTHING EVER GETS ERASED.
HE LOVES IT NOW.
HE'S BECOME SO PROUD OF THE
THINGS THAT MAKE HIM DIFFERENT.
HE'S LOWER FUNCTIONING SOCIALLY.
HE WOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN ABLE TO
BE A CEO OF A COMPANY, FOR
INSTANCE, BUT HE IS JUST AS
PERCEPTIVE AND JUST AS SENSITIVE
TO OTHER PEOPLE'S PERCEPTION OF
HIM AS I AM.

Steve says IS HE HETEROSEXUAL?

Andreas says HETEROSEXUAL.

Steve says ARE YOU DISAPPOINTED
IN THAT?
[LAUGHTER]
YOUR AUTISM.
HOW DO YOU THINK IT HELPED YOU
BECOME A BETTER ENTREPRENEUR?

Andreas says I'M NOT SURE IT MADE ME A
BETTER ENTREPRENEUR.
IT MADE ME A DIFFERENT
ENTREPRENEUR.
AND FRANKLY IT GAVE ME A BIT OF
A NICHE I WOULDN'T HAVE HAD
OTHERWISE.
I SHOULD DESCRIBE TO YOU THE
ENTREPRENEURSHIP MOMENT I HAD.
SO I WAS ACTUALLY NEVER AN
ENTREPRENEUR.
I WAS A BAY STREET GUY, A
MARKETING COMPANY CEO, UNTIL A
DOZEN YEARS AGO WHEN CLIMATE
CHANGE BECAME A BIT OF A TOPIC.
AS YOU MIGHT IMAGINE, MARKETING
WOULD BE A FIELD THAT WOULD BE
DRAMATICALLY IMPACTED BY CLIMATE
CHANGE, RIGHT?
THE WAY BILLIONS OF CONSUMERS
BEHAVE AROUND THE WORLD CAN BE
IMPACTED SO MUCH BY SUCH A BIG
THING.
I HAPPENED TO BE ONE OF THE
EARLIEST STUDENTS OF CLIMATE
CHANGE BECAUSE OF MY AUTISM.
AND AT THE TIME I DIDN'T REALIZE
THE CONNECTION.
MY AUTISM MAKES ME A MATH FREAK.
MY MATH FREAKNESS MAKES ME A
CLIMATE GEEK.
RIGHT?
PEOPLE WHO LOVE NUMBERS SHOULD
LOVE CLIMATE AND WEATHER BECAUSE
IT'S ALL ABOUT NUMBERS AND
RANDOMNESS AND ALL THAT STUFF.
SO EVER SINCE I WAS A LITTLE
KID, I WAS MAKE THE WORST DINNER
DATE YOU CAN POSSIBLY IMAGINE.
I WOULD SIT THERE AND TALK ABOUT
THE WEATHER IN MONGOLIA TODAY.
YET, WHEN AL GORE STARTED
TALKING ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE AND
I ACTUALLY HAD THE GOOD FORTUNE
OF BECOMING A DIRECT STUDENT OF
HIS, I WAS SO TAKEN BY ALL THIS
AND I THOUGHT, OH, MY GOD, THIS
IS REALLY GOING TO HAPPEN.
THIS IS REALLY GOING TO CHANGE
EVERYTHING WHEN IT COMES TO MY
FIELD OF MARKETING.
IT WILL CHANGE THE WAY WE TALK
TO CONSUMERS.
IT WILL CHANGE THE WAY WE TRY TO
INSPIRE CONSUMERS TO BE BETTER
OR DIFFERENT.
AND THEN I REALIZED THAT NOBODY
WAS THINKING THE SAME WAY I WAS
YET.
NONE OF MY PEERS ACROSS THE
WORLD.
AND NOBODY HAD THOUGHT ABOUT THE
IDEA OF HARNESSING THE MASSIVE
POWER OF THE MARKETING INDUSTRY
AND SPECIFICALLY THE POINTS
INDUSTRY, THE INCENTIVES
INDUSTRY I HAD SPECIALIZED IN TO
MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE.
I THOUGHT WHAT IF SOMEBODY
INVENTED AN ECO POINTS PROGRAM,
WHICH IS WHAT I DID.

Steve says AND YOU DID.
WERE YOU CONCERNED AT ANY POINT
ALONG THE WAY YOUR AUTISM WAS
GOING TO PREVENT YOU FROM MAKING
THE NECESSARY CONNECTIONS YOU
NEED TO MAKE WITH PEOPLE IN THE
BUSINESS WORLD?

Andreas says NO, FOR TWO REASONS: ONE,
BECAUSE I WASN'T 100 PERCENT IN
TUNE WITH IT.
I WASN'T THINKING THAT I WAS
AUTISTIC EVERY DAY.
I HAD COPING MECHANISMS.
I WAS FAIRLY ACTIVE IN THE
BUSINESS WORLD.
DESPITE MY QUIRKS, I THINK I'VE
DONE OKAY IN TERMS OF CONNECTIONS.

Steve says MORE THAN OKAY.
YOU'RE WEARING A CARROT ON YOUR
LAPEL.
THAT'S FOR CARROT RECORDS,
PRESUMABLY.
HOW DOES THAT WORK?

Andreas says YOU MAY KNOW IT.
IT'S THE MOST POPULAR APP IN OUR
COUNTRY AND IT'S MY PROUD BABY.
IT WAS ESSENTIALLY THE
GRANDDAUGHTER OF MY ECO REWARDS
PROGRAM I INVENTED 12 YEARS AGO.
IT IS THE WORLD'S FIRST NATIONAL
WELLNESS REWARDS PROGRAM.
WE GIVE EVERY CANADIAN POINTS.
WHATEVER POINTS THEY LOVE EVERY,
AERO PLAN MILES, PETRO POINTS...
WE GIVE YOU THE OPTION OF
EARNING WHATEVER POINTS YOU ARE
ADDICTED TO ALREADY JUST FOR
LEARNING HOW TO LIVE BETTER.
HOW TO LIVE HEALTHIER.
HOW TO RESPECT THE ENVIRONMENT.
HOW TO MANAGE YOUR MONEY BETTER.
IT'S A WELLNESS PLATFORM THE
LIKES OF WHICH THE WORLD HAS
NEVER SEEN.
THEY CAN DOWNLOAD IT AND IT'S
FREE.
IT'S CARROT REWARDS.
IF YOU TYPE CARROT, YOU'LL SEE
IT COMES UP RIGHT AWAY.
IT'S HOT.
PEOPLE LOVE IT.
THEY GET FREE POINTS JUST FOR
LIVING BETTER.

Steve says DOES IT ACTUALLY
MAKE THEM HEALTHIER?

Andreas says IT MAKES THEM SO MUCH
HEALTHIER.
IF YOU GOT WE STARTED I WOULDN'T
START BRAGGING ABOUT IT.
WE HAVE OVER A MILLION CANADIANS
ON THIS APP.
HALF ARE CONSIDERED SEDENTARY
BECAUSE THEY WALK LESS THAN
5,000 STEPS A DAY.
THAT HALF A MILLION PEOPLE ARE
NOW WALKING 21 PERCENT MORE
EVERY SINGLE DAY BECAUSE OF OUR
APP.

Steve says SO THAT IN ITSELF
MAKES THEM HEALTHIER, OBVIOUSLY.

Andreas says THINK ABOUT IT.
IF YOU INCREASE PHYSICAL
ACTIVITY BY THAT MUCH EVERY DAY,
IT HAS A PROFOUND IMPACT ON
NATIONAL HEALTH.

Steve says FORGIVE THIS TAWDRY
QUESTION.
IF IT'S A FREE APP, HOW DO YOU
MAKE MONEY OFF OF IT?

The caption changes to "Dangling a carrot."

Andreas says AGAIN, THE WORLD'S MOST
HONEST BUT MOST SIMPLE BUSINESS
MODEL.
THE POINTS THAT YOU EARN BY
USING OUR APP EVERY SINGLE DAY
AND, REMEMBER, YOU ONLY EARN
THOSE POINTS IF YOU DO WHAT WE
ASK YOU TO DO.
IF YOU WALK A LITTLE MORE OR
TAKE A QUIZ ABOUT HOW TO COOK
HEALTHY.
ALL THOSE POINTS WE BUY.
WE MARK THEM UP AND SELL THEM TO
OUR CLIENTS WHO ARE TYPICALLY
GOVERNMENT AGENCIES THAT WANT TO
MAKE YOU HEALTHIER.
NOBODY HAS EVER SEEN A SIMPLER
BUSINESS MODEL BECAUSE WE REALLY
ONLY MAKE MONEY IF WE MAKE YOU
HEALTHIER.

Steve says GOTCHA.

Andreas says IT'S THAT SIMPLE.

Steve says YOUR AUTISM COMES
UNDER THE CATEGORY OF SOMETHING
EXPERTS CALL NEURO-DIVERSITY.

Andreas says MM-HMM.

Steve says HOW HIP DO YOU THINK
SOCIETY IS RIGHT NOW TO
NEURO-DIVERSITY AND THE MANY
DIFFERENT KINDS OF OPTIONS IN
WHICH IT PRESENTS ITSELF?

Andreas says YEAH.
I THINK... TO BE HONEST, I THINK
IT'S A MARVELLOUS TIME FOR ME TO
TELLING THE STORY THROUGH THE
BOOK, PRECISELY BECAUSE
EVERYBODY IS TUNED IN TO THIS.
I'M NOT SURE THAT, YOU KNOW,
PEOPLE WOULD LOVE TO GIVE BIRTH
TO ANOTHER AUTISTIC KID, BECAUSE
I'M NOT SURE THAT IT'S ACTUALLY
THE PREFERRED WAY TO BE.
BUT IT'S CERTAINLY ACCEPTED THAT
A LOT OF KIDS OUT THERE ARE
AUTISTIC AND THAT THEY HAVE AN
ENORMOUS AMOUNT OF POTENTIAL.
THEY CAN HAVE REAL LIVES.

Steve says THE PARENTS OF
AUTISTIC CHILDREN RIGHT NOW ARE
PROBABLY THE MOST POWERFUL
SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP IN
ONTARIO TODAY.
THEY ARE OUT THERE AND THEY ARE
MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD.
THERE'S NO QUESTION ABOUT THAT.

Andreas says AND FOR GOOD REASON.

Steve says IT'S A SHAME,
ANDRUS... ANDREAS, YOU HAVEN'T
BEEN ABLE TO SELL ANY COPIES OF
THIS BOOK.

The caption changes to "For more information: 6 degreesTO.com."

Andreas says IT LAUNCHED YESTERDAY AND
IT'S TOPPING A LOT OF AMAZON'S
CHARTS IN DIFFERENT CATEGORIES,
BUSINESS, AND LGBT AND I FORGET
WHAT ELSE, AHEAD OF STEVE JOBS'
BOOK.
I DID NOT WRITE THIS BOOK TO
MAKE A PENNY.
EVERY PENNY THAT'S MADE FROM
THIS BOOK GOES TO MY FAVOURITE
CHARITABLE PROJECT THAT HAS TO
DO WITH INCLUSION AND DIVERSITY,
WHICH HAS TO DO EVERYTHING I
STAND FOR AND THE BOOK STANDS
FOR.
IT'S SIX DEGREES.
I'M SURE THAT MAYBE YOU CAN TALK
ABOUT SIX DEGREES.
I'M NOT SURE.

Steve says THE LINK IS UP THERE
ON THE SCREEN RIGHT NOW.

Andreas says IT'S A VERY, VERY PROUD
CANADIAN-MADE WORLD CONVERSATION
RIGHT NOW, AND I'M PROUD TO BE
ONE OF THE CO-CREATORS OF IT.

The caption changes to "tvo.org/theagenda; agendaconnect@tvo.org."

Steve says YOU BROUGHT SOME OF
THE GUESTS TO OUR STUDIO A FEW
MONTHS AGO.
WE HAD SOME GREAT CONVERSATIONS.

Andreas says SO PROUDLY.

The caption changes to "Producer: Cara Stern, @carastern."

Steve says ANDREAS, THANK YOU
FOR VISITING US AT TVO TONIGHT.
THE BOOK IS CALLED "MISFIT:
AUTISTIC. GAY. IMMIGRANT.
CHANGEMAKER."
A MEMOIR.
GREAT TO HAVE YOU HERE.
THANK YOU SO MUCH.

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcast: tvo.org/theagenda."

Andreas says MY GENUINE PLEASURE.

Watch: Navigating the World as a Misfit