By Donna Loughlin

Peter Shankman is what you get when you combine curiosity and creativity with energy and adrenaline. He talks faster than most of us think and he thinks faster than he talks. He’s also one of the godfathers of modern digital media and a true innovator. So it makes perfect sense that he’s the guest on my debut episode of Before IT Happened podcast.

Peter is a best-selling author, a popular keynote speaker who has helped countless people in both their personal and professional lives. He’s the host of the successful podcast Faster Than Normal, in which he discusses his experiences with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

But before he was any of that, he was a digital media pioneer who, as one of the founding editors of AOL News, helped launch the very idea of news on the internet. He later started Geek Factory, one of first PR agencies dedicated to internet startups and eventually launched a global network connecting journalists and expert sources called Help a Reporter Out (HARO). All of his early success came as he was learning how to leverage his “faster-than-normal” mind into a superpower rather than let his ADHD hold him back.

“I didn’t realize at the time, but the reason I love news so much was because it was a dopamine hit,” he told me. “Every breaking news story, every interview, everything I did was a dopamine hit, and that’s what I’ve craved all my life. Before I knew how to manage my ADHD I was just finding interesting ways to get it.”

After selling HARO, Peter became something of a Renaissance man. He’s spent the ensuing years launching, selling and investing in numerous startups while developing a reputation as an innovative business consultant, spreading his new ways of thinking about customer service, social media and neurodiversity to companies around the world.

Over our wide-ranging conversation, Peter took us through his journey from hyperactive and underperforming student to groundbreaking journalist to serial entrepreneur and globetrotting business consultant.

“Everything I do, everything I’ve done, it really does all sort of connect,” he said near the end of our conversation. “I find that all I’m really doing at the end of the day is telling stories about things I love. That’s literally what I do.”

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