Aug. 1, 2022

Accessible Online Marketplace & Purple Tuesday with Mike Adams

Accessible Online Marketplace & Purple Tuesday with Mike Adams

Today Mai Ling chats with Mike Adams, the CEO of Purple, a disability organization working to bring disabled people and businesses together. Mike talks about his work building a fully accessible online marketplace, why he and his team took the...

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Today Mai Ling chats with Mike Adams, the CEO of Purple, a disability organization working to bring disabled people and businesses together. Mike talks about his work building a fully accessible online marketplace, why he and his team took the build-from-scratch approach, and what brought him to start a career in the disability sector to begin with. He also shares about the success of the Purple Tuesday initiative and how it’s become a global movement. But before this fantastic conversation, Mai Ling and James bring you up to date with what’s been going on in their lives. This is a packed episode with lots of great information that you don’t want to miss!

Contact Mai Ling: MLC at

Contact James: James at



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Only 3% of the top one million websites across the world meet basic accessibility standards and what I say to organizations is the purple dollar, the consumer spending power of families where there is at least one disabled person in that family equates to $8 trillion dollars a year.

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You're listening to the Exceptional Leaders podcast where each week we give you a front row seat to our conversations with new and successful entrepreneurs and thought leaders making an impact in the special education and disability communities.

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They share their intimate experiences so you can start grow and expand your impact.

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I'm mailing at mailing chan dot com and I'm James burgess of slp transitions dot com and today I'm super excited.

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We're going to be chatting about May's interview with Mike Adams, the Ceo of Purple May.

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I really enjoyed this interview.

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Just hearing Mike's perspective of he's building sort of an amazon like marketplace specifically for people with disabilities and that is, that is quite the task, quite the Everest as he calls it.

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He's incredible.

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Um I got to meet him last november when my partner Pradesh thomas and I went to Dubai to celebrate World disability day with care tech and he was one of the speakers and they were also launching the new able all platform that they're going to be, He'll be talking about in the interview, just an absolute strong, strong, strong advocate.

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He's just incredible.

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And I tell you I was a little nervous about the interview with him because he is just a really strong personality.

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So I told him that beforehand, I think he went a little easy on me.

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That's good.

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He didn't grill you or anything.

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Yeah, no, he was just incredible.

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And uh and I think that our listener, you're just going to find yourself just mesmerized, you know, when he starts speaking, he is, he's just speaking on a level of lived experience, but also just highly educated, a leader, you know, in the space, well connected.

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And I know James you had brought up a couple of things that you wanted to point out about the show without giving away.

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But I really think these are some important high points.

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Just a couple of highlights that stuck out to me was an interesting fact that he mentioned the wheelchair symbol that we know for handicapped symbols, you know, handicapped parking wherever it's a universal symbol.

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And it's helped the disability community be known across the globe, Which is great.

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But he mentioned that only 8% of the disability community actually uses wheelchairs.

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So I didn't realize that 92% of people with disabilities are what he calls hidden disabilities like mental health or just other disabilities where you wouldn't necessarily look at this person say, Oh, they're in a wheelchair, they have a disability.

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And mike talks about accessibility is more than wheelchairs and lifts.

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I mean on ramps.

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You know, especially in the digital age, we're entering this era where if you enter a website and you get annoyed, you just leave.

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But now imagine if you were blind for example, and the reader reads out capital W E L C O M E and spells out welcome.

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Well you're already bored by the time it gets to the whole sentence and you're leaving that website.

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So just a lot to consider when you talk about accessibility beyond that wheelchair symbol.

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Yeah, exactly.

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I I have definitely seen that where it's an image and it will say this is what disability looks like and it's a typical person, you know, and I love that.

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I love that because it's just shaking up all of these foundations and historical misnomers, you know, that that we've been living with.

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Um and this just adds to what we're doing here on the podcast for a number of years.

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We've been trying to bring leaders who are trying to break the barriers of film and tv industry, which is so important because that's where you see people like you, you know, so we've been doing a lot of work on that forefront and I'm proud of that.

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I hope you are too James and that, you know, we're helping to raise those voices and hopefully make change at that level and then mike and his team are also working at the marketing level and that's also where our former host co host Martin Sibley is working with purple goat and purple.

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Is this new, I guess symbol, you know, for disability support and that's it is that the marketing that we see, the ads, the models, you know, the music, the clothing, everything that we see should all be well blended and it shouldn't be a standout that somebody has a disability.

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It's just a fact that they do and they're, you know, highlighting whatever it is that that they're actually talking about.

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So I'm so, so, so excited and I feel like I want to thank the listener again for you, tuning in and listening to us and hopefully that we are helping to shape the way that you are doing things, working your business, you know, sharing your messages and please continue to share the show because this is how we continue to expand the ripple for every person that we have on here, so thank you so much.

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Yes, I echo those, thank you's and I want to say highlight the benefit of this episode really if you are interested in that business aspect marketing aspect of the disability community, this is a great episode because mike he candidly talks about, you know, his lived experience applying for a job.

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Originally he didn't want to work in the disability space he felt as he describes it.

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It's like, okay, yeah, yes, I have a disability, but I don't want that to define me and take the obvious route of working in the disability industry, but then he has this really heart wrenching crazy story that I don't want to spoil of him applying for his first job when he was 22 just the hiring practices were really, I don't know how else to say, but out of control and this was the impetus for him to go back and be like, you know what, I am going to make a difference in the disability community and the way he speaks to that is is really the financial part to like, you know, we, we all are these bleeding hearts, we want to help people, but if you want to make change on a systematic corporate level, you have to show people the money for better or for worse.

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And so he does a good job of explaining objectively how to persuade companies to care about the disability community because it's in their best interest from a financial part, but also, you know, the social good part is obvious, but the financial part is very important.

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You know, here's a great controversial topic.

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I had originally wanted to reach out to him for the month of august which is spinal muscular atrophy awareness month and you know, that is all of these awareness months have been so important because there have been a lot of these very unwell known diagnosis that now have gotten more support, you know, that for research and for all of these things and so I felt that mike would be great, you know, to be a a speaker for this month and when I talk to him about it, he immediately said, I am mike first, and I am my diagnosis way down the line, you know, But he he definitely understood that, you know, we have to continue to include our voices um in that and as part of the story, but it is not the story, right?

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And so I've actually wondered like, how do we continue to do the show James, and, you know, do we continue to find people for, like, someone who has a diagnosis for cerebral palsy awareness month, to spotlight them in addition, of course, to spotlight their work and their progress and their journey, right?

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Yeah, it's an interesting line to toe and to think about in my perspective, I think just interviewing a wide range of people with different disabilities or people who don't have disabilities but are working to help in the disability space.

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You get this holistic picture, but also humanizes.

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I mean, I think our audience to you, listeners listening, you already are some of the more compassionate people who don't need to be told.

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You should care about people with disabilities, but I think it's just important to share stories from from everyone from every walk of life and get the perspective that yeah, I'm not just the symbol of the A.

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I am a human with a whole story and maybe I actually don't even want to work in the disability industry, so don't pigeonholed me, but it is cool, like in Mike's interview to see that whole journey, and his thinking how he almost raged against the machine, as he says, I didn't want to be associated with disability, and now it's it's making it his life's work.

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So Yeah, exactly.

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And we just passed the ada anniversary um in in late september and so it's important that, you know, we continue to keep the torches burning right around this, which actually brings me up to you had brought up Section 14 C of the Fair Labor Act, and I was hoping you would share this with our our listeners.

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I think it's an important part of history for us.

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Yeah, so actually, it was perfect timing this morning.

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I saw Trevor Noah clip from the Daily Show, he was talking about Section 14 C of the Fair Labor Act, which was started under Roosevelt, and what that is, it was made with good intentions to give veterans coming back from World War Two guaranteed employment.

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But there's a loophole that's still in effect to this day, that allows employers to pay lower than minimum wage, which doesn't even really make sense when you think of the word minimum wage and you're paying below that, then that's minimum, right?

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But President biden is trying to close this loophole, but it's complicated.

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Some people on one side say that these what they call sheltered workshops or these work programs specifically for people with disabilities.

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It's good because it offers them guaranteed employment gives them a sense of community and social skills and all these benefits, but people against it are saying, well, you can't put everyone with a disability into a box and say you would all benefit from this sheltered workshop type employment program and it just systematically pays people less so it can be demeaning, you know, it showed someone with cerebral palsy using A a C.

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And he was saying, you know, I did a whole software engineering course and they're putting me in this program that pays 22 cents an hour.

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It's like it's really exploitive if you think about it that way.

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You know, some people maybe it's great because it gives them a chance to be in the community where they otherwise wouldn't, but for others they shouldn't be held into the standard of, oh, I'm disabled.

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So I have to be in the sheltered workshop program.

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So right, well, thank you for the education and that we will watch for if there's any initiatives or movements that we can get involved in, you know, to share our voices to help make the change.

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That's what we're here for.

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Well, before we go, we are into our last month of summer here and I wanted to share just quickly what we've been up to, I actually got out and got some fresh air James went to keystone and Vail colorado with one of my business partners Christie mayor from exceptional learning and it was incredible.

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It's beautiful in the summer.

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I'm definitely not a skier.

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So it's nice to see all of the ski lifts and the green grass.

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But I got some, you know, really good high altitude fresh air.

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How about you?

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Fresh air is really good for the brain.

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Get out of zoom.

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I would love to go to Vail.

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I heard it's beautiful and I do snowboard.

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So I'm going to add that to the list, but I did not go snowboarding recently, but I did go camping in Sequoia National Park, which is just four hours north of Los Angeles where I live and it was just a two night camping trip and I had About four Bear encounters mailing what?

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Yeah, that's how, you know, I'm listening.

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Well it was funny because I was gonna bring my mom and just, she likes to get out into nature, but she's like, as long as they have flush toilets and it's a, you know, a civilized campsite where I'm not having a backpack out into too deep into nature, then it's fine.

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But she had something else coming up.

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So she didn't get to go.

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But anyways, I don't think she would want to had gone known knowing that literally there was a bear, I kid you not three ft away from my head while I was sleeping in a tent and you could hear this thing at three in the morning breathing.

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Just just, oh my God, my heart started racing and there's nothing I could do except lay still and you're supposed to say, hey bear like try to let them know that you're there.

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So they don't really want to bother you.

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They just follow their nose and look for food.

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But our mistake was we left out citronella candles which are scented candles to ward off insects and we packed away all the other food and like the amateur mistake, we just left out those candles.

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So I think that's what he smelled and got really close to us while we were sleeping.

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But that's incredible.

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I'm glad you made it back all in one piece.

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Other than that it was good, it was fresh air and natural Alpine lakes.

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Just glad to be alive.

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I'm grateful.

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All right.

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Well if you are not running away from bears and you have a minute we ask that you take a minute and just put out on social media, share any of the shows that you like.

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Let people know that we're doing good work here and help to support the show.

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We do not have any sponsorship and James and I and martin.

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We've always always agreed that we wanted this to be our show.

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And so you know, this is all done with love and support.

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So if you can help us to share that would be great.

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And I think with that we have one more thing to share James.

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this is exciting mailing feed spot, they rank podcast in different categories and happy that they emailed you to tell us that exceptional leaders podcast is the number one disability podcast out of all the podcast according to feed spot.

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So I don't know exactly how the rankings work, but still it's an honor to be recognized for all this hard work for three years in a row, which I can't take credit for because I've only been on this podcast for about three months, but still so congratulate mailing and martin Sibley and I'm excited to be on board this, this movement bringing exceptional leaders to light.

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So thank you feed spot for that recognition.

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Excellent, well thank you guys, thanks for listening and I hope you enjoy the show, let's hear it.

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Well, I'm going across the pond today, out to the other side of the world here.

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I, as you guys know, my audience knows that I'm in Arizona and today I'm connecting with Mike Adams, he is the ceo of purple Tuesday and he has a number of initiatives going on but I had the pleasure of meeting with him just in November of 2021 and this was just a couple months ago but it was in Dubai which is crazy for me because I literally got on a plane, flew to goodbye and got to see Mike present and um we were guests with care tech, which is an incredible company in the U.

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And we have a lot to talk about, so I don't even know where to start and I told Mike, I said, you know, we need an agenda but we're going to try to keep it to under 30 minutes, but that's going to be hard because Mike is prolific as a speaker.

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So welcome, Mike, good evening, how are you doing?

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I'm really good and it's fantastic to be speaking to you again.

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And As you mentioned about Dubai, it just evokes so many great memories of when we met and when we were there on the stage at the delayed expo 2020, talking about disability on a business stage, it was just so fantastic.

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Yeah, and the people that you had there were amazing.

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We also had smart box who was a leader in augmented and alternative communication and it was, it was incredible to be able to reach out and connect everyone on such an important topic.

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So just for a listener, what I'm bringing up is that we were at the expo Dubai 2020 it was delayed, so we were there in november of 2021 we were celebrating international day of people with disabilities Mike when you were there, we were also celebrating the launch of a new company that you have a division, it's called, enable all can you share a little bit more about that with us and where you're at with it now.

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So in Dubai we introduce the world to enable all, which in essence is going to be the world's most accessible marketplace.

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So think amazon, think enable all.

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And the great thing is that what we wanted to do was create a brilliant marketplace that happened to be really accessible for every type of disability, because we absolutely know through Covid and lockdowns that the world of online accessibility is really, really needed.

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And what we wanted to show is that you could do it.

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And for me, as a disabled person who has lived with accessibility issues all my life, which somewhat was originally defined as ramps and lifts and we're not careful.

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What we'll end up doing is sorting out ramps and lifts and then creating this inaccessible infrastructure online and creating these barriers that absolutely do not need to exist.

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So what we wanted to show the world is that you can create a fabulous marketplace that happens to be fully accessible and I'm really excited you can hear my voice because we're going to go to market within the next 3 to 4 weeks.

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So we are ready, we found the magic source, We know what we're doing, we've got businesses really interested in selling on the marketplace.

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We've got a great demand for buyers who want to buy on the market place and we're just ready to go all right, I have so many questions for you, so buckle in here, first of all, we're excited to have you for this episode at this time because august is spinal muscular atrophy month and mike has been diagnosed with that but he also has other limitations that I think are so unique mike and and I know our listener can't see you, I invite you to find him out on the web, follow him, see the videos, see his work, his impressive posts on twitter.

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We were talking actually before the show how genuine he is, he shares his family life but talking about celebrating spinal muscular atrophy awareness month is taking someone like mike and showing all of the accomplishments that you can have in your life in addition to leadership and that brings me to now accessibility.

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So you started out saying the limited thoughts that you know a ramp is make something accessible, so knowing you mike and I can see you on video.

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Accessibility is so much more than being able to physically enter a space and now that we are, everything is online.

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You're talking about someone being able to access all of the things they want to do online, be it shopping, which is I think the area that you're talking about is a marketplace, right?

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So when you are assembling a team creating the vision for how this is going to be different than an amazon or an ebay, right?

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How are you looking at it?

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Is that from a first person perspective or is it from a global awareness and understanding of disability?

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It's both.

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So I have a lived experience of disability, a physical disability, but I also hopefully through purple and the work that we do represent every other disability as well.

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And I think it's a really good starting point to talk about, who are we talking about when we talk people with disabilities and I always say, look, the international sign for disability, the wheelchair is known right across the world and has done so much to raise the profile right across the world.

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But the wheelchair sign represents 8% of the global disability community and that is really important and 80% of disabled people have hidden disabilities, whether that is mental health, whether that's moderate, mild neuro diversity, whether that's cancer and recovering from cancer, dyslexia, and actually we have to re orientate the way in which we think about disability and define disability in order to come up with the kind of solutions for disabled people and you know, the assumptions that we make, we have to redo that so having ramps and lifts in place is incredibly important and you only have to look at the cop 26 the conference in Glasgow last november when the Israeli minister who happened to be a wheelchair user couldn't access the building because they hadn't put a ramp in place.

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Yes, that's happened so many times.

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Yes, fundamentally important, but we have to redefine what we mean by accessibility and I absolutely think the online world is a place where we really, really have to think about not putting up barriers that don't need to be there.

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So just to really useful examples to bring that to life and melon, when I when I talk about this at conferences, I say the way to get people to think about it is when they go home that evening to get out their laptop, go on to their own organization's website and then unplug the mouse the mouse test and see how far you can navigate your way through your own website.

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And that will give you a really good barometer on how accessible you are.

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And two really good examples.

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It is amazing how many pages start with the first sentence, all in capital letters, but for screen readers, for blind people, they read capital letters as acronyms.

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So if you're saying welcome to purple, it will say W E L C O E by the time the blind person has got to work out which website they're on, they've had enough and they've left.

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And so that's just one really good example that web developers can fix within five minutes.

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And the other one that I always use is if you navigate only through colors.

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So red, green amber.

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If you're colorblind, you can get lost straight away.

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And it's not to say you don't have the navigation through colors, but put the words there as well, even if it's green and red.

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So in the UK, there are three million people who are colorblind who have barriers put in place if websites just navigate through colors.

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And what we know is only for Three% $8 trillion dollars a year.

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That is the disability market.

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Only 10% of businesses have any kind of strategy to access that market.

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So for businesses, there is a huge commercial opportunity if you get it right and the commitments that have to be made to improve accessibility can be really, really small, but have a huge impact.

00:24:53.170 --> 00:25:20.520
And alongside the commercial arguments, there is the social impact arguments that increasingly post Covid it is, you know, staff want to work for brands that are absolutely committed in a non tick box way to diversity, inclusion and disability, customers increasingly expect it.

00:25:20.750 --> 00:25:28.100
And I think what is the real game changer is that investors are demanding it now as well.

00:25:28.110 --> 00:25:32.300
And I think we're going to start to see real traction.

00:25:32.310 --> 00:25:49.440
And I've been on record and I'm happy to say it to you and happy for your listeners to hear it from me, those organizations this decade who get inclusion, diversity and disability Will thrive.

00:25:49.480 --> 00:25:54.070
Those that don't will struggle to survive.

00:25:54.070 --> 00:26:23.230
And disability is the new issue of where we were with environment and environmental issues 2030 years ago and I always say you know I go shopping with my kids and I have five Children and apart from the youngest one is only seven months when we go shopping, it takes longer because they read the packaging and if there's stuff like palm oil on the back they won't buy it.

00:26:23.240 --> 00:26:44.400
And so you know, just that whole thing about what is important to people and environmental concerns, I think consumers are going to be really, really interested in making sure that the organizations and the brands that they support really do get disability and diversity and inclusion.

00:26:44.490 --> 00:26:45.380

00:26:45.390 --> 00:27:07.530
We've had a number of experts like yourself in this space talking about accessibility online and I do want to point to if our audience is interested is to go back to our episode with joe Devin, he is the founder or co founder of Global Accessibility awareness Day and he has an annual report that comes out and he actually looks at all of the top companies and how accessible they are.

00:27:07.540 --> 00:27:10.240
And so that's a great report to be looking at.

00:27:10.250 --> 00:27:15.240
And then we also had Elizabeth Hyman on she's the Ceo of the X.

00:27:15.250 --> 00:27:15.480

00:27:15.480 --> 00:27:25.950
Association and she is talking with developers at that level, making sure that they are looking at access stability in all of their immersive technology which is incredible.

00:27:25.950 --> 00:27:36.740
So there's just so many amazing people in this space that are helping to educate shed light on, you know, where we need to do better and then also providing us the tools and resources that we need.

00:27:36.740 --> 00:27:41.300
So just incredible work that you are doing um like just amazing.

00:27:41.310 --> 00:27:47.550
So I have this this elephant in the room question is why can't we just take amazon and make them accessible?

00:27:47.560 --> 00:27:49.620
What makes enable all different?

00:27:50.170 --> 00:28:07.330
Well, the elephant in the room is why has Amazon not thought about making their services accessible to the 17% of global people that happen to have a disability?

00:28:07.740 --> 00:28:11.610
And I wake up some nights in the middle of the night.

00:28:11.620 --> 00:28:20.390
Really worried mailing that I'm going to be found out and actually what I'm talking about is just real common sense and just the right thing to do.

00:28:20.470 --> 00:29:18.000
But it is, it is though then the following day I talk about it and people go, wow, that's that's interesting, I hadn't thought of that and I think the difference between amazon and enable all is to retrofit accessibility is really quite difficult actually, what we have done has built the infrastructure from scratch with accessibility, the centerpiece of what we're trying to do now, that's not to say by the way that if we're successful in three or four years, I suspect what will happen is that amazon might be interested in enable all in a different kind of way and for me, if we can normalize accessibility online, then we have achieved a huge amount and achieved our objective.

00:29:18.210 --> 00:29:19.340

00:29:19.350 --> 00:29:21.210
I've been doing this podcast now for three years.

00:29:21.210 --> 00:29:22.080
It's a labor of love.

00:29:22.080 --> 00:29:31.200
We don't have sponsorship, you know, whoever works with me as a co host, we we give up our time and we're so involved and invested, you know that it is just a wonderful contribution.

00:29:31.410 --> 00:29:35.340
But when I tell people I've been doing it for three years, they're like, you're still doing that.

00:29:35.350 --> 00:29:39.080
And I say, yeah, we're gonna do this until disability is not interesting anymore.

00:29:39.090 --> 00:29:43.890
You know, until having a leader is not an interesting topic and conversation.

00:29:43.900 --> 00:29:45.800
It's just every day, right?

00:29:45.800 --> 00:29:55.330
And will be on every podcast and it's just that's that's our place is to do this and that's what you're saying is right now, what you're doing is new and novel and you're right.

00:29:55.340 --> 00:30:10.120
You know, if every company and every website starts doing this, then it's not that special, but we need all of the efforts that you and your tech team are doing to be able to normalize this to the point where it's expected and we're going to get there because of people like you.

00:30:10.140 --> 00:30:19.920
I had the honor to meet your tech team in Dubai and it was really fantastic to pick their brains about, you know what they were looking at right now and just early ideas.

00:30:19.930 --> 00:30:22.080
Um and it was so, so exciting.

00:30:22.080 --> 00:30:33.870
So I'm really excited to have you on the podcast and sharing this If you're like me, you can't get enough of books, podcasts, blogs and other ways to find out how to create, grow and scale.

00:30:33.920 --> 00:30:39.280
That's why I brought together 43 disability focused leaders to give you more of what you're looking for.

00:30:39.290 --> 00:30:48.330
You will hear their stories and three best selling books which focus on general offerings, augmented and alternative communication and speech language pathology.

00:30:48.340 --> 00:30:56.960
I invite you to search for becoming an exceptional leader on amazon so you can learn intimate startup pearls of wisdom and keep growing your brilliant idea.

00:30:59.150 --> 00:31:04.060
Now let's get back to our amazing interview, you mentioned that you're going to be launching soon.

00:31:04.060 --> 00:31:05.650
Can you tell us a little bit about that?

00:31:05.750 --> 00:31:06.320

00:31:06.320 --> 00:31:30.850
So in terms of enable all, we've got to get it right and I talk about with the team, we are climbing Everest and we've got to get to the summit, but we've got to get to the summit, put our flag at the top and say this is truly accessible, this is this is beyond anything else.

00:31:30.850 --> 00:31:55.600
And I am really confident and saddened to some extent that as we stand at the summit, we will look down and not see many people coming very quickly behind us and so we've got to get it right, we've got to get the brands right we've got to make sure what I now don't know about each Commerce by the way, what I've learned in the last 12 months is not now worth knowing.

00:31:55.790 --> 00:32:00.460
And so it has been a fantastic experience.

00:32:00.470 --> 00:32:16.780
And what I can say to you is interestingly, in terms of enable all and e commerce and business is the first question they ask is is what is your price, what is your transaction cost, how much you're going to take?

00:32:17.180 --> 00:32:33.370
And to be honest, we have to be and we are going to be in line with every other core marketplace, so we're not going to be an outlier secondly, and a phrase I've now learned is frictionless integration.

00:32:33.530 --> 00:32:54.150
So can you enable us as a retailer to list all our products on your website and make sure they're accessible for all the ranges of different impairments, because if it's going to cost us time and money, then we're not going to do it.

00:32:54.660 --> 00:33:01.170
And the answer to that is yes, We have found the magic source which enables us to do that, which is absolutely great.

00:33:01.560 --> 00:33:10.340
And then they go, well, we get approached by 20 marketplaces a year to list on their marketplace why you?

00:33:10.600 --> 00:33:26.360
And it's only at that point that we talk about accessibility, this access to 17% of the global market, the $8 trillion, the social impact the commercial imperative.

00:33:26.460 --> 00:33:27.890
And then they get it.

00:33:27.900 --> 00:33:37.360
And it's been really interesting journey for me to however much I talk about it and I can talk quite passionate about it.

00:33:37.670 --> 00:33:46.480
The reality is that businesses only will sign up if the other two things are in place first and that's been a really good discipline for us.

00:33:46.490 --> 00:33:58.610
So we've been able to show that commercially we can make it work and then there is the kind of accessibility arguments to social impact, arguments that then follow.

00:33:58.740 --> 00:34:17.560
And I always kind of laugh to myself because actually what we're doing is supporting businesses to open themselves up to a bigger, bigger market, but you would think sometimes I was actually having to beg them to do it, you know, and they were doing me a favor to do it.

00:34:17.560 --> 00:34:38.260
We're actually commercially and socially it is a good thing to do and the right thing to do and your podcasts are great and people like you and me will keep going to one day people turn around go, I don't need you anymore, I understand it, I get it and we're doing it right exactly.

00:34:38.270 --> 00:35:00.420
Again for our audience, we've always been targeting people who are, I think they're like mom and pop and someone who has a disability and wants to launch a great idea or as a parent who has watched their child have an area of um you know, that they need support and they now can create something like a nonprofit or they have a great idea or someone who wants to write a book.

00:35:00.430 --> 00:35:04.920
So all of these people did not start out as an expert and professional in this field.

00:35:04.930 --> 00:35:07.970
Usually it's something that is added on to their life journey.

00:35:07.980 --> 00:35:21.820
So I want to talk about you a little bit mike what is your background and how do you feel that you are now sitting at the table with these big businesses negotiating and learning about frictionless frictionless frictionless integrate integration.

00:35:21.830 --> 00:35:22.420

00:35:22.430 --> 00:35:22.890

00:35:22.900 --> 00:35:25.680
So how does that work for you in your journey?

00:35:25.810 --> 00:35:27.770
Well let me let me say.

00:35:27.780 --> 00:35:41.180
So my name is Mike sometimes I'm called a 17% er because that is the percentage of disabled people who were born with their disability.

00:35:41.230 --> 00:35:48.380
So 83% of disabled people acquire their disability through their life.

00:35:48.390 --> 00:35:51.620
So I was born with a disability.

00:35:51.630 --> 00:36:02.570
So I had lived experience for all my life and I will tell you one story that kind of encapsulates why I do what I do.

00:36:02.720 --> 00:36:12.780
And I went to a special school for disabled people and then went to a college and university, a mainstream college and university.

00:36:13.160 --> 00:36:18.480
And all I ever wanted to do was be and run a business.

00:36:18.600 --> 00:36:21.540
I wanted to be a business leader.

00:36:21.570 --> 00:36:41.400
And to be honest the only thing I did not want to do in life was to have a job that was related to disability because I simply thought that that would be an easy way out and people would go oh well you're doing disability because you're disabled.

00:36:41.410 --> 00:36:52.340
So I kind of raged against the machine and when I left university that I got an interview for a big retailer here in the U.

00:36:52.340 --> 00:36:52.640

00:36:52.640 --> 00:37:27.800
To go on their graduate scheme and I can tell you even at 22 I've never swatted so hard in my life for an interview And I walked in that day and I remember it like if it was yesterday I walked in and there were eight people interviewing that day in a kind of horseshoe and I sat down and the chairwoman you know said thank you for coming and everything like that, we're going to start the interview now.

00:37:27.810 --> 00:37:50.750
And she said if you just tell us your name and why you're here and I said look my name is mike, why I'm here is and I got one sentence in and she stopped me and she said you know and we know you're not going to get this job, we're gonna stop it right here and now.

00:37:50.760 --> 00:37:53.660
But you must be used to disappointment.

00:37:53.670 --> 00:37:57.210
That was it, That was it.

00:37:57.330 --> 00:38:01.370
And that was in the early 1990s and that was it.

00:38:01.540 --> 00:38:24.940
And that day probably was the best thing that ever happened to me because it ignited something within me, created this passion to not allow other people, other disabled people to go through the experience that I had done.

00:38:24.950 --> 00:38:52.770
And therefore I kind of come to try and come together to blend disability and business as a way of transforming the lives of disabled people because I absolutely believe that good businesses reflect in their workforce, their consumer base.

00:38:53.310 --> 00:39:13.610
So the argument for me goes that if businesses increase the number of disabled customers, then that pulls them to increase the number of disabled employees in order to reflect that number.

00:39:13.610 --> 00:39:31.470
So rather than businesses feeling they're being pushed to employ disabled people, whether it's through quotas or subsidies or you know, actually what we want them to do is be demanding, talented people that happened to be disabled.

00:39:31.470 --> 00:39:58.430
And if you will allow me for one moment just to name drop last week, I had the opportunity to address the United Nations in new york on disability employment and I don't think many people expected me to stand up and say the way to address disability.

00:39:58.430 --> 00:40:27.540
Employment is not to think about employment, but think about the disabled consumer, because businesses understand the business to consumer model is they're raising better and actually, if you get them to understand that, and it starts to get traction and then automatically the pull towards disability employment becomes a byproduct, and that is where I am.

00:40:27.540 --> 00:40:29.660
That is that is what we stand on.

00:40:29.660 --> 00:40:37.560
That is what we believe, and I think we're starting to get real traction not only in the U.

00:40:37.560 --> 00:41:06.080
K, but I want to talk about purple Tuesday in a moment, but not only in the UK, but what we're starting to see is developing countries, looking at the disabled consumer as the way of accelerating understanding of social change around disability per se because you have to take businesses with you.

00:41:06.600 --> 00:41:09.050
And they understand the consumer model.

00:41:09.380 --> 00:41:14.760
It's very interesting, especially because I live a lot in the space of childhood development.

00:41:14.770 --> 00:41:22.080
You know, the K-12 is how we look at it in the United States, the education that we're providing the opportunities were providing.

00:41:22.080 --> 00:41:39.500
I know you also have deep connections to employment and we've been approached many times now, especially through exceptional learning in talking about how can we help students abroad, Children abroad to get the funding to get the resources, get the education, all of the things that they need.

00:41:39.500 --> 00:41:57.610
And I'm hoping that through these efforts, like you're saying, if the businesses are now seeing, you know, getting connected to the consumer who has a disability that that is going to trickle down, it's going to trickle down to employment and education you know, ultimately so that people can really have full and equitable lives.

00:41:57.860 --> 00:41:59.520
Absolutely, absolutely.

00:41:59.520 --> 00:42:03.010
And and I think if you look at history whether it's in the U.

00:42:03.010 --> 00:42:03.440

00:42:03.440 --> 00:42:03.830
The U.

00:42:03.830 --> 00:42:04.280

00:42:04.280 --> 00:42:07.510
The Middle East things have improved.

00:42:07.520 --> 00:42:22.450
And I can tell you as a disabled person, my life has improved in terms of accessibility over the last 25 30 years, but we need to make a real step change, we need to make a real step change for the next generation.

00:42:22.570 --> 00:42:34.970
And we interviewed for part of the Dubai presentation young disabled people and one of them said, and I love it.

00:42:34.980 --> 00:42:45.050
She said, look one day we will be running this town and we don't want to do battles with mops and what she meant.

00:42:45.160 --> 00:42:48.580
Absolutely, she meant was look, we are the next generation.

00:42:48.590 --> 00:42:51.970
We will be leaders of that generation.

00:42:52.030 --> 00:43:22.620
I don't want to go to a shopping mall and go into the accessible toilet and not be able to get in because they've used it as a store covered for mops and buckets and young disabled people are expecting full accessibility, are accepting full equality and are not going to accept, you know, the token IST IQ improvement, whether it's left or whether it's a bit more increased accessibility on the website.

00:43:22.630 --> 00:43:24.640
It's just not going to happen.

00:43:24.650 --> 00:43:39.050
And so it's really, really important that we find a way of unlocking this as quickly as possible because we need to meet the expectations of the next generation.

00:43:39.200 --> 00:43:40.020

00:43:40.020 --> 00:43:45.830
Well it's through our work with education and awareness and this is a perfect time for you to expand on purple Tuesday.

00:43:46.170 --> 00:44:45.040
So so purple Tuesday is my absolute passion and it's it's about improving the disabled customer experience, everything that I've said about and it becomes the solution and in a way the way to think about purple Tuesday, it is the mechanism that supports businesses to better understand and improve their relationship with their existing disabled customers and potential disabled customers and their families by putting in place accessibility related activities that will improve accessibility and that could be for example, improving digital accessibility, your website other devices because that increasingly is the gateway to an organization.

00:44:45.490 --> 00:45:07.500
It could well be frontline staff learning words or phrases in sign language to be more welcoming to the deaf community, it could be better sensory provision for people who are on the neuro diverse spectrum.

00:45:07.510 --> 00:45:38.930
It could just be better signage and increased understanding that 80% of disabled people have hidden disabilities and what we're finding is that businesses coalesce around purple Tuesday and last year in the UK, it got 19 million impressions on the day that we celebrated purple Tuesday, which is always the first Tuesday in november.

00:45:38.940 --> 00:46:01.240
So this year will be the first of november but just to remember purple Tuesdays about what businesses do, 365 days of the year and your listeners will be pleased to know that this year we will be celebrating purple Tuesday at piccadilly Lights in London in the UK.

00:46:01.250 --> 00:46:38.550
We will be celebrating in the United arab Emirates, probably in Dubai, we are coming to Minneapolis in the US and Malaysia as well and potentially Pakistan this year and then we will be back in new york to recognize and celebrate international day of people with disabilities and launch purple Tuesday as a huge hopefully initiative across the US in 2023 I am really excited.

00:46:38.920 --> 00:48:26.640
I have more conversations, you talk about the other side of the pond, I have more conversations with businesses, your side of the pond at the moment than I do in the UK and businesses in the US are getting it And we're hoping to have 12 to 15 household brand names who are committed to going on the purple Tuesday journey this year as the kind of pioneers for the launch event in December and I think what's been really interesting in talking to businesses is the fact that they hadn't really thought about disability through the lens of the consumer and in many ways disability, employment and workplace adjustments have been around quite a long time and so this provides a new insight, a new creative insight into what is in effect the raisin Detrol businesses, their relationship with the consumer which they get and then the commitments, the adjustments that that made are then being put to accelerate disability employment activity that has been around for a long time and I can probably use this podcast as a way of giving your listeners the first announcement really about purple Tuesday is that we're going to do a global piece of work with disabled consumers about what attracts them to brands.

00:48:27.180 --> 00:48:49.130
So as a disabled person, what are those issues that attracts you to brands, what do they have to do to make you as a consumer want them And we think that will be a fascinating insight and useful piece of work for all businesses to access the purple dollar.

00:48:49.150 --> 00:48:50.750
Excellent, Excellent.

00:48:50.750 --> 00:49:00.830
Okay, well how do you, how do we stay in touch with you get involved and be a part of this piece of work that you're putting together and get involved in your launch in the call.

00:49:00.840 --> 00:49:09.160
Well, you can go to purple Tuesday dot co, which will be your first protocol.

00:49:09.170 --> 00:49:14.060
All the information about how to get involved in purple Tuesday.

00:49:14.070 --> 00:49:19.210
You can follow us on linkedin purple Tuesday or as you referred.

00:49:19.210 --> 00:49:47.650
You know, I write my labor of love is my linkedin posts twice a week on a Tuesday and a friday and I'm increasingly going to be talking about our global work with purple Tuesday enable all and everything disability that is going to kind of ratchet up over the next few weeks and months.

00:49:47.650 --> 00:49:58.390
And actually what we're just asking is for organizations, think about their staff, their customers, their investors.

00:49:58.540 --> 00:50:11.840
This is just a straightforward thing to do and we are here to provide, hold your hand and give you the solutions that will have both commercial and social benefits.

00:50:11.840 --> 00:50:25.740
So if people are listening to the podcast, my one wish is that you do something to support disabled people and make it a reality, make it happen.

00:50:25.810 --> 00:50:26.620

00:50:26.640 --> 00:50:37.850
Thank you for all the work that you're doing mike, I'm sure you're super busy with your family and your five Children and then all of the extra things that you're involved in and we appreciate everything that you're doing for us and for the community.

00:50:37.860 --> 00:50:39.050
Thanks for being on the show.

00:50:39.060 --> 00:50:40.370
Thank you.

00:50:42.110 --> 00:50:50.670
We hope you enjoyed this episode and invite you to leave us a review on Apple podcasts and Spotify and share the show with people you think will find value from it.

00:50:50.820 --> 00:50:57.830
This helps the show a lot or have a great guest referral reach out to us at X Leaders at gmail dot com.

00:50:57.920 --> 00:51:06.790
And if you want exclusive tips on becoming an exceptional leader, deliver straight to your inbox, just go to exceptional Leaders dot com and sign up for our mailing list.

00:51:06.800 --> 00:51:08.210
Thanks for listening.

Mike AdamsProfile Photo

Mike Adams


Mike is currently CEO of Purple, a disability organisation intent on changing the disability conversation. Purple provides products and services to disabled people and businesses, including the award-winning Purple Tuesday, which supports organisations to improve the disabled customer experience.

Mike started his career in higher education and was one of the key contributors to transforming an accessible curriculum alongside the more traditional physical environment. He was a huge advocate for disabled students and the transition into employment.

At the Disability Rights Commission, Mike was responsible for strategic development and disability leadership as part of the Senior Management Team.

Academically, Mike has an MBA and a number of honorary awards for his services to disability.
In 2012 he received an OBE for his services to disabled people.

Through Purple Tuesday Mike is increasingly working on a global stage to promote disability inclusion for everyone.

These approaches are gaining real traction and he recently presented at a UN Conference on why disability matters.

Away from work, Mike is kept busy with his five children, three (including twins) who are under three.

Mike believes the disability movement is at a pivotal moment in history and is determined, with a growing number of people, to change the disability conversation permanently.