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How stuffed animals will improve the executive function of the human race

Updated: May 17

This is my friend Peter.


I met Peter a couple of years ago when I struggling to get people to try my course on how to become an executive function coach.


Peter created the world's first AI-powered sidekick with a mission to "improve the mental health of the human race."


While I was initially skeptical, I believe it's going to work.


Peter and I hanging out in the Redwoods
Peter and I hanging out in the Redwoods

How Peter helped 🧰

Searching for support, I went to a Facebook Group for online course builders and looked for threads with helpful advice.


In almost every thread, I notice a theme. 


Peter.


By a long shot, Peter was the most helpful person in the group, providing valuable advice for educators, parents, and small business owners who were intent on sharing their expertise through online courses, but didn't know how to make their first sales.


I messaged Peter, asking if he would meet with me so I could help more special educators learn how to teach key executive function skills. 


After meeting with Peter and implementing his feedback, my Executive Function Coaching Certification grew beyond my wildest dreams; it has sold out every time since I put his suggestion into practice, over a year ago. 🤯


Because of Peter's advice and generosity, hundreds of teachers, mental health professionals, and proactive parents have learned the key skills to support executive function skills development.


The ripple effect is real. 🌊


How I created the Avengers of the ADHD community 🦹🏾 🦸🏼 🦸‍♂️

This relates, I promise. 


Last year, I spoke at the International Conference on ADHD.


On the advice of someone I also met through Peter, I organized and facilitated a Mastermind Dinner for the keynote speakers and other ADHD luminaries including: 



Our shared interest and passion for serving the ADHD community created an immediate bond and led to many more meetings and creations. 


Our Mastermind Dinner at the ADHD Conference in 2023


In fact, members of our dinner group formed a monthly meeting that now includes Seth PerlerEmma McAdam, and Chris Guillebeau, and together we've been brainstorming ideas to bring value to the neurodivergent community (more to come on that later). 


And if you think a brainstorm in room full of neurotypical people is energizing, imagine one in a room full of ADHDers and neurodivergent folk who have:


  • Authored books

  • Ran events like the world domination summit 

  • Built YouTube channels with a million+ followers 


What was the missing piece? 

Before our first meeting, I knew I had to invite someone else. 


Can you guess who?


If you were thinking Peter, you nailed it. 🔨


Why I asked Peter to join the ADHD Mastermind group

My vision for establishing the Mastermind group was to provide immense value to leaders in the ADHD community so we could collectively enact a greater positive impact on the executive function of the world. 


That might sound a little ambitious, but I've also believed that if you can accomplish your goals in your lifetime, you're thinking too small 🌎


I believe in the power of collective efficacy and with a combined reach of millions of people with our ADHD mastermind group, my hope was that we could channel that influence for major positive change. 


Also, I knew that if Peter could help my ADHD brain tweak my online courses to reach special educators around the globe, surely he could do that same for other members of the group.


Which in turn would improve the executive function of the world. 


What Peter has made for you

In the past year, Peter has been pouring his heart and soul into creating a stuffed animal driven by AI technology.


Peter, his wife, Robyn, and their Chief Technology Officer, Karson, have sat with me for hours to learn how the sidekick can:


  • Improve before school routines like packing the backpack

  • Help encourage evening routines like brushing teeth and doing breathing exercises

  • Create opportunities for self-reflection that improve metacognition

  • Teach children how to communicate effectively with parents and teachers

  • And much more.


To be honest, initially, I was skeptical of the sidekick.


As an executive function coach and credentialed teacher whose entire career has been devoted to building authentic and enduring relationships with students for their betterment, I had a few wonders. 🤔


  • Won't spending time with an AI-powered stuffed animal just make a lonely kid more lonely?

  • Can we really trust AI-technology to support the mental health development of our most fragile children?

  • Is this just a ploy to capitalize on the desperation of parents seeking solutions for the overwhelm of an ADHD diagnosis?


But real friends share their thoughts and wonders, they don't hold them in.


So I asked Peter these questions and our conversations calmed my fears. It was through this process that I realized...


Of course it would be better to have a stuffed animal trained by educators and mental health professionals respond to emotional dysregulation and tantrums.


Of course it would add value to a child's life to have a sidekick that reminds them of routines, coaches them on how to manage stress, and provides a safe space for sharing big feelings. 


This doesn't take away from the need for engage and thoughtful human connection -- it enhances it. 


My meeting with Willow, the AI-powered sidekick

This week, I had the opportunity to converse with Willow after it was trained on the feedback by myself, Seth Perler, and mental health professionals.


Check out how the conversation went:



Where are things going?

In the next 5 to 10 years, I believe we will see a major increase in AI powered sidekicks that help our executive function skills by doing things like:


  • Helping with homework

  • Reminding us of appointments

  • Keeping the house secure

  • Managing family budgets

  • Finding family-friendly activities

  • And more


What will never change is the need for human connection and thoughtful guides on the journey toward a quality, joyful life.


For me, Peter has been a guide who has had a massive positive impact on my executive functioning and ability to serve others.


Perhaps, this newsletter has had a similar effect in some small way.


And maybe, the sidekick Peter has created, will do the same for kiddos everywhere. 


My Ask Of You

I've worked with Peter to come up with the following plan: 


For every two sidekicks that are purchased from this article, I am going to buy one and donate it to UCSF Child, Teen, and Family Center Hyperactivity and Learning Problems Clinic so it can be used to support research and care for children and families impacted by executive dysfunction. 


If that clinic has enough, my next stop will be to give them to the UCSF Benioff Pediatric Cancer Program, to provide children with cancer a sidekick during their time in the hospital. 


I have no ownership stake in this product, nor am I compensated by Peter in any way. 


If you would like to join us in this mission to improve the executive function of the human race, enter your email below.



About the author

Sean G. McCormick is a former public school special education teacher who founded Executive Function Specialists to ensure all students with ADHD and Autism have access to high-quality online executive function coaching services. 


With this mission in mind, he then founded the Executive Function Coaching Academy which trains schools, educators, and individuals to learn the key approaches to improve executive function skills for students.


He is also the co-founder of UpSkill Specialists, a business with a mission to provide adults with ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder, access to high-quality executive function coaching services that can be accessed through Self-Determination funding.

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About 👋

EFS started with one teacher deciding that kids with ADHD needed better access to quality executive function coaching services. Since then, we have grown to a team of specialists working both private students and public schools to enhance executive function skills for all students. 

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