Kate Kamoshita nee Carslon

Kate Kamoshita nee Carslon is originally from Oakland, CA and is a permanent resident in Japan. 

She tells us that, “I am a “forever student” and have two MA in education and A youth Development specialist certification. I am the founder of Learning Compass which is a place for people to learn about ADHD, Neurodiversity, and find the right learning style. Education is not one size fits all and I strive to get every learner to the right place for their learning style. I work with individuals, families and companies. I am not a psychiatrist or a coach; I am a teacher and now my subject is ADHD. I run a virtual classroom and I have designed courses to help both neurodivergent people and neurotypical people understand ADHD better.

What were your initial years of growing up like? Tell us about your life before starting your professional journey/venture/initiative and what inspired you to choose this career.

I grew up in Oakland California and I was always a bright child, but struggled with perfectionism and anxiety. As someone with undiagnosed ADHD my report cards have comments like “talks in class” or “has trouble following instructions.” Since I was smart I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well at school, but if I had had a diagnosis I know things could have been different. I cannot change my past, but I can help others understand ADHD better so they might get diagnosed earlier.

Was there any turning point in your life that changed your journey? If so, what was it? Please tell us the backstory behind it.

I studied abroad in Italy at 17 for my junior year of high school. This was my first trip out of the United States and it changed everything! I was so excited by the world and learning new cultures that I wanted to go everywhere. Studying abroad in high school affected all the decisions afterwards. I went abroad in University to Cape Town and Prague and also began working in the study abroad department. While working in the study abroad department, a coworker recommended the JET program (Japanese exchange teacher program) and I arrived in Japan in 2006. I had no idea I would be here so many years later! As I mentioned, I was diagnosed with ADHD in 2016 when I was 34. It is actually very common for women (AFAB) to be diagnosed in their mid-30s and 40s. I had been diagnosed with GAD (general anxiety disorder), which just means I am often anxious, and was also suffering from postpartum depression and PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder), both of which have a high correlation to ADHD. I remember speaking to my doctor about how this couldn’t just be anxiety, and he asked if I had thought about ADHD.

Tell us about your goals, interests, and role models.

My goal is to help DEI (diversity equity and inclusion) particularly in Japan and other parts of Asia. I would like to help make companies and schools more knowledgeable about neurodiversity and why being inclusive is better for everyone. I’m working a lot with individuals now, but I really hope bigger companies or schools will start to contact me about training with HR or teachers. I’m also working on a podcast called ADHD Abroad, where I would talk about neurodiversity around the world. If you are living abroad and have ADHD, then let’s talk! I’d love to hear from you. I also started a virtual classroom where I teach live courses and self structured courses about ADHD, PMDD, and other mental health issues and how to better work with your brain. There is a lot of shame around ADHD and I want to help people learn to advocate for themselves. My interests are varied as ADHD people are hobby hoppers, but my latest hobby is songwriting. My role models are other entrepreneurs here in Japan, Leza Lowtiz was my yoga teacher and an author. My business coach Sarah Furuya and other ADHD influencers I have met online.

Everyone has their own set of challenges when starting an entrepreneurial journey. Still, the most essential part for others to learn is how you deal with those. Would you like to share with us your challenges and your coping mechanisms?

I think for people with ADHD the first and most important step I took was asking for help. I hired a business coach as I wanted to really follow through with this business. I also have an assistant and I am learning to not rush my business. AS much as I am growing, my ADHD negative thinking can make me feel I should be doing more, or I should be doing something a certain way, but really I am doing my best and I must learn to be proud of my accomplishments. I feel having a community helps a lot too.

What impact do you feel you have been able to create with your work so far and how would you want to grow in the next few years?

As I said I would love to find more corporate or academia clients to give all companies and schools better tools to help ADHD and other neurodiverse people work better. I think neurodiversity can bring a lot to these spaces, but we need to better educate and advance the dialogue around accommodations or making more inclusive work spaces. People in Asia often still see neurodiversity as a learning disability, and also seem to judge the severity solely on how one performs in an academic or professional setting. We need more doctors that take insurance and offer counseling, testing, OT and family therapy at affordable prices, and we need to lessen the stigma of disclosing neurodiversity to schools and employers in Asia.

While the global pandemic of COVID-19 is associated primarily with adversities, it has also brought about a true boom in startups, with successful entrepreneurship in many countries. The pandemic has impacted all of us in one way or another. Would you like to share your experience on a personal and professional level?

In 2020, many people started building communities online and there was a surge of ADHD related accounts. When I saw these, I thought I should bring them to Japan and so I did! The pandemic was hard especially as I lost my mother in 2020, so it’s been a long year of being vulnerable and growing with the new normal.

Your journey and your vision are very inspiring, but are there any achievements or accomplishments you would like to mention?

ADHD is real and still very stigmatized. Also many people with ADHD also have PMDD which is a severe type of ADHD. I am happy I created my instagram space and my virtual classroom to bring awareness to both. I am honestly just grateful for all my students and followers who have believed in Learning Compass since the beginning.

Would you like to share with our young budding women entrepreneurs the change you would like to see in the world if given an opportunity?

I would like women to be given the respect and support they deserve in the world. Gender inequality is still so huge and women are severely under diagnosed with ADHD and PMDD. The change I want to see is for women to keep fighting the patriarchy and following their dreams,

What’s the most important thing you have learned in your personal life and professional journey? What is your personal motto in life?

My motto is a quote that says “All the world is my school and all humanity is my teacher” by GEORGE WHITMAN. Learning and knowledge is the best thing one can do for themselves and I don’t believe in one way of learning. I am a “forever student” and infinitely curious. I think this is the key to building new businesses as I am not afraid to say I need to learn more or to start something new.

Women are a growing force in the workplaces worldwide, standing shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts. There are cracks in glass ceilings everywhere, with many women breaking through to carve out a space right at the top of the pyramid. What are your thoughts about women’s leadership today?

Women are amazing. We have so much fighting left to do, but I know how much value and creativity we bring to all we do. Keep fighting!

With your grit and determination, you are making a considerable impact, breaking through, and serving as role models for many budding entrepreneurs. What would you want to say to our young women leaders/audience reading this?

That you can do anything you want and ADHD or PMDD are not things that need to stop you. Follow your hearts and passion and stand up for yourself. You are doing great!