Dyslexic Entrepreneurs

I read this great book called The Dyslexic Advantage: Unlocking the Hidden Potential of the Dyslexic Brain by Brock L. Edie, M.D., M.A. and Fernette F. Eide, M.D. Dyslexics are considered some of the most innovative thinkers. Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, and Al McGuire are some of the great innovators who were dyslexic. Below is an excerpt from the book about dyslexic entrepreneurs.

Dyslexic EntrepreneursThe Dyslexic Advantage: Unlocking the Hidden Potential of the Dyslexic Brain

Dr. Logan found several key traits among dyslexic entrepreneurs. The first is a remarkable sense of vision for their businesses. “They’ve got a very clear idea of where they’re going and what they’re doing, and holding that end point in sight is a very powerful tool because it can be used to harness other people around that vision.”

Second is a confident and persistent attitude. “Having got through and solved all the problems of schooling and coped with those challenges, they have a can-do approach that they bring to new situations. They not only know what they want to do, but they’re also confident that it’s going to work.”

Third is the ability to ask for and engage the help of others. Dr. Logan found that most dyslexic entrepreneurs employed significantly larger staffs than nondyslexic entrepreneurs, and they were more likely to delegate operational tasks to their staffs while focusing their own attention on the overall vision and mission of their companies. “They know they’re not particularly good at the details, so they surround themselves with people who are good at doing finance, or good at attention to detail, or whatever it happens to be; and unlike many entrepreneurs who won’t delegate and will constantly interfere, they’ll bring the best people around, and then they’ll trust those people to do it. Many individuals with dyslexia have used the same sentence to describe this attitude to me: ‘I employ the best people I can find, even if they’re cleverer than me.’ That comes out again and again.”

The fourth trait is excellent oral communication, which they use to inspire their staffs. “Often they have very personal charismatic relationships with the people who work for them, and even when they have enormous empires they manage to somehow create those same sorts of relationships. The employees are energized by them. A good example of this is how the staffs of both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic were both going to go on strike. They both wanted pay rises. But Richard Branson [the dyslexic CEO of Virgin Atlantic] went to the staff conference, spoke to the staff, and explained why he couldn’t give them a pay rise; and everybody went back to work and carried on.” By contrast, the CEO of British Airways didn’t use that approach, and their labor standoff continued.

A fifth and final strength, which Dr. Logan has repeatedly observed but has not yet confirmed with her research, is that “many of these successful entrepreneurs use their intuition a lot. For example, I’ve been talking recently to a very successful dyslexic entrepreneur, and he told me that he never does formal market research. He just goes and he’ll stand next to a store that he’s thinking of purchasing, and he looks at the footfall, and that sort of thing. It’s certainly more of a right-brain approach than a logical reasoning approach.”

In short, the skills that Dr. Logan has identified in these dyslexic entrepreneurs consist to a surprising degree of the kinds of D- and N-strengths we’ve covered in this part and the preceding one: Dynamic reasoning to “read” future opportunities, establish end points, and solve problems, and Narrative reasoning to convey the vision to others, inspire them, and persuade them to join in. These are the kinds of skills needed to operate in any environment that is changing, uncertain, or incompletely known.

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