Cynthia Gerdes, 58
restaurateur, Minneapolis, Minnesota
As an entrepreneur, Cynthia Gerdes finds that ADD/ADHD is a boon. "It's easy to do a million things at once," she says.
Owner of Hell's Kitchen -- an award-winning restaurant in Minneapolis, which brings in more than a million dollars annually -- Gerdes started her career as a teacher. She owned several successful toy stores before she entered the restaurant business. Gerdes, who holds bachelor's degrees in education and business administration from the University of North Carolina, was always able to work the long hours her jobs demanded, but when it came to smaller tasks, like food shopping, she was lost.
"I couldn't cook," she says. "And even with a grocery list, I couldn't get the five ingredients I needed."
Frustrated, Gerdes saw her doctor, who gave her a questionnaire to fill out about her symptoms. When she found she had ADD/ADHD, she finally understood why she had more energy than everyone else.
Gerdes attributes some of her behavior to ADD/ADHD, especially her frequent change in careers. She believes that the disorder allows her to get a project off the ground, but causes her to move on once things settle into a routine. This is the reason Gerdes started a restaurant after her toy stores had become successful.
The restaurant exec has found that making adjustments in her schedule is enough to keep her ADD/ADHD in check. "I won't do two meetings in a row," she says, "because I know I can't sit still that long." Taking breaks while reviewing menus and bills helps, too.
She still has problems with grocery shopping. Her husband, who is a chef, is supportive. "He is amused and bemused when I spin in circles around the house," she says. "Thank God, he is a chef!"