The Stars Who Aligned ADHD with Success

Let these successful celebs — like Howie Mandel, Salma Hayek, and Ty Pennington — and their triumphant stories inspire you to harness the power of your ADHD or learning disability.

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ADD/ADHD Leaders, Movers, and Shakers

Political analyst, commentator, and educator James Carville may have helped former President Bill Clinton win his 1992 White House bid, but Carville’s ADD/ADHD -- the condition that keeps him hyperfocused, adaptable, and full of the sort of excess energy politics demands – hasn’t always helped him achieve his goals. Before growing into his condition, he flunked out of college, according to After acknowledging his condition on CNN in 2004, Carville has gone on to speak publicly aboutADD/ADHD for organizations like Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD).

Erin Brockovich-Ellis, the legal clerk and activist portrayed in the Steven Soderbergh film bearing her name, is perhaps one of the most striking examples of overcoming the challenges of dyslexia. Her job has required her to read thousands of briefs – an exceptionally tedious task when coupled with reading difficulties. Though she lacked formal training in law (perhaps because of her learning difficulties), her research was instrumental in winning the largest class-action lawsuit settlement in U.S. history. In 2001, she told USA Today, “Early on I was told I probably wouldn't make it through college. I knew I wasn't stupid, but I had great hardships in school -- since second grade.”

With an outsized personality so extreme he’s parodied on HBO’s Entourage, Hollywood talent agent Ari Emanuel is a force to be reckoned with. In an interview with ADDitude, he said, “As head of Endeavor, I have to be creative. My dyslexia helps me: I don’t think the way other people do.” By working out every morning, he’s also been able to do away with his need for Ritalin.

Diet and exercise are two natural ways to combat ADD/ADHD symptoms, and British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has long been a proponent of encouraging children to eat healthy foods. Working with schools to improve nutrition for grade school children, Oliver, who was diagnosed with ADD/ADHD and dyslexia as a child, hopes to do away with potentially hazardous additives in food that can make it even tougher for ADD/ADHD kids to stay healthy and focused. He has also spoken out about his learning disabilities in school. The Telegraph UK reports that Oliver’s support of the dyslexia charity Xtraordinary People prompted him to announce on the organization’s website that he hopes other children can excel in school despite his own struggles. “It was with great regret that I didn't do better at school,” he said.

Conservative TV and radio personality Glenn Beck has found relief from his ADD/ADHD by taking Vyvanse. Though he credits his success to his condition, he joked in an interview with Ty Pennington, where the two discussed ADD/ADHD on The Glenn Beck Show, that his show staff members know when he hasn’t taken his medication.

Though she struggled academically, writing gave journalist and author Katherine Ellison a chance to excel. Diagnosed at 49, after her son was diagnosed as having ADD/ADHD, and after winning a Pulitzer Prize at age 27, Ellison wrote about her son's -- and her own -- challenges with ADD/ADHD in Buzz: A Year of Paying Attention.


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TAGS: ADHD Role Models, Famous People with ADHD, Focus at Work, Get Organized at Work, Vyvanse

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