Virgin Airlines founder Sir Richard Branson is a wealthy adventurer known for taking risks and for his big spending. While these thrill-seeking ADD/ADHD traits can be cause for concern, they’ve helped Branson become an inspiring, successful businessman.
Kinko’s founder and serial entrepreneur Paul Orfalea struggled with severe dyslexia and ADD/ADHD as a child, which made it impossible to follow along in the classroom, according to his website. “Because I couldn’t read, I learned from direct experience,” he wrote about himself on his website. These challenges also taught Orfalea to rely on those around him and to appreciate everyone’s unique strengths and weaknesses in the hopes they’d recognize and respect his. "Because I have a tendency to wander," he told ADDitude, "I never spent much time in my office. My job was going store to store ... If I had stayed in my office all the time, I would not have discovered all those wonderful ideas to help expand the business."
The founder and namesake of one of the nation’s largest brokerage firms, Charles Schwab didn’t recognize his own dyslexia until his 16-year-old son was diagnosed. For Schwab, excelling with a learning disability is about accepting your weaknesses and focusing on your strengths. “Find out what you can do well, focus on it, and work doubly hard,” he told ADDitude magazine in 2005. “Focus on your strengths. Don't be afraid to ask for help and to admit you need it.”
“If someone told me you could be normal or you could continue to have your ADD, I would take ADD,” JetBlue Airways founder David Neeleman once told ADDitude. The airline entrepreneur forgoes medication and credits his natural state for the company’s success. “I'm afraid of taking drugs once, blowing a circuit, and then being like the rest of you,” he joked.
Alan Meckler, Jupitermedia founder and CEO of WebMediaBrands, wasn’t diagnosed with dyslexia until mid-life. But his ability to quickly digest complex information and his attention to detail, he told ADDitude, were what led him into the Internet tech world -- long before many thought it would be a lucrative business market.
More on Famous People With ADD/ADHD and LD