Talking About ADHD

“No One Talks About the Positives of ADHD — So I Found Some”

When Johan Wiklund, a business professor at Syracuse University, was diagnosed with ADHD, he noticed something: only the negative aspects of the condition were ever discussed. So he set out to figure out the positives — through scientific research.

Johan Wiklund, a researcher who explores the positives of ADHD
Johan Wiklund headshot, red sweater glasses

When I got my diagnosis, I knew nothing about ADHD. I read up on the condition. I was baffled by the fact that there were 10,000 stories written about how bad ADHD is. Only a handful told about the positive aspects of it.

So I did my own study, interviewing people with ADHD who operated their own businesses. Everybody said, “I would rather be the way I am and have the diagnosis than not have it.” Many people said, “I could not imagine working for somebody else.”

I began to think about ADHD in terms of my being a very tall person. I’m 6 feet, 7 inches. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? It depends. It’s bad if I’m flying across the Atlantic. It’s pretty darn good if I’m in a big crowd.

[“I Have ADHD, and I Don’t Need to Be Fixed”]

It’s the same with ADHD traits. They are largely negative, and they sometimes lead to problems. But when you’re running your own business, you can adapt ADHD traits to your own personal needs.

I found that those with ADHD symptoms have higher entrepreneurial intention. They are intuitively more attracted to starting a business than other people.

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  1. I couldnt agree more. In fact without some of my ADHD characteristics it would have been impossible to have had the success in my job. These characteristics worked closely together to make my success much greater.
    Typically i am that High School dropout who could not work from home including all homework if my life depended on it. Knowing that and my desire to earn more I joined the armed forces to try and increase my self discipline eg the great executive filtering system .
    While it didnt work I did learn to stay at work all day and hyper focus on my work. A lack of social awareness decreased the distractions around me that perhaps I shouldpay more attention to like those 1400 young ladies 18 to 25 year olds that I was 22 oblivious to. At this time I was married with a young dtr.
    That hyperfocus and the fact I was working for a major international insurer seeking to expand their US operations offerred me opportunities to shine in my strengths research and mathematical relationships.
    First we were managing 19 regional claims facilities in North America among 4 home office advisors. We wanted to establish a management by Objectives or MBO or MBR program in the early 70s and we were collecting a number of pieces of data that i felt would be excellent for use. Because of hyperfocus I was able to source 8 pieces of comparable data that we could relate to the Profit and Service objectives of our operation. Although it was spread among the 4 of us I was the only one who had worked elsewhere in the company and had more than a passing connection with Data Processing and Accounting functions. The success of that, just like today was done while continuing to provide support to my regular 5 claims offices . Later,
    it meant my project time was the lent to the corporate strategic planning Team.
    They wanted to dramatically expand their US operations (they now have a head office and 5000 employees. Their concern in the early 70s was an expectation of soon to be Medicare that would result in a substantial loss of business. Met Life and Prudential were pulling out and this huge 20% slice of the market beckoned.
    Many in our team felt it could be an expensive mistake. Thinking outside the box I used my familiarity with the data to show them that the worst case scenario could be highly profitable, simply because of the implementation of Medicare.
    Thinking outside the box, another of our famous characteristics made my later moves into sales and then consulting a slam dunk success. My career and my colleagues and competitors were all Commerce graduate Accountants Lawyers and Actuaries. CAs or FSAs I was that high school (actually middle school) dropout.
    I went on to become a vice President of a Major International Brokerage and Actuarial Consulting Firm and Founded my own company in the next 10 years.

    Hyper focus, Socially lacking, willing to please, and oblivious to time constraints and a savant like math skill due to my Left handedness becoming ambidextrous at a very young age. All of these are ADHD traits that worked to make my career a success . By mid 80s earning of 6 figures and increased continuously from then to my retirement and sale of the business in 2005

    If you are wondering about the left handed ambidextrous thing Check out Einstein, and the research on his brain. No research but other left handers who were adhd dropouts include Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. And many many others.

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