Why Dyslexics Make Great Entrepreneurs

Here is an argument I've never heard before.

In a study to be published in January, Logan found that 35% of entrepreneurs in the U.S. show signs of dyslexia, compared to 20% in Britain. Logan attributes the gap to a more flexible education system in the U.S., vs. rigid tracking in British schools, and better identification and remediation methods. "Most of the people in our study talked about the role of the mentor and how important that had been," Logan says. "The difference seems to be somebody who believes in you in school."

The broader implication, she says, is that many of the coping skills dyslexics learn in their formative years become best practices for the successful entrepreneur. A child who chronically fails standardized tests must become comfortable with failure. Being a slow reader forces you to extract only vital information, so that you're constantly getting right to the point. Dyslexics are also forced to trust and rely on others to get things done-an essential skill for anyone working to build a business.

Any dyslexic readers that can vouch for this theory?

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  • Lefteris Cavadias
  • I think it is the same thing when overcoming any problem in your life … the blind might get a very developed sense of hearing, for example. Dyslexia makes the school system never work for you, so you become an out of the box thinker. I think the same might be true for anyone who doesn’t do well in the school system — and entrepreneurs in generally seem to not really fit into the mold of most schools and colleges, as I swear they seem to have a high dropout potential than the people who go on to the corporate world. As least that seems to be true in the tech entrepreneur category.

  • One of my favorite parts of that article was the comment by “Chuck G” at the end:

    Yet even more proof that college has no effect on the money you make. Remember the old statement, ” ‘A’ students teach ‘B’ students who work for ‘C’ students”.

    I’m sure that could spark a whole article in itself, on what college performance says about your future performance as an entrepreneur or employee.

  • I have read many studies which try to explain the driving factor behind a great leader – essentially someone that is an entrepreneurs. This often results in debates if leadership can be taught or is innate. Regardless, I’m willing to think that leadership and success is achievable by anyone when there is enough dedication.

  • Paul

    I’ll be the devil’s advocate here and say that college education has shown to add over one million dollars to a person’s lifetime earnings versus someone who does not attend college. Of course there are numerous exceptions. But the statement that “college has no effect on the amount of money you make” is inaccurate. Would be better to say that not attending college does not necessarily handicap how much money you make. Its up to you, really.

  • Ron

    Paul Orfalea, the founder of Kinko’s, wrote a book about his life. The title says it all…

    Copy This! : Lessons from a Hyperactive Dyslexic who Turned a Bright Idea Into One of America’s Best Companies


  • I believe I read someting about that relationship between reading problems and entrepreneurship in the book “Re Imagine” from Tom Peters.
    I think that one of the examples was Richard Branson…

  • I’m dyslexic. One thing that needs to be said in this conversation is that dyslexia is not one thing. It’s more like a continuum of conditions. I’m toward the mild end of the spectrum. I transpose letters and numbers, but that’s not much of a problem when it comes to reading or taking standardized tests. So the overcoming adversity argument probably doesn’t hold for me. There’s been way more adversity in other parts of my life. On the other hand a friend has a daughter who is severely dyslexic, probably at the other end of the spectrum from me. She reverses letters, for example, which is a huge problem in reading and test taking. As many people have said here, studies like this always look for one secret core that makes someone a success. I wonder if the authors of such studies think we’re all going to try to become dyslexic if it turns out to be the key to riches beyond the dreams of avarice.

  • Having undiagnosed dyslexia led me to develop fantastic pattern recognition skills when young. And to feel the ‘normal’ ways of doing things weren’t always the best. Now I know I’m dyslexic, and have become a trailblazer in business and other arenas.

    So I’ll vouch!


  • Richard

    You assume if someone is an entrepreneur then that equals success. I consider myself fairly clever but for one reason or another have always been made aware that i was not the most articulate soul. I think being given a name for a ‘disability’ like this is only going compound the problem and provide, for a want of a (much) better word, an ‘excuse’ for a lack of ability. We’re not born with everything, we can learn, some quicker than others, but if we are told from an early age that we can’t do something we will likely relax our efforts to improve.

    Then again perhaps that is to do with how i have perceived it in England. Which would support the stats you provide. ( i have no experience of US education) I do think that there are far to many factors to consider to be able to make too much of the numbers though. Interesting all the same.