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Dyslexia in the business world

18th March 2021

This week is a busy week, ‘Neurodiversity Celebration Week’ together with the well known ‘Comic Relief day‘ tomorrow, 19th March. Lets celebrate differences and work together to help give all children a brighter future.

Comic Relief 2021: Everything you need to know about Red Nose Day's and  'Share a Smile' campaign - CBBC Newsround
BBC – Comic Relief

An organisation that provides help and support is The Prince’s Trust.

“We believe that every young person should have the chance to embrace exciting opportunities. So, we help 11 to 30 year-olds to find the tools and confidence to try free courses and start careers.”

It all began in 1976, when HRH The Prince of Wales had an idea to improve the lives of disadvantaged young people in the UK. He founded his Trust to deliver on that commitment.

The above story is just one example where the Trust has helped in providing support and developed confidence, because of that an individuals business idea has been turned into a reality.

The Prince’s Trust and TK Maxx & Homesense Awards each year celebrate the extraordinary achievements of young people supported by The Trust.

Natwest Enterprise Award recognises young people who have overcome barriers and succeeded in creating a sustainable business or social enterprise. Noor Kimit has won this award, her story can be read in an article for the Manchester Evening News.

Noor has overcome the barriers presented by her dyslexia and with the help of the Prince’s Trust has formed a successful business.

During a star studded virtual awards ceremony Noor was presented with her award by Deborah Meaden of Dragons Den fame.

Dragons Den

If this programme is new to you then briefly it’s where budding entrepreneurs appear before a panel of business experts and pitch their ideas in the hope they will receive some funding.

It’s pretty scary stuff and something I wouldn’t like to do. However, for some, the verbal pitching and selling of ideas comes naturally. For some they excel in Oral communication, they are excellent at connecting with people, inspiring and persuading.

Theo Paphitis worked for eight years as a ‘dragon’ on the hit TV show. He is also a former chairman of Millwall FC. Theo Paphitis is also dyslexic. He says that the condition has always forced him to find solutions and considers this has been helpful in his successful business career.

Dyslexic technology entrepreneur James Northridge appeared before Dragons Den Ireland’s panel and was successful in obtaining funding for his business UrAbility. Assistive technology which he states improves the academic experience of people with learning differences.

Having Dyslexia and ADHD myself, I very much understand the learning challenges that face students. My goal is to ensure all students reach their full potential. Technology has the power to level the playing field for all!” James Northridge

I am sure you have read about the many famous entrepreneurs such as Steve Jobs, Jo Malone, Founder of Ikea – Ingvar Kamprad, and Sir Richard Branson to name but a few. To raise awareness of how dyslexics can succeed is amazing and how these individuals speak out and inspire young people to reach their goals is fantastic.

However, there are many less well know successful business people who have succeeded together with dyslexia. You do not have to be the next Steve Jobs, for example, to succeed. Your dream may not be to that level but is equally important and you can reach your potential.

The Dyslexic Advantage book by Dr B Eide & Dr F Eide, explains that some dyslexics demonstrate strength in Dynamic Reasoning. This can help in situations which are “changing, uncertain or ambiguous” – as in the world of business. They interview Glen Bailey, a successful dyslexic businessman who started his first business at 17 years old. Glen says his key to success is:

“My ability to spot opportunities and develop a vision. For me, it’s about having the right people around you. Motivating and delegating is a massive part. You can’t do everything by yourself. I rely on people a lot.”

I can not talk about Dyslexic Entrepreneurs without mentioning Dr Julie Logan, Professor of Entrepreneurship at London’s Cass Business School. During studies Dr Logan found that 35% of US entrepreneurs were dyslexic, whilst 20% were in the Uk.

Dr Logan explains some common traits which were found:

  • Sense of vision
  • Confidence and persistence, to prove they can succeed
  • Ability to ask others for help
  • Excellent oral communication
  • Ability to create relationships with other people
  • Use of intuition

Dr Logan also noted that whilst non dyslexics referred to education being a big influence, dyslexics cited the biggest influence to be an entrepreneurial role model.

Sir Richard Branson maybe considered the most well known dyslexic entrepreneurial role model. Imagine if he just surprised you during a year 6 Enterprise class, how inspiring!

After hearing the stories of the aforementioned dyslexic entrepreneurs I note a few reoccurring patterns. Maybe you recognise them in yourself or someone you know:

  • Theres a determination to succeed, to prove you have something to offer. Despite or maybe because of past comments and challenges.
  • Strength in oral communication and sales.
  • Problem solver
  • Can see a ‘big picture’ idea of the business
  • Is a ‘people person’
  • Is aware of the need of collaboration, delegation and retaining good relations with their employees and teams.
  • Surround yourself with people with skill sets that compliment your own.
  • Good within a team
Steve Jobs quote: It doesn't make sense to hire smart people and tell...

It was a ‘team’ who founded ‘Comic Relief day‘. One of the founders was Jane Tewson. Martin Flanagan is a journalist and author and has published a book called ‘The Art of Pollination’ – A year with Jane Tewson.

Jane Tewson has founded 5 charities which are all flourishing today. She is known for her lateral thinking and creative initiatives. She struggled in school due to her dyslexia. In 1985 she, along with others, launched ‘Comic Relief’.

“The reason I believe her method works is that she is personally invested in every aspect of her operation. She works ferociously hard. One of her key themes is that she wants to make people more “curious”. Explains Martin Flanagan.

So if you see yourself or someone else in any of the above then I hope their success encourages, motivates and inspires you to achieve.

There is good in the world; people, organisations and charities who are in existence to help give children and young people a brighter future. So enjoy the fun of comic relief, wear that eco (non plastic) red nose and donate as much or as little as you can. Lets support differences and make a difference!

I will be back next week, leave any comments below I love reading them.



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