A new survey of 139 American entrepreneurs found that 35 percent identify themselves as dyslexic, according to the New York Times. The research was compiled by Julie Logan, a professor of entrepreneurship at the Cass Business School in London, and funded by the Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City, which is the leading private foundation devoted to entrepreneurial advocacy and research. People with dyslexia struggle to develop reading skills, because it is more difficult for them to process graphic symbols. But in that struggle, Logan posits, are some of the seeds of business success.
"The study... concluded that dyslexics were more likely than nondyslexics to delegate authority, to excel in oral communication and problem solving and were twice as likely to own two or more businesses," the Times reports. (To read the full article, click here.)
William J. Dennis, an expert on entrepreneurship at the National Federation of Independent Business, told the Times that Logan's description of dyslexic business owners rang true to him. "Entrepreneurs are hands-on people who push a minimum of paper, do lots of stuff orally instead of reading and writing, and delegate authority, all of which suggests a high verbal facility," Mr. Dennis said. "Compare that with corporate managers who read, read, read."
Logan told the Times that fewer British business owners were dyslexic, which suggested to her that the American educational system was more adept at teaching students with the dyslexia. She also wondered whether dyslexic people may excel in business in part because they are conditioned at an early age to think differently, cope with adversity, and get around the problems posed by their situation.
The Times noted that several famous entrepreneurs including Richard Branson and Paul Orfalea of Kinko's are dyslexic. "I get bored easily, and that is a great motivator," Orfalea told the paper. "I think everybody should have dyslexia and A.D.D."
"I didn't have a lot of self-confidence as a kid," he continued. "And that is for the good. If you have a healthy dose of rejection in your life, you are going to have to figure out how to do it your way."
What do you think? Do you believe there is a link between dyslexia and entrepreneurship?
Last updated: Dec 6, 2007
MIKE HOFMAN was previously editor of Inc.com and a deputy editor at Inc. magazine, which he joined in 1996. The site was nominated for a National Magazine Award for Digital Media in 2010, and was named the best business website by Folio Magazine. In 2006, Hofman was part of a team of writers nominated for a Webby Award for best business blog. He lives in New York City. @mikehofman