Last Modified: November 28, 2023 | Published: April 8, 2023
This article was originally published on Clear Child Psychology.
Some of the most powerful, creative, successful, and change-making people out there are CEOs with ADHD.
We are highlighting CEOs with ADHD because we think it’s important to provide role models. Children and families navigating an ADHD diagnosis often worry about what the diagnosis will mean for their future. Thankfully, the evidence points to positive outcomes for those who are able to receive the right combination of treatment and support. Would you like to learn more about ADHD? Check out the Cadey app.
Some executives even see their ADHD as a superpower. Before we introduce you to a few inspirational executives, here’s a quick list of ADHD Superpowers to get you inspired.
- Effective in a crisis
- Extremely creative
- Highly intuitive
- Super starter
- Laser vision
- High energy
It’s no wonder that CEOs with ADHD often see their ADHD as a superpower — the same thing that makes it impossible to focus on areas of little interest makes it possible to multitask, laser-focus, and think outside the box. Here are a few inspirational CEOs and what they have to say about living and succeeding with ADHD.
CEOs with ADHD
Some CEOs report about their ADHD being a huge help in the office. ADHD can be an asset, as well described in this article for CNN, ‘ADHD isn’t a career killer. Just ask these executives.’
According to the article, Jenny Dearborn remembers as a kid in the 1980’s, being told to leave class and run laps around her school to burn off her excess, fidgety energy.
“The more I moved my body, the easier it was to focus my mind. If I forced myself to sit still, my mind would race and my hearing would be affected.” – Jenny Dearborn
Because of Dearborn’s academic struggles, she had trouble getting into a 4-year school. In fact, she began her academic career at a community college. It was during her time there that she pursued a diagnosis. She described being “relieved” and “angry” about her diagnosis. She was relieved that she had answers but angry at everybody who had doubted and dismissed her over the years.
Dearborn channeled her energy into becoming a Silicon Valley executive.
But between diagnosis and success, there was a long struggle. She often masked and hid the truth about her ADHD.
Before she went public, Dearborn, 49, spent years accommodating her condition. She would, among other things, stand during meetings. If asked why, she’d lie and say her kids kept her up all night and that she’d fall asleep if she sat down.
She’d also require her employees to keep emails very short. “When I’d get a long email, I wouldn’t even read it. I’d send it back and say whatever you’re telling me you have to tell me more succinctly. They just thought I was a super busy executive,” Dearborn said.
Ultimately, Dearborn started sharing about her ADHD because she knew it would be an inspiration to others. She was right.
“Bill Gates” is a name we all recognize. But it’s not commonly known that Gates is another CEO with ADHD.
Like many others who have trouble focusing on areas of little interest, Gates has been quoted to say he has “trouble learning new things.” It seems preposterous to think that Bill Gates, a computer genius, has trouble learning new things, but it’s true!
It’s important to note because, for many, the difference between success and intense struggle is the environment. Having a supportive environment can make all the difference. It can help to focus on where you naturally excel and increase these skills.
To learn more about his journey from college dropout to mega-billionaire, take a look at this interview for Financial Review.
Sir Richard Branson
Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Records, is yet another uber-successful CEO with ADHD. In this article for Entrepreneur and this video, he shares how his ADHD and dyslexia impacted him. Richard confessed that he had “no understanding of schoolwork whatsoever.” His IQ? Abominable. His only success in school? Sports.
Before he turned 16, Richard dropped out. He was done with school, interested in some things, all things, no things, and random things. He pursued them with reckless abandon. What does a 16-year-old do when he’s not in school? For that matter, what does an adult with ADHD do when they take the lid off life and live on their own terms?
This narrative is one we’re coming to know well — trouble in school, difficulty learning, trouble staying focused, super successful CEO.
Joe De Sena
De Sena has said that his ADHD added to his success and made him what he is today. He shared how his ability to hyperfocus on a task has been a key factor in his success as an entrepreneur and endurance athlete.
Joe De Sena shared with Business Insider in 2019, “Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is, without a doubt, my greatest strength. It’s a major reason why I bounce off the walls until I find something important to focus on.
The kid who “can’t sit still,” the guy who seems distant in conversation, the entrepreneur obsessed with one idea: I’m all of these things, but I don’t see them as negatives in the least.”
In interviews and speaking engagements, he often emphasizes the importance of physical activity and movement in managing ADHD symptoms and improving overall well-being.
What’s the Difference Between Surviving and Thriving with ADHD?
So, what’s the difference between those who thrive with ADHD and those who struggle? Well, the truth is, the struggle is real for almost everybody who lives with ADHD. The real difference is whether or not a support system and treatment plan are in place. For many children, intervention becomes the difference between success and failure in school and life.
The ability or inability to stay on task and to hold back impulses can carry over to everyday life in terms of active participation in home, school, and community.
Interventions can help many children increase their self-esteem and have greater success with peer relationships.
How to Help Your Child Succeed with ADHD
You may be wondering how to help your child succeed with ADHD. Research from the nation’s foremost experts like Dr. Russell Barkley has shown that parent compassion and parent training is the most essential intervention for ADHD. Many of the therapies that cost thousands of dollars don’t actually work. However, parent training and direct intervention do work.
When parents have a clear understanding of the symptoms and needs of their kids, things start to change.
These changes can be quick and can make a drastic difference.
You can get immediate assistance for your parenting concerns with the Cadey mobile app. Get personalized answers for your situation.