Attention Deficit Disorder fuels her creativity

Cynthia Gerdes’ attention deficit disorder fuels her creativity (sadly story’s been removed) and has boosted her business success.

She gives examples of how ADD effects her, i.e., forgetting to put in some ingredients in a birthday cake, fidgeting in business meetings, and stopping in the middle of one task and getting diverted to 4 etc.

“I know, I know,” she said. “It sounds like I’m totally wigged out, completely dysfunctional.”


Gerdes is founder and co-owner of Creative Kidstuff, a highly successful, well-organized business with six stores in the Twin Cities. Local publications repeatedly name Creative Kidstuff “Best Toy Store.” The national toy industry also praises it. Annual sales are more than $10 million

Now she has a new mission: Present a positive side to ADD.”

She talks about how the creative aspect of ADD has helped her business prosper, the ability to multitask well (running 11 programs on her Mac at a time) and the ability to hyperfocus on a task. She wasn’t that good at math and hired a chief financial officer to take care of that.

Here’s a great example of someone who has ADD, and acknowledges and manages/delegates the things she’s not that good at and focuses on the strengths of ADD, the things that she is good at. Too often people (ADD or not) spend too much time trying to deny, hide or fix their weakness. In doing so they don’t spend enough time focusing on and developing and leveraging their strengths. That’s where you’ll find your greatest rewards, both materially and otherwise.

Cynthia also tries inspiring others with ADD. For example when she noticed her child’s friend seemed to have ADD

“Are you ADD?” she asked him.


“So am I,” she said.

The boy’s face lit up.

“You could be a great entrepreneur,” she said. “Those are the people who have good ideas and can do a thousand things a day.”

He beamed.

Being an entrepreneur is a natural fit for many ADDers. Lots of variety, constant stimulation, creativity is rewarded not punished, extra energy for those long hours, and the ability to hyperfocus on a problem to solve it. Some examples are the CEO of Jet Blue Airlines David Neeleman has ADD so does the founder and ex CEO of Kinkos Paul Orfalea.

If you have ADD, do you realize the strengths associated with having it? What are yours? How do you inspire other with it to see their gifts and potential?

13 thoughts on “Attention Deficit Disorder fuels her creativity”

  1. Deborah Drake

    Thank you!!!! It 8is truly wonderful to read this. I have know that we were all very creative, but to find it in print is great.

    I am a highly dreative out of the box thinker that
    is ready to take on the world. I have awesome ideas,
    a play I wrote 10 years ago, I have molded into a novel that has proven to be a form of life imitating art. Everything that I have written came true in life, after I wrote it. Thank you for your wonderful story. I have fough ADD all my life, not knowing what the problem was until, my 43rd birthday. I love the “problem and wear it as a badge of honor.
    I will stay in touch
    Deborah Drake 713-480-5915

  2. I can so relate to this. I always have 20 programs on at my MAC. I’m always spending long hours doing things and hardly seem to get tired. I get easily distracted. I also get hyper-focused on the task ahead of me until I get distracted doing that task (seems contradictory) and then I move to another. This is a really inspiring article. I googled this after a friend of mind told me that there is a link between CEO’s and ADD but I didn’t believe it. I haven’t been diagnosed with ADD yet but I am almost positive I have it.

  3. I’m sure I have ADD, never been diagnosed.
    I used to have such an issue with it, but that was before I found entrepreneurism. Before I didn’t understand how I could fit into society with my craving for some much stimuli, which meant I needed multiple challenging jobs, in different areas to keep me satisfied. I get bored very easily, and if forced to do one kind of repetitive job, day in day out, I would want to jump off a cliff – he he!

    Defining myself now as an entrepreneur has released me from all the stress. Now I am free, and the creative ideas that burst out of me, astounds me. I now realise, I just need that constant change, embracing multiple ideas at the same time to be content. A typical job would just not give me this.

    I think people who have been diagnosed with ADD, should really look into entrepenurilsm and if it in fact os something within them. I can understand how difficult it would be for those with ADD if they couldn’t embrace the way the use their mind in the way that suits them best.

  4. Yes many entrepreneurs have ADHD especially serial ones. But even though you think you may have ADHD I’d still suggest getting a diagnosis. many things can look like ADHD AND ADHD usually doesn’t travel alone. ie people with ADHD usually have other mental health conditions. Since many don’t know how to diagnose ADHD because they’re not trained to do so, check out your local ADHD support group to find names of people who can. Maybe start here

    Yes we ADDers need challenge, new things and to avoid a lot of boring repetitive task as much as possible, and we’re good at multitasking, good in a crisis, have high energy, are naturally very creative, and can see opportunities that others can’t.

    That’s why being an entrepreneur can be so great for people with ADHD IF they learn to delegate, and deal with some of the negatives of having ADHD. ADHD coaches are useful for that

  5. To me ADHD has given the creative thinking that has been absolutely necessary for my writing activity (fiction, poems, scientific articles). However, I have noticed that my creativity diminishes when I’m under the medication though then I can handle the more challenging (and boring) non-creative activities of every-day life. When I want to write and create, I usually don’t take medication those days.

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