Copy This!- Lessons from a Hyperactive Dyslexic who Turned a Bright Idea Into One of America's Best Companies by Paul Orfalea

Can an ADDer Become a Billionaire?

Copy This!- Lessons from a Hyperactive Dyslexic who Turned a Bright Idea Into One of America's Best Companies by Paul Orfalea
Yes. In addition to Jet Blue CEO David Neeleman and Virgin’s Richard Branson see his book Like a Virgin, 1st page of the forward, “I suffered  from an acute combination of dyslexia and from what I’d suppose would nowadays be diagnosed as attention deficit disorder” here’s a 3rd example of a billionaire with ADHD who has the guts to go public with it.

Paul Orfalea was a D-student, flunked two grades, was expelled from four out of eight schools, and graduated eighth from the bottom of his high school class. As a hyperactive dyslexic, he was barely able to read, struggled on school tests, had no mechanical ability, and after being fired from numerous jobs, was virtually unemployable as a young adult. Eventually, he found a way to turn learning disabilities into learning opportunities.

He later founded Kinko‘s copy center in 1970, and built it up to over 1,000 stores in 4 continents. He later sold it to Fedex and it became Fedex Kinkos

Orfalea said he still has no idea how a copy machine works, has never used e-mail and reads, at best, at a fifth-grade level… “My job was going from store to store to store to find out what people were doing right,” he said. “In every store, there was something people were doing that was novel or creative.

He talks about how he interviewed prospective employees. He took them out for beers and saw how they behaved, asked if they enjoyed visiting their parents and asked them a question he knew they couldn’t answer to see if they could say the words “I don’t know” in an interview. Obviously using some of his ADD strengths, i.e., creativity and intuition.

How many of you work for bosses that actively look for what you’re doing right? If we had more of these it would change the world.

“If you’re going to enjoy the picnic that life really is, you’d better learn to like yourself, not despite your flaws and so-called deficits, but because of them,” he writes.


Paul Orfalea has a new book out called Copy This! Lessons From a Hyperactive Dyslexic Who Turned a Bright Idea into One of America’s Best Companies.

Copy This!- Lessons from a Hyperactive Dyslexic who Turned a Bright Idea Into One of America's Best Companies by Paul Orfalea

Orfalea’s Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder taught him not to be deterred by obstacles, how to cut through the red tape — or just ignore it — to grow a business without losing perspective, to surround himself with the right people and still have plenty of time to enjoy life.

An amazing inspiring example of what a determined ADDer can do. Didn’t seem like ADD held him back, it was one thing that propelled him forward.

Having ADD can be a strong competitive edge for an entrepreneur if you learn to manage or delegate some of the negative aspects of it. Some ADHD strengths that can be useful for an entrepreneur include:

    High energy


    Rapid fire mind


    Highly creative


    Ability to hyperfocus


    Good at brainstorming




    Great in a crisis, since it is often a very familiar environment:)


    Good at multitasking


    Able to see and quickly take advantage of business opportunities (impulsivity


    be useful in the right context)

16 thoughts on “Can an ADDer Become a Billionaire?”

  1. Adults with ADD have more of a chance to be richer than normal because of all of the skills that you listed above. It should not be a surprise when adults with ADD have great success. The tragedy is that society is not set up to foster the creativity and passion in order for more adults with ADD to succeed.

  2. I agree John,

    It’s sad I even have to ask the question. However there’s often too many people only see the negative side of ADD, and continually devalue and denigrate people with ADD. This is my way of showing the other side. When I mention that I’m an ADD coach in business networking meetings, I often have many people who are very sucessful entrepreneurs say either that they have ADD or they think they might have it.

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  4. Great post. i love your blog and just got your feed in my blog aggregator. We are different and i feel that once you find a good situation i.e. working for yourself, life gets better.

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  6. It’s a shame that so many people with ADD/ADHD have a (sometimes even subconcious) manner of self deprication of self-victimsation.

    Posts like this are fantastic for the ADD community because they focus on strengths, not weaknesses – something we could all do more of.

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