BC Business Magazine published a great article on three ADHD entrepreneurs & other entrepreneurs with mental health conditions.
I’m glad BC Business did this article, I don’t know if there are any studies on it, but as someone who has ADHD and has been coaching entrepreneurs and working professionally with ADHD for 10 years, I would say there are many entrepreneurs with ADHD.
When I mention at I’m an adult ADHD coach at entrepreneurial network meetings, I often have more than 5% of the room coming up and talking to me.
Managed properly, ADHD can be a competitive edge, see my post top 10 Advantages of ADHD in a high tech career
Jason Bailey CEO of East Side Game Studio whose twitter profile says “Poster child for ADHD. Forced to be an entrepreneur” is one of the ADDers profiled. Jason’s done pretty well as an entrepreneur with ADHD
Jason Bailey and Eugene Kaidalov, founded SuperRewards and bootstrapped it from zero to a $100 million run rate to exit, all in 18 months. The company was acquired in 2009 by Adknowledge for a rumored $50 million.
We ADDers have fast processing brains, which can be a competitive edge and sometimes a problem too.
“I generally know what someone’s said before they’ve finished,” he says, which is one of the reasons why it’s hard to stay focused. He’s naturally a fast mover, flitting between subjects just as easily as between companies. Bailey, who suffers from acute adult attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), says that he’s always focused on the latest, shiny thing.
People with ADHD have higher rates of relationship problems and divorce. Sometimes I coach ADHD adults just on their relationships problems. They have an interesting job or business and have someone to do the boring stuff they don’t like but their ADHD problems show up at home
He was driven to get help by a fear that his business and professional relationships would implode if he didn’t.
It was a smart decision. Mental illness in all of its guises—addiction, depression, mania and psychosis—is a serious health issue. I point to the streets outside Eastside Games’ West Hastings Street studio, where many victims of mental illness less fortunate than Bailey struggle for daily food and shelter. “What stops you from being like those guys?” I ask him. He fixes me with a baleful stare. “Luck.”
20-30% of alcoholics and drug addicts have ADHD. 21-45% of people in jail have ADHD I’d rather see more legal entrepreneur contributing to the tax base and adding jobs then criminal entrepreneurs depleted the tax base. But BC is very backward on ADHD.
The article also quotes Vancouver BC based Cameron Herold who was
the COO at 1-800-Got-Junk for six years, helped to take the company from $2 million to $105 million in sales. Now he travels and speaks as a business coach
Cameron did a great Tedx Talk called Let’s raise kids to be entrepreneurs where he said “I have 18 out of the 19 signs of attention deficit disorder diagnosed.”
I saw Cameron talk at a meetup in New Westminster, BC, very ADHD, very creative and quick on his feet. If you get a chance to hear him speak, you should go.
Michelle Dean is the president of Aloette Cosmetics of Vancouver Fraser South. People who have ADHD will recognize her ADHD related problems readily, she’s not alone.
Dean couldn’t even cope with basic filing. She would be easily distracted, and dropped one task for another, flitting between them like a hummingbird. This wasn’t a simple case of disorganization; it was a recognized medical condition. She was diagnosed with ADHD in September 2012 and given medication to help with it…
She expected to close her business at one stage because her problems got so bad. “Bills were not being paid. It was daunting, overwhelming.” She would forget to ship goods and look after the basic mechanics of the business. “Even writing paycheques was tough.”
Paperwork is an ADDer’s nemesis. We’re basically allergic to it. I tell the ADHD entrepreneurs that I coach, that it’s crucial that they, as much as possible, delegate the boring, but necessary paperwork.
ADHD is a problem of boredom; if we’re interested? We can focus like a laser for hours. Besides the paperwork, it’s rarely boring being an entrepreneur:)
First time I got on the web in 1993, I started at 8 pm and stopped at 4 am. I have ADHD. Did I have a deficit of attention?
Clutter is a big problem for us. No one likes doing boring work, but if you’re ADHD, you have an understimulated brain, you seek stimulation to get to baseline.
Understimulated ADHD brain + boring or repetitive under stimulating tasks like paperwork = shut down, tune out, distract out or act out.
Dean couldn’t even cope with basic filing. She would be easily distracted, and dropped one task for another, flitting between them like a hummingbird. This wasn’t a simple case of disorganization; it was a recognized medical condition. She was diagnosed with ADHD in September 2012 and given medication to help with it.
“I took the medication and decided that I had five years of filing to go through,” she recalls. She ploughed through it from start to finish. “It was life-changing.”
Here are some of my quotes from the BC Business Magazine article
Quily identifies specific assets. The ability to maintain an intense focus, spending hours “in the zone” can be an asset. A rapid-fire mind and the ability to multitask at will while maintaining high energy levels set ADHD sufferers apart from the crowd, he says. They are also superb qualities for entrepreneurship.
Since ADHD rarely travels alone, here’s a bit on ODD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, a common coexisting condition with ADHD.
“Growing up, you have a problem but no one tells you what it is or how to deal with it. They just judge you,” he says. If it happens often enough, young people will develop a pronounced resistance to authority. “If you channel it properly, you can use someone telling you that you can’t do something as a fuel,” says Quily.
It’s a common trait in successful entrepreneurs, but “the danger is that if you take it too far, you can risk your whole business on it,” Quily warns.
Read Danny Bradbury’s full article, in BC Business Magazine. Tell your ADHD entrepreneur friends. It also mentions depression and bipolar
Here are some of my blog posts on entrepreneurs with ADHD
If you’re an entrepreneur with ADHD, what do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of ADHD for entrepreneurs?