Entrepreneurs more likely to be dyslexic

Many successful entrepreneurs have a touch of the 'awkward squad' about them: a non-conformist outlook, a talent for innovation, a willingness to challenge the status quo. But one academic thinks that many UK schoolchildren with this kind of potential are not getting the recognition and support they need.

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Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012

Julie Logan, the professor of entrepreneurship at London’s Cass Business School, has compiled some new research on dyslexia among entrepreneurs. According to her study, a remarkable one in three US entrepreneurs suffer from dyslexia – so they’re three times more likely to suffer from the condition than the average condition.

Is this just a coincidence, a statistical anomaly? Logan clearly doesn’t think so. Her research found that dyslexics are more likely to excel in oral communications and problem-solving, they’re more likely to be influenced by a mentor, and they’re better at managing staff (having developed strong delegation skills as a coping strategy). All skills that are found in many successful entrepreneurs.

However, she reckons the UK isn’t dealing with this issue quite as well. Here 20% of entrepreneurs are dyslexic, compared to 10% of the population as a whole – so the difference is less pronounced (although still significant). The problem, she thinks, is that we’re not as good at identifying dyslexia in our children, and then adapting teaching styles to suit them. So instead of being supported and encouraged, and allowed to develop their strengths, these kids become alienated instead.

There’s also a lot more scepticism about the condition in the UK. People are rarely short of a joke about dyslexia – even though it’s clearly no laughing matter for schoolkids though. Ask the professor’s namesake Kenny Logan, the former Scotland rugby union winger, who apparently recently confessed to the Daily Record: ‘At school I was told I was thick and stupid, I spent 90 per cent of my school days crying on the way home.’ (Not exactly the kind of behaviour you’d expect from a 15-stone international rugby player, but maybe he’s getting in touch with his feminine side now he’s on Strictly Come Dancing).

Of course, the counter-argument would be that this kind of challenging upbringing is exactly what makes some entrepreneurs the way they are, because it gives them a point to prove. Perhaps if they were more effectively cosseted from an early age they’d lose this drive and independence?
 
Still, Sir Richard Branson and Bill Gates are just two dyslexics who’ve famously gone on to great entrepreneurial heights. Could we be finding more success stories like this if we start taking dyslexia a little more seriously?

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