Confessions of a Dyslexic Entrepreneur

Confessions of a Dyslexic Entrepreneur

Confessions of a Dyslexic Entrepreneur

I was diagnosed as dyslexic over forty years ago, at the age of five, when every learning disability was called dyslexia. I grew up with multiple issues. Reading, math, and writing were hard for a long time. I had some motor issues, I could not catch a ball till I was twelve, but I am thankful every day for who I am because of my dyslexia.

For a long period, I was told I could not do things but somewhere along the way, all of the “no’s” turned into motivation and creativity. I focused on what I thought I was good at. Folks also told me I wasn't creative, but when people criticized me or told me no time after time, I accepted that as normal. At least my normal became immune to a lot of the fear.

When I started my first business, it was not successful. Never the less I did not let it stop me; I took it as an obstacle to learn from and to give me energy. I didn't know it at the time, nor did I think about it, but my instinct took over and allowed me to be somewhat immune to the negativity. When I started my next business, it was during the worst economy in history. I thought about the fact that I was ready for a new start. I had a hunch that my relationships were strong and that my clients knew I would give them great work for a fair price. 

I have a great partner in my wife Amy who gave me the freedom to do what I loved and believed that it would all work out. At times her confidence in me was greater than my faith in myself, but I was able to learn from her and from others to turn perceived lemons into lemonade.

For the past 18 years, I have been the lead candidate trainer for the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, a group that helps openly gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals run and win elected office. I learned a lot from the struggles that I saw my clients go through. They deal with discrimination every day, they take every step in stride and just kept going. I realized that their struggles were why I wanted to do my job to help people fight for social justice.

I worked on political campaigns for a long time, as well as in the high-pressure business of politics. I think a thick skin is necessary to survive in this business. I was told time and time again that I was bad at things or behind; this only fueled me to move forward.

Dyslexia has taught me that being good at something is subjective and that just because someone says you are bad at something doesn't make them right. An obstacle can propel you forward as much as throw you back. Dyslexia also taught me that my problems were still small and that what mattered more was my approach to the problem than the problem itself. My lack of coordination and difficulty reading and thinking is as much of an asset to me today as it was a hindrance growing up.  It has allowed me to think differently than most people. I don't get bogged down in details. I don't let them deter me.

I learned that you need to fight for what you care about, whether that is the right to take a test untimed or for your seat at the table in your community.

I have heard many times that nothing in life comes easily. I have also learned that easy is all relative. If someone read this and has a learning disability of any kind, I want them to know that your dyslexia, ADHD, or any other learning disability is a gift: My approach to life is to be positive in the face of a crisis, a perceived disability or an obstacle. It took me a long time to get there, but it has served me well.

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