This is a topic that many of my colleagues and I talk about when we meet face to face, as we also check our email, talk with someone back in our offices, fiddle with a PDA, or skim a magazine: are there characteristics of the clinical diagnosis of Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder that are actually positive attributes of entrepreneurship?
Fellow entrepreneur and blogger Pete Quily chewed on this topic at length on his blog too, in a recent article entitled Top Ten Advantages of ADD In A High Tech Career and generously allowed me to republish them here…
1. The Ability to Hyperfocus.
Hours of full engagement and concentration in a task, if you find it interesting. You can get into the zone and be totally immersed in what youre doing while the outside world disappears. When I went on the net for the first time in 1993 at an Internet cafe I got on the machine at 8 pm and around 4 am decided it was time to go home.
2. Rapid Fire Mind.
Your brain processes information at hyperspeed. You can do things in 30 minutes on a computer that might take other people hours. Downside if youre stuck with an old machine and not enough RAM youll be frustrated cause it cant keep up with the speed of your brain.
3. Multitasking at Will.
Able to run 14 apps at a time and effortlessly switch between each without breaking a sweat. Able to do several projects at a time with ease.
4. High Energy Level.
Youre able to keep going on a project (if its interesting, ADDers are more into creative and entrepreneurial activities than clerical and repetitive ones). 14-hour days? No problem. Adrenaline is my fuel source:)
5. Highly Creative.
Able to think beyond the idea of a box. This comes naturally for ADDers, while others pay thousands of dollars to try and learn this. Since you take in more information than the average person, and youre easily distractible, youre more likely to view a problem from many different angles than vanilla people (non ADDers), and therefore come up with more possible solutions to a problem. Need an idea generator? Find an ADDer.
6. Quick Learner.
IF its something youre interested in. ADD is mainly a condition of boredom; you have no trouble paying attention to something if its interesting. Most people find it difficult to do boring or repetitive things but these can often totally shut an ADDer down. Your rapid fire brain + highly creative mind + the ability to hyperfocus equals fast absorption of new information quickly. Dr Ed Hallowell, who has ADD and has written several Delivered from Distraction : Getting the Most out of Life with Attention Deficit Disorder, said he stopped teaching Psychiatry at Harvard University because the non-ADDers brains were just to slow and they took so long to get it. He got tired of being continually frustrated waiting for them to catch up to the ADD students.
7. Stimulus Seeking Brain.
A perfect match for the wired world, an under stimulated brain and an over stimulated virtual environment. Being an info junkie can be a good thing. Well, not always:)
8. Constantly Scanning your Environment.
Allows you to notice more and find information and resource that others miss. Also allows you to see possible problems before they arise, and opportunities that others may not see because they have tunnel vision vs. multiplex vision. An ADDer invented the electronic ticket.
9. Great in a Crisis.
High energy intense situation? Lots of chaos and change? Sign me up; I thrive on stimulation, change and chaos. We can create order from chaos effortlessly. We can also create such an environment as well if needed.
10. Risk Taker.
Impulsivity means youre more willing to take risks and have a bias for action, act now while the opportunity is hot instead of getting into analysis paralysis. Many entrepreneurs have ADD i.e. Paul Orfalea who founded Kinkos, JetBlue Founder and CEO David Neeleman who attributes his creativity to ADD. Both are Billionaires. Imagine how successful a high tech CEO would be if they didnt take many risks.
Pete has made a career out of working with ADD adults, and in addition to this article (which is a lot more detailed than the excerpt I include here), has lots of other information worth checking out if you, or someone you know, seems to fit this profile. Check his work out at: Adult ADD Strengths . Me? I don’t think I’m ADD, but there are definitely some characteristics that I embody…