11 Famous CEOs And Entrepreneurs With Dyslexia

Last Updated on October 7, 2023 by Editorial Team

Suffering from Dyslexia does not mean that you will be dependent on others throughout life. Even with dyslexia, individuals can be scientists, writers, musicians, etc. There is a sizeable chunk of successful people who defied all odds and set an example for others. We have done a post on scientists who were dyslexics. In this post, let’s discuss CEOs and entrepreneurs who rose above their learning difficulties and revolutionized the sectors they contributed to.

Dyslexia is just a neurological disorder that is the cause of issues in the part of the brain that processes language. Such a composition has gifted dyslexics with unmatched vision and creativity, which are essential for developing novel concepts.

In addition, dyslexic individuals find it hard to adjust to rules and regulations set by others. Hence, entrepreneurship comes easy to them as they can develop the environment as per their requirements and achieve their professional goals.

Dyslexia: It is where the germs of entrepreneurship lie

Who is exactly an entrepreneur? In my opinion, an entrepreneur is one who has the ability to think innovatively about problems people face and arrive at a solution for those. He is also the one who can convert problems into opportunities and make business ideas. An entrepreneur is able to take the path less trod and maintains a brave front even in difficult times. Aren’t these qualities a dyslexic individual learns to have right from childhood?

Referring to the findings mentioned in an article[1](Logan, 2009), dyslexics have conspicuous entrepreneurship abilities demonstrated in the form of:

  • Exceptional coping capabilities
  • Innovative ways of thinking
  • Problem-solving abilities
  • Self-confidence and the desire to emerge successful
  • Ability to think differently

Let’s take a look at the successful CEOs and entrepreneurs who were actually dyslexic and made it to the top in the niches they chose professionally.

CEOs and Entrepreneurs you didn’t know were dyslexic

1. Sir Richard Branson

Richard Branson is the founder of the Virgin Group, one of the most recognizable brands we know. He owes a lot of his success as an entrepreneur to his dyslexic brain. In an interview, he shares that the need is to recognize and appreciate the neurodiversity and put it to use.

He further shares that the secret of his success as an entrepreneur lies in his exceptional problem-solving skills, imaginative powers, and creativity, which are going to be much in demand in AI-fed workplaces in the coming times.

2. Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs, the founder of the iconic mobile device brand Apple, suffered from difficulties in reading and writing. He set personal goals for himself to overcome dyslexia, such as he chose to finish Wuthering Heights and getting admission to Arts School.

He believed that the ability of dyslexics to see and comprehend the world through images contributed to being an innovative entrepreneur. The tagline ‘Think Different’ sums up the way dyslexics like him perceive the world around them and make it new and different for generations to come.

3. Jamie Oliver

Jamie Oliver started his venture Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group. He is a celebrity chef who had his share of struggles as a dyslexic in childhood. Determined to not let his dyslexia come into his way of success, he decided to explore his interest in cooking and made an enviable career as a chef, he recounts while talking about his journey. He believes that the education system of present times is more accommodating and suitable for people with learning difficulties.

4. Cisco CEO John Chambers

John Chambers led CISCO as the CEO successfully from 1995 to 2015. He attributes his success to the parents’ awareness about dyslexia because of which they applied intervention strategies from an early age to help John learn and outgrow his learning difficulties.

Once he visited his daughter’s school where he was asked a question by a girl. That girl could not phrase the question properly. His reply, “Take your time, I am disabled too”, struck a dialog and made people discuss dyslexia with fewer inhibitions. It led him to become a spokesperson for Dyslexia in later years.

5. Henry Ford

Henry Ford was the pioneer automobile specialist who applied assembly line manufacturing and gave rise to high-quality automobiles. He was a very courageous person who did not allow his learning difficulties to plague his determination and completed engineering in automobiles. His famous quote, “Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal,” is quite inspiring and speaks of his firm thinking and positive attitude.

6. Charles Schwab

Dyslexia used to remain undiagnosed for years due to a lack of awareness; Charles Schwab is a shining example of this fact. He could not understand that he suffered from Dyslexia till he was in his forties. Only after his son was diagnosed with the same disorder could he find a name for all the learning struggles he faced.

However, his ignorance was bliss to him as he continued exploring his area of interest – investment, and banking – and went on to become the Founder of the Charles Schwab Corporation.

7. Ingvar Kamprad- IKEA

Do you know how IKEA got its name? IKEA is nothing but the acronym for the initials of Ingvar Kamprad, the founder’s name, Elmtaryd, his farm from childhood days, and Agunnyard, which was a nearby village. He devised a unique way of naming the products so that he could avoid remembering spellings or numbers.

A story published in NY Times hints how he could not concentrate well in school, but had germs for entrepreneurship. His creativity propelled him to produce one of the most innovative lines of furniture that was both space-efficient and functionality-rich. Dyslexia offered him the neurodiversity that was needed to visualize bespoke designs.

8. Paul Orfalea – CEO of Kinkos

Paul Orfalea is the founder of the biggest copy chain in the US, Kinkos. He suffered from both Dyslexia and ADD which he sees not as learning disabilities but the learning opportunities. However, instead of giving in to the bullying and insults, he devised a different way of learning, i.e. by creating copies of notes, as shared in the book, ‘Copy this!: Lessons from a Hyperactive Dyslexic Who Turned a Bright Idea into One of America’s Best Companies. He himself could never write or use any machine, but his business acumen and ideas to grow made him have one of the most prolific businesses in the office equipment space.

9. Walt Disney

Walt Disney never opened up about his difficulty with reading but excelled in the department of creativity. He wrote fluently though. Perhaps, it was not enough. He could not cope with the learning challenges and dropped out of school.

With his exceptional talent for drawing, he started working as an advertisement creator. Soon, he went on to open his studio and established himself as the most successful name among cartoon movie producers. His ability to emote through pictures got him the achievement.

10. Ted Turner

Ted Turner is the Founder of Turner Broadcasting System. He says his ability to find the correct people and management skills had helped him become the Media Moghul that he was. His formative years were the struggling phase as he was not too comfortable with reading and writing. But, he worked his way around the learning difficulties and focused on the positives he had.

11. Tommy Hilfiger

He was branded as clumsy by his peers in his school days. This was nothing but a facade to cover up the issues with reading and writing. Struggling with all learning difficulties, he completed his graduation somehow and was already into a job of altering clothes by the time he was out of college.

He did start his own venture but did not succeed at the start. With relentless trying in designing, he gave another try to the business of designing clothes and amassed huge wealth by the end of 40 years of the enterprise. His success story is truly inspiring and shows that dyslexics make good entrepreneurs.

Wrapping up,

Dyslexia is not more than a word for people who are well aware of their virtues and capabilities. Learning difficulties may hover over the minds only to the extent one allows. Unlike in the past, increased awareness, availability of support groups, early intervention strategies, and the use of accommodations have changed the world for the better for dyslexics.

These approaches coupled with inherent virtues of leadership, creativity, and imagination, may help people with an entrepreneurial bend of mind. So, the need is to recognize and refine the real talents of individuals and offer them customized learning methods. It may make way for several success stories like the ones we curated in this post.


  1. Logan, J. (2009). Dyslexic entrepreneurs: the incidence; their coping strategies and their business skills. Dyslexia, 15(4), 328–346. https://doi.org/10.1002/dys.388

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