8 successful tech leaders who overcame a learning disability called dyslexia

steve jobs
steve jobs

Justin Sullivan/Getty

Apple founder Steve Jobs

When you get caught up in the billion- dollar success stories of tech entrepreneurs, it’s easy to overlook some of the adversities they had to overcome.

But some of the most successful tech leaders have faced a reading disorder called dyslexia. It’s a form of learning disability that hampers your ability to read or write.

About 10% to 15% of the US population are dyslexic, but only a small portion of them recognize it and receive treatment.

These 8 tech entrepreneurs and CEOs didn’t let their reading disabilities to slow them down.

Apple’s Steve Jobs

Title: Founder and ex-CEO of Apple

Net worth: $10.2 billion (as of 2011)

Jobs grew up with dyslexia, but that didn’t stop him from building one of the most innovative tech companies ever. Jobs didn’t show any signs of a reading disorder in his career. And it didn’t hamper his public speaking either. He’s still considered one of the all-time greats.

Virgin’s Richard Branson

Title: Founder of Virgin Group

Net worth: $4.8 billion

Branson was also dyslexic, which made him fail school exams and get terrible IQ scores. But he was still able to launch Virgin Group in 1970 and turn it into a massive conglomerate making over $24 billion in annual sales.

Cisco’s John Chambers

Title: CEO of Cisco

Net worth: $1 billion

Chambers says having dyslexia affected his self-esteem, and even to this day, his hands sweat when he talks about it. But he says it’s also helped think faster, as he told Business Insider, “I can go A, B … Z with speed.”

HP’s Bill Hewlett

Title: Cofounder of Hewlett-Packard (HP)

Net worth: $9 billion (as of 2001)

Hewlett’s early academic record was unimpressive as he struggled with dyslexia. But it also led him to develop remarkable memorization skills. After graduating from Stanford, he launched HP with his friend David Packard, and the rest is history.

Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary

Title: Founder of O’Leary Financial Group; Founder of SoftKey, an educational software

Net worth: $600 million

O’Leary says when he was a child, he could read a book upside down or in front of a mirror – but not if it was put in front of him. Yet, he was still able to overcome dyslexia and build an educational software company that was later sold for over $3.7 billion. Now he’s one of the biggest TV personalities with his role on “Shark Tank.”

Clearwire’s Craig McCaw

Title: Founder of McCaw Cellular and Clearwire Corporation

Net worth: $1.85 billion

McCaw is one of the early pioneers in the cellphone industry, having sold his company, McCaw Cellular for $12.6 billion to AT&T. His next company, Clearwire Corporation, also merged with Sprint Nextel in 2008. McCaw credits part of his success to dyslexia, as he says, “People are either defeated by [dyslexia], or they become much more tenacious.”

Turner Broadcasting’s Ted Turner

Title: Founder of Turner Broadcasting System (including CNN and TNT)

Net worth: $2.2 billion

Turner isn’t shy of sharing his experience growing up with dyslexia. He says it’s why he always surrounds himself with people specialized in different areas, which makes it easy for him to tackle any problem. He’s one of the most successful media moguls, having founded CNN and TBS.

Meckler Media’s Alan Meckler

Title: Chairman and CEO of Meckler Media and Mediabistro.com

Net worth: $400 million

Meckler is one of the leaders in the tech publishing business, having launched magazines like Internet World, CDrom World, and Virtual Reality World. He was also the chairman and CEO of Mediabistro, a website dedicated to media professionals.

But before his business success, Meckler had to overcome dyslexia, which caused him walking and driving issues. He says he still prefers to listen to someone explain a problem to him, rather than reading about it.

Here are some CEOs in other industries who overcame dyslexia, too

Ingvar Kamprad: Ikea’s founder is now worth $3.5 billion.

Tommy Hilfiger: The fashion designer says he “performed poorly in school and was perceived as stupid” when he was a kid.

Paul Orfalea: The founder of Kinko’s says dyslexia helped him see things from a broader perspective. He even wrote a book about dyslexia.

Charles Schwab: The founder of the brokerage firm Charles Schwab is now worth $5.1 billion. He has a foundation that’s dedicated to parents of children diagnosed with dyslexia.

Now that you’ve seen people who overcame learning disabilities…

Check out the people who are spending the most to solve these issues!

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