THE BLOG
05/31/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

ADHD Entrepreneurs

Starting a new business is ridiculously hard. In most instances, it ends in failure. So why would any sane individual set out on this sort of quixotic journey? Some will tell you it's for love or passion, but I think that people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) do it out of necessity.

According to The New York Times people with ADHD have lower-paying jobs and a higher chance of being fired versus people without ADHD. Amplifying on this, Harvard Medical School psychiatrist Dr. Joseph Biederman told Healingwell, "...people with ADHD have less annual income. This was true for males and females. Those with ADHD had income approximately $10,791 lower per year among high school graduates, and about $4,334 lower for college graduates than their counterparts without ADHD." Given this reality, it's no wonder that people with ADHD are looking for better employment alternatives.

Over the past few years, I've met a couple of dozen successful ADHD business leaders - some are executives in big companies but most have built their own businesses. They're all very different, but they all seem to have some following habits in common. My guess is that these would be useful to anyone (ADHD or not).

Filter. Having ADHD, it's easy to be overwhelmed by the constant flow of new ideas. Creativity is good, but so is focus. That's why these people so ruthlessly focus on just a tiny part of what fascinates them.

Execute. It's a universal truth that starting is easier than finishing. Nevertheless, successful ADHD entrepreneurs are obsessed with getting things done. Sometimes it's from sheer love of what they do. In other cases it's because these people know how to delegate to 'can do' people.

Believe. Paul Orfelea got filthy rich by turning photocopying into a national chain. Matt Morgan transitioned from car salesman to professional wrestler. These aren't dreams that most people have but that didn't stop either of these ADHD'ers from moving ahead.

Diversify. As much as I rebel against order, I know that we cannot grow our business without talented people who excel at organization. That's why I generally steer clear of hiring people who remind me of myself. (The last thing that we need is more people creating chaos.) This is common amongst the people that I meet.

Depart. David Neeleman is the ADHD genius who started and built JetBlue. Even more impressive is that he knew when to depart. That didn't mean that he was finished, just seeing the next chance to match his talents to an appropriate opportunity.

Michael B. Laskoff
CEO, AbilTo