How did Richard Branson, who dropped out of high school when he was 15 years old, manage to become one of the richest and most successful businessmen in the world? If you ask him, it was in large part thanks to dyslexia.
Branson had a miserable school experience. He was sent off to boarding school when he was just 7. He says that he did "very poorly" and was “regularly beaten” there on school grounds. He was called “lazy” and “stupid”. By the time he decided to leave high school his grades were so low that his parents figured that there wasn’t much to lose for him to drop out and try something new. So he did. At the age of sixteen Branson began his first business venture, a mail-order record business, which would eventually morph into Virgin Records. He would go on from there to become a self-made billionaire.
Richard Branson wants to change the way people think about dyslexia. Do you think that people with dyslexia are at a disadvantage? If you answered yes, you’re not alone. A YouGov survey conducted in 2017 shows that only 3% of people see dyslexia as a positive trait. It would be hard to argue that dyslexic children in the school system as it functions now are at an advantage. But outside of school Branson feels that dyslexia can indeed give them an edge over neuro-typical thinkers. He says in an interview “Out in the real world, my dyslexia became my massive advantage: It helped me to think creatively and laterally, and see solutions where others saw problems”.
Branson wants people with dyslexia to know that they have incredible potential. Some even refer to the dyslexic condition as a “super power”. Made by Dyslexia, a non profit organization supported by Richard Branson, aims to change people’s perception when it comes to dyslexia. Various studies show that self-made millionaires are four times more likely to be dyslexic and 35% of entrepreneurs are dyslexic. Kate Griggs, the founder of Made by Dyslexia says “Dyslexic thinking has many benefits. If identified and supported, inspired and encouraged, dyslexics can achieve amazing things. We want to level the playing field so all dyslexics can succeed”.
One of the missions of Made by Dyslexia is to educate the world about dyslexic abilities. Especially in our chaotic and challenging world, with seemingly insurmountable problems like global warming and the fast-paced ever-changing world of technology, the creative and lateral “out-side the box” thinking generated by the dyslexic mind can be invaluable to companies that are able to recognize and harness the talent of this population of people in the workforce.
Many successful dyslexics share the advantage of supportive parents or caregivers in their lives. This was definitely true for Richard Branson. Imagine if all dyslexic people were supported and valued not only at home, but in school and at their place of work, for the amazing capabilities they possess. Richard Branson and Made by Dyslexia think that the world would be a much better place!
To learn more about Richard Branson, dyslexia, and Made by Dyslexia, watch the video below.