Mar 14

Richard Branson and Career ADD

Richard Branson

Richard Branson

As a former Founder and CEO of an international children’s art franchise, KidzArt, and someone who was undiagnosed with ADD until 2008, I now understand how important it is to acknowledge my limitations and celebrate my gifts.  I knew I was different and challenged in some very specific areas, but did not have a clue about how to manage them at the time.

Lately, I have been following the life of Richard Branson, who is probably the poster child (man) for Career ADD/ADHD.  He is charming, financially successful beyond comprehension, and considered beloved by his many admirers and followers.  There is a quiet humility and charm in his conversations, and above all, a need to educate and give back to the world, therefore leading a purposeful and purpose-filled life.  Richard grew up with ADD/ADHD as a child as well as Dyslexia – which seem to go hand in hand.  It is not an understatement to say that his amazing business success came about because of his acknowledged ADD.

One way that I completely relate to how Richard started his businesses is that, as he explains, most of them were born out of “frustration” over something that he wanted fixed or done in a way he would enjoy, such as creating an airline he would enjoy flying on.  For many of us with ADD, creative solutions are developed because we are simply sick and tired of not having something that we ourselves want, and therefore decide to create a market for it.  Or,” if someone’s gotta do it, I guess it has to be me.”  KidzArt was born out of the frustration that there were not enough children’s art programs available nation and worldwide that provided quality programing and emphasized “teaching” the creative process. After researching art-related companies – I was shocked to discover that there were none that offered anything like what I was seeking for my own child. I knew I did not want him to grow up in a world that did not honor the natural creativity that we are all born with.

Richard explains in his own words how frustration compelled him to start businesses.

“”My very first venture was a national student magazine to try to campaign against the [Vietnam] War. And so I wanted to be an editor. I wanted to bring the magazine out. And in order for the magazine to survive I had to worry about the printing and the paper manufacturing and the distribution. And, you know, I had to try to, at the end of the year, have more money coming in than going out. And ever since then [I] have set up businesses basically out of frustration.”

Many of us ADDers are entrepreneurial.  I would not hesitate to guess that our business ventures and business ideas are based out of “frustration” over wanting something to be done our way so we can enjoy whatever it is more.  Fortunately for Richard Branson, he now has the financial means to now take any idea and find the people and resources to make his vision a reality, like the spacecraft he invented to make any of us space travelers (for the right price, of course).

But, like me, not everyone has to have scads of money to develop an idea.  I had absolutely NO capital when I created KidzArt.  But I never stopped before the first franchise was sold for a pittance.  Luckily, that pittance was enough to get us to the next stage and then the next until it grew to a substantial business and now thousands of folks are expressing their creativity through the KidzArt brand.  Mission accomplished.  Like Richard, I took a very circuitous “Screw Business as Usual” route.  Had I not done so, KidzArt would not have been created because I have no patience or tolerance for following the rules of business start-ups.  What got things done was my passion and determination because developing this idea was just ….FUN!  OK, I’m not saying this is the right or best way, but it was the way I got it done.

So in your career life, if there is something that you see in your job or in your business that needs fixing, it’s not always necessary to use conventional methods. Use your ADD to seek avenues where you can offer creative solutions and be recognized and honored for your contributions.  Or, perhaps think about setting up your own business, like JT O’Donnell, who started Careerealism out of her own “frustration” in her job search to create the kind of business she loves and thrives in.  Her gifts are so apparent on her amazing website!  And it’s not just business as usual.

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