ADHD is a Superpower (especially for Entrepreneurs)

Olga Skipper
10 min readJul 27, 2021


Photo by Pawel Czerwinski on Unsplash

Before you read this article, I ask you to read these Disclaimers. Please keep in mind that:

  1. My goal is to share a story with you, not to give any advice. This is my personal research as someone who has been diagnosed at a very young age. I am 100% biased and I am aware of it.
  2. Only certified and licensed mental health professionals can diagnose and treat ADHD. If you are not sure whether you have ADHD or need professional help in treating the symptoms, please speak to mental professionals, GPs etc. and get their professional opinion based on your history and your condition.
  3. And the most important disclaimer: this article won’t be possible without all those people who gave me a gift of their time and their ADHD story. Thank you🙏.

If you have ever read any of my Instagram or Medium posts, you might have noticed that I am very open about my “diagnosis”. When I was little, around 8–9 years old, I was diagnosed with both dyslexia and ADHD. I say this to give my readers a little more context about my background, like “I am blonde”, “I am 173cm tall”, etc.

It was pure coincidence that I was diagnosed; an intersection of my family history and the observance of my primary school teacher. It was also an end and a beginning wrapped up together.

To the adults in my life, it seemed that my diagnosis was an end; the end of the search for an answer to the question “What’s wrong with her?”. For me, however, it was the beginning of life “with a diagnosis”.

ADHD and entrepreneurship

Later on, when I began my career, I naturally slipped into being an entrepreneur and a startup person. It gave me the freedom to be who I was and not proceed with a “Traditional Career”. The people around me were no different to me; they were all entrepreneurs and startup founders who exhibited the same traits I had. I felt at home. A strange and sometimes unhealthy “home environment”, yet still home.

The pace of the entrepreneurial and startup worlds, the diversity and variety of the work, the flexibility and control I have; all of this seemed tailor-made for me. Plus, I was surrounded by people similar to myself, who thought in the ways I did.

And indeed, although ADHD manifests in the general population at about 10–15% (depending on the country of the diagnosis), around 65% of entrepreneurs that were scored have ADHD. It seems, not only are we suited to entrepreneurship, but it is also suited to us.

That distractibility that drove your teachers mad? That becomes an aptitude for multitasking and the ability to switch between topics in the blink of an eye. The restlessness that led your parents to sign you up for multiple sports teams and other extracurricular activities? That becomes a desire to explore uncharted terrain, to pivot to new areas or new ways of doing things. That risk-taking and impulsiveness? With a little experience, that becomes intuition, allowing for swift action based on limited certainty (a certainty which is rare, as an entrepreneur).

As you can see, I do not believe that ADHD is a hindrance, especially for entrepreneurs. I am not “suffering from ADHD”. It is simply the particular condition of how my brain is wired. Everyone’s brain is wired in a particular way; my way just has a name.

Research that made me wonder

Recently, an interesting thing happened: my clients started opening up about their own guesses about whether or not they themselves had ADHD. At the same time, privately, on social media, some of my connections reached out to me asking how I would approach the topic of ADHD if I were them. And I didn’t really have an answer.

So I took to the streets! Not literally of course. I decided to ask around. I interviewed over 20 entrepreneurs (both diagnosed and not), multiple therapists, and read tons of research on the topic. And that experience shook me.

Initially, when I reached out to the entrepreneurial community, my idea for this piece was to make it an easy-to-read “how-to”, a compilation of a common experience as entrepreneurs with ADHD. (And if you are here for this, please check the Appendix.)

Yet what I heard in those stories was a lot of suffering, a lot of self-doubt and a lot of pain, both processed and not. The levels of these varied from person to person, yet what was apparent to me is that my view on this “diagnosis” is a very uncommon one. I was light and bubbly… and I benefited from the ways in which my brain was wired.

It took me some time to understand what happened. I spoke to my colleagues, friends, and family to understand what I was actually looking at. The gap was huge. And as a result, I pivoted my research to understand what makes one person maximize on their ADHD traits and another suffer.

ADHD is my Superpower

As usual, I started this journey with self-inquiry. What makes my perception and my experience different? I then tried to find a common thread in the interviews of those who are “at ease” with their diagnosis.

First of all: it is a matter of the time that I and others have already spent with the diagnosis.

If you have been diagnosed recently as an adult, you might feel overwhelmed and lost. This is totally normal. You have been living in a world that tried to fit you into a certain box and, for such a long time, you tried to fit yourself into this box, usually without success or through massive emotional pain. And now you found the reason why, but you haven’t yet found the tools and the moves.

You could say that I am a rare breed — I was diagnosed at such a young age. And because I was diagnosed at such a young age and had a lot of time to adapt, I never attended ADHD training, never took any medication or went through a therapy that is tailored to ADHD adults. I had 28 years to learn, piece by piece, what makes me ‘me’ and how I can use it to my benefit.

From those who have been diagnosed later than I was, in their adult years, I heard that all those tools, such as medication and tailored therapy, helped them to get out of the initial emotional hole created by the diagnosis or by the years of overcoming it without acceptance. They save you time and help you to overcome the initial confusion. At the same time, almost all of them agreed that seeking sustainable ways of supporting yourself and accepting yourself is more important than fixing yourself with a pill.

And here comes the second difference: those who thrive as ADHD entrepreneurs, dealt with their initial childhood trauma.

ADHD doesn’t come alone. As a renowned expert on trauma Gabor Maté has said, it needs both inherited brain physiology and environmental influence for one to become ADHD. Simply put — childhood trauma. Out of all my interviews, those who maximized on their ADHD traits had spent time untangling their childhood history through therapy, mindfulness, and bodywork and made their peace with it.

The same happened to me. In my adult life, I was exposed to therapy, coaching, mindfulness, etc, first as a client and then as a coaching professional. The label ADHD became even less critical or judgemental. I just accepted how I was and found my intuitive ways around it.

Spending time understanding the condition and also working with mental health professionals, mindfulness trainers, coaches etc. deepens the self-acceptance and self-awareness that lie at the core of maximizing your ADHD superpowers.

It is like shifting the question from “what’s wrong with me” into the direction of “what works for me?” And really, it comes down to everything: your productivity habits and tricks, career choices, your relationships, your diet, even how much you sleep.

The third point that a lot of them had in common is external acceptance.

To my great luck, as a child, I had one person who believed that my energy was a superpower! For my school teacher, it made no difference whether a child learned the alphabet well or expressed themselves openly in class. She was proud of us all and, at the age of 8, I received a commendation certificate from her “for high energy and talkativeness in the classroom”. This acceptance at an early age shaped how I saw myself, and how I acted towards ADHD. It was simply part of who I am.

For some of my respondents, that external validation came from helping professionals, from their families, their teams or even just by finding another ADHD brain in their network and relating to them.

We all ‘know’ that not everyone can do a 9-to-5 job or be excited about a very structured to-do list, but it is only when you really feel like you are not the only one like this in the world that you can accept it for yourself. You then go on a journey of creating your own paths of productivity and success and, at some point, you find them.

Formula for success

At the end of my research I realized that there is a simple formula that can help to explain what makes one thrive within the ADHD condition:

Self-acceptance + Self-awareness + Self-care =

Effective Self-management

We have already spoken about self-acceptance and self-awareness; now let us talk about self-care.

Through trial and error or through ADHD training, many of my respondents learned the importance of self-care.

When someone asks me to explain what I do in order to maintain a healthy level of self-management, I usually say something like: I limit my sugar and fast food intake, sleep a lot, exercise, meditate every day, drink moderate amounts of caffeinated drinks, take a supplement such as Magtein to help my brain etc.

Many of these sound quite simple and are something that everyone can benefit from, no matter whether with ADHD or not.

The difference between the “normal” brain and ADHD is the level of influence the lack of self-care has on our life. The depth of the drama that we might get ourselves into. Destroyed relationships, mediocre careers, deep dissatisfaction with our lives. You name it.

Self-awareness again helps to create those connections in our brains that tell us, “if you eat too much saturated fat and junk food, you become short-tempered or unfocused, and then you snap at your team, procrastinate and slow down your growth”. You need those connections to strengthen the importance of self-care and understand its influence on your success or lack thereof.

As you can see, living with ADHD is my personal story. I have never lived inside a “normal brain” (though really, what brain is “normal”?). But I truly believe that ADHD is an entrepreneurial superpower.

What started for me as a simple list of dos-and-don’ts, ended up changing how I see my condition and those around me, how I see ADHD medication, and the impact of therapy and self-care on one’s success and/or failure.

Somewhere in the middle of writing this article I even gave up trying to explain what I feel and what it does to me, and it makes me even prouder to see these lines finished and published.

If you are searching for some practical advice, I have collected the links that resonated the most with me in the appendix below. I hope you find it helpful.

And as usual, don’t hesitate to reach out, and please talk to a licensed and certified mental help professional if you want to be diagnosed or need professional support in managing the symptoms.


If you are reading this piece, you might be wondering whether you have ADHD or not, or what are the actual tips and tricks to overcome the symptoms after you’ve accepted yourself and/or been diagnosed. Below you can find the links to the articles that I found most helpful and a list of the symptoms, together with a scoring sheet.


The symptoms of ADHD can be collected into two categories: inattentiveness, and hyperactivity, and impulsiveness.

The main signs of inattentiveness are:

  • having a short attention span and being easily distracted
  • making careless mistakes
  • appearing forgetful or losing things
  • being unable to stick to tasks that are tedious or time-consuming
  • appearing to be unable to listen to or carry out instructions
  • constantly changing activity or task
  • having difficulty organizing tasks

The main signs of hyperactivity and impulsiveness are:

  • being unable to sit still, especially in calm or quiet surroundings
  • constantly fidgeting
  • being unable to concentrate on tasks
  • excessive physical movement
  • excessive talking
  • being unable to wait their turn
  • acting without thinking
  • interrupting conversations
  • little or no sense of danger

Though these are often presented as problems that have to be suffered and/or overcome, particularly amongst younger people, with a little positivity and a slight change of view, many of these characteristics are actually tremendously beneficial to entrepreneurs.

Here you can find a Diagnostic questionnaire.


Practical pieces on ADHD that I found helpful for someone recently diagnosed:

A researcher that looks into ADHD and Entrepreneurship. You can find a list of his publications here:

Gabor Mate on ADD:

Mindfulness meditation and yoga help with ADHD:

What is actually happening in the brain?

When you don’t have ADHD, but experience something else:

ADHD “Symptoms” Are Advantages for the Entrepreneur



Olga Skipper

Executive coach and Advisor for Tech Founders and Entrepreneurs. Asking uncomfortable questions.