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Half of Shark Tank investors are dyslexic and consider it a strength

daymond john barbara corcoran kevin o'leary
“Shark Tank” investors
Daymond John, Barbara Corcoran, and Kevin O’Leary all struggled
with their dyslexia as kids, but think their workarounds made
them better entrepreneurs.


  • Half of the “Shark Tank” investors — Daymond John,
    Barbara Corcoran, and Kevin O’Leary — are dyslexic. Guest Shark
    Richard Branson is, as well.
  • Dyslexia is a lifelong learning disability that makes
    reading difficult, but does not affect intelligence.
  • Research suggests that anywhere from 5-20% of the
    global population has dyslexia, but that as many as a third of
    entrepreneurs in the United States has it.
  • The Sharks say that skills that help with dyslexia,
    like learning how to control focus and delegate
    responsibilities, help with creating and running

Dyslexia affects anywhere from
5%-20% of people
in the world.

Among the judges on the NBC show “Shark Tank,” it’s 50%.

Three of the six “Shark Tank” investors are dyslexic, and they
consider the learning disability not a disability at all, but an

Research suggests they’re onto something. A 2007 report from the
Cass Business School in London
found that 35% of 139 American entrepreneurs surveyed were
. While that number is based on a small study that
may have resulted in a number that isn’t representative of an
entire population, other research has found the percentage of
entrepreneurs with dyslexia is higher than the percentage of
those in the overall population.

According to the DyslexiaHelp team at the University of Michigan,
dyslexia affects people of all intelligence levels, but affects
an above-average percentage of those with high

In a recent interview with “Shark Tank” investor Daymond John for
Business Insider’s podcast “Success! How I Did It,” John
mentioned his fellow dyslexic Sharks, and explained how
he was able to use dyslexia to his advantage
as an
entrepreneur. Here’s what he and his other Sharks had to say on
the subject, including the Season 9 guest Shark, Virgin founder
Richard Branson.

  • Daymond John: “As I look at, it was
    always a workaround,” he told us. “I would read something — I
    had to read it three times — then I’d have to go and try to do
    anything in there that I read because I don’t know if I grasped
    the information correctly. So it always made me take action.”
  • Barbara Corcoran: She told Entrepreneur
    in 2014 that growing up with dyslexia forced her to be
    more creative and social
    than classmates who took to
    schoolwork more easily. The key, she said, was overcoming an
    insecurity over it and embracing it. “And the kids that
    are so good at school, that don’t have to fight for it, very
    often they don’t do as well in life and business because
    they’re not flexible,” she said. “There’s no system dictated to
    them out there like it is in school and they certainly tend not
    to make good entrepreneurs.”
  • Kevin O’Leary: Like Corcoran, O’Leary was
    initially ashamed of his dyslexia, until he learned to control
    it. Then
    he considered it a “gift,”
    he told Entrepreneur in 2016. He
    said, “staying focused in challenging times and on the tasks
    you’re trying to achieve in business is very important, and
    that is actually how you get over dyslexia. Forcing yourself to
    focus over and over again.”
  • Richard Branson: Branson has been
    one of the most vocal supporters of entrepreneurs with
    . He told Bloomberg in 2015 that dyslexia has
    forced him to keep his communication with his team simple and
    efficient, and to be quick to delegate responsibilities to
    others that could do them better. “Too many leaders want to
    cling onto everything themselves and do everything themselves
    and never let go,” he said. Similarly, dyslexia also made him
    adopt a habit from a young age of keeping notes throughout the
    day, which has become “one of his most powerful tools” in

As John told us, he realized as a teenager that his dyslexia may
have made him different from most people, but he believes the
workarounds developed him into an entrepreneur.

You can listen to the full podcast episode

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