Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity or ADHD is characterized by difficulty paying attention, forgetfulness, impulsivity, and hyperactivity, and is usually thought of as a problem or a hindrance to living a ‘normal’ life. 

In school, it is often considered as a cause of learning disability. Kids living with ADHD frequently get lower grades than their peers. It doesn’t help that they forget things like their homework or constantly leave their seats. While the other kids learn to read in no time, they might be struggling memorizing the alphabet.

As adults, individuals with ADHD may be reprimanded for tardiness or the negative implications of their impulsivity. They might be the topic in the office pantry whenever they space out during a meeting or when it is taking them forever to enter data in a google sheet.

In cases when the condition has been diagnosed, the person dealing with ADHD may be prescribed medications. However, not everyone responds well to medicines and some experience side effects. And even if they actually work, it’s possible for them to still experience some symptoms. 

You can imagine the stress people living with ADHD go through. How many times are they compared with their schoolmates? How many of them ask themselves why they can’t be like their colleagues at work? How many times are they told they don’t seem to have a bright future?

Celebrities living with ADHD

But being affected by ADHD doesn’t necessarily mean one does not have a chance at having a good life. 

There are actually many individuals who may have been struggling with the symptoms of ADHD but are still able to do really well in their chosen careers. 

These include Justin Timberlake, who, aside from being one of the lead vocalists of the famous 90’s band NSYNC, is also a songwriter, and actor. 

Simone Biles, the Olympics gold medalist gymnast, is also diagnosed with ADHD, along with Olympics legend swimmer Michael Phelps.

Successful entrepreneurs with ADHD

In the field of business, many successful individuals credit their success to ADHD. 

For instance, David Neeleman, founder of JetBlue Airways said, “[w]ith the disorganization, procrastination and inability to focus, and all the other bad things that come with ADHD, there also come creativity and the ability to take risks.” [1]

In fact, if Neeleman could choose whether to have ADHD or not, he would choose to have it. He even opted not to take medicines for ADHD because he’s afraid to be like the other people. Neeleman said “If someone told me you could be normal or you could continue to have your ADHD, I would take ADHD.”

The list of successful people with ADHD is actually a long one. Among others, it includes Richard Branson, the person behind the brand name Virgin; Ingvar Kamprad, founder of Ikea; and chef and entrepreneur Jamie Oliver. 

The role of ADHD symptoms in the success of entrepreneurs has even caught the attention of researchers in recent years. One research, published by Sage in 2021, for example, examined the role of ADHD symptoms in entrepreneurial orientation and firm performance. 

According to the authors, their findings assert “that the performance advantages of entrepreneurs’ ADHD symptoms can be derived from greater focus on innovation, proactiveness, and risk- taking.” [2]


In a world where many of our dominant systems and conventions are shaped by people who are not affected by ADHD, it is not surprising that the individuals who are diagnosed or are exhibiting symptoms of ADHD are often judged negatively. 

Many of these kids grow up not being able to achieve much not because of ADHD but because they were made to believe at an early age that that is what lies ahead.

But many people with this “disorder” have already proven that the challenges caused by ADHD are not insurmountable. Many even credit their success to their condition.

So why not instead of focusing so much on the difficulties, we highlight all the positive things that can be done not only in spite of but because of ADHD? It might help more patients live better lives.


[1] Gilman, Lois. 2021. How to Succeed in Business with ADHD. <>

[2] Wei Yu, Johan Wiklund, Ana Pérez-Luño (2021). ADHD Symptoms, Entrepreneurial Orientation (EO), and Firm Performance. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice . Vol. 45(1) 92–117 .

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