Famous people with dyslexia have made a big impact on mankind.
They’ve learned to overcome their barriers, which has enabled them to achieve their dreams, goals, visions, and desires.
In fact, their difficulties were often found to be a catalyst for their success. It forced them to develop and use the positive sides of dyslexia. Visualization, creativity, communication, cognitive flexibility are just some of them!
Dyslexia often requires people to use various compensatory strategies. Especially adults who try to hide it or memorize some text that gets in front of them. It is how they find their ways to succeed in life. As the word says – building confidence is something that has to happen through life. Like a little project.
Many dyslexics do so. Many of them have made tremendous contributions to mankind. They, among many others, include famous:
- Innovators and entrepreneurs
- Designers and architects,
- Political leaders
This serial of famous and successful dyslexics who changed the world is to motivate and inspire you to never give up no matter how difficult the task seems 🙂
Who Are Famous People With Dyslexia?
Richard Branson is a billionaire, founder of Virgin, investor, author, and philanthropist.
Branson said in an interview in Forbes: “I was hopeless at schoolwork and people didn’t really understand dyslexia then so it was just assumed that I was not bright when it came to academic things. I almost definitely wouldn’t have left school at 15 and I wouldn’t have started a magazine or built Virgin if I had not been dyslexic.”
Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson (born 18 July 1950) is a British business magnate, investor, author, and philanthropist.
The founder and chairman of the London-based Virgin Group didn’t breeze through school. In fact, the school was something of a nightmare for him. His scores on standardized tests were dismal, initially pointing to a similar future. Despite the difficulties and challenges posed by his acknowledged dyslexia, his gifted interpersonal and business talents drove him to succeed.
Branson dropped out of school at age 15. He was frustrated and demoralized by what he thought was a pointless and inflexible approach to learning.
As a dyslexic, he says he struggled enormously. Creativity, spontaneity and lateral thinking – the things he had always considered strengths – were choked and suppressed. His self-esteem suffered, as did the self-esteem of thousands in his generation.
Building confidence, often described as a hallmark of British education, was for the few. It certainly wasn’t for the lad from Oxfordshire who struggled to read and write. So he packed bags to explore what he called “The University of Life.” And he never looked back.
Albert Einstein is a theoretical physicist who developed the Theory of relativity. Won a Nobel prize in physics in 1932.
Even though Einstein wasn’t diagnosed with dyslexia, he said to his friend: “Thoughts did not come in any verbal formulation. I very rarely think in words at all. A thought comes, and I may try to express it in words afterward.” It was also reported he said: “Writing is difficult, and I communicate this way very badly.”
Albert Einstein (April 1955 – 1955) was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of relativity, one of the two pillars of modern physics (alongside quantum mechanics).
While his research is still helping us understand the universe today, it’s unlikely we’ll ever know for sure if he had dyslexia or not.
But, there are a lot of people who think Einstein had dyslexia.
Some of the theories say that the revolutionary physicist used his imagination rather than fancy math to come up with his most famous and elegant equation. One of Einstein’s most defining qualities was his remarkable ability to conceptualize complex scientific ideas by imagining real-life scenarios. He called these scenarios “Gedankenexperiments“, which is German for “thought experiments”.
To sum up, here are the reasons why Einstein may have been dyslexic:
1. His speech was delayed.
Like many people with dyslexia, Einstein was a late talker. He didn’t start speaking comfortably until he was nearly 6 years old. In fact, that period of his early life is so well known that delayed speech in kids is sometimes called the Einstein Syndrome.
2. He may have had other dyslexia-related symptoms.
Some people say he struggled with reading aloud and with word retrieval. He also found it hard to express his thoughts and ideas in writing and may have struggled with the foreign language, too.
3. He learned better in creative environments.
Many people with dyslexia thrive when they’re able to learn in a creative way. Einstein had a hard time at his elementary school. His classes relied heavily on memorization and rote learning. But he did very well after switching to a new school that encouraged creative thinking and learning.
4. He saw the world from a unique perspective.
People with learning differences naturally think outside the box. Albert Einstein was no exception. His ability to think creatively meant he came up with ideas that other scientists hadn’t imagined.
Orlando Bloom is an English actor.
In his interview about dyslexia Orlando said: “It takes having obstacles to learn and grow and be better. The challenge of dyslexia—the challenge of climbing that mountain—is something that you can make your own and make it a reason to be a winner in life. “
Orlando Bloom (born 13 January 1977) is an English actor.
Famous for his roles in “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “The Lord of the Rings,” among others, and from a very early age – dyslexic.
When he was seven years old an IQ test showed that Bloom had a high IQ, yet he struggled with reading and spelling.
Bloom hid his dyslexia from friends like many children with dyslexia and worked hard to keep up:
“I was an angry child at times. I was frustrated with the learning disability. It makes you feel stupid; you just don’t feel smart. Somewhere in me, I knew that I was smart, I knew I wasn’t thick, but I was just really struggling with spelling and writing, and it was holding me back.”
Henry Ford was an industrialist who revolutionized assembly line production for the automobile.
Henry Ford said: “If you think you can, you can. If you think you can’t, you can’t.” 🙂
Henry Ford (July 30, 1863 – April 7, 1947) spent his childhood struggling to read but excelled in engineering. He never gave up and became the ‘father’ of the modern streamlined assembly line, producing the Ford Model T the first mass-produced, and affordable motorcar.
Henry Ford was dyslexic and used that as a springboard to fine-tune his other abilities. He would repeat certain actions until they became like clockwork in his efforts at overcoming dyslexia.
Later, he transformed industry worldwide by introducing the idea of the assembly line, which sprang from his own experiences (some sources cite Eli Olds with the original idea, and say that Ford implemented it).
He was quite successful too. Even today, 150 years after Ford was born, you might still see many cars on the road bearing his name.
Jamie Oliver is a world-renowned British chef and restaurateur.
In an interview with Celebrity Radio, he admitted that he couldn’t really blossom in school and his dyslexia deeply affected his school performance.
Jamie Oliver (born 27 May 1975) has become a famous chef and TV personality, Britain’s biggest-selling author (after JK Rowling), Jamie, has never read a book.
Megapopular Jamie Oliver has been diagnosed with severe dyslexia since childhood, which caused him to read his first novel at the age of 38. Due to dyslexia, he even went to a special needs classroom for five years.
His family owned a restaurant that allowed him to develop other talents. At the age of 11, he showed that he was good at knives, so he often helped in the kitchen of the restaurant and started developing his biggest skill – cooking.
He says that dyslexia played a big role in his success:
“If I’m in a meeting I just see the problems differently and I obsess about things differently,” he says. “Some bits of work need to be sweated over and cried over and crafted. Because I’m dyslexic, sometimes, when it requires a load of stuff to be done, I just do it. It’s like I’m a massive ten-tonne boulder rolling down the hill.”
David Pilkey is an American cartoonist, author, and illustrator of children’s literature.
He says having dyslexia was a blessing!
David Pilkey (born March 4, 1966) is an American cartoonist, author, and illustrator of children’s literature. Pilkey is best known as the author and illustrator of the children’s book series Captain Underpants and the children’s graphic novel series Dog Man.
He says dyslexia is his superpower:
“I think my dyslexia helps me to be a more effective writer. When people are writing, they’re focused on the story, the plot and the emotions – which I am as well – but I’m also focused on the effort it takes to read.”
George Washington was the first president of the USA.
Historians report that Washington didn’t spend a lot of time in school.
He loved mathematics and science, but he disliked grammar and always had problems with spelling.
George Washington (February 22, 1732 – December 14, 1799) was probably dyslexic. That didn’t stop him to become the first President of the United States!
He presided over the convention that drafted the Constitution, which is still the supreme law of the United States to this day.
Even today, he is still widely regarded as the ‘father’ of the country.
Some historians report that Washington didn’t spend a lot of time in school, but was a self-taught man. The first American president once wrote:
“We find our necessaties are not such as to require an immediate transportation during the harvist” – while discussing a supply shortage during the Revolutionary War.
His writing left a lot to be desired, but he managed, somehow, to make himself understood. Well enough, in fact, to transform a nation.
None of that concerned the American public since he was their first ever president and they had no one else to compare him to. Still, the man was a terrible speller.
Alexander Graham Bell is a Scottish-born scientist, inventor of the first working telephone.
One of Bell’s most famous quotes is: “When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.”
Alexander Graham Bell
(3 March 1847 – 2 August 1922) was an eminent scientist, inventor and innovator who is widely credited with the invention of the telephone. His father, grandfather and brother had all been associated with work on elocution and speech, and both his mother and wife were deaf which profoundly influenced Bell’s life and work.
He was working on a device to help deaf people hear and while doing so he managed to come up with something quite useful.
His research on hearing and speech further led him to experiment with hearing devices that eventually culminated in Bell being awarded the first U.S. patent for the invention of the telephone in 1876.
Many other inventions marked Bell’s later life including groundbreaking work in hydrofoils and aeronautics, check out these Bell’s tetrahedral kites:
In 1888, Alexander Graham Bell became one of the founding members of the National Geographic Society.
Muhammad Ali is one of the greatest athletes in boxing history.
Many know Ali as a champion boxer, a man who fought for racial and social justice his entire life. He barely graduated high school due to reading difficulties before he realized he is dyslexic.
Muhammad Ali (January 17, 1942 – June 3, 2016) was an American professional boxer, activist, and philanthropist. Nicknamed “The Greatest,” he is widely regarded as one of the most significant and celebrated sports figures of the 20th century and as one of the greatest boxers of all time.
Muhammad once said: “As a high school student, many of my teachers labeled me ‘DUMB.’ Of course I knew who the real dummies were. I barely graduated from high school. There was no way I was going to college–I never even thought about it. I could barely read my textbooks. I was lucky though. I had enough belief and self-esteem to carry me to greatness in other ways. I have been able to overcome my learning differences through my own persistence. But most cannot and most will not without the right kind of help.”
It is truly inspiring everything Ali was able to accomplish in his life, especially knowing that he barely got through high school with his dyslexia. By being unable to perform well in school because of reading difficulties – he wanted to help others experiencing the same issues.
Keira Knightley is an English actress.
This world-renowned actress admits that having dyslexia is hard work, but she also says that: “It doesn’t mean that you’re stupid… it just means that you work in a different way.”
Keira Christina Knightley (born 26 March 1985) is a British actress. She has been nominated for two British Academy Film Awards, three Golden Globe Awards, and two Academy Awards.
Knightley’s most famous role was of the Elizabeth Swann in the blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean series of films. Later, she was nominated for an Academy Award for her role as Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice (2005).
When Keira started school she was at the top of her class. The only problem was that Keira wasn’t actually reading, but reciting by heart the books she’d heard from her mother at home. It was only when she was given a book she wasn’t familiar with that her teachers realized she couldn’t read at all. By the time Keira was 6 and a half, she was diagnosed with Dyslexia.
Like so many children who are diagnosed with dyslexia or other learning disabilities, Keira saw herself differently. She had gone from being at the top of her class to the bottom. Fortunately, her teachers and her mom taught her that being dyslexic “doesn’t mean you’re stupid… It just means that you work in a different way.”
Keira remembers the auditions where she couldn’t read her line.
But she never gave up.
She would go from one role to another, eventually becoming the only non- American on the list of highest-paid actresses!
Daymond John is a co-founder of FUBU, a clothing entrepreneur and “Shark Tank” investor.
John credits his dyslexia with setting him on his path to entrepreneurial success. “I see the world in a different way than most people and for me that’s been a positive thing,”
Whoopi Goldberg is an American actress.
Her talent and creativity were obvious from an early age. Her favorite thing in school was storytime because she said she could picture everything in her head.
Steve Jobs was a founder of Apple, entrepreneur, industrial designer, investor, and media proprietor.
Jobs preached that no matter what happens in your life—struggles in school or an unsuccessful career path—every aspect will somehow help you down the road. Yet, he was never diagnosed with dyslexia.
Leonardo da Vinci was an Italian painter, architect, inventor, engineer, and mathematician.
Some historians argue that da Vinci’s likely dyslexia may have contributed to this Renaissance man’s creativity and artistic skills. What do you think?
F. Scott Fitzgerald is one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century, best known for his novel, The Great Gatsby.
Fitzgerald was a poor student who struggled to achieve passing marks in both grade school and in college. He had to leave school at the age of twelve because he had difficulty focusing and finishing his work.
Nelson Rockefeller was an American businessman and politician.
It wasn’t long before a young Nelson Rockefeller knew he would have to work twice as hard as his peers in order to succeed- and succeed he did, becoming the Vice President of the United States.
Know more famous people with dyslexia?
Let us know so we can find out and tell their story. In addition, we’ll add more to make this article the best source of inspiration for dyslexics.
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