At present, more than 61 million American adults are living with some disability, according to the CDC. While 13.7% of individuals living with a disability experience mobility concerns, 10.8% have been diagnosed with a cognitive disability. Although living with a disability may be challenging in countless ways, a disability does not have to stand between an individual and their aspirations. Apart from a host of athletes with disabilities, making us proud every time they take to the track, court, field or pool, many world-renowned entrepreneurs have achieved great success despite their disabilities.
Daymond John beat the odds
Growing up, entrepreneur and TV star Daymond John struggled to get through elementary school. While he excelled at math and science, he struggled immensely with spelling and reading. Although he was diagnosed with a ‘general learning disability’ during his school years, it wasn’t until he was 30 years old that the Shark Tank investor finally saw a medical professional who diagnosed him as being dyslexic. John first made a name for himself in the 1990s with his fashion company FUBU, before joining the ranks of the ABC hit show. Despite facing several challenges along the way to becoming a multimillionaire, John believes his disability made him a better entrepreneur, as it forced him to develop his other skills.
A cerebral palsy diagnosis was no match for Glenda Watson Hyatt
Canadian-born author and activist Glenda Watson Hyatt was born with cerebral palsy. Glenda, who is affectionately known as the ‘left thumb blogger’ since she wrote her best-seller I’ll Do It By Myself, using only her left thumb, started her school career as part of a small special education class. By the time she reached high school, however, she was a student in a regular class. She went on to graduate from college, and apart from being a best-selling author, is also at the helm of a successful consultancy firm. Suppose it wasn’t for Glenda’s hard work and dedication, along with the invaluable support and myriad of resources made available from online networks. In that case, Glenda might not have enjoyed such a happy and fulfilling life. CPFN report that connecting with other families and accessing community resources can significantly improve the circumstances for children with cerebral palsy, and this can set them up nicely for later life.
Bram Cohen embraces Asperger’s diagnosis
Bram Cohen revolutionised p2p sharing when he founded BitTorrent, a disruptive technology that allows large amounts of data to be swiftly transferred over the internet. While tech fanatics hailed cohen a hero from across the globe, most people had no idea that their hero was living with Asperger’s. During an interview with Business Insider, Cohen stated that his diagnosis had impacted his social interactions considerably. It has not, however, hindered his success in any way. Instead, the unique way in which his brain is wired has made him a better entrepreneur. After leaving BitTorrent, Cohen co-founded Chia Network, and currently serves as its CEO.
Living with a disability can be very challenging. A disability does not, however, have to be an impassable obstacle on the road towards entrepreneurial success, as these inspiring stories show clearly.