Feature

Why firms should hire square pegs

Today, people with Asperger’s syndrome, attention-deficit disorder, and dyslexia are found at the highest ranks of business.

The Economist

“Unlike the school playground, the marketplace is kind to misfits,” said The Economist. Today, people with Asperger’s syndrome, attention-deficit disorder, and dyslexia are found at the highest ranks of business, because they often have the creative skills and unusual perspectives that lead to success. Billionaire investor Peter Thiel has said that people who are “sort of autistic” run most of today’s tech firms, and Craigslist founder Craig Newmark says he finds lists of Asperger’s symptoms “uncomfortably familiar.” ADD and dyslexia are also surprisingly common among successful entrepreneurs: Studies have found that people with ADD are six times as likely as others to run their own businesses, perhaps because they tend to be “disastrous employees but founts of new ideas.” Dyslexics such as Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, and the founders of Ford, General Electric, IBM, and Ikea learn to delegate early, which can be an advantage in the C-suite. That is not to say there’s no need for the “old-fashioned organization man”—all these “brilliant mavericks” need sensible managers to keep them grounded. But in today’s business world, “no serious organization can hope to prosper’’ without its share of “square pegs.”

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