This is a brief story of how a guy with dyslexia turns so called deficits into veritable strengths, from Captain Chaos to Mr. List, who eventually becomes the proud owner of a fine website selling online courses for IELTS.

Dyslexics are the lucky ones!

Dyslexics interpret concepts differently; they envision the entire machinery of the problem, often discovering an unseen interconnectedness.

In a society where routine tasks are swiftly being replaced by artificial intelligence and robots, creative skills have never been more valued, and dyslexics have this in abundance!

My story is about playing to your strong points and sorting out your so called “deficits” to a point where you overcompensate and they become real character defining strengths.

Refused special needs classes

When I was around 11 my mom suspected I had a learning difficulty and this was confirmed after taking a few tests. However, my initial strategy to deal with the consequences weren’t exactly smart.

I refused to go to “special needs” classes because of the stigma attached. Unfortunately, every Friday the teacher held a spelling test; the first one I got 0/10; and after that, whenever it was test time I faked a migraine. Not smart.

Eventually my mom found out and we started preparing for the spelling tests relentlessly. We used pictures, drawings, and even traced words using my finger on a paper. This worked well and through sweat, grit, and determination I was regularly scoring above 7/10. Happy days.

Drawing history notes instead of writing

Then during high school, in order to do well I realized I had to prepare differently from the other students. This meant drawing out the class notes into mind maps, with colors, arrows, pictures and humor- to make it memorable. This worked well but a lot of colleagues thought I was bananas.

Captain Chaos

Later I started college and played to my strengths again by just taking art subjects like design, fine arts, etc. This worked well, but now my challenge was organizing my work. I was always up in the night finishing assignments or even just straight up missing deadlines. Terrible.

This time, however, I didn’t really develop any strategies; I was adolescent, independent and just worked through it and almost reached mediocrity.  I scraped through with semi-acceptable grades and managed to wing a spot in university.

Accepting my “disability” opened the door for help.

After disappointing grades from college, I asked for help in the form of flexibility for deadlines, extra exam time, and spelling allowances on the essays. I also continued with mind maps, pictures, and colors for making notes. Although it was still difficult, I battled through university and reached the final year European exchange program and needed to improve my Spanish real fast!

Hola dyslexia and Spain!

For my final year I went to Spain, terrified but determined to learn Spanish. Knowing my weaknesses were in reading and writing, I focused almost entirely on listening and speaking. By getting these skills to high level I had a huge advantage compared to my English colleagues when it came to reading and writing.

The Spanish education system focuses a lot on memorization, which was a new challenge for me. I had so much to memorize and the library was just killing me, so I ended up memorizing the mindmaps while doing keep ups with a football. It has been proven that mixing mind tasks with physical tasks greatly enhances learning speed. Eventually I passed university and started a new career path as an English teacher (don’t laugh!).

Scared while teaching English in Spain

In Spain there was a very strong demand for English teachers and after a few nerve racking classes I realized I simply loved it.

At first it was terrifying, I was so scared I would misspell something on the blackboard.

Fortunately though I changed this into my advantage:

  1. I over-prepared for the class- each session had a plan, and tricky spellings were foreseen and dealt with beforehand.
  2. I always taught standing up, I never sat down. This kept the students engaged because I was moving, and pushing the class towards being more interactive and dynamic.
  3. I used a lot of flash cards while standing up- avoiding the typical pencil and paper classroom.
  4. I had my computer with me to check a spelling before dictating it to the class.
  5. I pushed writing exercises to do as homework, and I would correct their assignments while at home.

Teaching with technology

The writing corrections were done via Youtube, the students would email me their work and I would open screen capture software and go through correcting all the grammar and using the computer for the spelling.

My students really appreciated this and I could motivate them via video rather just writing “Good work, Pablo!”.

My love of teaching and preference for technology lead me to create my business where I sell online courses for International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

Entrepreneurship is a cruel school!

Entering the world of entrepreneurship really whipped me into shape in regards to getting a control of my situation.

You see, unless I could make each day productive, I was going to end up a real pauper.

Initially each morning was a massive challenge, I had so much to do and needed to focus relentlessly in order to get started.

I believe finding focus is absolutely hypercritical!

I see too many dyslexics/ADHD wantrepreneur friends suffering shiny object syndrome through rancid scatty minds*.

*This scattyness is an asset in some areas and a deficit in others- I believe the key is to develop the ability to switch it on and off.

Unless the ability to focus is conquered, it’s practically impossible to get anywhere. I discovered this first hand through my own pain and lack of results. The techniques I use nowadays really help me to become laser focused and hyper-organized.

My strategy to succeed in Entrepreneurship with Dyslexia

Making lists

Eeryday I write out my goals for the year, the quarter, the month, the week, and the day! (Mr. List)

Meditation

Imagine your mind is a bowl of spaghetti. Meditation for me straightens it all out and back into straight solid pasta sticks. Delicious!

Mindmap everything!

I hardly realize I am doing it nowadays. If my mind is full of noise, I just dump it all it into a mindmap. This frees up resources to focus. I use Dean Jackson’s 50 minute Focus Finder technique.

My message

Throughout my story hopefully you have seen a recurring theme of turning weaknesses into strengths. I think this is most evident with my path to business owner.

I am now extremely well organized and infinitely more productive than I was a few years ago. I believe when you start on the path of remedying a problem, if you keep on this path, eventually you surpass your initial goal and it becomes a strength.

I got the quote below from Ray Croc’s biography, and it has served me well:

Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.
- Calvin Coolidge

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave