10 Advantages of ADHD in a High Tech Career
By Pete Quily, Adult ADHD Coach.
I have Attention Deficit Disorder (which
I find is more of a surplus really). I coach adults with ADD,
have an ADD resource website with over 100 pages of information,
a blog, and lead the Vancouver Adult ADD support group. So,
I'm fairly familiar with ADD. I've been using Mac computers
for 20 years, sold them for seven, and have spent thousands
of hours on the net. So, I'm fairly
familiar with the high tech world.
I've noticed there are many similarities between the
I believe there are many people who work in the high
tech industry who have ADD, much more than the average
of the population. Approximately five per cent of the population
has ADD and 85 per cent of adults with ADD don't know they
have it. It seems to me ADD and the technology industry is
a natural fit. The constant change of the high tech world
can be stressful and troubling for some people but it's often
stimulating and energizing for the ADDer. Although, there
are no specific statistics a number of other ADD “experts”
agree with my observation.
Many people only see the many problems associated with ADD,
and many people, especially men avoid getting diagnosed for
ADD. The delay in getting diagnosed is that some people portray
it as an almost totally pathological condition, and they view
it as just a weakness.
To put it into perspective, I thought I'd write a list of
some advantages of having ADD in the wired world to
help people in the industry recognize and develop their ADD
related strengths as well as managing their ADD challenges.
I also hope this might help those who may be afraid
of getting diagnosed and treated (medication, coaching,
therapy etc.) for ADD because of the negative stigma promoted
by the people that condemn ADD as a moral failure. (i.e.,
"there's no such thing as ADD, turn off the TV, stop
eating sugar, beat your kid more often, and twirl around 3
times and tap your heels and it will go away). ADD is an inherited
neurobiological condition. Every medical and psychological
association has stated this. As more people realize the advantages
of having ADD, they will be more inclined to seek diagnosis
and treatment. Some people believe ADD is related to IQ, the
idea that ADD’ers are slow learners or below average
IQ, wrong. I have it and I made the Dean’s Honours list
and many PhD’s have it. It comes down to a difference
in brain wiring, and in some fields (high tech, marketing,
artists, the media, entrepreneurs) the unique wiring of the
ADD brain is a competitive advantage.
Top 10 ADD Advantages
in a Hi Tech Career.
1. The Ability to Hyperfocus.
Hours of full engagement and concentration in a task, IF you
find it interesting. You can get into the zone and be totally
immersed in what you're doing while the outside world disappears.
When I went on the net for the first time in 1993 at an Internet
cafe I got on the machine at 8 pm and around 4 am decided
it was time to go home.
2. Rapid Fire Mind.
Your brain processes information at hyperspeed. You can do
things in 30 minutes on a computer that might take other people
hours. Downside if you're stuck with an old machine and not
enough RAM you'll be frustrated cause it can't keep up with
the speed of your brain.
3. Multitasking at Will.
Able to run 14 apps at a time and effortlessly switch between
each without breaking a sweat. Able to do several projects
at a time with ease.
4. High Energy Level.
You're able to keep going on a project (if it's interesting,
ADDers are more into creative and entrepreneurial activities
than clerical and repetitive ones). 14-hour days? No problem.
Adrenaline is my fuel source:)
5. Highly Creative.
Able to think beyond the idea of a box. This comes naturally,
while others pay thousands of dollars to try and learn this.
Since you take in more information than the average person,
and you're easily distractible you're more likely to view
a problem from many different angles than vanilla people (non
ADDers), and therefore come up with more possible solutions
to a problem. Need an idea generator? Find an ADDer.
6. Quick Learner.
IF it's something you're interested in. ADD is mainly a condition
of boredom; you have no trouble paying attention to something
if it's interesting. Your rapid fire brain + highly creative
mind + the ability to hyperfocus equals fast absorbsion of
new information quickly. Dr Ed Hallowell, who has ADD and
has written several books on ADD, said he stopped teaching
Psychiatry at Harvard University because the non-ADDers brains
were just to slow and they took so long to get it. He got
tired of being continually frustrated waiting for them to
catch up to the ADD students.
7. Stimulus Seeking Brain.
A perfect match for the wired world, an under stimulated brain
and an over stimulated virtual environment. Being an info
junkie can be a good thing. Well, not always.
8. Constantly Scanning your Environment.
Allows you to notice more and find information and resource
that others miss. Also allows you to see possible problems
before they arise, and opportunities that others may not see
because they have tunnel vision vs. multiplex vision.
9. Great in a Crisis.
High energy intense situation? Lots of chaos and change? Sign
me up; I thrive on stimulation, change and chaos. We can create
order from chaos effortlessly. We can also create such an
environment as well if needed.
10. Risk Taker.
Impulsivity means you're more willing to take risks and have
a bias for action, act now while the opportunity is hot instead
of getting into analysis paralysis. Many entrepreneurs have
ADD i.e. Paul Orfalea who founded Kinko’s, JetBlue Founder
and CEO David Neeleman. Imagine how successful a high tech
CEO would be if they didn’t take many risks.
These are just a start of the advantages of ADD, for more
go to the list of 151
positive characteristics of people with ADD at
my website at This is not to say there are no disadvantages
or real problems associated with ADD, there certainly are,
but that’s another article.
© Pete Quily 2005
contact: Pete Quily Web: www.addcoach4u.com Blog: www.addstrengths.com