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Gary Cohn a Dyslexic

by Jess Carpenter

gary-cohn-6A teacher once told Gary Cohn’s parents that if they were lucky, he might grow up to be a truck driver.

“I was a horrible student,” Cohn, the president and COO of Goldman Sachs, told a room full of teachers.

On Thursday night, Cohn was honored at Teach For America’s Annual New York City Benefit Dinner held at the Waldorf-Astoria.

“I know from my experiences in life that educators had an enormous impact and influence on me,” he said. “And fortunately or unfortunately, I had a lot of experience with different educators.”

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Dyslexia and Business Acumen

by Jess Carpenter

The data is hard to believe:

It has long been known that dyslexics are drawn to running their own businesses, where they can get around their weaknesses in reading and writing and play on their strengths. But a new study of entrepreneurs in the United States suggests that dyslexia is much more common among small-business owners than even the experts had thought.The report, compiled by Julie Logan, a professor of entrepreneurship at the Cass Business School in London, found that more than a third of the entrepreneurs she had surveyed — 35 percent — identified themselves as dyslexic. The study also concluded that dyslexics were more likely than nondyslexics to delegate authority, to excel in oral communication and problem solving and were twice as likely to own two or more businesses.

Keep in mind that only 10 percent of Americans are believed to have dyslexia, so the percentage of business owners with dyslexia is a very significant aberration. The explanation seems to be that children with dyslexia develop compensatory mechanisms that allow them to excel in business. They turn a potential disability into a new set of cognitive skills.

One reason that dyslexics are drawn to entrepreneurship, Professor Logan said, is that strategies they have used since childhood to offset their weaknesses in written communication and organizational ability — identifying trustworthy people and handing over major responsibilities to them — can be applied to businesses.”The willingness to delegate authority gives them a significant advantage over nondyslexic entrepreneurs, who tend to view their business as their baby and like to be in total control,” she said.


The larger moral of studies like this is that we should never underestimate the importance of neurodiversity. At first glance, dyslexia might seem like an unequivocal disability, a brain disorder that we’d be better off without. But nothing in the mind is that simple, is it?

Mackenzie Thorpe: English artist

by Jess Carpenter

Born: 1956

As a child, Mackenzie Thorpe had a problem learning to read and write. Some people thought he would never be able to communicate effectively with others.

Art is not about the object itself, any piece of art is a vehicle to bring you an experience, to provoke a thought, an emotion, or a new perspective. The art is the experience you have with the piece. Thorpe has used art to communicate in ways that words never could.  His website notes Mackenzie’s perspective on life is clear. He doesn’t hide the fact that often life is a struggle, a dark tunnel which can seem endless. However, he passionately believes that our frail dreams are worth nurturing and that love and honesty will triumph over adversity.

He uses his art to inspire others. My ambition is to unite the world through the eyes of these children and let today’s cultures understand that in order to sustain our societies, we must protect and nurture our children, and also protect and nurture the child within us all. It is our responsibility to love these children, to let them bring love back to the world, and to keep our eyes open to the wonderment of childhood.

Allison Merriweather, American artist

by Jess Carpenter

Little Allison was so excited. After years of struggling in school she finally had an assignment she thought she could do well. Unfortunately, the school system turned her excitement into despair. The one time I could have been singled out as having talent I ended up being unfairly punished. I was in third grade and we had an assignment to illustrate a story. I was interested in the project and took it home to complete . I drew on all these pieces of paper and stuck it together. But, when I brought it to school, the teacher didn’t believe that I had done it and the other kids didn’t either. They thought that my older brother or my mother had done it for me. As punishment, I had to sit outside the classroom on a chair.

Fortunately, Merriweather has found that she does have a talent for art, and can succeed. Today she owns her own art gallery. Her work can be seen on the covers of numerous magazines across the country. And her commissioned paintings are in high demand.

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov: composer

by Jess Carpenter

Born: March 18, 1844
Died: June 21, 1908

As a student in school, Nikolai Rimsky struggled to learn. But as student of music, he excelled.

A pupil like myself had to submit to Balakirev a proposed composition in its embryo, say, even the first four or eight bars. Balakirev would immediately make corrections, indicating how to recast such an embryo; he would criticize it, would praise and extol the first two bars, but would censure the next two, ridicule
them, and try hard to make the author disgusted with them. Vivacity of composition and fertility were not at all in favor, frequent recasting was demanded, and the composition was extended over a long space of time under the cold control of self-criticism.

As a teacher, Rimsky was able to reach out to his pupils in that same way others had helped him. His famous student, Igor Stravinsky, remembered: I worked with him in this way. He would give me some pages of the piano score of a new opera he had just finished (Pan Voyevoda), which I was to orchestrate. When I had orchestrated a section, he would show me his own instrumentation of the same passage. I had to compare them, and then he would ask me to explain why he had done it differently. Whenever I was unable to do so, it was he who explained.

Dave Morrison: founder “The Right Stuff” and “Express Workout.”

by Jess Carpenter

Like many dyslexics, Dave Morrison has used his combination of observation with creative thinking to succeed in business. That is how he got the idea to create “Express Workout.”

We sat in the lobby of one of our full-service clubs several years ago and watched our members come and go. At the end of the day we realized that 95% of members were not even using the locker rooms. We had to ask ourselves why were we building these large full-service clubs if members weren’t going to use most of the
facilities anyway? Why not give them what they wanted by reducing the scope of our future facilities and passing the cost savings on to members in the form of lower, more affordable membership dues?

Not concerned with keeping his success all to himself, Morrison has supported another fitness innovation,

I know Joe, and I think it’s great. Anything that’s going to encourage increased knowledge of the business is good for all of us. It’s great for everyone involved. [I hope] the site encourages people to at least get some help in the initial stages of working out.

Frank Muir: British comedian and author.

by Jess Carpenter

Born: February 5, 1920
Died: January 2. 1998

It stands to reasons that any boy born and raised in an English pub would have a good sense of humor. And Frank Muir supported that idea. Though he did poorly in school, he continued to learn on his own throughout his life, developing such a sophisticated grasp of the English language that many who heard him swore he must have had an upper crust education.

Wit is a weapon. Jokes are a masculine way of inflicting superiority. But humor is the pursuit of a gentle grin, usually in solitude.

While serving the Royal Air Corps, Muir discovered his eye for detail and for radio comedy. After his tour of duty was over he went into radio as a career, moving into television during the 1950s. He also wrote numerous books for both children and adults.  He rounded out his career with some stage work in his later life. One of his specialties throughout his career was in word play, including making up humorous definitions for common words. Strategy is buying a bottle of fine wine when you take a lady out for dinner. Tactics is getting her to drink it.