Cisco CEO John Chambers Turns Dyslexia Into Strength

John Chambers leads one of the nation’s largest technology companies, Cisco Systems, based in California’s Silicon Valley. When he talks about technology and his company slogan, “Tomorrow Starts Here,” he draws parallels to the kind of future tech found in Star Trek and The Jetsons. But when he’s not talking business, he’s often talking about dyslexia—especially with young people.

Chambers, a West Virginia native, has become a prominent spokesman for because he says it’s important to be a role model to others. He was in grade school when he was first diagnosed. He recently told The Wall Street Journal and Business Insider that his dyslexia is both a strength and a weakness. “It would surprise you how many government and business leaders (have) dyslexia,” he told Business Insider. “Some people view it as a weakness, and maybe it is. What dyslexia forces you to do, you don’t go A, B, C, D, E ... to Z. I can go A, B ... Z with speed ... So it’s definitely an advantage.”

He acknowledges that many executives won’t talk about their dyslexia. But he has used his dyslexia to help make him one of the most respected leaders in business—and rich, to boot. “Learning disabilities stay with you throughout your entire life,” he told the Journal. And in his case, dyslexia has empowered him to create and push for innovative technology products.

Learn about CEOs like Chambers who have shared their stories about learning and thinking differences.

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