Cookie Settings How dyslexia has played a vital role in my success
back to Big Thinking arrow
BIG THINKING

How dyslexia has played a vital role in my success

back to Big Thinking arrow
BIG THINKING

How dyslexia has played a vital role in my success

Vanella Jackson
Global CEO
Hall & Partners

LinkedIn Twitter

Before joining Hall & Partners in 2004, Vanella had a successful 20-year career as an Account Planner in some of the world’s best advertising agencies including Bartle Bogle Hegarty, J Walter Thompson and AMV BBDO.

In August, my daughter got the results for her A level exams. She took one resit along with Statistics, a new subject which she covered in just one year. She got an A* and A which confirmed the place at her first-choice university to study Business Analytics and Consultancy. I couldn’t have been prouder, and more excited for her this past weekend when I took her up for Freshers’ Week.

Last year was a very different story. An A and two Cs wasn’t going to be enough to get her into any of the universities she wanted to go to. She was devastated. The school said they weren’t surprised; after all, she is dyslexic.

These comments took me right back to the time I received my own A level results. I too am dyslexic, and I also felt that somehow everyone around me expected less of me.

The problem of low expectations, of course, is that you begin to believe them yourself. A levels simply passed me by.

Dyslexia is so easily seen and talked about as a handicap, rather than the special creative talent it really is. My frustration and hurt were immense. Even more painful was seeing my own daughter go through the same pain that I had.

No one told me or my daughter what a huge advantage it is to have dyslexia. The wonderful ability it gives you to see things differently to others and connect ideas at break-neck speed. For me, it’s fuelled a passion for creativity along with an ability to have new and imaginative ideas.

While my reading and writing may not be as strong as others’, I developed a strong visual eye. This has been invaluable at work. Having dyslexia has also helped me speak and communicate spontaneously, fluidly and with confidence. For my daughter, I’m sure it’s helped her become the brilliant, natural mathematician she is.


Everything about us makes us unique – and having unique differences creates unique strengths


Overall, I think being dyslexic has played a vital role in my becoming a CEO and running a successful business. It’s the special talent that’s helped me develop my own unique strengths, my creativity and determination. In my mind, everyone has different unique strengths and I’m proud that being dyslexic is one of mine.

Of course, I didn’t always feel this way. When I was younger I felt a deep sense of shame. This was despite not truly knowing what dyslexia meant. I just knew it wasn’t good, and so I was probably not good enough.

This feeling stuck with me well into the early years of my working life. Only when I became more successful did I feel confident enough to say I’m dyslexic.

Strangely, until last year I still didn’t really understand what it meant to be dyslexic. Of course I have read books, but they didn’t make anything clear.

It wasn’t until I went to the Institute of Optometry in London that I understood what non-dyslexics experience. They made me look at a page of type through a blue plastic sheet. By doing this I got to experience the way most people see words on a page. It was a revelation! I now have some blue glasses on order.

It’s been a long journey for me and my daughter. I’m convinced that having dyslexia has helped me, and will continue to be something that helps my daughter. It’s so important to view it as a valuable difference and strength, rather than thinking of it as a problem.

Everything about us makes us unique – and having unique differences creates unique strengths.

I hope people who don’t have dyslexia begin to recognise that it’s just something that helps some people see the world and think differently to them.

I hope fellow dyslexics relish and love the fact that they have such a unique and special talent, and put it to good use – always remembering they have a mind to invent, connect and imagine.

LinkedIn

Twitter

Facebook

In August, my daughter got the results for her A level exams. She took one resit along with Statistics, a new subject which she covered in just one year. She got an A* and A which confirmed the place at her first-choice university to study Business Analytics and Consultancy. I couldn’t have been prouder, and more excited for her this past weekend when I took her up for Freshers’ Week.

Last year was a very different story. An A and two Cs wasn’t going to be enough to get her into any of the universities she wanted to go to. She was devastated. The school said they weren’t surprised; after all, she is dyslexic.

These comments took me right back to the time I received my own A level results. I too am dyslexic, and I also felt that somehow everyone around me expected less of me.

The problem of low expectations, of course, is that you begin to believe them yourself. A levels simply passed me by.

Dyslexia is so easily seen and talked about as a handicap, rather than the special creative talent it really is. My frustration and hurt were immense. Even more painful was seeing my own daughter go through the same pain that I had.

No one told me or my daughter what a huge advantage it is to have dyslexia. The wonderful ability it gives you to see things differently to others and connect ideas at break-neck speed. For me, it’s fuelled a passion for creativity along with an ability to have new and imaginative ideas.

While my reading and writing may not be as strong as others’, I developed a strong visual eye. This has been invaluable at work. Having dyslexia has also helped me speak and communicate spontaneously, fluidly and with confidence. For my daughter, I’m sure it’s helped her become the brilliant, natural mathematician she is.


Everything about us makes us unique – and having unique differences creates unique strengths


Overall, I think being dyslexic has played a vital role in my becoming a CEO and running a successful business. It’s the special talent that’s helped me develop my own unique strengths, my creativity and determination. In my mind, everyone has different unique strengths and I’m proud that being dyslexic is one of mine.

Of course, I didn’t always feel this way. When I was younger I felt a deep sense of shame. This was despite not truly knowing what dyslexia meant. I just knew it wasn’t good, and so I was probably not good enough.

This feeling stuck with me well into the early years of my working life. Only when I became more successful did I feel confident enough to say I’m dyslexic.

Strangely, until last year I still didn’t really understand what it meant to be dyslexic. Of course I have read books, but they didn’t make anything clear.

It wasn’t until I went to the Institute of Optometry in London that I understood what non-dyslexics experience. They made me look at a page of type through a blue plastic sheet. By doing this I got to experience the way most people see words on a page. It was a revelation! I now have some blue glasses on order.

It’s been a long journey for me and my daughter. I’m convinced that having dyslexia has helped me, and will continue to be something that helps my daughter. It’s so important to view it as a valuable difference and strength, rather than thinking of it as a problem.

Everything about us makes us unique – and having unique differences creates unique strengths.

I hope people who don’t have dyslexia begin to recognise that it’s just something that helps some people see the world and think differently to them.

I hope fellow dyslexics relish and love the fact that they have such a unique and special talent, and put it to good use – always remembering they have a mind to invent, connect and imagine.

Vanella Jackson
Global CEO
Hall & Partners

LinkedIn Twitter

Before joining Hall & Partners in 2004, Vanella had a successful 20-year career as an Account Planner in some of the world’s best advertising agencies including Bartle Bogle Hegarty, J Walter Thompson and AMV BBDO.

 

10/02/2018

5 things every working parent can relate to…

03/01/2018
20-years-as-a-woman-in-business-Jenna-Lauer-thumb

What I’ve learned from 20 years as a woman in business

07/30/2018
Super working mum myths

The 10 myths of a ‘Super Working Mum’