Advantages of ADD in a High-Tech Career

I found this, very intresting article linked off of a blog, I’m sure at least one person maybe affected by this, if not its an intresting read anyway.

What I’m wondering is what everyone here thinks about these general characteristics and how much they apply to engineering. After all, there are many famous and successful people that are diagnosed with it. Here is a quick list:

  • Alexander Graham Bell
  • Andrew Carnegie
  • Leonard DaVinci
  • Thomas Edison
  • Albert Einstein
  • Michael Faraday
  • Henry Ford
  • Galileo Galilei
  • Issac Newton
  • John D. Rockefeller
  • Werner von Braun
  • The Wright Brothers

Imagine a world without ADD…

** Top Ten 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 for ADDers, 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. Most people find it difficult to do boring or repetitive things but these can often totally shut an ADDer down. Your rapid fire brain + highly creative mind + the ability to hyperfocus equals fast absorption of new information quickly. Dr Ed Hallowell, who has ADD and has written several Delivered from Distraction : Getting the Most out of Life with Attention Deficit Disorder, 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. An ADDer invented the electronic ticket.
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 who attributes his creativity to ADD.Both are Billionaires. 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 ADD Resource website.

This is not to say there are no disadvantages or real problems associated with ADDers in a high tech career, there most certainly are, and if you don’t learn to manage them, they can a great deal of trouble and grief to your life (and those around you), but that’s another article.

© Pete Quily 2006

If you have or think you have ADD and work in a high tech career, what are your ADD competitive advantages?

The full article can be found here

Yeah, I read that article - ( or linked to it).

I don’t know what to make of it… …part of me agrees… … part of me thinks they are off left field.

While I am very very conflicted, in the end, I think there is something to the idea that folks with ADD & ADHD are somehow important to the proper function of society.

It is this belief that makes me worry about the widespread medication of kids with the ADD or ADHD label on them.

Yet… …I know examples of many kids that do much better in school with the meds. I also know teachers that swear by the meds.

Would I have been labeled ADD or ADHD had I grown up today? I suppose so. Would I have done better in school and perhaps avoided some painful experiences in my life had I been medicated? I suppose so. Would some important part of me been suppressed had I done so. I don’t know but I think maybe yes…

As you can see, I am conflicted.

Joe J.

…Here is a quick list:

  • Werner von Braun
  • The Wright Brothers
  • Ken Wittlief

Imagine a world without ADD…

Add me to that list too.

OH, and another list I read had Dean on a list of people experiencing ADD symptoms/behaviors - along with Einstein, and some other great names in history.
But, having it myself, I can see the validity in their claim.

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.

More like… able to attempt to take on 14 apps at once and not really focus on one and become good at any and get frustrated…

It’s the whole… Jack of all trades, master at none complex.

OMG, for the past 6 months or so I have seriously thought I had ADD. Now I am convinced! Wow, this is so cool I know ADD has advantages in technical stuff. There was a guy in my AP physics class with it and he understood everything really well the first time. Also, look at Tytus and all his crazy-awesome designs (except he has ADHD if I’m not mistaken).

I’m pretty sure I have ADD, or some form of it. For example, I’m usually in trouble in classes I don’t enjoy (history/english) for talking/not paying attention. This never affects my test/quiz grades however. In classes I like (electronics/computers/math) I do great in both participation and tests.

Quick Note: I was just helping someone with some code and completely forgot about them to reply to this thread. Irony, anybody?

**1. The Ability to Hyperfocus.
**I’ve been known to start working on things at 11:30 PM and not finish until hours later. I totally shut anybody else out, all I need is me, my laptop and my caffeine.

**2. Rapid Fire Mind.
**Laggy programs annoy me, does that count?

**3. Multitasking at Will.
**I can work on seperate projects all within the same day/week, but not literally at the same time.

**4. High Energy Level.
**Yup. However, adrenaline may be his fuel source. Mine is caffeine, intravenous if I could.

**5. Highly Creative.
**Ehh… I try to be. Whenever I need a creativity spark, I ask myself
What would Chuck Norris do?
What would Vin Diesel do?
What would Steve Jobs do?
What would that kid from that movie do?

No really, I do. Gives me a different perspective of possible solutions (perspective of a crime fighter, of a mechanic, of a computer scientist, etc.)

**6. Quick Learner.
**I learned C during last years build season, we ended up capping the vision tetra.

** 7. Stimulus Seeking Brain.
**Sometimes, when I’m bored, I read random datasheets.

** 8. Constantly Scanning your Environment.
**I notice the weird things in pictures. Eg: An agenda in the back of a photo that looks similar to the ones we use at our school.

** 9. Great in a Crisis.
**Not totally sure. I can’t really remember a “crisis” situation.

**10. Risk Taker.
**I wanted to go skydiving for my 16th birthday, but all the CT dropzones require you be 18. I guess I’ll have to wait two years :frowning:

I notice small mistakes in paintings, if there is water and its not level, or if a tree is not vertical (all trees grow vertical and balanced), or if the perspective on a building is not painted right - once I notice something like that it drives me buggy, and I would not be able to sit in the same room with that painting.

Oh is that so?

If everyone disagrees with me I’ll shut up, but here’s my opinion. I exhibit almost all of those character traits, and have never been diagnosed with ADD. I’ve always believed ADD is a personality trait that’s treated as a disease. I mean, it has always struck me as weird when kids are like “I have ADD” like they’re sick. Anyway, just my $0.02, was reading this thread and figured I’d see if anyone else shares my viewpoint.

I always knew people wiht ADD were smarter than people w/o add

I am 99.99% sure I have ADD. Everyone on my team can’t stand the fact that I have to be doing every second of every minute whether it be productive, like saudering wires to some motors, or whether it is not productive, like when I am just tapping and trying to learn about different parts of the robot.

This is one small step for man, one giant leap for ADD’ers.


If you had ADD you would understand that people don’t choose not to sit still and they literally cannot help it. I am not scolding you I am just letting you know that for most people like me it is just the hardest thing in the world.

I think the learning thing is right. In math I just look at something and I am good at it right away. So I spend the rest of the class counting ceiling tiles or calaculating the surface area of the floor in the school so can figure out how may tiles there is on it. I just HAVE to be busy with something.

ADD has been a huge bonus for me in FIRST. The ability to thrive on choas as opposed to dissolving into a blind panic has always worked out well for me. Also, being able to thread my brain works out because I can simultaneously focus on multiple aspects of the team, and keep track of multiple projects at once.

That being said ADD is also still a challenge sometimes. As a mentor, I still have issues with trying to keep records and keep track of paperwork, both of which are important.


Thats what I’m saying. I can not sit still for my life… I would like to but it is the hardest task in the world. I feel as if I have to be doing something every nanosecond of every day doing something. I can do something if interested like math, I would rather do 100 qudratic equasions, (I’m in Algebra II), rather than write a two page essay on anything…

Can anyone relate?


I don’t know if I have ADD or not, but i have often been called “fidgety” . as in I am bored or distracted extremely easily, and I cannot sit unoccupied… in my boring classes i am either asleep or madly scrawling drawings in notebooks… I do not take notes for any of my classes… i flipped through last years Calculus notebook and I had like 4-5 pages worth of actual NOTES for the whole year … the rest was all drawings . I get anxious if i am unoccupied like i tap fingers start humming guitar solos or something… it annoys the crap out of people cuz i finish a test and if its after lunch and i’m not sleepy i make a lot of noise humming or tapping fingers.

is that ADD … i don’t know… i asked my doctor and he said if i get good grades i don’t have ADD

if you characterize ADD people as hunters (instead of farmers) or pilots (instead of passengers) or warriors (instead of bankers) you start to see why our educational system was not designed for us ADD-people.

The fact that you feel out of place in school is a good indication that you are out of place in school. Many ADD-people are very intelligent and are able to compensate for poor study/note taking/ organizational skills, getting through by the seat of their pants instead.

BTW: you should be able to google up plenty of websites with tests or check lists that will answer your question.

Here is a test I took that said I might possibly have it.

Take Test By Clicking Here.

It is about 50 something questions. If a question does not pertain to you click na/ other wize awnser 0-4


that test is a little strange

“do you have symptoms of ADD?” THATS WHAT IM TAKING THE TEST TO FIND OUT!

“do you tend to snap at people a lot?” oops! Sorry. :^)

  1. The Ability to Hyperfocus.
  2. Rapid Fire Mind.
  3. Multitasking at Will.
  4. High Energy Level.
  5. Highly Creative.
  6. Quick Learner.
  7. Stimulus Seeking Brain.
  8. Constantly Scanning your Environment.
  9. Great in a Crisis.
  10. Risk Taker.
    I don’t have ADD (at least I don’t think so), but every single one of those can apply to me. :yikes:

Then again, this explains a lot. I’ve always wondered how I can “space out” and be able to do almost anything and ignore everything else around me until I am done. It is not unusual for me to start working on something at like 8 or 9 PM and not stop until I am being forced to bed at 3 or 4 AM by my parents. If it were not for this, I can easily work 24 hour shifts several days a week to get stuff done. :wink:

lol… i tried to take the test … but i couldn’t concentrate long enough to answer all the questions…! i just scrolled up and down reading the questions then decided that they are all obvious questions …
that is ironic… l