The “ADHD” CEO of Karmaloop

It’s probably no surprise to anyone that I don’t make a habit of reading “Inc.” magazine.   I am not the entrepreneur in our family, and if I’m in the magazine section you’ll find me picking up “Writers Digest” or “Altered Couture” and maybe, MAYBE “Make”, but never “Inc.”

Except today I saw a copy of it in the waiting room at our doctor’s office, and the following cover ‘blurb’ caught my eye:

“The ADHD CEO:  ‘What made me not do well in school has actually been very beneficial in business.'”

Do tell.

The CEO to whom the blurb and subsequent article refers is 36 year old Greg Selkoe of Karmaloop, based in Boston.  Last year, Karmaloop had revenues of $130 million, up 81% from 2010.   Ummm, 81%??   That is, shall we say, not bad at all.

Says Selkoe:

“I was diagnosed with ADHD in elementary school and actually got kicked out of several schools before landing in one for kids with learning issues.  What made me not do well in school has actually been very beneficial in business, because I can focus on something very intensely for a short while and then move on to the next thing.  That’s how my mind works, and [my assistant] Lauren understands that.”

That’s all the article says about Selkoe’s ADHD specifically, but the ‘symptoms’ are written all over his company.  Karmaloop has many different departments that feature everything from up and coming clothing designers to flash to skate; as well as 11 private design labels and KarmaloopTV.   The company recently took over a company in Amsterdam that will become Karmaloop Europe, and made a deal with the largest luxury retailer in China to create a Chinese version of Karmaloop.

In school this desire to move quickly from one thing to another might be (and apparently was) seen as a lack of focus.  It would be criticized and viewed as a problem, almost a disability.  Thank goodness that Selkoe somehow managed to avoid being damaged by it, and instead has used his ‘condition’ to the massive benefit of him and his employees.  I’d love to read more about the road he took from being a kid with “learning issues” to being a wildly successful founder and CEO.

Just one more instance of someone succeeding despite their school experience, and not because of it.

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