Many of you will know Theo Paphitis from his Dragons' Den fame.
You will probably also know that he is an incredibly successful businessman and in 2015 launched the "Theo Paphitis Retail Group". This Group encompasses Ryman Stationery, Robert Dyas and Boux Avenue. The combined group comprises over 350 stores and 4,000 employees who serve over 28 million customers a year.
The sportsfans among you may also know that Theo’s passion for sport, led him to having eight marvellous years as Chairman of Millwall Football Club, achieving promotion to the Championship and the FA Cup Final against Manchester United, as well as qualifying for Europe.
What you may not know about Theo is that he left school at the age of 16 with no qualifications, due to his dyslexia.
Theo is incredibly supportive of other people and is passionate about raising awareness of dyslexia. He therefore kindly agreed to do this interview with us and we really think you're going to love his answers.
What does being dyslexic mean to you?
I like to think it is a different way of thinking. I play to my strengths and find solutions to things that I find challenging. With technology developing all the time, it is now even easier to find ways to work successfully with dyslexia.
What was your biggest struggle or frustration as a young dyslexic in school?
When I was at school dyslexia hadn't been diagnosed in those days so I was branded 'lazy' and 'stupid' by my teachers. At a young age that can be hard hitting. I was in the lowest form except for maths but I enjoyed sport and that was how I started to enjoy school and properly communicate with teachers and other pupils.
Is there a key strategy you can pinpoint that really made a difference when learning to read and write?
During school I didn't know I had dyslexia but after leaving I had a bit of a 'eureka' moment. A brand new office computer was bought and I could read so much better than I had done before. Now, clearly it wasn't all plain sailing but definitely better than before. I then discovered that reading off a computer with a yellow background helped even more. A colourful background rather than just a black and white type really helped me to learn.
How would you encourage young dyslexics to maintain motivation when struggling to develop reading and writing skills?
If you look at successful people, celebrities or whoever, there are dyslexic people who have made it right to the top of their industry. Dyslexia does not mean 'that is it'. For me, it was about accepting that my spelling, reading and writing were not good. I worked hard at improving it. I worked for a broking firm and I had to write line slips, risks and policy amendments. I knew that if they were not neat enough or they were spelt wrong the brokers wouldn't get them signed off. I spent hours learning calligraphy. For me, hard work is essential. You get out what you put in.
Are you glad you have a dyslexic thinking style?
It is my dyslexia that made me become an entrepreneur and I certainly have no regrets. I accepted that I couldn't work for anyone else and I have never looked back.
What are the three main strengths you would attribute to your dyslexic mind?
I don't think it is necessarily about three things - it could be many things. For me it is about embracing things differently and having confidence in what you do. Learn what works and what doesn't and make the most of the ways it makes you think.
How does dyslexia impact your day to day work?
Having dyslexia has never held me back. I still read a lot, I read the news all the time but I just consume it on my ipad instead. Although I struggled to read at school I do enjoy it. So I think it is about finding ways to do things that work for me.
What are your top tips for children who aspire to be an incredibly successful business person like yourself?
If you embrace your passion and use your common sense, you're already halfway there. I have written my top ten tips on my website that I hope will help those who are looking to get into business.
We would like to say a huge thank you to Theo for taking time from his incredibly busy schedule to do this interview. We really hope it will inspire lots of people who have dyslexia and those around them, who they rely on for support and encouragement.
We hope you have enjoyed reading this interview and have found it as interesting and informative as we have. You may also like to read our interview with dyslexia specialist Nichola Turner which can be found here.
Please help to support National Dyslexia Week 2017 by sharing this interview with your friends and family. Let's inspire those with dyslexia to believe in themselves and follow their dreams.