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Billionaire Richard Branson: Dyslexia helped me to become successful

Richard Branson
Lisa Maree Williams | Getty Images

The billionaire Richard Branson says dyslexia is at least partially responsible for his success and people with the condition are likely to have "the skills of the future."

In a blog post published Friday, Branson said one of the strengths people with dyslexia often have is a vivid imagination, noting that Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Steve Jobs were all dyslexic.

"My dyslexia has shaped Virgin right from the very beginning and imagination has been the key to many of our successes," he said.

"It helped me think big but keep our messages simple. The business world often gets caught up in facts and figures — and while the details and data are important, the ability to dream, conceptualise and innovate is what sets the successful and the unsuccessful apart."

The Virgin Group founder added that the skills associated with dyslexia would be urgently needed in the new world of work, noting a 2018 report from accountancy giant EY that claimed dyslexics have "exactly the skills needed for the future workplace."

"Problem solving, creativity and imagination will be in high demand with the rise of AI (artificial intelligence) and automation," Branson said.

"We should stop trying to get all children to think the same way," he added. "We should support and celebrate all types of neurodiversity and encourage children's imagination, creativity and problem solving — the skills of the future."

The notion that creative skills will become increasingly important is widely acknowledged.

In August, John Abel, vice president of cloud and innovation at Oracle, told CNBC that employees needed creative skills to protect them from being replaced by robots.

Meanwhile, Pearson CEO John Fallon told CNBC that month that the capabilities most insulated from automation were "uniquely human skills" like creativity, persuasion and empathy.

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