My message to anyone disheartened by exam results

Richard Branson and Kate Griggs on stage at the World Dyslexia Assembly
Made By Dyslexia
Virgin Galactic
Richard Branson's signature
Published on 23 August 2023

At this time of year, when exam results are announced, I often hear from dyslexic kids, or parents of dyslexic kids, who are struggling with their self-esteem. Unfortunately, schools and exams aren’t designed to spot, support, or empower dyslexic thinking skills, which can lead to kids feeling stressed and helpless.

Using scientific terms, dyslexia is a genetic difference in an individual’s ability to learn and process information. In the real world, dyslexia is a different way of seeing the world, a different way of processing information, and an opportunity to come up with great ideas. My message to kids with dyslexia (or anyone unhappy with their results) today is this: Being different is your biggest asset, it will help you succeed. It’s your superpower.

Richard Branson sitting in a chair on the phone in his houseboat. Sam Branson as a boy, is standing on the arm of the chair looking out of the window
Image from the Branson family

As I pointed out when we launched our  DyslexAI campaign with Made By Dyslexia, the Virgin approach to business couldn’t be further from the ‘textbook’ approach. If I hadn’t relied on my intuition, lateral thinking and willingness to take a risk, I would have never jumped from growing a record company to launching an airline – which was a move that helped scale Virgin into the brand it is today. I attribute much of my success as an entrepreneur to dyslexic thinking skills like lateral-thinking, creativity, and strong communication.

I was pleased to chat to Kate Griggs, Founder of Made By Dyslexia, about this in an interview to launch their brand-new podcast series, called Lessons in Dyslexic Thinking. Throughout the series, Kate interviews inspiring dyslexics from around the world. Each episode provides insight into what Dyslexic Thinking is, and how it can change the world. I loved chatting to Kate about my journey from a failing student  to the founder of a global brand.  This message is so relevant to kids struggling with their self-esteem this week, so here’s a sneak preview.

The podcast series launched with my interview and  a new episode will be shared every two weeks with guests such as Barbara Corcoran and Maggie Aderin-Pocock. The podcast is for everyone, from kids to adults, dyslexics and non-dyslexics, so I hope you can tune in.

The strides that Made By Dyslexia make every year towards their mission of redefining dyslexia are remarkable. It’s the perfect example of a team of dyslexics finding innovative solutions to address a problem!  Since we collaborated with Made By Dyslexia last year to launch our Dyslexic Thinking campaign, more than 20,000 people have proudly added the ‘Dyslexic Thinking’ skill to their LinkedIn business profile. If you’re a dyslexic and you haven’t done so yet – today’s the day!

Made By Dyslexia podcast

The team is also doing incredible work in schools to support dyslexic minds. Made By Dyslexia is calling for every school across the world to ‘take a day for dyslexia’ and for teachers to access its free training in how to spot, support and empower dyslexic learners in the classroom. I joined Made By Dyslexia for the World Dyslexia Assembly in New York last year as they celebrated training all 100,000 teachers across New York City. A huge achievement. With teachers being equipped to support dyslexia, we can empower kids to lean into the skills that are not always captured in exam results, and follow their dreams. Made By Dyslexia’s Square Pegs film does a fantastic job of illustrating that our school systems aren’t shaped for Dyslexic Thinkers, even though they are our most gifted minds.

Made By Dyslexia square pegs film

So, if you’re a dyslexic struggling with the pressures of education this week, remember Dyslexic Thinking is a superpower. If you don’t have dyslexia, but you’re still unhappy with your exam results, just remember that your grades don’t define you, and there’s so much more to life beyond the school gates.