This is an excerpt from an article I wrote for More magazine titled, Could Your Boss Have Aspergers? I was thinking that the article is so good and someone should give me a book deal from it. Then when an agent contacted me I remembered that I can’t stand having a book contract hanging over my head. But I like this article, so I’m posting an excerpt below.
Roughly 80 percent of adults with Asperger’s syndrome do not have full-time work, according to some studies. By the time I figured out I had the disorder, I had been fired from every job I had ever held. I had offended everyone I knew. Think of all the thoughts and judgments that go through your head that you’d never say aloud: You’re fat. You’re lazy. Your clothes don’t fit. Your office smells. I say these things because they’re true, and I’ve since built a career on saying what no one else will say—or maybe I have a career in spite of that.
The thing you would notice first if you met me at my office is that I can’t do social niceties. You might say, “Hi. It’s nice to meet you.”
I would say nothing. Because I wouldn’t be able to decide if I should say, “Thank you.” Or “It’s nice of you to come.” Or “How are you?” Or “Do you like the weather outside?”
When I say nothing, you will be thrown off guard because you have not been in this position before. But I’m in it all the time, so I can recover faster than you. While you are deciding that I must not have heard you, I will be leading you toward our meeting spot and shifting the conversation to the work at hand. And ta-da! I’ve gotten myself out of all social-skill requirements, and we are getting our work done.
If you have Asperger’s, the key to building a career is to be very good at something. People accept my quirks because I’m so good at starting companies. My inability to see the rules makes me able to think outside the box. I don’t see the box.
It is crazy to think you can start a company from nothing and build it to $100 million in revenue. Yet I am excellent at selling this sort of thing to investors. For most of the world, crazy is bad. In the start-up world, crazy is good.