‘Shark Tank’s’ Kevin O’Leary Says He Has This Superpower

Kevin O’Leary of ABC’s Shark Tank is legendary for his tell-it-like-it-is style. Ironically known as ‘Mr. Wonderful,’ the millionaire investor is legendary for his brash demeanor and cutting remarks.

Many may not realize the financial guru battled with a severe learning disability growing up, which today he considers to be a gift.

“Shark Tank’s” Kevin O’Leary | Michael Kovac/Getty Images

Early discovery

O’Leary realized at a young age that he was struggling more than other students in school. “I was around age 6 when a troublesome fact began to surface in my life,” he wrote in an article for CNN. “I wasn’t learning how to read along with the other kids, and it became a source of incredible frustration for my mother and my teachers.”

While he was good with calculating numbers, reading became an almost insurmountable challenge, leaving O’Leary to feel shame and embarrassment. “It was horrifying to be singled out in class. That white-hot shame of feeling slow left me paralyzed,” he shared. “I was always good with numbers, but the ability to read rows of letters and to turn them into words, completely eluded me.”

O’Leary’s mother soon took him for greater educational support. “There wasn’t a word for dyslexia back then, but small pockets of expertise around this kind of learning disability were starting to pop up in academic communities,” he wrote.

The hospital program O’Leary’s mother enrolled him in implemented physical activity along with the tutorial aspect of teaching, with their main message being acceptance. “The hospital’s philosophy was revolutionary. Until I entered the program, I felt massive shame about my learning difficulties,” he wrote. “The first thing they did was help me understand that my brain was wired a little differently, but not wrongly, taking away the stigma of my disability… I later learned that dyslexic did not mean dysfunctional.”

Mr. Wonderful has superpowers!

Today, the Shark Tank star views having dyslexia as a gift, even calling it a ‘superpower.’ “The way to look at dyslexia is as a unique power instead of an affliction,” O’Leary told Entrepreneur. “Very few people have the abilities that dyslexics have. If you look down the road, as they grow, what happens to dyslexic men and women is they become very successful in business. This is because dyslexia gives you some really unique perspectives and abilities that I’d call superpowers.”

The self-named Mr. Wonderful realized that his abilities set him apart from others – in a positive way. “You have the ability to read backwards, read in a mirror, read upside down. Can any of your classmates do that?” O’Leary revealed his educational therapists would ask him. “And that actually got me back the only thing I really needed, which was my confidence.”

A success story

Now with a net worth of $400 million, O’Leary is living proof that dyslexia does not have to keep you down. Rather, he sees it as a stepping stone to success if you view dyslexia as an asset. “I did and I’m pretty happy with my outcome,” O’Leary said, according to Entrepreneur. “You have to put it in your own mind that this is not an affliction that will negatively impact your future.”

O’Leary emphasized focusing on the positive aspects of dyslexia and the ‘superpowers’ it gives rather than letting it cut down your confidence. His two fellow sharks – Barbara Corcoran and Daymond John – also have dyslexia and prove you can rise above the obstacle.

“It shouldn’t in any way diminish your self-esteem or be considered something that is going to hurt your chances to be successful at work or in life,” Mr. Wonderful said. “It’s just that it affects math and reading scores early on, and so what? That’s something you can get around. Never give up and never let dyslexia hold you back. It’s a gift.”

Watch ABC’s Shark Tank on Sunday nights!