BrewDog CEO Watt reveals aspergers diagnosis

BrewDog co-founder and CEO James Watt

James Watt, CEO and co-founder of Aberdeenshire-based craft brewing firm BrewDog, has revealed in a LinkedIn post that he has been “diagnosed not only with High Functioning Aspergers (which is on the autism spectrum) but also ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).”

Watt wrote:

“My Neurodiversity Journey …

“My first 40 years on this planet have been pretty eventful. High highs, low lows and a fair few personal struggles along the way.

“I had always thought I was just a bit of an odd fish, very introverted, very happy in my own company and far more capable analytically than socially.

“I have always struggled with anything emotional and I am terrible with social cues. I have always needed significant amounts of time by myself to be able to function well as a human.

“I would often be more terrified in simple social settings than I would be facing huge storms in my days on the high seas of the north Atlantic.

“I have always accepted these character imperfections and viewed them as a kind of trade off with other characteristics – my analytical ability, my work ethic and my ability to focus on tasks like a demented mother fucker. ‘It’s just how I am’ is pretty much what I always thought.

“That was until a passing comment from a journalist me set me on the most interesting of journeys. The journalist had described me to one of our team, after spending a day with me, as a ‘semi-autistic former deep-sea captain’.

“In my 40 years I had never heard myself described in that way and after some hasty googling I decided to see a specialist and have myself assessed.

“Working with the specialist was really eye opening and after a series of consultations and tests I was diagnosed not only with High Functioning Aspergers (which is on the autism spectrum) but also ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).

“As a CEO and business leader I am far from alone in being on the autism spectrum – Elon Musk has Aspergers and there has been speculation about Mark Zuckerberg too.

“The diagnosis gives the me opportunity to continue working with an amazing specialist on fully understanding the implications of my own neurodiversity and specifically on working hard on the associated blind spots (such as reading social cues or expressing empathy) whilst sharpening the gifts that also come with autism and ADHD such as focus, creativity and analysis.

“Understanding the condition also means I can build practises into my daily life which help me better manage occasions, settings and experiences that I may find more challenging than others.

“I am still in the early stages of my journey here and I intend to continue sharing thoughts and insights that may help other neurodiverse business leaders and entrepreneurs on their journeys too.

“I am confident that working with fantastic specialists I can work within the confines of ASD and ADHD to continue to improve how I approach the leadership of BrewDog as well as how I approach life overall.”