Link between Entrepreneurship and Neurodiversity

Zara Macias
Published in
3 min readFeb 18, 2023
Photo by Robina Weermeijer on Unsplash

“The entrepreneur is often represented as a go-getter with limitless ambition and an inventive mind. Over time, these innovators and risk-takers have shown a kind of fearlessness that many never experience. And throughout history, some of the most genius creators and thinkers have, less famously, struggled with mental illness.” — Debra Carpenter

Beethoven, Elon Musk, Virginia Woolf, Van Gogh, Edgar Allen Poe, Kate Spade…. the list of bright people who suffer or suffered from mental illness runs deep. In fact, according to a UC Berkeley study, 72% of all entrepreneurs suffer from mental health issues, compared to only 32% of all Americans who have been given a diagnosis of one or more mental diseases.

It’s complex because mental illnesses’ very symptoms can foster creativity, a relentless work ethic, and sometimes required and audacious risks.

But the stigma attached to talking about mental illness is a problem for entrepreneurs. It may be worse to suffer from self-stigma and self-doubt than the mental health condition itself. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, bravely shared, “The reality is great highs, terrible lows and unrelenting stress. Don’t think people want to hear about the last two.” He later admitted to a bipolar diagnosis.

It’s true. The topics of stress, anxiety, and depression are taboo.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, I think its time for change. Open your ears, your hearts, and ideally open your wallets for company programming too.

We MUST discuss the depression and anxiety that comes with being and aspiring to be a business owner, and we MUST reframe neurodiversity as a business asset.

In our current U.S. healthcare system, we are more reactive rather than proactive. We wait until something is cancerous to take action. Why? Well for one, according to a 2019 article by Dr. Susan Levine and more,

“currently, most providers, including hospitals and physicians, are paid to treat rather than to prevent disease.”

A classic instance of “follow the money.” By 2030, it is anticipated that the cancer industry would be worth about $581.25 billion. I’m talking about $581,000,000,000+ dollars people. It’s a truly staggering amount of money. Stress management is the most important component in preventing cancer and the majority of diseases. Chronic stress is the leading cause of death, according to the United Brain Association and many other specialists.

What costs less than reactive treatment, you ask? Proactive actions.

It can be as easy as sincerely asking how your friends, family, coworkers, and neighbors are doing to spending a little for a yoga and meditation class. (If you are looking for an affordable high quality option, I highly reccomend Inner Warrior Yoga in Louisville, Ky. Their class schedule is here.) to scheduling that primary care checkup, which you have put off for more than a year.

I say this time and time again…

Asking for help is a strength.

The theme to proactivity is that it’s almost always tied to community. The isolatist model proves toxic and deadly.

So friends, family, LinkedIn lovers… let’s openly recognize the link. Let’s talk about mental illness like we do the weather, there’s no need to make it a taboo, uncomfortable topic.



Zara Macias

Zara holds a BA in Political Science/International Affairs. She’s passionate about destigmatizing mental health and empowering women, Latinos, & POC to lead.