BrewDog boss James Watt has announced he has been diagnosed with autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
The chief executive of the craft beer firm said he sought specialist help after he was described as “semi-autistic” in the wake of allegations of inappropriate behaviour towards staff.
The 40-year-old has now been diagnosed with ADHD – which causes people to be restless and impulsive – and Asperger syndrome, a form of autism.
He said the conditions make it difficult for him to read social cues and express empathy – and that he is working with specialists to develop coping strategies that will allow him to “continue to improve” his leadership of Brewdog and how he approaches life overall.
He revealed he decided to get assessed after a comment made by a journalist.
The comment was made while Brewdog was in the spotlight for its work environment, with former employees describing it as “toxic” and some women saying they were made to feel “uncomfortable” around Mr Watt.
Allegations were strongly denied, but Mr Watt apologised to anyone he had made feel uncomfortable. Brewdog has since sought to overhaul its culture.
‘A bit of an odd fish’
Mr Watt, who runs BrewDog with school friend Martin Dickie, said he was still in the “early stages” of his journey but hopes to share his learnings to help other neurodiverse business leaders and entrepreneurs.
Announcing his diagnosis on Linkedin, Mr Watt wrote: “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.”
He admitted he had always accepted those “character imperfections” as a trade-off for other characteristics, like his work ethic, focus and analytical skills.
The father-of-two posted: “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 Asperger’s.
“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.”
Since sharing his news on the networking platform, scores of people have left supportive and encouraging messages – sharing hints and tips and their own stories.