Writer, Journalist, Entrepreneur
Terena Bell is a writer, journalist, and entrepreneur with ADHD from Kentucky. Currently, she is focusing on journalism. She writes mainly on topics such as the Great American Solar Eclipse, artificial intelligence, and ADHD. In the past she has started successful companies such as the translation and interpretation program - In Every Language, and a visual search engine called TVRunway. Bell lives to write, saying that she has “always been a writer…it’s like asking somebody who’s gay why they’re gay; I don’t know, I just am.” She became an entrepreneur for much the same reason – coming up with better ways to do things just came naturally.
Bell was unaware that she had ADHD until she was diagnosed at the end of 10th grade. However, she says, “everybody kept telling me I was smart, and that I should be making better grades” because hers were mostly at or below average. People did not think she was trying, and in elementary school she decided she would stop trying for fear that everyone would find out that she was not as smart as they thought. Things got better for Bell in high school, though, when the nearing of college gave her more motivation to really “buckle down” and make better grades. After being diagnosed, she began taking Ritalin, which she says was the most help. In addition, she transferred to a small private school, where the teachers could pay more attention to each individual student and therefore help keep her focused during class.
Today, Bell says that many aspects of her ADHD have become easier to handle. Her inattention and impulsivity can still be hard to control, but they have actually been positives in her life, as well. She says, “you have to have a factor of that impulsivity, not just to start a business, but to drive it.” According to Bell, her ADHD helped to both inspire and create her start-ups, and without it they may never have existed. ADHD can be helpful for entrepreneurs because, “if you don’t have that internal ability to make the decision - to make it quickly when needed, and to go after a decision…then you’re not going to be a good CEO”.
To younger generations with Learning Differences, Bell says, “you just have to stay at it, and don’t expect people to make allowances for you.” She believes the best thing you can do is to make sure you’re in the right job for you; to “find what you’re good at, and what allows your [Learning Difference] to be a strength instead of a weakness.” Her concern is that society has developed in such a way that people are so aware of everyone’s differences, they can be used as a crutch. She says that, although it is beneficial for people to be aware of the diverse world we live in and all the differences people have, it is not advantageous to use those differences as a scapegoat. She says, most importantly, to remember that “ADHD is an explanation, it is never an excuse.”