Tom Bergeron is COO of InventiveLabs, a small company dedicated to helping people find their passion and build their own companies. Bergeron describes InventiveLabs as a “success incubator”, where participants can choose between three programs - Entrepreneurial, Gap Year, and Pitch Competition. All of these programs include mentorship and guidance through the process of creating and building a business, as well as creative spaces in which participants can work and collaborate on projects. Although anyone can apply to participate in these programs, Bergeron and his cofounder, Rick Fiery, try to focus on helping those with Learning Differences. This can include dyslexia, ADHD, or autism. Bergeron says, “we wanted to take our experience in the start-up world and pass it on to a new generation,” but the inspiration to focus on those with Learning Differences came from experiences outside of work.
Bergeron himself has many dyslexic and ADHD traits, and his son was diagnosed with verbal dyspraxia. He says that, although diagnoses of and attitudes about Learning Differences have changed, having a child with a similar Learning Difference is “tough, because you know some of the challenges your child is going to face in school […] for example, my difficulties with reading meant every subject became difficult.”
When it comes to schools trying to accommodate for students with Learning Differences, Bergeron says, “accommodations aren’t acceptance…accommodation says ‘we want you to do things our way’, or ‘we want you to be like everyone else’, which is different than ‘we accept that you learn differently, and we’ll let you learn through your style.” However, he has a strong belief in the positives that can come out of having a Learning Difference.
Although he was “a little oblivious to it” as a child, he knows that having a Learning Difference can teach “perseverance, pushing through, working harder, and not giving up”; all of which are skills that help in the real world and especially in entrepreneurship. He also believes that it helps teach people skills, and how to delegate well.
When asked about advice he would give to younger generations with Learning Differences, Bergeron said, “keep your self-confidence. School can wear you down. Find things you’re good at in life, and do those things.” He also says to persevere when things get tough, because there’s a high that comes after you’ve pushed through an obstacle, and “if you can get used to pushing through walls and challenges, it’s easier to keep doing it.”
To learn more about Bergeron and InventiveLabs, visit the website here.