Joanie has a conversation with Bob Salomon, president of CIO Systems. One of the coolest things about Bob is his willingness to talk about how he’s dealt with dyslexia and ADD and how that actually motivated him to get into tech. Bob also talks about how they “make IT boring” at CIO Systems. They do IT security and support and help employees more be more productive. In addition, Bob talks about how to network and ways to get involved in community service.
Q: Tell us your story of how having dyslexia and ADD drew you into IT work.
“It’s been a major stumbling block and also a path for me. I grew up in the 60s and 70s. At the time, it wasn’t quite understood. I did terrible in school. I was a C-D student for most of elementary and high school. I only got into college because, at the time, it was very easy to get into state university. All you had to do was score a certain level on the SAT. My SAT scores were very high and, even though my grades were very low, I automatically got into State.
I went to Cal State Long Beach. There it was the second time I’d ever had to touch a computer. Back then, it was virtually impossible for the average person to get close to a computer. There was an Apple II in the library, and I started programming on that. One of my nerd friends, he was in the mathematics department, and he gave me an account on school mainframe, the PDP-11/70.
There wasn’t a good word processing program at that time. There were text programs, but you had to keep switching between modes and there was no visible cursor. You had to remember where you were and type commands to move forward or back to a document. So it was very cumbersome. I actually wrote my own word processing program with a dictionary. That’s a major accomplishment to be able to create a dictionary when you’re dyslexic. I was actually the first person to hand in computer-generated homework for a liberal arts class. The teacher had to go to the academic senate to get approval to accept my homework.
They had a program for adults with learning disabilities at California State. It was an excellent program and I was very happy to get into that. With that support, I was able to graduate on the President’s Honor Roll. I went from being a C student to the President’s Honor Roll. Just by doing my work on the computer and handing it in that way made all the difference in the world.
For so long, it was impossible to communicate by writing. I would think of words and I would think of them phonetically and there was no easy way of looking them up in a dictionary. I would have to think of synonyms and it was very hard to edit and I would mess up the edits. Basically, all of my life I had a very negative view of myself because everything I did was terrible.”
Bob’s story continues to be riveting. To hear how he turned himself around, managed through his frustrations, and empowered himself to start his own company, as well as how he developed his people skills and how he delights customers, listen to the podcast.
Words of Wisdom:
It’s very common for people with ADD to run their own company.
As an IT expert, I’ve monetized my paranoia.
Computers are there to be tools and they need to be up and running.
If we do it right, nothing should happen and selling nothing is sometimes a little harder than it should be.
Brian Jackson at Sandler Training for sales training.
Contact Bob Salomon: