London : He has raised a 400 million pound (over $650 million) property empire and is ranked 200th on the British Rich List — one would consider Andreas Panayiotou to be a man adept at reading up on business propositions and easily wading through lengthy legal contracts at times.
But remarkably, the London tycoon has achieved his success without having ever learned to read!
The son of Greek-Cypriot immigrants, Panayiotou was raised in London’s East End and at school proved to be a useful boxer. But when he looks back on his school days, it is not the fear of stepping into the ring that the 45-year-old recalls. Instead, it is his ‘secret shame’ — the terror he would feel when asked to read aloud in class.
Panayiotou learned to memorise words but never did learn to read in the conventional sense, leaving school at 14 without a single O-level.
But he went on to achieve stunning business success despite his lack of educational qualifications.
Panayiotou lives on a 20-acre estate in Epping Forest and owns a 40 million pound Gulfstream G450 jet, a 12 million pound Mangusta 130 yacht, and two Cessna Citation jets.
And he believes none of this would have been achieved had he not been handicapped by dyslexia — a learning disability that impairs a person’s fluency or comprehension accuracy in being able to read, and spell.
“Everything – my massive drive to prove myself as a ‘somebody’, my rigid discipline, my pride in what I’ve achieved – stems from the feelings of shame and inadequacy I experienced of being ‘perpetually behind’ all the other kids and unable to read,” he said.
“The flip side of dyslexia is that you develop other gifts. I’ve trained my mind to have a photographic memory. I have a phenomenal memory.”
Panayiotou believes being unable to read today is far more devastating than when he was growing up in the 1970s.
“Although I have been successful beyond my dreams, jobs are a lot more sophisticated than they were 30 years ago,” he said.
“I would hate for any child to have to go through what I did,” he added. (IANS)