Millions of people around the world live with autism, a spectrum of neurological conditions that present social, communication, and sensory challenges. Despite these difficulties, many of those diagnosed with autism are capable of great personal and professional achievements that in some cases might even be bolstered by autism traits, such as a phenomenal memory and attention to detail.
One of these gifted individuals is 38-year-old Dan Schneider. At 16, Schneider dropped out of high school to pursue his goal of becoming an entrepreneur. Today, Schneider is the CEO of SIB Fixed Cost Reduction, a company he founded during the 2008 U.S. economic recession. SIB, whose goal is to help companies reduce recurring expenses, thrived despite the economic downturn. In addition to SIB, Schneider helped develop SIB Lighting and SIB Legal Review, which specialize in specific types of expense management, and serves as a board member of AscendRX, a software application that analyzes hospital spending. As a CEO, Schneider garnered attention for offering $50,000 retention bonuses, and asking employees who made significant mistakes to buy their co-workers ice cream.
It was only six months ago, however, that Schneider was formally diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a mild form of autism that affects one’s ability to perceive social cues. Although he was initially reluctant to accept the diagnosis, due to concerns that it would be viewed as a sign of weakness, Schneider acknowledged that he unnerved employees at times with rapid-fire questions and unintentionally raising his voice. By opening up about his condition, Schneider hopes to avoid offending his employees by helping them better understand where he’s coming from.
“Sometimes the solutions are right there but you have to be willing to not just go with what the common thought process is,” he said.