Entrepreneur Feisal Nahaboo has just revealed that he is neurodivergent, having recently been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). On reflection, he now sees that his condition is to thank for his success, including the creation of the world’s first and second Overnight Multiple Merger Model’s (OMMM), Xeinadin and Alitam. In this exclusive article, Nahaboo speaks openly about living with ADHD and how others can harness these mental gifts like he has to achieve greatness.
It is reckoned that around 1.5million adults in the UK have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and research has shown that ADHD in entrepreneurs can trigger proactive behaviours leading to new ground-breaking ideas.
Energy, drive, enthusiasm, and excellent speaking skills are all traits of a successful entrepreneur, and of someone with ADHD. This is why being an entrepreneur with ADHD is a blessing for many, including entrepreneur Feisal Nahaboo – who has just revealed that he lives with the condition.
Nahaboo is well-known as one of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs, a CEO, a family man, an author and a golf champion. As many have commented, it seems ‘there is nothing this man cannot do’. A respected innovator and visionary within the business world, he has become a household name in the accountancy sector and, more recently, the pharmaceutical industry.
In 2019, he made history when he founded Xeinadin. His ground-breaking vision created a unique idea which saw him successfully merge 122 accountancy firms in the UK and Ireland with an annual turnover of over £100 million and £39m EBITDA (according to the Irish Times).
Today, he is the Founder and CEO of Alitam – his second OMMM and a company created to revolutionise the pharmaceutical industry, acquiring over 100 pharmacies across the UK and Ireland with a turnover in excess of £100million.
What not many people know, however, is that Nahaboo has achieved all this despite coming from humble beginnings, growing up on a council estate in Bracknell.
The very definition of a self-made man, he purchased his first house with only a £5,000 deposit and invested just £450 on second-hand goods including a desk, fax machine, printer and a “very dated” laptop. This was the beginning of his success story.
The mental gifts of ADHD
What makes Nahaboo’s story all the more extraordinary is his recent discovery of his mental gifts in the form of ADHD. The diagnosis has proven a “lightbulb moment” for the entrepreneur, allowing him to make better sense of his rise to the top.
ADHD is often defined as a neurological disorder associated with trouble focusing on a single task, being easily distracted, and being forgetful. However, it is also associated with traits such as risk-taking, impulsive behaviour, hyper focus and curiosity – all qualities which make up a successful entrepreneur. Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad, Virgin boss, Richard Branson, and airline mogul David Neeleman, to name but a few, all live with ADHD and, like Nahaboo, also attribute it to their major successes.
In essence, impulsivity creates courageous business decisions and many studies have been undertaken which show a link between ADHD and ‘entrepreneurial intention’.
Some have found that entrepreneurs with ADHD more readily embrace new experiences and show greater persistence and passion than their neurotypical (NT) counterparts. It follows, then, that those with ADHD show a greater interest in things that they are passionate about. Once they find their passion, they strive – giving 100 percent to any project they undertake and with a characteristic deep commitment and persistence that ensures that they will complete their project before moving on swiftly to their next idea.
ADHD can be a hereditary condition and Nahaboo was only diagnosed after taking one of his children, displaying characteristic traits, to see a specialist. He says that receiving this diagnosis
“not only allowed me to understand my behaviour better but to better manage my workload and my interactions with those around me”.
Speaking about the traits which he recognised as his symptoms, his voice crackling with the same energy and enthusiasm that has won him many fans as a passionate business speaker and educator, he says that the most common one is speed. “Where others would often take their time to think through decisions – sometimes over a period of days or weeks – I was making effective decisions within minutes,” he explains.
Defining himself as someone who has always been “impatient and hungry for success”, the word ‘wait’ is simply not in Nahaboo’s vocabulary. Everything he does to become successful, he does at great speed. With unflagging drive, he sets objectives that are challenging to others but “obvious” for him.
In fact, when you read the numerous glowing endorsements that Nahaboo has received from those who have worked closely with him, you find that there are certain revealing keywords that come up time and again about his tenacious work ethic: “energy”, “drive”, “enthusiasm” and “vision”.
How ADHD drove the creation of Xeinadin
In 2019, Nahaboo acquired 122 accountancy practices and using his own OMMM, merged them under one group known as ‘Xeinadin’, named after his two eldest children: Zein and Nadine.
It was an incredible achievement, especially when you recognise that such growth typically takes decades to achieve. Where it would take somebody six months to a year to complete one merger, Nahaboo completed 122 mergers within a record-breaking 256 working days and with limited resources, operating with only two administrative staff and by preparing the acquisition of each accountancy practice using WhatsApp.
His vision was simple but clever, and something that an NT individual would probably not think of. He sums up his unique thought process for Xeinadin as follows: “If it takes six to 12 months to acquire one business, just do the other 121 at the same time side by side. “I call it ‘frontline strategy’. When at war, you don’t have 122 soldiers separated but close and in the front line.” This incredible project required him to carry out a huge amount of work in record time, which he credits to the harnessing of his (then undiagnosed) ADHD.
Not only did he have the job of convincing over 250 accountancy equity partners to go ahead with his bold vision but also there was an incredible amount of heavy lifting required, including the need to manage accountancy regulation and tax clearances due to the moving of one company to a new company. Nahaboo, however, was able to move all the firms from old companies to new companies with new clean balance sheets, creating a brand new platform for the 122 independent accountancy firms to begin their new lives under the Xeinadin model. He says: “In order for 122 independent accountancy firms to join Xeinadin, all had to move into brand new companies. I knew if I could move one company then I would have the skill and ability to complete this task for another 121 companies.”
And thanks to his resilience and ability to perform under pressure – further traits associated with ADHD which he has harnessed – he had the confidence to overcome any challenges, which were uniformly met with creative solutions, as he continues:
“How do you get 122 independent accounting firms to share a vision in record time? A normal mindset may choose to plan and layout a vision, going out and visiting each firm individually, which would be time-consuming and costly. I was able to do it in one go, completing the task from the comfort of my own home and without having to spend vast budgets on travel. I did this simply by adding everyone into a WhatsApp group and herding them all. Gathering everyone proved successful. When one executive agreed, the others quickly followed suit.
“Many of these accountancy firms had existed for decades and had big histories. Understandably, this was a big upheaval for the accountants, yet they remained totally committed to my vision.”
This is Nahaboo’s ‘secret magic power’ – the ability to bring together large groups. Often dubbed as a ‘corporate Pied Piper’, he draws upon the abilities gifted him by his ADHD to create major followings.
“When people follow, they follow with intensity and high levels of motivation,” he notes.
And as the formation of Alitam in late 2019 attests, Nahaboo doesn’t rest. His unconventional working methods see him creating new businesses whilst he is still working on other major projects.
Replicating his Xeinadin OMMM model within the pharmacy industry, he harnessed his ADHD so he could manage both models simultaneously with substantial numbers in both. Remarkably, and as with Xeinadin, the consolidation of over 100 pharmacy stores into Alitam took him less than one year to achieve.
Despite his proven successes, however, Nahaboo admits that he has faced challenges from some prospective clients who have found it hard to embrace his far-seeing vision. Not all individuals are receptive to his distinct personality and there are those who find him ‘unorthodox’. These are people whom he describes as the “most conservative”; ones who “haven’t, perhaps, achieved that much themselves and are, therefore, often frightened to look beyond their next footstep. Most likely, they just haven’t been exposed to many personalities like me! This is why it is imperative for me to create a working relationship based on trust,” he says.
He is able to gain this trust by “keeping the channels of communication open and by being transparent. I am always very clear in letting others know what I am going to do for them; then I keep to my word, proceeding to get the job done and bringing in the results. Results speak for themselves and showing my clients these hugely beneficial outcomes is a virtuous circle, creating further trust.”
This tried-and-tested method has worked well for Nahaboo, as you can glean from his many client endorsements. Along with extolling his drive and momentum, the word ‘trust’ is a term that also comes up regularly.
Manging your ADHD as an entrepreneur
For an entrepreneur to manage their ADHD, Nahaboo advises that it is imperative they make certain lifestyle changes to better utilise their strengths while dealing with their weaknesses. This can be dependent on the type of symptoms displayed but, overall, making such adjustments can help both with work and life balance, as he explains.
1. Prioritising Your Day
It is said that a common trait amongst people with ADHD is that they feel all tasks are important. Recognising this, Nahaboo says that it is important to break these tasks down under three different categories:
• Time – are there any time-sensitive tasks which need to be prioritised over the others? Do you have a fast deadline approaching? If so, that is what you complete first.
• Impact – if you were to leave a task incomplete, how would that affect the rest of your project or others around you?
• Complexity – how complicated or difficult is the task? The more complicated the task, requiring more time and effort to complete, the more you will need to be proactive.
2. Managing Your Distractions
Nahaboo advises that you make it a habit to take time out to evaluate your day and asses your environment or situations which may cause distraction or frustration. By doing this, you are able to find solutions for any problems, thus creating a healthier work environment for yourself. Even the smaller thing such as having a less-cluttered desk can have a huge impact on how you focus.
3. Take Care Of Yourself
Nahaboo also says that it is important to take time out of your day just for you.
“You are your own boss so you will be able to manage your own schedule,” he advises. “This can be first thing in the morning, afternoon, or whenever you feel overwhelmed and need to dial it back. Exercise, go to the gym, eat, go out for some fresh air, or simply just have a power nap. This will help refresh your mind and improve your focus so that you are ready to carry on your day.
“Evaluate yourself, ask yourself what is holding you back? Express yourself, be innovative, and be creative. There is so much more that you can offer the world.
“Are you making decisions based on what is already out there, what has already been done, or are you going to be an innovator and break the mould creating something new and amazing? Be honest with yourself about what you’re doing and why you are doing it.”
4. Be Mindful Of Your Weaknesses
We all have strengths but Nahaboo says it is equally important to harness your weaknesses and make them into strengths. This could be to do with your listening skills, for example, where perhaps you have a tendency to interrupt when someone else is speaking.
5. Breaking Projects Down
Nahaboo says that with the immense effort that goes into being a successful entrepreneur, coupled with his ADHD, he implements a meticulous procedure to ensure that he is able to complete large projects quickly and successfully. Whilst the overall job is extensive, he breaks it down into small-scale tasks which contribute to the overall success of the project. Taking the reins and focussing his energy on these smaller tasks allows him to hone his focus and attention – a clever way of managing ADHD.
Nahaboo’s success speaks for itself; a testament to his abilities as an entrepreneur living with ADHD. The truly inspiring thing is that he also sets out to inspire others. He attempts to “influence, encourage, inspire, motivate, and enthuse” those around him, from clients to budding entrepreneurs, to participate, partake and become as successful as he is.
“Working on your weaknesses makes you a better entrepreneur and person,” he concludes.