When Michael Peres was a child, he was diagnosed with ADHD and other learning disabilities. Born into an orthodox Jewish community in Montreal, Quebec, he was prescribed medication to deal with the condition, which turned out to be a double-edged sword. The medication, which was 100mg of extended-release Ritalin, would sometimes work and sometimes not. When it did work, he felt like he was unstoppable; when it didn’t work, he experienced heart palpitations, depression, a sense of coldness, and sporadic lapses in concentration.
The difficulties didn’t end with Ritalin, however. On account of the Jewish community in which he grew up, Peres wasn’t able to focus on science and found that like-minded individuals were few and far between. He had a deep passion for computer science, and worked with what he had available to make it happen. Because he couldn’t connect with those around himself, locking himself in his room for hours on end, and learning about — as well as building — computers became a daily ritual. In the same vein, he spent his bar mitzvah money on the materials needed to build eight computers, and found a way to connect to the internet. This became his window to the outside world. As a youth, he helped his high school to build and repair their computers, as well as helping out other members of his community with their technological needs.
These early lessons in independence would prove useful in the years to come. Throughout elementary and high school, Peres often had to leave class when his teachers walked in and head over to JEM, which was a program that helped kids with disabilities — it was there that he received tutoring in Mathematics and English Literature. When he graduated high school, he took a year off to spend in Israel, where studied in religious school and was exposed to the world.
When he returned, Peres discovered that he was far behind some of his peers in terms of a secular education. Unable to go to class because of difficulties focusing and having had such a poor highschool education that he couldn’t do basic trigonometry or algebra, he was forced to pursue some unorthodox methods of learning. Peres would wake up early every morning and go to school in order to spend as much time in the libraries as possible, only attending classes for exams — this earned him the nickname of the ‘library guy.’ It wasn’t an uncommon occurrence for Peres to turn up to his first exam, only to meet with teachers who wondered whether or not he was even enrolled in the class.
His college career wasn’t destined to end in disaster, however. By studying in the library and working with a friend, he taught himself everything he needed from the ground up, from courses relating to Calculus, Linear Algebra, Physics, and Java Programming. This turned out to be a breakthrough point, as he discovered that he worked better with systems of his own devising than he did with the standard learning models that were in place at the time. It was also at this point that he began to taper off of Ritalin. Peres graduated in Computer Sciences in Montreal, Quebec.
After taking up an internship at an app development company in New York City, he realized that working in a cubicle wasn’t for him. He returned to school in the same city, and pursued a degree in Mathematics from Yeshiva University, Washington Heights. During the course of this program, he barely attended class, having figured out that he learned best on his own, prompting the return of the ‘library guy’ moniker.
Once he’d graduated again, Peres booked a flight to San Diego, where he began to set up tech-based companies. Today, these are known as Hecto Fox and Hexa Tiger — businesses focused on web hosting and web development, respectively. Peres works as a travelpreneur, traveling full-time while building his current projects. He’s also working on creating a 10-step program designed to help people do exactly what he did, known as Breaking 9 To 5.
Today, Peres currently operates according to an unorthodox set of work standards. By coordinating team members across different time zones, it’s possible to get nearly 24 hours of work done in a day — and it is precisely these unorthodox methods that have allowed him to build a portfolio of nearly 400 clients in three years.
As a final point, especially during ADHD Awareness Month, Peres has defied the limits imposed on him by his disability and grown professionally in a way we might all hope to emulate some day. ADHD isn’t a death sentence, nor is it a disability. In truth, all it is is a lens, through which people can see the world differently. If you’re able to harness the energy that ADHD provides, it’s possible to come up with unique, personalized solutions to the problems that life will inevitably present. Peres — and his followers — have come to realize that by defying the rules society dictates to us, it’s possible to craft a meaningful life that doesn’t need to play the field according to anyone else’s game plan.