Creating a business from scratch and having a disability requires partners you trust and a drive that is bigger than the fear of being screwed over.
I am dyscalculic. Dyscalculia is a learning disability, which affects an individual’s ability to understand anything number related. There are many variations of this disability, over an entire spectrum. Personally, it influences my sense of time, my ability to read systems, understand directions, and of course any basic math. If someone told me, at the age of 15, that I one day will attend a business school, and that I one day would own my own business, I would have laughed at them in the way only teenagers can laugh with scepticism towards anything adults tell them.
Math has always been extremely hard for me. I attended extra classes and was in special education for a period of time, but it never seemed to take me anywhere. I was still terrible at math and a growing anxiety towards numbers snuck up on me. Luckily, I grew up in a family with a father and an older brother, who were both dyslexic, so the support from home, and the understanding of something being so hard and out of reach, was only a hug away.
Halfway through high school I got screened for dyscalculia and got an official piece of paper that proved I was not stupid or lazy, which in my case meant an increased openness towards my disability. I was firm in not making it a taboo, and for me, that meant mentioning it early in work relations where it potentially might have an effect. Therefore, it was also natural for me to tell my teammates at Kaospilot early in our education; that dyscalculia is only a fragment of me but still a part of me that is important to know about.
Trusting people becomes really important – because in some situations that is my only way of getting about.
As many others, it was a coincidence I came across Kaospilot and in many ways it also felt like a coincidence that I got accepted. The choice to be there, however, felt right from the get go. Kaospilot is a very open-minded, and heartfelt environment, so it felt very natural to share and be open about my limits. Out of the many feedback sessions at the school, I remember a one-on-one with a teammate very clearly. He told me what he envied most about me, which was my ability to ask for help without losing any pride. To be vulnerable and at the same time strong. He gave it some thought and he suggested that it could be related to the fact that I from a very young age always needed to ask for help. This is true – I ask for help in tasks that most people consider everyday easy-peasy, and sometimes it is necessary for me to ask strangers for help. This was one of the first times I saw my dyscalculia having positive side effects. I am not going to romanticize having a learning disability because… yes, it sucks! If I could wave a magic wand, I would make it go away, but! As it is a condition for my life, there are certain positive flipsides to it. Some of them are having a fine-tuned ability to ask for help and to articulate what I don’t understand. Trusting people becomes really important – because in some situations that is my only way of getting about. The Kaospilot is a place where school, staff, and students see each other in a bigger picture; so I was never defined by my learning disability. I was Line. And by that I mean that there was space for me to grow, and there was space for me to learn, and there was space where people knew I could not contribute. Kaospilot let me be the person I am and gave me the space and support to grow in the direction of the person I strived to be.
Fast-forward to today and I am on the very brink of launching a company with two partners, after almost one and half years of prototyping. Entering that work relation, which later has turned into to good friendships, has also been putting my limitations in the spotlight. I have had to tell them where and how much I understand. I have had to trust them way more than they have to trust me, because there are limits to what I know, and can check up on. This means, I will have to trust their abilities, and for them to be decent human beings that won’t screw me over.
I may not always be on time, in fact I almost always show up way too early. I will never remember your birthday… and I always get lost, even in my hometown
I have come to a point in my life where I embrace that this is how I am. This is the package you get, when getting to know me. I may not always be on time, in fact I almost always show up way too early. I will never remember your birthday… and I always get lost, even in my hometown. Don’t suggest teaching me math, don’t ask me easy calculations to test if it really is true. Take my word, I’ve struggled with this as far back as my memories go. I would like to spend my time wisely, and at the age of 27 I have figured out that fighting to reach a level in math that is somehow age-appropriate is a total waste of time. I need to focus on what I can contribute with and I need to ask people to help me where my abilities stop. That is the condition of life I have.
It has been some years since I attended the school, but I still use the community a lot. Who else than a Kaospilot can help me with price-setting a graphical recording session? Or set an appropriate time for a CNN post-it brainstorm? I have never shyed away from things because of my learning disability, but attending this school allowed for several doors to open that I had never thought of. In that way, I owe the school and especially my team everything.
Every entrepreneur is risk-taking and dives into a scene without any understanding of numbers and money, which can feel absurdly insane. But I want to partake in this world and offer what I can. And I do that with a mixture of drive and trust.
Link to Line’s TEDx talk
Blikflak is a music production company located in Aarhus.
It is founded by Magnus Olesen, Rune Lak Rasmussen, and Line Rothmann with the vision of having creativity and decision making as close to the artist as possible. With backgrounds in music production, graphics, and consulting, the products they offer vary from traditional mixing, mastering, tracking, to logos, visual identity, concert concepts, and SoMe strategies. Always with the vision that the independent artist can pick and choose where they need assistance.
Written by Line Rothmann
Graduate from Kaospilot, 2016