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Entrepreneur, cognitive scientist, and former Google CIO Douglas Merrill has a long list of career exploits behind him… and he’s only in his mid-40s!


Merrill struggled with dyslexia as a child, likely due to poor hearing between the ages of 3 and 6 (he had an auditory nerve infection). As we regularly experience through helping children on the Easyread course, hearing difficulties in toddler years often lead to speech and literacy issues later on.

His mother spent countless hours helping him through grade school mathematics and English. He managed to graduate high school at age 16, and later went on to get his PhD in psychology from Princeton University!

“I think the times that my mother spent teaching me math, over and over again, is probably the most significant.  However, I also had several professors at college who let me tweak the assignments in odd ways to suit my learning.  For example, I wrote fiction stories to address topics like anomie in sociology, rather than dry papers with loads of references.  The fiction was easier for me to pull together, as I kept getting the footnotes in a traditional paper confused.  I’ve found over the years that solving problems in unusual ways to avoid the dyslexia-induced limitations has been key.”

After leaving Google’s executive team, he went on serve as president of EMI Music digital, before launching his own online loans business for the underbanked called Zest Finance.

Read his fascinating story here: 

Sarah Forrest is Program Manager of the Easyread System, an online course for children with dyslexia, reading and spelling difficulties, and more. Get a free trial at