Sir Peter Leitch

The ‘Mad Butcher’

When did you first realise that you had a different way of thinking?
Not until I was an adult. I didn’t realise until I was 22 or 23 when someone said to me, ‘’I think you might have dyslexia.

What was your experience of school?
School wasn’t pleasant. I was always in the lower classes. I could read, but I didn’t learn – I couldn’t gain anything out of what I was reading. Even today, I have difficulty ringing people; I get the numbers around the wrong way.

How did you get involved in butchering?
When you leave school, if you’re not well educated you take what jobs come along. No one with School C wanted to be a butcher’s boy.

What are the main work challenges that you have had to overcome?
When you have dyslexia, it’s always a lot harder. But I’ve never let that stop me. I’d always climb the mountains. And sure it was a hard road, but when I sold the business a year ago, it was turning over $4 million a week, with 34 Mad Butcher shops around the country. I’ve become very street smart. I’m not academically smart, but I’m street smart.

What do you think are some of the positives and negatives of dyslexia?
Given a choice on whether I could have it or not to have it, I wouldn’t want it. But maybe if I hadn’t had dyslexia, I wouldn’t be where I am today. It is harder to learn, which in itself is a major challenge. When you don’t know your alphabet, looking up a number in the phone book is a bloody nightmare. But look at this way, if given a choice between dyslexia and cancer, I’ll take dyslexia – there’s always someone worse off. And people are very good at picking up on dyslexics and supporting them now.

What advice would you give young New Zealanders who are dyslexic?
Never give up – work twice as hard, and you’ll get to the top of the mountain if you want to. Don’t be afraid to seek help. Help is out there.  There is no shame putting your hand up and asking for help – I have done it many times in my life. If you don’t put your hand up and ask for help, you only make life harder for yourself and you love ones.

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