Speaking on Diary of a CEO podcast, BrewDog boss James Watt reveals that he may have ‘light-level autism’ and that his doctor thinks it’s ‘possible’ he has the developmental disability

Speaking on Diary of a CEO podcast, BrewDog boss James Watt reveals that he may have ‘light-level autism’ and that his doctor thinks it’s ‘possible’ he has the developmental disability

After admitting to pushing people “too far” in a workplace culture dispute where he was accused of inappropriate behavior and power abuse, the CEO of the craft beer company BrewDog claimed he is seeking an autistic diagnosis.

James Watt, 38, the CEO of Britain’s largest craft brewer, has been the target of numerous allegations of misbehavior in recent years after being charged with acting inappropriately toward female coworkers.

On the Diary of a CEO podcast, when discussing his management of the company, Steven Bartlett disclosed that he may have “light-level autism” and that his doctor believes it is “possible” that he has.

Autism is characterized by difficulties with communication, speech, repetitive behavior, and social skills.

‘I think I might have some kind of light-level autism in the mix,’ he said, “which would explain part of the social cue thing, some of the attitude issue, and some of the discomfort as well.”

Because of that precise phrase, my doctor said, “I’ve thought that for a while, James, very likely,” when I was talking to her. In order to determine whether a diagnosis may be made, I’m currently working with a professional.

The CEO also revealed that he had a severe speech impediment when he was younger and avoided speaking to others out of fear of being teased for it.

He claimed, “When I was growing up, I had such a serious speech impediment. That kind of always made me feel like an outsider and made me uncomfortable in social situations.

All the children enjoyed making fun of the speech problem. There were several words and letters that I simply couldn’t say when I was four, five, six, seven, or eight years old.

With a speech therapist, I put a lot of effort into it.

Since of this, I simply avoided speaking with people because I was afraid they would notice I had a speech impediment. I was really reserved and quiet.

The BrewDog CEO also discussed his difficult connection with his mother, who he said had given rise to a “voice” in his head while he was a child.

He related to Bartlett how, when he was nine years old, his mother destroyed his hopes of becoming a marine researcher because sharks were his favorite animal.

Mr. Watt declared, “My favorite hobby and the thing that makes me happiest underwater is diving with sharks.”

But one evening, his mother took him down and went over the authors of one of his favorite shark books, emphasizing that every author had a PhD.

She read the works of all four authors in the shark book, he said. You must stop telling people that you want to become a marine scientist because you just won’t be able to do it, she advised.

Because of his “high standards,” Mr. Watt said in the interview that he was “very severe and demanding” as a supervisor.

The CEO, whose business has been criticized for having a “rotten culture,” insisted that his activities were carried out with “100% good intentions.”

Father-of-two It’s entirely reasonable to argue that at points during the journey, I was too passionate, said Mr. Watt.

I’ve established expectations for the team that are unreachable for many of the members since I’ve been too demanding in the past.

Because I was so focused on “let’s develop the thing, let’s generate more jobs, let’s give more value for our consumers,” I pushed for such high standards and unrealistic timeframes.

“The aim was absolutely excellent, but I did push them too far because I was so committed to and focused on that.”
More than 15 former employees have previously spoken out against Mr. Watt, some of whom have charged that he made female bartenders feel “uncomfortable” and “powerless.”

According to an investigation by BBC Scotland’s Disclosure show, they were even given advice by colleagues on how to avoid Mr. Watt’s, 38, unwanted attention.

When they knew Mr. Watt would be at their pubs, female workers, according to Katelynn Ising, who worked at a BrewDog bar in Ohio, US, would dress casually.

We would make it a point to inform fresh girls that James Watt was coming to town, she recalled. Simply depart after your shift, don’t actually linger, and don’t constantly wear makeup and hair on the same day to avoid attracting his notice.

Other former employees allege that Mr. Watt was seen kissing a drunken patron on a roof terrace at another US pub.

The accusations are untrue, according to Mr. Watt, who also denies acting inappropriately.

Disgruntled former employees of Watts published an open letter last year that attacked the business for its “toxic attitudes” and claimed it promoted a “culture of terror” among employees.

The letter, which was written by a group calling themselves “Punks With Purpose,” targets the founders of the Scotland-based brewery, James Watt and Martin Dickie, and includes a list of 63 names of former employees.

It asserted that the business is “based on a cult of personality” and that working there has caused a “substantial number of people to disclose they have suffered mental illness.” It also claimed that some employees have left the organization feeling “burnt out, terrified, and miserable.”

It even went so far as to say that BrewDog employees’ treatment as human beings “was tragically not always a given” — ruining the reputation of the hipster business that offers “pawternity leave” to staff members who adopt dogs and pays them £500 to leave if they don’t think they’re a good fit.

The Punks With Purpose open letter was later the subject of a “update” from Mr. Watt, who at the time called it “so sad, but so vital.”

“Our aim now is not to contradict or contest the specifics of that letter,” he added. “Rather, we must listen, learn, and act.”

Additionally, Mr. Watt tweeted that it was “untrue” to imply that he was the one who circulated the reply letter that “dismissed the deeply-held anxieties of current and past colleagues,” emphasizing that “the email originated from our people team, not myself.”

Our teams sent the letter because they believe it is crucial for them to be heard as well.

The opening paragraph of the Punks With Purpose letter addressed recent allegations of sexism, discrimination, sexual harassment, and abuse made by women employed in the craft beer sector.

It claimed that its goal was to share the opinions of former employees about “the culture developed at BrewDog, since its beginnings, in the hope that it could shed light on the numerous charges that have surfaced.”

BrewDog was and still is based on a personality cult, it stated.

Since the beginning, you have tried to use publicity—both positive and negative—to achieve your own business objectives, frequently by putting James and Martin’s faces in the spotlight.

You may have succeeded in your goal of inspiring others to share your enthusiasm for craft beer, as there are undoubtedly some true zealots among your followers, but the goals you set for your staff have always come across as being business-driven.

“Growth at any costs has always been seen as the company’s top priority, and the fuel you have used to achieve it is controversy,” said one observer.

The letter claimed that a number of BrewDog’s well-known PR stunts, including the founders’ adoption of Elvis-inspired names, the company’s shipment of “protest beer to Russia,” and its giving of “pawternity leave” for employees who adopt pets, were founded on “lies, hypocrisy, and dishonesty.”

The letter continued, “You spent years proclaiming your desire to be the best employer in the world, presumably to aid in your efforts to attract top talent, but if you ask ex employees what they think of those statements, you’ll probably get laughed at.

Unfortunately, BrewDog employees weren’t always treated with the utmost respect.

According to the letter, workers from every division of the company, including production, bartending, marketing, and human resources, signed it because they thought that there were “at best barriers, and at worst serious safety risks” in their day-to-day jobs.

According to the report, “we believed that no of how they were raised, the likelihood was that we would be met with some form of “that’s just the way things are””. ‘ Sometimes it was directly related to James, and other times it was because someone in a position of authority felt free to act in that way.

We think that starting from day one, these toxic views against young employees spread across the entire organization until they were an inherent part of it.

The article went on to say that many of them immediately embraced the BrewDog attitude when they began working there, but soon learned that “quick paced” meant “unmanageable” and “difficult” meant “demanding.”

In addition, it was claimed in the letter that certain senior employees “belittled” subordinates and “pressured” them to work “beyond their capacity” to the point where they felt “driven out of the business.”

According to the article, the most common complaint of departed employees is “a persistent sensation of fear,” both of the environment and the consequences of speaking up. Because doing so would “leave them feeling tremendously vulnerable,” it was alleged that “many” felt unwilling to sign the letter.

The letter went on to accuse Mr. Watt directly of being responsible for the “rotten culture” at the company, saying that as a result of his success, workers had been “left burned out, terrified, and miserable.” For those who thought they were “harassed, abused, belittled, humiliated, or gaslighted,” it demands a “real apology.”

‘At BrewDog our workers are our top focus, which is why the open letter we received on Twitter was so heartbreaking, but so necessary,’ Mr. Watt responded at the time.

Our priority right now is to listen, learn, and take action rather than refuting or challenging the specifics of that letter.

BrewDog is committed to creating the finest business it can. We have always done our best to take care of our team, and as a result, we have many thousands of employees with inspiring tales to share. But the tweet we saw last night shows that we frequently get it wrong.

We are determined to always improve, not simply in response to this, therefore we will consult with all members of our team, both past and present, to find out more.

However, we want to emphasize that we are sorry.

Although it may have been difficult to say those things, it is difficult to hear them. We are grateful for it, and we will make an attempt to give that work and bravery the proper credit.

We won’t offer justifications; instead, we’ll act. BrewDog has always been distinguished by accepting responsibility and pursuing continuous improvement, from our dedication to sustainability to our love of beer. This does not stand out.

It was revealed earlier this year that the BrewDog CEO was secretly suing a woman he claimed gave him false information about the individuals responsible for’malicious’ comments posted against him online.

At Westminster Magistrates’ Court, he charged 29-year-old model Emili Ziem with fraud by false representation.

Because she “obtained information on people responsible for hostile comments” regarding Mr. Watt, according to the complaint, she violated the Fraud Act of 2006.

Bark & Co earlier stated: “Emili Ziem is completely innocent of these charges,” speaking on behalf of its client Ziem.

She adamantly rejects all misconduct and plans to vigorously refute these accusations at the crown court trial.

Watt, who co-founded Brewdog in 2007, has brought the case against her as a private prosecution rather than on behalf of the business.

The Ellon, Scotland-based company, with a $2 billion market cap, 111 bars and 2,000 employees, is reportedly considering a stock market IPO.