John Grossman and Trusting
The Checklist

John received his ADHD diagnosis about a year ago, when he was 54, joining the many ADHDers who have discovered their condition later in life. Prompted by a friend who noticed ADHD-like traits during their conversations, John sought out a diagnosis through his primary care provider and after a series of online meetings, was given a definitive answer. He definitely had ADHD. 

Looking back at his life with this new information, it all made sense. As the owner of Holyoke Hummus Company in western Massachusetts, John’s structured business approach aligned with his ADHD coping mechanisms. His newfound self-awareness is not only aiding him professionally but also shedding light on personal behaviors, fostering a deeper understanding of the power of empathy in his role as a husband and father of three.

Listen in as John shares what he’s discovered about himself since being diagnosed with ADHD, how that experience is changing how he shows up at home and at work and the absolute dread he’s working to overcome when it comes to those easy tasks that can be a major struggle to get done. 

Refocused, Together is a collection of 31 stories told throughout the 31 days of October, a part of our commitment to ADHD Awareness Month. Make sure to subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts so you don’t miss a single story this month! 

Connect with John on Instagram here and learn more about Holyoke Hummus Company!

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John Grossman (00:01):

I had a supervisor at another job who was a checklist maven and he had a gracious way of putting it. He said, “Nobody can be expected to remember all these things, so we do a checklist and then you just walk through the checklist and then you’re done.”

Lindsay Guentzel (00:15):

You are listening to Refocused, Together, and this is episode 24, John Grossman and Trusting the Checklist. Welcome back to Refocused, a podcast all about ADHD. I’m your host, Lindsay Guentzel, and today we’ve got another story in our Refocused, Together series, this special project we started last year as a part of our commitment to ADHD awareness month. You just heard today’s guest, John Grossman. John’s ADHD diagnosis came about a year ago when he was 54. It’s a story we’ve heard before from so many of us ADHDers who found themselves with a later in life diagnosis. See, John has this friend and that friend has ADHD, and that friend started to notice some pretty spot on ADHD like tendencies with John when they were together. Motivated by his friend’s observations, along with the support of his wife, John sought out a diagnosis. And after a series of online appointments through his doctor’s office, it was clear John definitely had ADHD, which makes total sense.


As the owner of Holyoke Hummus Company, a food truck and catering company in Western Massachusetts, he’d already built in an incredible amount of structure for his business, relying on meticulous SOPs, standard operating procedures, along with support systems like checklists to help keep any additional chaos out of his kitchens. Having these answers is also now helping John at home, providing insight into some of the behaviors he’s not the proudest of, but now knows are spurred on by his ADHD, like his impatience. That self-awareness has allowed the husband and father of three to see just how powerful understanding and empathy can truly be when given the chance.


Let’s talk more with John about his ADHD diagnosis, how his own experience has made him a more thoughtful and encouraging leader, plus the absolute dread that can accompany even the, quote-unquote, “easiest” tasks and how hard it can be to just do them. And with that, let’s meet our next guest for Refocused Together 2023, John Grossman. What’s great about Refocused is we ask everyone the same questions. And it starts with when were you diagnosed and what was the process like for you and what sparked those initial conversations that led to you seeking out answers?

John Grossman (03:07):

I was diagnosed about a year ago at the age of 54, and I have really one friend who was very knowledgeable because he had been diagnosed and had been working on how to be the best functioning person that he could be with his ADHD. And very often I’d explained to him some experience that I had gone through and he would say, “You know, John, I’m not going to diagnose you, but it sounds just like…” And so many of the things were uncanny enough that I went and got a diagnosis. So through my doctor, they had somebody in their practice who did diagnoses. It was a series of interview meetings online and the diagnosis was definitive by the time we were done with it. That’s how the journey began.

Lindsay Guentzel (03:55):

I’m wondering if you remember some of the things that you mentioned to your friend, some of the things that stood out that he was like, “I’m not going to diagnose you, I’m not going to armchair doctor you, but this might be ADHD.”

John Grossman (04:10):

Some of the things like impatience in a conversation, being very interested in what people had to say, but just sort of waiting my time for my turn to speak, so that I had something queued up already that may have even been a different topic than what we were talking about, and I sort of very excitedly blurt that out. And I think maybe people were gracious with me in not calling me out all the time, “I was talking about something else, John.” That’s one thing. Some more subtle things like going to a concert that I really wanted to be at and just wanting it to be over so that I could kind of check it off as opposed to being able to be there in the moment and enjoy it. I’m sure as we talk we’ll come up with some more concrete examples that were sort of specifically ADHD, not just being scatterbrained or things like that.

Lindsay Guentzel (05:08):

It’s so interesting to hear you say the example about the concert. It’s like the lead up is the anticipation, it’s the dopamine, it’s the rush, and then you’re there and hearing you say that, yes, it’s wild because everyone around you is in the moment and we are going, “Okay, it’s done.” The anticipation was here, it was great. And it’s hard to focus in that. And I think a lot of the times it’s that our brains can’t isolate into that moment. There’s just too much going on.

John Grossman (05:42):

And I think of myself as somebody who has great capacity when there is too much going on to be able to focus on something, but that also is probably not the same as being at a concert and trying to be in the moment and enjoy it because it would be sort of at the exclusion of probably everything to be able to let loose to enjoy that moment. I can now more than probably a year ago, but it’s definitely something that I need to ground myself to sort of be there.

Lindsay Guentzel (06:12):

What were some of the things that your wife noticed that pushed her to bring it up to you that this was something that you should pursue?

John Grossman (06:20):

Not being able to complete tasks that we both knew I had the capacity to do. The sometimes dread that I would describe of doing tasks that, again, I knew I had the capacity to do them, but I just would not get to them because I was like, “Oh, there are seven steps to that thing. And what were those steps? And I haven’t done it in a couple of weeks, so now I don’t remember exactly how to do that. So I’ve got to learn it all again.” And then with a lot of handholding, I get in and just do the thing that I was supposed to do and say, “Oh, that wasn’t as hard as the dread was that was before me that was the barrier.” So it was a lot of that. And she’s a part owner in the business with me, so there’s a lot of stuff that we have to get done together and she was sort of downstream of my mess a lot of the time.

Lindsay Guentzel (07:16):

Well, it’s kind of the perfect time for me to be talking with you. I am actually embarking on a similar situation where my partner is going to be coming on to help with some of the stuff with the podcast. And that brings up a lot of the feelings of, “This is how I do it and I don’t want you to bring your organization and time management and, I’ll be honest, really great way of thinking about things into my mess.” How do you manage that partnership where you love this person, you are partners outside of work, you work together and you both think very differently?

John Grossman (07:56):

Well, she recently was diagnosed as well.

Lindsay Guentzel (07:59):


John Grossman (08:01):

So maybe lots of mutual findings that will help us to work together. And it’s not necessarily feeling like I’m resistant to something that’s more organized than I am, it’s just sort of anything that’s different. If I learn how to do something and can repeat it and be successful at it, I’m never going to want to change that. That’s really what it’s about. It’s not about somebody else’s system better or worse, it’s just that I finally figured this thing out so I’m not going to change it.


One of the things that I’m I think most successful at is always having the right keys with me. And that’s not because I always remember as I’m going out the door, I look at my calendar and I grab the right keys, it’s because my keychain looks like this and I always have everything with me. So it’s things like that. And if you say that you’re going to borrow my keys and you take one key off and go open a car door, that’s not borrowing my keys, you’ve disrupted my entire system. It’s things like that. It’s just how I figured out how to exist. And if somebody doesn’t buy into that system with you, it can be really disorienting to me, disruptive sometimes, sometimes upsetting.


And as a business owner and manager, I really try to train people to doing things in ways that I’ve figured out that work. And I have a little bit of, as the owner and manager, I can say, “This is the way I want things done.” And then when things aren’t happening that way, it can be frustrating. I’ve got to take a second with the staff person and say, “Okay.” Or look at the activity and say, “Have you really done something that’s disruptive here or was the way that I did it just how I could get through the task?”

Lindsay Guentzel (09:57):

I’m a service industry vet, so you talking about your keys is bringing back flashbacks to closing down at the end of the night and asking for keys. And there was one time where I took them home in my apron, worst feeling in the world. But were they glad when I called and told them. But I love that, you say it disrupts your system. This is something that works for you. And what I love about talking with so many people who have such different stories about their ADHD is that what works for everyone is so different, and so I love that you just having this massive keychain that you’ll be able to find and your stuff is there is incredible.


And I want to talk about the service industry and the food industry. And I know from my experience there’s a lot of flexibility that comes with it and there’s a lot of everyday dopamine rush. You go in for a shift and from start to finish what to expect and it works really well with the ADHD brain. And I’m wondering if you can talk a little bit about maybe some of the things that you put together, like the puzzle so to speak on this life you lived, I mean 54 years without a diagnosis and now you can probably see some of those dots coming together.

John Grossman (11:14):

Checklists are just amazing. And long before I was diagnosed, I had a supervisor at another job who was a checklist maven and he had a gracious way of putting it. He said, “Nobody can be expected to remember all these things, so we do a checklist and then you just walk through the checklist and then you’re done. And you know you’ve done it exactly the way that it’s supposed to be done.” And I can defeat myself there as well. I get to that one section of the checklist, I’m like, “Oh, I know all this stuff is always there.” And then I don’t check it off and then I don’t have it. Surprise, surprise. It can be a good management and training tool to say… Also, a training tool back up the food chain to me. So if somebody is looking at something on the checklist and they do exactly what’s on the checklist but I’ve changed things since the checklist, then I learned that I need to update this document to reflect how we’re actually doing things right now.


But our checklist to get the truck launched is eight pages long. It’s way faster to just go through the checklist in the order and check things off than it is to make any kind of assumptions or skip around. It’s even sort of where we pack up, the building is sort of a railroad of a building, so there’s our dry storage, then there’s our walk-in refrigerator and freezer, and then after that there’s a second storage area that has a different kind of category of things. And I’ve got my checklist organized to go in that order. It doesn’t occur to me sometimes to explain to new staff people, “Go through the checklist in order.”


And then I’ll pack up once or twice with a new staff person and then say, “Okay, do you feel like you can pack up and do the checklist the next time yourself?” “Yes, sure.” And then I’m there and I see them walking back and forth in this huge building and they’re getting this and walking back to the cart and they’re getting that and they’re walking back and then they’re out of order. And I need to put at the top of the checklist, “Follow this checklist in order. It’s synchronized with the building.” Because I’m always scrambling to not be late, I try to build efficiency into everything that I do.


Funny, friend who urged me to get the diagnosis, he started to describe to me once just walking in the door to his home and trying to figure out, “Do I put this bag down here now? I know it doesn’t belong here, but I’ve got these other things that I need to walk into the kitchen. Should I hold onto all of them? Then I’m bringing stuff into the kitchen that doesn’t belong in the kitchen.” And he sort of went through that and I was like, “Oh my God, hearing you describe that, I do that. But I just thought that’s how people’s brains work. Doesn’t everybody overthink how to walk in the door to their own home?” And turns out not.

Lindsay Guentzel (14:14):

The amount of time we spend trying to be as efficient as possible when that is just taking up more time. But I love your checklists.

John Grossman (14:26):

Thank you. It’s a real lifesaver.

Lindsay Guentzel (14:29):

But I have to ask, do all of the checklists also have a clipboard that goes with them?

John Grossman (14:33):


Lindsay Guentzel (14:34):

Of course they do.

John Grossman (14:35):

And that’s something that it keeps getting honed. So I’ve got the clipboard, then I’ve used my label maker and I’ve put the name of the truck on the clipboard. But then I’ve got all these random magnetic hooks and I’m like, “Oh, I need to label the magnetic hooks as well so that I know when a clipboard goes off and I’m wondering which clipboard I don’t have, I can look and see the name on the hook.” So it can just continue to get improved. Forget about the pen on the chain attached to the clipboard because that’s gone after a couple of events when I’m like, “I need a pen over here”, and I take it off. So I’ve replaced that with I’m always buying boxes of pens because I know that pens just disappear.

Lindsay Guentzel (15:21):

Well, that’s also any restaurant service industry, anything where you’re signing receipts, you just know you’re never going to have pens on hand. I’m wondering when you look at your ADHD, because it feels like you have spent a lot of time making changes in your life, and it sounds like a lot of these happened before your diagnosis, like these checklists and these organizational tools that you’ve set up, don’t feel like they’re something that you have implemented in the last year. So you kind of knew what you were up against, you just didn’t really have an answer to it. And I’m wondering, when you look at life, where do you see your ADHD showing up in ways that are really positive and are things that you are like, “Yes, this is why it is so special for me.”

John Grossman (16:08):

I’ve certainly read plenty of examples where people talk about their ADHD as their superpower ability to hyperfocus, for instance. And I know that, I mean, hyperfocus is definitely something that can happen to me when I get into something. It’s a very in the moment feeling that I wish I could switch on and off but I think that it does help me certainly in stressful situations where I just have to do basically the same thing over and over again. I’ve got to make this food over and over and over again, and I’ve got a line 40 people deep outside the truck and I can just sort of put my head down. A lot of times it’s putting music on and just watch my hands sort of go into automatic mode. So that kind of focus is helpful.


I guess I’m still also kind of dealing with the internal stigma of ADHD, so I have a hard time sometimes putting the shame aside to look at it as a superpower and that goes hand in hand with the rest of my therapy as well to try to accept myself and the way that my brain works and be the best I can be for myself. And I know that that’s sort of like, “Oh, what are my ADHD superpowers?”, as well as accepting in other people because the impatience that is just a natural consequence of the ADHD, it’s not the most flattering quality that I have with the people that are around me.

Lindsay Guentzel (17:47):

Well, I think what is hard is I go back to the statistic that children with ADHD before the age of 10 receive 20,000 more negative comments or conversations than children who don’t have ADHD. And you start to think of even little things, like you mentioned that you are late to things a lot and that upsets people. They can’t understand why you can’t just be on time. And you start to internalize that. And here’s the thing is there are probably some people who don’t let it bother them, but when one person does, you are always waiting for that same reaction and you carry that around.

John Grossman (18:30):

And I think about that as a parent all the time and what I’m loading up my children with my anxieties, like my responses to things. I can see my children, and I have a 20-year-old, a 16-year-old and a nine-year-old. So the nine-year-old is definitely getting a more experienced parent than the other two did. But they can hear me sigh from across the room and I can just be breathing about something unrelated and I can hear them saying, “Sorry, Daddy”, for whatever. And I feel it’s shame that I have sort of loaded them up with my impatience or anxiety about things.


One of the things that I have said to my nine-year-old when he wants to borrow my AirPods, I say, “Okay, you can borrow them, but they go in your ear and if they’re not in your ear, where do they go?” “Back in the case, Daddy. They go back in the case.” “Okay.” So on my quest to have a place for everything and everything in its place, I apply that to a lot of things. So a couple of mornings ago, my nine-year-old lost his toothbrush and it’s like I should just get him another toothbrush out of the cabinet and brush teeth and get on the way. But I’m sitting there just trying to wrap my head around it. “I don’t understand your toothbrush is either in your mouth or it’s in the toothbrush holder. “Well, what happened to your toothbrush?” And it’s like, it’s not a time for an inquiry and it’s not a big deal. But when I get to something like that when I’m just like, “Okay, is this system not clear enough of how we don’t lose our toothbrush?” Just remembering to not be impatient with other people when it seems that they are missing the ability to follow a simple system like that.

Lindsay Guentzel (20:16):

It’s hard though. I mean I feel it. I set stuff down all the time and I actually, I celebrated a year of keeping my AirPods, knock on wood. And I literally had told myself, “Okay, I’m going to buy them and then every month I’ll just figure out what it was per month that I spent to keep them.” And some days the AirPods always go back in the AirPods and I have a specific spot in my purse where I keep them, but if I change purses, it goes in a new spot. You are so spot on that you have to have a plan in place and you have to follow it every single time because the second you don’t follow it is when the chaos starts to ensue. And it’s not like a one time thing, it’s when the snowball starts and it gets rolling and that’s when the wheels fall off.

John Grossman (21:10):

You mentioned taking the keys home in your apron. That’s something that I really think through when I get on the truck and I put on an apron what’s going to go in the apron pockets, and it’s usually things that I’m only going to use in my service there or things that are normally in my pants pockets. But because my pants pockets are covered up, I’ve got to move those things to the pockets of the apron. It’s really only actually a recent thing for me that I empty my pockets at night and that was something that I don’t think I ever talked about with anybody in the world. “How do you take your pants off at night?”


But boy, the improvement in going to bed and waking up in the morning from just doing that and sorting out my Dennis the Menace pockets has made a huge difference in just being able to find all those things. I don’t carry a purse, but I do carry a pretty big bag that sometimes can just be a black hole because things just keep going in it because I know I’ll need it at some point, so I better just keep it with me until the bag becomes too heavy to carry.

Lindsay Guentzel (22:21):

I want to ask how you view your ADHD in the role that you take on as a manager because you have a ton of different personalities coming in and I’ll just say it, restaurant life, food industry, service industry, there tends to be a lot of turnover because it is a flexible gig, so you’re getting a lot of new people a lot of the times. How do you view that this helps you?

John Grossman (22:47):

I call it Moneyball, which obviously is from the book and the movie, not anything I made up. But it’s finding people’s strengths and seeing how I can focus their strengths on what the business needs. And if I hire somebody and they were supposed to do seven things and three of them they do really well and four of them just flummox them, then I will try and find somebody who compliments them. So because we’re so flexible, people also need to be flexible, if you can do all of those things, then you’ve got a 40-hour work week. If you can do half of those things, then maybe you just have a 20-hour work week. And that is usually okay with people because they’re like, “Okay, I don’t want to do that other 20 hours of stuff that I hate doing and I’m not good at it.”


It’s really about helping people find their strengths in our context and then relying on them, rewarding them, making them feel great about the work that they do get to do and do well. I just need honesty from people if they feel good or comfortable about the tasks that they’ve accepted or been assigned to you. And if there’s something that you want to change, then in the context of the business, we’ll see what we can do there. But that’s really it, is just figuring out what it is that people do well or how can I accommodate them. And that word accommodation a lot of times seems like, “Oh, how can I not hold them to the same standards”, which is not what it is at all. A checklist is an accommodation, a checklist is an acknowledgement that there’s no way that anybody could remember this, so I’m not going to hold people responsible to just memorize it. I’m going to give them a tool that I know that they’re capable of understanding the things on the checklist and doing them and checking them off. So that’s a tool, not an accommodation, I guess.

Lindsay Guentzel (24:57):

It would feel very silly to have you here and not ask how you view your development of food over the years with your brain and what you know about it.

John Grossman (25:07):

I am such a baby about changing things on my menu. Once I figured figured out how to make a thing, I stick to that. Maybe I test it every once in a while and say, “Is there an improvement or something?” Right now we are going through the process of taking our hummus and getting our wholesale license so that we can sell it in supermarkets, which requires a little bit of food science and reformulation to give it the shelf life that markets are looking for. And when I started that process, I was sure that I was going to change this one thing and everybody was going to suddenly say, “This is terrible.” Like hummus can only be this one tiny little narrow thing that I came up with. And it just wasn’t true. I think especially eaters and foodies are interested in variety and interested in adventurousness, the food truck oeuvre is you pick a very narrow lane and you just try and do that as fast and consistently as you can.


So in a way it may, be the best sector of food service for me to be in because it’s sort of operates that way. My chef, my kitchen manager is constantly saying, “Well, what about this and what about that?” And right now we’re actually about to put on a pop-up farm dinner and we’re really excited about the collaboration. But never in a million years would I have said, “I want to come up with a special menu for this.” And he’s just like, “Hey, how about this and how about that?” And he came up with a menu and God bless him and I’m so pleased that he can think that way. It’s just nothing that ever would’ve come out of my head. I’m just like, “I’m just trying to figure this thing out.”


Our tagline on the hummus is, “Hummus flavored hummus.” A lot of times people are like, “Oh, hummus, what flavors do you have?” And I say, “Well, we have hummus flavored hummus. We’re still just trying to get that right.” Because let everybody else trip over themselves trying to make cotton candy flavored hummus and things like that. I just want to do this one thing over and over again and do it right.

Lindsay Guentzel (27:26):

It’s kind of refreshing. It’s nice to have that goal.

John Grossman (27:30):

It’s sort of the only way that I could conceive doing it for a long time because of how my brain works. It’s also from a brand perspective, it’s sort of the only lane that nobody is occupying right now. So what’s your brand differentiate? Well, everybody else is trying to come up with all the different flavors, and I’m just going to stick to this. It’s like the difference between Tito’s vodka, which is where I actually lifted, they had, “Vodka flavored vodka” on their bottles for a while and they just do one flavor. And then Absolut who’s got a million different flavors of vodka. I looked at that sort of brand position, that market position and said, “You know what? This market is ready for somebody who’s just doing hummus flavored hummus.”

Lindsay Guentzel (28:16):

When you’re looking to the future, what is really exciting for you right now? What is pushing you forward?

John Grossman (28:24):

As I said, we are on the verge of getting our wholesale license and beginning distribution to markets of the hummus, and I’m really excited about capitalizing on all the spade work that we’ve already done in creating this brand, which was a very organic thing. Being out on a food truck, I didn’t start it to say, “Oh, I can’t wait to have a hummus brand that’s like the hummus from the food truck.” But as people sort of got excited about the product, and we’ve been at it for 10 years now, as people got excited about the products on the food truck, then we moved into going to farmer’s markets where we were just selling hummus and other dips and sauces and not cooking our food truck food. And it’s just exciting to me to be leveraging our brand.


We built something very organic and it’s now going to be something that this is sort of going to be the magic trick. You’ve never been to Poland Springs, but you have this kind of image of where that bottle of spring water comes from as opposed to a bottle of Nestle spring water or something like that. Although I think they own Poland Springs. And we sort of hit on this brand of hummus that’s from the food truck that has this sort of organic excitement and now to take that and just sort of say, “Okay, here’s a hummus that was born on a food truck and now you can find it in your grocery store.” That’s going to translate to not places where they’ve seen my food truck, but places where people have been like, “Oh, I’ve been to food trucks and I love food trucks. Oh, this is a guy in Western Mass who’s got this food truck? Great, I’ll try that.” Because it sort of has this brand association that I didn’t create food trucks, but the excitement around it, the fun associated with them.


Most hummus brands are palm trees or healthy and we sort of have this kind of Americana nostalgia vibe and tied in with the food truck. So we’re going to be really leaning on that as sort of a differentiator for our brand. And it’s not something that we concocted, it’s just who we are organically. So I feel good about that, that we’ve been able to grow the brand. I mean obviously it has to taste good, but we’ve been able to deliver it with a personality that I think that if we can get it into the packaging and the mythology, it’ll be exciting to see how that fans out.

Lindsay Guentzel (30:48):

Oh, I bet it feels good too, all those years of hard work to kind of feel like this is the next step.

John Grossman (30:54):

It’ll feel good when we’re at the next step because it probably should have happened about six years ago. There’s so much paperwork and so many steps to getting yourself to wholesale. And I submitted my first wholesale application just before this little thing called the pandemic hit. And then my kitchen changed over and over again and the application became invalid. So it’s been a series of things that, first it was my own blockages, and then when I got over those humps, then the world had some other challenges for me. So it feels good to sort of be back where I was in March of ’19 and say, “Okay, now we can proceed again.” But it really sort of rocked our world and my momentum on this project, which was an outgrowth of sort of a busy humming food truck and restaurant business that was completely disrupted and we had to sort of reinvent ourselves to exist, which was a big challenge.

Lindsay Guentzel (32:05):

I wrap with the same question, which is what is something you wish everyone understood a little bit better about ADHD? And I say that knowing that this is a new journey for you.

John Grossman (32:17):

I guess, and I’ve probably mentioned this a couple of times now, just sort of dealing with my own shame, maybe giving that anxious person in your world a minute and trying to understand, “Boy, that was a strong reaction. What’s that about?” And for people who were close to me, they can sort of understand it and figure it out and we can work on repairing whatever we needed to repair. Because I just do things in my relationship with my wife and children. It’s not up to them to sort of deal with my anxiety when I’m late and I want to get going, and then suddenly I’m looking around at all the people around me and saying, “You’re the reason I’m late and you’re the reason I’m late.” I guess I want them to always know that the apology sign is on, “Oh, sorry, did I do that again?” But it’s my responsibility to not be doing things like that. It does help for people to understand that this person’s brain is a little bit different than my own, and it helps me to work with that person or love that person if I can understand how their brain works, which can be different in dramatic and subtle ways that it could take a lifetime for two people to learn about each other.

Lindsay Guentzel (33:39):

When we acknowledge that there is nothing in this world that is one size fits all, and probably the biggest is our brains, we get a lot farther.

John Grossman (33:48):

And I was just having a conversation with my nine-year-old the other day, just the idea that when you look at the color red, you might be seeing something totally different than I am, and that sort of blew his mind and opened the window for somebody who it’s age appropriate for him to not understand what other people are thinking, but to sort of think about that for a second, like, “Whoa”, was an interesting beginning of his journey and understanding people have different brains.

Lindsay Guentzel (34:18):

I had that moment this summer when I realized that there are people who are really afraid of bees and I am not afraid of bees, and it’s like, “Oh, I wonder what happened in your life that made you afraid of bees and why am I not afraid of bees?” It is so interesting, but you have those moments where it connects and you’re like, “Oh yeah, we’re just all so different.”

John Grossman (34:35):

And acknowledging that and then celebrating that I’ve got somebody around me who can swat a bee away without having to be frightened of it myself.

Lindsay Guentzel (34:42):

I got you. I got you. John, this was so delightful. It was so nice to chat with you. I got to be honest, I’m so excited to go make checklists because that has been something that has been holding me back in even just the podcast production. Yes, of course, we should have a checklist and there should be a clipboard and there should be an order you do things. And so I really appreciate the motivation for that.

John Grossman (35:05):

Oh, well thank you and I appreciate that. Do we need to mention the fact that I forgot about my interview about ADHD the first time that it was scheduled?

Lindsay Guentzel (35:14):

You want to know what’s the great thing about it is that it gave me an hour of uninterrupted time to do all the tasks that I had been putting off, those mundane ones you mentioned that I didn’t want to do. There are no bad feelings. I’m so glad we got to connect and I just wish you the best. I’m super excited to see what comes with all of the stuff you’ve got going on, and we’re so grateful for you sharing your story with us.

John Grossman (35:34):

Thank you so much and thanks for your podcast. I look forward to listening to more of it.

Lindsay Guentzel (35:38):

I had such a great time chatting with John. If you’ve ever worked in the service industry, you know what it’s like to connect with someone who gets it. It’s a tough gig. Not only is it hard work, I think back to the number of back-to-back doubles I used to work in really bad shoes and how beat up my body would be after those long days, and it can be emotionally draining as well. But it’s definitely an industry where people with ADHD can thrive. Our brains work so well under pressure and we love fast-paced environments. Those are some of the same reasons why I was drawn to working in a newsroom. You come in, you know exactly what you’re supposed to do for that day. That’s the key. Tight deadlines meant fewer ongoing projects. I could do my work, wrap up for the day, go home and start something new the next.


It’s the same with working in the service industry. You come in, you get assigned a section, get prepared for your shift, take care of your tables, clean up and go home. There’s very little coming home with you, minus the occasional server nightmare where you wake up in a panic because you never brought table 11 the yellow mustard they asked for. And unless you’re management, you will likely never have an email address, you need to keep tabs on. So as long as you can keep your schedule straight and you show up when expected, there’s very little executive functioning that needs to happen on the backend. Another reason why people with ADHD thrive in these jobs is because you follow the same steps over and over again. The steps of service. You greet the table, introduce yourself, leave cocktail napkins to signify you’ve been there. There’s a step for everything. And in most places, those steps have been ironed out exactly how management wants them done, and then they’re made into a checklist, laminated, slipped into a clipboard and hung from a hook in every server station to help eliminate any chance you might forget.


Honestly, hearing John talk about how meticulous he was when establishing the SOPs for his food trucks, it made me so giddy about wrapping up Refocused, Together so I have time to focus on creating my own checklists for the podcast. Well-thought-out checklists like John’s are an invaluable tool to help a person with routine. They can help you stay engaged and on task, and more importantly, they can help eliminate errors and even cut out added stress. And added stress can lead to burnout. Did I just say that checklists can help stop burnout? Yeah, that’s what I said. See, knowing exactly what you are supposed to do and the order that you’re supposed to do it in, it means you’re less likely to forget something, and since you are less likely to forget something, you are less likely to spend time stressing out about what you forgot. And because you are spending less time stressing out, you’re creating less opportunity for burnout.


I didn’t know the true power of the checklist and now that I know I will never look at them the same way, and I have John Grossman to thank for that. Also, can we all just laugh at the visual of me getting giddy, straight up giddy over checklists? I know we joke about how us ADHDers love to purchase office supplies or organizational gadgets, but this is a new level for me. Maybe that’s what we need to do to ring in the new year, a checklist building workshop. I have to imagine there are experts out there who could teach us how to build the perfect checklist. If you would attend a checklist building workshop, hit me up. [email protected] or @refocusedpod on Instagram. Maybe John will even agree to be one of our guest speakers.


I am so glad I got to connect with John. And yes, he did miss his first interview, but so made up for it. And I’m so excited for this next chapter for his company, how cool it’ll be to walk into a store and purchase something he created. There’s one thing I hope he’ll ease up on himself about, though. John, I know you wish this had happened sooner. I know you see how it could have happened sooner. But it’s happening now and it’s freaking incredible, and I just hope you don’t lose sight of how hard you work to get to this point. Don’t let the what ifs ruin the right now. You’re here, you’re doing it. Don’t miss out on truly celebrating that.


I also want to take a moment and give a big thanks to our partner, ADHD Online for supporting Refocused, Together. We have seven episodes left in this year’s series, and while I’m very excited about those checklists that are waiting for me on the other side, I’m also just really grateful to get to do this project, having them support all of my big ideas, it’s been incredible. And I’m so excited for what we’re going to be able to create together in 2024. Support for Refocused comes from our partner, ADHD Online, a telemedicine mental healthcare company that provides affordable and accessible a ADHD assessments and treatment plans. To learn how they can help you on your journey. Head to a adhdonline.com and remember to use the promo code, REFOCUSED20 to receive $20 off your ADHD Online assessment right now.


The biggest thanks go out to our team at ADHD Online, Keith Boswell, Suzanne Spruitt, Melanie Mile, Claudia Gotti, and Tricia Merchandani for their constant support in helping make Refocused, Together happen. These 31 episodes were produced thanks to our managing editor, Sarah Platinitus, our production coordinator, Phil Rodemann, social media specialist and editor, Al Chaplin, and me, the host and executive producer of Refocused, Lindsay Guentzel. To connect with the show on social media, you can find us online @refocusedpod and you can email the show directly, [email protected]. That’s hello@refocuspod com.

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