DEI Changemakers: An Interview with Neurodivergent Leader & Pioneer, Lauri Spitz

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April 30, 2022
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6 min read

A pioneer in the craft beer industry, Lauri Spitz is a multi-passionate neurodivergent (ADHD) entrepreneur who co-founded Mustache Brewing in 2014, before opening her second business Lauri Spitz Breathwork in 2021.

As a person who grew up suffering from depression and anxiety — in a time when those illnesses were dismissed — Lauri always had a hard time managing her mental health with her big ambitions.

This struggle was only amplified when she became the first female owner of a commercial brewery on Long Island, New York. She ran the company, alongside her husband Matthew, fueled by caffeine, anxiety and the constant weight of feeling overwhelmed. 

Today, her mission is to share her story and the breathwork tools and techniques that help manage her ADHD and stress. She hopes to empower others to take charge and prioritize their well-being to live from a place of balance, happiness, compassion and love, instead of stress and anxiety.

I know you recently transitioned fields, can you share a little bit more about what caused you to make that change? 

I have been an entrepreneur for a decade. My husband and I have owned a brewery in Long Island for the last 10 years, and last year we decided to sell it. We moved toward a distribution model. During that transition, I discovered my passion for breathwork. I teach breathwork and mindfulness to help people manage anxiety, burnout and stress in general. It’s been a chaotic transition, but it’s been so healthy for me. As a neurodiverse person, it means so much to me to be able to help others incorporate tools and tactics I’ve been using to keep my head above water for years. 

What led you to change your breathwork from a lifestyle practice into a business? 

It wasn’t really intentional to be honest, but I think it can be traced back to my entrepreneurial spirit. As an entrepreneur, anything I do I’m constantly wondering how I can turn it into a business. I had tried meditation and similar exercises for a long time in therapy. During Covid, our brewery was completely shut down for the first time ever. I had a lot of time to reflect and explore classes and activities that were all being held online. Breathwork was one of those things that was never taught online before Covid. I found a virtual class and started taking it everyday, and it was just one of those moments like “oh my god, where has this been all my life”. During my first session, I felt like I had ten therapy sessions in one hour. I was hooked on it immediately and started talking to everyone I knew about it. Despite it being a 2000-year-old practice, it really didn’t seem like many people knew about it. I felt compelled to share it with everyone I knew because it was so life changing for me. 

What’s it like to manage all your responsibilities and business as a neurodivergent person, and how was being a neurodivergent leader impacted your journey? 

It’s definitely challenging, but half the battle for me was not knowing I had ADHD. I was only diagnosed in 2019. I had to work on behavior modification because medicine wasn’t the right fit for me. I say this in class all the time, but sometimes the awareness of it is really key to helping. Working to establish systems that reinforce my strengths and help my weaknesses has been essential for me. Now that I know how I operate and what works for me, I’m so much more effective. I’ve had a few sessions with an ADHD coach, and he really helped me understand the things that work for everyone else might not work for me. It’s a lot of trial and error. People with ADHD need to be proud of themselves because they work ten times harder to get things done. Everyone’s brain works differently, so don’t compare yourself. 

How can the world be more supportive of individuals with ADHD? 

All the transitions that came out of Covid are so helpful to neurodivergent people because they come from a place of understanding. It’s hard for me personally to function in a traditional workplace. Offering accommodations, different schedules and varying work environments is so helpful for everyone - neurodivergent or not. We’re seeing a lot more inclusivity and awareness for neurodivergent people in the workplace. We’re at a time, where there is no normal. 

How have different labels you’ve been given, like being a woman or having ADHD, affected you? 

Specifically in the beer industry, I was the only woman to own or manage a brewery on Long Island. There were hardly any women in the industry at all. I said earlier that as a person with ADHD you have to work ten times harder to keep up, well it’s the same thing as a woman in the alcohol industry. You’re constantly fighting to prove that you can do it and that you can do it better than anyone else. It’s exhausting. A decade ago, it was even harder. When you add alcohol to the mix, it gets really toxic really fast. With ADHD, it’s been less of a hurdle. I’ve always talked about my mental health and my ADHD openly. Showing up authentically is so important to me. I’m not for everybody. 

I thought a lot about labels going from alcohol into the wellness industry. I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to show up. I was worried I didn't look or dress the right way, but then I realized it was important for my classes to feel like me rather than a stereotype for what someone would expect. What you see is what you get. I’m not trying to be something I’m not. That’s a challenge I think everyone faces, neurodivergent or not. That’s something I really learned through this journey with breathwork, practice really brings you home to yourself deep down inside. 

What’s been the most impactful part of your journey to self realization? 

A lot of people in my generation were raised to go to college, get a job and stick with it. What’s the fun in that - a pension? I think there's so much power in realizing it’s okay to change. Get over the fear and do what makes you happy. My husband and I took a huge leap of faith when we opened our brewery. We left our steady paychecks because we needed to try. We were very big on if we fail, it's okay. Being comfortable comes at a cost. Freedom isn’t free in that sense. 

Do you have any final words of wisdom for us? 

I tell everybody, if there’s something you’re really excited about just go for it. Instead of thinking about what could go wrong, what could go right? The things that you’re so scared of most of the time never even happen. You have more in you than you realize. 

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