Jodi Kovitz

Toronto, Ontario

TS What inspired you to become a lawyer?

JK - I’d always thought about going to law school, as my father and step-father are both lawyers, but I had a great job at Scotia Bank and wasn’t sure what to do when I got accepted into law school. I was fortunate to meet Heather Reisman, CEO of Indigo, at a basketball game. I “just said hello” to her, and we ended up having a great chat. Later, I had coffee with her in her office. I asked her if I should continue in the corporate world or if I should go to law school. Heather gave me advice that changed my life. She said: “If you were my daughter, I would tell you to go get your law degree. More education will never hurt you. You can always transition back into business.” So I took her advice, and off I went.

TSTell us about your “Just Say Hello” concept.

JK - In 1957, John Lennon played a church gig. Between sets Paul McCartney taught him how to tune his guitar. The pair built a relationship and subsequently formed a foursome you may have heard of! I believe incredible life opportunities can find you when you “Just Say Hello” to new people. You never know when a “pleased to meet you” at a bar or restaurant could turn into a relationship that results in a major success for your business or career, or when you might meet your future best friend at a spin class, or when a job opportunity may arise as a result of meeting someone at a sports event. Or even through a cold call! I am launching my labour of love "Just Say Hello" in April — stay tuned for my website. This joy project is about paying forward my own relationship building tips, and those of other successful young and proven entrepreneurs who share their "I said hello, and it made a huge difference in my business" stories.

TSDid you learn any life lessons practicing law?

JK - I learned the art of listening as a divorce lawyer. This is a life skill that I draw on daily. My clients often just needed to feel heard, respected and listened to. And sometimes there is a story behind the story, or under the issue that people present. You have to listen really carefully in order to really understand what people need and how you can help.

TSWhen you look back on your career, what do you hope you will have accomplished?

JK - I love my current job at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP. We are innovating as a law firm and I feel lucky to learn from my incredible bosses Colleen Moorehead and Deborah Glendinning, who are both accomplished and visionary business leaders. It’s my dream to publish a book about why you should always go out of your comfort zone to extend yourself to meet new people and broaden your network, then how to take that “hello” and turn it into an authentic, mutually beneficial relationship. I think this is a particular challenge for millennials who operate in the world mostly by text and through Facebook. Conversations are important as is time spent face to face; this is crucial to being able to deepen relationships outside of “What’s up? Nothing. U?” text-type connections.

TSPersonal experiences have directed your philanthropic endeavours. Can you share one of those with us?

JK - I owned a little clothing company about 10 years ago called “Boobalicious Tanks and Tee.” We created tanks, scarves and long-sleeve shirts featuring the breast cancer awareness symbol in custom-designed Swarovski crystals in partnership with the Breast Cancer Foundation and gave them 10% of all gross revenue. I love to marry my passion with entrepreneurial spirit and philanthropy. This project was in honour of Mari Ellen Murray, a mentor of mine when I spent the summer consulting at the Boston Consulting Group, who passed away from breast cancer.

TSA deeply personal experience also led you to your involvement with Sick Kids Hospital. Can you tell us about that?

JK - My daughter Lily was very ill when she was between the ages of 2 and 4. We spent countless nights at the hospital, seeing 13 different specialists, battling numerous strange life-threatening unconnected infections starting with a bacterial blood infection and culminating in a rare illness called Kawasaki Disease. At times doctors were uncertain as to whether she had a compromised immune system, or if it was something more serious. Thankfully she is perfectly healthy now and has totally outgrown those challenges.

TSYou’ve reworked this experience so that it has positive impacts in terms of personal resilience and much-needed fundraising. Was that difficult?

JK - Lily taught me how to find my way through difficult times. First, accept what is, and put your energy into solving the problem. Bumping up against it does not make it go away. Embracing reality and finding determination to solve the problem is much more productive. It was one of the only ways I was able to survive some of the most difficult moments of my life. I felt so privileged to walk out of Sick Kids Hospital with such a good news story. Many people don’t. And I feel so blessed to have a world-class institution in our own city.

TSAre you still connected with the hospital?

JK - Yes. I joined their Innovators Program, which is a group of up-and-coming, like-minded professionals who make a significant collective donation to an under-funded priority that we choose as a group. The work that I’ve done and continue to do raising money for Sick Kids as an active volunteer is nourishing. I feel grateful for the opportunity and have met and continue to meet incredible people through this experience.

TSHow do you begin your day?

JK - I have my gorgeous daughter half of the time. When I have her, my day starts with journaling and setting an intention for the day before she gets up. This practice was inspired by reading the Greatness Guide by Robin Sharma. He counsels on the need for white space and thinking time every day. Then, we have a healthy breakfast, piano practice, packing lunch then off to school. When I don’t have Lily, I start my day with a 6:00 am workout at the gym or at my favourite Rocket Cycle. My spin teacher shares lots of inspiring thoughts as we push ourselves on the bikes. One of my favourites is that you need to look up in life, not down at your feet – you can’t see where you are going if you’re looking at your feet.

TSWhat’s your motto?

JK - Dream it. Plan it. Go get it. I believe that you actually can accomplish ANYTHING in life that you put your mind to. The Lululemon founder is a huge believer in writing down his goals. He posts them in very specific spots in his kitchen so he can look at them every day. I feel the same way. I have my goals on a little cue card that I carry around in my purse. Then, it’s about the dogged pursuit of those goals. My step-dad always says you can always eat an elephant – one bite at a time. So, dream it, plan it, go get it. One bite at a time.

TSHow would you describe your personal style?

JK - Cool elegance. I often have to wear business attire for work, but I always like to incorporate some “edge.” On weekends, I love to wear a great pair of jeans, a motorcycle jacket, a simple cashmere sweater and a hot pair of boots.

TSIf you could raid The September’s closet, what would you grab?

JK - A pair of Valentino Rockstud boots in red. They are classic and edgy.

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