Heather's Pick: Every day should be Women's Day, says Indigo CEO

Mar 8 2022, 4:00 pm

Heather Reisman is the founder, chair, and CEO of Canada’s largest book, lifestyle, and specialty kids’ retailer, Indigo. She’s also the co-founder of Kobo, a leading global eReading company.

Heather co-hosts the popular Well Said podcast, along with journalist Shivani Persad, featuring global experts, authors, and thought leaders who offer meaningful ideas and insights for everyday life. Guests have included international bestselling author Brené Brown, Canadian performer Ivan Coyote, and award-winning poet Rupi Kaur.

To add to her long list of accolades and achievements, Reisman has co-executive-produced a number of important documentary films, including the Emmy- and BAFTA-winning The Social Dilemma and Fed Up.

In 2015, she was inducted into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame.

We caught up with Heather to talk about what International Women’s Day means to her, how she chooses the books that influence the reading choices of Canadians across the country, and how she finds time for self-care while running one of the largest companies in Canada.

Heather Reisman by Joy von Tiedeman

Heather, what does International Women’s Day mean to you?

I like to think of every day as Women’s Day, but it is lovely to have a special day to think specifically of how far we have come in our journey toward equality, and [it is] important to think about how much more there is still to do both in more advanced societies and in many developing countries. The issues are different as the stages of advancement are different, but there is lots of opportunity to fully unleash our individual and collective potential as women.

Your Heather’s Picks influence the reading choices of Canadians across the nation. What’s your process for choosing one, and do you ever feel pressured to make a decision?

My process for choosing a Heather’s Pick is both random and deliberate. Random in that I never know just how or where I am going to uncover a book that totally captures me and holds me in its thrall. The recommendation could come from an author, a publisher, one of my teammates at Indigo, a friend, a podcaster I am listening to, the news, etc. Just recently, I came across a book when researching an idea that is actually a few years old. The deliberate part is that I have to truly love a book to make it a pick. And to love a book, it has to capture me within the first few pages. If I get to page 30 or 35, and I am not compelled, chances are I will put it down. Most Heather’s Picks had me at hello – that is, within a page or two. 


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What are some of your top Heather’s Picks of all time?

It is hard to say which are my favourite Heather’s Picks, but here are a few titles that quickly come to mind: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr; The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon; Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood; The Red Tent by Anita Diamant; Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt; Educated by Tara Westover; The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill; Between Two Kingdoms by Suleika Jaouad; Barney’s Version by Mordecai Richler; Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese.


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Among the many titles you hold, you’re also the co-founder of Kobo, a leading global eReading company. Do you prefer hardcover or e-books?

I am personally a physical book reader, although I totally support people reading however they most like to read. Lots of people love e-reading. I just find I get more into my book and remember characters and narratives more vividly when I read physically.

Last year, you co-authored Imagine It!: A Handbook for a Happier Planet. What advice do you have for people who want to make a healthy change for the environment but don’t know where to start?

Co-authoring Imagine It!: A Handbook for a Happier Planet with my dear friend Laurie David was a labour of love and passion. For anyone who cares about our planet, my strongest recommendation is to embrace the idea that you can make a difference, because you can. Imagine It provides easy-to-follow guidance and inspiration for living green, one small step at a time. The reality is each one of us can have an impact by what we do, by which brands and businesses we support, and by who we vote for. The best part is, once you get on the journey, it really is so much fun. It’s about doing something good, and that is spirit-lifting.


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Amid running one of Canada’s largest companies, how do you disconnect and take care of yourself?

My days are filled between work and family and some special project. And like everyone else, I can get addicted to binge-watching or Instagram posting, so I have created a few habits that help counterbalance the “busyness” of life. Two morning priorities are meditation and a workout, and I prioritize sleep. I am in bed at 10:30 pm at the latest with no tech. I have a “no tech in the bedroom” rule. I am also working on making Sunday a full unplug day.

Sean LoughranSean Loughran

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