Meeting Debbie Weinstein could have been very intimidating; actually I was expecting intimidating. This is the woman who quarterbacked, among other fantastic accomplishments, the $250 MILLION BelAir sale to Ericsson. This is the woman who, with twins under 2 years old, completed 5 IPOs (initial public offerings) for Ottawa greats like Jetform, Mosaid, AIT and Dy-4 Systems. This is a woman who is literally a force to be reckoned with.
And yet she was not intimidating. In fact she was open, candid, welcoming and forthcoming about not only her achievements but her shortcomings as well. "I was fully aware during my time as a lawyer at Blakes in Toronto (her first job) that I was not the smartest graduate they had working for them," she admits. "But I worked hard. Negative feedback makes me stronger; I work that much harder." It is this determination and drive that has made Debbie so successful as a lawyer. "If something is hard, I over prepare. It is this determination and work ethic that gave me the hours and experience to become a decent lawyer," Debbie explains.
Being a woman has only ever been an advantage during my career
Debbie always knew she wanted to be a lawyer. As a young girl growing up in Toronto she was called the "Mayor" of her group of kids on the street. And once she took her first law course in grade 11 she was hooked. Initially interested in being a trial lawyer, she fell in love with business law while working at Blakes and for one of the firm's senior partners Lionel Goffart. "I learned so much from Lionel", remarks Debbie. "I was certain I was going to be fired, and yet he kept me on and taught me the art of drafting. In fact I still have the Mont Blanc pen he gave me when I left the firm to come to Ottawa."
You have to show your best at all times
Upon arriving in Ottawa Debbie worked for Langs (now McMillan) before opening the Blakes Ottawa branch with her current LaBarge Weinstein partner and mentor Paul LaBarge. The decision to start LaBarge Weinstein with two other partners, Lawrence Weinstein and Randy Taylor, was easy and they hit pure "luck" by opening during the tech boom that was happening in the late '90s. "We emulate our technology clients, that's the LaBarge Weinstein mission," Debbie explains. "The fact that our focus of offering IPO and acquisition services to technology based clients just happened to coincide with the tech boom Ottawa was experiencing was a coincidence. We were fortunate to build up our firm during this time." But it isn't all luck and being in the right place at the right time. "I like to win," Debbie reveals.
In order to succeed, do what you are best at. Delegate the rest
But it's not all work and no play. "You have to live your life every day the way you want to live your life on your last day," reveals Debbie. "I work out most days, work from home Fridays from May to October and I travel about 2 months a year. Years ago when I couldn't find time to work out I hired a trainer to come to the office and I worked out daily in the boardroom." In 2009 for her 50th birthday Debbie completed the Philadelphia Marathon in first place for women in her age group and this year she climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro with friends. "I am in good shape and physically and mentally at my best," effuses Debbie.
Debbie's success is supported by her hubby, who she trusts implicitly, and who has taken on the primary role of raising their children for much of their lives. "We always had a nanny when the kids were little," comments Debbie. "But when they got older we decided it was important for a parent to be their main caregiver; this ended up being David (her husband). And it's been wonderful." "The idea of a Super Woman is bulls**t," Debbie asserts. "In order to really succeed you need to do what you are best at; what gives the highest value. And delegate the rest."
In a time where many women are trying to be "all things to all people" and managing not only their careers but every second of their home lives, including kids, spouses and families, this philosophy is very refreshing. And, it takes the burden of being "everything" off our shoulders.
Delegation. I think I'm going to try that. It's clearly worked for Ottawa's most notable IPO/acquisitions lawyer and that's good enough for me.