It’s 2017 (can someone give our neighbour down South that message) and for a lot of women, work was their first entry into adulthood. Then a partner, a baby and maybe more babies come along, however their first baby—their business—always got enough love every step of the way. This trajectory is a regular rite of passage for many moms like Debra Goldblatt-Sadowski, the founder and president of Rock-it Promotions whose daughter Mila, 8, and son Jax, 3, have admittedly given her reason to pause and even made her consider calling it quits. “I remember when I had Mila I would get angry that I couldn’t spend more time with my baby but there was a recession, we had just bought a house and I was the bread winner at the time. I didn’t have a choice but to keep going and bring in an income.”
Now her business is 25-people strong with Adidas, the Juno Awards, Etsy and Club Med as clients and accolades such as a spot in the Canadian Business Top 100 Female Entrepreneurs in Canada and one of the fastest growing companies in the country according to Profit 500. Here she shares positive self-talk that will help make every diaper change, client meeting and any grown-up decision feel like it’s truly meant to be.
Don’t push the panic button. “It’s the fear and negative thoughts that you have to shake. You have to believe that you’re doing the right thing and making the right decisions for yourself and your family. On the days you don’t feel that way, take a yoga class, mediate or just unplug for an hour. Do something that will clear your mind and your heart so you can get back to your best self.”
There will be times you wish you were at that cocktail party instead. “Sure, I feel divided on certain days but my kids have learned to appreciate that it’s the quality of the time we have together not the quantity. I’m with them as many nights as possible and I often choose bed and bath time over cocktails…even if that’s where I would rather be on some nights. Sometimes I worry about what I’m missing—and that’s normal—but there will always be another event, party or dinner while my kids won’t be little forever.”
Wanna throw in the towel? That’s normal too. “Sure I’ve thought about closing up the shop. I remember I had one of those days where it was just all too hard and I felt like I couldn’t do it all and it was too much to try and balance. Then the next day I literally got a call telling me I was being voted as one of Canada’s top female entrepreneurs. I couldn’t help but laugh and cry about it while we were on the phone. Listen, not every day can be a good day but just know that those days make the great days even more amazing.”
Stay in your lane, girl. “Stop caring so much about what other people think. If you spend too much time focusing on your competitors or what you lost or what you didn’t win, you’re putting way too much valuable energy on the worst versus the best of what you have. You want to keep your spirit full for your own company and your own family; focusing on others won’t allow you to do that.”
Trust your squad. “You have to let go of a lot in order to have any picture of balance in your life. Then you have to empower everyone around you to do their jobs and do them really well. Develop a trust with your support group so they can genuinely take things off your plate. Otherwise you’ll be micromanaging and that makes everybody crazy. I’m not perfect at it, but the more hectic my life has become, the better I have become at it. And guess what? Nothing falls down. I may not know every little detail of every client, or if my kids have eaten their vegetables that day, but the big picture is the kids are safe and happy, clients are being serviced by amazing team members and I’m not a raging maniac.”Spoil your squad. “We’ve just begun a wellness program at work where I have organized for a special yoga/meditation/goal-sharing session once a month. The class is off-site but still close to the office and it’s a chance for me to share the tools that help me be a better leader. We also have a social committee, a dog friendly space, pot-luck lunches and more perks coming in 2017. For our nanny Grace, as part of her holiday present, I gave her classes at a boutique gym close-by to our house. She loves to work out to manage her stress levels and health and she takes care of our family so well, that I’m happy to help take care of her. We all work so hard, so it’s important to have fun.”
Bring your mom brain (that’s your razor sharp focus) to work. “When I had Jax, life became really busy. With two kids under five, it was crazy for a while, and it was also a time when the business was booming. I was lucky enough to meet some key staff around that time, including our current business consultants at Innovia, who have not only taught me so much, but basically told me to back off so the staff could be their best. That forced me to spend my time focusing on high level strategies for our clients, ensuring the quality of work is consistent and spend valuable time on new business development. Obviously there’s a lot more, but that’s where I put a lot of my energy. Becoming a mother taught me a new kind of love that I couldn’t have imagined and motherhood has taught me that I want to be the best person I can possibly be in all areas of my life.”
ROOM TOUR A living room that’s just for grown-ups
“Because my life is so busy, I like to keep things in this room very clean, minimal and zen. It’s definitely a no toy zone. I believe parents need their own space and this is such a lovely room where I can take time out.” About the lovely vision of palm trees: “They generally remind anyone who’s in the room of a peaceful time and I like sharing that feeling.”
This painting was acquired at a Rethink Breast Cancer art auction. “It’s one of the first pieces of art I ever bought. I was drawn to it because it’s such a bold vision of a powerful woman. She is definitely saying something important.”
“This was hung in my parent’s house my whole life and it’s also a memory of my mom who passed away from cancer soon after I launched Rockit. I’m so happy she was able to see me make it happen.” Painting, Ken Danby’s Looking In.
One of the first design improvements Deb made to the house was installing impressive windows in the living room and master suite to draw in more light and airiness. Couch, Restoration Hardware.
Pages that feed her soul and celebrate her successes include Eat, Drink, Nap with tips from the founder of The Soho House, which she helped launch in Toronto; Douglas Coupland: Everywhere is anywhere is anything is everything is a survey of his artwork; and milk and honey by Rupi Kaur, a book of poetry a close friend recently gifted her. “Before I was in PR, I studied creative writing and was a poet. Back then I had so much more angst and a need for words to articulate myself.”
A family portrait with her sisters and what looks like kitsch is a treasured memory. “My cousin that I was very close to died tragically 20 years ago. He was the one who helped me discover my love of music and this was always in his room. It reminds me of him and I’m happy to see it everyday in the living room.”
Okay, we’ll fess up. This signed and framed picture of Darryl Sittler was in the basement and we brought it upstairs. Deb’s dad is a retired sports agent who toured with Team Canada and she has memories of hanging out at Maple Leaf Gardens on the regular. Cool, huh?