Heather Reisman

Indigo founder and Toronto icon Heather Reisman announces her retirement

Heather Reisman, the executive chair and director of Indigo Books & Music Inc., has announced her retirement, effective Aug. 22, 2023.

“The time has come for me to retire from an active role at Indigo,” said Reisman, in a statement. “Deciding when it is time to move on is one of the toughest decisions a Founder must make, but I know this is the right moment for me.”

Reisman expressed her confidence in the Indigo family, emphasizing that the company has a bright future

Heather Reisman’s retirement marks the end of an era for Indigo, a company she played a significant role in building over the past 25 years.

Last year, StreetsofToronto.com spoke with Reisman ahead of her being awarded a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame. Here is the interview touching on her accomplishments, her philanthropic efforts and her business and books mantra.

What is your business mantra?

To do something I truly believe in is at the core. I have to believe in it myself and to be in a business where, in addition to it being financially effective, I really feel we’re doing something of value. And I’ve always felt that about Indigo. Books have always been the core of our business, and they always will be. And I just believe that books and reading are so fundamental to the human endeavour.

Philanthropy is one of your personal pillars. Where does that generosity come from?

I’ve always derived great joy from being able to give back. And so it’s really a win-win. I think we are making a difference for other people. And I’ve always derived great joy from that.

Why did you decide on U of T as one of the focuses?

One, when we were initially approached with the idea of in some way contributing to the creation of the two big buildings that will be the Innovation Centre, we were hugely taken with the ambition of the project. Not just the beauty of the design, but the notion of anchoring in Toronto the advances we’ve made in the areas of artificial intelligence. And the second part is that we were pleased to have an opportunity to do something that supported and advanced the work in particular of Geoff Hinton, who is the father of AI, and it’s great for Canada to be able to claim him and a few others as being so significant in what is the fundamental technology of the 21st century.

So instead of just progress without boundaries more the ethical side?

Exactly. It’s not technology for technology’s sake. At the moment, I think technology is galloping ahead a bit. We need to harness it for the better of humankind. That was a big motivation. The opportunity to support that.

What would you like your legacy to be?

Family with good values that continue to include making the world a little better place — that’s at the very core — and just to be perceived as a good human being.

What books do you most often find yourself recommending?

It depends on who’s asking.

If I wanted a book to understand the ethical side of AI, what would you recommend?

That’s a good question. Maybe a book called The Shallows [What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains].

Who is your favourite fictional character?

Jo from Little Women.

What book have you read the most times?

I would say a poetry book of Leonard Cohen’s for sure — Book of Longing. I love that book. I’ve read the poems so many times.

What is your most important daily ritual?

My Wordle. My second one is that I do a 14-minute meditation in the morning.

What living person do you most admire?

My husband.

Who would you most like to hang out with?

I have to pick two: Drake and The Weeknd.

What item do you have multiple versions of?

My lululemon leggings.

What is the worst piece of career advice you’ve ever received?

The worst piece of advice I ever received, and I will leave nameless who gave it to me, was ‘you’re nuts to think of starting Indigo?’

What is your prized possession?

I have a first edition, very first edition, of The Diary of Anne Frank.

What talent would you most like to have?

To sing.

Where do you go to get away from it all?

The beach in Malibu.

What is your greatest fear?

I think my greatest fear would be losing my cognitive ability.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

A three-week vacation with all of my children and grandchildren and no cellphones.

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