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Quickfire Q +A with TV Personality, Bestselling Author and Physician Dr. Marla Shapiro


Well-known and often recognized TV personality “Dr. Marla” is also a best-selling author, documentary filmmaker and woman of proven resilience. Hers is an inspirational voice of reason, so when she makes time to fill in a few blanks during an early morning, long-distance chat, it’s worth setting your alarm. Here’s some of what we heard.

AS TOLD TO JASMINE MILLER


Besides formal schooling, the most educational experience I ever had was…
Working for several months in a kibbutz in Israel as a teenager. I worked the dairy farm. I worked with chickens. I worked in the kitchen. Wherever they needed a worker, I worked. I picked peaches, which I detested because the fuzz gets into your arms and burns. It was one of the most meaningful experiences of my life.

I am most proud of the fact that I…
Have two children I’ve been able to navigate through some of the most tragic losses and still be present and create a close family.

When it comes to my current job, my main responsibility is…
Being an empathic listener and a strong communicator. That’s my role in life, as a medical doctor, yes, but whether it’s friendship, on air, or in my office, that’s my role always.

2 words that described me when I was 25 years old…
It was three, actually: “You’re the doctor?” I graduated medical school just before my 23rd birthday and I had a young face and never wore much make up, so I always heard that during my internship. It was always said with an incredulous question mark at the end. I felt defensive about that, but I also thought, somewhere along the line, I will like that. My late daughter looked young too, she always got carded and I told her “one day, you’ll like this.” [Amanda passed away unexpectedly in 2012 when she was 25 years old and studying overseas.]

My first job ever was…
Being a sales person at a bookstore in Montreal. I loved to read and be around like-minded people. It’s not like I was selling salami or something: those people wanted to be there and I loved helping them find a
great read. And I liked the mall—it was fun, it was liberating, and I made money.

I’m happiest when…
I’m with my grandson. He’s going to be two in a few months.

One memorable failure…
My mother, who was the French teacher at my school, had to play piano at the Christmas concert and the school thought it would be a good idea to have me bring flowers to her at the end. I walked on stage, saw a sea of people and was paralysed and started to cry. I didn’t cry quietly: I wailed. It was so traumatic. It probably shaped my life. It could have ended Dr. Marla before she even knew she existed.

2 words that describe me today…
Tenacious and determined.

The worst thing anyone can do during a job interview is…
Chew gum or appear disinterested.

At the office, my workspace is…
Neat and organized.

The worst thing I have done during a job interview was…
Fall asleep. I’d been on call for 36 hours and I nodded off. I did the head bob.

One thing I want the young women in my industry to know is…
Being a practicing physician isn’t 9-to-5, it’s not just a job. It’s a life-long commitment.

2 words I hope describe me 25 years from now…
Meaningful and loved.

My workday starts when…
I’m ready. Sometimes it’s really too early. People wonder why they get emails from me in the middle of the night.

I seem to surprise people when I say…
I’m a grandmother. I look a little too old to be his mom, but not old enough to be his grandmother. I’m flattered when they’re surprised.

I wish I were better at…
Singing. I just feel that would be such a great relief.

I am excellent at…
Working. I really am. I am not good at investing in leisure activities. I wish I invested in playing golf because I’m married to a golfer and my son is a golf lunatic.

Having a 5-year-plan is…
Having broad goals and direction is a really good thing. Being married to a plan doesn’t leave you open to what’s behind Door Number Two. There are so many university kids who don’t know what they want to do, and feel there must be something wrong with them. All that’s wrong is they haven’t experienced enough yet. For me, right now, it would be ludicrous to have a 5-year plan.

I get angry when…
People give up.