Q&A with Laura Cundari, Forty Under 40 Winner 2021, Partner, Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP, Age 39
Who or what is responsible for your work ethic?
There were times in the past, particularly during my undergraduate degree, that I struggled with work ethic. Once I established clear career goals that I was excited about, the work ethic followed naturally. Now I have to remind myself to slow down from time to time.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Napping — I feel guilty even giving that answer!
What is the best book you would recommend?
I recommend reading biographies of individuals who have achieved great things. It is inspiring and provides an understanding of the roles that luck, resilience and perseverance play in life. Deirdre Bair’s biography of Simone de Beauvoir was the first book to impact me in this way.
Now that you are (or are close to) entering your forties, what goals have you set for yourself?
I want to make sure that I am sponsoring associates on my team and others that I mentor to achieve their goals. I am also continually working on being present, at home and at work.
What was your childhood career dream?
Name your happiest place.
Hawaii with my family.
What was your toughest business or professional decision?
When I was pregnant with our second child, our first child was undergoing intensive medical treatment. My partners suggested I take an early leave of absence. I was anxious about how it would be perceived, but the support I received allowed me to make the right decision.
What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
Have confidence in who you are and do not allow others to define your self-image.
What is your best habit?
When something is stressful or upsetting, I ask myself: “Will I care about this in five years?” Usually the answer is “No” and it helps me to put things in perspective and move forward.
Tell us one improbable fact about yourself.
I am a reality TV expert.
Best piece of advice ever received?
You will regret not trying more than you will regret failing. This advice has allowed me to be fearless at times when it was not my natural inclination. Also, the advice to date my now husband — he has made my life better in so many ways.
Biggest learning (about life or business) during the pandemic?
The most effective way to lead is with empathy.
What career highlight are you most proud of?
When I realized that clients have started to view me as a trusted adviser. Those collaborative relationships are one of the most satisfying aspects of the job.