If you knew Debbie Epstein Henry, it would come as no surprise that she’d want to get into the world of podcasting. After all, the types of stories that Henry tells on the first season of her new podcast, “Inspiration Loves Company,” are the types of stories she’s lived to tell — and lived, full stop.
Henry, who lives on the Main Line, is a lawyer, consultant and entrepreneur. Though she was once a litigator, her talent for creating, networking and public speaking led her to start a consulting firm, DEH Consulting, Speaking, Writing.
Her podcast, which launched on Oct. 22 and will conclude its first season on Dec. 16, features frank conversations with other experienced professionals, mostly women, who cover topics like race, office gender roles and “radical candor,” among other planned episodes. For the woman who once fought alongside her mother for the right to read Torah from the bimah on a Saturday morning at her bat mitzvah, the chance to speak directly to the challenges faced by her peers was a natural step.
“I felt this was such an opportunity to revisit things we care about, and ask ourselves, ‘What’s the best way to understand and embrace these issues now?’” Henry said of “Inspiration Loves Company.”
Henry knows that the podcast is a risk — one conversational misstep can have dire professional consequences. But risk is what she’s preached for years.
When Henry was 26 and a third-year student at Brooklyn Law School, a night out with her husband at her favorite city diner was cut short when she started to feel “out of sorts.” Racing back to the apartment, she had a grand mal seizure; in the emergency room, Henry was quickly diagnosed with a brain tumor.
“And I ended up finding this surgeon,” Henry recalled, “and the surgeon looked at the brain scan and said, ‘You know, the way this lesion is located, it’s very unusual for a brain tumor — it looks like a very rare parasite. But you’re not the demographic, which is typically found in Latin American countries. We won’t know unless we do surgery.’”
Five days later, she went under the knife.
What her parents and husband recall, on her behalf, is the sight of the surgeon jogging down the hall, bellowing, “It’s a parasite!” That’s not typically a sentence that brings relief, but for Henry, it meant that the surgery was the end of her troubles: She was going to be fine.
“It just rocked my world,” she said of the experience. “And what it made me do was commit to myself that I’m going to take smart risks in my life and I’m not going to wait for anything to live the life I want.”
So when she felt it was time to leave litigation to try something on her own, she didn’t hesitate.
DEH Consulting, Speaking, Writing began after Henry sent out a casual networking email to a few Philadelphia attorneys and found a sprawling network of lawyers interested in work-life issues. They were also interested in live events where Henry would interview authors, thinkers and TED talk alums speaking to work-life issues. DEH went national, and thousands of professionals attended the events over the years — even as Henry was busy running Bliss Lawyers, a full-service legal placement firm.
Heidi Friedman, a lawyer in Cleveland, has known Henry for 15 years. She admired Henry’s mission to make the legal and professional worlds more welcoming to women, and found the DEH events endlessly fascinating. Listening to the podcast now, sponsored in part by her law firm, Thompson Hine, she’s inspired in the same way that she is by Henry’s in-person speaking.
“I always tell her,” Friedman said, “everything she touches turns to gold.”