The Perpetual Lie: When your Online Persona Precedes the Real You


I believe all humans were created with a reasonable sense of integrity. We are on this earth to do good, right? But along the way, we were misguided. Our egos got the better of us and we lost our way.

The real life that we lead can be easily masked, however. We have the haven of online to safeguard who we really are.

Integrity and Fakery: Are Some People Invincible?

I’ve witnessed this on more than one occasion. In my specific circumstance, I have followed people online who seemed reputable, who had the perception of being the epitome of integrity.

I felt honoured to be in the company of such people, who have built a loyal following because of their magnetic words of wisdom, how inspirational they are, as well as through the hypnotic, emotion-laden stories they share.

I, too, have been taken in by these masters.

One person in particular, in my eyes, could do no wrong. When we connected, I felt lucky she made the time to talk. She had been on a pedestal in my mind for many years, as well as in the minds of her many loyal followers. This gal had integrity!

But the community wasn’t privy to the relationship that I was building with this amazing person. No, this wasn’t a Jim Jones cult (although it does eerily feel like I was programmed).

I brought this person into my life and we became fast friends. It took some time, but I started really figuring out this individual. The persona that had been so carefully crafted was slowly crumbling before my eyes. She didn’t reveal herself readily, but nuances of the real person came out.

The person who she claimed to be — the persona the world knew — wasn’t the person who sat before me. She was a sham. She was a hypocrite. And I had been fooled. Shame on me.

Reputation is Absolutely Everything

We carefully shape the way we want to be perceived. There are those among us who are calculated in the way they approach situations and people, always mindful of how others will react, and how they will be judged.

When I met people who know (knew) of my affiliation, they couldn’t believe how “lucky” I was to be in the company of such a great individual. How little they know. And how desperately I wanted to shout, “You have no idea!”

In real life, we falter. My mother says all she has to do is look into my eyes to see the window to my soul, and when she does, I know I’ve been found out. I can’t hide the truth. My actions speak louder than words.

Online, Somehow, Seems So Much Safer

For those who have built their reputation online and have carefully honed it to perfection, the online space is a safe haven. The words on their blogs hide their true selves.

Words can easily manipulate and influence the human spirit. We cannot see the eyes of deceit as these words are carefully crafted on the keyboard.

And so we continue to believe the lie.

However, this “keyboard” that unites individuals across the social space cannot – and will not – ever be substituted for face-to-face contact.+

I’ve come to believe that.

Hypocrisy is Perpetuated by the Community

When I opened my eyes to the truth, it didn’t seem real that I, alone, could have discovered this false integrity.+

The reality is, there are so many instances of people portraying false personas of themselves.

They continue to walk among us. We can easily point them out. But we don’t. I wonder why.

And there are many naive individuals who buy into these falsehoods.

They follow in droves and they are the very ones to come to the defence of these manipulators again and again – because they’ve been programmed.

Perhaps Online is the ONLY Place to Hide

I’ve come to believe that those who exist mainly online, are there for a reason.

The fairy tale they’ve built around them is enough to properly shield them from the reality of who they actually are.

If there is disparity between who you are online and offline then there is something very wrong.

As much as I believe in transparency, I also believe we do not have to fully disclose every part of our being to the world.+

But, at the very least, have some integrity. Be true to who you really are.

I’ve become more pragmatic these days. I live online but I also have a balanced and healthy life outside of the Internet.

It’s what keeps me real and keeps me grounded.

These days, I’m not as easily fooled by gurus and online pundits. Because sadly, I’ve learned the hard way to be more judgmental of my online relationships.

I’ve come to believe in the value of meeting people in person. And the value of a gut check. It tends to go a long way towards revealing the truth.

This article was originally posted on

photo credit: Rickydavid via photopin cc

I Fear for Generation Next: Climate Change, World Debt & Rising Health Care Costs


The next generation doesn’t have it easy. The world is changing…and rapidly. What we’re about to experience globally is nothing like we’ve experienced in the last century. Enormous shifts are happening that will instigate fundamental changes to policy, jobs and technology.

The freedom that previous generations have had to build and to innovate will become lost to the future decision makers. Instead, the next generation will be overwhelmed with responding to the growing issues that are creeping to the forefront today:

  • Impending world economic crises
  • Effects of global warming
  • Impact of an aging population

This Generation is to Blame

I write this post not as a pundit who understands the intricacies of these issues and their implications, because clearly I do not have this benefit, but as a parent, who has seen my own generation and previous generations contribute to many of these unfortunate events and is saddened by what it means for my children. I write as a consumer who has seen decades of recklessness and irresponsibility and have done little to affect this.

I write as a bystander who heard the message of the real dangers we were to face in this lifetime, and witnessed as we reluctantly relented to change. We dragged our heels, albeit in the right direction. This older generation is to blame for the impending fallout not only because of our contributions but also because we weren’t doing enough to mitigate the negative effects. We are to blame because we were too selfish to recognize that while the fallout of 80 years later would not impact us, it would impact our children and grand-children.

And now that responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of this next generation.

I read this post recently: “Map – These are the Cities that Climate Change will Hit First.” It spoke of Climate Departure, the first time when…

the moment when average temperatures, either in a specific location or worldwide, become so impacted by climate change that the old climate is left behind. It’s a sort of tipping point.

The map shows the earliest instance of Climate Departure will be in 2023. Cities like Kingston, Jamaica, and many bordering Caribbean countries will experience this earlier than most. Other affected regions include Lagos and other countries in Western Africa. However, larger centres like Singapore, parts of India and China are not that far behind.

Those countries that are going to be affected by this unprecedented climate are also those deemed “that have the least capacity to respond”. Lagos, is the largest African city of 21 million and currently prone to excessive flooding. Climate departure will hit Lagos by 2029.

Experts predict that (under the current greenhouse emission levels) most of the world’s population will feel the effects of Climate departure by 2047.

Species will be forced to adapt, move or die out

It may not be the end of the world but this radical shift means that the world as we know it will experience a massive upheaval. As Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution for Science’s global ecology department has put it:

….we are pushing the ecosystems of the world out of the environment in which they evolved into wholly new conditions that they may not be able to cope with. Extinctions are likely to result.

The effect on the species raises much graver concerns: the risk on our food and water supply; the potential of wider spread of disease; health endangerment; security concerns that come with civil outbreaks. These are realities that much of the world is unwilling to face.

The hope is to mitigate the effects of C02 emissions to slow down Climate Departure. While this may mean delaying Climate departure by, on average, 15-20 years, countries like Kingston and Lagos will feel the impact only 5 years later than expected.

Demand for transportation increases

As the Chinese economy continues to dominate, the demand for transportation will have a rippling effect globally. A recent article indicated, that the global demand for cars was largely influenced by China:

the global car market would expand in the next few years, mainly because of growth of demand in China where sales were expected to double by 2019.

This hurtling demand puts much more pressure on carmakers to ensure dependence on gas is lessened. The question is whether mindsets will be as quick to change. In all likelihood, probably not.

The Global Economic Crisis: two steps forward…. one step back

Europe is a classic example of a stubborn political mindset that has turned a blind eye to the compounding issues imposed by the monetary unions, and had not felt the urgency to make drastic changes to fiscal policy until was too late. This has led to a massive competitive imbalance among the debt-ridden economies like Spain, Italy, Portugal and Greece, relying on the surplus nations like Germany to compensate. It’s this imbalance that requires radical reform among those economies that have largely relied on monetary unions to dictate their fates.

The US counterparts fare no better. This headline made me chuckle: U.S. Politics 2013 Style: “Let’s Kill The Economy”. To me this is an example of a system that has a huge communication issue, deep-rooted in years of dichotomies. Killing the Affordable Health Care Act by taking the government hostage is a last-ditch effort among “backward thinking idealogues”, as Senator Elizabeth Warren put it, who cannot cope with the realities of democracy.

The demands of the rising unemployment, student debt, an aging population and disparities in access to health care require a new order.

The next generation will be, by all accounts, constrained with their own financial woes. This article, A Million Millions: The Student Debt Crisis in America, states that student debt in the US is now a “staggering” 1 trillion dollars. Here’s how it breaks down:

Thirty-seven million people in the U.S. have student loans, and the average student loan debt is $24,301. Of those who graduated in 2013, the average loan debt is over $35,000. The trend is steady and consistent–education is getting more and more expensive. Student loan debt in the U.S. even exceeds overall credit card debt.

In both the European and US situations, governments have no choice but to change their thinking in order to come to urgent resolution.

The Aging Boomers

If the Tea Party continues its attempts to manipulate the system to crush the Affordable Health Care Act, it will cripple access from a growing population of Boomers. Here are the facts according to a study by Concordia University:

With another American turning 50 years old every 7.5 seconds, by 2015 Baby Boomers will represent 45% of the US population. The average American over the age of 65 has multiple chronic conditions:

  • Hypertension 72%
  • Arthritis 51%
  • Heart Disease 31%
  • Cancer 24%
  • Diabetes 20%

This group accounts for 1/3 of all health care spending, 1/3 of prescription drug use and 40% of doctor visits.

Canada fares no better. The reality rings true all over the world,

Should baby boomers be feeling guilty now that everyone else seems to have finally clued in to the developed world’s worst-kept secret: There are lots of us, we didn’t have enough children of our own to replenish the taxpayer base, and we didn’t contribute enough in taxes to cover our future health needs as increasingly frail citizens.

The result:

Our children and theirs are going to be saddled with an expensive burden they can ill afford as droves of silver-haired boomers leave the workforce and consume a disproportionate share of public health resources in their senior years.

Where does this leave us?

While I worry for the next generation, I also know that extensive measures are being put in motion to alleviate some of this burden. Economies are learning quickly, especially in Europe, that integration helps heal some of the wounds. Realization of fiscal reform is taking hold.

The US is feeling its own civil strife and the results of the lockdown will determine whether there is opportunity to reach some political common ground or face dissension from the voting public.

Dependency on oil and gas in today’s world will need to be re-evaluated now.
Sustainability is no longer a buzz word. This next generation understands and is more attuned to its moral obligation to fix the economic disparities that exist today. This includes gender disparity.

And while the world awaits for the inevitability of climate change, rest assured there will be a rallying cry, however late, to attempt to delay these effects and prepare for substantive change.

As long as this generation is alive, it’s in our best interest to finally take responsibility…. for future generations.

photo credit: UBC News via photopin

Being a Start-up Mom: An Introspection


As I write this, it is early on a Saturday morning. Trying to find some quiet time before the family rises, I retreat to the dining table, riddled with the incessant flow of paper work – yes, work that I must put on my to-do list– but after I get this post written. As I furiously try to get my mind focused on the task at hand, I am reminded that this is the life that I have chosen.

There was a time when I worked to live

I never really had ambitions to do anything great. I came out of business school just wanting a job, to make some decent money, to see the world, and live comfortably. This was no different than anyone out there. I came out of school with mediocre grades, but enough to get a respectable degree that would land me places. It introduced me to a discipline called database marketing, and I was hooked.

In the years that followed, my love for data and its possibilities created opportunities for me in consumer loyalty, banking and B2B. It was here that I was also introduced to the advertising world (ie the client-driven world) of 80 hour weeks. I hated the hours. The weekdays would blend into my weekends. I was losing control of the balanced life that I had desperately sought to achieve. Then along came the internet…. and I changed.

Wanting to change the world makes you a different person

It was a new frontier. Everybody was figuring things out. We were on the cusp of developing this new channel into whatever we wanted. Everyone had ideas about how to do it. They all tried. The start-up world became this haven that empowered people to take their ideas to fruition, no matter how crazy. No one waited for judgement. They just did it. Money or no money.

I was introduced to this environment, albeit Yahoo! was not new to the game. In Canada, however, we were a start-up in many respects. After the bubble burst in the late 90′s, most of the satellite offices were shut down. When I came on board 5 years later, the Canadian office was resurged. It was here that I began to apply what I knew to this online channel.

I was excited, and absorbed every last ounce of knowledge that anyone was willing to feed me. I became consumed with ideas and possibilities. This was an environment that allowed us to try new things, fail, then try again. Engineering and Product were my best friends. They allowed me to “play” and try anything and everything. I became embedded in this world of endless possibilities and I didn’t pay attention to the amount of time it was consuming. I was drinking this Purple Kool-Aid and it started to affect me in ways that continue to challenge me to this day.

Along the way, family suffers

During this period, my children were still young. Maddie was 4 and Nathan was 1. The responsibilities at work made it increasingly difficult to manage both work and home.

I am reminded of this post, The Guilt Grind — And Why I Love Every Minute of It!, that I wrote a few years back when I worked at a new and promising social tech start-up. It’s here that I wrote,

And while I try to make every soccer practice, hockey game, school play or choir, there have been many times I’ve had to make the disheartening decision to choose this “path” over family. And that has burned me each time. I will never forget when my daughter was four and I missed her first year-end gala, to make a dinner with an important executive coming into town the same night. I’ve regretted that decision ever since.

I still remember the performance reports I had to present every Monday morning. For months, I compiled the reports Friday night when they were available for all the 20 Yahoo! properties and proceeded to do the analysis into the wee hours of the morning. I convinced myself that if I could get the work done before the weekend then I could use what was left of the weekend to spend with my family. It wasn’t long before I became friends with the same cabbie, who drove me home every Saturday morning at 2:00 AM, to a family who had long gone to sleep.

The person I became did not separate work from family. They became intermingled, sometimes to the point of annoyance. My husband was losing his patience and our marriage was teetering on the brink of turmoil.

I emerged as someone who couldn’t stop thinking about the problem or the task at hand. Sometimes it got in the way of life like a bad drug that you just can’t seem to get out of your system. Many late nights, I remember hearing the song, “Cats in the Cradle” like an incessant ring unwilling to relent. It was telling me something and I was unwilling to listen.

Starting over

Over the years, I’ve worked at ad agencies and social tech start-ups. Through this experience it became clear that no one was doing enough to move the needle forward when it came to social data and the organization. I felt compelled to take what I’ve known and build a company, ArCompany. I became convinced that starting this business would allow me to see my kids more. I promised myself that I would make each and every one of their hockey games, skating practices, soccer tournaments and school concerts. Perhaps I could make up for lost time.

Starting a business is hard. It didn’t take me long to realize this. The opportunity to do something different and to challenge the status quo, while compelling, takes an immense amount of effort and will. Amy Tobin, my colleague, can tell you about the number of anguishing conversations we’ve had over the last year. There were many bleak moments in just starting this business. It takes a great deal of discipline and motivation to get out of bed every morning even when things look like they’re going to fall apart. My friend Nicole McKinney continues to remind me to #KeepMoving and never to look back.

Today, my workplace is the dining room table. I’ve decided that I don’t want to carve any office space in the house for myself. I want to greet my kids before they leave and when they return from school. My children are now older. Maddie is 14 and Nate is 11. They don’t need me as much as they used to but I want to be present in their lives. It’s not too late.

I continue to struggle

I love the foundation that I’ve created for myself. We’ve built a business that seems to resonate with what the market needs. The work is challenging but extremely fun. We’ve created some amazing relationships and continue to build strong business cases that prove out our business model. The bleakness of the previous year is starting to bear its fruits and the opportunities are starting to present themselves.

But all this comes at a cost. It has forced me to focus more of my time on developing these opportunities. My days are spent churning out proposals and reports, client meetings, pitching more business, taking care of bills, meeting with partners. When dinner’s done, I find myself habitually making my way to my trusted laptop. Sometimes it doesn’t leave me until the early hours of the morning. Where I’ve promised myself to keep my weekends sacred, that is now not the case. My advisor warned me that we are a start-up and what we’re going through is normal. I just have to suck it up. In the same vane, he also advises me that I have to be human.

Through this period, I’m proud to say that I’ve been just as relentless, a hockey mom and parent. It’s still tough, however, to focus when I’m attending a game. While I’m physically present, my mind is not. But I’m trying.

What is my legacy?

Sometimes I convince myself that all will be better when we make $X revenue, or when we have budget to hire more people. It’s at that time that I can rest and give more time to my family. But I know that when that time comes, I’ll find other reasons to do more and eventually drown myself in more work.

I’m not going to fight it. For all my faults, I have to acquiesce to the path I built for myself.

My daughter asked me the other day me what would be a good job to have when she grew up. This is the advice I offered, “Do what you love to do not because of money, but because it it makes you smile. Do not stay in a job because it’s safe. Move towards jobs that challenge you. And never ever stop learning.”

I am in no way perfect. And I don’t think I want to put in the effort to be. I can be conscious of my own limitations and do what I can do to ensure I keep on course. My family is my priority. Enough said.

As a mom, I’ll continue to fight to make sure I become a significant force in my kids’ lives. But I also want to make sure that my existence was worth something while I was here. I love this quote that was sent to me by my friend Bilal Jaffery:

Your time is limited so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow truly know what you want to become. Everything else is secondary. -Steve Jobs

This was originally posted on

photo credit: ~PhotograTree~ via photopin cc

The BEST Morning Shake via @RyanPannell

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Every since my dear friend, Ryan sent me this recipe, I was hooked. It may sound cliche but healthy can taste really good. Another friend of mine calls this my morning green goo! Little does he know how very very good it is for you.

So, I used to drink this every morning 7 days a week. Ryan’s told me that it’s best to use the kale in moderation: 3-4 days is optimal.

1 apple
1 pear
½ cucumber
1 stalk celery
1 2″ chunk of ginger
1 carrot
½ pineapple
Big handful of kale
Big handful of spinach
1 peeled lime
1 avocado

Juice everything except the avocado (and spinach, if you have a Vitamix) and put in a blender. Add avocado and spinach (if you didn’t juice the spinach) and 5 ice cubes. Blend until smooth. Serves 2 adults and 2 kids. Tastes like pineapple lime juice in case the ingredient list looks scary! It’s delicious, even if you hate veggies.

We add ½ cup hemp seeds, 8 tsp of Nu-Greens spirulina (but don’t try that right away – it takes a while to get used to that taste).

Cheers! and thanks Ryan!

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