Category Archives: Careers & Cash

Farmer’s Market… Cheaper? or More Expensive?

Farmers Market in Skopje

Farmers Market in Skopje, Macedonia
(Click to Enlarge)

As a little girl growing up in Macedonia, one of my favourite memories has always been going to the local farmers market with my grandfather. It was always a lively place with friendly people who often gave me a free strawberry or piece of chocolate as my grandfather and I made our way up and down the isles. I can still smell the fresh bread.

In Toronto, we’re lucky to have a couple of farmers markets open year round, with many springing up in the summer months at shopping malls and city halls around the suburbs. As I have been focusing on improving my diet and eating organic, locally grown food, shopping at the farmer’s market has become part of my weekly ritual… Every Saturday, I grab my reusable grocery bags, my shopping list, pick up a Starbucks latte, and make my way to St. Lawrence Market in downtown Toronto.

Last weekend, for the first time, I was struck by how inexpensive my shopping trip was compared to what I had been spending at my local Loblaws Superstore. I got all the groceries pictured below for $58.18. Not only are all of them organic, they will last me for two weeks!

Farmers Market Groceries

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I decided to compare the prices with a few of the major grocery banners in Toronto, just to make sure my memory wasn’t off. I compared the total cost of purchasing all the items on my grocery list at St. Lawrence Market, Sobeys, Metro, Loblaws Superstore and Whole Foods.

Grocery List

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Here is what I found:

St. Lawrence Market        $58.18

Metro                                 $148.32

Sobeys                               $128.56

Loblaws Superstore         $136.89

Whole Foods                     $173.44




Based on this shopping list, I am saving over $1800 a year on groceries by doing my shopping at St. Lawrence Market! That’s a LOT of stilettos… And sweatpants… And maybe even a vacation…

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5 Ways to Set Yourself Apart and Accelerate Your Career

woman legs ladderSetting yourself apart at work is no easy task. Not only are young people entering the workforce more educated than ever, as you climb the ladder, the competition gets stiffer. So what differentiates phenomenal employees from the rest of the pack?

I have been fortunate to work for some of the world’s largest and most reputable companies, exposing me to the most inspiring leaders. It has amazed me how quickly some people progress to the top and I have paid particular attention to the way in which they have really set themselves apart from everyone else.

Here are five ways you can set yourself apart and accelerate your career.

1. Consider yourself a steward of the organization

Why should senior leaders or shareholders hand the company over to your leadership if you don’t treat it like it’s your own? Work hard and with the same passion as you would if it was your company. Treat business decisions the same way. Ask yourself: “What decision would I make if I was faced with this exact situation in my own company?”

2. Build your personal brand

What do you want to be known for? You should be able to answer this question without much thought and let this be your guiding light as you progress through your career. Every decision, interaction and behaviour should be aligned with and help to reinforce your personal brand. While there are some traits that must be part of your personal brand (courage, risk, integrity, etc.), you should differentiate yourself in some way in an effort to leave behind a legacy that lives beyond your tenure.

3. Align with key influencers

No one climbs higher up the ladder without the help of others along the way. Identify, learn from and align with key influencers within the organization. Having them in your corner elevates your personal brand similar to word of mouth advertising. Influencers usually have great relationships at the top and impact all key hiring decisions. Carefully select one early in your tenure, and establish a mentoring relationship with them. Then learn as much as you can about the business, the culture and other influencers that you may want to leverage.

4. Become a knowledge broker

Phenomenal leaders are knowledge brokers. They identify a need for knowledge and information related to their field and become the resident expert. Spend some time figuring out what information people in your organization are regularly seeking. It’s usually an aspect of market or industry knowledge. Then take the initiative to learn as much as you can and maintain that knowledge. Go to seminars or webinars related to the topic and stay on top of the news and trends ahead of anyone else in the organization. They disseminate this information to all stakeholders identifying how it may impact the business. Soon you will be indispensable to any project or business decision, being invited to the table for many important discussions.

5. Build relationships throughout the organization

Phenomenal leaders don’t just develop relationships at the top. They build relationships at every level and in every function of the organization. Get out there and get to know people. Treat everyone with respect, help to mentor, recognize and elevate others and seek the opinion and wisdom of everyone you come across. You never know when a peer will be your biggest ally.

What will your legacy be?

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Celebrate International Women’s Day with a look at 50 women who changed the world…

 Today is International Women’s Day – a celebration for women’s economic, political and social achievements and an opportunity to show general respect, appreciation and love towards women around the world. This is the only women’s holiday that is celebrated around the world at the same time, uniting women and girls in different cultures, religions and socio-economic backgrounds.

Every day, I am inspired and motivated by the amazing women in my life as well as those in the public eye, who have and continue to advance opportunities, shatter boundaries to break new ground and pave the way for us, our daughters and granddaughters.

So today, in my small way, I would like to honour all those women with gratitude for all they have done to enable our generation to be all that we can be… friends, partners, mothers, business leaders, volunteers, athletes, and most of all “persons under the law”.

Sappho1. Sappho -570BC

One of the first published female writers. Much of her poetry has been lost but she has gained and maintained a strong reputation from the fragments that have been found over the years. Plato referred to Sappho as one of the great 10 poets.



Cleopatra2. Cleopatra 69 -30 BC

The last Ptolemaic ruler of Egypt. Cleopatra sought to defend Egypt from the expanding Roman Empire. In doing so she formed relationships with two of Rome’s most powerful leaders Marc Anthony and Julius Caesar. To this day, Cleopatra remains a popular figure in Western culture. Her legacy survives in numerous works of art and the many dramatizations of her story in literature and other media. In most depictions, Cleopatra is portrayed as a great beauty, and her successive conquests of the world’s most powerful men are taken as proof of her aesthetic and sexual appeal. You go girl!

Mary Magdalene3. Mary Magdalene 4 BC – 40AD

Accounts from the Gospels and other sources suggest Mary Magdalene was one of Jesus’ most devoted followers. It is said she was a women of “ill repute” but according to the Gospel of Mark and Luke her pure devotion to Christ earned her complete forgiveness. Mary Magdalene stood near Jesus at his crucifixion and was the first to see his resurrection.



Boudicca4. Boudicca 1st Century AD

Boudicca was an inspirational leader of the Britons. She led several tribes in revolt against the Roman occupation. Initially successful her army of 100,000 sacked Colchester and then London. Her army was eventually completely destroyed in battle by the Romans.



Hildegard5. Hildegard of Bingen 1098-1179

Mystic, author and composer. Hildegard of Bingen lived a withdrawn life, spending most of her time behind convent walls. However her writings, poetry and music were revelatory for the time period. She was consulted by Popes, Kings and influential people of the time. Her writings and music have influenced people to this day.



Eleanor of Aquitaine6. Eleanor of Aquitaine 1122-1204

The first Queen of France. Two of her sons Richard and John went on to become Kings of England. Educated, beautiful and highly articulate, Eleanor influenced the politics of western Europe through her alliances and influence over her sons.



Joan of Arc7. Joan of Arc 1412-1431

The patron saint of France, Joan of Arc inspired a French revolt against the occupation of the English. An unlikely heroine; at the age of just 17, the diminutive Joan successfully led the French to victory at Orleans. Her later trial and martyrdom only heightened her mystique.



Mirabai8. Mirabai 1498-1565

Born to a privileged Hindu family Mirabai broke with the conventions of society to live the life of a mystic and devotee of Krishna. For her unconventional lifestyle her family tried to kill her, but on each occasion were unsuccessful. Her bhajans and songs helped revitalise Devotional Hinduism in India.



St. Teresa of Avila9. St Teresa of Avila 1515-1582

Mystic and poet. St Teresa of Avila lived through the Spanish inquisition but avoided been placed on trial despite her mystical revelations. She helped to reform the tradition of Catholicism and steer the religion away from fanaticism.



Catherine de Medici10. Catherine de Medici 1519-1589

Born in Florence, Italy Catherine was married to the King of France at the age of 14. She was involved in interminable political machinations seeking always to increase the power of her favoured sons. This led to the disastrous St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre.



Elizabeth I11. Elizabeth I 1533-1603

Queen of England during a time of great economic and social change, she saw England cemented as a Protestant country. During her reign she witnessed the defeat of the Spanish Armada leaving Britain to later become one of the world’s dominant superpowers.



Catherine the Great12. Catherine the Great 1729-1796

One of the greatest political leaders of the eighteenth century. Catherine the great was said to have played an important role in improving the lot of the Russian serfs. She placed great emphasis on the arts and helped to cement Russia as one of the dominant countries in Europe.



Mary Wollstonecraft13. Mary Wollstonecraft 1759-1797

Mary Wollstonecraft wrote the most significant book in the early feminist movement. Her tract “A Vindication of the Rights of Women” laid down a clear moral and practical basis for extending human and political rights to women. – A true pioneer in the struggle for female suffrage.



Jane Austen14. Jane Austen 1775-1817

One of the most popular female authors Jane Austen wrote several novels, which remain highly popular today. These include “Pride and Prejudice” “Emma” and “Northanger Abbey”. Jane Austen wrote at a time when female writers were very rare, helping pave the way for future writers.


Harriet Beecher Stowe15. Harriet Beecher Stowe 1811-1896

Harriet Beecher Stowe was a life long anti slavery campaigner. Her novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” was a best seller and helped to popularise the anti slavery campaign. Abraham Lincoln would later remark her books were a major factor behind the American civil war.



Queen Victoria16. Queen Victoria 1819-1901

Presiding over one of the largest empires ever seen, Queen Victoria was the head of state for most of the Nineteenth Century. Queen Victoria became synonymous with the period symbolising propriety and middle class values. Queen Victoria sought to gain an influence in British politics whilst remaining aloof from party politics.



Florence Nightingale17. Florence Nightingale 1820-1910

By serving in the Crimean war, Florence Nightingale was instrumental in changing the role and perception of the nursing profession. Her dedicated service won widespread admiration and led to a significant improvement in the treatment of wounded soldiers.



Susan B Anthony18. Susan B. Anthony 1820-1906

Susan Anthony campaigned against slavery and for the promotion of women’s and workers rights. She began campaigning within the temperance movement and this convinced her of the necessity for women to have the vote. She toured the US giving countless speeches on the subjects of human rights.





Emily Dickinson19. Emily Dickinson 1830 – 1886

One of America’s greatest poets Emily Dickinson lived most of her life in seclusion. Her poems were published posthumously and received widespread literary praise for their bold and unconventional style. Her poetic style left a significant legacy on 20th Century poetry.





Emmeline Pankhurst20. Emmeline Pankhurst 1858-1928

A British suffragette, Emily Pankhurst dedicated her life to the promotion of women’s rights. She explored all avenues of protest including violence, public demonstrations and hunger strikes. She died in 1928, 3 weeks before a law giving all women over 21 the right to vote.




Marie Curie21. Marie Curie 1867-1934

Marie Curie was the first women to receive the Nobel Prize and the first person to win it for 2 separate categories. Her first award was for research into radioactivity (Physics 1903). Her second Nobel prize was for Chemistry in 1911. A few years later she also helped develop the first X ray machines.



Emily Murphy22. Emily Murphy 1868-1933

Emily Murphy was the first women magistrate in the British Empire. In 1927 she joined forces with 4 other Canadian women who sought to challenge an old Canadian law that said, “women should not be counted as persons”.




Rosa Luxemburg23. Rosa Luxemburg 1870-1919

A leading Marxist revolutionary, Rosa Luxemburg sought to bring Social revolution to Germany. She wrote fiercely against German imperialism and for international socialism. In 1919, she was murdered after a failed attempt to bring about a Communist revolution in Germany.



Helena Rubinstein24. Helena Rubinstein 1870-1965

Helena Rubinstein formed one of the world’s first cosmetic companies. Her business enterprise proved immensely successful and later in life she used her enormous wealth to support charitable enterprises in the field of education, art and health.



Helen Keller25. Helen Keller 1880-1968

At the age of 19 months Helen became deaf and blind. Overcoming the frustration of losing both sight and hearing she campaigned tirelessly on behalf of deaf and blind people.



Coco Chanel26. Coco Chanel 1883-1971

One of the most innovative fashion designers, Coco Chanel was instrumental in defining feminine style and dress during the 20th Century. Her ideas were revolutionary; in particular she often took traditionally male clothes and redesigned them for the benefit of women.



Eleanor Roosevelt27. Eleanor Roosevelt 1884-1962

Wife and political aide of American president F.D.Roosevelt. In her own right Eleanor made a significant contribution to the field of human rights, a topic she campaigned upon throughout her life. As head of UN human rights commission she helped to draft the 1948 UN declaration of human rights.



Annie Besant28. Annie Besant 1847-1933

Annie Besant was a campaigner for social justice, advocate of women’s rights and later member of the Theosophist society. She also actively campaigned for Indian independence.







Katharine Hepburn29. Katharine Hepburn 1907-2003

An iconic figure of twentieth Century film Katharine Hepburn won 4 Oscars and received over 12 Oscar nominations. Her lifestyle was unconventional for the time and through her acting and life she helped redefine traditional views of women’s role in society.



Simone de Beauvoir30. Simone de Beauvoir 1908-1986

One of the leading existentialist philosophers of the Twentieth Century, Simone de Beauvoir developed a close personal and intellectual relationship with Jean Paul Satre. Her book “The Second Sex” depicted the traditions of sexism that dominated society and history. It was a defining book for the feminist movement.



Mother Teresa31. Mother Teresa 1910-1997

Devoting her life to the service of the poor and dispossessed Mother Teresa became a global icon for selfless service to others. Through her Missionary of Charities organisation she personally cared for 1000s of sick and dying people in Calcutta. She was awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 1979.



Dorothy Hodgkin32. Dorothy Hodgkin 1910-1994

Awarded the Nobel prize for chemistry Dorothy Hodgkin work on critical discoveries of the structure of both penicillin and later insulin. These discoveries led to significant improvements in health care. An outstanding chemist Dorothy also devoted a large section of her life to the peace movement and promoting nuclear disarmament.



Rosa Parks33. Rosa Parks 1913-2005

Rosa Parks refusal to give up her bus seat to a white man indirectly led to some of the most significant civil rights legislation of American history. She sought to play down her role in the civil rights struggle but for her peaceful and dignified campaigning she became one of the most well respected figures in the civil rights movements.




Millicent Fawcett34. Millicent Fawcett (1846 – 1929)

Millicent Garrett Fawcett was a leading suffragist and campaigner for equal rights for women. She led Britain’s biggest suffrage organisation, the non-violent (NUWSS) and played a key role in gaining women the vote. She also helped found Newnham College, Cambridge.







Billie Holiday35. Billie Holiday 1915-1959

Given the title “First Lady of the Blues” Billie Holiday was widely considered to be the greatest and most expressive jazz singer of all time. Her voice was moving in its emotional intensity and poignancy. Despite dying at the age of only 44 Billie Holiday helped define the jazz era and her recordings are widely sold today.


indira gandhi36. Indira Gandhi 1917-1984

First female prime minister of India. She was in power from between 1966-77 and 1980-84. Accused of authoritarian tendencies she only narrowly avoided a military coup by agreeing to hold an election at the end of the “emergency period” of 1977. She was assassinated in 1984 by her Sikh bodyguards, in response to her storming of the Golden Temple.



Eva Peron37. Eva Peron 1919-1952

Eva Peron was widely loved by the ordinary people of Argentina. She campaigned tirelessly for both the poor and for the extension of women’s rights. At the same time she was feared by some in power for her popularity. She was also criticised for her intolerance of criticism; with her husband Juan Peron they shut down many independent newspapers. She died aged only 32 in 1952.


Betty Frieden38. Betty Frieden 1921-2006

Leading feminist figure of the 1960s. Her book “The Feminine Mystique” became a best seller and received both lavish praise and intense criticism. Betty Frieden campaigned for an extension of female rights and an end to sexual discrimination.




Margaret THatcher39. Margaret Thatcher 1925 –

The first female Prime minister of Great Britain, Mrs Thatcher defined a decade. In particular she is remembered for her emphasis on individual responsibility and belief in free markets. Developed close relationships with R. Reagan, but was more sceptical of European integration.



Marilyn Monroe40. Marilyn Monroe 1926-1962

Born Norma Jean Baker, Marilyn rose from childhood poverty to become one of the most iconic film legends. Her films were moderately successful, but her lasting fame came through her photogenic good looks and aura of glamour and sophistication.



Anne Frank41. Anne Frank 1929-1945

Anne Frank’s diary is one of the most widely read books in the world. It reveals the thoughts of a young, yet surprisingly mature 13-year-old girl, confined to a secret hiding place. “Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart.”



Audrey Hepburn42. Audrey Hepburn –

Leading female actor of the 1950s and 60s. Audrey Hepburn defined feminine glamour and dignity, and was later voted as most beautiful women of the twentieth century. After her acting career ended in the mid 1960s, she devoted the remaining period of her life to humanitarian work with UNICEF.



Germaine Greer43. Germaine Greer 1939-

Leading feminist icon of the 1960s and 1970s Germaine Greer enjoys raising contentious issues. In particular her book “The Female Eunuch” was a defining manifesto for the feminist movement, which proved influential from the 1960s onwards.




Betty Williams44. Betty Williams 1943 –

Together with Mairead Corrigan, Betty Williams campaigned passionately to bring an end to the sectarian violence of Northern Ireland. They founded the Community for Peace and were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1977 (post dated for 1976).




Billie Jean King45. Billie Jean King 1943

One of the greatest female athletes Billie Jean King was one of the greatest female tennis champions who battled for equal pay for women. She won 67 professional titles including 20 titles at Wimbledon.



Benazir Bhutto46. Benazir Bhutto 1953 – 2007

Benazir Bhutto was the first female prime minister of a Muslim country. She helped to move Pakistan from a dictatorship to democracy becoming Prime Minister in 1988. She sought to implement social reforms, in particular helping women and the poor. She was assassinated in 2007.



 Oprah Winfrey47. Oprah Winfrey 1954 –

Influential talk show host, Oprah Winfrey was the first women to own her own talk show host. Her show and book club is tremendously influential – her opinions and recommendations have been seen to drive the economy for many products and brands. She is also one of the world’s wealthiest women and most successful business leaders.




Madonna48. Madonna 1958 –

Madonna is the most successful female musician of all time. She has sold in excess of 250 million records. In addition to being a great pop musician she has rarely been out of the limelight. And she brought us cone shaped bras.




Diana Princess of Wales49. Diana, Princess of Wales 1961-1997

Princess Diana combined the appeal of a Royal princess with her humanitarian charity work. Although her marriage to Prince Charles was overshadowed by affairs on both sides, her popularity remained undimmed as many were inspired by her natural sympathy with the poor and mistreated.



 J.K. Rowling50. J.K.Rowling 1965 –

J.K.Rowling is the author of the phenomenal best selling Harry Potter series. The volume of sales was so high, it has been credited with leading a revival of reading by children. She wrote the first book as a single mother, struggling to make ends meet, but is now one of most successful self-made woman.

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10 Things Aspiring Leaders Should Consider

Smart leaderLate last year, I had the honour and privilege to hear Jim Collins speak at a conference. If you’re a recent MBA graduate, I’m sure you’re very well versed in his work, and if you’re like me, you worship the man. No person has had more of an impact and influence on the evolution of business and leadership since Peter Drucker. And I’m not just saying that because I work for GE.

Hearing Jim Collins speak, I gained that much more respect for him because of his passion. It seeped out every pore of his body as he delivered his keynote. So I paid particular attention when he addressed the young aspiring leaders, like me, in the audience. And I’m pretty sure the subsequent 10 minutes changed my life.

He asked that we, as young and aspiring leaders, consider 10 things as they relate to our lives and careers. I have been considering, and continue to consider them, and on the heals of the best performance review I have ever received, I can tell you that they have had a profound impact on my life. Whether you’re running your own business, considering a new career path, or climbing the corporate ladder in an organization, I am certain, that if you consider these 10 things, you will set yourself apart as a GREAT leader.

10 Things for Aspiring Leaders to Consider

1. Build a Personal Board of Directors – Select 6 or 7 people from different walks of life, in different industries and professional careers to act as your advisors. But don’t choose them for their accomplishment or their ability to influence your career trajectory first hand. Choose them for their character. You don’t have to tell them that they’re on your Personal Board of Directors. You don’t even have to know them personally. In his speech, Jim Collins talked about how Peter Drucker was on his Board of Directors just through reading his books and teachings. He would always ask himself, “What would Peter Drucker do?”

2. Turn Off Your Electronic Devices – We are sooo consumed by devices and gadgets and social media. I checked my Facebook five times, Twitter three times and my e-mail twice while writing to this point in my blog. For many years, every hour and minute of my life was accounted for. But effective people take the time to THINK! Undistracted by anything. I’m now in the habit of protecting a pocket of free time in my daily calendar. I use this time to read, to reflect on the day or upcoming initiatives or to simply just BE and enjoy some quiet time in my otherwise noisy day and mind. I come out of this time with new perspective on things, innovative ideas and sometimes just renewed energy and passion to surge forward.

3. Work on Your “Three Circles” – Engage in non-judgemental, empirical observation of what you’re good at, what you’re passionate about and what makes you useful. Study yourself like scientists would study a bug. Get input from those who know and love you and use that information as “empirical data”. It’s where what you are good at, what you are passionate about and what people will pay you to do (three circles) intersect, that you will find the sweet spot which will propel your career forward.

4. Double Your Questions-to-Statements Ratio – During this part of his speech, Jim Collins recalled a time when one of his mentors told him that he spends a lot of his time trying to BE interesting when he should channel that energy towards being interestED. I’m sure you have all instantly thought of at least one person who does exactly this. The bottom line is, ask questions and learn from EVERYBODY you meet. One of my favourite Jim Collin’s quotes, is “The best students are those who never fully believe their teachers”.

5. What’s On Your “Stop Doing” List? – If you woke up tomorrow morning to the news that you have inherited $20 million, but also had a terminal disease with 10 years to live, what would you stop doing?

6. Action Your “Stop Doing” List – Life is just too short. And think about the amount of time this will free up for the things you WANT to do.

7. Unplug The Opportunities That Distract You – Take only the opportunities that fit with your value system and your plan. Just because something is a once in a lifetime opportunity doesn’t mean it’s the right opportunity for you. Make sure it aligns with your three circles.

8. Find Your Passion – Find something for which you have SO MUCH passion, that you’re willing to endure the pain.

9. Articulate the Values That You WILL NOT Compromise – Make this the guiding compass for all your decisions.

10. Re-frame Your Timing Expectations – Prepare to live a life where at the age of 65, you’re one third of the way through your work.

What’s your passion?


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