Your Digital Legacy – Think Before You Post!

The desire to be remembered is both elemental and universal. Since time immemorial oral histories, diaries, memoirs and more recently, photographs and video have been used to preserve the memories of their authors. Today, we collect and curate our memorabilia more extensively than ever before. By doing this we not only preserve our memories, but in addition our online activity is actually recording present-day living.

Andy Warhol was once noted for saying “In the future everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.” In his 2013 TED Talk Your Online Life, Permanent as a Tattoo, Futurist Juan Enriquez posits, what if Warhol had that backwards? What if, due to our online activity, all we get is 15 minutes of anonymity? It’s an interesting premise and one well worth examining.

Enriquez calls our digital footprint ‘electronic tattoos’. Like permanent designs on our skin, our online activity tells a very detailed and intimate story of our lives. The main difference, however, is that electronic tattoos will outlive our physical bodies.

Traditional preservation methods have allowed the storyteller to tell his story in his own time and his own way. Now big data collected from our tens of thousands of online interactions permits those who have access to them to make decisions about us in real time. This has never happened at any other time in history. Our digital footprint is constantly being analysed and the data used to provide information about us for job and college applications, dating prospects, even shopping experiences, amongst a plethora of other purposes.

bionic woman

And no matter our caution, facial recognition software like purchased by Facebook in 2012, have databases with over 18 billion faces and allows our identification through photos potentially captured by third parties in public spaces. All this is recorded and potentially accessible forever.

With this in mind, Enriquez encourages us to follow these timeless lessons:

  1. Take care in what you post
  2. Don’t go looking too far into the past of those you love
  3. Remember the purpose of your posts
  4. Don’t “fall in love with your own reflection”

At the intersection of the need for privacy and the desire to be remembered lies the wisdom of knowing what we want to be remembered for and the discipline of leaving only that as our digital tattoo. With technology now active in people’s’ lives from birth, today’s challenge is to use this wisdom for ourselves. We need to teach the value of discretion and privacy as foresight to our families and to those who are unwise in this regard.

Remember- think before you post! Be wary of the digital legacy you leave…

Happy Holidays and Peace to all,

Iris and her team at Memoirs Productions

It’s Time for Turkey and Storytelling this Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is a special holiday – a day set aside for spending time with family and for giving thanks. Marking the beginning of what for some is the most hectic time of year, it’s a busy day filled with cooking turkey, Macy’s Parade and watching and/or playing football.

Perhaps the most important item on our long To-do list should be to take time at Thanksgiving to listen to our elders talk about family traditions and tell their stories. With today’s smartphones placed in the center of the dining table, it’s easy to either set up the video or voice memo (audio recording) options, or the StoryCorps app (see below) and then leave it running the whole time. Don’t forget to make sure it’s fully charged!

Preserving Family Stories

How do we get the conversation flowing? James (Jay) Hughes, renowned Family Consultant and author of Family Wealth: Keeping it in the Family and The Compact Among Generations, suggests going around the dining room table, starting with the youngest and moving up the family asking each person to share a story they remember of an older family member. When you think about that concept, the eldest telling a story of their elder to a grand or great-grandchild, can span and touch up to 250 years of a family’s history in a single sitting!

Around the Dining Room Table

Dave Isay, founder of StoryCorps (see our October Blog), believes that in these very conversations lies the bridge from the past to the future and with it a better understanding of who we are. This Thanksgiving, Isay aims to create a mass movement to capture the stories of elders (defined as 65+) across the US with The Great Thanksgiving Listen. He believes that recording the stories of this generation represents a wealth of wisdom and knowledge we can all benefit from and that must not be lost.

Once everyone has had their turn, invite elders to tell their own stories. If there’s hesitation or you’re unsure how to get started, Isay recommends asking the following questions in his TED article How to Unlock Your Family History:


  • What was your childhood like?
  • Tell me about the traditions that have been passed down through our family. How did they get started?
  • What are your most vivid memories of school?
  • How did you meet your spouse?
  • What piece of wisdom or advice would you like to share with future generations?


Isay and we at Memoirs believe it is question number 5 that is the most important. “This is the person speaking to the future – directly to their great-great-great-grandkids – and letting them know what they’ve learned,” he says. It is one thing to know we need to ‘live life without regret’ or that we need to ‘spend enough time with the people we care about the most’. It can be an entirely different thing to hear it from someone close to you. “Their answer might just shake you up,” Isay says.

Get in on the Action

Although The Great Thanksgiving Listen is aimed at encouraging high school students to interview an elder, we encourage everyone to get in on the action. All you need is your smartphone (fully charged!) and the StoryCorps app. Simply download and follow the prompts. After pressing record, listen. After all, a story unheard is as good as a story untold.

Wishing you blessings of health, happiness and loving family times this Thanksgiving and always,

Iris and her team at Memoirs Productions


Studies Show: Family Storytelling Reaps Lifelong Benefits

As the topic of preserving one’s legacy trends in mainstream media, at Memoirs Productions family storytelling is what it’s always been about. Our 15 years experience in pioneering the video-legacy field has revealed not only the value that the process has for the storyteller, but also the clear benefits it holds for the recipients.

The preservation of one’s stories and life wisdom should not begin at the end of one’s life experience, when one looks back and contemplates the journey and the meaning of it. Rather, the benefit of sharing first memories from childhood shared regularly at bedtime by Mom and Dad can be helpful to personal growth and maturity.

Telling Your Family Story Can Make Your Child a Better Person

Above and beyond the obvious benefits of parent-child bonding, as well as its portability and accessibility, the benefits that family storytelling holds for children is now being revealed through 25 years of research. The studies show the measurable positive effects that family storytelling has on a child’s persona.

To gain all that from reminiscing about the past and passing on the stories and lore of our family is remarkable. As The Atlantic article, What Kids Learn From Hearing Family Stories, describes so well: Books contain narratives, but only family stories contain your family’s personal narrative.”

famille  maisonWhile the reading of fiction helps improve adults’ ability to understand other people’s emotions, family storytelling benefits include higher self-esteem, a stronger concept of self, a more robust identity, better coping skills, and lower rates of depression and anxiety for the (grand)children. Family storytelling can help a child grow into someone who feels connected to the important people in his/her life. We hear about this often when we’re told that children watch their grandparent’s Memoirs’ production, over and over again.

So the next time you are putting your children or grandchildren to bed, follow up the fictional storybook read with a personal tale from your own life. The long term effects on your young family members will be remembered through their lifetime and help them tell their and your stories to future generations.

P.S. Happy Halloween! Please don’t forget to take pics of those cute costumes.


The 2015 TED Prize Awards an Act of Generosity and Love

Dave Isay has a big wish: to gather stories and create an archive of the wisdom of humanity. He is the Founder of StoryCorps whose mission is to provide people of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share and preserve the stories of our lives.” StoryCorps allows each one of us to discover that we truly matter. By preserving our stories in this way we become better people in the process.

storycorps grand central

© Storycorps

In 2003, three years after the founding of Memoirs Productions, StoryCorps opened a recording booth facilitated by a moderator in Grand Central Terminal in New York City. For one hour, one person would interview a loved one, asking any questions or recording the telling of life stories that are important to them. Upon completion, the participants received a CD-Rom of their conversation while a duplicate copy was sent to the US Library of Congress for permanent archival storage.

© Rochelle Hartman

© Rochelle Hartman

Over the past 11 years of their story gathering process, StoryCorps moderators have noticed a common thread among these recorded conversations. Regardless of the socioeconomic background of the participants, the stories all have common threads of kindness, decency, dignity and courage.

Isay’s advice to us is to gather the courage and ask some of life’s important questions and to take the time to listen to the poetry, wisdom and grace that are to be found in the words spoken by the storytellers. If not, we will likely regret losing this opportunity to preserve the personal history of loved ones.

2015 TED Prize

With Isay’s award of the million dollar 2015 TED Prize, StoryCorps is expanding the reach of its story-capturing and archiving process. An app currently in beta-testing has been created so that people can bypass the current process and record their stories wherever and whenever they wish. Once stored, the interview can simply be uploaded as a file for sharing with the Library of Congress archive.

The potential reach and impact of this new process fulfills Isay’s wish to let humanity know that every single life matters equally and infinitely.

We invite you to watch Dave Isay’s TED Talk Everyone around you has a story the world needs to hear by clicking here.

You may also download the app onto your smart phone or tablet and try it out today:


P.S. If you don’t have time for the full TED talk, here’s Dave Isay’s intro to StoryCorps. We highly recommend learning more about this project!

In FRONT(!) of a Camera: Memoirs Productions Featured in Wall Street Journal Video

We are honoured to have been interviewed ON camera and featured in a Wall Street Journal/Barron’s video: How to Preserve Your Family Legacy. As a follow-up to our interview in Barron’s PENTA earlier this year, The WSJ invited Iris Wagner and two of Memoirs’ New York based clients to their offices to be filmed.

It has been said that capturing family history on film/video is a new trend. In fact we at Memoirs are celebrating 15 years of providing excellence in legacy preservation this way, and the Association of Personal Historians was born 20 years ago and continues to thrive and grow.

We have received many lovely testimonials from the clients and families we serve as to the life affirming and transforming effects the Memoirs’ Experience has had on them. It was overwhelming to hear the heartfelt reflections of our two clients when the seasoned journalist interviewed them on their personal experiences. One of our clients interviewed, when asked about our process, said: I began to feel much more proud of my life and the adversity I’ve overcome and it was obvious this is the message for my grandchildren and great-grandchildren.”

1Click here to view the four minute video. It truly captures the essence of what Memoirs does everyday. Learn the impact that ethical wills and video biographies has on those who choose to preserve their legacy this way. Kindly let us know what you think and please share the link!


From the APH (Association of Personal Historians) Series: 20 Reasons Why You Should Write Your Family History

Written by Michelle Sullivan, APH
Video produced by Iris Wagner, Memoirs Productions
This post originally appeared on’s blog on August 13, 2015. Reproduced with permission.


J._H._Capp_family_reunion_group_portrait_1908_(3191507609)Typical, you might guess, for a New York Public Library list of 20 motivations to focus exclusively on books. When Carmen Nigro published her “20 Reasons Why You Should Write Your Family History” blog post, she left out some very important ways we can document our past, including video, audio, and digital. Veteran APH member Iris Wagner of Memoirs Productions in Montreal reminds us that there are many ways to produce our family history with a video entry to this week’s series instalment.

.Iris’ very special experience with clients at a large family reunion helps reinforce the idea behind Nigro’s 19th motivation: Family members and even distant cousins may become more forward in contributing documents, photos, and stories for your genealogical research. Key for genealogists, and for anyone interested in producing their own personal and family history.


About this 20-by-20 series:
Welcome to the fourth bonus feature blog post in APH’s successful series inspired by an article by Carmen Nigro of the New York Public Library entitled 20 Reasons Why You Should Write Your Family History. Bonus feature posts will either revisit one of the original 20 themes laid out in the NYPL post, or suggest additional reasons as to why individuals should consider recording their personal histories. Who better than APH members to enrich this already impressive list? Follow this compelling series of bonus posts, published every Thursday on the APH blog.

Up Close and Personal with Andre Agassi

Andre-AgassiWorld renowned professional tennis player Andre Agassi was simply charming when he spoke at C2MTL, an international business conference held in Montreal I attended earlier this summer highlighting commerce and creativity. Agassi’s talking points varied from his childhood and tennis career, covered in his 2010 bestselling book Open: An Autobiography, to his more recent philanthropic adventures in creating a charter school business model for disadvantaged students in his home town of Las Vegas.

The story of a remarkable life, Open is much more than a memoir of a tennis superstar. It explores how Agassi was often unhappy and unfulfilled despite his great on-court successes, and how he resented the sport that gave him fame and fortune. It clarifies that from birth to age 27, his life was entirely controlled by his moody and demanding father who instilled a relentless work ethic.


On Parenting

The interview at C2 took on the subject of his own parenting style. Father of two with wife Steffi Graf, Agassi explained he had made a conscious decision to parent his children differently from his own upbringing. He spoke passionately about how defining success is the first and most important decision you make as a parent.

Agassi defines his own vision of parental success as holding his kids accountable that “their days reflect the values and the things that they claim to love and want… that all their behaviors reflect what they claim. Don’t tell me something’s important to you – show me what’s important to you…I’m interested in how they live and engage with their life” he says.

“I’ll tell you when I stopped regretting anything as it links to my childhood,” Agassi said. “It’s when I get a chance to realize that I get to live and breathe my children’s childhood…I get the luxury of teaching my kids the things I have learned to be from my father and teaching my kids the things I learned that I didn’t want to be from my father.” Now that’s a true reflection on parenthood.


On Legacy

In 1994 Agassi founded the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation which opened the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy in 2001 in Las Vegas and has an impressive 100% graduation rate. He has since taken the business model of the public charter school for at-risk children and created 65 more across the United States. He also has invested with entrepreneurial partners and is a board member of various businesses.

Although he retired from tennis in 2006, parenting, being an entrepreneur and devoting time to his foundation keep him more focused than ever. “What do I do in the morning? I get up and work.”

Some things never change.

Family, Fun and Fireworks

Although it may not be the first holiday that comes to mind when we think of family get-togethers, our national holiday, July 1st in Canada and July 4th in the USA are definitely a time of family memory-making moments! Celebrated with parades, barbecues, fireworks and family reunions, Independence Day is  definitely one of the most beloved American holidays. Canada Day is feted too across our broad nation.

At Memoirs we believe that it’s also a day that lends itself to storytelling. From the patriotic re-telling of the creation of the Declaration of Independence, to reminiscing about past Fourth of July celebrations, these stories become family favorites over the years and help draw us together both around the picnic table and in our hearts.

fourth of july

The heritage we share goes beyond family ties. It is also linked to our communities and cultural past which served to create this opportunity for us to get together and come to a better understanding of who we are as a family and a nation.

This year, we invite you to bring technology into the mix! You can share your digital photos and stories on social media using hashtags such as #IndependenceDay or #FourthOfJuly. You can also save the memories by picking your favorite photos and creating a photobook. Try an app like PastBook and invite friends and family members to contribute their own photos, which can be imported from camera phones and social networks. Don’t forget to pull it out next year to the delight of everyone you will share it with!

Happy Canada Day and Fourth of July! Enjoy the hotdogs and fireworks while sharing this fun-filled time with family and friends.

Be well, go safely!

Children, Emails and Ethical Wills – Oh My!

In celebration of May being Personal History Month, we’d like to propose a wonderful idea to easily collect anecdotes, virtual mementos and digital files as your child (or grandchild) grows up: set up their very own email address to preserve them all in one place!

Many parents and grandparents admit they print few, if any, of their digital photographs. Keeping the most important photos and videos organized and annotated in a separate email account for each child is a wonderful way to archive these memories.

This system is great for saving all kinds of life’s important (and some not so important) moments. It can also serve as a creative writing space for parents and grandparents where they can record their feelings about the child and surrounding life events, at that particular time.

When used consistently, a permanent archive of stories, both visual and written, is created. Think of the treasure trove you will have saved for your child (or grandchild) for the age when they are ready to tell their stories and begin the work on their ethical will!

Funny quotes or conversations, important milestones, written words and short videos capturing life events are all valuable memorabilia to remind your child of the way things were.

We consider handing over the account password as the equivalent to handing over the key to a virtual treasure chest.  Make sure to fill it up consistently with “treasure-worthy” photos and tales of your (grand)child’s journey from childhood to adulthood. The rewards for both parent (grandparent) and (grand)child are priceless as it really is a gift that’s a “lifetime” in the making.

We suggest that when you set up the email account you save the username and password in a secure location, as this account will not be accessed on a regular basis. As each email is date and time stamped devise a system using keywords to easily locate the memorabilia your looking for.

Would you prefer an app-based archiving solution? Check out Notabli and 23snaps. Both allow you to upload, find and organize your child’s images with the added benefit of being able to privately share them with friends and family. The apps also include a “hands on” option of developing a printable photo album you may one day give to your child.

Please don’t wait…Start today!


Producing a WHITE PAPER: Preserving OUR Legacy

It has been fifteen years since the founding of Memoirs Productions. And just as we encourage all of our clients (and indeed everyone!) to take stock when reaching an important milestone, we too have taken this opportunity to reminisce about our journey and reflect on both where we have come from and where we are going.

Reflecting on Collecting

Putting together a collection of Memoirs’ printed materials was a complete surprise as to the sheer volume of works and the related wisdom gained throughout the years. We discovered that  through knowledge and personal growth, we have refined and evolved our process of delivering our broadcast-quality productions with heart. It is now known to be our “blueprint for success” in the domain of preserving legacy.

As a result, we wanted to share the sum of our fifteen years experience with those who are like-minded. As part of the process of researching and writing our White Paper we collected our data from various sources. We gathered stories from the families, philanthropists and businesses we have worked with to use as case studies. We culled from our featured articles and columns (online and in print) relating to legacy while incorporating our speaking presentation materials. We reflected on the awards and professional acknowledgments we have been nominated for and/or received.

It was overwhelming, affirming and gratifying to see the sum of a life’s work assembled in one publication, organized and distilled. We had produced Memoirs Productions’ own Corporate Ethical Will~Legacy of Values, and are proud of it.

Looking forward

It has been our pleasure to work with visionary early adopters of our video ethical will process. They are the ones who have identified early on that the incomparable value that comes from the this form of communication with their next-gens, is highly complementary to their financial wills and personal legacies.

As ethical wills are being featured more and more in the mainstream press, our dream is that this trend continues so that everyone, both families and businesses, understands the value of and produce their own ethical wills, whichever way suits them best.

page 1Our gift to you

At its core, the classic concept of creating an Ethical Will~Legacy of Values informs and affects lives. In celebration of our fifteenth year, we have transformed our own Corporate Legacy of Values into our White Paper, Preserving Your Legacy of Values, so that we might share the gift of our wisdom, knowledge and stories with those who are interested. We invite you to download your own copy by following this link.


Thank you for sharing our special journey with us to date.

Stay tuned, the best is yet to come!