Under the Influence

Courtesy of Chris Brogan who’s been an influence to me during the last few months, I’m answering the following meme:Ripples

“Who had a big influence on you and how did that affect the direction of your life and career?”

In the same spirit as Chris, it does make sense to express my gratitude for the individuals who’ve influenced my life on Thanksgiving (the U.S. holiday).

  • My Parents—Sigh. While a common answer, I can’t underestimate the role my parents played in my life and current success. As much as I hated it at the time, my parents taught me how to work. That work ethic has been the foundation for everything I’ve every accomplished. My parents also showed me firsthand what’s required to make a business successful. They also believed in me and supported my efforts. I’ve only moved alone once. Every other time, my parents showed up to help. Now that’s real support.
  • My Grandmother—I’ve got the best grandma in the world. Yes, that’s a totally subjective opinion, but she’s been my biggest cheerleader from day one. Instead of constantly inquiring when I’d marry like other grandmas I know, she was excited when I got a promotion or started my own business. I’m in awe of her and what she accomplished (worked full time and raised six kids mostly on her own), so her respect means the world to me.
  • My friend Ann—I met Ann in graduate school, and my initial impression, well, I didn’t think we had a lot in common. However, Ann is a people person who just has a talent for connecting, and she and I connected. With Ann’s encouragement, I entered my first triathlon and managed to finish, cursing her name for most of the way. However, I signed up for my next race within a matter of weeks. Ann showed me that I didn’t have to stay in my comfort zone. And the way she lives her life is a continual reminder to not always take the obvious path.
  • Kim Zarkin—A professor from graduate school, Kim and I struck up a friendship after graduation. We have two completely (well mostly) different world views. Kim is by far the most opposite person from myself that I know, and I’m convinced that to be happy, successful, and well-rounded in life, you need someone like Kim who can challenge your assumptions and speak persuasively about opinions different than your own. I’ve learned so much from my time and conversations with her.
  • Martha Barton and DeAnn Zebelean—These two women have been mentors to me for the last 18 months. Their influence changed my life. Since meeting them, I quit my corporate job and started my own business. They’ve freely shared their insight on how to manage and market a business. They’ve never made my relationship with them feel like a competition, a rarity in mentoring relationships. Plus, while they make no apologies for their success, they never make me feel lesser for being at the beginning/middle of my career versus my peak.
  • Rachel Clarke—Some people hesitate to share what they know. Others are happy to answer all your questions without ever making you feel foolish for asking. Rachel falls in the latter category. From the beginning, she’s answered every question I’ve ever posed and been a friendly face at conferences. I’m also impressed by how Rachel has lived and is living her life. She follows her interests even when they take her across an ocean to another country. I’m hoping that as opportunities present themselves, I’ll have the same courage to follow new paths.

The interesting thing about influencers can be how long the influence lasts and the ripple effect as one influence intersects with another. Hmm…I think I feel another post percolating.

For those of you celebrating Thanksgiving today, I hope you reach your destination without any mishaps. For everyone else, have a safe weekend.


photo courtesy of raspberreh


3 Responses to “Under the Influence”

  1. November 22, 2007 at 12:04 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving. My wish for you is to have a beautiful day filled with family, friends and fun!

  2. November 25, 2007 at 12:50 am

    I wonder: if we were able to see the results of the whole meme, what veins of similarity would exist? I think that genetics, life transitions, and first encounters all provide tremendous potential for a person to become an influencer in our lives.

  3. 3 Britt
    November 28, 2007 at 11:41 am

    @Dayngr: Thank you for your kind thoughts. I wish you and your loved ones many happy returns as the year comes to a close.

    @Shannon: Funny you should mention first encounters. I’m a big believer in first impressions, which puts me under personal pressure to make a good first impression. 🙂

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