3 Big Influences

Mukund tagged me with a cool meme – share your three biggest influences. Considering that I probably don’t know who had the biggest impact on me, I’ll share 3 big influences instead. These are people that shaped my thinking, pointed me in the right direction, or otherwise set the direction of my life in motion. (Thanks Mukund for helping me dredge up such positive memories!)

1. My dad. Both of my parents had a profound impact on me, certainly, but patterning myself after my Dad’s amazing ability to work with people was a huge influence on me. Dad is in construction and I remember going to a job site he was working on when I was in high school. We were hanging out in the job trailer and an angry contractor comes in yelling and screaming about something. Dad kept his cool, never once raising his voice (although certainly raising his intensity), remained polite as anything, and a few minutes later had the guy apologizing and walking out the door smiling.

2. Tormod Askildsen. My last boss at LEGO was amazing. Of all my bosses over the years,  he was, by far, the most impressive. He gave you free reign to run your group, while keeping a sharp eye on your direction. He understand, and helped me understand the internal corporate world without falling victim to groupthink, lowered expectations, or apathy that so often accompany successful internal politics. He was an unwavering supporter of mine as I worked to change people’s minds about the way we did business. Lord knows how many times he had someone complaining to him about me pushing them to do something new. Yet, I had full confidence that my pushing the limits wasn’t going to put my job in jeopardy.

3. Guy Kawasaki. I know this might sound a bit “common”, but if not for Guy I probably wouldn’t be a community professional. Reading his books when I first started doing community work helped me believe change can happen and gave me the confidence to believe I could make it happen. Seeing him speak the first time pushed me to work on my own speaking gigs: find more gigs, improve how I speak, focus on connecting with the audience. Meeting him in person showed me that being a “rock star” doesn’t equate to being an asshole (he’s one of the nicest people on the planet).

Bonus Influence: Once every couple of weeks, I pull up this Apple “Think Different” commercial. When it was first out, I found a copy on CD and watched it over and over. I get fired up every time I watch it and find myself believing that you can, in fact, change the world if you put your mind to it.