Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My Life Influences

I was lucky to hear famed writer and Detroit Free Press columnist Mitch Albom speak at the PRSA National Conference this morning. He did a wonderful job.

As he walked through a bit of his past, he mentioned how important several people have been in shaping his life (think Tuesdays with Morrie if you've read it). It seemed the theme of his entire speech (besides plugging his books), was to never forget those who have mentored you throughout your life -- both professionally and personally.

While he was speaking, my mind started to wander. Who has been the influencers in my life? To combat my questioning brain, I came up with a list.

The obvious influencers:

Grandma N.
She's the happiest lady ever, ever, ever. I have her to thank for my optimism and my ability to talk to make strangers feel comfortable.

Grandma B.
She's stubborn as heck and she never gives up. She taught me when you set your mind to something, gosh darn it, you gotta make it happen.

My dad is one of the smartest people I know. Not just the book smart stuff, but the street smarts, too. He's got a good combo for both and I think I was blessed with that half/half gene.

My mother has taught me the art of communication and expression. I've always been into a little bit of everything and I think it's because she exposed me to so many things at a young age -- both good and bad.

The not-so-obvious folks/things:

Mrs. Trader -- 4th grade teacher
When Mrs. Trader split our classroom up between the "smart" math kids and the "slower" math kids...I was put in the slow class, while all my friends left for the smart kid class. I think I cried myself to sleep for a week. But Mrs. Trader quickly saw my talent for other subjects -- English and the arts and reiterated to me that we all have our talents and mine just didn't happen to be math. To this day, I have her to thank for helping me to find where my talents lie.

I worked there for 2.5 years in high school. Contrary to the popular belief that Wal-Mart is the devil, they treated me well and paid me well. I met tons of great people while working there and was able to learn the true value behind obtaining a college degree. I was also able to save enough money to go on a trip to Europe and get through my first year of college, so I guess you could say it helped me with money management as well!

Mr. Bushey -- middle and high school choir teacher and neighbor
Anybody who went to high school with me will agree, Mr. B had the ability to make anyone feel at home. His classroom was more than just a place to sing...it was a place where I gained wonderful friends.

I just may have the bestest friends ever and I feel very fortunate in that regard. My friends have taught me the most important lesson ever -- when things get crazy, take a breath (or a drink!) and be sure to laugh.

I could name a thousand folks, but these are the cream of the crop. Who has influenced you? Think about it, it's pretty neat stuff.

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