Influence Redux

imageI started this blog three years ago this month with a post on influence that was inspired by some questionable “analysis” of my Klout score. That post attracted one lonely ‘Like’ (Thanks Marc) and the entire month of July 2011 saw just over 100 people visit this blog. That stood as a high-water mark for months and 2011 ended with very few followers. It’s a good thing I wasn’t trying to influence the masses. During the three years and 148 posts that followed, I’ve revisited the topic of influence and I dropped out of Klout. As I look back on the arc of this blog, and social media’s continuing fascination with the topic of ‘influence’ I feel compelled to revisit the subject for my 150th post.

Earlier this week LinkedIn invited me to subscribe to some top influencers. I ignored the offer, just as I do their repeated offers for me to ‘Go Pro’. I don’t need to know any more about the world that is cataloged by LinkedIn, so the basic free membership will suffice. As for those top Influencers; well, influencers come and influencers go. I am the only one who can identify the top influencers in my life. I already follow (on Twitter) some of the people that LinkedIn wants me to get closer to. I’ll spare them the mention of their names in what might seem like a negative context, but truth be told, they don’t always have a message for me.

That’s the problem with influence; it’s not a predictable or measureable quality. It’s not a tool that you can wield with precision. Influence is a byproduct of speech or prose or poetry or art or natural beauty, so it follows that influence is in the eye of the influenced.

Most days it isn’t the well-known, well-branded blogger of stature that has an impact on me. Instead, it’s a random blogger that just happens to share a story from their experience that influences me in a way nobody else can. I follow a lot of bloggers. I enjoy the way they write, the stories that they tell, the information that they share and occasionally, their message resonates with me.

I follow people who write about the technology that I use. I imagefollow people who write about the technology I may end up using in the future. The information in those posts ranges from spot-on, to interesting to whatever. Still, following these people helps me to do my job better today and prepares me to do it well in the future.

I follow people who write about pain and struggle. I follow people who point to God as the way to deal with pain and struggle. I follow people who write about trains, TV shows, wars and recipes. I follow poets, photographers, philosophers, historians, writers and people who chronicle their lives for the world in the hope that their story will inform or entertain. I follow people who bounce from topics at random as often as I do. Many of these people are reading this post, so I’m going to sneak in a “thank you!”

I don’t just read a bunch of bloggers. Some days it’s the news that influences me. The influence can be direct, in that I am moved to support an issue highlighted by a reporter in a well-researched exposé. Other times, the influence is indirect or reactive. Reports of unfairness and unkindness might cause me to try to be more fair and kind. Speakers, I won’t dignify them by calling them reporters, like the talking heads and blowhards who dominate talk-radio and the highly-suspect news shows, cause me to research what must be the other side of the story that they are spinning at an acute angle. I don’t actually listen to those people but friends will sometimes share their vitriolic messages with me. When the message being delivered drifts from information to a clear attempt to foster hate and resentment, my antennae go up and I start searching for the truth.

Life events have and have had a profound influence on me. Seeing discrimination in process, seeing people in poverty, meeting people who suffer(ed) racism, discrimination and the after effects of poor decisions made by others have molded my position over time. In these situations, I have been moved toward sympathy for the victims and indignation for the culprits. I have also become frustrated. That we still struggle with issues like these in this country should stand as a major disappointment for my generation.

This is why I think it’s dangerous to follow an exclusive and narrow list of would-be and wanna-be influencers. The people who influence us should include those who wake us up to new ideas. Influence isn’t the lines on the highway. Influence shouldn’t be a mechanism to maintain the status quo or that which makes us feel even better about the flawed choices we have made. Influence should be the means by which we change our perspective, broaden our view, reconsider our position or expand our understanding of our long-held beliefs. Influence should not simply make us more sure of our position. We should seek out sources of influence that make us better.

49 thoughts on “Influence Redux

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  1. Happy Blog Anniversary, Dan! This is a great post and you’re so right. The best thing about influence is that it can come from anywhere, at any time. What touches one, may not touch another. And often it’s the understated rather than the boisterous that has the most impact. Thank you for pointing out that influence isn’t all about the big numbers.

    Wishing you many more years of great blogging!

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  2. Picture – The sun breaking through a dark sky always lifts my spirits and moves me to feel better about the day ahead. That’s a kind of influence no human can exert on me. This was taken from the shoulder of a highway on-ramp on my way to work.

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  3. Happy Anniversary, Dan! And I couldn’t agree with you more about following a wide range of blogs in subject matter. I do thank you right here, right now, for following me. That really means a lot to me! Bless you! Love, Amy

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  4. Happy Blogiversary! Though I’m a recent visitor to your blog, beginning this year– I hope to keep visiting, because you have so many important things to say. And you say it in such a straightforward, unassuming voice.

    Thank you for sharing your experiences and opinions with us.

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  5. I really enjoyed this post. It resonated because I follow so many bloggers for similar reasons. It’s when people keep their writing simple, honest and true to their own experience that makes a good blog for me, no matter what it’s about. Cheers Dan. And thanks for stumbling across my blog too :)

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  6. Hi Dan,

    Love and admire this fabulous post … as I do all your posts. I haven’t been around for months because it’s our busiest season in business, but I do read what ever comes through via my email.

    I adored the post about your visit to Fenway. That’s exactly how I feel every time I go there. There’s nothing quite like that feeling when you’re there. :)

    I use to check in to Klout and all the other places, but not anymore. It all left me feeling kind of empty.

    I believe every one of us is a Top Influencer in our own right, for all the reasons you so thoughtfully point out.

    Thank you for such an uplifting read this rainy Sunday.

    I hope to be posting on my my blog again soon.

    Have a super day! :)

    ~Cathy~

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  7. Congratulations, Dan, on your 150th post, and how timely and apropos it is – with a world boiling over with conflict and another rancorous election cycle upon us, does anyone ever stop to evaluate what you have so eloquently written? Who DOES influence us, and have we become too limited in our individual scope? Does anyone ever seek out influencers who don’t spout what the seeker already believes?

    What I see is people on social media mindlessly “sharing” op-eds or talking points by so-called influencers, and very little research by readers to learn the other side of the story. That kind of influence which – as you say – “simply make us more sure of our position” is what’s harming us as a country. I fear we have long since passed the point of no return on “broadening views; reconsidering positions” or a willingness to separate facts from opinions or consider more than one’s own narrow point of view. It is greatly exacerbated by a willingness to “crown” talking/blogging heads as influencers.

    This post, and your original influence post, are both very, very good. I only wish it was you influencing the entrenched “true believer” masses at the ends of every ideological spectrum to jump from their trenches to more neutral, co-operative ground.

    So many well-written sentences in both these posts. I’m printing them off to include in my inspirational journal – which I’m now calling Inspirations and Influences.

    Keep up the good work!

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    1. Thanks for the kind words. I’m not sure anyone is influencing the “true believers” these days, they seem content to keep their collective heads in the sand. I am honored to have anything included in your journal. Thanks for the supportive comment.

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  8. First, congrats for being a blogger who blogs about several topics. A niche is good but it’s narrow. I wouldn’t have found you without this characteristic of your blog.
    Then, thank you for giving us your perspective on what influence is.
    Now that everyone can write, give opinions about anything at any time, it can be confusing to know who to believe and what is important. I think it’s with lots of reading that we can forge our own opinion. Like you write and some people wrote above, too, some unknown people can leave an important mark on us and influence our lives more than renowned philosophers or so called influencers. We can be touched and moved by short blog posts, stories and essays written by ordinary people who either share with us a common experience or have lives which have nothing in common with ours. In general, when it comes to writing, anything written from the heart will influence me, open my mind and soul, and push me to be a more accepting and compassionate person.
    Again, thank you for your blog, your funny take on many topics and your general sense of humor.

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    1. Thank you so much. A comment like that means a lot to me. I started this blog after a failed attempt at a training blog. The subject was to narrow and I discovered that I liked telling the stories more than researching the topic. I decided to move to something where the topic could vary more often. Sometimes I still worry that the random nature will scare people away, but it seems to be working. I learn a lot from following the people I’ve met here, reading comments and exploring other subjects on their blogs. Yours is excellent and I try not to miss it (even when you blog in French). Thanks again!

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      1. One of the challenges for a blogger (based on my personal perception) is to find “something” unique enough so that the blog isn’t just another blog and yet accept that the blog is alive, and so as anything alive, will evolve with time, often due to readers’ response. I learn a lot from others, too, and appreciate the fact that English speakers read me in French as well. Even with Google help it is cool. Long live your blog!

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  9. “Influence is in the eye of the influenced.” Dare I say, the eye of the beholder, to put it in TZ terms? :) You’re so right about influence. I’m content to let the people who are paid to think about who’s a “top” influencer and who’s not sweat the details of who’s up and who’s down. I know who I pay attention to, who I don’t, and why — and it has little to do with what can fit their neatly drawn, poll-tested criteria.

    Nice post, Dan, and congratulations on three years of blogging! You and I started at about the same time (for me, it was June 2011), and I must say I admire your easy-going style and range of topics. I hope you’re just getting started, and we can look forward to many more posts. A toast!

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    1. As far as those “top influencers” go Paul, I guess we “don’t fit their formuli” (to steal another line from a favorite episode). My finding your blog is the perfect example of real influence. @complexWays pointed me to your blog and I knew that had to be a good recommendation. Thanks for the comment.

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  10. Happy Anniversary to you, Dan! Couldn’t agree more about focus and influence – very well put. I look forward to reading you each week. I hope there are many more entertaining and informative and varied posts to come.

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  11. Hi Dan. A well written article. Your posts and words inspire and influence me as well. Your “Independence” post has influenced me a lot and I am working on a post that will be inspired from that post, but somewhere in August when India celebrates Independence Day. This post also was great and I will write something similar in my way. Thank you for being an inspiring light in my life. :)

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  12. “Influence is not a tool that you can wield with precision.” I love it!

    Congrats on post #150. I’m pleased to count you as one of my influencers – though it remains to be seen whether that’s to the positive or negative! :-)

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  13. Very good read, and wonderfully articulated feelings about influence! What you said, “When the message being delivered drifts from information to a clear attempt to foster hate and resentment, my antennae go up and I start searching for the truth.” I was nodding my head saying yes, yes, yes, and thinking me too! That statement really resonated with me.

    Congratulations on the 150th post. I’m looking forward to the next 150 and more!

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  14. “Influence shouldn’t be a mechanism to maintain the status quo or that which makes us feel even better about the flawed choices we have made. Influence should be the means by which we change our perspective, broaden our view, reconsider our position or expand our understanding of our long-held beliefs. Influence should not simply make us more sure of our position. We should seek out sources of influence that make us better.”

    Says it all for me. Thanks, Dan.

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  15. Hello Dan! Ive been playing catch up with your blog tonight and this one spoke to me above all else. Its so important to vary your blog influencers! I love learning from all different folks. I love hearing different life experiences. And i love finding out what people find important to them.
    Great post. !!! 🌻🌻
    Katie

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