August Secret Subject Swap - Under the Influence

Welcome to August’s Secret Subject Swap. Again 14 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts.  
Sit back, grab a soda - today we're not supposed to have a BAC of more than 0.08% - and check them all out:

My subject is 

Who is the most influential person in your life today?

It was submitted by The Momisodes - thanks, Sarah!

"Influence? Me? Nooooo way! I do whatever I please! Nobody is manipulating influencing me; I am in charge of my life decisions!" 

Let's take a look in the mirror and think about it.

I've come up with the conclusion that it's not somebody in my close environment like my mom or my husband. I tend not to listen to them. 

I'm pretty sure it's him, though:

Or probably her:

The sad truth is I am pretty sure the greatest influencers in my life right now are the people who write algorithms that are being used by companies like Google, Facebook or Amazon. At least they try really hard!

Customers who bought this item also bought...
Just think about it: a couple of weeks ago I googled a backpack. I was just looking at it. Now every other day this backpack shows up as an ad on Facebook!

Oh, and don't get me started on the ads for either restaurants, recipe platforms or weight loss programs! I must have liked a few too many yummy food pictures!

And you know what happens on my son's FB profile? In order to have an account you need to be older than he is, so I used my own year of birth. Of course his marital status is single. His whole entire ad space is full of chat and dating sites, along with the occasional tooth whitening ad - I guess he has to thank the pictures of his tooth gaps and comments on tooth fairy visits for that.

As you may have heard, Karen's younger son is going to go to college after the summer. When she blogged about the decision he was about to take, I looked up both, Georgia Tech and Purdue. You all know which one he chose. Karen baked a cool cake featuring the logo. Ever since then, Google+ keeps suggesting that I follow Purdue! Isn't that creepy?

And that's just the stuff I am aware of! 

What's the influence then, you ask? I didn't order the backpack (but if they keep insisting, and maybe abstain from charging ridiculous amounts for international shipping, I might!! Did you get that, advertising people? No shipping costs, OK?), I don't follow Purdue, and I am not adding FB friends I don't want to. I need a button to tell Facebook "thanks, but no thanks, and don't ask me again!"

Just a couple of weekends ago I experienced proof of how the Internet rules my life. 

Most of you know that I work for my husband. It's mostly IT network management, but we also distribute and support a business software for small companies. There are opportunities like meetings and fairs where we get to socialize with the other distributors. One is called A, and we have become friends. Every business meeting we say we should meet up with our families one day, outside of business. They live about 50 miles away which is a bit too far to just go there for dinner, so we agreed to think about a restaurant somewhere half-way.

The other night when I couldn't sleep I mindlessly scrolled through FB updates, when something caught my attention:

Dukes? That's not far from where I used to live, and from where C attends hockey practice. 
And if Ursula, smart blonde, working mom of three sons, purse and Starbucks lover, whom I hired as an apprentice in another lifetime, thought it was a good place, then I wanted to check it out, too!

Unfortunately they didn't have any tables available for Saturday night, so we ended up meeting at Key West. 

Well not the one in Florida. Just a lake view restaurant in the Zurich, Switzerland area. 

One day when it's not raining I want to come back and have dinner on that jetty!

I feel like I'm supposed to sit at my desk and focus on the topic, instead my mind is on board of that ship cruising on the lake, and I am telling you about the internet and a surf & turf dinner. 

Also I was in the kitchen and made bread dough similar to this one (containing no beer today - but yeast that is past its expiration date by about a week, do you think it'll still work?) and organized my recipes. Talk about distractions. Oh Look! A Squirrel!

Long overdue project – and it took all of 15 minutes!
I used to store my recipes as a pile of computer printouts in my kitchen cupboard. Today I sorted through them, threw one away (one! Proof that I only keep top notch recipes!) put them into sheet protectors and in a pretty binder.
So basically the sections are:
A: apples, avocado
B: bread
C: chicken, chocolate, chai, cinnamon, cherries
L: lemon
N: nutella (one is really easy: step 1: open jar, step 2: insert spoon, step 3: eat)
P: pancakes, pumpkin
S: strawberry
Z: zucchini
And let me tell you, C is kind of crowded! Chocolate Chai Cupcakes, Chocolate Cherry Muffins, Choc Chips Cookies, Choc Chips Pecan Pie, etc. 


What does it even mean? Having impact, shaping, affecting

And I was gonna pretend to not being suggestible easily. Hahaha, my zodiac sign is pisces, I am doomed! I am influenced by everyone and everything! I go through life, and every experience influences me in a way or another. 

Just take music. Imagine the following: 

A man wanders through the streets of a city.

Close your eyes and try to picture him and everything around him! 

Is it morning, night? 

Summer, winter?

Are the streets crowded? Empty?

Does he know where he's going? 

How does he feel? 

How do you feel?

How are you feeling now? Were you being influenced by the music? Would your mood be different had I chosen to embed the happy video first?

Back to work!

Who is my influential person?

A couple of people finally came to my mind after much soul searching. Here are three lovely ladies who have definitely influenced me:

Mrs K, my vocational advisor I went to see when I was 15. She made me take a bunch of tests, such as this drawing completion test:

Complete each box with a drawing or doodle that comes to mind.
My mom had told me about this! When she did this as a teenager, the dot in the first box was a stone that was ejected from an erupting volcano. That's how vivid my mom's imagination is! She became a kindergarten teacher. I didn't want to follow in her footsteps, so I made sure to steer clear from natural disasters and went for the fun stuff instead:

Number 1: Snowball fight!

Number 2: clearly a slide

Number 5 reminded me of ski-lift handles
No doubt about number 7: my earrings!!
Number 8: VW Beetle - obviously, right?

After analyzing my IQ test, reading my essay and studying those drawings, this is what she basically said to me: 

"You are a smart young lady with exceptional verbal abilities, and you are anxious to become independent, have fun and not be told what to do all the time." 

Ha, she got me!! She was exactly right! So what job would suit me? Something fancy, right? TV news anchor? Music producer, wait, make that movie producer!

"You like to benefit without extorting yourself too much. The slide, the ski-lift, the car… Seems to me like you're looking for an easy way to get ahead. I've gotta tell you though, sometimes there are no shortcuts in life, and you have to do the work! Especially if you like pretty earrings!"

Shoot. Exactly how hard did she think I would have to work?

It didn't take much convincing and I agreed that going to college would be a wise choice in the long haul even if the thought of going to school for a couple of years didn't sound so good at the time.

Emma, my acupuncturist of South American descent: She studied Chinese medicine and lives in Switzerland! A friend recommended her when I was struggling to get pregnant. 

The first consultation would make for a great blog post. If you'd only watch that encounter on video without the sound on, you'd think two people got into a fight, and one - me - snapped and stuck out the tongue at her. 

Only she told me to. All part of the treatment! Just by looking at my tongue (it must have been pale as h***) she could tell I suffered from iron deficiency anemia. 

Just as - when I finally got pregnant - she told me that I was going to have a boy only by taking my pulse. 

It all sounds like a bunch of hocus-pocus, but hey, she got results! I trusted her unconditionally and took my baby boy to her when he was crying a lot as a newborn. She held him, played with him and talked to him for a while and then told me to switch formula. She said the one they had given me at the hospital because I couldn't produce enough home made beverage for the hungry little guy, was no good, giving him tummy aches. 

I did, and boy did he mellow out!

Rochelle, my HR director within the Starbucks EMEA region. 

The "interview" alone would make for a great blog post. If you'd only watch that encounter on video without the sound on, you'd think two old friends met for coffee, and one admired, no, actually she kind of  played with my hair!! 

She influenced me a great deal because even though she was either running from European city to European city or sitting in Amsterdam, Netherlands, she seemed to know what I was doing and how I was feeling at all times. 

In retrospective I like to think that she installed a hidden webcam at my office, because when I was just about to cry and throw in the towel she would call me, acknowledge my hard work, encourage me to take a breath and remind me to take one day at a time. 

Of course being a female HR person she didn't need a camera. She just knew. 

And when she told me I could do it - I went for it! 

The picture was taken 2004 in Berlin, Germany, you can see part of the Brandenburger gate in the background.

As I'm running out of truly influencing people, let me share a couple more pictures of that HR meeting in Berlin. You know, those who don't have anything to say - distract influence their readers with nice photographs!

Emperor Wilhelm memorial church.
damaged in a bombing raid in 1943

Boris Becker sat in that limo! Yes, the tennis player!

Madelon, Frauke and Annie, my lovely international SBUX HR friends

This post made me aware of an amazing pattern that has been going on in my life: There are only few people who intuitively understand my core. They are the ones who get to influence me. Simple as that. 

So now I am going to take the time to finally book that rental car for our Canada trip - several ads keep reminding me, thanks to the fact that I was looking at prices but didn't complete the transaction. 

Who needs a to do list, when influencing hackers have you covered? 

PS: the bread turned out fine!

PPS: In case you were wondering about that Wartegg drawing test. Here are the hints:

Box 1 concerns how you relate to your external surroundings.
Box 2 shows how adaptable you are.
Box 3 reveals your level of ambition and desire.
Box 4 indicates how you deal with adversity.
Box 5 shows the challenges you face.
Box 6 suggest how you analyse and synthesise information
Box 7 gives a sense of your level of stability
Box 8 explains your social Relations