Five Strangers Who Have Changed My Life

Note: While I usually use Mondays to share a tool or workflow to help you get more done, I wanted to take advantage of the holiday to share some of the folks who have helped me. Happy 4th!

I’m always a fan of sharing good things and good people. Looking under rocks, and finding new and unusual things is a bit of a life-long habit. I tend to find and share a lot (probably too much) and occasionally the people I truly want to highlight get lost in the shuffle1.

With that in mind, I wanted to take a break from what I usually ramble on about to either turn you on to or simply thank five people who have fundamentally impacted me. These are guys worth following, worth listening to and worth learning from. I say this with none of my usual sarcasm; they’ve changed my life.

Seth Godin – My love affair with Seth started with The Dip*. I read it alongside Tribes * in the same weekend and I think that both books have informed pretty much every thought I’ve had since. I also begin nearly every day with Seth’s blog, which has done so much to encourage me to think critically about absolutely everything. Scanning my RSS feeder for worthwhile posts and reading them on my way to work is a big part of what helps me get going in the morning and even when they are only a few lines long, Seth’s daily offerings always get my wheels turning.

Hugh MacLeod – I actually discovered Hugh through a video of Seth’s Tribes presentation. I fell in love with his work and actually spend my days surrounded by this and this and this. His two books, Ignore Everybody* and Evil Plans* have done so much to encourage me to 1) Write more and 2) Talk about my struggles with creativity. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always hated motivational posters. You know, the ones with a picture of five rowers and the word “Teamwork”. MacLeod’s art, which often begin as drawings on the back of business cards, takes this age-old convention and gives it a set of balls. Each one of his daily drawings are an inspiring shot in the arm. If you are trying to unlock your creativity and don’t Subscribe, you are missing out.

Merlin Mann – I talk about him a lot on this site (A LOT), mostly because a good part of what I’m writing about is likely (ok, definitely) rehashed or boiled down iterations of many of his ideas. His Inbox Zero talk was the thing that kicked off my productivity kick. His episodes of the Mac Power Users fundamentally changed the way I use a computer. Everything from his session with John Gruber, to his Time and Attention talk and his recent weekly podcast with Dan Benjamin have had a major impact on my being. I tend to get in my own way and Merlin has become an internal 2×4 to the side of the head for getting out of it. He gives an ADHD mess like myself something to strive for!

Marco Arment – With Marco, it is a bit of a different story. I’ve already written about how I use his product, Instapaper, but I really don’t think I’ve fully expressed how much that product has made me a better me. It has helped me learn so much more about my industry and about my interests. It has helped me fill every free minute, including two 40-minute commutes a day with exactly what I want to read. His former project, Tumblr, was also the thing that finally helped me get into the rhythm of posting to the web with regular frequency (especially when paired with Instapaper, something I plan to geek out on soon here on the site). I also happen to love his blog where he offers a tremendous amount of insight into how he approaches his business.

Danny Brown – While Danny is no longer a stranger (and though he’d never admit it, I’d even go as far to say that we are friends), I will truly be eternally grateful to how supportive he was when I was just getting started on the web. He has an immense amount of patience and a great way of boiling things down so that even I can understand them. Danny writes about what he does, managing to be a better human (and business person (and business for that matter)) in an increasingly digital world. He has a wicked sense of humor, a keen insight into a lot of the changes happening around us and a Scottish accent that makes him utterly indiscernible in conversation.

While these are all names that likely mean a lot to those of you in the Social Media and tech bubbles, I tend to spend a lot of my time out of those worlds and thought I’d share with the rest of the class. If you haven’t checked out what any of these five are up to on the web, it will be well worth your time and your personal development to do so! Enjoy!

**This post includes affiliate links, ’cause I’m shameless and stuff…*

  1. I’m the boy who cried awesome… []
  • http://spinsucks.com Gini Dietrich

    Um Shrek? Two things: First, where are the girls? You mean to tell me there isn’t a single female who has changed your life (me notwithstanding; I already know you love me)?? And I thought Merlin Mann said Marky Mark (it’s early?) and I was DYING!

    • http://spinsucks.com Gini Dietrich

      One more thing. Can we get some share buttons on this damn blog? I mean, jeez. I have to work really hard to share your posts.

      • http://spinsucks.com Gini Dietrich

        And. Do you think Marco and I are related?

        • http://michaelschechter.me MSchechter

          I’d be pretty kick ass if you were :) Both of you kick ass (I don’t know Marco, but he kicks ass from what I’ve seen and Instapaper makes him a rockstar in my book anyhow…)!

      • http://michaelschechter.me MSchechter

        I think I can work on that… going for the minimalist thing, but perhaps (and only perhaps) I went too minimal here :) 

        Funny the difference between the tech blogs and the SM blogs I read. The tech ones like Gruber, Ben Brooks, Shawn Blanc and Eddie Smith are all just tweet buttons where the SM ones are a bit emblazoned… probably need to find the happy medium…

        • http://spinsucks.com Gini Dietrich

          I think the minimalist approach is fine, but you’re making it too hard on your readers. Unless you don’t want us sharing your content. In which case, leave it as is.

          • http://michaelschechter.me MSchechter

            Don’t think lack of sharing was quite the goal :) Off to a BBQ then off to play with some plugins :) Do you think I need more than just FB, Twitter and now possibly the +1?

          • http://spinsucks.com Gini Dietrich

            I like the Twitter follow button because people don’t have to leave the blog to follow you on Twitter. And I like the LinkedIn share button because LOTS of people share there. But only Twitter and Facebook are counted in your PostRank analytics. So it’s really up to you and your goals.

    • http://michaelschechter.me MSchechter

      It’s kind of funny when someone points out the obvious and it sparks a bit of a self-revelation. First, keep in mind, I said strangers here. My wife, my daughter, my female dog, my mother and my grandmother are massive influences. As are many of the amazing women over at Honora. Oddly enough, as much as I’d say the women in my life are more influential in actuality, men seem to dominate the content I end up reading that impacts me the most (yourself excluded, but I have a rather nice warm up going for your 2×4 series :) ). But if I was being totally honest, the most influential people that I know over the past 4 years, all women. Those that I read almost every day or in Marco’s case, use their service… all men…strange… Like I said on Twitter, have some kick ass voices for me? Point me in the right direction!

  • Gapingvoid

    Thanks for the kind words. “Five strangers who have changed my life”. A great idea. Thanks to blogging I have a lot of those strangers to thank for their positive impact on my life. Hundreds, maybe thousands…

    Godspeed!

    • http://michaelschechter.me MSchechter

      Beautiful thing that we can all have our influences and a platform with which to thank them! Thanks for everything you do and looking forward to seeing what you have planned next!

  • http://dannybrown.me Danny Brown

    What the hell is that @ginidietrich:disqus woman doing taking over your comments? Last time I looked, this wasn’t a blog edited by @lisagerber:twitter …  ;-)

    Damn, man, what can I say except thank you? I remember the fun we had getting your blog off the ground. And the whisky night in Port Credit (followed by the beer party at my house). Then New York. Good times, man.

    Just goes to show, you can make real friends online, eh? ;-)

    Cheers, mate – sincerely.

    • http://michaelschechter.me MSchechter

      She’s just trying to help me out… and I think we can all agree that it the site could use some of Lisa’s touch :) Amazed that you look at an endless string of annoying questions that could have been asked to Google as fun, but that is probably why we work :) Enjoyed the whiskey, the beer, the city and look forward to whatever nonsense is next! Thanks for being you and all that jazz…

  • http://www.expatlifecoach.com/blog John Falchetto

    Michael, You didn’t include Gini in your list?

    Umm I see she has already taken it up with you. The most influential people in my life? All women :)

    • http://michaelschechter.me MSchechter

      Interestingly enough, Gini has really come into my world in an very impactful way in the past year. We always passed each other in the hallways and nodded, but the note passing and looks across the lunch room has only just begun! Something tells me the next list will have some very different names and will not be strangers! Also, Gini is the first in an upcoming series I am working on and I offer the proper amount of deference in the intro :) Fear not, you WILL be dragged into the nonsense I have planned :)