Becoming Like Your Top Five Influences

Yesterday, I read a Fast Company article on bassist Nathan East, "the most famous guy you've never heard of."  Basically, he's played bass on every major record you love: The Beatles, Whitney Houston, Phil Collins, Eric Clapton, Barry White, Michael Jackson, and most recently, Daft Punk.  The article is worth a quick read- it's East's take on the best habits he's picked up over the years.  The idea is that by working with greatness, picking up on good habits that rub off on you, you become great yourself. (East, by the way, is releasing his first solo album ever, after playing for 40 years for other people).

I really like the idea of surrounding yourself with greatness.  The other incarnation of that wisdom is you become like the five people you hang around most with. 

Here are my top five influences- the people whose words have gotten into my soul, who I want to hang out with more, or who I just actually want to meet.

  Don Riso.   Image from

Don Riso.  Image from

  Russ Hudson .  Image from

Russ Hudson.  Image from

1.  Don Riso and Russ Hudson (NY) are my top influences.  My life has been changed by their work with the Enneagram- their books, lectures, and workshops.  Don learned the Enneagram from his time as a Jesuit in the early 70's; Russ Hudson-- from the Gurdjieffian tradition-- started collaborating with him after Don published his first book, and they've been doing landmark work ever since (Don has since passed away, but Russ continues to teach, and move into unexplored areas of the human consciousness.)  I've also been influenced by people they've influenced, so their lives are testament to what they teach- they are/were centered, present, loving thought-leaders and teachers.

  Sandra Maitri.   Image from

Sandra Maitri.  Image from


2.  Sandra Maitri (LA) is my second biggest influence.  A student of Claudio Naranjo in the 1970's, then A. H. Almaas, and then a teacher in her own right, Sandra has illuminated a lot of dark areas in the depth-psychology of the Enneagram with her books, The Spiritual Dimension of the Enneagram, and The Enneagram of Passions and Virtues.  As Geneen Roth has said, her mind should be a U.S. national treasure.

  Joanne Wilson .  Image from Business

Joanne Wilson.  Image from Business

  Fred Wilson .  Image from

Fred Wilson.  Image from

3.  Not quite so profound now, if you read this blog regularly, you know two people I love to talk about are Joanne Wilson (angel investor) and Fred Wilson (venture capitalist) (NY).  Husband and wife, by the way, and they are though-leaders in the internet and technology department.  Joanne packs a punch.  She's super smart, super cultured, and super rich, although she wasn't always that way, and she's worked hard to get where she's gotten.  Her husband Fred blazed his own trail, deciding to invest in New York businesses between when it wasn't glamorous to invest in New York (the early 90's).  Both are generous with their time, ideas, and capital.  Great people that I hope my children grow up to emulate.



Spots 4 and 5 are still open, but this woman might help me pick the last two.  Mr. M forwarded me her e-mail newsletter this morning, and it's just something you can't take your eyes off of.  Brain Pickings is her literary and art review/newsletter that's visually engaging, as much as it's intellectually stimulating.  Its author, Maria Popova-- another New Yorker-- curates the most profound wisdom from literature- old and new- and presents in a visually captivating way.  It's wisdom for your brain to pick away at throughout the week. 

This lecture by Yale Professor Jeffrey Brunzel,  (which I have yet to finish) landed in my inbox this morning grâce à Big Think, and he talks about how reading literature classics improves the quality of your life, so I may just have to make time for more classics.

I'm curious who my readers' top five influences are.  Please send me your list (admin at rhodeandcomapny. com) or write them in the comments below.