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How to Win Friends and Be an Influencer     

Maybe it was time to dig (very, very) deep inside and release my inner influencer?

Over Pesach, my uber-cool niece Shoshana (who’s totally going to love this shout-out) came for a visit, and she brought up my last Sidekick column, about how Everyone Else Does Pesach.

“You nailed it!” she said. As I smiled modestly, she explained, “Dubai! How’d you know that’s where everyone’s gone for Pesach?”


“Ah, well, you know…” I coughed, trying to assume an air of super-with-it-ness.

“No, seriously! All the influencers are in Dubai right now. Do you, like, follow them?”

That was a joke. She knows I’m not on social media. My kosher phone doesn’t even text.

“No, I just, um”—wrote down the only trendy place I knew of—“figured, y’know, Dubai.”

“Well, you got it! Hah, you could be an influencer!”


But my niece was on a roll. “Look!” she exclaimed, pointing to my set Yom Tov table. “You even have a tablescape!”

(I didn’t. Under all the plates I had decorative gold placemats, which I’d received as a gift, and my girls were so excited about them that they’d bought napkin rings to match. Full disclosure: That’s as fancy as we get.)

But the conversation got me thinking. Okay, so I’m not hyper-extroverted and perky. And true, it takes me about a year to pick up on a fashion trend. I don’t use lamb or tahini or truffle oil in my cooking. And I clearly hadn’t been aware enough to know to reserve my spot among the rich and influential in the Luxurious, Extravagant Pesach Program in Dubai.

Still… to determine what thousands of people are thinking, liking, and spending their money on? Who knew? Maybe I had what it takes? Maybe it was time to dig (very, very) deep inside and release my inner influencer?

Bearing in mind the old adage that influence starts at home, I decided to try my luck a week later with my local crowd.*

“Guys, I am so excited to show you what I have for supper tonight!!!” I exclaimed that evening, in triple exclamation marks. “You’re going to absolutely love it!”

“Pizza!” My son pumped his fist in the air as his siblings began to cheer.

“Nope, even better! We’re having zoodles with roasted tomatoes! And gnocchi! With coconut aminos!”

I’m fairly certain I pronounced gnocchi wrong, but that seemed to be the least of their suspicions.

“Coconut what?” asked my daughter.

“Why can’t we have pizza?” asked my son.

I maintained my cheery and influential composure. “Because this way we get to have nutrient-packed food that’s also totally yum! Besides, pizza is so last week.”

My daughter’s eyes narrowed. “Why are the noodles green?”

My son’s eyes narrowed. “We didn’t have pizza last week.”

Part of being an influencer is knowing how to read your audience. So we ended up compromising: My kids and I ate pasta with cheese (because, let’s face it: zucchini noodles?) and I took a picture of the zoodles and gnocchi to send to my future adoring followers.


I wasn’t ready to give up yet. Maybe foodie food wasn’t my thing. There were other spheres of influence out there, no?

The opportunity presented itself soon enough.

“Ima, I need new clothes badly,” my ten-year-old declared one bright morning for the twenty-third time.

“Great!” I rubbed my hands together. “Let’s go shopping!”

Her face lit up for a moment — until she saw me heading to our storage room, from which I lugged out a certain large and infamous duffle bag.

“Look at this gorgeous skirt! It’s totally in style again.”

She set her teeth. “No, it’s not.”

“Sure, it is! I saw your friend Rivky wearing one just like it the other day!”

“No, she wasn’t. Hers was completely different.”

I summoned up my voice of breezy confidence. “Well, then, you’ll be the one to set the trend. All your friends will think you’re the coolest.”

She glared. “I don’t like it. Besides, Miriam** wore it! We have very different tastes.”

“Well, I would wear a skirt like this.”

She sighed. To my chagrin, this revelation did not seem to sway her opinion.

“Thanks, Ima, but it’s okay,” she said kindly. “I’ll just ask Miriam to take me shopping.”


Clearly, something wasn’t working, and it hit me what the problem was. I was going about this all wrong. As the Kotzker Rebbe famously said, don’t set out to be an influencer for the world; set out to be an influencer for yourself. I was focusing outwardly instead of inwardly.

“Doing the coolest meditative dish washing!” I proclaimed that night as I stood by the sink. “I totally recommend it. Like yoga with a sponge!”

“Gorgeous mother-daughter moment!” I chirped to myself, as my daughter and I sipped iced coffee, her tears — and mine — already barely visible after our five torturous visits to clothing stores.

“Best. Vacation. Ever,” I crowed, as I lay in bed, safely behind my locked door, and snagged a half-hour of reading time while my kids did… something… somewhere else.

“Um, who are you talking to?” my husband asked one night, as he found me exclaiming over the fluffiness of my slippers.

“My follower,” I said. “I only have one, but she’s super-loyal.”

My husband immediately offered to follow me as well.

“My fan base has literally doubled OVERNIGHT!” I exulted, in blaring all-caps.


Honestly, I think I’ve tapped into something big here. I might even start reaching out to myself to do paid promotions. (“I tried this new brand of chocolate yesterday and yum! You must buy it! Tastes especially good when you’ve locked yourself in your bedroom!”)

I think it’s time to book my ticket to Dubai.


*This scene is a dramatization of a scenario that could very likely have happened in the Arnold household. In fact, it didn’t, because I’ve never made zoodles — or bought coconut aminos.

**Name of older sibling has been changed to preserve the felicitous sibling harmony that pervades our home.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 801)

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