Last week, I had an opportunity to attend a breakfast on Regenerative Medicine, a subject which has always fascinated me.  I decided early in the year to go to new and interesting talks as part of my plan for 2012 to hear about ideas, different from my everyday world, and get insights to inspire my current thinking.

At the breakfast, I caught the eye of a young man who smiled warmly at me.  I returned the smile and focused on the presentation at hand, about stem cells, and the research being done at Boston University which was impressive.

At the end of the event, this young man, two seats away, introduced himself.  Much to my surprise, he was my next door neighbor over 25 years ago.

Handsome, smart, a PhD Angel Investor and CEO , he told me over coffee what an impact I had on his life as a young boy, giving him his first job and being a role model as a female entrepreneur.

I sat rather quietly, listening to a 12 year old’s memories of my spirited work, non-traditional entrepreneurial efforts, and first- hand stories of me, as his neighbor.  It was interesting to note that the joyful entrepreneur — and attractor of opportunities and financial success that I am drawn to — was sitting across from me.  In a flash, I witnessed not only the passing of time, but the overwhelming importance of our impact on children and how we, whether we know it or not, can influence others.

Twice last week I have been touched by such stories.

Is there a next door neighbor in your life? Is it a little boy?  A troubled teen?  An elderly woman feeling vulnerable? An entrepreneur who needs an encouraging word?

You never know when you can make an impact. Even when you’re just being you.