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Penina Rybak; Fem Geek, Author & Advocate of Female Entrepreneurs

by Anie Akpe

Today, Innov8tiv talks with Penina Rybak MA/CCC-SLP,TSHH, who is the founder/CEO of Socially Speaking LLC, a boutique consulting firm she started in 2010. Penina is an educational Penina Rybak MA/CCC-SLP, TSHH, is the founder/CEO of Socially Speaking LLC, a boutique consulting firm she started in consultant, pediatric speech-language pathologist specializing in Autism, and an Apple™ Technology expert and iPad Evangelist. Penina is the creator of the Socially Speaking™ App and social skills curriculum which is in the process of being published.

Penina is also a national/international speaker on the topics of social communication development and strategies, technology best practices re: iOS App integration into workflows and educational curricula for busy professionals, and psychological and practical tips for female entrepreneurs. We advise all female entrepreneurs to  read her bookThe NICE Reboot: How to Become a Better Female Entrepreneur- How to Balance Your Craving for Humanity & Technology in Today’s Startup Culture, which was as published by Maven House Press. She currently blogs on WordPress, Tumblr, The Huffington Post, The Friendship Circle Blog for Special Needs Children. 

What prompted you to want to assist women with technology?

I have to give credit to my mother, a child psychologist and lifelong student,  who understood the power of technology long before others did; to spur education and imagination. It was my mother who opened the world for me by getting me a library card at age 3 and later got me hooked on the USA geography game “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?” It was my mother who was one of the first ones to introduce me to my first Mac, solidifying my love affair with Apple™ and all things techie since. From the time I was a child, I’ve always loved technology, specifically Apple™ Technology, with its intuitive, user-friendly interface and design. I have two brothers and was a bit of a tomboy, and was always encouraged to read and tinker with them; drawing, legos, computers etc.  Science fiction and technology fascinated me. When my friends played Barbie with me I was the one putting them in hover-crafts made of legos or shoe boxes, and creating stories for them about space travel, outfitting them with light sabers from Star Wars and transporters from Star Trek. I’m a visual learner with an artistic bent. I value creativity and customization in learning; whether for myself or others.

When I first began my career as a speech therapist in the school system in the mid 90s, the first Technology Revolution was starting and I eagerly jumped on the train. I saw early on that technology, with its sequential, structured, customization, and multi-sensory capabilities, and its predominantly visual component truly appealed to my students with Autism. They are essentially visual learners, and the Apple™ Tech in particular was particularly attractive to them. I was chosen by Apple™ to join other special education professionals in getting trained, and then training others, in Apple™ Tech (mostly software at that time) through the NY TRAID Project from 1996-2000. In the interim, I worked with many women in the education arena as both a speech therapist specializing in Autism intervention, and an educational technology consultant specializing in Macs. I attempted to bridge gaps between readiness to learn and actual performance in both the students and colleagues I worked with. I tried hard as an ed-tech specialist to dispel some of the myths and fears surrounding tech, and to integrate it (software) into workflows, daily routines, and curricula. I taught other special education professionals, many of them women, to develop special education curricula and specific lessons plans that methodically synthesized toys and tech in treatment.

In 2007 the iPhone forever changed the landscape of technology by starting the second leg of the revolution: mobile Apps. I quietly began to experiment with iOS Apps in treatment and take data, and lots of notes. In 2009 I incorporated everything I’d learned about facilitating child development through toys and tech, and created my Socially Speaking™ Social Skills Curriculum . I started to give educational seminars on that topic, locally and then branched out. In 2010 I officially became an entrepreneur in the ed-tech space, so that I could reach more women and help them integrate technology into best practices re: education in the new millennium. I got the iPad 2 the week it launched (I knew the prototype had no camera!) and quickly adopted it as my swiss-army knife style tool in my toolbox. In 2011 I became an official iPad Evangelist when I was hired to train people all over North America in iPad App integration and best practices. In 2012 I launched my second entrepreneurial and tech-related product, my Socially Speaking™ iPad App. It’s the only digital, developmental, user-friendly, customizable and play based social skills assessment protocol to date. It identifies children at risk for behavioral and social issues and plots a course of treatment for children such as those with Autism. In 2014 I took everything I had learned about balancing humanity and technology in today’s startup culture and wrote a cookbook of sorts on female entrepreneurship. It reads part tech-manual (iPad and social media information), part how-to manual (how to launch a business) and part inspirational (current trends affecting women in business) dogma. I also began blogging about balancing humanity and technology, and what that actually entails, because I think it’s an important topic. Read more on Penina by clicking page 2

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