May “The Fourth” Be with You!

This post appears simultaneously on LinkedIn…….

“You have your moments. Not many of them, but you do have them.”

“Hope is not lost today. It is found.”

— Princess Leia, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

“Truly wonderful the mind of a child is.”

“Do or do not. There is no try.”

— Master Yoda, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

This week many people in the USA, including myself, will proudly “fly the geek flag” and wish others tongue in cheek albeit wholeheartedly that the “force be with them”. We will collectively rewatch and requote our favorite scenes, players, and quotes. We will collectively take to social media in support of  Star Wars and its forward thinking universe and characters. Thursday, May 4th is Star Wars Day and I’m counting down. Especially since this year marks the passing of the uber-insightful and talented Carrie Fisher, who has immortalized beloved Princess Leia for generations to come.

Star Wars Day is a day of widespread fond, avid, and vocal commemoration of a cultural touchstone which has universally affected the Theory of Mind i.e. the “inner landscape” of people from different generations and different parts of world. It is a non-denomination day that should make us think seriously about ourselves and others. It should make us hit our inner “pause” button and take stock of our values and ambitions; especially as professional women in the iEra i.e. the age of the startup and mass networking thanks to our growing symbiotic relationship with technology. Star Wars provides a relatable story regarding The Hero’s Journey , famous quotes inspiring one to hone their own communication and artistry, lessons in creativity and productivity, and takeaways regarding mentorship and one’s career and career goals.

Is it any wonder May 4th is on my blogger radar?

To date, this diverse, deceptively simple interwoven and ongoing saga has provided much fodder for academics, “growth-hackers“, ethicists,  and behavioral psychologists,  as well as those in business and the entrepreneurship arena. This powerful, moving  tale of taking sides in the war of Good vs. Evil, and the pursuit of Answers, Truth, and Personal Growth, has been instrumental to many of us trying to pursue purpose not just profit, maintain a sense of humor in the midst of challenge and adversity, and hone our skill set to foster our own  empowerment and  leadership acumen.

So what have I learned from Star Wars? 

A lot actually, beginning with the complex, nuanced, and wonderfully depicted relationships between Leia and Han Solo, Luke and Yoda, Padme and Anakin, Rey and Finn (A Force Awakens),  and Imwe and Malbus (Rogue One).

I also learned all about the 3 Es….

I learned all about the importance of the 3 Es; something I keep in mind when I’m writing, speaking, and working with children with Autism/special needs and their families/service providers:

  • Educate others using your own talents and trials by fire
  • Entertain others while providing necessary takeaways and constructive criticism
  • Encourage change in yourself before demanding it of others, and be patient and unafraid to fail along the way

What additional 4 takeaways can I share in honor of 5/4/17?

  1. We are all interconnected. We all have opportunities in our personal and professional lives to think “We” instead of “Me” and act on it. To create a seamless, user-friendly, collaborative and self-sustaining ecosystem that benefits others; economically, educationally, physically, emotionally, and geographically. Cross-pollination collaboration and cultural shifts at the workplace are happening, need to happen more, and need to happen right now. So get out there in real space and cyberspace and connect more meaningfully and authentically! 
  2. We are all storytellers and characters in someone’s story, and our Story is fluid and ongoing. We all have opportunities in our personal and professional lives to create our Story, reverse engineer it,  and ensure that the information is made readily and unobtrusively accessible. We are all in the “driver’s seat” of our own Millenium Falcon– our Story; how it proceeds; its wording shared with others, its chapters, its routines, breaks from said routines, attempts to reboot them, and recollections of lessons and interactions from those we meet along the way. So make it a good one, and keep moving forward to add pages!
  3. We are all able to better harness time, to create a better workflow, a better balance at home/work between Process and Outcome. We all have the opportunity to reduce our multi-tasking to truly  “live in the moment” and honor the Journey, not just the End Destination, should we so choose. We all have an “inner time clock” allowing us to transition as needed, and intuitively understand the importance of breaking down every process into three components; beginning, middle, and end. This is an area of difficulty for children with Autism; something I wrote about previously here and here.  We all have innate strengths and skills we can harness, to better harness time. To better harness outcomes for the greater good, and contribute to the process of improving problem-solving en masse. Collaboration re: problem-solving and innovation, and subsequently getting your “fifteen minutes of fame” for your cause has never been easier.  Thanks to our myriad social media feeds and global connectivity, we can more efficiently and effectively identify and connect with our “tribe”. Know your place and time. Timing is everything as they say. Not all trends and/or current events are “triggers” for you to change trajectory, or branding of self/service for that matter. So don’t just say– do, and stay on your time-table! Make sure you are being productive, not just busy!
  4. We are all indebted to a power greater than ourselves, and we need to honor that. How? By living with integrity. By living in passion of our beliefs. By striving towards the ability to independently “connect the dots” for greater self-awareness and growth; personally and professionally. We live in an age of instant gratification and reinvention on so many levels, where we change our minds, our circle of friends and “influencers”, our geographical location, careers, and even marriage partners, much more frequently and nonchalantly than our parents did. Getting bogged down in the “change the channel” mindset and minutiae of our daily lives can lead us to myopic thinking contributing to “tunnel-vision” beliefs about our own achievements. We often forget the Big Picture, including those who helped us along the way. So retain your core mission and values, be mindful that nothing is coincidental– not even those who cross your path, and be grateful for what you have been given. 

May “The Fourth” Be with You!




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Spring- A Time to Reboot & Read!

“What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction.”

— Suzanne Collins, Mockingjay

“The moment you doubt your ability to fly, you cease forever to be able to do it.”

— J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Hello! Happy World Book Day!

I know, I know– it’s been a while <sheepish grin>…..

But I’ve been busy <sideways smile>.

I’ve been busy in Real Time with family occasions and obligations and helping out friends in need. I’ve been busy making a real effort not to multi-task as much, and truly live in the moment; professionally and personally. I’ve been busy trying to pursue purpose, not just profit.

When I haven’t been working in Manhattan wearing my Educator & Autism Specialist hat, I’ve been traveling/speaking/consulting in the USA, wearing my Woman Entrepreneur hat. I’ve been sharing various social communication, ed-tech, digital citizenship, and leadership lessons offline; those gleaned on my own ongoing journey, and those gleaned from the thought leadership of others. Lessons from others found in books and eBooks, newspaper and magazine articles I find via Apple News,  Flipboard for iOS or its Mac alternative, library apps like Hoopla and Zinio, and posts from bloggers and other people I follow on social media sites such as  Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.

I’ve dropped in again today, on World Book Day 2017 to spread the message…..READ! <pointed glance>.

This message is also timely because we are about to hit May, AKA Graduation Month. I will be celebrating this milestone for the first time as an Aunt, within my own family….my first nephew will soon graduate from high school!

Take time to read! It’s not only going to make you smarter and more resilient but a better version of yourself! Reading makes you less stressed and stronger! Reading is good for your health, for your brain functioning, for finding inspiration to face adversity and hardship, for getting leadership takeaways, (since we are all leaders in the making), and for your “soft-skills” development! Reading helps you hone all those characteristics which showcase your humanity, empathy, and morality. Those intangible traits which make up your Theory of Mind i.e. psyche and perspective.

As an unconventional authorpreneur and entrepreneur, with a background in English, communications, educational technology, and behavioral pediatric speech-language pathology, I’m an avid, eclectic, and enthusiastic reader! One who truly believes that books are the BEST gift ever! As I’ve written previously:


Books are the only tangible presents which foster both inherent genius and hard-earned talent and fuel our ambition using our minds and hearts/souls. Books contain universal truths that unite us in a way that other tangible gifts (such as gadgets and clothes) can’t. Those gifts increase the divide between the “Haves” and “Have-Nots”, and decrease the balance between humanity and technology, which is becoming more crucial by the day. Furthermore, books are the only tangible gift that help a person reap numerous, long-term, and meaningful, intangible rewards.


It is so easy now to read free  books, and to even read them on your smartphone or tablet when you are on the go! (and who isn’t?). Reading, especially reading whole books “just because” i.e. on a myriad of topics, has reportedly unfortunately declined in the iEra, especially in teens and ironically college students; our workforce of tomorrow. I read somewhere recently that researchers are actually finding that a person’s brain is rewiring itself and changing in the iEra, thanks to our access to digital technology and exposure to overstimulating environments causing “sensory overload”. In the next generation of children entering school, the visual cortex may very well be larger than the auditory cortex!

In the next generation of children entering school, the visual cortex may very well be larger than the auditory cortex! What does that mean for language and literacy development? Yikes! Could it be that reading  may very well become passe, thanks to our growing obsession with Instagram and SnapChat? (two social media channels I’m proud to say I totally ignore).

This is an ongoing, growing concern, despite an increase in free local library access in the USA, an increase in levels of overall national literacy, and a plethora of reading material available online. This includes entire tomes, texts, and highbrow and lowbrow material to peruse in the blogosphere thanks to sites such as Medium and BuzzFeed. This is disquieting to me on so many levels.

This is disquieting to me on so many levels; as an educator, social entrepreneur, and a thinking human being in the twenty-first century. The future of work and our workforce in general hinges on our collective learning of specific skills and on getting a well-rounded education!

The future of work is not just a catch-phrase, but a looming silent revolution, a fluid, radical period of change– all about disruption. It is a time already upon us, where success is being redefined daily, as is the search for meaning and what a growth mindset is all about. Innovation is actually  not a linear process, nor is it a result of  linear thinking i.e. a “silo” mentality.

We live in a time of collective awe and wonder, where anything seems possible. A time of experimentation with trial and error where failure is actually condoned, grit and a “can-do” attitude are lauded publicly, and  emotional intelligencematters more than IQ.

Yet there’s a paradox, an oxymoron, a dichotomy to our existence and attempts to validate our existence. To validate our choices of profession and activities we engage in technologically and educationally when “offline” and behind the curtain of transparency.   The physical, mental, spiritual, and societal journey from “Me” to “We” has become increasingly complicated and inauthentic. Many of us just lived through a polarizing election year and an especially dreary winter, where inertia prevailed together with the cold; the bleak outer landscape influencing our own inner one.

It’s time to reboot. It’s time for the renewal of Spring to remind us that each and every one of us can make a difference; in ourselves and in others. Each and every one of us holds the key to our future, to rebooting and reinventing ourselves and our mission, to thrive, not just survive. It’s time to better balance humanity and technology and actual productivity with the pursuit of busyness. It’s time to rediscover ourselves again and discover new sides to ourselves. It’s time to learn more. It’s time to read more. 

What’s on your reading list? What will help you reboot? Connect the dots and think differently? Grow? Learn a strategy or skill? Get in touch with your inner child? Escape a little to decompress and stir the imagination? Tickle your sense of humor? Touch your heart?

Here’s what’s on my Reading Radar this Spring: 

  1. Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg & Adam Grant
  2. Double Bind: Women on Ambition by Robin Romm
  3. Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Startup Bubble by Dan Lyons
  4. This Fight is Our Fight: The Battle to Save America’s Middle Class by Elizabeth Warren
  5. The New Rules of Work: The Modern Playbook for Navigating Your Career by Alexandra Cavoulacos
  6. Creativity Inc: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull
  7. We’re All Wonders by R.J. Palacio
  8. Dot by Randi Zuckerberg & Joe Berger
  9. Mapping Innovation: A Playbook for Navigating a Disruptive Age by Greg Satell
  10. Machine Platform, Crowd: Harnessing Our Digital Future by Andrew McAfee & Erik Brynjolfsson

All leaders are readers. All who read learn. All reading results in growth. Go forth and blossom!

Happy Spring!

Happy Reading!






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At the Crossroads of Social Good

“I believe in the power of the voice of women.”
— Malala Yousafzai


“Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.”
— William James


Walking the Walk:

I’ve been away from the blogosphere for a while, occupying both intellectual and physical space in both the education (special needs/Autism) and entrepreneurship arenas. Trying to better balance my own seesaw of humanity and technology; personally and professionally, while contributing to both. Trying to continue the “journey for change” I first embarked on 5 years ago, when I started my consulting company Socially Speaking LLC.

I’ve spent time doing this wearing various hats, and in various boroughs in New York City. I’ve had the privilege of meeting many different people from all walks of life and schools of thought. People coming together because of one commonality and one growing realization:

At the crossroads of education and entrepreneurship is where you find the seeds for social good. 

This is something I started to experience first hand when I began lecturing around North America in 2010. That spurred my own growth and the 2012 launch of my Socially Speaking™ iPad App, and my raison d’être for creating The NICE Initiative. It’s why I wrote my business book, The NICE Reboot, and have previously blogged here, for The Huffington Post, and on Tumblr. It’s something I’ll be speaking about in Newark NJ on 1/19/16.

The Truth About Social Good:

Social good is not new, but it is noticeably catching on. More and more of us have realized the importance of social entrepreneurship as a way to change the world and address national disasters. Both education and entrepreneurship are intertwined with social good, now more than ever. This is seen in the growing trend towards online learning and the gamification of the MBA. There is a paradigm shift in education resulting in the creation of student-centric learning. It’s all about creating “learning experiences”. This is trickling down into the startup arena where the  rules of engagement are also changing. Good entrepreneurs understand the importance of communication and technology in an almost intuitive way. It’s why for us, digital citizenship is crucial, as is acting like digital natives; no matter one’s age or geographical location.

Social good is the new frontier. It is the invisible country without a map, which knows no borders or time limits, and is accessible to all. Social good is the only true catalyst for meaningful change and overall success; for both the individual and communal pursuits we aspire to. It affects our mindset, especially when it comes to how we pursue entrepreneurship and work/life balance. It should affect our game plan and career trajectory, and should affect our best practices in our ongoing quest to balance our cravings for humanity and technology. The future of world peace depends on it. The future of work depends on it.

So how can one hone their entrepreneurship by harnessing the power of social good? 

Three Takeaways:

Here are 3 practical suggestions to ponder as we look towards our journey in the new year…….

1. Use your social media platform creatively and consistently as a sounding board and proverbial petri-dish to promote causes you care about, that can incite social media activism in others.

2. Use your job as a drawing board for honing a diverse and creative skill set of both soft skills and tech skills, so that you are ready and able to more effectively collaborate with others in real time and online.

3. Find ways to provide a product/service to a niche market that will promote good by contributing to the welfare of others, making a real difference. A quantifiable, global, and long-term difference in quality of life for the user. This goes beyond the revered “user experience” and is actually about leaving a self-sustaining legacy.


Wishing everyone a meaningful, joyous, and socially good new year,


Posted in An Open Letter, Balancing Humanity & Technology, Entrepreneurial Strategy, Female Entrepreneurship, Musings on Humanity, Social Entrepreneurship, Social Media & Entrepreneurship | Leave a comment

Life Lessons from Christopher Columbus

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.”

— Amelia Earhart

“You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”

— Christopher Columbus

Three years ago this week, during this month of October, which is ironically Breast Cancer Awareness Month, my cherished best friend (since late childhood), first mentor, and founding silent business partner, Dr. Natalie “Nechah” Hochstein PsyD, discovered that the chemo just stopped working. She learned that her days were numbered and accepted the news with the humor and quiet grace so typical of her actions and persona.

Nechah started to feel quite poorly in October and began to rapidly deteriorate. After a valiant 3 year battle, she bowed out, and passed away from stage IV breast cancer, a mere two months later, on December 12,  2012. I was with her on the last day of her life, where she gave me some last minute advice. She also asked me to publicly share my work (and hers) with others.

So I spent the last three years lecturing around North America full time, and publishing my experiences.  I shared my various takeaways in The NICE Reboot: A Guide to Becoming a Better Female Entrepreneur and in Autism Intervention in the iEra: Practical Social Communication Strategies for Integrating Toys and Tech in Treatment. I spent the last three years profoundly missing her; trying to find ways to pursue purpose and profit to honor her memory, and trying to make sense of this convoluted collective pathway known as living.

Nechah’s life and overall teachings as a child psychologist, woman warrior fighting breast cancer, and a fellow startup entrepreneur, have profoundly impacted the way I now approach things. How I see life,  the world in general, and the process of problem solving; as a professional woman and Autism Specialist, as a social entrepreneur, and as a human being. How I view things like happinesslearningintrospectioncreativity, and innovation.

My own professional odyssey as a modern woman, an educator, leader, and “techie” interested in the brain, gender, and tech, coupled with the journey I embarked on with Nechah (when she was first diagnosed in 2009), provided many life lessons on a variety of topics. After careful reflection, I realized that they can be watered down to three takeaways I specifically learned from her. Three takeaways from her favorite quote; one by Christopher Columbus, just in time for Columbus Day:

“You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”

— Christopher Columbus

What are the 3 takeaways?

1. Crossing the proverbial ocean happens a lot in life, and must be seen as an adventure, the way teaching kids should always be viewed. So that the environment impacts you as much, if not more, than you act on/impact on it. So that you can discard what’s not working and streamline.  So that you can let go of old ideas and let new ones in. So that you forestall inertia, cynicism, and stagnant thinking; all of which contribute to entrepreneurial perfectionist tendencies and fatigue.

2. Happiness is a verb, one that manifests itself most when transversing new terrain figuratively and physically. One that depends on taking action and being proud of it. One that depends on honing one’s character traits and positive outlook. Both of which affect one’s mindset (thoughts) and attitude (deeds). Both of which are integral to the human process of self actualization, first posited by Dr. Abraham Maslow, and made popular again in today’s socially connected startup culture and social media circles.

3. Reading voraciously, whether a paper book or on a tablet,  is a necessity, not a luxury, a life-long habit to empower you, help you create and live your personal brand, and nurture your mindReading helps you develop your inner landscape AKA Theory of Mind i.e. empathy and perspective. So that you increase your knowledge, emotional IQ i.e. empathy, and creativity; all of which are integral to professional (especially entrepreneurial) success. Especially in today’s tech-savvy, eager to learn, uber-competitive, and globally connected society!

Learning takeaways from others, especially those whom we respect, is essential for us to better ourselves; professionally and personally. We need them to counteract cognitive bias and obsolete best practices, no matter which industry one is in. These takeaways shape the way we develop emotional intelligence and teaching/mentoring strategies for others, not to mention developing ways to actually do good for others.

Each of us has innate leadership skills and real contributions to offer others. Each of us has the ability to rise above our circumstances, obstacles, and choices, to leave the people and the planet better off than when we first arrived on this earth. But first we need to bear witness to the wide experience of being human, and share those takeaways with others. Just like Dr. Oliver Sachs did before passing away from liver cancer on August 30, 2015, and just like my friend did, before her untimely death as well.

If life is like a conveyor belt propelling us forward, it is so crucial that we take the lessons of our pasts with us into the Great Unknown; for ourselves and for others.



Note: This post simultaneously appears in LinkedIn and in Tumblr.

Columbus   Prevailing

Penina Rybak MA/CCC-SLP, TSHH, is the founder/CEO of Socially Speaking LLC, and the creator of the Socially Speaking™ Program and Socially Speaking™ iPad App. Her work was published in Italy in 2014 in the European textbook Special Educational Needs, and in her new book Autism Intervention in the iEra. Penina has spoken around North America on the topics of social communication development and strategies, iPad App integration into professional workflows and educational curricula, personal digital branding and social media, and practical and psychological aspects to female entrepreneurship. She is also the author of The NICE Reboot-A Guide to Becoming a Better Female Entrepreneur: How to Balance Your Cravings for Humanity & Technology in Today’s Startup Culture. To learn more about her work, visit, and follow her on Twitter: @PopGoesPenina. She recently became the Clinical Support Specialist at the new Autism PreK Program for The Kennedy Child Study Center in Manhattan.

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Turning Our Perceptions of Failure Inside Out

We’re here for a reason. I believe a bit of the reason is to throw little torches out to lead people through the dark.”

— Whoopi Goldberg

“Success is not final and failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.”

— Winston Churchill

In the summer of 2010, my best friend since late childhood was suddenly diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer, during a routine physical. A funny, humble, gifted, scholarly, child psychologist with a head for business and a heart of gold, she was in the midst of planning a startup launch with me for a unique consulting business. One that would pair education and entrepreneurship to promote women leadership in the special education arena. Socially Speaking LLC was born the summer Pixar’s Toy Story 3 wowed audiences at the box-office and the original iPad® wowed people at home.
At that time, I was a school based pediatric speech-language pathologist/Autism specialist, with a head for technology (especially Apple™ tech), and a flair for public speaking and writing. I was in the middle of creating my Socially Speaking™ Social Skills Curriculum pairing toys and iOS tech in treatment of young children with Autism. It later became the basis for my national/international Socially Speaking™ Seminars, my 2012 social skills assessment iPad® App, and my 2015 published book Autism Intervention in the iEra. Some of my work was also recently featured in Apps for Autism: Second Edition (2015).

I had a career as a speech therapist and then decided to take a risk and become an entrepreneur.  I left my comfortable, somewhat predictable full time position in a school district where I was on the tenure track, and opened a door to the unknown. I traveled all around North America giving conferences and consultations on all manner of things related to social communication and iOS technology.

My best friend worked tirelessly behind the scenes to help me launch and manage my startup, all while juggling her own private practice, her part time job at the International Center for the Disabled (ICD) in Manhattan, and her chemotherapy appointments. She did it with such practicality, grace, and humor; all of which I have tried to embed in my company’s DNA, mission, and its brand.

We often joked that our shared history (which includes traveling abroad together during the gap year after high school, and then attending college together), similar Theory of Mind (our inner landscape and emotional engagement with others) and dissimilar approaches to problem solving (I tend to be a less linear and more “outside the box” thinker) made for great teamwork, not to mention great conversations. The results of those conversations are what I put into practice right away, while marketing myself on the road, and on social media, and what I put into my 2014 business book, The NICE Reboot: A Guide to Becoming a Better Female Entrepreneur-How to Balance Your Cravings for Humanity and Technology in Today’s Startup Culture.

When my best friend, mentor, muse, and silent business partner lost her long, valiant, and painful battle with breast cancer in December 2012, I felt totally lost. But I knew it was time to truly share what she had taught me– by example. I took the plunge and decided to remove the safety net, and delve into freelance consulting/entrepreneurship full time, by myself, without venture capital.

I remember trying to find solace, strength, and meaning as I went through all the 5 stages of grief  first documented by Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. I lost myself in my full day seminars and extensive travels, in Pixar’s ode to Girl Power, Brave, in seeing/enjoying that “Aha” moment while teaching others best practices re: Autism intervention and/or how to integrate the iPad® into their workflow, and in writing. I took time to become an authorpreneur; penning The NICE Reboot and a subsequent column for The Huffington Post at Arianna Huffington’s personal invitation. I also remember spending a lot of time in real time and online, pondering the nature of innovationsuccess, a meaningful legacy, and what it means to succeed and  lead.

Through trial and error, and viewing the world through a “Why not?” lens focused on the power of the human spirit, I learned about myself, and about the beautiful tapestry of this thing called life. I learned life altering and sometimes painful lessons which I will always cherish. I learned about personal digital branding, about  resiliencyharnessing time,  creativity, the art of storytelling, the importance of balancing humanity and technology, and the importance of taking time to play and make good products that “do good”.

I also learned the value in looking deeper under the surface; at people and events, to see the Big Picture. I learned that everything one experiences and everyone one crosses paths with, can and does provide teachable moments. Ones which enable a person to “connect the dots” in unusual and meaningful ways, and remain authentic to his/her true self and calling.

For the past 3 years I have had one foot in the special education arena and one foot in the women entrepreneurship/leadership arena. I have straddled “the fence” (sometimes to my own detriment!) and actively pursued tangible and intangible, profitable and purposeful, and easy and difficult opportunities on both sides of it. To strategically collaborate. To provide thought leadership. To make a real difference in the lives of others, and thereby enhance my own personal development and sense of accomplishment. I have experienced triumphs and tribulations, successes and failures,  “eureka” moments followed by periods of befuddlement, and many sleepless nights and jam-packed days meeting more great people and seeing more wondrous things as a tourist than I can count.

Throughout all this, I have continuously sought to learn, to do, to change my perspective about things, and adapt. I have sought out all kinds of takeaways from so many sources, to pack in my proverbial suitcase and to allay my fears. Fears about my legacy, my trajectory, my balance sheet, and ultimately my desired outcome(s).

It wasn’t until I recently saw Pixar’s best movie yet, Inside Out, that things crystallized for me. I gained clarity about what it really means to be a self-actualized human being who exercises one’s Theory of Mind to adapt. I discovered the power in saying “no” after 5 years of saying “yes”. I realized that it’s time to embark on a new journey of collaboration and self-discovery. I understood the need for change, like the 11 year old girl named Riley, whose family moves from snowy, bucolic Minnesota to sunny, crowded San Francisco, which is the catalyst for this film.

I cannot stop raving about Inside Out to everyone I meet; especially in the Autism community and education arena! I’ve always loved the Pixar “origin story” and what the company stands for. I use examples from the Toy Story films in all my Autism related seminars. I devoured Creativity Inc. which is the ultimate behind the scenes look at the “Pixar Process”,  and is probably the best management book out there– ever. I even wrote about it and about creativity, and “feeding the beast”, and how the nature vs. nurture debate impacts productivity and success.

Success in life; especially in entrepreneurship, is an ever-changing, fluid staircase. One which requires introspection, hard work, and resiliency to make the stairs increase in number. I’d like to write about 3 life lessons I gleaned from this Oscar-worthy, brilliant, deceptively simple movie. One that should be on all our summer homework lists as we build those staircases; in our minds and in our lives.

What I Learned About Life from “Inside Out” (Without Spoilers):

1. Memories Lie.

They are not always true representations of what happened. Memories are colored by our own perceptions of people/places/events at the time of that experience. This can be a scary proposition, because memories fade but never truly disappear. So “acting on instinct” could potentially be an unproductive way to tap into those fuzzy memories and make poor decisions. So can living in the past and holding on to prior best practices and cultural mores.
2. Own the Bad. 

It’s the bad times in life that help a person “step up” and grow, and have a deeper appreciation of the good times and not take them for granted. Take ownership of your bad days, mistakes, your anger and sadness, and other undesirable events and feelings which help shape your present and future self. Life’s “bleachable moments” are necessary to retain for greater progress, independence, and success, and should only be erased with Clorox on TV!
3. Rock the ‘People Power’.

We all need our inner circle (whose members come and go) to “have our back” and keep us “on track” in all ways.  All human beings crave social and emotional connections with others to forge bonds that promote well-being, learning, and problem solving. This is what drives us in our quest for validation and meaningful interactions; at home, work, at school, and online via social media. Thanks to technology, collaboration has taken on a whole new meaning. Thanks to Inside Out, the way we collectively view others and their needs, will never be the same.

Pixar and all it stands for, is a shining example of the future of work where creativity reigns, and the conundrum surrounding the quest for better balance of humanity and technology is always addressed. Inside Out is a shining example of the power of a best friend, albeit an imaginary one named Bing Bong, who can change the course of a person’s life (not to mention thought processes) and be that person’s  hero.

Riley learns to let go, and to embrace change. Joy learns that change is good, and that there is no “I” in team. I have learned how I myself can better help others develop a mindset and legacy of turning Me > We. As Tina Fey says, “there are no mistakes, only opportunities.”

I will be taking my tech savvy, my knowledge and experience in Autism intervention, and my entrepreneurial perspective and mindset and applying them to my my new job.

I’ve just been hired to be the new Clinical Support Specialist at the Kennedy Child Study Center in Manhattan. New program, new location, new school year, new supervisory leadership role, new possibilities, and new ways to help children with special needs redefine success and failure. All while continuing to share my Socially Speaking™ company vision and work which I started with my best friend 5 years ago.

Seems like a lifetime ago, but that’s just my perception…..

I want to sincerely thank everyone who has physically, virtually, emotionally, intellectually, collaboratively, and creatively accompanied me on my journey.

I am a better person as a result, and eternally grateful!




Posted in Balancing Humanity & Technology, Creativity, Life Lessons, Musings on Humanity, Thought Leadership | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Depreciation of the Value of Creativity

“The creative adult is the child who survives.”

— Ursula Le Guin

“Creativity is intelligence having fun.”

— Albert Einstein

The human psyche is such that “feeding the beast” is not always a good thing, except when it comes to creativity, something I previously wrote about here on WordPress and in this article for The Huffington Post. The truth is, we live in a time where getting things  “on demand”, whether they be material goods or information at our fingertips, is eroding our innate creativity.

This is a growing problem for our society and the economy alike, because creativity matters.

It is the backbone of innovation, especially for twenty first century students. It is the antidote to conformity, especially for the modern entrepreneur and leader. So one has to ask:

Is the value of creativity being depreciated? 

It is so important to hone creativity and play skills in children; which is why my new book, Autism Intervention in the iEra is all about pairing toys and tech (iPad Apps) in treatment. It’s so important to understand the psychology behind the depreciating value of creativity, which is perfectionism; something I wrote of in my business book The NICE Reboot.

Perfectionism destroys creativity; and the ability to innovate. Perfectionism is a beast that gets “fed” when one spends too much time in “their head”, or isolated, or comparing themselves to others, or engaged in tasks that promote busyness instead of true productivity, and skewed performance instead of balance.

As we all know, balance in all things is crucial for overall wellbeing. You know what else is crucial? Taking time to listen to the whispers of the inner child residing in each of us, which grows fainter as we grow older. Why? So that we can bust the myths that hold us back; myths we hear from others and myths we fabricate in our heads. Myths which arise from fear of failure and fear of change.

So how can we overcome our fear? By understanding the causes of creativity, which I posted below. By understanding that creativity results from making mistakes, from trial and error,  and engaging in collaboration with others. By actively seeking and and going towards the “road less traveled by”. By understanding that creativity is not a hobby.

It is a way of life.

Don’t conform.

“To thine own self be true.”

— Shakespeare (Hamlet)



Creativity CausesCreative Life Don't Conform

Posted in Balancing Humanity & Technology, Collaboration, Creativity, Life Lessons, Musings on Humanity | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Happy Mothers Day 2015!

A little Star Wars humor to enhance your day 🙂

Here’s hoping y’all get a great and meaningful gift that keeps giving!

Check out Penina Rybak’s Amazon page and learn more……


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