I See You: Why Your Digital Avatar Matters As An Entrepreneur

“I see you.”

— Neytiri from Avatar

“Here’s looking at you, kid.”

— Rick Blaine from Casablanca

Pop culture has a way of holding up a virtual mirror and showcasing the best and worst human traits, the mundane and the sublime. It’s why I love movies so much and reference them often; in my writings, in my speeches, and even in daily conversations and daydreams. Two movies which understand the human mind and have left impressions on countless people (not to mention new buzzwords and new film making techniques) are Avatar and Casablanca. I especially adore Avatar, one of my favorite films of all time! It teaches us so much about tolerance, education, and entrepreneurship. It heralded in the Age of the Visual Special Effect. It  demonstrates serial storytelling at its finest.


Are you eagerly anticipating the sequel as much as I am?


Are you also taking note of how technology is evolving and our visual storytelling medium with it?


We are in the midst of a Visual Revolution where seeing is believing and visual content marketing reigns supreme. This has spurred the social media movement where a new kind of communicator, storyteller, intrepid explorer, mentor, humorist, and entrepreneur can pitch a tent on different platforms, network, seek guidance, establish a business niche, and hone cognitive empathy while marketing their service/product. But social technology is not just about harnessing the power of storytelling to convince people why they need you. It’s more than a forum for practicing your elevator pitch in different mediums, or adding followers to your network after a trade show or conference.


Social media at its core is about adding to the topography of your own inner landscape, and navigating the landscape i.e. the Theory of Mind of others; what they post, where they post, and who they post to. It’s about having access to a universal petri dish incubating civic engagement and activism, a universal classroom where we are both student and teacher, digital citizen and thought leader. It’s about the process of turning Me into We, not the pipeline of selfies, i.e. the outcome of who we are and what we stand for. 


The use of social technology can and should expand your own horizons and connect you to other like-minded people; mentally, intellectually, and emotionally. Its reach is thus far greater and more meaningful than just becoming part of a Twitter list or Google+ circle or community. As an educator turned social entrepreneur I believe that we all have a responsibility to use social media collaboratively for the greater good. It’s something I wrote about in my book, The NICE Reboot. It’s something I spoke about this week when I attended the Growth Meetup organized by Diana Kyser McNeff, for the Women’s Center for Entrepreneurship Corporation of NJ. I presented some of the rules of engagement re: creating one’s digital avatar with heart. You can also get my takeaways by downloading  this slideshow from my Slideshare page, reading this post from my Tumblr page, and reading this post from my LinkedIn Blog.


Crafting one’s digital marketing strategy is about remembering the “social” in social media; that it’s a two way street. It’s not that different from giving a presentation to a live audience, something I have been doing around the USA since 2009. Both social media and keynote speeches/seminars benefit from the use of humor, especially visual humor, to create emotional attunement. Both also benefit from preparation and the use of content curation which maximize the impact of your delivery and takeaways. Just look at some of these TED Talks from this great list!

As I wrote this week elsewhere, one’s digital avatar matters; style, substance, structure, function, intention, action, architecture, and artistry…. all composites of its ephemeral form.

It’s time to rethink our social media war room strategy. 

It’s time to rethink the definition of community.

It’s time to rethink the definition of cultural innovation, especially as an entrepreneur.


The facets of progress and human self actualization are interconnected and evolving. It’s something that we learn when studying psychology in general and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in particular; especially re: marketing, social media, and technology. It’s important for today’s entrepreneurs to keep in mind.

It’s something that Apple has understood all along, moving us all towards the reality of a smartphone becoming the digital hub; professionally and personally. It’s something Apple demonstrated again at the recent WWDC Keynote Address; a love letter to the digital life long students we are all slowly becoming. It’s essential for today’s professional and digital citizen to keep in mind, especially when trying to better balance humanity and technology and life/work i.e. time for oneself and communal/family responsibilities.

Transitioning from being a Me to We is more than a state of mind, and it CAN be taught. It starts with creating a digital avatar with heart that wins the hearts of others. It continues with action; using it to start off with small talk and then provide virtual mentorship and thought leadership within your ecosystem. That’s one of the reasons I cite other people’s work in my own writings. I share what I’ve learned from others because it’s helpful, meaningful, and promotes changes in thinking and ultimately deed.

It’s not just about attribution, although I went on Twitter last night to publicly apologize that the links in my latest HuffPost piece were deactivated somehow. So I’ve been repurposing content here today and including them in this post 🙂


Why? Because as a woman entrepreneur I am very mindful that my digital avatar online and my overall work in real time should make a difference and craft a self-sustaining legacy; for the collective community and for the next generation. Crafting a digital avatar that represents that innate skillset and innate mission is therefore something we women in business intuitively understand and strive for. So that we leave a digital breadcrumb trail for the Sisterhood to find as needed. So that our digital footprint is considered a contribution.

That’s why humanizing one’s digital avatar and “talking human” is crucial to the social communication and social technology process. Entrepreneurship today is rife with opportunities to create, communicate, and collaborate with people in different locales, industries, and venues. Thanks to technology, especially social technology, ecosystems are being defined and refined on an almost daily basis, thus promoting disruptive innovation and new opportunities, and making your entrepreneurial digital avatar matter; more than ever.

How can we see each other better? Are we connected on LinkedIN? Please consider inviting me to join your network! Are we following each other on Twitter? Please let me see you on my feed 🙂

To see me in person and try the Socially Speaking™ experience, please consider hiring me to speak at your next event….about digital avatars and other trends in today’s startup culture. Six of my seminar proposals are available as PDFs on my Slideshare page 🙂

I see you. I learn from you. I thank you for reading this post, and for following my digital avatar in different locations. I appreciate your time, feedback, and comments. I look forward to continuing the conversation…….

What can we do for others together, starting now?



Universal Class Avatar Film






About penina4niceinitiative

Penina Rybak MA/CCC-SLP, TSHH, CEO of Socially Speaking LLC, is the author of "The NICE Reboot: A Guide to Becoming a Better Female Entrepreneur". She is an Autism specialist and educational technology consultant turned social entrepreneur. She is also a pediatric speech therapist and the creator of the Socially Speaking™ Program & iPad App. Her second book, "Autism Intervention in the iEra" was published in 2015. Since 2010, Penina has been a national/international speaker about social communication development, balancing humanity and technology, and best practices re: mobile and social technology. Connect with her on LinkedIn to learn more. You can also find her on Twitter: @PopGoesPenina, Facebook: Socially Speaking LLC, Google+ at The NICE Initiative for Female Entrepreneurship, and Pinterest and YouTube as well.
This entry was posted in Balancing Humanity & Technology, Digital Footprint, Musings on Humanity, Social Entrepreneurship, Social Media & Entrepreneurship, Thought Leadership and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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