Lena West, Lori Ruff, Lisa Gerber, Carol Lynn Rivera and Ada Lovelace Walk Into A Bar

By October 14, 2013In The News

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Happy Ada Lovelace day!

Well, technically, it’s tomorrow, but so what; it’s never bad to start a celebration a day early.

Wait. Hold on. What’s that?

You don’t know who Ada Lovelace is?

Well, sit back and let me drop some history on you.

Who Was Ada Lovelace?

Ada Lovelace was a mathematician and writer born in 1815. She is known for her work with Charles Babbage who caused a technological revolution by originating the concept of a programmable computer. He designed a device called an Analytical Engine which could be programmed with punched cards. That device became the grandfather of all modern computing devices.

But all good hardware needs good software. This is where Ada Lovelace enters the scene. She collaborated with Babbage on the Analytical Engine and developed an algorithm to calculate a series of Bernoulli Numbers.

Don’t expect me to explain Bernoulli Numbers. It’s just too complicated and you wouldn’t understand.

Seriously, you just wouldn’t understand my explanation.

Ok, I admit it, I don’t know what the heck Bernoulli Numbers are, but I know they are complex.

The point is, Lovelace’s contribution makes her recognized as the first computer programmer.

Now there is debate as to what she did and how much help she had. There is also debate over the use of the word “programmer” given the technology of the time.

But no one debates that Ada Lovelace was not only brilliant, but exceptional.

The fine details of her work may be debated, but the contributions she made are without question.

So why do we celebrate her?

Here’s the politically correct answer.

Because she was the first female computer programmer.

Here’s the politically incorrect answer.

Because she was the first female computer programmer at a time when women were considered a joke outside of the kitchen.

To this day, in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) women are too often deemed to be inferior to their male counterparts. In the area of web development, the issue came to a boiling point in early 2013 causing several regional and national conferences to step up their efforts on calls for papers and speakers to be more inclusive of female developers. The Boys Club, it seems, is seeing its final days.

But let’s put aside the controversies and focus on the spirit of the day which is to celebrate the accomplishments of women; particularly in STEM.

I’ve decided that in honor of Ada Lovelace Day, I am going to honor women in my industry who are writers, marketers or content creators that I find inspiring or influential. While I was planning this article, I was debating the parameters for who I would include. Would it be people I know? Would it be historical figures or people alive today? Would I include women who inspire in the fields of science or technology or some other area?

As you can imagine, the path to this article got complicated.

So I decided to scrap the idea of having parameters and I’m just going to go with my gut and honor women that I find inspirational for whatever the hell reason I want.

So there.

I present to you my list of inspiring or influential women in honor of Ada Lovelace day.

Lena West

Expand Your Influence: A Conversation With Entrepreneur And Tribeup NYC Speaker Lena WestOur editor, Carol Lynn, interviewed Lena for this magazine. To get a sense of how awesome Lena is, read that interview and then come back.

Ok, welcome back.

Lena West is a social media professional, blogger, speaker and writer. She is also the Founder of InfluenceExpansion.com, the home of the Influence Expansion Academy, the only social media mastermind program created specifically for women entrepreneurs.

I met Lena at last year’s TribeUP NYC. Boy, did she make an impression.

I’ve been a fan of hers ever since. I have borrowed – ok, blatantly stolen – her words and ideas and introduced them to my college level web development classroom. Every student in my class for the last several semesters has heard me talk about Lena and her messages.

There are two things that Lena has said that have stuck with me the most.

The first is that people in marketing – especially digital marketing – can tend to get distracted by the echo caused by the constant stream of internet information. Politics, pop culture and whatever the hell Miley Cyrus did today can be all consuming. Lena says, “I don’t care” to all of that and focuses on her business and the well being of her clients. I know I can get sucked in to the constant droning noise cause by the internet, but I ask myself WWLD (What Would Lena Do?) when I find myself becoming a zombie to pop culture or politics when I should be strengthening my business or the businesses of my clients.

The second thing Lena said is that “time is money” is an inaccurate statement. Time isn’t money. Money can be made, lost and made back. But once you lose your time, you’re never getting it back.

That resonated with me in a way I can’t describe.

Someone told me that that message was paraphrased from someone else. I simply don’t care. It’s was Lena’s delivery and passion that made the idea sink in for me.

Every semester, I put Lena’s picture on the screen with the words “time is money” crossed out and I talk about the value of everyone’s time. Every once in a while a former student who has graduated and is in the work force will write me a note that starts with “remember that thing you said about time and money…”

Yup.

That’s Lena West. She inspires me.

That’s why she’s on my Ada Lovelace Day list.

Lori Ruff

Lori RuffI’m such a fan of Lori. Not just because of the quality of her work, but because after meeting her a few times she’s always one of the coolest brightest people in the room.

Lori is a speaker, training and author in the areas of LinkedIn and social media. She has been added twice by Forbes to their Top 50 Social Media Power Influencers.

When I asked Lori if she enjoys what she does, without hesitation she said, “I love it and I’m passionate about it.” It shows.

Lori is always on. Always engaged. Always interacting. Always learning.

Her job can be summed up like this; she changes lives.

Sounds a bit much?

It’s true.

She helps businesses and the employees of those businesses discover things about themselves they never knew. She can cultivate efficiencies and teach businesses how to market better, how to communicate better, how to be better.

The last time I hung out with Lori we were out late in NYC with friends. On the car ride home, my wife and I had a whole series of back to back “Lori said…” conversations. Without knowing it, she inspired us to take action in our business and make improvements to our own marketing and social media marketing.

Yup.

That’s Lori Ruff. She inspires me.

That’s why she’s on my Ada Lovelace Day list.

Lisa Gerber

Lisa GerberI don’t know Lisa in real life (yet). We’ve only ever met and talked electronically, but we’ve become cyber-buddies who can discuss the scientific nuances between unicorns and pegasi.

If you asked me how we “met”; I’d draw a complete blank. All I know is she has been on the top of my reading list for as long as I can remember.

But more importantly, she holds the title for authoring the most content on my “required reading” list for my college level web development class.

Lisa is a digital and traditional strategist, writer and communicator. She founded Big Leap Creative in 2004 because, get this, she thinks marketing and communications is fun!

How cool is that?

What matters to me the most about Lisa is that she writes compelling content that speaks to me. And if you can wrap your head around this; her articles resonate with my students.

No. Seriously.

Her perspectives and the lessons she learns from her clients, her life and her mistakes are always refreshing to me. She wrote an article called “How Ten Years as a Waiter Prepped Me for Life” that spurred a really cool conversation in my classroom. If you don’t know what the current state of education is these days, that’s just freaking remarkable.

Here’s the thing, if you are either (1) in any field related to marketing or (2) a human being, do yourself a favor; head over to Lisa’s blog and start reading. Start anywhere, it doesn’t matter.

Yup.

That’s Lisa Gerber. She inspires me.

That’s why she’s on my Ada Lovelace Day list.

Carol Lynn Rivera

Carol Lynn RiveraI’ve met Carol Lynn Rivera once or twice. And then we got married.

I won’t bore you with the details other than to say that we just celebrated 24 years together and as far as I am concerned, the stars, the moon, the rivers, the seas and everything in between all exist because of her.

She’s that awesome.

But, admittedly I’m biased. So what is there to admire or be inspired about?

For starters she founded and runs this magazine and it’s rag tag band of writers, developers and merry makers. She also founded the marketing and communications company that we’ve run together since 1999.

Through up times, down times, good economies, bad economies, the horror of Hurricane Sandy, and everything in between, she has kept our business alive and servicing our customers. Besides managing programmers and designers, she manages clients from industries that range from landscaping to furniture to USB connector manufacturers.

She never half asses anything and still manages to over deliver on time and with passion.

She lives, breathes and sleeps marketing, branding and, of course, web, search and social.

The proof is in the great content she produces on this magazine. Her pieces always get the most traffic, the most engagement and the most fan mail.

She gets freaking fan mail.

She has turned her almost two decades of marketing experience into a powerhouse that is the engine that drives this magazine and our marketing company.

She can distill the most subtle of life’s moments and extract a marketing lesson from it and package that into a meaningful marketing strategy.

Yup.

That’s Carol Lynn Rivera. She inspires me.

That’s why she’s on my Ada Lovelace Day list.

Ada Lovelace

As we wrap up, let’s not forget Ada Lovelace. She was not recognized in her day and is certainly not a household name today.

Head over to Finding Ada to learn more about her and the various celebrations around the world in her honor. It’s worth a moment of your time.

As for my list. It’s short and represents only a fraction of the women I admire, but the goal here wasn’t to create an exhaustive list, but to get you, the reader, to think about who inspires you.

Help me grow this list, by telling me who you want to honor for Ada Lovelace day.

Ralph M. Rivera
Hi, I'm Ralph! I'm a web developer at Rahvalor Interactive, a creative marketing services company that I founded in 1999 with my wife and business partner Carol Lynn. In January 2012 we created Web.Search.Social as a branded service offering that brings enterprise-level services to small businesses in an affordable way. I'm also founder and CTO of Podcaster's Toolbox, a SaaS platform designed to help podcasters plan, produce and promote their shows. I teach web development at Manhattan College in New York City. Carol Lynn and I are home based near the Jersey shore but we're currently location independent and traveling the country for a year, working and podcasting. I'm also trying to build a flux capacitor, but that's not going as well as the other stuff I do.
Ralph M. Rivera
Ralph M. Rivera