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Business

Association for Women in Communications Honors Lynda Weinman, Starshine Roshell

The CEO of an online education company and an journalist/author receive Women of Achievement Awards

Although Lynda Weinman and Starshine Roshell may be in two different fields, they share a similar characteristic that appeals to their respective audiences — honesty.

Weinman, co-founder of the Carpinteria-based online education company lynda.com, and Roshell, a journalist and author, received Women of Achievement Awards during a luncheon on Wednesday of the Santa Barbara Chapter of the Association for Women in Communications at Hotel Mar Monte.

Roshell is a feature-writing professor at SBCC, a magazine writer, an award-winning columnist and a mother of two.

“Have you ever been at a party, and someone blurts out something entirely inappropriate — something that may be true but the mere insensitive utterance of it is likely to have offended several people in the room?” Roshell said. “I love and crave that kind of honesty. That audacious, no-mincing-words, no-beating-around-the-bush, tell-it-like-it-is keepin-it-real-ness. For my work, it’s been the secret to wooing readers.”

She has received a first-place award from the California Newspaper Publishers Association and a second-place CNPA award for business/financial reporting for her syndicated columns. She has also published two books, Keep Your Skirt On and Wife on the Edge.

“She tells it like it is and does it so eloquently,” Santa Babara Mayor Helene Schnieder said. “I can really appreciate it.”

Roshell grew up in Hollywood surrounded by movie sets and concerts, which allowed her to discern between fact and fiction.

“Living there made me bulls*** intolerant,” Roshell said, adding that the reality-based rants she read in books by Charles Osgood and Erma Bombeck gave her a connection to the greater world.

She said she strives to be clear, fearless and heard — and funny when she can.

“Honesty has drawbacks,” Roshell said. “Readers have written to me and called my work ‘ignorant and insulting drivel,’ ‘revolting and self-indulgent,’ ‘constant revelation of pitiful values.’ ... But far more often they write to me and say, ‘Thank you for hooking into a truth that I’ve felt, too, but have never heard anyone say aloud.’”

Lynda.com offers hundreds of video tutorials and instructors on a range of programs that cater to each experience level. The site was ranked the 12th-fastest growing company in education by Inc. magazine last year and has 1 million subscribers so far this year.

“As people asked me how to use certain programs, I tried to make my instructions as honest and nonthreatening as I could,” Weinman said.

She said she purchased her first computer in 1982 when there were no teachers or classes, only complicated manuscripts written by engineers. So she learned everything she could through trial and error.

“Teaching people was more psychological,” Weinman said. “It had to do with calming fears and being supportive, because not knowing how to do something on a computer was intimidating and shook their confidence.”

After publishing a bestselling instructional book, Weinman opened the first school that focused on web design, took video of the classes and put them online. Lynda.com now employs 200 people locally and 61 in Carpinteria, and has been adopted by UCSB and USC.

“She’s a positive role model, an unforgettable brand and forward thinker,” 2008 Women of Achievement Awards honoree Deborah Hutchinson said. “She failed in the retail business, but her online education is no bust — it’s a blockbuster. She’s letting us live in this online revolution.”

Noozhawk business writer Alex Kacik can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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