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By Crystal McCullough | Monday, June 7, 2010

Lynda honored as 2010 Entrepreneur of the Year

From left to right: Joanne Funari (Business First Bank and Co-Chair of the Steering Committee for the South Coast Business & Technology Awards ), Jeff Carmody (Agility Capital LLC and Co-Chair of the Steering Committee for the South Coast Business & Technology Awards ), Lynda Weinman (lynda.com), Dr. Harry Brown (SEE International), Mike Sheldon (Network Hardware Resale).

On June 3, our founder Lynda Weinman was honored as 2010 Entrepreneur of the Year by the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara, an organization that provides scholarships to local students studying business or technology. Honorees are selected in the fields of business and technology with awards for excellence in leadership, service, entrepreneurship, and innovation. Here is Lynda’s acceptance speech given at the awards event.

Thank you so much for this honor. While I know it is an individual honor, there is no possible way that I could have built lynda.com to the scale of today without the help of others. I want to first thank my husband/partner Bruce Heavin, who convinced me, much against my comfort zone, to increase the reach of lynda.com beyond my own books and classes and start a school. When I started the website it was just me, creating training mostly on graphics and web design topics. Today we have almost 300 instructors who contribute to our online library of classes, and there is no possible way that as an individual teacher, I could possibly cover the range of topics and software that they collectively have achieved.

There is a big group – over 20 of us from lynda.com – here to celebrate tonight, and I want to thank you all for being part of this vision and making lynda.com such a wonderful and collaborative place to work.

Today’s world consists of digital immigrants and digital natives (terms coined by learning designer Marc Prensky). The natives are those who have been born to the computer age, and the immigrants are like me, who were in their 20s or older before the personal computer was even invented. When I first taught myself computer skills in 1980, there were no books or videos, only incomprehensible manuals written by engineers. I discovered that I had a freak talent to understand their almost indecipherable technobabble and figure out how to use software on my own. As I started to show off what I could do, others asked me how I did it, and that spawned my career as a computer skills teacher 30 years ago!

Today, lynda.com teaches computer skills to hundreds of thousands of members worldwide. We are in the age where a single teacher can build a business that has customers in every country and from every walk of life. The Internet has changed many things – it’s changed the way we shop, the way we get information, the way we get entertainment, and the way we get education. lynda.com is part of this change. While most schools are experiencing record drop-out rates, diminishing budgets, and cuts in every direction, we have a growing and thriving membership of people who continually tell us that they love what we do, that they want to learn, and that they love to learn. They have the choice to learn when and what they want, from any location – and with our new free iPhone app, even on their phones! We are able to charge far less than a text book or a college class, and reach more people than most colleges in the world. Last year we had over 24 million visitors to our learning website.

It is an honor and a privilege to be running a successful business during the worst economic crisis of our lifetime, and we have gotten here because we have made something that people want and need, and it’s our joy and passion to help them. We work incredibly hard to create close to 100 hours of videos every month on as many subjects as we can afford to publish. We are always pushing ourselves to be better and scaling very quickly, all of which is very stressful—and rewarding. I want to take a moment to pat myself and our team on the back with this award. Then I want to wake up tomorrow to make more great training and continue to push the bar upward.

Watch Bruce Heavin’s video of the award presentation:

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