Introducing Sofia Roper. She can solve your computer problems and make you laugh at the same time. A world traveler and life-long entrepreneur, Sofia employs a positive “can-do” attitude that allows her sheer joy and enthusiasm to support you in all your computer needs. From basic email setup to advanced iPhone operations, learning a new computer program, or setting up and transferring photographs, she can help!
Sofia enjoys working with both computer and humans alike, so you can rest assured that you will have a good social experience while she delivers solutions. Many previous clients report experiencing a sense of elation and personal accomplishment. Sofia is both confident and patient, capable of undertaking complex skills such as teaching seniors – a service that Sofia claims to excel at.
Born in Vienna, Austria and raised in South Africa, Sofia speaks three languages and has traveled extensively. She maintains a life-long passion for solving problems, having fun, and making the best of complicated situations. At the age of 23, she opened her first business, a jewelry store. She then moved into financial and divorce planning, and coaching clients through life transitions, although she says that computer work is more fun because everyone always leaves happy.
Communication is a key skill Sofia utilizes in working with all of her clients. I spent a morning chatting with Sofia and we had a good time. I was even able to figure out why my email stopped working on my iPhone.
Sofia, thanks so much for reaching out do this interview with us in the LocalsGuide! Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born in Vienna, Austria. My family immigrated to South Africa when I was seven years old. I became a jewelry designer and goldsmith after finishing school and started my own business when I was 23 in the Western Cape Province. That’s where I raised my two children. After 19 years, I sold everything and went traveling, visiting my family and friends in Austria, England, and other parts of Europe.
I landed in San Diego, where I worked in finance and divorce planning, which I never really found satisfying… not in the way I had loved my jewelry career. I eventually came up to Southern Oregon to visit my daughter and son-in-law who had moved to Rogue River last year, and fell in love with the area, particularly Ashland.
My daughter is extremely happy to have me nearby as we are best friends and she recently became pregnant with her first child, so I will be able to help her with the baby.
You speak three languages and are fluent with computers.
Yes, I am fluent in three languages, and when I got my first computer in the 90’s, I just clicked with it. It felt like another language that I could understand. If I had been born 20 years later, I may quite possibly have become a computer scientist. I am not very interested in the coding aspect though – rather the user experience, the way it can make life so easy and convenient. Of course, it needs to be mastered and that’s what I enjoy the most. I can spend hours researching, studying, testing, and experimenting, with various software programs and applications. I often say in jest that I have had a love affair with technology for the last 20 years
You are also a life-long entrepreneur.
Yes, as mentioned before, I started my first business at age 23. We are all born with natural gifts and talents, and one of mine is my problem-solving, solution-finding brain. I am at my most productive and creative when left alone to figure things out.
I found it very gratifying to design a new piece of jewelry and then have to figure out how to make it. Since it was all hand-made (no casting at all), it was like building something piece by piece.
Although I have had three different occupations, I have used the same skills with each of them. My number one objective is to find the easiest, simplest solution, whether it’s finding the best asset-division plan for my divorcing clients, or the most practical way to set up my clients’ technology for maximum efficiency and ease.
I get the sense you are also a bit of an adventurer.
I think some of that came from my father. He was a dreamer and adventurer. Growing up poor in Austria, he dreamed of moving to a country where there was sunshine and opportunity. Back in the 60’s, it was going to be the USA or South Africa. The latter won because the white SA government shipped us in for free as they were trying to increase the white population there.
All my parents’ immigrant friends had their own businesses. I grew up in that environment. I already knew as a teenager that I wanted to have my own business. I am also used to having my family scattered all over the world, so moving to another country was not scary for me… or maybe it was a bit, but I did it anyway!
My son, who still lives in South Africa, loves living dangerously. He has at times worked as a videographer in the African bush. He’s been charged by elephants and rhinos and loves the adrenaline rush.
I don’t go looking for that kind of rush as I am a very calm, easy-going person, but funny adventures often find me. I once went white-water rafting on the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe with my cousin Andrea. A gynecological convention was taking place at Victoria Falls at the time, so there were a ‘gaggle of gynies’ (as I call them) on each raft. We ended up flipping twice as we went through rapids with names like Terminator and the Washing Machine. It was the highlight of our lives.
I have bungee-jumped twice. Once just to have the experience, and a second time when I ended up taking my cousin’s jump after she had paid and been harnessed in. She literally turned green with fear. I wasn’t mentally prepared, so I had a fear of heights for years after that. Good, fun times though!
Sofia, you describe yourself as having balance in both your creativity and logic when approaching problem solving.
My brain just works that way… it understands. I will start looking for the solution to a problem and go here and there, tweak this and that, then go to the next level and fiddle here and there and… suddenly it works! It seems like magic sometimes. It’s as if because I love technology so much, it loves me back – it responds.
Let’s talk about the people side of your business. What do you enjoy most about your clients?
I love nothing better than when they have an “Aha!” moment, and the sense of relief that comes when a problem is solved. It is extremely satisfying to set up their programs, files, and apps to work efficiently and then translate seemingly complex concepts into easy-to-understand language. They end up feeling much more confident and empowered.
What was the most obvious fix that turned out complicated to resolve?
Setting up email accounts on an iPhone for a client. I have done it successfully in the past, but struggled this time.
On the other hand, I have had clients call me in a panic about some big mess they made on their computers and I was able to solve it on the phone in two seconds.
There are so many different programs and apps and they are constantly changing. No single person can know everything, so we tend to be very good at the things we have worked with the most. That’s why there will always be work for good tech people.
How do you provide assurance to your customers that you can solve their computer woes?
Firstly, I keep a level head. I am a sort-of computer counselor… holding their hand while solving the problem. I will keep at something until I find the solution. If it needs further research, I do it in my own time and then get back to them.
Sofia, your reputation for working with seniors is far and wide. Please say more.
I love seniors! I am almost a senior myself, a junior-senior. The majority of my clients during my jewelry and financial planning years were people-of-a-certain-age and I am very comfortable with them.
I am extremely patient and love teaching. My gift is to translate highly complex things into simple language as I have mentioned before. Then there’s my sense of humor, which I use to bring more light-heartedness to my sessions. My clients have told me that they feel very comfortable asking me any question and never feel stupid doing so.
I offer a service for new and existing small businesses that want more of an online presence. I will create a WordPress site, use optimal internet marketing and social media strategies, as well as e-commerce and SEO. This includes setting up Facebook, LinkedIn, Google +, and Twitter accounts.
With the right strategies, a small business can look rather impressive online.
Can you share a recent customer testimonial with us?
“Sofia has been an amazing help in navigating through multiple layers of technological confusion with my email, photos, and other programs. It’s like finally taking my computer to ‘obedience school.’ She very patiently teaches me what I want to know so I can do things myself. I call her a “tech fuzz buster” because of the way she cuts through the “fuzz” of techno-babble and conflicting messages, and brings clarity, order, peace of mind and a sense of empowerment so I’ve been able to function. And she does it with a light-heartedness and sense of humor that is so refreshing!” ~ Elaine C.
Getting the most out of technology is your specialty. What was a recent success story you helped someone achieve?
I enjoy sessions where a client has a list of things to resolve. I have had clients call me to solve a router password issue for example, but since my minimum is one hour, I tell them to make a list of other things they want help with. I have had a few clients where I solved the main issue in 10 minutes and then helped them set up and synchronize iTunes, download a simpler photo-editing program, learn new tricks in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and improve their Facebook skills… all in one hour!
How are you doing billing?
I have an hourly rate and then offer a discount for two-hour sessions. If I come out for one hour and solve the issue in 5 minutes, we have 55 minutes to learn something new.
Do you have any special quotes or sayings you would like to share?
“Technology is a useful servant – master it well!”
What are some programs that you are typically working with?
I work on both Windows and Mac computers, tablets and smartphones. I often use Microsoft Office Suite, Adobe Acrobat, Photoshop, Illustrator, WordPress, PhotoScape, Google Apps, iCloud.
If I come across a great program that a client enjoys using that I am not so familiar with, I will study it until I become proficient at it. I love learning and expanding my knowledge.
I use Facebook – both a personal and business page, a LinkedIn profile with over 500 contacts, a Google Plus, and a Twitter account.
You have a great sense of humor. Where did this come from?
I’m not sure. Perhaps it’s an Austrian/South African combo. My father was very funny. He had a deadpan delivery and I remember laughing a lot as a child.
How can we support you in achieving your business goals here in Ashland?
It’s wonderful that I can get my story and expertise out like this through the LocalsGuide. I am all about building relationships. I would love to meet people with whom I could network and collaborate.
Any final comments or thoughts you would like to share with our readers?
Ashland reminds me of the city of George in South Africa where I lived for 19 years before leaving in 2001. It was a smaller community and most of us knew each other. After living in San Diego for the last 12 years, I am so happy to be back in this kind of environment.
I am amazed at the amount of volunteering that takes place here. In 2013, I became a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate for children in the foster care system) and very few people in San Diego knew what that was. Around here however, most people know what a CASA is. I was pleasantly surprised by this.
Finally, I’d like to say to all of you who are scared of technology, yet would love to be more skilled and confident to enjoy the convenience of it, I can help. I will make it easier and more fun for you. My goal is to leave you feeling happier when our session is done!
Tech Savvy Sofia