Moving Forward into Digital

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I had been asked to do a presentation to a group of technical divers in Dubai on some of the ship wrecks that I have been fortunate enough to discover off Durban, South Africa along with Dave Griffiths, PADI Examiner and TEC Instructor Trainer as my co-presenter. I had planned to arrive in Dubai at 5am on the direct flight from Durban with Emirates Airlines, get in a few hours sleep and be ready and set up for the start of the presentation at 7pm.

The day before I checked in online and the flight was on time. I spoke with Ahmed Sayed, the PADI Regional Manager for the Middle East and he confirmed that there would be close to 100 attendees for the presentation. I arrived at King Shaka International three hours before the flight, checked in and went through to the International Departures hall. About an hour before boarding we were notified that due to bad weather the plane had been delayed by three hours. No problem, as I still had plenty of time. Needless to say, South Africa was hit that evening by extensive thunderstorms with terrible flooding, hailstorms and strong winds. I eventually got to board my flight at 2 pm the next afternoon. There was no way that I was going to make the presentation in time given that I was in for an eight hour flight.

Fortunately I had remembered that Emirates Airlines has Internet connection on the plane. I had confirmed with the very helpful ground staff that our plane had internet and confirmed that it was working. I told Ahmed that I was still going to do the presentation, but it would be from the air and not in front of the audience live. I Dropboxed Ahmed my Powerpoint Presentation and ran through it with him. Ahmed was to set up everything at the conference Centre and I would connect via Skype. We arranged to meet online two hours prior to the start of the presentation to check that everything would work. The Emirates flight crew had arranged for me to use the rear Galley to do the presentation from as this would give me some privacy.

We took off and I waited for the seatbelt sign to switch off. Twenty minutes later I had my laptop out, logged on to the airplanes wifi, bought 500 megs of data for $1 and connected to Ahmed in Dubai. Absolutely mind boggling.

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The connection was fantastic. The sound was clear and I could control the presentation from my laptop. Just then we encountered same bad turbulence and I was sent back to my seat. This was minutes before the presentation was due to start.

So I ended up doing the presentation 35 000 feet above the ground, somewhere over Kenya, some 4000 km from Dubai, with the laptop resting on my lap, earphones on and all my co passengers sitting in the seats around me listening intently to the presentation.

My presentation lasted 56 minutes. Not once did I loose connection, the audible was clear and in real time and the presentation went by without a hitch. Something I would struggle to do even from my home office.

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The next day when I went visiting the dive centres in Dubai, everyone seemed more amazed by the fact that I had done the presentation from the plane rather than the content of the talk. Ah well, I will just have to up my game.

Having to try to tell someone this story 10 years ago would have been like trying to convince someone that unicorns existed. Not possible. And yet it worked and we have the technology to do it. No longer do we need to send a pigeon with a bit of paper strapped to its leg to deliver a message.

The diving industry has seen this revolution and entry into the digital age. PADI has all the core courses available to download to your mobile device onto your PADI Library. Your prospective customers could be 4000 miles away, 35 000 feet up in the air doing their Dive Theory, Knowledge reviews and exams, ready and prepared for the start of the course when they land.

padi digital products

Times have changed and our customers expect to have the latest technological offerings available to them. They want to have the opportunity to decide when, where and how they do their theoretical knowledge. Nothing is ever going to replace the need for an instructor in the swimming pool or open water, but by using the digital materials available to you, you can then spend more time in the water with a better prepared student, practicing the required motor skills and applying their theoretical knowledge.

I have found that quite often it is the Instructors that are resistant to change. They find that it is comforting to teach using the methods they were taught with. And then they use this as a reason that their customers would prefer the traditional paper and classroom methods for receiving lectures.

If you don’t offer your customers the full range of products that are available, they will seek out those dive centres that do. Maybe it’s time to move forward into the digital era?

 

Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail

On my travels over the past year or so to many different types, sizes and locations of dive centres I have come across many different types of plans in these dives centres. Although there are many dive centres that have plans and strategies in place there are very many that do not. Of this group of dive centres I think that the types of planning I see can be broadly grouped into two main categories. The first and most common one I see is the “Make it up as we go” strategy. The second type is the dive centre that has a year plan proudly displayed in the office but mid way through the year hasn’t implemented any of the well thought out plans they had put together for the year.

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Having a plan within your business becomes critical to staying ahead of the competition and significant to the future success of your business. Failure to acknowledge the power of planning can be the end to any growth within a business and if you don’t know where your business is going, it’s going nowhere.

Regardless of what method of planning you decide to carry out, there are a few basic questions you should be trying to answer in your planning processes. These questions should include some of the following:

  • Where are we now?
  • Where do we want to go?
  • How are we going to get there?
  • Who will do what and by when?
  • How are we measuring our success?

This is a pretty simple way to describe planning but if you are focusing on some form of these questions, you can put together a road map for your dive business. The planning process does not have to be complicated. In fact, if your planning process is complicated then you run the risk that nobody  will understand it or people will interpret it in a different way to what you had envisioned.

There are two types of plans to implement. The first is your strategic plan. This is developing a strategy for the dive business. The second part is the planning. What steps need to be taken to execute the Dive businesses strategy.

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Some of the benefits of Strategic Planning include the following:

  • Provides a method for decision making within a business.
  • Allow staff to ask and answer important questions within a business.
  • Should reveal future opportunities and concerns.
  • Sets objectives and goals for the business and staff.
  • Provides a measuring stick for performance.
  • Develops team and team work that is focused on the business’s future

Having a Business Strategy gives your dive business the ability to better anticipate and prepare for change. You’ll lose valuable momentum being reactive rather than proactive. Customer expectations, competition, and economic changes are all variables that can rock the dive boat and send you to the sea floor if you don’t have strategies in place.  

The lack of a strategic plan can also send your employees morale down to the sea floor too. Besides the obvious need for your employees to receive a salary they need a reason to come to work everyday. Without a focused plan, morale falls and employee interaction becomes vague and lifeless. A good plan lets your employees know who is doing what, why they’re doing it, and how they individually contribute to the success of your dive business.

Having a plan allows you to set benchmarks and assists you in assessing your performance. A  plan requires you to measure and document performance. Doing so will allow you to benchmark where you’ve been, allowing you to adjust your trajectory of where you are going. Documenting data is a wise business decision to keep your organization moving forward. Do you know how many certifications, launches, charter customers you had in the same period last year and what are you aiming for in the months to come?

Failing to plan is indeed planning to fail.

At Work vs Working

As a Regional Manager for PADI I am fortunate to travel to many destinations throughout my region. I get to meet many dive centre owners and managers in exotic locations. Everybody’s dream job. However I am amazed at the recurring theme that I get to witness at most of these centres. Many of the staff and managers come to work, but fail to achieve their goals and objectives for the day. Instead of being proactive, they have to be reactive and this ultimately leads to less productivity and underachievement in the Dive centre.

Diving to the Office

So, what is work? My definition of work is the important things you do. Meetings, social media and work socializing doesn’t count The Pareto principle states that eighty percent of your results come from twenty percent of your efforts. So focusing on that twenty percent will bring in far better results instead of trying to please everyone and do a little bit of everything. So how do you set about achieving this?

  • Make a list
    • Every evening you should list all the tasks that you are wanting to achieve the following day. Allocate a time for each of these tasks. Don’t give yourself too many tasks to accomplish as not achieving the tasks can be just as bad as not having done them at all. Be realistic.
  • Wake up early
    • To achieve what you have set out to do you have got to get up in time to make it happen. Give yourself enough time in the morning to do everything you need to do at home before heading into the office. If need be, change your bed time so that you are still getting eight hours of sleep.
  • Do some exercise
    • It has been scientifically proven that doing some exercise in the morning can make us think better, work better and become a whole lot more productive. In Robert Pozen’s book, Extreme Productivity he writes that a modest exercise habit can help keep you sharper into old age, give you more energy to take on the day, and improve your mood. A quick cycle, run or gym session can prepare you for a day of getting a whole lot done.
  • Prepare for the day ahead.
    • Do all your preparation tasks before you start your day. If it means that you eat breakfast, feed the goldfish, open the office, water the plants, put the coffee on, do all these tasks first. Make yourself comfortable. When you achieve all these preparatory tasks first you are creating an environment free from distractions and ultimately making you more productive.
  • Do not check your emails as you get to work.
    • These emails can easily distract you from your planned schedule. For sure you will need to check them at some stage but allocate a time for this later in your day. These new emails can easily consume your whole morning without achieving anything.
  • Wear earphones.
    • Researchers at Harvard Business School found that earphones block out distractions and keep you focused on the tasks ahead.
  • Write First
    • Writing or composing emails is one of the most mentally demanding tasks that you are faced with. However writing also has the ability to focus you and get your brain in tune with what you have set out to do. Writing improves productivity and if you start out with this task it will improve the quality of your writing for the remainder of the day.
  • Tackle your most difficult tasks first.
    • The author Mark Twain wrote: ” If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” If you get that task you have been dreading to do done first thing in the morning everything else in your day will seem to be far easier and you will be more productive.
  • One Minute Decisions
    • Most managers find decision making to be the most difficult and time consuming portion of their days work. When faced with a decision give yourself sixty seconds to make it. You will find that your decision will be just as good but not have wasted as much time.
  • Stick to your planned schedule and tasks
    • Do not allow yourself to be distracted from your plan for the day. Stick to your schedule, allow it to guide your day. You will achieve more and be far more productive.
  • Have a clear work space
    • Junk and mess in your office creates distractions. Clean up your office and before you leave for the day make sure you leave it spic and span. When you get to work the next day it will allow you to think clearer, work harder and be more productive.
  • Be sure to reward yourself.
    • Some time during your work day you are going to have to stop. Look back at what you have achieved and tell yourself how much you have accomplished. If it means eating a chocolate bar or doing your happy dance, do it. Make time to reward yourself.
  • Have a routine and stay with it
    • If you do something over and over repeatedly you will be able to do it better and faster the next time you do it. Once you get into your groove, stay with it. Your routine is the start of your productivity.

Hopefully by following these simple tips you will become more productive in your work environment and achieve those goals you have set yourself.

 

5 Tips for Pros: How to Maintain Your Scuba Gear Properly

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As a PADI Professional, your scuba gear is exposed to heavy use – much more than the average recreational diver. Three or five dives a day teaching students or guiding certified divers will quickly leave their mark, and you’ll notice your diving equipment ageing much quicker than usual.

Of course, you can help to counteract this wear and tear with proper maintenance of your dive equipment, allowing you to get the best results from your gear despite the high strain.

Above all you shouldn’t forget that you always have a role model function as a PADI Pro, and your scuba gear in particular should always be exemplary: clean, well maintained and fully functional. This way you show your students and other divers that you’re a conscientious diving professional, and demonstrate the importance of well-maintained diving gear.

Here are 5 tips on properly caring for your scuba equipment:

#1 – Rinse your diving equipment thoroughly after every dive

It doesn’t matter if you’re diving in fresh or salt water; clean your scuba gear with clean water after every dive. This will help to remove dirt and other contaminants like micro-organisms or stinging particles from coral or jellyfish. It also helps to prevent the unwanted formation of salt crystal build-up after open water dives in the ocean.

#2 – Dry your diving equipment after every dive

neoprene-careSure, it can difficult as a PADI Pro to do this if you use your diving equipment multiple times during the day. But in between your dives, try to dry out your gear as well as you can. When dive gear is kept damp (especially when stored), bacteria or fungi can quickly develop and spread, which not only damages your diving equipment but can also trigger infections and irritations to your skin.

To dry your scuba gear hang it up outside, ideally in a dry and breezy place but not directly in blazing sunshine. Sunlight can cause faster ageing of materials and can make neoprene and rubber parts brittle.

scuba-equipment#3 – Check any moving parts regularly for dirt and defects

At least once a day, you should make sure that all moving parts on your diving equipment (such as buckles on your BCD, inflator buttons, regulator purge buttons etc.) are clean and working properly. That way you’ll be reassured that there are no dirt, sand or salt crystals stuck in your diving gear that might cause a malfunction during a dive.

#4 – Deep-clean and maintain your diving equipment on a regular basis

In addition to rinsing your kit with clean fresh water after each dive, you should also wash your gear thoroughly at least once a week with a special cleaner designed for dive equipment. This applies not only for neoprene suits, but also for your BCD.

scuba-gear#5 – Store your diving equipment properly

Between dives – and especially if you’re taking some time away from teaching – you should ensure that your gear is stored properly to avoid damage and deformation of the material. Make sure it’s completely dry before packing it away (see #2), don’t stand your fins on the blade-end (as they’ll bend out of shape), and ensure the glass in your diving mask is protected from being scratched.

In addition to these 5 tips, you should always be very careful when carrying and using your diving equipment. Strong impact can easily damage your gear, especially the small components in your BCD and regulator.

PADI’s Equipment Specialist Touch is a great tool to help refresh your memory on maintenance techniques, even as a PADI Professional. It’s also a valuable teaching aid to use with your students to help them learn the importance of caring for their scuba equipment.


christian_huboThis article was written by guest blogger, Christian Hubo. A PADI diving instructor, Christian has enjoyed over 4,000 dives whilst travelling around the world. Above the surface, he’s hiked thousands of kilometers across the natural world. Christian is a freelance web and media designer, underwater photographer, social media and marketing consultant and freelance author. His magazine articles and blog, Feel4Nature, inspires people to follow an independent, individual and eco-conscious lifestyle.

Congratulations to PADI’s Top Certifying Instructors in 2015

Go_Pro_CAY07_1136_TS_KingWorld_LGTop certifying PADI Instructors will soon be receiving their Elite Instructor Award. This award celebrates the achievements of PADI Instructors who issued 50, 100, 150, 200 or 300+ certifications during 2015.

The Elite Instructor Award distinguishes PADI professionals by highlighting their experience as PADI Members and gives them the means to promote their elite status to student divers, potential students, prospective employers and others. Elite Instructor Award recipients receive an acknowledgement letter and recognition certificate (both signed by PADI President and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Drew Richardson), a decal to add to their instructor cards, and an e-badge they may use on emails, websites, blogs and social media pages. Elite award instructors may authorize PADI Dive Centres or Resorts with which they associate to display their Elite Instructor Award on the business’ digital site as well.

Check out the 2015 Global Elite Instructor Recipient List to see who earned an award for their 2015 certifications. Listed PADI Instructors can go to the “My Account” tab on this site to download their 2015 Elite Instructor e-badge, and should also be able to see their e-badge on their PADI Pro Chek results page.

Visit the PADI Elite Instructor information page to read about the program.

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PADI Pro Member Benefit #8: Free Digital PADI Instructor Manual

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All PADI Professionals who have renewed their PADI Pro membership for 2016 will automatically get free access to the digital edition of the latest PADI Instructor Manual.

The PADI Instructor manual provides all PADI Standards and performance requirements for core PADI courses and programs in a simple, user-friendly format. The digital edition benefits from navigation menus to help search for specific terms or standards with the click of a button.

To download the PADI Instructor Manual, visit the PADI Pros’ Site and select ‘Training Essentials > Digital Instructor Manual’.

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You can then choose to download:

  • The latest edition of the PADI Instructor Manual (*2016 edition coming soon)
  • Versions from previous years
  • Summaries of the changes between each year
  • PADI Instructor Manuals in other languages

PADI Professionals who would still prefer a paper-based copy of the PADI Instructor Manual can order theirs from their PADI Sales Consultant or eShop.

Remember: Renew your 2016 PADI Professional Membership before 31st January 2016 and you’ll be able take advantage of our special renewal offers. Find out more here.

Ready to renew? Click here to renew your membership online, or contact Customer Services by email ([email protected]) or telephone (+44 (0)117 3007234)

Improved Delivery for The Undersea Journal

UJ-560x200PADI’s flagship publication, The Undersea Journal, is about to join the digital evolution.

Beginning with the first quarter 2016 issue, The Undersea Journal will migrate to a primarily digital delivery format for all PADI Members with a non-US mailing address. This change is to provide immediate access to the latest PADI news, updates and training standards.

Long delays waiting for your publication to arrive will be a thing of the past as The Undersea Journal will be delivered via the popular Zinio platform on your favorite digital device. Once downloaded, you can enjoy the publication online or offline – the choice is yours.

In addition to expedited delivery, migrating The Undersea Journal to a digital format also supports the PADI organization’s commitment to green practices and contributes to the conservation and preservation of our planet.

The Undersea Journal will continue to include all of the content you’ve come to expect including the latest industry updates, member recognition, environmental achievements, dive business education and training standards. It will also continue to include the Training Bulletin, which is required reading for all PADI Members.

If you prefer to continue receiving a print edition of The Undersea Journal, you may change your delivery preference at any time by visiting the Preference Center in the Your Account section at the PADI Pros’ Site. Please note that a change from digital to print delivery is not instantaneous as mail labels may be printed up to six weeks in advance of a mailing.

Expect to receive an email notification of The Undersea Journal’s availability next week. Accessing your magazine from your favorite digital device is easy. From your computer, simply click on the link in the email, create a Zinio account if you don’t already have one and you’re ready to go. For an enhanced experience on your mobile device, download the Zinio app available from the Android, Apple and Microsoft stores. Visit the Zinio Help Center for more details on how to access your magazines.

The Undersea Journal digital version is just the latest in the PADI digital evolution of products and services to help you succeed as a dive professional. For questions regarding the digital Undersea Journal, contact PADI Customer Service.

PADI Pro Member Benefit #7: PADI ProChek and DiveChek Tools

As a renewed PADI Professional, you get the benefit of both PADI ProChek™ and PADI DiveChek™ via the PADI Pros’ Site.

PADI ProChek™

You can use the ProChek™ tool to check the details of other PADI Members you might be working with, or to show your potential students your own information in order to provide them with instant reassurance of your credentials as a PADI Professional.

The ProChek™ tool is located on the PADI Pros’ Site under ‘Online Services’. Enter a PADI Professional’s membership number to see their highest core rating, current status and the year they were last renewed.

prochekThis information can also be accessed on-the-go via the PADI App (available to download for free on iOS and Android mobile devices) and the PADI.com consumer website.

PADI DiveChek™

If your customer’s have arrived but without their certification cards, the DiveChek™ Online tool is an easy way to help verify their details and save valuable diving time.

The DiveChek™ tool is available on the PADI Pros’ Site under ‘Online Services’. Enter your customer’s full name and date of birth, and you’ll be able to confirm their certification history, the date they completed the training and with which PADI Member/Dive Shop.

You can use the DiveChek™ tool 365 days a year, 24/7 so you can verify your customer’s information instantly without waiting for replacement cards or contacting your local PADI office.

divechek-exampleRemember: Renew your 2016 PADI Professional Membership before 31st January 2016 and you’ll be able take advantage of our special renewal offers. Find out more here.

Ready to renew? Click here to renew your membership online, or contact Customer Services by email ([email protected]) or telephone (+44 (0)117 3007234)

PADI Pro Member Benefit #6: Employment Board

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Are you looking for a dream career in the diving industry? If so, visit the Employment Board (one of the fantastic benefits available to renewed PADI Members).

The Employment Board is located within the ‘Classifieds’ section on the PADI Pros’ Site and lists details of the latest openings around the world – from dive guiding and teaching positions through to administration, boat captaining, equipment maintenance and more. There’s also a section where you can find opportunities to buy or sell existing Dive Center businesses, resorts or boats.

Within the Employment board, you can even add your own advertisement offering your services as a PADI Professional to others in the diving industry, or check out the latest career openings are in your local PADI Regional Headquarters.

Don’t miss the chance to get your dream job – make sure you’re renewed for 2016 and check the Employment Board regularly for the latest openings!

Remember: Renew your 2016 PADI Professional Membership before 31st January 2016 and you’ll be able take advantage of our special renewal offers. Find out more here.

Ready to renew? Click here to renew your membership online, or contact Customer Services by email ([email protected]) or telephone (+44 (0)117 3007234)

PADI Pros: 2016 Membership Renewal Offers Extended to 31 January

Renew your 2016 PADI Professional membership before 31 January 2016 and you’ll be able to take advantage of several exciting renewal offers which we’ve extended from the original deadline from the end of last year.

#1 – Free PADI Digital Product

Complete your renewal before 31st January 2016 and you’ll be able to take advantage of our free digital product renewal offer as a thank you for renewing, by choosing from either a free PADI Open Water Diver Touch or PADI Equipment Specialist Touch. That’s a benefit worth up to £65 / 88€ / 96CHF to you straight away. Find out more about PADI Digital products here.

To claim this offer, simply renew your membership and contact your PADI Sales Representative to claim your free Open Water Diver Touch or Equipment Specialist Touch today!

Renew Online and Get Your Free PADI Digital Product!

#2 – 5-for-4 on PADI Digital Products

Renew your PADI Professional membership and get the 5 for 4 offer on all digital products; that’s a saving of 20%!* Don’t miss this chance to save on PADI’s latest digital products – contact your local PADI Sales Representative to place your order and take advantage of this benefit for renewed PADI Professionals!

Renew Online and Get 5-for-4 on PADI Digital Products!

#3 – Automatic Renewal Discount

PADI’s Automatic Renewal service saves you even more money and registering is easy! Sign up to have your membership automatically renewed for 2017 and you’ll still get the discounted rate for your 2016 PADI Professional membership! Simply select the option to register for Automatic Renewal during your 2016 Online Renewal process to take advantage of this fantastic benefit.

Renew Online and Sign Up for Automatic Renewal Today!

If you have any questions about your PADI Professional renewal for 2016 please contact Customer Services by email ([email protected]) or telephone (+44 (0)117 3007234).

Don’t miss out on these fantastic offers above – click here to Renew Online Now

Together We’re #1 In Diving!

It’s no mystery why PADI is the world’s leading diver training organization. Members value the high quality of PADI materials and excellent customer service while divers get the benefits. All of this has made PADI the global leader and most trusted source for diver training since 1966.

*5-for-4 Offer ends 31st July 2016. Offer available only on multiples of five of the same product, not available as mix and match. Available to PADI Instructors who have renewed their PADI membership for 2016.