Friday, December 5, 2014

Collaboration or Competition?

I attended an AHA Training Center forum a few weeks ago.  I'm always learning something new and the vendors usually have great stuff to share.  :)  I had joined in on a conversation with a few instructors and we realized a few minutes into our discussion that one of them is a local instructor affiliated with a different training center than mine.  She said to me "You're my competitor".

Um... what?

My first instinct was to say "No, we're colleagues. Not competitors."

But it got me thinking afterwards.  Why do instructors, and maybe business owners in general, look at others in their field as competitors?  I've been teaching CPR and First Aid for almost 15 years, 8 of those as a small business.  I've only run across one training center that has been somewhat competitive, undercutting and a little aggressive at times.  I won't name them, that's not fair, but I've had folks in my classes who previously took a class with them and didn't want to go back when they needed to renew their certification.

I'm fortunate to be a a very collaborative training center where we refer businesses and students to each other.  If someone contacts me for a class, but I can't fit them in my schedule, I have several instructors I'm happy to refer them to.  When I get a call for a class that is further than I'm willing to drive, I refer them to another instructor.  And those instructors do the same for me.  We have a great collaborative relationship which I think strengthens our businesses and ensures that people looking for a CPR or First Aid class are able to find one.

I don't see myself in competition with other instructors.  I do see myself as doing the best I can to provide fun and informative classes.  That is what I hopes makes people want to take my classes.  But I'm not competitive; you either want to attend my class or someone else's.  I'm not going to chase down business.  I'm a small part-time woman-owned business run by a full-time mom and I'm happy with that.  I love to collaborate and meet other instructors, I don't want to compete with them.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Is it silly or is it really raising awareness?

I kept noticing this post by several friends on Facebook:

I know nobody will read my status but sometimes, when I'm bored, I get wrapped up in a sleeping bag and lather butter all over myself and slide around the kitchen floor pretending I'm a slug.

So of course I comment something like "ha ha" or "um.... okay?"

Is this some private joke?

A little while later I receive the following private message:

"Dear fellow slug victim. I'm sorry, I have lost at this game and now so have you! You liked or commented on my status so you must now post the following message as your status to continue the game for breast cancer awareness month (unless you have lost your sense of humor). I know nobody will read my status but sometimes, when I'm bored, I get wrapped up in a sleeping bag and lather butter all over myself and slide around the kitchen floor pretending I'm a slug. Thanks!"

So my first question is ... what does this have to do with Breast Cancer Awareness?  How does this help any of the myriad organizations that are researching cancer, working on a cure or supporting cancer patients and survivors?  Quite frankly, I can't see how.  And then of course I began to worry that I seemed callous by posting 'ha ha'.

I know I'm comparing this, and maybe unfairly, to the ice bucket challenge.  Not only did this silly Facebook prank go viral it raised millions of dollars to aid research and treatment for patients and families with ALS.  Towards the end I saw of lot of videos of "do it or donate", which was supposed to be "do it and donate" - and I'm happy to say my 4 children and I did do it and I made a nice donation to the ALS Therapy Alliance.  But the reality is millions of people participated in one form or another, we all became very aware of what ALS is, how debilitating the disease is and millions was raised for research that will hopefully lead to improved treatments and a cure.

But let me get back to my point.  Unless you're 'in the know' - how does a silly post raise awareness and provide any benefits or support to cancer support, treatments and research?And why do we need a silly post to raise awareness?  It's October - Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Pink is everywhere, there are runs, walks and lots of fundraising events going on.  Awareness does not lead to donations, breakthroughs in research and improvements in cancer treatments and survival. Awareness that leads to action does.  Like this newsletter I received in my email today which encourages donations and showcases companies who will donate a portion of sales of their products to cancer research.   I'm not cynical of breast cancer or any cancers, I have a strong history of cancer in my family which is why I have a mammogram every year.

So my awareness post will be:

New Hampshire's Let No Woman Be Overlooked Breast and Cervical Cancer Program plans, promotes and implements programs of education and screening to reduce the mortality rates, through early detection, of breast and cervical cancer among NH women.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Squirrel Project kind of day

My facebook status today:

Today is turning into one of those squirrel project kind of days. Went to put away laundry, ended up cleaning out an overflowing drawer, kids needed a charging cable, which I didn't find but the entire basket of cables is organized neatly - and the laundry I wanted to start a half hour ago is still waiting and I'm replying to emails on the computer that I noticed on my phone while looking for the charging cable.

So I will admit. I just made up the term Squirrel Project.  Because I was trying to describe what felt like sudden onset of adult ADD.  But then a friend posted that she was having the same kind of day and didn't realize there was a name for it.

Now there is.

I'll trademark it.  Squirrel Project Day (tm).  There, now it's official.

Oh, and 4 hours later after hiking Mt. Agamenticus with the Cub Scouts I finally did the laundry.  I have not done the other 9 things on my to do list for today.

In other news....

This is my first post on this blog in MONTHS.  Why?  Because I got busy.  I organized all my volunteering and non-CPR & First Aid related work into a new business. Aptly titled "Some This & That"  since that is what it is.  I also started using my other blog for my Girl Scout troop and got busy with the new studio.  Life is good.  Busy.  But good.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The downside of good SEO

When I first set up my website I put a lot of effort into search engine optimization and marketing.  I was coding then, writing my own html, so I was meta tagging and manually entering my site into search engines.

And it worked!

A number of my students were contacting me for a class through direct referrals from my previous students.  When I first began teaching about 70% of my students were referred to me.

As I've become busier that number is changing.  I'm still getting quite a few referrals, but now I'm getting calls and emails directly from search engine hits on my website.  When you're looking for a class on the NH Seacoast I'm on page 1 of the rankings.

It's a good thing.

It's also a bad thing.

I get a lot of emails from folks looking for classes who are not geographically anywhere near me, like California.  (Although if you pay air fare and hotel I'll teach you! I've never seen the Pacific Ocean.)  I'm not quite sure of how, but when I check my analytics they are finding me when they are specifically looking for courses offered by an American Safety and Health Institute instructor.  I'm listed right underneath HSI, the parent company of ASHI.

This means I'm getting a lot of email and most of it is not for me.  In addition to course requests I'm receiving emails from students looking for the cards from courses that I did not teach.

A plea to all instructors: Please send your students their cards promptly after each class.  Your students are calling & emailing me looking for their cards!  I'm referring them to HSI since I don't know who you are.

If you're in NH, ME or MA and within a 45 minute drive of the Portsmouth, NH area I'm happy to come and provide a course.  If you're looking for a class in the NH Seacoast area visit my website at and sign up for a class.

If you're looking for your card, or need a replacement card please contact your course instructor.  If it's me - call or email me. If it's not me and you're not sure who it is contact the location where your class was held.  They should be able to help you get in contact with your instructor.  If you still need help and it's and ASHI course call HSI directly at 1-800-447-3177. (Yes I know, it is pretty close to my phone number too.)  If it is an American Heart Association course you can find your local AHA training center at and click on CPR.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

One of my overbooked days

I have a bad habit of overbooking myself. Take Friday for example...
  • Up at 5am, showered, get big kids up for school and making lunches at 5:30am.
  • Lunches made, start laundry.
  • Start making a double batch of macaroni and cheese for Town Meeting Cafe on Saturday since I won't have a chance to make it on Saturday. 
  • Big kids get on bus, continue working on mac 'n cheese
  • Get little kids breakfast, send them to get dressed, get myself dressed.
  • Scan CPR cards I picked up Thursday night and email them to the students.
  • Put little kids on bus.
  • Finish mac 'n cheese
  • Put clothes in the dryer.
  • Drive to gas station, put gas in car..
  • Go to Target to buy chairs for my new classroom since I don't have enough for tonight's full class. 
  • Pick up 8 chairs, see some awesome 4' folding tables I can use and fit those in the cart too.
  • Not sure if I have the correct offer in my Cartwheel app, turns out I do! Save just over $27 on the tables and chairs. Score! We love the Cartwheel app!
  • Rush home to pick up lunch and stuff for work
  • Son forgets flute, pick up flute, drop off flute at school, drop off something at the town hall.
  • Get to work at the library at 10:05, 5 minutes late.
  • Work until 1pm.  Go home and pack up for afternoon presentation.
  • I was invited to do a presentation at a home school group's science fair.  Drive to science fair, do presentation from 2:30-3:30, have a lot of fun, talk to kids and a few parents.
  • Drive home.  Make a fast dinner for kids.
  • 5:20pm drive to evening class.  Unload those 8 chairs and 2 tables and carry up the stairs to the second floor.
  • Set up class
  • Hold 6pm class, some people linger after class.
  • 9:20pm Clean up after class.
  • 10pm Drive home.
  • Check & reply to emails I've blown off ALL DAY.
  • 11pm  collapse in bed.
5am Saturday ... it started all over again..... On the road at 7am to the Destination Imagination regional competition and afterwards headed to our Town Meeting Day, which lasted over 6 hours.

I need a nap.  Or I need to cut back on volunteering and overbooking myself.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

I'm moving! And I'm super excited about it.

I’m moving! And I’m really super excited about it.

Last year I moved my business into a permanent home at Cornerstone Commons in Greenland. I was sharing the space with a colleague who is an athletic trainer. The rooms were small, I had to offer small sized classes. But it was a huge step forward for me from renting occasional spaces for courses to having a permanent classroom space.

But as you may have seen in one of my previous posts, I suddenly found myself with a small space and a large rent when my office partner had to downsize his business and move out.

Big decision time… move forwards or move backwards, because I couldn’t stay there without a partner and I did not want to charge more for my classes.

So as you can guess from the title of the post, I’m moving forward!

Enter a good friend, and now new business partner, Zabel. Together we scoured the Seacoast looking for a new business home. And we found one!

As of March 1st we’ll be at 44N Dover Point Road in Dover, NH. This studio is much larger than my previous one and will be easier to find right off of Rtes 16 & 108. We're directly across the street from St. Mary's Cemetery.

We’ll be on the second floor on the right hand side of the building. It's 3 times larger than my current office which means I hold larger classes again. Or for businesses that want to book a class, but don't have a space to hold it, I can accommodate their staff more easily.

Imagine this building with a new sign on it.

It may sound like a rather unique combination of businesses; CPR & First Aid and Middle Eastern Dance. But we’re both small part-time businesses and we both have other commitments and part-time jobs we love. This is a perfect combination for us!

As a business partnership we’ll be coming up with a new name for our studio; but we will each still maintain our separate business identities. I will still be Coastal CPR & First Aid located within a newly named space. My first class in Dover will be a BLS Recert on Tuesday March 4th.

So a quick poll .... what should we name our new studio?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

I did not send you that obscene letter

Earlier this month I received a really vile sexually explicit letter in the mail. The return address was the American Safety and Health Institute in Oregon, but the letter was postmarked from New York.

ASHI did not send me that letter.

It’s part of an ongoing obscene chain letter. ASHI wrote about it on their blog here and here.

I contacted ASHI and sent them the letter I received. I thought this was the end of it. Until yesterday.

Yesterday I received a phone call very a very nice woman in a medical office in Nashua. Their office received this letter, and it had MY name and MY business name on it.

I began hyperventilating.

Later that afternoon I received a phone call from Newmarket PD. A childcare provider in their town received this obscene letter with my information on it.

I was hyperventilating, angry, freaked out and upset all rolled into one.

I did not send these letters. These obscene letters are not from me. The return address on those letters is my classroom in Greenland, NH. I do not receive mail there so please do not return to sender. Please contact your local police dept.

If you’re received one, I’m very very sorry you received it and probably inadvertently read it. If you haven’t received one its worse than 50 Shades of Gray. Be thankful you haven’t received it. I'm the person who teaches brownie girl scouts how to apply bandages and treat for shock for a first aid badge. I'm not the kind of person who would write a pornographic letter. I'm just not that type of creative.

This letter is part of an ongoing chain letter that has been around for over a decade. And somehow I’ve been targeted and my business and I are victims of identity theft. There are versions of this letter that have been posted online. I've debated posting a link to one of them, but seriously... it's vile. And I didn't want to entice anyone to read it with a link. If you really, really want to read a version of this you can Google on your own "This letter was sent to my apartment, addressed to my roommate's sister, who does not live here....."

If you received this letter I am very sorry. Please contact your local police department. I’ve already reported this to the police in my town and the postal inspectors office.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

NH's new child safety seat law

On January 1st New Hampshire’s new child safety seat law took effect.

You can read the details at

Scroll down to part 1b. As of my posting this on 1/4/14 there are 2 paragraph 1b’s. The second is the updated section. I’m sure they will update this soon, probably after we shovel out from all the snow we go on January 2nd.

The new law is:
I-b. No person shall drive a motor vehicle on any way while carrying as a passenger a person less than 7 years of age unless such passenger is properly fastened and secured by a child restraint system which is in accordance with the safety standards approved by the United States Department of Transportation in 49 C.F.R. section 571.213. If the passenger is 57 inches or more in height, the provisions of this paragraph shall not apply. 

There is more to this section, but this snippet covers the big changes. Which are – If your child is under the age of 7 they must be in a child safety seat until they are taller than 57″. How tall is 57″? That’s 4 ft 9″ tall. I’m 5′ tall so any child under the age of 7 who is shorter than say the height of my ear must be in a child seat. This can be a booster seat or any seat.

This is not only important for parents to know, but also for anyone who transports children in their car. I volunteer with scouts. If I am driving Daisy or Brownie Girl Scouts in my van; or Tiger or Wolf Cub Scouts, they must all be in child safety seats. I’m not as versed on all the Cub Scout rules, but for Girl Scouts we might not be covered by the Girl Scouts insurance if we were in an accident and the children were not in approved seats.

There is also a great website I found the other day, The Car Seat Lady, who has a great graphic of how a seat belt should fit a child properly. Basically if you are using your vehicles seat belt the lap belt should span from hip to hip and the shoulder belt should span from the child’s hip to shoulder without crossing their neck. Check out the Car Seat Lady’s pictures of proper seat belt placement.

Car seat safety is important. You may be a really safe driver, but we can’t say the same for other drivers on the road. Drive defensively, safely, and remember children 12 and under should sit in the back seats.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Goals & Resolutions

Happy 2014!  Do you start the year off with all sorts of goals and resolutions?  Do you actually keep them?

Do you make New Year's Resolutions or Goals?

I'm terribly at keeping resolutions. So I don't make them anymore. Instead I look at making small attainable goals and creating good habits.

So instead of saying I'm going to lose 40 lbs I'm going to work towards losing 10.  So if I step on the scale tomorrow and see I've gained a pound (or more with all the Chinese food I've been consuming) I'm not freaked out that I've shot my 40 lb goal.  I'm shooting for 10 and looser fitting clothing.  So I'm looking at losing 11 lbs instead of 41.  See where I'm going with this?  Smaller more attainable goals. So when I meet that goal at some point I'm excited and can make a new attainable goal if I decide I should continue to work on losing weight.  This works for any goal, not just weight loss.

They say (except I really don't know who "they" are) that it takes 28 days to make something a habit.  I can say I want to blog every day, but you know what?  I won't make it.  I get busy, life gets in the way and lots of other things keep me from writing.  I did a 30 day blog challenge once.  I made it 20 days.  (sigh)  Today a snowstorm is creating time for me to write - not something I can count on every day.  So today I worked on my personal calendar.  I scheduled time each week for writing.  I scheduled it on a day I have other things going on so that I won't book an all day class or something on that day.  Will I do it every week?  I don't know.

I've also realized that I need accountability to someone other than myself.  I belonged to accountability groups for my business and I am returning to Weight Watchers.  To help with my fitness and health goals I've joined a friends weight & fitness accountability group.

How many people who make resolutions actually keep them?  According to Statistic Brain only about 8%.

So as we begin 2014, let's cut ourselves a little slack and start with some attainable goals instead of large resolutions we'll probably drop in just a few weeks.