Meet Alan Keller – Elite Instructor My PADI Challenge Winner

PADI will be recognizing the outstanding achievements of the 2015 Elite Instructor My PADI Challenge winners through an interview series, to find out where they started and how they elevated through the ranks to become a PADI Elite Instructor.

Alan Keller_myPADIAlan Keller, a PADI IDC Staff Instructor in Alberta, Canada, is one of the fifteen PADI Professionals who won the Elite Instructor Challenge in 2015, and certified more divers during July-September 2015 than he did during the same three-month period in 2014.

Let’s learn how Alan’s path to become a PADI Instructor led him to this terrific achievement.

Describe your inspiration to become a diver.
I did a PADI Discover Scuba® Diving experience in St. Maarten when I was on vacation with three friends… and I was hooked!


Tell us about your decision to become a PADI Professional. What or who inspired you?
When I attended a Go PRO Night at my local dive shop and saw the employment board at the PADI Pros’ Site, I realized that becoming a PADI Pro would give me the opportunity to work in a warmer climate.

How do you think you’ve changed personally and professionally as you’ve moved up the ranks from Open Water to Elite Instructor?
Professionally, I have changed in that I am much more adaptive in my technique. I’ve learned how it to make things work based upon dive conditions, student experience, and my own limitations.

Personally, I’ve realized what’s important in life.  Before becoming a PADI Pro, I was an accountant in the downtown office towers of a busy city. After 15 years, I had enough and went into scuba diving. While the pay is definitely not the same, the quality of life I have is so much more.  Happiness is defined differently for each person—and that’s been the big lesson for me – learning what makes me happy.

Alan Keller PicWhat do you consider your greatest achievement in your diving career?
Working with students who have a fear of water and getting them to the point where they get certified on their once-in-a-lifetime vacation.

What is your next goal related to scuba diving?
My next goal professionally is Master Instructor and personally it is to complete my Tec 45 and Tec 50.

Everyone has a certain style of teaching. When you’re teaching someone to dive, what do you put the most emphasis on?
Making the scuba diving as much as a transformative experience as possible. To make that happen, I adopted the Maslow Hierarchy of Needs: I make sure their physiological needs are met, then safety, followed by self-esteem and belonging. By adopting this philosophy, my students have a greater opportunity to get to that transformative experience and we all have fun while diving!

Did you have to overcome any fears, challenges or obstacles to get where you are now with your diving career?
The biggest challenge where I live is the limited dive season, so it became important to teach many different courses, be familiar with the various dive sites and take advantage of the best times to deliver courses over the course of the season.

Tell us what you enjoy most about teaching people to dive.
I love that it is different every time, with every individual, at each dive site and each and every day—it’s never the same!

Describe some of the encounters you have had along the way that inspire you to keep teaching.
I did a PADI Discover Scuba Diving experience with two hearing-impaired teenage – twin boys.  They were able to hear me with their electronic aids in the classroom but as soon we went into the pool, they had to remove them.  With the assistance of their translator, they could understand me at the surface. Then, when we got under the water, we were still able to communicate directly.

The wife of a local diver was going on a trip to Fiji with her husband and she thought it would be a shame for her not to try diving while she was there.  She was afraid of deep water: jumping into it and looking down into deep water while snorkeling.  After working through her fear, she got her pool work done and got certified on her trip!  She was so excited!

What does diving give you that nothing else does?
It’s a chance to escape—whether I am looking at something new or familiar; diving with a long-time buddy or a new diver; diving the same profiles or learning something new.  Diving is what you make of it.

myPADI_challenge_badge_vv_1Do you believe that you change others’ lives through diving?
Yes, I do. I have seen families bond, fears conquered, and excitement ignited.  It’s pretty cool when someone says that they don’t want to stop scuba diving!

How would you persuade a nondiver why they should learn to dive?
Learning to dive is more than about diving.  Do things you didn’t think you could do. Witness things few other people will ever witness. Meet people you never would meet any other way.

Walk us though your most memorable dive experience.
My first ice diving experience. Initially, it was intimidating, descending past the thick sheet of ice, but cool to see the support crew on the ice. The underside of the ice was so smooth and clear that it looked like the exhaust bubbles were going up nothing as I watched them track their way to the vent holes. During the rescue scenarios, it was a unique feeling to be right under the ice sheet and have someone standing right on top of you… so close, yet so far away. I continue to ice dive and have become an ice instructor. Ice diving is a lot of work… and a lot of fun!

What does ‘My PADI’ mean to you?
‘My PADI’ is a two-fold ticket to a new world: showing people how to access the other two-thirds of the planet by showing them how to access a new part of themselves – one that was never reachable before.

Check back and follow along with us, as we’ll continue to share stories of PADI Elite Instructor Challenge winners.

New Contest: 12 Days of Scuba

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Between 1st and 12th December, take part in our brand new “12 Days of Scuba” contest and share with your students to get them excited about diving, too!

Every day an exciting new challenge will be unlocked – from photo competitions to creative tasks – and there’s a total of over $2,200 worth of Aqua Lung scuba goodies to be given away over the 12 days.

Prizes sponsored by Aqua Lung include: PRO HD BC, CORE Regulator, Alu Trio Torch, Impression/Linea Mask, Rashguards, Defense Dry Duffel and more!

To enter, simply visit 12 Days of Scuba contest via the PADI Facebook Page.

Click on the daily gift box to see the latest challenge and prize, and submit your entry before midnight each day to be in with a chance to win. You can complete as many or as few as you like, and winners will be announced throughout the 12 days on the contest page.

Make sure you bookmark the contest page and check back each day to enter the next challenge and see the latest winners.

How many challenges can you complete?

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Announcing the 2015 Elite Instructor My PADI Challenge Winners

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Congratulations to the instructors who won the first annual Elite Instructor My PADI Challenge! These 15 PADI Professionals certified more people the past three months than they did during the same three-month period last year. Thank you all for your amazing achievements and dedication in teaching the world to dive, and for creating more ambassadors for the ocean.

Want to win next year’s challenge? All 2015 PADI Elite Instructors will be eligible for next year’s contest. To read about the Elite Instructor My PADI Challenge and incentives, visit padi.com/elite.

2015 Winners

300 Level*:
PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer, Stormy Munkirs

200 Level:
PADI Course Director, Christopher Adams
PADI IDC Staff Instructor, Sam Vidler

150 Level:
PADI Course Director, Chance Gray
PADI IDC Staff Instructor, Sofie Oernstedt
PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer, Jerry Lawson

100 Level:
PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor, Linda Eckardt
PADI Master Instructor, Laura Villneff
PADI IDC Staff Instructor, Kevin King
PADI Master Instructor, Kenneth Peters

50 Level:
PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor, Hannah Tannenbaum
PADI IDC Staff Instructor, India Watkins
PADI IDC Staff Instructor, Alan Keller
PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer, Santiago Modern
PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer, Guillermo Antonio Garcia Blanco

*Minimum number of certifications achieved in 2014.

Last Chance to Participate in the Elite Instructor Challenge

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Attention 2014 PADI Elite Instructors!

There is less than one month left to compete in the Elite Instructor my PADI Challenge! Don’t forget, you can win a 2016 PADI Membership Renewal, personalized PADI Gear and recognition at DEMA Show 2015. You’ll also be featured in the my PADI marketing campaign!

Contest ends 31 September 2015 and winners will be announced mid-October. Be sure to check back and see if your name is announced.

If you missed out this year, there is still time to strive for the 2015 Elite Instructor Award. That way, you will qualify to compete in next year’s challenge!

Review the full details – including the official contest rules – at the Elite Instructor my PADI Challenge page.

Good luck!

Elite Instructor My PADI Challenge

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Were you an Elite Instructor in 2014? If so, hope you are ready for a little friendly competition!

Take the Elite Instructor my PADI® Challenge from 1 July through 30 September and you can win a 2016 PADI Membership Renewal, personalized PADI Gear and recognition at DEMA Show 2015. You’ll also be featured in the my PADI marketing campaign!

You’ll compete against others in your same 2014 Elite Instructor category and there’s no need to enter or apply because your PADI Regional Headquarters will track your growth for you. Those showing the most percentage growth in certifications (as compared to the same time frame last year) will win. Simple as that!

Get the full details – including the official contest rules – at the Elite Instructor my PADI Challenge page.

Now, get certifying and good luck!

Dives with a Difference – New Social Media Contest

Dives With a Difference

For our Dives with a Difference contest, we’re looking for dive sites which are out of the normal scuba box – the places we don’t always dive every day, locations that need special training to access, or simply those which are one-of-a-kind in the world. Dive sites such as…

  • Missile silos and bunkers
  • Underground caves, the cenotes and other sinkholes
  • Diving under the ice
  • Sculpture parks, memorials and hotels below the surface
  • Craters, volcanos and altitude dives in the mountains
  • Underwater forests, parks and ruins
  • …surprise us with your most unusual diving destination!

If you regularly dive, teach, or run your PADI business from one of the world’s more unusual diving locations, submit a photo or video of your most extraordinary dive. Or promote this contest to your students and ask them to submit photos or videos for the chance to win one of three cool prizes.

How to Enter
Enter your details on the PADI Facebook Page Contest Tab and upload either your photo or video along with a short description of your dive site and what makes it unusual. Entries must be submitted before 11.59pm UTC on 16 June 2015.

Selection Process
PADI staff will shortlist 10 finalists after the entry period closes. These 10 finalists will be listed on the contest page for public vote between 19-26 June 2015. The three entries with the highest number of votes will be chosen as 1st, 2nd and 3rd Place Winners.

The Prizes
The Winner (1st Place) will get a GoPro video package which includes: One Hero4 Silver camera kit, 2X filters, 1 dive housing and 1 camera tripod.

Two runner up winners (2nd Place and 3rd Place) will each win a Quik Pod DSLR/POV Ultra selfie stick, a Quik Pod Floating Lanyard and a PADI Prize Pack/Swag bag.

Good luck to you and your students!

7 New Wonders of the Underwater World: Voting Now Open

PADI Facebook contest - Vote Now

Last month we asked divers to submit their ideas for the New 7 Wonders of the Underwater World. The finalists have been chosen, and now it’s time to chose the winners.

Below is a list of destinations that have made the final cut. You can invite customers to help push your destination to the top of the list by sharing this link:  http://a.pgtb.me/z8jxBT or directing the to the contest tab of PADI’s Facebook page. All votes must be in by Monday 24 June 2013.

Our seven winners will be promoted to hundreds of thousands of divers via PADI’s Social Media channels as the 7 New Wonders of the Underwater World, so don’t be shy about drumming up votes. Imagine if your local diving area was chosen, how would that be for ultimate bragging rights?

Here are our finalists from the PADI Americas territory:

Pacific
Ghost Fleet – Chuuk, Micronesia
Niihau – Hawai’i
Rock Islands – Palau

Caribbean
Champagne – Dominica
Babylon – Grand Cayman
Grenada Underwater Sculpture Park
The Arch – Turks and Caicos

Great Lakes
Edmund Fitzgerald Wreck – Great Lakes

East Coast
Florida Freshwater Spring Caves
U-352 – North Carolina
Christ of the Abyss – Key Largo, FL

Latin America
Blue Hole – Belize
Malpelo – Colombia
Galapagos Islands – Ecuador
MUSA – Cancun, Mexico
Sand Falls – Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
El Acuario del Mundo – Sea of Cortez, Mexico
Cenotes – Yucatan, Mexico

Name the 7 Wonders of the Underwater World

PADI Facebook contest
PADI’s latest Facebook contest is  “Name the New 7 New Wonders of the Underwater World.” Aqua Lung is our contest sponsor and some lovely prizes are on the offing.  Full details and the official rules can be viewed on the PADI Facebook page.

Here is a basic overview:

  • Nominations accepted now until 29 May 2013.
  • Finalists announced / public voting 31 May – 24 June
  • Winners announced 3 July 2013.

Asking divers for their thoughts on what should be included in the 7 Wonders of the Underwater world is a great item for your Facebook page, or a blog post. Feel free to use the contest graphic above and use this mobile-friendly link to invite your divers to enter: http://a.pgtb.me/z8jxBT

Mark your calendar for 31 May to help promote entries from your own divers or entries that are within your region!

Wanted: Inspiring Stories from Students

PADI Ask Any Diver

Do you have a diver with an inspirational story: someone who conquered a fear of water or overcame a disability and transformed his or her life through diving?  Invite your students to share their stories and they could be featured in a global advertising campaign: Ask Any Diver.

PADI’s Ask Any Diver campaign will feature stories from real divers sharing how they overcame personal obstacles or preconceived notions of scuba diving on the way to earning their certifications. In addition to inspiring others to try diving, your diver’s story will spread the word about your dive business.

How to Enter:
Divers should submit a video describing obstacles they overcame and how scuba diving changed their lives via the Ask Any PADI Diver page on padi.com for consideration. Please note: Submitting a video does not guarantee the diver will be featured.

Are You Wasting Money on Marketing?

Don’t Waste Money on Old School Marketing

None of us are rocking mile-high-bangs or a hockey haircut, but some businesses are still advertising like it’s 1992 – Yikes! Marketing tactics, like underwear, get old and have to be thrown away.

The ambiguous, “our yellow book reaches more than 250,000 people in your area,” – that doesn’t cut it anymore. In this day and age, you should be able to point at each and every customer and know what brought them in your door.

With 2012 on the horizon, why not throw away your least-effective marketing effort and try a new one?

If you’re not sure where students come from, you can easily send out a free survey using surveymonkey.com (or a similar service) to your current database. For future customers, make up a “how did you hear about us” card and put it in your OW student kit.

New Year, New Ideas

Referral Program: Bring a Friend to the Pool
What if you certified 20% more divers in 2012 than you did in 2011?

When Open Water students invite a friend to try scuba, 20% of those friends end up registering for an open water class. Does the cost for an extra hour of pool time pay for itself if you get a 20% return in investment?

Gather Positive Testimonials and Online Reviews

Online reviews are critical to attracting new customers. So let’s talk about a few ways you can beef them up.

  • Ask loyal customers to post a review to Google or Yelp. Offer a prize for the most colorful review (determined by popular vote).
  • Invite new customers to review your business on Google or Yelp:  “bring in a print out of your review and receive 10% off your next class.” To promote the idea, attach the offer to the student’s cert card, or send in a follow up email.

Planning to buy Facebook Ads? Increase Your Likes

sample facebook ad for scuba diving

Facebook  users are more likely to click on an ad from a business their friend already Likes. Makes sense, a personal endorsement means a lot.

Before you invest in Facebook ads, build up a solid user base and make your page a place with fun and engaging content. How to go about this? I’m glad you asked…

Recently I worked with a dive center to increase their Facebook likes from 187 to over 700 in about eight months – without spending a dime. Here are some of the more effective things we tried:

Worst Underwater Photo Contest
(Offerpop’s contest app is free if you have fewer than 500 Likes
Visitors must Like the page to enter or vote)

scuba facebook contest
Discussion Contests
(click image below for an example)
sample facebook ad for scuba diving
Guess the Mystery Fish
This one works well for boosting impressions
Pasted below is a chart showing which activities brought in the most new Likes and how many times we ran a particular promotion.
scuba diving facebook stats


The Facebook Ads referenced above were from free coupons received in the mail / torn out of magazines.

Want more?