Transition: movement, passage, or change from one position, state, stage, concept subject, etc., to another; change.

March 2nd marked my last official day with Computer Explorers and was spent with a transition team setting goals, priorities and strategies for 2012. As I was transitioning out we worked as a team with the incoming president Carol Hadley to transition her in.

Letting go of the emotional attachment to Computer Explorers and the team I have worked with over the years is not easy. I know I will always feel connected to the brand, the franchisees and the corporate team.  As I observed Carol and her participation I witnessed an excitement to learn more and dedication to growing the brand to its full potential.

The day was not intended to be team building but that certainly was the outcome. The transition team consisted of the immediate Computer Explorers corporate team, representation from the UK master license and one of Computer Explorers franchisee leaders, Helen Pinkerton. Everyone was committed to strategies to grow Computer Explorers but deeply committed to welcoming Carol.

Cheers Computer Explorers! I wish you and Carol all the best!

Lorri Wyndham, Deb Evans, Cyndee Perkins and Carol Hadley

What You May Not Know About Me

As the year comes to an end, I realize there are a few things on my “to do” list that I can still accomplish.

In July, I read a great blog post by Amber Naslund called “What I Wish More People Knew About Me. I shared the post on Google + commenting that I couldn’t find the nerve to write a similar post. Amber and Carrie Wilkerson, The Barefoot Executive encouraged me to try. As Carrie said; “what’s the worst that can happen?”

 So here goes!

I’m a wife, mother and a GiGi (grandmother)  – My family is my first priority. I am insanely proud of my kids, grandson and husband. Translation – I brag about them incisively on Facebook. There are two rescues, a 100 lb Doberman (Emmett) and six month 50 lb German Sheppard (Bullet). They are very much part of the family and get equal bragging rights.

Bullet and Emmett

My husband tries to convince me to cut back on the videos and photos. The great thing about Facebook is that if my updates annoy my family and friends all they have to do is hide my posts.

I’m extremely passionate – I have been involved with Computer Explorers, a technology education franchise since 1996. I have yet to present an opening or closing at one of the annual conferences without shedding tears. Why? When I look into the audience I don’t just see a roomful of franchisees. I see a roomful of friends. I see people that I worked closely with when I was a franchisee (from 1996-2004). I see people that work hard and I want to work even harder to help them succeed. I think about the smiling faces of the children in their classes and the difference each franchisee makes in their local community delivering a quality technology education program.

My passion comes from doing work I love.

I want to be a Geek! – My third anniversary with Twitter was this month. Yes, I know what my anniversary date is and if you want to find yours use this link: http://www.tweetstartdate.com/

In May, 2010 I decided to take the next step with social media and start a BlogTalkRadio show, Social Geek Radio. I was thrilled that one of the franchise industry best social geeks, BJ Emerson agreed to co-host with me. My responsibility was to be the social co-host and BJ’s job was to “GeekItOut”.  Each week BJ shared geeky sites and tech tips. Not only did the audience learn something but so did I.  I quickly became a geekwannabe. Today, AK Stout is my co-host and my Geek mentor.  I’m constantly amazed by what AK knows about social media and technology.

Social media and technology are a big part of my business and personal life. It’s exhilarating to think about 2012 innovations and social platforms.

I love meeting strangers – This is the total opposite of my husband. He cringes at the thought of attending a big event where there is a crowd of people he has never met. On the other hand, the very same event excites me. Spending the time getting to know new people seriously interests me.  I can’t stand in line at a store without socializing with the person next to me. My daughter once asked me “Mom, can we please go shopping without you chatting with the person next to us?”  I’m not noisy or a chatterbox, I’m social and very interested in other people’s stories. It’s amazing what you learn with a smile and a simple hello.

In February I will attend the annual IFA (International Franchise Association) convention in Orlando. As one of the Ambassadors I will have the opportunity of greeting people attending IFA for the first time.

Too often I speak without thinking – It’s a bad habit. It’s totally embarrassing to scramble like a cartoon character trying to pick up my words after they have spilled out of my mouth only to find that I can’t shove them back in. I’m getting better and my hope for 2012 is to learn how to pause, think and then speak.

When I retire I want to own beachfront property – When we lived in NJ it was a short drive to the beach. One of the best ways to relax was to sneak off on a work day with my beach chair, a good book and listen to the waves. I miss that.

Today, my book would be replaced with the Kindle or the iPad but the beach and the chair would be the same.

There you have it, a few things you may not have known about me. Hopefully, we are connected and there is more you know about me than I have listed here. If we are not connected, then let’s take care of that in 2012.

Happy New Year!

Lead with Fun

When it comes to teaching children, the best way to get the job done is to make it fun. This is how Computer Explorers creates an environment where children are excited to learn new things. Hans Wagner, owner of Computer Explorers of the Lehigh Valley, helped organize an after school program for the children of Allentown School District elementary among several others. Watch this short video of Hans talking to a reporter describing the programs and his students sharing their work!

Not everyone can work with children and LEGOs. But … it is possible to have fun while working! Here are a few things I enjoy to do:

  • Lead with Fun – be willing to wear silly hats or gloves. Walk the halls and show off the silliness. Post pictures on social networks. It’s ok to laugh at yourself! Work can be boring but there is no reason why I have to be boring!
  • Engage with peers – I love dragging the folks from accounting, legal, and/or the print shop into the fun. In the picture below, Lorri Wyndham and I sported our gifts from Cyndee Perkins and walked the halls. We threatened to sing Christmas carols.
  • Be passionate and determine – this is one of Zappos core values and I try to live by it. My friend Joe Mathews, Franchise Performance Group says our work “should be a calling.”

We are coming to the end of 2011. If it wasn’t “fun” for you, think about 2012 and what changes you can make to enjoy it. Life is too short not to enjoy it and we spend too many hours a day working not too have fun while doing it!

holiday gloves and hat

Part of the Team Near or Far

A few weeks ago I was having a conversation with Computer Explorers lead curriculum writer, Roz Shafer. She was saying how she felt a little out of touch with the corporate team. Granted, it had only been a few months since her visit for the Computer Explorers annual conference but since she works from home she was feeling a little left out of the daily happenings.

Roz suggested something a little unique. She wanted to use her frequent flyer miles to visit our corporate office in Texas. She believed that if she spent a week “in the office” she would feel more connected. In all honesty, I suggested she use the free miles and take a vacation to Bermuda or some fun place. Roz lives in upstate New York and had just lived through tremendous rain and flooding and said that coming to Texas would be a vacation!

We laid out a plan of work for the week she would be here. We were pleased that she could arrive on the  weekend to enjoy the sunshine, heat and humidity that she was missing. As with all well thought out plans, execution can only happen with no interferences.

Texas is experiencing the worst drought in 100 years. That was until Roz arrived. For some unknown reason, we received rain! Not enough to take us out of our drought but certainly enough to interfere with a trip to the beach or time to enjoy the pool. There went the weekend plans but Roz rolled with the weather and enjoyed what little sunshine there was.

On Monday our plan included a strategic meeting with Cyndee Perkins, Curriculum and Program Development Director to discuss curriculum projections. Interference number 2: Cyndee called in sick! In the seven years I have worked with Cyndee she has never taken a sick day. As much as Cyndee wanted to be here she was just too sick to come into the office for two days.

Roz, Cyndee, Kris, Lorri, Deb and Kathy at team meeting

Roz didn’t lack work. She brought her curriculum units with her since her plan was to work from the CE corporate office vs working from home.  Monday, 8am started with a curriculum 911 issue from the field. Roz was able to step right in and resolve the situation. It took her two full days due to the amount of work but she completed it by hunkering down into an empty office near the Computer Explorers team. She conveniently walked back and forth to talk to the team as needed.  She was also able to attend our weekly staff meeting in person and we accomplished a great deal as a team.

Roz wanted to feel, hear, see and be part of the daily activity of the corporate team. Suffice it to say, she accomplished that goal. She worked hard and left with a understanding of what our day-to-day activities involved. When it was time to leave we were sad but Roz was more than happy to return to her home office! She had a week of the corporate life. She said it was fun for a short time but she looked forward to returning home to own routines and schedules.

She continues to attend our weekly staff meetings but does so via video Skype!  She says she still has frequent flyer miles to use so we expect another visit when winter hits upstate New York.

Hurricane Irene came and went but didn’t disturb Computer Explorers International Training. Roni Deely, a Computer Explorers franchisee since 1993 was scheduled to conduct training in Houston. Due to Hurricane Irene she didn’t board her flight out of Philadelphia. Instead she set up her office to conduct training virtually! Technology was certainly our friend from 8am – 4pm on Saturday August 27th as Irene was headed for the east coast. As Roni’s husband Bill prepared their home for the hurricane, Roni spent the entire day with Computer Explorers international students (Alan, CeCe and James) from her office using Video Skype.

Roni Deely via Video Skype

Roni walked the class through several of the Computer Explorers curriculum units. Her training session was “Train the Trainer.” She did an exceptional job providing the necessary information and confidence so they can return home and conduct the same training with their  instructors.

Watch this very short video of one of their finished products. It’s their version of Angry Birds!

Join us on Inside Computer Explorers on Wednesday 10 am Central as we talk with Alan Harrison from the UK and CeCe Qian from China about the challenges of attending an international training, virtual learning and the next steps to starting business when they return home.

It’s hard to describe the passion I have for Computer Explorers. The excitement I feel on the first day of international training is beyond words. It is thrilling to know that at the end of two weeks Computer Explorers will have a new franchisee in the UK and new programs offered in China.

Maybe if you watch this video that I received from students in Bangsar, a residential suburb on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur you will understand.

This has been an exciting week for Computer Explorers. Oh heck, most weeks are exciting since we have the most creative, enthusiastic and passionate franchisees.

If you have been following my posts you are aware that we have asked the Computer Explorers franchisees to submit videos of their students having a great time learning. With their submission they have a chance to win two iPads! One to be used in their programs and the other to be donated to the school where the video was taken.

The National Education Technology Plan 2010 may not be an interesting read for most individuals. We at Computer Explorers find it not only fascinating but we believe it validates our philosophy and teaching practices. The report says: “Many of the failings of our education system stem from our failure to engage the hearts and minds of students.” How sad is that? Our goal in Computer Explorers is to engage students with the use of technology. We want learning to be fun and when students are having fun learning we empower them to want to learn more!

Videos tell a story. We developed the contest to encourage franchisees to share their stories with us. I personally invited the following industry experts to serve as our judges. I am delighted that they accepted my invitation! Each of them brings a different perspective as a judge. They are all full of personality and wonderful to work with!

Adam Enbar, HubSpot

Adam Enbar, Inbound Marketing Specialist for HubSpot started his career as a real estate developer specializing in low income neighborhoods throughout New York City.  What started as a brief stint in property management blossomed into a full scale development firm which included acquisitions, construction, and development consulting.

During business school, Adam decided to get involved in sales and marketing.  To that end, he held internship positions at Guthy-Renker, Stion Solar and SCVNGR. While reading Inbound Marketing (cover-to-cover on an airplane), Adam realized that the ideas represented a fundamental shift in the way companies needed to operate and he wanted to take part. As an Inbound Marketing Specialist at HubSpot, he focuses on helping entrepreneurs and marketers grow their businesses by leveraging search engines, the blogosphere and social media.

Adam is holds a B.S. from Cornell University and an MBA from the Harvard Business School, where he now assists teaching Inbound Marketing in the MBA Digital Marketing course. During his free time, Adam can be found snowboarding or teaching entrepreneurship to inmates at the South Bay.

Robin Raskin, Living In Digital Times

Robin Raskin is President and  Founder of Living in Digital Times.  Robin Raskin has spent the past 30 years exploring what it means to be living in digital times. An author, editor, magazine publisher, blogger, TV and radio personality, and consultant, Raskin says she’s never met a media she doesn’t like, and is happiest when she’s writing about technology’s second citizens: kids, seniors or women and technology.

Raskin is the former editor of PC Magazine and Editor in Chief of FamilyPC. She’s been a columnist for USA Today Online and has authored 6 books about parenting in the digital age. Her latest book is The Parents’ Guide to College Life. (Random House 2006). Today, you can find her work on Yahoo! where she covered Boomer technology, DiscoverCard’s online magazine, and at RobinRaskin.com.

In 2007, Raskin became the co-founder of The Sandbox Summit : A Playdate with Technology, an event created in partnership with the Consumer Electronics Association (CES). From this toe-tipping begining, Living in Digital Times has grown to encompass 6 different lifestyle meets technology events that occupy a major part of CES’s North Hall. She also created and produced, The Last Gadget Standing (now in its 10th year) and The Mobile Apps Showdown, both wildly popular events at CES.

Raskin lives in NYC and the Hudson Valley, with her husband, her three drop in now and then children, and closets full of obsolete technology.

Nick Powills, No Limit Media Consulting

Nick Powills is CEO and Owner of No Limit Media Consulting based in Atlanta, GA. The following is what Nick shares regarding No Limit Media Consulting:

At No Limit Media Consulting, we pride ourselves on the ability to provide our clients with the most progressive and strategic communications approach in the franchise industry.

To accomplish this objective, No Limit has reevaluated old communications strategies and replaced them with a fine-tuned blend of Traditional Media + Social Media. These improved tactics have consistently delivered more qualified franchise leads while keeping existing franchisees happy as well as supporting new franchisees when they open and build brand buzz in targeted growth markets.

Articles secured no longer stop at just being a “beautiful placement.” There are now many more ways to prolong the value of these articles by distributing the content via the Web and using each article as collateral in franchise lead development. We call this approach the “merchandising of press.”

I’m so glad I called in the experts to serve as judges. Not to mention that it takes the heat off of me to pick a winner!!

Lori Gross from Chicago

Per my blog post yesterday I will be sharing the top video entries (in the order they were received) for the Computer Explorers iPad contest.

Our first entry came from Lori Gross located in Chicago, Illinois.  It was a great start to the contest.

Lori Gross is the Owner/Director of Computer Explorers of Northeastern Chicagoland.  Lori and her team are dedicated to bringing quality, exciting technology, computer education and enrichment programs to schools and communities in the Northeastern Chicagoland area.  Her love of children and passion for their education is what drove her to take on the challenge of owning and managing the Computer Explorers business in Chicago. She and her husband along with her two small children are Deerfield natives and Lori says  she is committed to giving all children the tools and skills they will need to be successful in the future!

You can learn more about Lori and her team on her her Website linked here

Her video entry highlights an exciting TechCamp at the Gurnee Park District in the Northern Chicagoland area which was comprised of three programs: Jr. FUN-Gineering, Secret Agent, Spybot and Digital Movie Making.

Good luck Lori!

The second entry came from Roni Deely in Delaware.

Roni Deely, from Delaware

Roni has been a Computer Explorers Owner/Director in Delaware since 1993. She began her teaching career in the pharmaceutical industry as a corporate sales manager / trainer. In 1992, she moved to Delaware, purchased a Computer Explorers franchise and became part of the early child care and education community in April 1993. She has received several awards with Computer Explorers including Franchisee of the Year 2000, and continues to rank in the top five territories in the country. You can learn more about Roni and her staff here

Her video entry highlights exciting Video Game Design featuring the Scratch program and LEGO WeDo kit!

Good luck Roni!

Everyone Needs An iPad

Deb with Computer Explorers iPad

For more than 25 years, Computer Explorers has been a leading provider of outsourced child computer and technology education programs for schools, recreation centers, summer camps and day care providers.

Computer Explorers is a franchise system that teaches more than 33,000 students per week. Our 600 teachers prepare children for the future in nearly 2,000 schools. Internationally Computer Explorers is represented in England, Wales, Ireland, Australia and Malaysia.

What is missing are videos to show the awesome programs we are so very proud of.  With videos of our classes we could add credibility that our students are engaged and learning. If we had videos to share we could communicate that we are different than the competitors. Videos establish trust and continue engagement for an extended period and videos of our classes would add energy to our Website!

For all the reasons above I wanted to encourage the Computer Explorers franchisees (via video) to capture the excitement of their classes via video. Since I wanted the videos in a matter of a couple of weeks I tied a contest to the request. The winner of the contest will receive two new Apple iPad 2s. One is for the franchisee to use in their programs and the second to be donated to the location where the video is filmed.

I  would love to give every Computer Explorers Franchisee an iPad to be used in their classes but it’s just not in the budget at this time. Instead, one very creative and deserving franchisee will win two iPads.

Over the next few days I will share the top entries with you. I would love to receive your feedback!

We have a few impressive  judges that will help us determine the winner which will be announced by the end of the week. We wish everyone the best of luck!

Inside Computer Explorers

Inside Computer Explorers Weekly Hosts

Inside Computer Explorers is our new BlogTalkRadio show representing the brand. The show  airs each Thursday, 8am Pacific/10am Central/11am Eastern. It will be hosted by Cyndee Perkins, Curriculum and Program Development Director; Lorri Wyndham, Computer Explorers Operations Manager and Me!

In a recent communication to the Computer Explorers franchisees Lorri explained that Inside Computer Explorers “will not become an extension of Deb’s Social Geek Radio show. As much as I like her show; we need ours to be different. Each week we will discuss current topics and trends in technology education. This show is a natural extension of our newsletters.

If you are interested in becoming a guest please contact us. We are also interested in your feedback and suggestions for topics.

We are very excited to give you a peek  Inside Computer Explorers weekly.  Please connect with us on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook and now on  Google+.