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April 25, 2023

How Do You Know When You're Working in the Dive Industry: Balancing Work Dive-Life with Dive Work-Life with Jack Der PART I S2E6

Jack Der Blog S2E6

How Do You Know When You’re Working in the Dive Industry 


Jay (00:06.408)Welcome to the dive table. I'm Jay Gardner and with me again is our third cohost of this new season, season two, Mr. Jack Durr. Jack, how you doing today?

Jack Der (00:18.310)

I'm doing good. Anytime I get to talk about diving, it's probably a good thing.

Jay (00:25.388) That's true. That's true. You could be talking about, I think I mentioned Excel spreadsheets in the last one. So imagine having a podcast on Excel spreadsheets. I'm sure it exists. No offense to those guys, but not my cup of tea. So we had a good time with our first episode and I'm looking forward to this one, especially because of the topic. I think this topic is going to be a lot of fun. And so we wanted to focus on an interesting topic.

Jay (00:55.508about I think a whole lot out in the open, which is being behind the scenes being a diver, which you are, which I am working in the dive industry, right, which you are clearly doing, I am doing some and will become doing or start doing a lot more, pretty soon here. And so our plan for this episode is really just to explore what it's like working and diving in this

Jay (01:25.368)you know, a full on exploration of, you know, here are the steps to get into the industry or, you know, don't do it, do do it. I think we'll get into that segment three, what's the advice we have, but it's just an exploration and conversation about being a diver working in the dive industry. So you ready to rock and roll on this one?

Jack Der (01:45.150)I'm ready. And my disclaimer on this one is the grass isn't always greener next door.

Jack Der (01:51.835)Right.

Jay (01:54.968)The water's not always clear on the next dive site. There you go, there's the dive version of it.

Jay (02:01.788) All right, so in this first part, let's set this up. This is a really interesting question and I'm curious your opinion here. And I don't know if I have yet to form an opinion. So maybe I will through this discussion, but at what point are you actually quote unquote in the dive industry? So the reason this is an interesting question because there are a lot of seasonal or part-time or side gig scuba pros.

Jay (02:31.828) Are they part of the industry? You know, or not. Is it the line in the sand that I pay my bills through scuba and that makes me in the industry? Um, you know, what, what kind of determines that you are in the dive industry versus maybe you're on the periphery of the dive industry. I super curious to hear your thoughts here.

Jack Der (02:54.090)So yeah, it's kind of interesting because I've always, like I said in the other episode, was I came from not scuba diving industry, working technology and all that other stuff. So being in the dive industry has been a learning process, not only in the job part of it, but what goes on with the whole thing. A quick, easy answer of when you're in the industry is if you can go to DEMA,

example. DEMO is the show that's either in Florida, Nevada, or this coming year it's in New Orleans. So to get into that show you have to be a dive professional. So you've gone through one of the agencies and you become a dive master. So you have a professional certification. Hopefully you have insurance because that's important especially in the United States. By the way I found out in

world, insurance is not required. Um, which I was kind of like really surprised. Anyways. Um, so if you can get into the DMA shell being a dive master and up, you're considered part of the professional scuba industry, whether you can claim that you are making your income off that or not is another story. Cause there's, I mean, I would say majority of the people that are instructors

Jack Der (04:24.070)doing it as a second job or they've retired and they're carrying on with something that they're passionate about. So are they dive professionals? Yes. And then I would say the next level is from the instructors you have the dive shop owners. Obviously they're in the industry because they are selling the gear and doing the classes and setting everything up. And then the level after that is

where you get into the agency level, you know, being part of the agency organization or the manufacturers. The manufacturer is a totally different area because you're providing now the gear for people for the dive shops to purchase, to sell to the end user. So each one kind of has its different level of where you are in the industry, if that makes any sort of sense.

Jay (05:20.948)Yeah, yeah, it does. And it's hard to kind of say, yeah, like, am I in, am I part of the industry, there's the technical? Yes, I'm, let's say I'm an instructor. But I do this part time. And, you know, and I don't make my my pay my bills through this. Right? Is that me? Like, it's kind of like if you make a

Jay (05:50.948)That's the, there was really the, the, the line in the sand, right? You made money in this, in doing scuba diving, whether, you know, I don't think many people get paid to scuba dive, but lots of people get paid to teach scuba diving. So it's a close, close enough, I guess, correlation there. Um, but it's, it's really interesting because I think there are some, some parallels here in kind of the emergence of the gig, gig economy, right? So Uber starts as.

Jay (06:20.889)of people and even Airbnb, right? Was a side gig for people. And now a lot of people, that's their, their full-time thing. They manage Airbnb properties or they are a full-time Uber driver, or they own multiple cars that are doing Uber. In fact, we're, we're renting our house here in Texas. And, um, one of the, the people that applied to, to rent our house here, um, it was very interesting. They're involved in renting out cars.

they're like a mini Hertz or you know, thrifty or whatever Alamo whatever car rental place, but they own these cars and then there's I forget the name of the app. There's an app now that basically is a what's it? What's the name? Do you remember it?

Jack Der (07:02.991)I've tried that several times. I don't remember because it never worked out.

Jay (07:09.308)They never worked. Okay, good. I'm glad you don't remember the name of it. That we pick it on them, right? But I found that interesting. I mean, it's interesting. So there is this like, you know, view of piecing it together from different parts. And I think like when you really have skin in the game, at least in the dive industry, I think for me, it's not necessarily a technical definition. There's certainly the,

that you either are have made money doing or not. I think the dive industry at least of how I've experienced it has been a little bit more of the mindset, are you wanting to contribute to the furthering of diving, right? And the state of the sport and those sorts of things, which I think people that fall in that agency manufacturing level, probably a lot of the dive shop owners fall on that level. I don't think anyone starts a dive shop with the thought that they're gonna retire

three years. You know, the joke always is, do you know this joke? I'll say it. How do you build a million dollar dive shop?

Jay (08:19.848)You know what? Oh, here you go. I got you on one. So how do you build a million dollar dive shop? You start with two million and then you'll get

Jack Der (08:20.018)You got me on.

Jack Der (08:30.030)I would agree, yes. So if you're going into the dive shop part of it, you do need money to go into that dive shop. So I guess being in the industry, not to deter people, it's not always, like I said, what you think it is. Because in the end, it is a job, right? But if you have a passion for it,

Jay (08:31.555)Yeah.

Jack Der (08:59.550)makes that job a little bit better or frustrating, however you want to look at it. But you're in the dive industry in this case because you love it. So you see so many people that start dive shops and are instructors because they love it and they want to pass that joy on to other people. And yes, if they make the money, they're probably like super happy because they got to run it like a business.

Jay (09:04.908)Right.

Jack Der (09:30.150)You know, through my time working with a lot of dog shops, not everybody's in it, you know, as a business. They just do it out of passion. And yes, you'll get a lot of individual help, but the long run, are they gonna last? Are they gonna survive? Cause they're not running it like a business, right? Cause in the end, it really is, you have to make an income. And I have friends that are instructors.

Jay (09:47.168)Alright.

Jack Der (09:59.650)instructors. I would say all of them are not. They all have a primary job so it's supplemental income but they're passionate about teaching. And then when you get into that, like I said, the level of the owner of a dive shop, you have to have some sort of passion with it, right? Because that's a pretty big investment because not only you're investing in a building a lot of cases, although the new

Jay (10:09.812)Right.

Jack Der (10:29.550)necessarily always building based. But you still have to acquire gear, whether you're selling or renting it or putting students into that gear, you still have to invest all that time and money. And then you get into that whole industry area. I mean, it comes down to, it should be run like regular business. They're there to, in the end, they gotta make money, they gotta survive.

Jay (10:32.052)Mm-hmm.

Jay (10:49.873)Mm-hmm.

Jay (10:57.708)Yeah. And I think it's interesting you bring that up because you've kind of had a front row seat for the last 10 years or so on the, the evolution of the industry. Right. And, and I think that that's one of the things that least for me, I find very interesting, right. As a, as a topic is how the old brick and mortar, you know, we always talk about the, the, the disruption curve of technology in, in at least the work I do for,

work. And then I think there's a bottom tier in the industry that you missed here, which is the podcasters. Content creators, we're the bottom feeders here. Sorry, I forgot to mention that. But when you talk about the industry and the evolution of it, I think that there are certainly

Jay (11:57.708)evolving in some ways in the sense that, yeah, I mean, I've met a lot of shop owners who, like you say, out of a passion, started a shop who loved diving, but didn't know squat about running a small business and either have learned through the hard knocks, you know, way or, or didn't make it right. I've heard those stories as well. And then there are some that I've met that are not divers, right, or don't have that same passion.

or maybe it's waned in the time of working and scraping it by. And so I think it's interesting. I had some great conversations with Sarah Miller about her experience of being in the industry. You can go back in the first three episodes of this. And she's trying to do it a different way, right? She's in a van and trying to make it with content and instructing in a different way.

Jay (12:57.728)popped up that I'm a part of, right? That's a different evolution of this, um, you know, traditional model. Um, I've seen apps, you know, that are starting to come out around diving and things, people are applying, um, you know, things that are coming from other places into the diving world and creating new pockets of, of how this industry is evolving. And so.

Jay (13:27.828)in the sand to say, you know, you're in or you're out. For me, I fall back to the position of saying, like, I think, yeah, Dima is a qualifier in some ways. And then you have a mindset, because I think inside of Dima, if you went in there, there are those that are there, without the mindset of evolving things forward, to put it gently, I think. And then there are there that those that are,

Jay (13:57.728)are about this stuff. And those people I really look, look towards because you see that passion, you see that ability to to want to move things forward. So I'm kind of on my soapbox, I'll put it away. But I think, I think for sure that that I question is really hard to answer. And maybe we've we've found some sort of round way to talk about it.

Jack Der (14:23.050)I mean, I was always told as I was getting older, find something you love and then do that as your job. It's kind of a tough statement because a lot of times it's hard to take something that you're passionate about and then also make it work. So when I said it's frustrating sometimes, I say that because I am passionate about it

Jay (14:43.701)Hmm.

Jack Der (14:52.950)like it when something's either not working right or someone's not happy with it. I'm like, ah, I want to be in control. I want to make everyone happy, right? And then that passion kind of, you don't want it to get squashed, right? But yet at the same time, you're like, ah, let's work. You know, going back to those things, it's like businesses are businesses, you know, people are people, you know,

Jay (15:13.732)All right.

Jack Der (15:22.950)different levels of where things are. YoU still have to deal with people, make money. You know, in the end, it is a business.

Jay (15:32.768)Right, right. That's, and yeah. And mayBe that's a good transition in the second part of this, which is what is it like being a diver first? And again, that's one of the things I love about you, Jack, is that you are a diver first. That comes across loud and clear the minute that you meet you. But what is it like being a diver first and a dive industry professional or working full-time in the industry second? So is there this mix between fun and work? Like, you know,

gotten flack here from folks to say, oh, you get paid to dive. And you push back on that a little bit and say, well, wait a minute, that's not necessarily true. Like, how do you manage the separation of the two? And what are some of the benefits of living this way that you've learned? And maybe what are some of the drawbacks that you've had?

Jack Der (16:20.850)Well, the first benefit, I mean, in this case, because I work for a Scuba, you know, dive gear manufacturer, I get dive gear for free. It's not always free in the sense for long term, I get free use of that dive gear. So you get the you get new things, you get to test things or an art. In my case, sometimes it's like, hey, there's a new material. Do you want to have a dry suit made out of that material?

try that out? I'm like, sure, do I have to keep it if it doesn't work? So you get to try new things, right? And you get the stuff, you know, like I said, for free, so to speak, virtually. Disclaimer, asterisk, blah, blah, blah, blah. But what goes along with that too is you kind of have to kind of promote the stuff too, which is kind of a double edged

Jay (16:54.488)Ha ha!

Jay (17:07.751)Yeah, yeah.

Jack Der (17:20.430)I said, I'm a diver. Like you said, I'm a diver first. I am passionate about diving. And I will only talk positive about stuff that I like. And I try not to bash other things. So it helps to have the stuff that you like, which makes it easier. Because it doesn't matter if it's scuba diving, whatever. If you're pushing a product that you wouldn't use in the first place, it's kind of contradictory to the whole thing.

Jack Der (17:51.070)So for me, I dive because I like it, right? And going out and diving, talking about diving to me, I find that that excitement passes on to an end user that maybe I'm talking with at Long Beach Scuba Show, or it could be a dive shop on the East Coast somewhere. They can hear that, yeah, I'm actively diving.

Jack Der (18:20.350)processing paper, so to speak. There's some background behind this. I may not be perfect. I may not have that super deep, extended range, cave diving, SERT type of thing. But it's not like I don't want it. I want to do all that stuff. So you do have a little bit of the contradiction of when does it become fun, and then when does it become work.

Jay (18:39.134)Mm-hmm.

Jack Der (18:51.891)And no, I don't get paid to dive. I get reminded of that all the time. So I would like to say I got paid to dive. That's when maybe you're a dive master or instructor and then you're getting paid to dive. I get paid to make sure people see the product, promote the product, right? So I guess it kind of is in a way, every time I'm out diving,

promoting my company because I'm diving that dry suit in Florida. I'm in the Bahamas in my dry suit and it always comes back we go to you know I give a little review on the trip you know I met this person blah blah and I sold a dry suit I'm like you were in the Bahamas I'm like

Jack Der (19:42.010)I didn't get paid for that. That comes from the passion of me promoting, you know, the product, right? Cause I dive it. If I'm diving it, I'm okay for talking about for other people. So, um, it's never been about how many suits do I sell? It's more, I'm promoting diving because in general, as far as the industry goes, the more divers are in the sport of diving.

Jay (19:48.368)Alright.

Jack Der (20:11.990)in its whole makes more money. So if you make exciting, you're doing it, people are seeing it, that's how you get that path and how you work it into, I mean, yeah, I go on a dive boat and they go, oh yeah, Jack's a DUI guy. And you end up talking about dry suits, but again, if I'm passionate about it, I don't mind. My dive buddies may go, Jack, we need to go, we're getting hot, we're in our dry suits.

Jay (20:36.610)Right.

Jack Der (20:42.450)Let's go. I'm like, what? You know, so it's kind of like, move on. We need to go. I'm like, oh yeah, I'm here to dive, not to talk about diving sometimes.

Jay (20:44.673)I'm out. Bye.

Jay (20:53.568)Right. Yeah, I think, you know, that was one of my major considerations to go back to something you said earlier, like if you don't believe in it and you're not diving it, and it then becomes this almost like weird work to promote something. So like when I was looking for dry suits, for example, I can talk about my story here a little bit, like I wanted to

Jay (21:24.168)that what I wore to other divers and to students of mine and to teammates and things, I constantly got asked, well, why did you choose that one? And the best answer I had at the time was, well, because that's the one I got. Like, what do you like it? Like not really, you know, like, to be honest with you, my first, my first dry suit, I was not in love with and I just didn't know any better, right? At the time when I bought it, I think I bought it like 25, 30 dives in, right?

Jay (21:53.788)uptick of research on, I really wanted to become kind of an ambassador because I realized I already was one, right? And so I'm like, I want to love what I'm in. And that's true with all of the gear that I end up using, you know, is I want to really love it and stand by it. And so that I'm not promoting something, whether officially or unofficially, that I don't believe in. And I think that's a really important piece of it.

Jay (22:23.588)can get lost. But I also want to go back to something that you said that I think is really, really, really, really, really important. And I have to say that I unfortunately don't hear this enough in the diving industry, which is the mindset and the philosophy that look, when diving wins, we all win. When the industry grows by a diver and not just a new open water diver, but a committed

And I think, especially from an agency perspective, I think, and I can kind of speak to this a little bit. There's, there is this, um, maybe, uh, a view or philosophy of, um, you know, that, that you're either per se, you know, you're either per se, you're either per se, you're either per se, you're either per se, you're either per se, you're either per se, you're either per se, you're either per se, you're either per se, you're either per se, you're

part of us or, or none at all, you know, or you're out. And I've especially experienced that in dive shops, like the rivalries that exists in local dive shops and, and things and this, and I kind of sum it up with this idea of a scarcity mindset that we have to get as much out of the one person that we possibly can. And if they're, you know, if I buy something online, all of a sudden I've offended 25 people, you know, that's, that's not a

Jay (23:53.968)Way to have a philosophy of it. It's it's hey look When when I grow as a diver the the whole industry grows as a diver, right? Or as an industry and so it's really refreshing to hear you say that because I often hear the opposite or at least I observe the opposite in the scarcity kind of Mindset and very competitive and not in a good competitive competition can be very good, but it's competition that is really personal and really

Jay (24:24.688)over the top with this mindset that like, if you're either with us or you're with them, you know, like that I dislike in the industry a lot. And so I just wanna highlight that because I think that that's a message. Hey, if you're a die pro out there, if you're in the industry where you're thinking about getting into it, I hope that you come to the mindset of like, look, it doesn't really matter if you trained with me or you trained with another agency.

Jay (24:53.568)Are you happy? First of all, do you feel comfortable with the training you got? Yes, no, no. Okay, well, what's uncomfortable? Maybe we can help you or maybe I can't. Here's a great person to go talk to, right? All right, let's go dive. Like we love this. Let's do it rather than like, oh, you're with them. So you know, you go do your own thing. And I think that's an important mindset to come into this industry with.

Jack Der (24:58.450)Mm-hmm.

Jay (25:23.628)So I appreciate you bringing that up.

Jack Der (25:24.190)Yeah, I mean, definitely, I mean, having the passion, that passion, whether it's for the gear you're using or just diving in general, that gets passed on to that person. They see it. I mean, it's hard to fake it, you know, type of thing, right? It's like, oh, I'm not gonna be one of those mean things. I was just gonna rip on a type of dive gear. I won't do that.

Jay (25:40.597)It is.

Jack Der (25:54.470)But in general, I mean, if you're having fun and you have a passion for it, people see that and they start listening a little bit. Because in the other episode I talked about, a little bit about, you know, I got into this dive industry thing and I had no idea what an account manager was or even like what sales was. I looked at it as like going, hmm, what I have to offer is I will be responsive, right? So if someone asks a question, if I don't know it, I'll go look it up, right?

Jay (26:23.973)Mm-hmm.

Jack Der (26:24.590)But then they could hear that I'm out there diving. I'm like, OK, seriously, I got to go. I'm supposed to go dive. But they knew I was out diving. So they're talking to somebody that has a passion for it. And you build a better bond just because they can see it in you. And that goes, I mean, that comes down to the instructors too. I mean, like you said, if not everybody

Jay (26:39.810)Mm-hmm.

Jay (26:47.629)Yeah, and I think from-

Jack Der (26:56.531)I'd like to say that every instructor is passionate about, but maybe some maybe not so much about a certain thing and some maybe more for others. And maybe again, it comes down to that personality thing. The instructor may not jive with the student. Maybe it's just switching the student with a different instructor and then boom, magic. Sometimes it just comes down a little bit of personality.

Jay (27:15.134)Yeah.

Jay (27:18.348)Yeah, no, I agree. And I think for me too, like, I've been an entrepreneur my whole life, right? That's that's been my life, which, by the way, it makes buying a house very difficult. So just, just a public service notice there, you know, that, that, that, yeah, it makes it hard sometimes. But I have been I've lived in that world my whole life. And, you know, the I've always joked that the light between work and life

Jay (27:48.268)you know, the gap is small because like you say, like, you know, if the trash needs to get taken out, I got to take it out. I don't have somebody to take it out for me, right? Like if it needs to get done, if I don't do it, it's not going to get done. It's always been my mindset. And it's weird because I've also now later in my career started working, bringing those entrepreneurial kind of mindsets and ideas and ways of working into very large organizations.


Jay (28:18.288)

large organization. And I realized, you know, a few weeks into it, or a few weeks in my vacation, a few days into it. The whole vacation was two weeks, but a few days into it, that no one cares I'm gone. Like, the organization doesn't notice that I'm not there. And that's weird and cool at the same time. Whereas you really don't do that. You're never off when it comes to entrepreneur science. So I think it's, it's

Jay (28:49.769)with life, you know, necessities to pay the bills is always this tightrope to walk because, you know, the light between those two things can get really, really, really, really, really small. And then, you know, I've also seen it go over the top where you lose the passion because it becomes work. Right. And the flip side of that being you're, you know, you start

Jack Der (29:10.681)Mm-hmm.

Jay (29:18.528)that you become passionate. I think it's more difficult to go that way, to start working in it and then become passionate about it than it is to go the other way.

Jack Der (29:26.970)

Yeah, well, like I said, sometimes it can be kind of frustrating. Um, so people around me, sometimes my closer dive buddy, friends will go, um, enough.

Jay (29:37.913)Hahaha

Jack Der (29:38.850)Stop talking about work. I'm like, but work is scuba diving. They're like.

Jay (29:43.868)Ha ha ha.

Jack Der (29:44.790)Sometimes, like I said, work is work, right? It could come down to, why wasn't this delivered? And it's nothing that you have control over, but I guess maybe this is, I feel like this is like one of those job interviews. What do you find is one of your negatives? I find one of my negatives being because I'm so passionate about it, it just frustrates me when things

Jay (29:53.550)Right, right.

Jack Der (30:14.050)go right, right? So it's like.

Jay (30:15.454)Mm, yeah.

Jay (30:19.573)Yeah.

Jack Der (30:20.298)So your dry suit better fit.

Jay (30:22.768)Ha!

Jack Der (30:25.991)Just saying.

Jay (30:27.068)We're going to find out. We're going to find out pretty soon here. Yeah. You'll see me in person in a couple of weeks here. Um, yeah. And I think too, when it comes to being a diver first and a dive industry pro or in, in the industry second, I find it also sometimes difficult to switch modes. Right. Like you, when you're in the instructor role, like there's a mode you need to be in, right, that, that, that you're really requires you to be in that mode.

Jay (30:57.928)of my students in the water, like period, no matter what level of training we're talking about, I need to be, I'm responsible for them because they should be in a learning mode and I should be in, you know, an instructor mode, which is one part instructing and one part ensuring that they are safe to be in that learning mode, in that discomfort, right? And then there's like 17 other parts, but we won't talk about those today.

Jay (31:27.128)you know, not even at the dive site when I'm driving to the dive site, you know, the night before I'm, I'm in a different mindset than I would be if I'm going on, you know, a fun dive the next day. Right. Um, and so switching out of that to like team member mode, right. Is much more comfortable for me. Cause I know like, Hey, we're, we're good. You know, I'm, I'm super comfortable. I know who I'm meeting there. It's like putting on a really old comfortable pair of jeans, you know, when I'm in team member mode and,

good. There's also student mode. Just because you're a pro in the industry doesn't mean you stop learning. So there are times where, you know, you need to be and I hope everybody is utilizing these times in learning mode where I'm taking a course and like, I don't need to sometimes I feel I felt I should say, I need to have my crap together, you know, because but no, I don't. I'm in I'm a student in this. And it's okay, if I'm messy, it's okay if I don't get it right the first

Jack Der (32:19.735)Mm-hmm.

Jay (32:27.188)those sorts of things and I have to give myself that that leeway and then there's fun mode where it's like whatever we're gonna get in and and look at the starfish today and still top the place yeah so I'll never live it down but as you have to talk about these things be open about talking about your mistakes but yeah uh it's still top the place who cares you know like um you know I'm gonna I'm gonna break trim for fun no I'm kidding um but these modes like you could find yourself

Jack Der (32:35.610)and silt up the place.

Jay (32:57.228)role and then trail off into fun mode if you're not vigilant, right? Oh, look at that, you know, or you could be in fun mode. And this is usually where I really need to work on or team role, right? Team mode. And I shift into instructor mode. And all of a sudden I'm squashing some of my enjoyment of that dive or didn't see what others saw because I'm too worried about the other person, right? And they're perfectly fine.

Jack Der (33:03.392)Mm-hmm.

Jay (33:27.188)there is some of that, you know, shifting that you have to get used to in being a diver first, which I feel like I am. And then working as a diver, right? Whether that be instructor or on the dive boat or you know, whatever it might be. And I think being aware of that is important that yeah, it does require you to wear different hats and wear those hats well. But all of it,

Jack Der (33:41.171)Mm-hmm.

Jay (33:57.208)at the end of the day is diving and all of it is for enjoyment and fun. And so that overrides, I think, some of the maybe negative parts of of putting on those different hats.

Jack Der (34:09.230)Yeah, so I mean, like going to those levels, like being in the industry. So when I'm going diving, when I'm actually diving, it's all gonna be for fun. You know, going on dive trips, it's gonna be fun because you're dealing with it day in, day out, nine to five, not always on time.

Jay (34:29.809)Hahaha