2014 Year In Review

As the year rounds to a close, we thought it would be fun to check in with everyone at Breaking Even Communications about their year. Here’s what we done, learned, and look forward to in 2015:

John Swinconeck

Can you handle how cute John's new baby Sophie is?

Can you handle how cute John’s new baby Sophie is?

What was the coolest part of your year personally?
What hasn’t been the coolest part of my year? Any other time, I’d say that, hands-down, returning to Maine was the best. Reconnecting with great friends after a four year absence, and getting back to the way life should be. Except that this was the year my baby daughter was born, and as wonderful as it is to be back here, the arrival of the latest Swinconeck trumps everything else.

Now that I think about it, she’s the first Maine native in the family. What more could I ask for?

What is the coolest part of your year professionally?
Getting more active as an official part of Breaking Even’s staff tops the list. I get to work (albeit remotely) with great folks with diverse professional backgrounds. We’re a scrappy bunch carving out a niche in the small business landscape, and I think we’re pretty darn unique for our corner of New England.

Now, if you asked me what the most interesting part of my professional year was, I’d say it was the amount of time I spent exploring Pinterest. I’m a white dude in his late 30s who thinks that Hulk Hogan is still kind of cool. I still test the limits as to how many PopRocks I can put in my mouth at once. Bathroom humor to me is very much a fine art. I ponder belly button lint. So, to explore a branch of social media filled with Etsy-esque crafts, recipes, inspirational quotes and DIY projects is an eye-opener in the best possible way. #IDIC (Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations)

What are you looking forward to next year?
I say more opportunities to explore outliers on social media. I’m looking forward to applying some of my photojournalism talents in an educational setting.
I’m looking forward expanding my skill set, delving further into Pinterest, further into Google + and maybe, just maybe, finally getting a tablet.



Nicole Ouellette

Nicole and Derrick got married and have lots of silly pictures like this to prove it.

Nicole and Derrick got married and have lots of silly pictures like this to prove it.

What was the coolest part of your year personally?
I actually got married this year, something I never thought I’d do! We had a great day and being married is so far seriously way better than I thought it would be. Apparently, I can commit.

Also, this is the first year I’ve lost 0.0 pounds and I’m actually perfectly fine with that. I’ve gotten way healthier: two standing walking dates with friends a week, a weekly yoga class, way better eating. I have energy, I feel healthy, I realize that is what’s more important than the number on the tag inside my pants (and I get that I say that every year but every year, I mean it more than ever.)

What is the coolest part of your year professionally?
January 1, 2014, Breaking Even was just me. December 31, 2014, there are two of us full time (Kassie and I) and two of us part time (John and Leslie). We’ve scaled up pretty fast and it’s been fun to finally get to have time to work on operations/getting more efficient now that we have a strong team in place. I would say a big part of the thinking big has been having an accountability partner and actively working towards goals I set in place all year long. As someone who usually drops resolutions by February 1, this was a vast improvement, even if I didn’t personally execute everything I aimed for.

What are you looking forward to next year?
I did some goal setting and am working on both personal and professional goals this year (last year was all business). Professionally, I want to work on systems/documentation as a main goal of the business. (Sam Carpenter of Working The System has changed my life!) But this year for the first time in six years, I am actively setting personal goals too, like finally finishing editing my novel I wrote two years ago and seeing if I can get it published. We’ll see. 🙂



Kassandra Strout

Only Kassie could look this happy after PRing in a marathon.

Only Kassie could look this happy after PRing in a marathon.

What was the coolest part of your year personally?
2014 was one of my biggest years ever (actually a little nervous that I peaked this year!). Running-wise, I had a great year and surprised myself with both marathons (it was also the first year I tried a spring and a fall marathon). Admittedly, the spring race didn’t end as smoothly as I’d have liked, but every run teaches you something. Even if that something is “I have no idea what I’m doing.”

Another cool part of the year was committing more time to exploring the area. I found some beautiful places and spent my time with some beautiful people.

What is the coolest part of your year professionally?
Being asked to join the Breaking Even team was definitely the coolest part of my year :). My learning curve had an aggressive slant: from the more technical part of things, like learning how websites work, to the marketing part of things, like writing, which I love, there has been a lot of professional growth taking place in the past year!

For the sake of the readers, I’ll commit to just ONE cool thing: Tech Thursday. Getting in front of the camera is still daunting, but it is always good to get out of your comfort zone once in awhile! Video editing was also my ideal challenge: working with the raw footage and realizing that there’s at least a million ways that the video COULD be cut. The videos weren’t highly produced or anything, but they brought a good deal of joy and a sense of accomplishment to my days. Seeing the support/encouragement from the online community was definitely a motivator, too!

What are you looking forward to next year?
In my personal life, I’m looking forward to seeing how much further I can push myself with running. I’ve signed up for the Sugarloaf Marathon in May, so far that’s my biggest plan for 2015. I also have a list of books to read and some old writing projects in the works to tackle. Finally, travelling more. Visiting new places is exciting, and it also helps me appreciate where I am in a more meaningful way.



Leslie Fournier

Leslie custom designed and built this cool barn/home and now gets to have her horses closeby.

Leslie custom designed and built this cool barn/home and now gets to have her horses closeby.

What was the coolest part of your year personally?
This year has been relatively quiet for me on a personal level, which I’m thankful for after the previous few years of major change, particularly building a new home/barn and moving. It’s been our first full year on ‘the land” as we still call it and there’s a sense of finally getting into the stride of things. When I say home/barn I could say barn/home as we now live above our horses in a barn… which is definitely cool (to me anyway). The best little part of the year was riding my horse Brenna again after almost 2 years.. a small milestone for both of us.

What is the coolest part of your year professionally?
Definitely the coolest part of my year professionally was finally connecting with Nicole and becoming part of the (wonderful) Breaking Even team. Doing web design and development had brought me back to my creative roots and I am loving every minute of it. It’s especially exciting to be challenged with learning the latest design techniques through Illustrator and Photoshop, and bring the resulting ideas to fruition through Wordpress and Joomla. Yeah.. I am really loving Joomla.

What are you looking forward to next year?
There’s a lot of excitement for new projects at Breaking Even. Also, I’ll be going live with the rebuild of my hobby/boutique web site which will feel like a major accomplishment. Finally I’ll be beginning a new adventure exploring and sharing ideas about barn home design, which brings my professional and personal goals closer together. Next year looks very bright indeed…



Nicole Ouellette
Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she's not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

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