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Industry leaders look to the future in Palm Desert

Firm Owners Executive Conference targets networking, business issues

Court reporting firm owners from around the country gathered Feb. 8-10 in Palm Desert, Calif., to hone business strategies, expand their networking circles, and look to the future of the profession at NCRA’s Firm Owners Executive Conference. Led by “content weaver” Sarah Michel, a nationally recognized speaker and business strategist from consulting firm Velvet Chainsaw, attendees experienced the gamut of educational topics, including surviving an IRS audit, the impact of HIPAA regulations, how to incorporate video and its swiftly moving technological requirements, and networking the right way.

“I know you’re hoping to increase your connections and also connect with your community with like-minded firm owners,” Michel said as she kicked off the event, hosted at the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa. “That’s why I know that face-to-face meetings will never die.”

Michel encouraged participants to greet strangers and look to connect with people previously outside their business network. “When you step out of your comfort zone, when you connect with people you don’t know, that’s when the magic happens.”

“Talking to people you already know,” she added, “is like talking in an echo chamber.”

Guided by Michel’s experienced hand as a conference leader, firm owners also helped each other with business challenges and opportunities during a spirited information exchange. “We’re leveraging the intellectual equity in this room,” she said.

The goal, she noted, was to share experiences and spend targeted time working on court reporting-specific business challenges. “This is a chance for you to guide the conversation, make sure everybody is touching the ball, and keep the conversation going,” she said.

The Firm Owners event included a specialized educational line-up developed by NCRA’s Firm Owners Committee. Max Curry, RPR, CRI, of Elite Reporting Services, Nashville, Tenn., shared with attendees his own experience of having gone through an IRS audit, encouraging firm owners to invest the time and effort to engage in preventative measures to avoid issues down the road. “The more you act as if you have something to hide, the deeper they’re going to dig,” he explained. “I think my approach was the right approach. I went in asking, ‘What do you need me to do?’”

Sarah Nageotte, RDR, CRR, CBC, NCRA President, gave attendees a snapshot of recent activities of NCRA, including an update on the association’s Vision 2018 strategic plan and the success of its national Take Note publicity campaign. “Did you know that NCRA has garnered more press and publicity for the profession in the last six months than it has in the previous six decades combined? Did you know that young teenagers are not only aware of court reporting as a profession, but are starting to think of it as cool?”

The Vendor Speed Dating was again a popular session, as sponsors presented their new technologies and business tools in a rapid-fire session designed to give attendees a brief overview of what might be able to take their businesses to the next level. Firm Owners Executive Conference sponsors were Allen, Maxwell & Silver, Inc.; eDepoze; eTERA Consulting;; Pengad; Precision Video Conferencing; Realtime Coach; Remote Counsel; Stenograph, LLC; The Varallo Group; Thomson Reuters; Visionary Legal Technologies; and YesLaw.

For more information on upcoming NCRA events and networking opportunities, visit