The following is the speech of NCRA 2022-2023 President Jason T. Meadors, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC, given at the 2022 NCRA Conference & Expo.
Honored guests. Our promising students. Our marvelous staff. And my dear colleagues.
The last two and a half years have been challenging, have they not? But out of that crippling crisis of a pandemic came opportunity, and our profession seized it. We pivoted to remote depositions and court proceedings. We were already ensconced in remote captioning, and we expanded that expertise to meet the changing world.
Dear colleagues, that is how we compete in our space. We needn’t spend our daily energies denigrating our competitors. Rather, we highlight and reinforce our superiority and irreplaceable value to society. And … we adapt and adjust to the realities of the world.
In meeting the challenges of the pandemic, NCRA’s staff performed miracles in pivoting the 2020 annual conference to a successful virtual venue, just four months after the shutdown. Our tests were already geared to a remote world. In education, communications, and conventions, NCRA’s staff, committees, and Board reacted with astounding agility. All of this sudden and agile adjustment is just a small part of what our dues pay for.
But let me tap the brakes here, because we do not always react to change so adroitly. I remember, when arranging for my first CAT system in the Fort Collins courthouse in 1982, a respected colleague sneering, “This CAT thing is a fad.” 1982. 40 years ago.
That was my colleague’s response to the notion of change. It’s understandable: Change is painful and takes us out of our comfort zone. But staying complacent and comfortable is often deadly. The market is littered with the economic corpses of those who chose complacency over competing. Change provides for opportunities and growth, and growth itself cannot occur without change and the pain that comes with it.
Colleagues, I’ve been around for a while. That might imply I’m set in my ways. But it means a perspective is gained over the years looking over changes in society and our profession. I’ve gone from my stenographic paper notes and typewriter to streaming realtime around the table, around the world. That perspective tells me – tells us – that we have to adapt to the realities of the world. We can try to stand our ground against the swell of societal change, but that won’t end well. One does not compete successfully by standing in place and refusing to budge.
But we have captured emerging technologies and used them to advance our reach, our capabilities, our menu of servies. The world has depended on us throughout the breadth of human history. Now our consumers and clients are even more reliant on us as we keep offering even higher-level services.
But even though our profession has embraced technology to maintain our status as the gold standard, we still face the challenge of simply having adequate numbers to meet the demand for our indispensable services.
Your challenge, dear colleagues, is to heighten awareness of society’s reliance on us. To tell our story. Inspire others with our level of excellence. Impress them with your professionalism. You have clients, legislators at the local, state, and national levels, high schools, and job fairs. Public outlets for expression abound in our social media environment. You can talk to those people to not only tell our story but encourage others to develop these skills and join our highly talented and well-paid ranks. NCRA will do its part and is essential in that effort to attract, recruit, educate, and support our future professionals.
Our membership is comprised of our broadcast captioners, CART captioners, officials, legal videographers, freelancers working solo, and in small offices to mega-firms. That multifaceted group is the ultimate arbiter of NCRA’s direction and capabilities. To the extent that membership allows, NCRA will never cease to be an engine of innovation and resilience. It is then up to us, the members, to have the foresight, perception, and willingness that will determine our success in this ever-changing world and enable NCRA to continue to protect, preserve, and promote our interests in tireless fashion.
Now a more personal note. You have allowed me to be the moderator and voice of NCRA for this year. I am honored beyond measure by your trust. From that honor, my promise to you is that I and the NCRA Board, with Dave and staff’s excellent support, will continue to elevate our profession, to explore innovations in order to stay relevant and competitive, to address realities as they exist, and work to maintain the vision and goals of our Strategic Plan for successive leadership to carry our banner with success.
Thank you for your confidence, your trust, but most of all for your unending excellence as practitioners within our sacred profession. Just remember, at the basic level, we need to be the type of people to our clients that we, ourselves, would want to work with. Be the type of person you would want to work with.
We adjust to our realities. We have always done this. We will continue to do it. Our vital presence in society demands it of us.
You will soon hear from my friend Jim Davidson about the value of adaptation and resilience. Take it to heart. Let’s engage ourselves here with Jim and his gripping story, then go experience the excellent educational offerings of our Conference, immerse in our networking and collegiality, hit the Rock the World Gala tomorrow night, and then head out to tell our story to the world and stay resilient to thrive in our changing environment.
It’s clear: Change is necessary but challenging. So … let’s not consider it a challenge to overcome. Rather, it is an adventure to be experienced. In that adventure, we will find our trails through the forests, our footholds on the mountains, our teamwork with a common purpose, striding to a clear goal. We will not just prevail. We will maintain our ongoing success as a profession and raise it to ever greater heights.
Let’s go out and Live The Adventure.
Jason Meadors, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC, is NCRA’s 2022-2023 President. He can be reached at email@example.com.