NCRA STRONG resolution sent to bar associations

The NCRA STRONG Task Force sent their recent resolution about the ethical and legal issues related to AI (artificial intelligence) and ASR (automatic speech recognition) to all state bar associations last week. Members were informed about the resolution last month. The introductory letter and the resolution were sent both by mail and email to the associations.

Phipps Reporting ranked in 2020 Inc. magazine 5000 for seventh consecutive year

Christine Phipps, RPR

Inc. magazine has ranked Phipps Reporting, based in West Palm Beach, Fla., on its prestigious 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in America, for the seventh consecutive year. For 2020, Phipps Reporting was ranked 4,035 on the 5000 list with an 86.61 percent growth rate this year.

NCRA 2020-2021 President Christine Phipps, RPR, is founder and CEO of Phipps Reporting. Phipps Reporting’s principals have been providing service to the legal community for more than 30 years. The firm delivers worldwide court reporting, videography, interpreting, and process services for clients that range from solo practitioners to Fortune 500 companies. The company has locations both internationally and across the United States and has an expansive network of more than 2,000 court reporters and 500 affiliate firms.

“On behalf of Phipps Reporting, I am honored to a part of this prestigious list for the seventh consecutive year,” Phipps said.

“To be included in the ranks with such companies as Microsoft, Timberland, Vizio, Intuit, and many others, is not just a huge achievement, but also a testament to the commitment of our entire team to provide the highest-quality stenographic court reporting and litigation support services to our clients. Inclusion in this group is certainly a privilege,” she added.

Since COVID-19 is preventing an in-person conference and gala, the magazine instead will host the Inc. 5000 Vision Conference, a special weeklong streaming event in tribute to this year’s recipients of the 2020 honor, beginning on Oct. 19. The event will feature special recognitions, seminars with the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, and education sessions and entertainment.

Not only have the companies on the 2020 Inc. magazine 5000 list been very competitive within their markets, but the list as a whole shows staggering growth compared with prior lists.

Read the entire list here.

NCRA Elects 2020-2021 Officers at NCRA Connect Virtual 2020

A press release issued by NCRA announcing the 2020-2021 officers was distributed on Aug. 10 to the media via Global Newswire.

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The ultimate home office setup for your remote work life

PlanetDepos posted a blog on July 22 offering tips for setting up the ultimate home office.

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Former NCRA member John Levdens passed away

The Newton Daily News, Newton, Iowa, reported on July 29 that former NCRA member John Leydens, a retired official court reporter, passed away.

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The University of Arizona’s Disability Resource Center touts its captioning services

The Wildcat, the official publication of the University of Arizona, posted an article on Aug. 5 about the school’s disability resource center, which offers CART services.

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Want income equality? More for vocational ed, less for colleges

An editorial posted Aug. 10 in Forbes magazine calls for stopping promoting “college for all” and instead providing subsidies for kids who want to get training in careers such as court reporting or welding, or for those who want to become computer programmers via coding academies.

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Champagne wishes, bow tie dance parties, and professional networking all part of NCRA Connect

NCRA President Christine Phipps and NCRA Executive Director Dave Wenhold

While networking looked a little different than past NCRA conferences, members still had fun moments and time to share at NCRA Connect Virtual 2020.

The first day of the conference ended with Max’s Favorite Things. Guests were invited to put on their bow ties and hear Max share some of his favorite things (including his never-before released drink recipe). The evening ended with a dance party.

“I attended Max’s Favorite Things and that was really cool and engaging,” said Caitlyn Hartley, RPR, a freelancer in Ann Arbor, Mich. “I’d love to learn more cocktail recipes.”

“Max dazzled us with his martini mixology lesson,” said Darlene Parker, FAPR, RPR, a broadcast captioner and the director of steno captioning and realtime relations for the National Captioning Institute in Chantilly, Va. “At the end of the event, many attendees turned on their cameras and danced. Many were wearing the plastic bow ties, around their necks and in their hair, that they received in their convention packet — in honor of Max.”

After the learning sessions ended on Saturday, it was time for trivia. The final bonus question had everyone stumped. Here was the question (the answer is at the end of this story).

Bonus question: In 1927 NSRA adopted its first Code of Ethics, and women reporters were finally given the opportunity to play a more active part in future convention proceedings. Florence C. Chamberlain of Omaha, a member of the ________________ Committee, made the point that the committee’s work was difficult and “has always been wished off on the women of the association.” It was the only committee composed entirely of women.

After trivia, NCRA members hosted networking parties for captioners, CLVSs, freelancers, new professionals, officials, and students and teachers.

“I really loved virtually connecting on Saturday evening with other freelance reporters,” said Hartley. “That was a lot of fun! Actually, everyone enjoyed the Saturday meet-up so much that although it was slated for 6-6:45 p.m., we stayed on until 8 p.m. They extended our time.”

Parker attended the captioners’ networking party.

“I thought the virtual captioning networking session was great,” she said. “It was good to catch up with old friends, meet new people, and encourage those contemplating entering the field of captioning. A nice feature of a large group meeting virtually is that everyone in the ‘room’ was included in the conversation, unlike in-person events where people often tend to talk only with the people they know. Kelly Linkowski did a good job of ‘hosting’ the session and trying to include everyone. Later, a person I met in the session contacted me directly. During the convention, I also contacted a few attendees directly. That was a nice feature of the platform.”

Sunday night ended the conference with a toast to new NCRA President Christine Phipps, RPR, an agency owner from North Palm Beach, Fla., which included a lesson in cocktails from NCRA Director Membership and IT Natalie Dippenaar and NCRA Director of Events Terpse Gentile. NCRA Executive Director Dave Wenhold toasted Phipps, and then NCRA Vice President of Finance & Human Resources John Dripps shared some of the personal and professional aspirations that were sent in by NCRA members.

“This virtual conference was very important for me personally and professionally,” said Matthew Hanneman, a freelancer in Fargo, N.D. “There was a wealth of information on a national scale. It had been several years since I had attended an NCRA conference, and I missed them. I was able to get Facebook info for some new colleagues as well.”

Hartley said she liked to option to virtually connect: “I can’t usually take the time off work or really want to spend the money flying out to the NCRA conferences, so this was my first NCRA conference and I’ve been a member since I was a student in court reporting school eight or so years ago.”

“For me it made it possible to be able to see what the NCRA conferences offered and to be able to meet other reporters I wouldn’t normally meet. I will say that there were some technical difficulties about sessions restarting a couple times, but the ones that you play back that aren’t live worked fine and I think I still prefer virtual as it’s much more convenient and less expensive in regards to travel costs,” Hartley said. 

“Once we got past the glitches in the first few seminars on Friday, I thought the convention was great and went well,” Parker said. “There was a wide array of seminar topics to choose from. It was easy to ask questions at the end of each session. It was nice to be able to talk to vendors in the virtual exhibit hall. I really appreciate the fact that at a later time I can watch some of the sessions that I could not attend and also have the opportunity to again watch the ones I attended that I’d like to hear again because they were so chock-full of information.”

Parker even found a possible new career path for her husband when she ended up attending a CLVS seminar.

“I knew very little about legal videographers,” Parker said. “At about 10 minutes into Making the Record is a Team Sport with Lajuana Pruitt and Gayl Hardeman, it struck me that this could be a new career path for my husband. I attended all of the other CLVS sessions to learn as much as I could. Perhaps my husband will become a CLVS at some point. Thank you to the CLVS presenters and NCRA!”

The answer to the bonus question from the trivia party is the Necrology Committee.

From boom to bomb to beyond, keynote speaker shares insights to lessons learn

Amy Henry

Amy Henry, known as the last woman standing in the first season of the reality show The Apprentice and now a published author and formidable businesswoman, shared insights into the lessons she has learned from her past 10 years of consulting with leading technology companies, as well as her journey onto and off of the reality circuit when she delivered the keynote address at the NCRA Connect Virtual 2020 conference which happened Aug. 7-9.

Key points Henry addressed in her speech included the importance of networking and building relationships, why it’s important to create your own brand, advice on setting goals and, most importantly, identifying the steps that will help you reach them.

She also shared her story of how she ended up becoming a part of The Apprentice and noted that among the many lessons she learned from the experience, one of the biggest was that is it important for everyone to have their own compelling story. Conversations with a magician and a self-made cosmetologist she met in a bar before the actual audition and interview for the television reality show, Henry said, made her realize the importance of having her own story to tell.

“I got nervous. I didn’t have the story these two people did, so when it came time for me to be called in with 10 other people, I told the story not only about my experience in the tech industry but also in the dot com industry, a bleached blond gone through the high tech bang and bust. I created a character for the show because the producers wanted to create a story about each participant,” she said.

“A personal brand will help ensure the longevity of your business,” Henry told attendees. “You are in a sea of competition. What are you going to do to create your brand?”

The importance of building relationships was another lesson learned that Henry shared. She told the audience that too often people think too quickly about delivering a solution and forget to think about who they are creating the solution for.

“It’s so important to create relationships. Relationships in your business are important for long-term success,” she added.

Other key advice shared by Henry included the importance of taking risks because taking a risk is often worth the reward.

“You want to look back and say, ‘I have no regrets.’ So, sit down and create a set of bullet points of things you want to accomplish and how you plan to get there. If we set goals but not the steps to achieve them, then it is sort of meaningless to even set them,” she said.

More about Henry: Over the past decade, Henry’s consulting experience has included advising IBM, JPMorgan Chase, Merrill Lynch, McKinsey & Company, Eastman Chemical, Schlumberger, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, and many others. She also volunteers on the Board of Directors of GENaustin, a nonprofit organization founded to help adolescent girls develop and maintain healthy self-esteem and leadership skills.

Her highly praised book, What It Takes: Speak Up, Step Up, Move Up, shares Henry’s secrets for success in the modern workplace. She has appeared on The Today Show, The Tonight Show, Larry King Live, The View, Fox News, MSNBC, CNBC, and numerous other television and radio outlets across the United States and Canada speaking about strategies on how to move up in today’s workplace.

Kislingbury and Smargon take top spots in NCRA’s first virtual Realtime Contest

Clockwise from top left: First-place winner Mark Kislingbury; second-place winner Sheri Smargon; Contests Committee member Donna Karoscik; and Contests Committee chair Judy Lehman

Mark Kislingbury, FAPR,  CRR, a captioner and freelance court reporter from Houston, Texas, and Sheri Smargon, RDR, CRR, CRC, a captioner and freelance court reporter from Riverview, Fla., earned the top spots in NCRA’s Literary Lockdown Realtime Contest with 21 errors and a 97.67 accuracy rate and 23 errors and a 97.44 percent accuracy rate, respectively.

The NCRA Literary Lockdown, held Aug. 5, was NCRA’s first ever virtual realtime contest. It consisted of a literary test read at 180 words per minute. More than 50 NCRA members participated in the contest via Zoom, writing dictation that was delivered by guest reader NCRA member Chuck Cady, a freelancer court reporter and agency owner from Cleveland, Ohio, and a past contest contestant and qualifier.

In lieu of a registration fee, contestants in NCRA’s Realtime Literary Lockdown were asked to donate to support NCRA’s A to Z® Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program. A total of $2,500 was raised for the program.

Both Kislingbury and Smargon are longtime NCRA contest participants and qualifiers. Kislingbury, who currently holds the Guinness World Record for fastest stenographer at 360 words per minute, has won NCRA’s Realtime Contest on several occasions. Both Kislingbury and Smargon have also successfully competed on the international level, capturing top spots in the world keyboarding and world speed competition, respectively.

“I thought it sounded like a fun idea! The literary was very dense, so it was especially challenging to the dictionary, and I imagine that the many multisyllabic words made it easier for short writers to do well,” Kislingbury said. 

According to Kislingbury, he didn’t especially prepare for the virtual competition, he just continued his regular daily practice of  testimony and literary matter. “I do believe if court reporters will diligently work to shorten their writing with briefs and phrases for common words, it will help them gain a lot of speed and accuracy. Daily practice is a must as well,” he advised.

“Mark and I had actually participated in a virtual contest a month ago. So, Mark and I had a little bit of virtual competition experience going into NCRA’s Literary Lockdown,” said Smargon.

“The text was definitely harder than I expected, but I really have come to expect that from NCRA competitions. I actually didn’t prep at all. And when I go to the in-person competition, I don’t prep then either, unfortunately.”

Instead, Smargon said, she practices the high-speed material the day of the competition and hopes for the best. “I’ve never been a practicer, so it seems disingenuous to pretend to start now. Before the Literary Lockdown, I practiced a few minutes of the live dictation that were given ahead of time, but I had to reboot my computer, so I don’t think I even wrote five minutes before it was time to start,” she added.

Smargon said she had a goal  of competing during the NCRA conference that was supposed to be held in Orlando, Fla., especially since she lives just an hour from that location. “I’m pretty proud that I accomplished my goal, virtual or in person. This was the first year in 19 years that it was finally going to be somewhere I didn’t have to fly to get to … and then COVID.  But my goal last year leaving Denver was to definitely place in competition and to do better than I’d done in my previous attempts. So, while the Literary Lockdown was for ‘fun,’ I still count it as a real win.”

Members of the NCRA’s Contests Committee want to thank all of the contestants who participated in this first virtual event and for their generous support of the NCRA A to Z® Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program.