How to set yourself up as a new freelance reporter

The JCR Weekly recently reached out to Michael Hensley, RDR, chair of NCRA’s New Professionals Committee about what makes a good freelancer and what you need to know in the first few years as a freelancer. If you’re new or considering transitioning from another area of the profession, consider his insights into his first few years as a freelance reporter.

JCR | Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Michael Hensley, RDR

MH | I am a freelance deposition reporter, and I’ve been doing that for a little over three-and-a-half years now. I’m currently located in Dublin, Calif., which is an eastern suburb of San Francisco. My home location is a great spot because I’m equidistant from most major areas for work in Northern California. I’ve covered assignments as far north as Sacramento, as far east as Stockton, and as far south as Monterey. I’ve even gone down to Southern California to cover assignments as well.

I still maintain a license for Illinois, and I recently obtained my CSR for Nevada. So I am able to accept assignments in those regions. I’m open to traveling for a lucrative opportunity. It’s part of what makes me a successful freelancer, in my opinion.

JCR | What was tough for you when you first started working?

MH | I found it difficult to keep up with the workload when I began. My intent was to take on as much work as possible to earn the income I wanted. What I failed to keep in mind was that I needed to still make time to produce transcripts as well as cover depositions. I had many nights where I slept very little to try to stay on time with production deadlines. Fortunately, I’ve learned how to allocate my time and resources to manage that more smoothly, even in such a way to be able to take vacations occasionally.

JCR | Did you have a mentor when you started?

MH | I have had mentors at every level of my education and career. To this day, I still have those I go to and seek advice. I was very fortunate to have some amazing individuals share their knowledge with me along my journey. I worked in a court reporting firm while finishing my education, and I feel that experience gave me a wealth of knowledge that would have taken me years of trial and error to figure out.

Even so, I’m the kind of person who likes to learn things by doing. I feel that making mistakes is the quickest and most valuable way to learn how you can perform a task with greater success. I learned by asking a lot of questions along the way. I then took that information and applied it to my own ideas and processes to develop a system that works for me. I’m continually evolving and growing to sharpen my skills and abilities so that I can be at the top of my game.

JCR | What do you think is the hardest part of starting out?

MH | I think the hardest part of starting out is learning how to interact with others in the profession. There is a certain way to communicate with attorneys; there’s another way you speak with reporting agencies; and there’s a way for you to connect with colleagues. Any of these encounters feels awkward at first. However, if you keep doing it over and over and pay attention to what things you do right and what things you can improve, then you eventually find the way that works best for you to get the job done.

JCR | You’re giving a session called Freelancer Starter’s Kit for NCRA on Tuesday, July 30. How did this session come about?

MH | As part of my efforts with NCRA’s New Professionals Advisory Committee, we are striving to produce content and educational resources to assist individuals who are new to the profession. I often hear many new reporters asking questions such as, “I got my license. Now what do I do?” Entering the freelance arena can be overwhelming at first, and I’m hoping to share what I’ve learned with others so that they can begin a career or a transition smoothly.

JCR | What do you hope people will take away from your session?

MH | I hope participants will gain the confidence they need to operate as an independent entity so that they can enjoy the experience and thrive. While it can be overwhelming, even fearful, working as a freelance reporter is ultimately a thrilling adventure. It is truly liberating to have a sense of control over your destiny, and it is so rewarding to see a direct payoff from your hard work.

You can earn 0.125 CEU by attending the Freelancer Starter Kit, which will be held July 30, 7 p.m. – 8:15 p.m. (ET). This session is sponsored by NCRA’s New Professionals Committee, which Hensley chairs. Webinars do not need to be viewed live. They can be purchased now and viewed within a 30-day window of presentation date. They will also be available for purchase later as E-seminars.

Put your business in the spotlight with the 2019-2020 NCRA Sourcebook

The May 1 deadline is approaching fast for submitting business directory listings or display advertisements for inclusion in the printed 2019-2020 NCRA Sourcebook. The NCRA Sourcebook is the premier directory of court reporting, captioning, legal videography, and other related service sources, making it the perfect resource to easily connect with the right provider for the job. It’s distributed at legal industry events and at conferences held for people who are deaf or hard of hearing and is mailed to NCRA members and advertisers at the end of the summer.

Members are listed in this printed directory for free and can add their listing in additional cities for only $99 each. To really spotlight your business, however, exclusive to NCRA members is the opportunity to advertise in the business directory section of the Sourcebook.

“When we need to find a reporting firm in a city outside of California where we don’t have a contact to rely on, we go to the NCRA Sourcebook to find a firm,” said NCRA member Antonia Pulone, owner of Pulone Reporting Services in San Jose, Calif. “We advertise there because we assume other firms do likewise, and so they will find our firm for referrals in Northern California.”

There are two options to choose from when considering promoting your company in the business directory. Advertisers who opt for a premium listing in the Sourcebook will be listed alphabetically by state and city. In addition, premium business ads also include the company’s name, address, email address, website, and a description about the services they offer. Premium listings are available in black ink only for a cost of $250. For an additional cost, firms can also be listed under additional cities and states.

NCRA members also have the opportunity to upgrade their business listing to a box listing.The box listing includes everything in a premium listing but with the addition of a logo or photo, the option to list under multiple cities, and the option to use an original designed or JCR court reporting listing advertisement. In addition, box listings are available in full color ink. This option is only $395.

Other options include display advertising ranging from one-sixth of a page to an advertorial and a full-page display advertisement. Additionally, there is advertising space offered on the inside front, inside back, and back cover of the Sourcebook.

For more information about placing your ad and showcasing your business, download the NCRA 2019 Media Kit or email Mary Petto at mpetto@ncra.org.


How to start your own Facebook practice group

Daily practice can make a big difference. That’s not new information to any court reporter or captioner. The hard part isn’t knowing you need to practice; it’s making the time to do it.

Some reporters have found that joining a Facebook practice group helps them make it happen. A recent story in the JCR about a group led to others expressing interest in starting groups of their own. Rich Germosen, RMR, CRR, a  freelance court reporter from New Brunswick, N.J., who leads a practice group, has some ideas for people who are starting their own group. Germosen’s group is a 100-day group. Members make a commitment to practice 100 days in a row, although some members have gone on longer.

“I’m not sure what made me pick 100 days, but it’s a nice round number,” he said. “It’s more than 50 days. It seems like it won’t be easy to do, and it’s not. It’s a challenge.”

Kathryn A. Thomas, RDR, CRR, CRC, a captioner from Caseyville, Ill., joined Germosen’s group to help her practice. “I joined after the [2017] Vegas convention, and I’m on my 536th day as we speak,” Thomas said. “I joined because I need increased accountability to keep up my skills. About a month after I joined, I was installed as president of the Illinois Court Reporters Association, and this is a way to ensure my skills don’t degrade amidst all the goings-on of my two-year term. I’m the type that if I go a day without writing something, I can feel it the next day, and my captioning consumers don’t deserve that.”

Start off with a public Facebook group while you attract members. When you have the right number, you can make the group secret. Too many members will make the group unmanageable.

“If I have 200 or 300 folks participating, it would be a full-time job,” Germosen said. “So if you’re looking to build it up, make it public and they will come.”

Germosen says 100 is a good number of members for the group. That’s a small enough number that the moderator can recognize all of the members, and they can be a close-knit group. He was the only moderator for his group for a long time, but he has recently added another person.

Members of the group are promising to practice every day and post about it when they do. The moderators are paying attention to who is practicing and who isn’t.

“We are on the honor system,” Germosen says. “I take their word for it that they say they are on day X. I do audit folks from time to time just to make sure their days are adding up if I notice unusual numbers in their posts. Some folks drop off at day 3. I’ll keep an eye on them and hope they jump into it by week 6 or so before removing them. There is a way to sort the members list by join date. You can scroll that list and see if a member has been silent or hasn’t been posting because it’ll show ‘three recent posts’ or ‘five recent posts.’ This will show next to the member’s name. I look at this and check on folks with no activity to see if they’ve been posting. Then I may remove them if it’s been several weeks.”

Thomas said seeing the practice posts definitely motivates her. “I thought it would be harder to remember to do daily practice, especially over the holidays,” she said. “But when I see group members post their practice on Christmas Day, Thanksgiving, etc., it reminds me.”

Moderators might also want to recognize milestones such as one week, two weeks, 100 days, etc. “I’ll reply with a picture of a funny cartoon on day seven,” Germosen said. “If you’re on day 14, I’ll reply with a pic that says ‘Week 2,’ and same for week three. For day 27, I’ll reply with a Yankees 27 banner. For day 50, you get one of a series of ‘half’ pics; then once you’re on day 90 I’ll post a link to Europe’s ‘The Final Countdown’ song, and then day 100 I’ll post any series of ‘100 Day Club’ pics or banners and put them on ‘the finishers’ list,’ which is a list I have of all finishers going back to 2014 and the date they finished.” 

Germosen said one rule is that everyone needs to be supportive of everyone else in the group. As admin, he likes everyone’s Facebook practice posts and keeps the page free of drama. He said it’s also important for the admin to set the example with practicing. No slacking.

Thomas agrees about the supportive nature of the group, “It’s brought me closer to the individuals in the group itself, and it’s wonderful to celebrate together as they win or qualify for contests around the nation,” she said. “Occasionally someone will recommend a TED talk to the group to practice, and I’ve learned some things through practicing those.”

“What the page does is you see others posting, and you think to yourself that you should be practicing too,” Germosen said. “It’s nice to have a community around you of others doing the same thing you’re doing … trying to improve.”

2019 Business Summit: Too good not to share

If you’re the owner of a court reporting or captioning business of any size, NCRA’s 2019 Business Summit being held Feb. 1-3 in San Diego, Calif., is the event for you. NCRA is so excited about this year’s slate of cutting-edge sessions that it is not raising the price of onsite registration. In addition, the host hotel, the beautiful Manchester Grand Hyatt, is keeping the special rate room block open until rooms sell out.

Don’t miss this special offer to attend the one-of-a-kind event designed to help you boost your business. Register today.

Read more about the sessions and speakers below:

Understanding common issues all business owners face

Join a panel of experts representing a cross section of leaders from the court reporting and captioning professions. Whether you are a firm of 1 person or 1,000, the challenges and opportunities you face are likely shared with others in the industry. This panel discussion will touch on many of the issues faced by businesses throughout the industry, regardless of size. Topics to be discussed will include working with millennial reporters and lawyers, managing generational differences in your workforce, the ways various systems and technologies can streamline your production, common HR issues, the pros and cons of succession planning, protecting your website and data, how to identify great talent, and more. This valuable seminar is designed to provide you with “aha” moments and takeaways for efficiency and profitability.

How storytelling can boost your business

Ann marie Houghtailing, entrepreneur, storyteller, and business coach, will present her Storytelling & Business Development session. Houghtailing, who launched her practice as a business development expert in 2009 with only $5 in her pocket, a MacBook, and a truckload of tenacity in the worst economic climate of her life, developed the Corporate Alliance Partner for the Institute for Sales and Business Development at the University of San Diego, Calif., just one year later. Today, she holds the reputation as one of the most sought-after business development and storytelling experts in the country and speaks regularly on narrative leadership and how to use storytelling as a tool of influence in business with her trademarked Narrative Imprinting process.

Court reporting in the 21st century

Speaker and past NCRA Director Mike Miller, FAPR, RDR, CRR, is a freelance court reporter from Houston, Texas. As a follow-up to his Tough Love sessions, which have been held at national and state conferences throughout the United States, Miller will lead a seminar called “Tough Love Part 2,” which will challenge the most sacred beliefs about the business of court reporting with a focus on why being stuck in 1985 isn’t going to alleviate any of the issues faced by agencies and reporters in the 21st century.

Simple shifts can lead to extraordinary outcomes

Also on the schedule is Eunice Carpitella, a professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, who will serve as keynote speaker. She will address the practical idea that simple shifts in our routine patterns of interaction and mindset make it possible for business leaders to include, engage, and unleash everyone in solving problems, driving innovation, and achieving extraordinary outcomes.

Community engagement and how it helps your business

A session titled “Civic Best Practice: Corporate Community Engagement,” led by Jan Ballman, FAPR, RPR, CMRS, of Minneapolis, Minn., and Rosalie Kramm, RPR, CRR, of San Diego, Calif., will explore why corporate community engagement is considered one of the best practices in today’s business environment and how to be successful at it. Find out more about the benefits businesses gain by integrating community engagement into their business plans, such as boosting employee commitment and recruitment. Gains also include raising awareness of the services and products the companies provide and securing reputations as leaders in the community. The session will culminate with a special Veterans History Project (VHP), as an example of just one of many wonderful ways to showcase the services and skills your business provides while giving back to those in the community.

A live interview will capture the story of Rear Adm. Ronne Froman, USN (Ret.) for the VHP. In addition to serving 31 years in the U.S. Navy, Froman was the first woman to serve as commander of the U.S. Navy Region Southwest. In her last Navy job, she also served as the director of ashore readiness for the chief of naval operations, responsible for nearly 90 Navy stations and bases around the world with a $7 billion budget. As a change agent, Froman’s careers have spanned the military, public, private, and nonprofit businesses.

Super Bowl LIII: New England Patriots vs. Los Angeles Rams

Get your game on during the Super Bowl Party that will close out this year’s event – another great reason to stay overnight Sunday for an extra few days to really get to know this one-of-a-kind city. This is a great chance to relax and network with fellow business owners.

Don’t wait. Make plans to attend now

The 2019 Business Summit, formerly the Firm Owners & Executives Conference, promises to engage attendees with content, insight, the latest in business trends, and networking opportunities that will all result in boosting business. This year’s informative and cutting-edge sessions have been chosen specifically to provide the freelancers, firm owners, and managers attending with the latest tools and techniques for growing their business. And finally, plan on staying later to enjoy what beautiful, sunny San Diego has to offer in February.

Remember, onsite registration rates are not being raised, making this one-of-a-kind event more accessible to everyone who wants to attend. Plus, the Manchester Grand Hyatt is keeping the special rate room block open until rooms sell out.

Catch the savings on registration for NCRA’s 2019 Business Summit before it ends

Act now and save! Online registration savings for NCRA’s 2019 Business Summit being held Feb. 1-3 at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in beautiful San Diego, Calif., ends Jan. 20, and onsite registration and pricing starts Jan. 21. In addition, the hotel room block is still available on a first-come, first-serve basis so be sure to book now!

The 2019 Business Summit, formerly the Firm Owners & Executives Conference, promises to engage attendees with content, insight, the latest in business trends, and networking opportunities that will all result in boosting business. This year’s informative and cutting-edge sessions have been chosen specifically to provide the freelancers, firm owners, and managers attending with the latest tools and techniques for growing their business.

Here’s a glimpse of what’s happening onsite at this event:

Community engagement and how it helps your business

A session titled “Civic Best Practice: Corporate Community Engagement” will explore why corporate community engagement is considered one of the best practices in today’s business environment and how to be successful at it. Find out more about the benefits businesses gain by integrating community engagement into their business plans, such as boosting employee commitment and recruitment. Gains also include raising awareness of the services and products the companies provide and securing reputations as leaders in the community. The session will culminate with a special Veterans History Project, as an example of just one of many wonderful ways to showcase the services and skills your business provides while giving back to those in the community who have served their country. The live oral history will capture the story of Rear Adm. Ronne Froman, USN (Ret.). In addition to serving 31 years in the U.S. Navy, Froman was the first woman to serve as commander of the U.S. Navy Region Southwest. In her last Navy job, she also served as the director of ashore readiness for the chief of naval operations, responsible for nearly 90 Navy stations and bases around the world with a $7 billion budget. As a change agent, Froman’s careers have spanned the military, public, private, and nonprofit businesses. Rear Adm. Froman will be interviewed by Jan Ballman, FAPR, RPR, CMRS, of Minneapolis, Minn.

How storytelling can boost your business

Ann marie Houghtailing, entrepreneur, storyteller, and business coach, will present her Storytelling & Business Development session. Houghtailing, who launched her practice as a business development expert in 2009 with only $5 in her pocket, a MacBook, and a truckload of tenacity in the worst economic climate of her life, developed the Corporate Alliance Partner for the Institute for Sales and Business Development at the University of San Diego, Calif., just one year later. Today, she holds the reputation as one of the most sought-after business development and storytelling experts in the country and speaks regularly on narrative leadership and how to use storytelling as a tool of influence in business with her trademarked Narrative Imprinting process.

Court reporting in the 21st century

Speaker and past NCRA Director Mike Miller, FAPR, RDR, CRR, is a freelance court reporter from Houston, Texas. As a follow-up to his Tough Love sessions, which have been held at national and state conferences throughout the United States, Miller will lead a seminar called “Tough Love Part 2,” which will challenge the most sacred beliefs about the business of court reporting with a focus on why being stuck in 1985 isn’t going to alleviate any of the issues faced by agencies and reporters in the 21st century.

Simple shifts can lead to extraordinary outcomes

Also on the schedule is Eunice Carpitella, a professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, who will serve as keynote speaker. She will address the practical idea that simple shifts in our routine patterns of interaction and mindset make it possible for business leaders to include, engage, and unleash everyone in solving problems, driving innovation, and achieving extraordinary outcomes.

Don’t wait. Register now and save

Remember, online registration for the 2019 Business Summit closes Jan. 20, 2019, and onsite registration and pricing starts Jan. 21, 2019. And don’t forget, also making a comeback is the Super Bowl Party to close out the event – another great reason to stay overnight Sunday for an extra few days to really get to know this one-of-a-kind city. And finally, plan on staying later to enjoy what beautiful, sunny San Diego has to offer in February.








Don’t Miss Out: Register for the Business Summit Today

Register for NCRA’s 2019 Business Summit being held Feb. 1-3 at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in beautiful San Diego, Calif. The hotel room block closes on Jan. 9, so you can still save money by booking your hotel now.

The schedule is filled with insightful, informative, and cutting-edge sessions designed to provide the freelancers, firm owners, and managers attending with the latest tools and techniques for growing their business.

Community engagement and how it helps your business

A session titled “Civic Best Practice: Corporate Community Engagement” will explore why corporate community engagement is considered one of the best practices in today’s business environment and how to be successful at it. Find out more about the benefits businesses gain by integrating community engagement into their business plans, such as boosting employee commitment and recruitment. Gains also include raising awareness of the services and products the companies provide and securing reputations as leaders in the community. The session will culminate with a special Veterans History Project, as an example of just one of many wonderful ways to showcase the services and skills your business provides while giving back to those in the community who have served their country. The live oral history will capture the story of Rear Admiral Ronne Froman, USN (Ret.). In addition to serving 31 years in the U.S. Navy, Froman was the first woman to serve as commander of the U.S. Navy Region Southwest. In her last Navy job, she also served as the director of ashore readiness for the chief of naval operations, responsible for nearly 90 Navy stations and bases around the world with a $7 billion budget. As a change agent, Froman’s careers have spanned the military, public, private, and nonprofit businesses. Rear Admiral Froman will be interviewed by Jan Ballman, FAPR, RPR, CMRS, of Minneapolis, Minn.

How storytelling can boost your business

Ann marie Houghtailing, entrepreneur, storyteller, and business coach, will present her Storytelling & Business Development session. Houghtailing, who launched her practice as a business development expert in 2009 with only $5 in her pocket, a MacBook, and a truckload of tenacity in the worst economic climate of her life, developed the Corporate Alliance Partner for the Institute for Sales and Business Development at the University of San Diego, Calif., just one year later. Today, she holds the reputation as one of the most sought-after business development and storytelling experts in the country and speaks regularly on narrative leadership and how to use storytelling as a tool of influence in business with her trademarked Narrative Imprinting process.

Court reporting in the 21st century

Speaker and past NCRA Director Mike Miller, FAPR, RDR, CRR, is a freelance court reporter from Houston, Texas. As a follow-up to his Tough Love sessions, which have been held at national and state conferences throughout the United States, Miller will lead a seminar called “Tough Love Part 2,” which will challenge the most sacred beliefs about the business of court reporting with a focus on why being stuck in 1985 isn’t going to alleviate any of the issues faced by agencies and reporters in the 21st century.

Simple shifts can lead to extraordinary outcomes

Also on the schedule is Eunice Carpitella, a professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, who will serve as keynote speaker. She will address the practical idea that simple shifts in our routine patterns of interaction and mindset make it possible for business leaders to include, engage, and unleash everyone in solving problems, driving innovation, and achieving extraordinary outcomes.

Don’t wait.

Register now for NCRA’s 2019 Business Summit. Remember, online registration for the 2019 Business Summit closes Jan. 20, 2019, and onsite registration and pricing starts Jan. 21, 2019.

The 2019 Business Summit schedule features additional experts who will not only inspire your business development but also will become a part of your network to help bolster your company into the future. The event will also include compelling panel discussions on topics critical to the growth of the profession and even more networking opportunities than in previous years.

Also making a comeback is the Super Bowl Party to close out the event – another great reason to stay overnight Sunday for an extra few days to really get to know this one-of-a-kind city. And remember, February is the perfect time to enjoy the beauty, sunshine, and numerous attractions San Diego has to offer.








Disaster Preparedness and Evacuation Tech Essentials

By Christine Phipps

Were you prepared for last year’s emergencies? Hurricanes Harvey and Irma may now be behind us for the most part, California has started to rebuild from their wildfires, and innumerable other areas have worked through dangerous weather conditions, and during that time many of us discovered how ready – or not – we were to deal with these impending crises.

A disaster tech kit that you can get ready in advance will help you be prepared in the event catastrophe strikes — be that rioting, terrorist threat, breakdown somewhere, or natural disaster.  Your mission in preparing your tech kit is to ensure that your basic needs are met if you’re forced to evacuate your home or leave a dwelling or abandon a vehicle. The kit should include nutrition, water, medical supplies, and some way to communicate with loved ones and stay up-to-date on crisis alerts. Of course, your smartphone is the number one piece of technology to help with the latter, but the following apps and gadgets are also essential for a bug-out bag should you ever need to cut and run.

Motorola Consumer Radios MT352R
Should phone networks get overloaded with cities full of people trying to reach each other, a long-range walkie-talkie set could help you connect with your loved ones. The Motorola MT352R walkie-talkies can work over a 2-mile range in an urban setting through buildings, 6 miles over water, and up to 35 miles if nothing is in the way. $74.99 at Amazon.

 

Kaito KA550 emergency radio
If phones, internet, and electricity are all down, you’ll be glad you have this hand-crank multifunction AM/FM and shortwave radio to get updates on breaking situations and access to the Emergency Alert System. It doubles as a portable lamp with a 5-LED reading light, a flashlight, and an SOS beacon mode. It can be charged by a NiMH rechargeable battery pack, 3 AA batteries (not included), hand-crank generator, solar panel, or AC/DC wall adapter/charger (not included), should you have access to power; the radio also has a USB port to charge other mobile devices when you’re on the move. $49.99 from Amazon.

Gerber Bear Grylls Fire Starter
“Society is three square meals away from complete anarchy” suggest researchers — but with the Gerber Bear Grylls Fire Starter, you can hold off hunger-fueled rioting by rubbing together a ferrocerium rod and metal striker to make a nice big meat- (or portobello)-grilling fire. It comes with a waterproof storage compartment for tinder, as well as an emergency whistle and a pocket survival booklet with instructions on attracting rescuers’ attention. $13.30 from Amazon.

 

GRAYL Ultralight Water Purifier and Bottle
If ‘they’ have gotten to the water supply, filtering your H20 will be crucial for survival until order is restored. Fill up the GRAYL with water from any fresh or tap water source, then push the purifier like a French press to remove 99.9999 percent of viruses and bacteria, and filter out particulates, chemicals and heavy metals. Bonus: It’s also handy for travelers who want to avoid the eco-impact of buying bottled water. $59.50 from Amazon.

 

ThermaCell Heated Insoles
In addition to the head, the feet are one of the greatest areas of heat loss in the body. Should a freak heavy rain or snowstorm come your way, these rechargeable heated insoles will keep your toes toasty, saving your energy for figuring out an escape plan. From $60.21 at Amazon.

 

 

Luci EMRG solar-powered light
You can’t overestimate the fundamental human need for light. In disaster scenarios, reliable, solar-powered and portable lighting like the Luci EMRG can reduce stress simply by providing illumination for your community to come together. The EMRG has long-lasting, solar-powered LEDs that can be used in four intensity settings, including flashing SOS alert. It’s also inflatable and collapsible, so you can pack several into your bug-out bag. $14.95 from Amazon.

 

VividLed rechargeable headlamp
If you have to brave a flooded cellar when the power’s out, this rechargeable headlamp keeps both your hands free for fussing with the fuse box. There are five light modes, including a strobe for getting attention and a red light, which helps you see your surroundings while keeping your eyes adjusted to the dark — handy to avoid feeling temporarily blinded when you look away from the lighted area. $12.97 (on sale from $29.99) from Amazon.

 

ThruNite TN4A LED Flashlight
A flashlight is an essential for any emergency kit, so pick a long-lasting LED one like the ThruNite TN4A, which has a lifespan of over 20 years. You can use it in one of five brightness settings, going up to a hyper-bright 1150 lumens with a range of up to 450 meters, or put it in strobe mode to attract attention. It’s also waterproof to 1.5 meters and impact resistant to 2 meters. $49.95 from Amazon.

 

Gold Armour Camping Lanterns
Brightest LED lantern for its size: Latest technology Chip-On-Board LED technology illuminates more area with more light than the commonly found 30 LED camping lanterns. Its light is also warmer in color than the competition’s 30 LED lanterns, eliminating that cold, harsh feel. The warm light also leaves your sleep rhythm intact, helping you to avoid the insomnia that other brands might cause. Dependable build: Each of our premium LED Camping Lanterns are hand-built with military-grade, water-resistant plastic — making them extra durable wherever you may be. The lantern is built for both the indoors and outdoors. Advanced collapsible design: Superior design and construction allows our lantern to be super lightweight and compact. It is also collapsible with a simple push. $35.99 on Amazon.

Portable battery pack
Murphy’s law dictates that when you need your smartphone most, its battery will be nearly empty. Sidestep this by keeping a charged-up portable battery pack in your bug-out bag, and you’ll be good for at least 72 hours. We like the Anker PowerCore, which can fast-charge an iPhone 7 or Galaxy S8 around three times from its 10000mAh battery. Or if you need more power, try the three-USB RavPower Portable Charger, whose 22000mAh, can hold about a week’s worth of power (or charge an iPhone eight times). Anker PowerCore $25.99 (currently on sale from $49.99) from Amazon. RavPower Portable Charger $39.99 (currently on sale from $109.99) from Amazon.

Birksun solar backpacks
Get maximum use out of your bug-out bag itself by using a solar-powered, charge-packing backpack. Bags in the Birksun range cannot only store all of the above survival essentials, but also charge up your gadgets so you can access critical updates and communicate with others. Every two minutes of sunlight provides enough energy to charge your phone battery another 1 percent. The waterproof, scratch-resistant solar panel can juice up your tech for up to 20 years, with a 3000mAh battery that stores around one full charge for a new-ish smartphone. When you get back to civilization and power sockets, you can also charge the bag from the mains. From $109 at Birksun or from $99 on Amazon.

For your smartphone

First Aid app by American Red Cross
This app has step-by-step advice for everyday first aid for issues from asthma attacks to strains and sprains, as well as instructions on handling out-of-the-ordinary scenarios such as hazardous chemicals. It’s integrated with 911, so you can call emergency services directly from the app. It also has safety tips for dealing with extreme weather, from severe cold to hurricanes and tornadoes, and includes addresses of the nearest hospitals. And in case of a power loss or evacuation off-grid, all this content is available offline. Free, Android, iOS.

Life360 Family Location app
In the event of a disaster, it can be a vast relief just to know where your family members are. Get your loved ones to download this app, and you’ll be able to view their location on a map — either whenever they make it available or continuously if they so allow. You can add emergency contacts to alert others on behalf of anyone in your family group, or press a panic button in the app to alert each member of a group that you’re in trouble. Other handy features include the ability to save “Places” so you can be notified when one of your group arrives at home, school, or another designated location. The paid-for Plus service lets you save unlimited places, while the Driver Protect add-on can detect a car accident, then call for an ambulance, and raise the alarm within the app. Free, Android, iOS; from $2.99/month for Plus; $4.99/month for Driver Protect.

bSafe
An app designed for personal safety can be well-suited for emergency use. bSafe lets out an audible alarm that can aid in rescue attempts and will also broadcast video of your surroundings, along with your GPS location. Outside of emergency situations, the Follow Me Timer can automatically send an SOS message to your chosen contacts if you don’t check in before a preset time — handy for staying safe if traveling alone. To receive this info, however, friends and family also need to download the app.

 

Dropbox
Dropbox truly is the easiest way to back up your entire life, from court reporting note and wav files to pictures of generations of family members.  This was probably the number one thing I heard during these disasters: massive scanning going on and putting pictures into Ziplocs. Endeavor to get all those pictures scanned. (Perhaps the court reporting firm you work with would work out a financial arrangement to have their production department perform the scanning for you.) Make sure you have your most important documents that you keep in a safe like birth certificates, estate planning documents, and insurance policies scanned to a folder stored on Dropbox also.  Be sure to download the app to your phone so that you can easily access the documents as well.

As we begin hurricane season, take advance precautions while there are no threats to protect your loved ones and the irreplaceable photos and documents.

Christine Phipps, RPR, is CEO of Phipps Reporting in North Palm Beach, Fla., and Vice President of the NCRA Board of Directors.








Speak up about what we can do for our clients

Sandy Bunch VanderPol

By Sandy Bunch VanderPol

Every day, day after day, when we set up our steno machine, we do what we are trained to do: report the proceedings; create a verbatim record; and provide the record to the client. We are the “Guardians of the Record;” we are often the only neutral, disinterested person in the proceeding; we are trusted by all parties to be a professional in the room, a protector of their record. This is our job. We all understand the importance of our job and why we are an integral part of the judicial process. But what if there’s more to our job? Is there even more to our job? I think there is, and this other part of the job is truly why I’m passionate about court reporting.

In the 1980s, doing my job every day, I became restless and even bored. Boredom with the job and uncertainty about the future of court reporting became a part of my thoughts every day.

Today, 35 years later, I’m still reporting and passionate about court reporting. What changed? The purpose of my job changed.

Opportunities abounded with the introduction of technology into our profession. This was a chance to market something new to my clients, value-added services that, I was hoping, all of my clients would certainly be desirous of and be eager to pay for. This was a chance to speak up about what I could do for the attorneys, what I could add to the litigation process beyond the creation of the verbatim record. I was super-excited and rejuvenated in my job, stoked about the prospect of adding value to the litigation process, becoming an integral part of the “team” in the litigation process — not just the silent person at the end of the table.

Now the hard part — moving forward with the marketing, first, of rough draft transcripts, which would soon include interactive realtime reporting, remote realtime streaming, litigation support programs, videotaping of proceedings, syncing the videotapes, transcript repositories, electronic delivery of transcripts, hyperlinking exhibits to the transcripts, marking and distributing exhibits electronically at depositions, and on and on. This is a new world for court reporting, I thought, and I wanted to be the first in my area to market this technology. I had to learn to market to attorneys. Without any education beyond high school and court reporting school, I wasn’t sure what to do. I guess you could say I was a bit tongue-tied.

My plan was a simple one at the time, a three-step process: a plan to educate, demonstrate, and sell my clients and potential clients on the new technology. At every job, every day, there was an opportunity for me to implement my plan. At each deposition I was reporting, I took the time to set up the equipment for realtime, electronic exhibits, or whatever value-added service I was marketing. At the appropriate time, the education process began with a simple explanation of the service I was selling, the time and dollars it would save the attorney/litigant, and a free demo day of the service. I’m sure many of you are thinking: “I can’t speak up and have this kind of conversation with attorneys. I’m too nervous. It’s not my job, it’s the firm owner’s job to market. I might not have the answers to all the questions. I don’t entirely understand the nuances of the technology to market it.” All of these concerns are legitimate and concerns that I personally had. Don’t let the concerns or fears stop you from implementing your plan. Your reward is just around the corner.

I want to share some of my tips for success in marketing our value-added services. Hopefully they may be of help to many of you. I’m sure some of you may have other tips to share, and I would encourage you to write to our NCRA editor, share them with her, so we can all benefit from them. [Ed. Note: Sandy is right; we’re always looking for business tips. Send them to jschmidt@ncra.org.]

PREPARATION: Have a plan for each day you market your technology. What technology are you marketing? Who is the audience (corporate counsel, IP counsel, workers’ comp)? An example of my preparation for interactive realtime usually includes bringing my iPads to the deposition, setting them up before counsel arrive, outputting on my CAT software in the “realtime output options” to my remote streaming account (in case there are attendees appearing remotely via telephone, I can send them the link and session code/password to the stream), and creating a job dictionary for the deposition.

IMPLEMENTATION: When counsel enter the room, confidence and professionalism should exude from you. Some reminders to ensure this professionalism are to stand when counsel enter, shake their hands, introduce yourself and the firm you are representing. Always dress in a professional manner. I like to be one of the best-dressed people in the room. Once the introductions are made and the lawyers now have a feeling of trust, I’ve found this may be the best time to state to them that you have realtime set up and ask if they would like to use the service. My experience has been that more than 50 percent of the time they do decide to use the service. Most counsel nowadays know what realtime reporting is, so the educational process may not be necessary, other than to quickly show them the few needed features of the realtime viewing software they would need to browse and restart realtime. Have a document prepared for those who are not familiar with realtime, touting its benefits to the litigation process.

After the deposition/proceeding has concluded, the opportunity arises for you to sell a rough draft transcript. Attorneys in our current time want information now, including our transcripts. Use this time, at the end of the deposition, to announce that a rough draft is available upon request and can be delivered within 15 minutes, or whatever time you can get it to them. If one side orders a rough, it is likely the other side will too. I would highly recommend attending the seminar on “Creating the Demand for Drafts (Life in the Fast Lane)” by Ed Varallo, FAPR, RMR, CRR. Varallo has a wealth of knowledge on this topic and has had great success in selling rough drafts at his depositions.

In my marketing to attorneys over the last three-plus decades, I have found some things are consistent in what attorneys are looking for:

• Focus your marketing on what attorneys need: saving them time and money.
• Information now! Sell your value-added service(s) with this slogan.
• Continuing education: Set up brown bag lunches with continuing legal education credits to educate attorneys on your services.
• Professionalism: You are a part of the “team,” and professionalism ensures the trust you deserve.
• A sense of humor: Make ‘em laugh with an anecdotal story when promoting a technology. We all have those “funny” stories about our technology.
• Attorneys usually follow what others have done. Share the success stories of the attorneys who have taken advantage of the services you offer.

Remember, if you don’t speak up about your value-added service, they won’t know about it. Step out of your comfort zone and be the marketer you can be.

Sandy Bunch VanderPol, FAPR, RMR, CRR, is a freelancer in Lotus, Calif. She also holds NCRA’s Realtime Systems Administrator credential. She can be reached at realtimecsr@calweb.com.

Sandy VanderPol, who is an NCRF Trustee, wrote this article on behalf of the National Court Reporter Foundation’s Corrinne Clark Professionalism Institute. Established in 2015, the Corrinne Clark Professionalism Institute is dedicated to aiding the education of court reporting students and new professionals about professionalism, branding, and building a successful career. Named for the late Corrinne Clark, wife of the late Robert H. Clark, NCRA’s longest tenured librarian/historian, the Institute was made possible by a generous donation contributed by Donna Hamer, Santa Paula, Calif., Robert’s cousin.








Court reporting firm owners, should you always say yes?

A recent blog posted by Strategic Business Directs gives insight into situations where court reporting firm owners should consider saying no to a job.

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“Accountability” is the word

Kathy May, RPR, president of Alpha Reporting, based in Memphis, Tenn.,  wrote about her experience at the NCRA 2018 Firm Owners Executive Conference. This year, based on what May learned at the conference, she chose “accountability” as the byword for her company, she explained in a blog post on the company website.

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