How court reporters and their team can work better together

JD Supra posted a blog on Jan. 15 that offers some thoughts on strategies that can help lessen stress from feeling overwhelmed by a heavy workload.

Read more.

International depositions and the videoconference benefit

A blog posted Dec. 18 by JD Supra discusses the benefits of using video conferencing when taking international depositions.

Read more.

Make the resolution to boost your business in 2020

NCRA’s 2020 Business Summit, taking place Feb. 9-11 at the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa in Austin, Texas, is the perfect event to kick off that resolution to boost your business in the New Year. No matter what size firm you own, operate, or manage, this event is NCRA’s premier gathering for anyone looking to grow their business, expand their markets, and boost their overall success.

The 2020 schedule is packed with engaging sessions and presentations sure to motivate and invigorate all attendees. Below is just a glimpse of what attendees can expect:

How to create massive success before you roll the dice

Presenter and Keynote Speaker: Karim R. Ellis

Ellis will share the five peak performance principles that the audience can use to create an identifiable vision that works. When you need clarity and direction to help fulfill mission and purpose, his presentation will be your GPS system and, ultimately, your roadmap to success! Learn about Ellis’s breakthrough that led him to master the core principles, which he will share with you and will give you the tools you need to set and master an achievable vision for success!

Sidenote: This two-part presentation is interactive, and Ellis will call on volunteers from the audience to participate. Prizes will be given.

Fight back and prepare! How to protect your company (and yourself) from common and unforeseen events

Presenter: Ron Comers

After this session, your view of your personal and company’s security will never be the same — and that’s a good thing. Right now, cybercriminals are trying to find ways to steal your data and hard-earned money. If you are not prepared, unforeseen events may threaten your ability to continue operations. Whether it is phishing, ransomware, spoofing of emails, credit card skimmers, hurricanes, or power outages, you can take steps to insulate yourself from the dangers of the digital world. Former police officer, FBI agent, and diplomat Ron Comers will talk about some of the sophisticated ways that criminals are targeting you and how to ensure continuity of operations for what matters to you. In addition, Comers will offer you tactical strategies to make you less of a target while traveling. Take plenty of notes; this seminar is worth its weight in gold.

Social media boot camp

Presenter: Cathy O’Neal

What social media should I use? When should I post? How often? What should I say? Do I have to answer every stupid comment? Can’t someone else just do it for me?

Social media can be just one more chore, or it can help you gain visibility, reputation, and clients. Learn the who, what, when, where, and why of social media from a seasoned communications pro who just finished her year with a 3.2-million Facebook reach! Weed out the stuff you don’t need, focus on the stuff you do need, analyze real-world examples, and walk away from the session with action items to start building the social media presence you want immediately. Click here to hear more about what O’Neal has to offer.

Attendees of the 2020 NCRA Business Summit will also receive a copy of the 2019 Firm Owners Economic Survey and hear firsthand what the findings mean during a session led by NCRA Executive Director Dave Wenhold, CAE. More than 200 firm owners responded to this latest survey, sharing insights about their firms including how the latest in trends are impacting court reporting, captioning, and legal videography firms and the outlook for the future.

Also on the program is Chris Williams, co-founder of Wide Awake Business, established in 2004 to help companies grow. She will lead a two-part presentation, which will focus on how to create an easier, simpler, more profitable business. The sessions will cover how to:

  • Spend less time second-guessing yourself and seize the right opportunities
  • Ooze authority and confidence when you speak with prospects
  • Feel fulfilled because your “Big Why” engages more people
  • Enjoy your bank account statements
  • Lead more, build your team, and personally do less of the “do”
  • Head out on your vacation without taking calls and putting out fires every day

Attendees also won’t want to miss the financial planning session lead by Chris Moyseos, a financial advisor and financial planning specialist with Morgan Stanley Wealth Management. Moyseos began his career more than 30 years ago in London in the banking/finance sector.

Still not convinced that attending NCRA’s 2020 Business Summit can help build your business? Just listen to NCRA President Max Curry, RPR, CRI, a freelance court reporter and firm owner from Franklin, Tenn., and find out why he has attended this event for the past 14 years.

According to Curry, “If building your business in 2020 and beyond is important to you, then attending the 2020 NCRA Business Summit should be a priority.”

Finally, the NCRA 2020 Business Summit offers an abundance of networking opportunities like no other, ranging from receptions to group activities sure to help you expand your professional and personal connections.

Hurry and register now to take advantage of the special hotel room rate for single/double occupancy of $209 per night plus tax ($237.73). These special hotel rates end on Jan. 8, 2020.

Located on more than 400 acres along the banks of the Colorado River, the beautiful Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa in Austin, Texas, offers a variety of amenities and activities for attendees and their guests to enjoy during their stay. The recreation amenities attendees can enjoy include: A full-service spa, salon, and fitness center, two tennis courts, an 18-hole golf course, hiking, biking and jogging paths, horseback riding, a video arcade, a water park, a meet-and-greet with the facility’s mascots, and more. Plus, if attendees book at the special NCRA room rate before Jan. 8, the activity fee of $35 is waived.

  • Regular Registration: Dec. 10, 2019 – Jan. 31, 2020
    Member: $1,075; Nonmember: $1,250; Additional Firm Employee: $950; Spouse/Guest: $250
  • Last-Minute Registration: Feb. 1 – 9, 2020
    Member: $1,125; Nonmember: $1,300; Additional Firm Employee: $1,000; Spouse/Guest: $300

For more information and to register for the 2020 NCRA Business Summit, visit NCRA.org/BusinessSummit.

Attend the 2020 NCRA Business Summit, take away social media strategies to boost business

Cathy O’Neal, communications director for Levitt Pavilion Arlington, an outdoor concert venue that presents more than 50 free concerts a year, has planned a fun and enlightening look at how social media can be changed from chore to tool in a firm’s business plan for success. Her session is happening at the 2020 NCRA Business Summit taking place Feb. 9-11 at the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa in Austin, Texas.

Need another reason to register now? Early access rates have been extended until Tuesday, Dec. 10 at midnight ET. Act now to get the best price.

O’Neal holds a journalism degree from the University of Texas at Arlington, where she also serves as an adjunct professor in the Communications Department teaching media writing, public relations management, and public relations case studies. She will share with attendees successful social media strategies to help build business.

According to O’Neal, social media can help you gain visibility, reputation, and clients. She will cover the who, what, when, where, and why of social media from the vantage point of a seasoned communications pro who just finished her year with a 3.2 million Facebook reach! O’Neal will help attendees learn how to weed out the stuff they don’t need, focus on the stuff they do need, analyze real-world examples, and help them walk away from the session with action items they can put in practice immediately to start building the social media presence they want. To learn more about what O’Neal has to share, watch her video here.

Attendees of the 2020 NCRA Business Summit will also receive a copy of the 2019 Firm Owners Survey Report. More than 200 firm owners responded to this survey, sharing insights about their firms, including how the latest trends are impacting court reporting, captioning, and legal videography firms, and what the outlook for the future holds. NCRA Executive Director Dave Wenhold, CAE, will present the findings.

This year’s keynote speaker is the energetic Karim R. Ellis, founder of Empowered Education, a company devoted to developing both organizations and individuals. Ellis is a dynamic motivational speaker with 10 years of experience in the arena of speaking, training, and coaching, He takes great pride in cultivating leaders and champions, and his sole desire is to unlock an atmosphere of greatness in the lives of the people he connects with on a daily basis. Ellis will share with attendees his insights into successful leadership creation and development.

Also on the program is Chris Williams, co-founder of Wide Awake Business, established in 2004 to help companies grow. Williams will provide a two-part presentation, which will focus on how to create an easier, simpler, more profitable business. The sessions will cover how to:

  • Spend less time second-guessing yourself and seize the right opportunities
  • Ooze authority and confidence when you speak with prospects
  • Feel fulfilled because your “Big Why” engages more people
  • Enjoy your bank account statements
  • Lead more, build team, and personally do less of the “do”
  • Head out on your vacation without taking calls and putting out fires every day

Other highlights include:

Ron Comers, a former FBI agent and current advisor on corporate security risks through Charted Risk, LLC, who will present “Protecting Your Firm from Scams & Data Breaches,” and offer tips on how firms can keep their files and other information safe in today’s cyber-savvy world;

Chris Moyseos, a financial advisor and financial planning specialist with Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, who will lead a session on financial planning and managing personal wealth; and

Opportunities throughout the three-day event to provide attendees with the chance to expand their networks, engage with old friends, and build relationships with new ones. The event kicks off with a fun and exciting team-building activity followed by an opening reception.

Lora Appino Barnett, RMR, a freelance court reporter and owner of Appino & Briggs Reporting Service in Overland, Kan., attended her first Business Summit in 2007, then called the Firm Owners Executive Conference. She hasn’t missed one since.

“With all the recent happenings in the industry, as a firm owner, I am hopeful as an organization we can find ways to combat the so-called digital ‘reporters’ trying to get a foothold in our profession and finding ways to recruit more students into the reporting field. I also look forward to the educational seminars,” she said.

“The networking and friendships that I have made with other firm owners are invaluable; I look forward to seeing them every year,” Barnett said, as she encourages others to register. “I say do it! You will not regret it. We have increased our business with the networking relationships we have made over the years. I very much enjoy the locations that NCRA has chosen to have the conferences; I think you will, too. And I truly value the friendships I have made over the years.”

A special hotel room rate for single/double occupancy for attendees is $209 per night plus tax ($237.73) and the resort fee will be reimbursed by the hotel upon check-in. Hurry! These special hotel rates end on Jan. 8, 2020.

Located on more than 400 acres along the banks of the Colorado River, the beautiful Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa in Austin, Texas, offers a variety of amenities and activities for attendees and their guests to enjoy during their stay. The recreational amenities attendees can enjoy include: A full-service spa, salon, and fitness center; two tennis courts; an 18-hole golf course; hiking, biking and jogging paths; horseback riding; a video arcade; a water park; a meet-and-greet with the facility’s mascots; and more. Plus, if attendees book at the special NCRA room rate before Jan. 8, the resort fee of $35 will be reimbursed by the hotel upon check-in.

  • Early Access: Oct. 15–Dec. 10
    Member: $975; Nonmember: $1,150; Additional Firm Employee: $850; Spouse/Guest: $200
  • Regular Registration: Dec. 11, 2019–Jan. 31, 2020
    Member: $1,075; Nonmember: $1,250; Additional Firm Employee: $950; Spouse/Guest: $250
  • Last-Minute Registration: Feb. 1–9, 2020
    Member: $1,125; Nonmember: $1,300; Additional Firm Employee: $1,000; Spouse/Guest: $300

For more information and to register for the 2020 NCRA Business Summit, visit NCRA.org/BusinessSummit.

Why you should network outside of your industry

By Megan Rogers

It’s important to build a network of colleagues and peers for advice, referrals, and support. But don’t limit your networking to only people with your same job. Especially if you’re a freelancer or firm owner (but even if you’re employed), it’s smart to develop relationships with people in client industries, parallel industries, and non-related industries.

Who to network with

Client industries: Your clients are the ones who hire for your services, but think beyond the obvious answers. There may be potential clients you’re not thinking of. Also, to identify your clients, you need to determine what, specifically, you specialize in.

If you’re an employee, think of the people who receive or are involved with your services as your clients. For example, if you’re an official, this might be a judge or court administrator.

Parallel industries: People in parallel industries do work that aligns with yours and who may have similar clients. For example, court reporters and legal videographers or captioners and sign language interpreters are in parallel industries.

Non-related industries: While steno is a unique skill, many of the other skills that court reporters and captioners need to develop are not, such as grammar, business, or technology skills. Getting to know people in non-steno-related industries, but who still have something in common with you, can expose you to new ideas that can help you professionally.

Where to meet people outside of your industry

The best way to meet people is to go where they go.

Go to their professional development and networking events: What are the associations that represent your clients? Attend their national or regional events and conferences or go to chapter social events.

Find local networking groups: Search on Meetup.com for a group, such as fellow freelancers, videographers, accessibility advocates, and more. Join a local Toastmasters International chapter or something similar.

Ask for introductions: Maybe your cousin’s neighbor is a paralegal, someone in your book club teaches English at the local college, or you have a current or former client or coworker who’s well-connected. Ask for an introduction and then an informal meeting, such as a coffee date.

Why to network outside of your industry

There are three important reasons why networking outside of your industry can help you professionally.

1. Build trust by connecting one-on-one with the people who will give you business: Just like you can get referrals from your peers, professionals in client or parallel industries can also give you referrals. People are more likely to hire someone they know than someone they’ve only heard of (or at least go to them first), so get to know the people who do the hiring for your services. Also, it’s good for you to have parallel professionals you can refer. If you’re hired for a depo, your client may ask if you know any legal videographers — having a list of professionals you trust makes for good customer service.

If you’re an employee, building your network will help if you ever need or want to change jobs or if you want to find more ways to grow professionally.

2. Learn more about what your clients care about: When you talk to people outside of your industry or attend their professional development sessions, you learn a lot: What are they passionate about? What do they struggle with? What are new trends in their industry? Then think about how you can insert yourself and your skills into being a solution for those passions, struggles, and trends. If you’re an employee, you still want to know what your internal clients care about so that you can make yourself more valuable and share new ideas with your boss and coworkers.

3. Get ideas for potential new services you can offer: When you become an expert in the industry you serve, you can brainstorm how your skills can lead to new services for your clients. Maybe you do conference captioning, and you hear that the conference organizers are starting to put video files of past sessions online — are those videos captioned? Can you partner with people in parallel industries, such as event videographers, to offer packages to joint clients?

Similarly, you can borrow ideas from professionals outside of your industry and apply them to your own. Maybe you learn about a new program that can streamline your finances or ideas for marketing your services or tips for handling a client disagreement.

Networking takes time, but it reaps long-term rewards. Expand your circle, and find all the ways a multifaceted network can make you a strong professional.

Megan Rogers is a freelance journalist and proofreader. She can be reached through her website, meganstolzeditorial.com.

Let the warmth and beauty of 2020 NCRA Business Summit venue inspire you

The NCRA 2020 Business Summit offers more than just networking and learning. Located on more than 400 acres along the banks of the Colorado River, the beautiful Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa in Austin, Texas, offers a variety of amenities and activities for attendees and their guests to enjoy during their stay.

Among the recreation amenities attendees can enjoy include: A full-service spa, salon, and fitness center, two tennis courts, an 18-hole golf course, hiking, biking and jogging paths, horseback riding, a video arcade, a water park, a meet-and-greet with the facility’s mascots, and more. Plus, if attendees book at the special NCRA room rate before Jan. 8, the activity fee of $35 is waived. And don’t forget, register for the event by Nov. 30 and save an additional $100.

Besides the beauty of the Austin countryside and warm temperatures typical of Texas, attendees at the 2020 NCRA Business Summit can also expect to enjoy a schedule that offers informative, inspiring, and insightful sessions led by leaders in the business industry.

Ron Comers, a former FBI agent and currently an advisor on corporate security risks through Charted Risk, LLC., will present “Protecting Your Firm from Scams & Data Breaches,” and offer tips on how firms can keep their files and other information safe in today’s cyber-savvy world.

Comers earned a bachelor’s degree in criminology from the University of South Florida and a master’s degree in business continuity, security, and risk management from Boston University. Prior to working for the FBI, Comers was a police officer with the Stratford Police Department in Connecticut. He entered duty as a special agent of the FBI in 1995 and was assigned to the Boston, Mass., division, where he worked bank fraud and drug investigations and also served as a member of the division’s SWAT team.

Over the course of his career, Comers has served in a variety of divisions as an FBI agent, overseeing a number of stateside and international investigations.

In 2010, he served as an acting ALAT in Afghanistan in 2010 and as a member of the Major Crimes Task Force charged with developing the investigative capabilities of Afghan law enforcement. For his service, he received the Attorney General’s Award for Excellence in Furthering the Interests of U.S. National Security.

Other speakers include Cathy O’Neal, communications director for Levitt Pavilion Arlington, who will lead a session about successful social media strategies to help build business; a financial planning session led by Chris Moyseos, a financial planner who will discuss succession and financial planning; and NCRA Interim Executive Director Dave Wenhold, CPE, who will present the findings of NCRA’s 2020 Firm Owners Economic Outlook Survey.

Ask the techie: What’s in your steno bag?

If you’ve ever wondered what members of the NCRA Technology Committee carry with them on their jobs, here’s your chance. A few of them have opened up their steno bags to share with you what they’ve chosen to go to work with every day – photos included!

Here’s the list of what’s in the bag of Sheri Smargon, RDR, CRR, CRC, a broadcast captioner and freelance court reporter from Riverview, Fla.

  1. Luminex and tripod.
  2. Microphone for Luminex.
  3. Luminex charger.
  4. Extension cord.
  5. Cool Table and tripod.
  6. Laptop with charger.
  7. USB cord for Luminex.
  8. USB cord for iPhone.
  9. Charging cable for Android phone (attorneys are grateful when you have the stuff they forgot at home).
  10. Mini stapler.
  11. Tons of pens, Sharpies, and highlighters.
  12. Earbuds (I may get to proof while I wait for a job and have to check the audio).
  13. SD cards.
  14. Flash drives (varying sizes and shapes).
  15. USB Hub.
  16. Extra keypads (never know when one needs to be replaced on the fly).
  17. Business cards.
  18. Exhibits stamp and stickers.
  19. At times, Dymo machine to make exhibits with an extra roll of stickers. Now, I do carry this in its own little bag, but it rests on top of my main carrying case. If it’s going to be an all-day depo, I usually bring this little machine. I can then print off a bunch of stickers at one time.
  20. Calendar for the year-at-a-glance.
  21. Depo book and notice (if I have one).
  22. Post-its in various sizes.
  23. Wite-out (oops happen).
  24. A small USB fan (I’m always warm).
  25. Snacks (I always have Kind bars and crackers of some type in my bag.  You never know if you’re going to get lunch…or for how long).
  26. Rubber bands (for wrangling exhibits and cords after a long day).
  27. Velcro straps (sometimes, I lose one and carry extras to wrangle my cords).
  28. Umbrella (I don’t want to get caught in a Florida thunderstorm with an armful of exhibits).
  29. Gaffer’s tape to tape down my cords and cables if it’s going to be an all-day or multi-day job. I don’t want anyone to trip.

If I’m doing an on-site CART or captioning job, I will also add things like cables and cords, HDMIs and splitters, headphones, and gender-bender connections. I pack my bag to fit the job, and I do it the night before a job. I then place my bag right in front of my door. (I know I’m not the only one who has had the dream of going to a job and realizing your machine is at home.)  

If I have a realtime job that requires iPads, I charge those the night before on a multi-USB charging station; then I bring the charging station, cords, cables, and charging blocks with me.  I also bring my router in case I can’t get internet access for ICVnet.   

If I’m doing a trial, I will also carry an amplifier to attach to the bench, cords, cables, and headphones so I can stay seated while bench conferences are going on. I also toss extra batteries in my bag for the amplifier.

So, pack your bag and eat your Wheaties. Your bag will be heavy, but you’ve got this!

Kimberly R. Greiner, RDR, CRR, CRC, an official court reporter based in Lenexa, Kan., keeps the following handy as she works:

  1. Diamante/tripod.
  2. Laptop/charger.
  3. Foot pedal — I occasionally need one for recorded hearings.
  4. iPads (two standard — one flip case, one hard stand) (one mini in flip case).
  5. Two Diamante chargers — Redundancy pays off.
  6. Two USB cables for realtime (I carry one that is 3 feet and another that is 7 feet.
  7. Three iPad charging cables.
  8. Three USB charging blocks — for outlets without USB port.
  9. External Mouse — I get track pad frustrated.
  10. Earbuds.
  11. Four SD cards —  Always carry a back-up to the back-up.
  12. Flash drives — three of these.
  13. External Hard Drive.
  14. USB Hub — just in case.
  15. iPens X1 — for proofreading on the iPad (it’s my favorite item!)
  16. 3.5 mm male to female (audio feed) 10 feet.
  17. 3.5 mm male to male (audio feed) 3 feet.
  18. Attenuator line male to female with volume dial (audio feed) — I get Nos. 16-18, because I never know how far I’ll be from the audio feed. When I freelanced, conference tables could be 20 feet long.
  19. Small stapler.
  20. Pop-up — small half-oval stand to place paper in (captioner conference tidbit!)
  21. Business cards.
  22. Pens (three or more) — Yes, one is red!
  23. Microfiber cloths.
  24. Spare glasses.
  25. Lotion/chapstick.
  26. Sometimes a small fan.

Alan Peacock, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, a CART captioner and freelancer court reporter based in Mobile, Ala., said: “I do not have a short answer for this wonderful question. For me, I have a closet that is chock-full of bags, cables, cords, adapters, antiquated and new devices. I will pack my bag differently depending on the assignment. For example, an onsite CART assignment would require an entirely different setup than a realtime deposition. But for today’s purposes, I’m going to answer the question assuming that I’m going to a realtime deposition.” 

Here is his basic list:

  1. My steno writer and computer — that’s a given. If I’m traveling out of town, I also carry a backup writer and computer. My backup writer is the Lightspeed. It’s light and doesn’t require much room. I carry several SD cards with me as backup as well.
  2. Steno machine charger (and a backup in my car).
  3. Steno machine realtime cable (and an extra in my bag).
  4. iPads and iPad stands and Charger Unity with Charging Cords. Generally, I will carry a couple of extra setups just in case I get the chance to upsell realtime services to a client who did not order. I also keep one extra tablet running at all times by my side so I can easily swap out with someone who runs into trouble and loses a connection or has a technical issue.
  5. MiFi Device — for streaming or for my own private network. If I’m using realtime editors as well, I like to have one internet device dedicated to sending my audio stream to the remote scopist and proofreader and then a separate internet connection for my streaming to clients.
  6. Portable Router — As a backup in case internet fails. I can still stream locally.
  7. A 12- or 24-hour kitchen timer alarm clock — For depositions where the reporter has to track the time, these are cheap, portable and allows everyone to see how much time they have used.
  8. Office-sized stapler — The smaller ones do not do it for me. I like the comfort of having a good sturdy office-sized stapler.
  9. Wall power adapter — for plugging a grounded device into an ungrounded outlet.
  10. Two 6-foot extension cords and one small power outlet.
  11. Velcro carpet cord covers — I have two that are 6 feet each that I can lay on over my wires to prevent anyone from tripping over my cords. You can buy these in a variety of colors and sizes. They fold up nicely and can be stored in a side zipper of a ZUCA bag.
  12. USB thumb drives.
  13. Apple iPad (lightning to USB) thumb drive for saving attorneys’ annotated realtime files.
  14. Apple AirPods (for scoping quietly on breaks or in the hotel).
  15. USB card reader (for reading backup machine card in emergencies)
  16. USB microphone and stand for audiosync.
  17. XLR to 1/8-inch audio adapter for receiving audio from the videographer’s mixer. You may want to carry a male/female XLR adapter just in case.
  18. Machine microphone — I have two for daisy-chaining on long conference tables.
  19. Exhibit stickers.
  20. Ethernet cord.
  21. Computer adapters for VGA, HDMI, and USB C.
  22. Audio/mic splitter cable.
  23. Extra charging station for iPhone and Android devices for the attorney who comes in and needs a charge. It’s not required, but clients remember small courtesies like this.
  24. Pens, paper and highlighters. Always have extra pens. It does not look professional for the reporter to walk in and have to borrow a pen from the attorneys to write down names. Although they are not hiring us to write with a pen, it just seems more professional if you can always remember to stock extras, so you do not have that problem.
  25. Personal grooming bag: As a male reporter, I have found over the years that it’s helpful to carry a BIC razor with me, just in case a spot is missed. In this bag, I also carry mints, aspirin, and small bottle of unscented hand lotion. I also have an extra pair of readers/glasses in case I need them.

Sandra M. Mierop, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC, an agency owner and freelance court reporter from Anchorage, Alaska, keeps the following on hand for jobs:

  1. Lenovo and backup Dell for Eclipse/Connection Magic.
  2. Luminex, charger, tripod.
  3. Three hot spots each with different carriers (AT&T, Verizon, local Alaska company GCI).
  4. Six Samsung tablets with charging cables.
  5. Marantz recorder.
  6. Three extra SD/micro SD cards for Luminex and Marantz recorder.
  7. Three USB external sound cards to receive court’s audio for syncing with Eclipse; earbuds for sound check.
  8. External hub with USB and SD ports.
  9. Three Luminex writer-to-computer cables (Samsung tablet cables can work, too).
  10. Exhibit stickers, pens, notepad, business cards, and microfiber wipe.
  11. First-aid kit (Band-aids, Neosporin, ibuprofen, Purell).
  12. Thermos.
  13. Reel-up extension cord with four outlets; small electrical outlet hub adding three extra outlets; gaffer tape.

Make plans to mosey on over to the 2020 NCRA Business Summit

The Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa in Austin, Texas, is the setting for the 2020 NCRA Business Summit taking place Feb. 9-11. No matter what size firm you own, operate, or manage, this event is NCRA’s premier gathering for anyone looking to grow their business, expand their markets, and boost their overall success. Register by Nov. 30, 2019 to take advantage of discounted pricing.

“Intense, energizing, inspiring, educational, and fun, that’s what the 2020 NCRA Business Summit promises attendees no matter what size their firm is. Plan to expand your sphere of colleagues while networking in beautiful Austin, as well as hear from a variety of experts in the areas of successful customer base building, honing effective leadership skills, and more,” said NCRA President Max Curry, RPR, CRI, a freelance court reporter and firm owner from Franklin, Tenn. “If building your business in 2020 and beyond is important to you, then attending the 2020 should be a priority.”

Karim R. Ellis, Keynote Speaker

In the lineup this year is keynote speaker Karim R. Ellis, founder of Empowered Education, a company devoted to developing both organizations and individuals. Ellis is a dynamic motivational speaker with 10 years of experience in the arena of speaking, training, and coaching, He takes great pride in cultivating leaders and champions, and his sole desire is to unlock an atmosphere of greatness in the lives of the people he connects with on a daily basis. Ellis will share with attendees his insights into successful leadership creation and development.

Also on the program is Chris Williams, co-founder of Wide Awake Business, established in 2004 to help companies grow. She is also the co-author, along with Martha Hanlon, also co-founder of Wide Awake Business, Customers Are the Answer to Everything, and most recently of Customertopia. Williams and Hanlon have been called one of the foremost authorities on in how to get and keep customers.

Chris Williams, Speaker

Williams will provide a two-part presentation, which will focus on how to create an easier, simpler, more profitable business. The sessions will cover how to:

  • Spend less time second-guessing yourself and seize the right opportunities
  • Ooze authority and confidence when you speak with prospects
  • Feel fulfilled because your “Big Why” engages more people
  • Enjoy your bank account statements
  • Lead more, build team, and personally do less of the “do”
  • Head out on your vacation without taking calls and putting out fires every day

The 2020 NCRA Business Summit program also offers a number of networking opportunities throughout the three-day event to provide attendees with the chance to expand their networks, engage with old friends, and build relationships with new ones. The event kicks off with a fun and exciting team-building activity followed by an opening reception and dinner.

Registration is now open and those who register by Nov. 30, 2019, can take advantage of discounted pricing:

  • Early Access Registration: Oct. 15 – Nov. 30, 2019
    Member: $975; Nonmember: $1,150; Additional Firm Employee: $850; Spouse/Guest: $200
  • Regular Registration: Dec. 1, 2019 – Jan. 31, 2020
    Member: $1,075; Nonmember: $1,250; Additional Firm Employee: $950; Spouse/Guest: $250
  • Last Minute Registration: Feb. 1 – 9, 2020
    Member: $1,125; Nonmember: $1,300; Additional Firm Employee: $1,000; Spouse/Guest: $300

A special hotel room rate for single/double occupancy for attendees is $209 per night plus tax ($237.73) and the resort fee is waived. Hurry, these special hotel rates end on Jan. 8, 2020. Deadline to register to attend is Jan. 31, 2020.

For more information and to register for the 2020 NCRA Business Summit, visit NCRA.org/BusinessSummit.

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.

TechLinks: Standing desks – Are they right for court reporters?

By Lynette Mueller

Court reporters are always looking for ways to be more productive on the job and at the desk when completing their transcripts. Recently, I shared a link of the best standing desks of 2019 on my Facebook business page and received some great feedback and sharing from it! As the chair of the Technology Committee, I thought our members would love to learn more about the benefits of using a standing desk, as well as some top picks to choose from. 

According to healthline.com: “A standing desk, also called a stand-up desk, is basically a desk that allows you to stand up comfortably while working. Many modern versions are adjustable, so that you can change the height of the desk and alternate between sitting and standing.”

Several peer-reviewed studies suggest that sitting for prolonged periods of time may reduce life expectancy. There is much speculation and not much good data at this time to suggest that using a standing desk will combat the ill effects of sitting. While there is nothing to prove a good outcome from using a standing desk, there may be some benefits for court reporters.

Healthline.com also mentions these benefits when using a standing desk:

  • Lowers your risk of weight gain and obesity
  • May lower blood sugar levels
  • May lower your risk of heart disease
  • Appears to reduce back pain
  • Helps improve mood and energy levels
  • May even boost productivity
  • May help you live longer

If court reporters do decide to make the plunge and purchase a standing desk, they should keep in mind that standing desks may also have some “side effects.” Some of the reporters’ comments on my Facebook post had a few suggestions to help with the transition.

  • Purchase an anti-fatigue mat for your desk
  • Purchase a drafting chair so that you can move freely from standing to sitting

Wirecutter.com writes about these suggestions for the best anti-fatigue mats. The posters on my shared Facebook link specifically mentioned the FlexiSpot and Varidesk as their personal favorites. According to the Wirecutter article: “The Varidesk ProDesk 60 Electric is more stable in each direction than the Uplift or Jarvis, and a little bit quieter than those desks in raising and lowering (minus an occasional thudding sound when starting). It also comes with built-in cable management and was the easiest desk we’ve ever built. But it has no wood or bamboo desktop options, just five colors of laminate, which our testers disliked.”

Ready to consider getting a standing desk? Wirecutter.com also offered their picks for the best standing desks of 2019. Forbes.com also published an article with their best standing desk picks. Those are two great places to start your research.

Lynette Mueller, FAPR, RDR, CRR, is chair of NCRA’s Technology Committee. She can be reached at lynette@omegareporting.com.