Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Living Vicariously

I have a friend from the various forums (fora?) and having met her at conventions, roomed with her, attended classes, and she had a stellar day yesterday.

You see, she got the opportunity of a lifetime - to CART at the White House for the 20th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  She spoke to the President of the United States.  Hobnobbed with senators and press corps.  Because she's good at what she does.  Wow.

I have another friend who has traveled all over the world providing CART to a national association (medical profession).  She has been to China, among other places.  Her stories are fantastic.  And they love her for being able to do what she does for them. 

And I know of a reporter (friend of a friend) who owns an American reporting agency - in Japan.  Seriously. 

There are NO limits to what we can do!  This profession offers us incredible opportunities, if we just make the effort to really be the BEST we can be.  Don't settle for "okay" when you can output "great" and wow people.

What will you do today to be just that little bit better?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Release yourself from the solitude

Court reporting can be a pretty solitary profession and one of the most important tools to develop is a professional network.  We all need people to lend a helping hand when we're under stress; it can be listening to you vent, assisting with computer problems, helping out when your machine has gone wonky and you have an assignment - right now! - or just someone to talk to who understands what you do.

Let's face it.  Not many people really understand what we do.  Our families don't, no matter how hard they try; our spouses don't (and that can be so frustrating); our friends don't.  Only other court reporters really get it.  That's why it's so important to join local, state, and national associations of fellow professional court reporters.

Not only can being a member of such a group defeat the isolation, it can help you in finding work or just simply letting you know about what's going on in other parts of the country.

In this economy, membership dues may seem like a frivolous expense.  Please, consider it instead and investment in yourself and your professional career, and perhaps even your mental health.  We've chosen a career path that not many can follow; it's in all of our best interests to support and nurture each other along the way.

See you at your next professional meeting!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Preparing for the Adventure

Convention season is upon us!  NCRA's annual convention starts in less than two weeks - but my convention adventure begins next Sunday for the "preconvention" board meetings.  Technically I'm not on the board (yet, hopefully), but I'll be spending Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday before convention trying to be a sponge and listening and learning as much as I can about the position of Director and what it means to be a member of a volunteer board.

My preparation, though, is beginning already.  I've been trying to write my speech for the annual membership meeting, and can't quite get it right.  Five minutes is the limit - and I promise not to even make that, even though many will be surprised! - and it's really been a tough challenge to develop a good speech.  Last year's, I thought, was pretty good; alas, I don't think I can reuse and recycle my Lao Tzu speech.  The CART provider will be happy.

I'm also wrapping up all transcript requests, my month-end paperwork, and, of course (I'm a girl after all) all the personal stuff that needs to be done (you know, hair, nails, etc.)

Then, of course, there's the packing.  How do you plan for a week-long trip?  You have to have business outfits, casual outfits, middle-of-the-road outfits, and workout gear (I'm being hopeful here).  Then there's shoes and accessories, toiletries, paperwork, tour book (gotta find a nice place to hang out of an evening - especially on Thursday), and all the other extras that I'm sure I'll need and hopefully won't forget.  I imagine I'll find my way to a local Macy's or something in the next few days just to shore up my wardrobe.

I love going to convention.  Every year, it seems I learn something new and come home with an extra "zing" in my step and attitude.  This convention, however, feels a bit more momentous.  I'm going to try and go into it relaxed - that's why preparation is happening so far in advance.  But I have no doubt I'll be running to a local pharmacy/drugstore to pick up something I've forgotten. 

One thing I promise, though - I'll have a good time.  See you there!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Working on a Team

When you work in an organization, you're part of a team.  Even if you're the only one DOING your particular job, all the folks need to do their part in order to make it work. 

When I took the job with the State, I got a crash course in teamwork, official style.  Working with bailiffs, clerks, judges, attorneys, well, it's a different world from the freelance one I'd been inhabiting.  When we're part of a team, we have to be that much more conscientious of others and aware of our demeanor.  It's not all about us.  I know, I know.  It's a surprise sometimes to realize that not everyone cares about the minutiae of our lives, but it's true.  They just want to make sure the job gets done and that we're not going to hinder it.  Yep.  Really.

Pay attention to your colleagues, make sure you're seeing your job in the light they do and respond accordingly.  Ask politely for things you need, offer your card unfailingly every time you walk into a new courtroom.  Keep your attitude positive.  You never know who's watching - and who they know and who they talk to.  Skills are all well and good - and we should continually polish ours - but the packaging is important too.  Be punctual, pleasant, and professional.

And as they say, remember, there is no "I" in team.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Those comments/compliments that make it worthwhile

On those days when you just feel beaten down by the whole thing - deadlines, politics, schedules, et cetera - you sometimes get a little gift that reminds you how much you love what you do and why it's so worthwhile.

I got a call today from a "client." I say it in quotes because technically, as an official reporter, the attorneys who come into our courtroom have no choice on which reporter they work with. Nonetheless, this client gave me a huge compliment.

Suffice it to say there's a situation and the reporter he originally worked with in court has yet to produce a transcript, even though paid a deposit, in a year's time. The attorney has asked that I be assigned to produce the transcript. He said, "We love you, and really want you to do it." I teared up, right there. Now, I don't know if I'll get the assignment; who knows if this reporter will make good on their promises. What is important is that my reputation for communication and timely quality transcripts is recognized.

Man, that made my day.

Monday, July 5, 2010

What a wonderful weekend!

Dinner with friends. Watching the Tour de France (my favorite professional sporting event, what can I say?). Hanging out at the house, just being. Topped off with fireworks that I could see from my dining room window.

Sometimes that's the kind of weekend we all need, rest and relaxation. No work pressures. No familial pressures. Time to decompress and just BE.

I hope you enjoyed your Independence Day weekend and that you found a way to ponder what our forefathers and all of our military men and women have sacrificed to give us. They were truly heroes.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Gift of a Holiday Weekend

Today is the first day of a long, 3-day holiday weekend for most. Some might call it a mini vacation. (others consider it a time get get caught up)

Your body needs down time. This long weekend, with its importance to our nation's history, reminds us about our liberty and many of the other benefits of living in this great country. We are free to make choices and to live (pretty much) the way we choose.

See your friends and family. Spend time relaxing and simply enjoying. We as reporters tend to be on what feels like a treadmill, day in, day out. There's always another deadline looming, somebody's forgetfulness turns into an emergency that we try to assist with; it's okay to step away for a bit.

Sit back with a cold beer or perhaps a nice chilled glass of white wine. Grill some nice steaks, maybe some corn on the cob. Laugh as kids run under the sprinklers. Finish it all off in awed silence watching the fireworks display.

Society has taught us to always be busy. A good friend of mine forwarded a great article to me this week, and the integral question was: is "BUSY" how we should be defining our lives? I don't think so. Slow down. Take a deep breath. Do something just because you want to, not because you have to.

Enjoy a celebration of your own independence.

Friday, July 2, 2010

That OMG moment!

Most of us have had "the dream" - you know, where you wake up and you're at the deposition/courthouse without your writer and you're taking it all down furiously on a legal pad or something. (a version of the SATs naked, I suppose)

I had a horrible moment today - the criminal calendar I was working earlier in the week (M-T) was supposedly going to wrap on Wednesday. Another reporter covered Wednesday because I had to be in my Business Court assignment (also there Thursday). So today, Friday, I didn't go to court (I was originally scheduled to be back at the criminal session) because I assumed it was, well, over. The ADA told me that all the trials fell apart and that he was going to run a few pleas on Wednesday and that would be that.

At 9:30 - ON THE DOT - I had this horrible thought: What if I was supposed to be there this morning? And there I was, sitting with sweats on, working on a transcript, drinking coffee. Called my scheduling coordinator and, thankfully, she hadn't gotten any frantic calls.

Apparently I had an angel on my shoulder.
Lesson for the day? Always follow up, even if you THINK you know.