Court Reporting & Golf – The Similarities

I was chatting with Chris Jordan, my husband, last night about my writing.  He was monitoring a text stream I was doing for a client via Remote Counsel.  Chris commented on how my writing reminds him of golfing.  I said, “What?”  He said he can tell I write differently than I did when he first met me 17 years ago. 

I am getting older, almost 50, and my writing style has changed.  I don’t pound as hard as I did when I first got out of school, and I look for shortcuts whenever possible.  If I am building a job dictionary, my tendency is to write Mr. and the first syllable of a person’s name, and that becomes my brief.  I used to wait until a break to create briefs so attorneys watching my writing through interactive realtime would never see any of my briefs written on the fly or shortcuts.  As a seasoned court reporter, I know the attorneys will not freak out if I create briefs before their very eyes, and they know how to read through them.   My stress level is nothing compared to when I was a new court reporter.

So what does that have to do with golfing?

When Chris first began playing golf in college, he says his tendency was to whack the ball with all of his might.  It was not a game of finesse or laying up shots.  It was a game of hit the ball super hard, get to the next shot, and end up being frustrated by the 18th hole.  These days, as a 51-year-old, Chris has slowed down his stroke, is more conscious of form, and the ball goes a lot farther and where it is supposed to go. 

As a new court reporter, one might have the tendency to pound the keys, worry about every stroke being perfect, and by the end of the day be exhausted.  My advice is to remember to take deep breaths and focus on stroking fewer keys (use briefs).  Especially learn the briefs for objections.  The attorneys say the same thing over and over, for instance, lack of foundation; calls for speculation; not reasonably calculated to lead to admissible evidence.  A court reporter can do some dramatic catching-up learning the briefs for objections

The less pounding, the fewer strokes a court reporter makes, the less stress you will place on your body and your mind. 

By the way, my new sport is going to be golf.  It will be a great escape from the day-to-day court reporting world.

@rosaliekramm (Twitter)

Looking Like A Court Reporter

It was suggested by a firm owner I ran into at NCRA firm owners that I blog about a court reporter’s appearance when in the field.  This is a tricky subject.  I believe geographically there are differences in what is considered appropriate, common sense, and stylish.  There are dozens of web sites that offer suggestions about looking professional for men and women.  The mantra in all of them is “neat and clean and nice shoes” (no beat-up looking shoes). 

As blogger Dawn Rosenberg McKay writes, “Maybe it is unjust to judge a book by its cover, but we all do it.  It’s human nature.  While the person in jeans may be as competent and as intelligent as the one wearing the formal suit, or more so, we do assess these attributes based on appearance.” 

As working court reporters, we are judged the moment we walk into a deposition room, courtroom, or meeting room.  The attorneys may not say anything to us, but they are looking us over and making a quick judgment about our competency.  Like Ms. McKay writes, “It’s human nature.”

I know I judge the attorneys when they walk into the room.  A person’s posture, suit, accessories, and shoes say a lot about that person.  I decide in my mind quickly if a person is successful or not.  Is that fair?  Probably not.  It is just the way it is.

If you think about it, when you look good, you know you look good, and you walk into a room, you feel better about yourself as a professional.  I would go so far as to throw out the comment you even write faster and are more accurate.  Court reporters work hard getting out expedites and huge transcripts.  It may be easy to stop caring enough about appearances after awhile when you are tired.  That’s when we need to really get our groove on.

I am using this blog as a reminder to myself to “pay attention” and always look sharp.  People are watching me and deciding what kind of a court reporter I am before I even start writing.

@rosaliekramm (Twitter)

Moving Up the Ladder – Thoughts of a Court Reporting Firm Owner

As many of you know by now, I have been the owner of Kramm Court Reporting since 1985.  I began my career as a court reporter in 1981 at the age of 21.  I went straight from high school to court reporting school and then out to the work world.  In running my business, most of my education has come from the school of hard knocks.  I have been blessed with smart, generous mentors who have given me time and advice, and I have read many books, articles, and blogs in an effort to learn from the best how to manage and succeed.

I came across an article this week, “Want to Move Up?  Learn to Manage like a CEO.”  The author, Steve Tobak, speaks to the value of learning how to run a business by just doing it rather than getting an MBA or a business education and has come up with five steps.

His first step is, “Focus on critical, trouble areas and leave everything else alone.”  I know that putting out fires and solving problems is my job.  I learned at a very early stage ignoring a situation and hoping it goes away or gets solved on its own very rarely, if ever happens.  All problems need to be tackled immediately.  A firm owner needs a powerful team behind him/her to come up with smart solutions.

Tobak’s second step follows beautifully, “Hire functional experts who are also solid, upcoming managers.”  Every expert, every successful person, everything I have ever read talks about surrounding yourself with people smarter than you are and who are experts in their field.  I would take this advice one step further and suggest a business owner has to hire the best vendors/service providers as well.  I want everyone that interacts with my company or my clients to be the best and to love their job, from our delivery guy to my banker.

The third point is, “Business comes first.”   Any great manager would understand this.  When I read the statement, “Business comes first,” I don’t look at it in a pejorative sense that a business should only care about making money.  In my opinion, business coming first means happy employees and court reporters; fair compensation for work being done.  The moment a company defines “business comes first” as a means to only generate personal income for itself  or management is the moment that that company will start their downward spiral.  Managers, salespeople, and employees need to understand that business does come first, the business of customers, service, and sales in the aggregate.

Tobak goes on to step number four, “Manage up.” He talks about “a critical function of any manager is to provide his boss with what she needs to succeed.”  Communication is key, and it starts at the top.  The CEO, owner of any company, must give permission for managers and employees to speak their mind and allow for give-and-take.  A business owner has to have the ear and trust of their management and vice versa and be able to admit they need information and even help, and the managers need to be free to speak to a business owner when he/she feels something is not on track.  Everyone has the same interest at heart, what is best for the business.

My favorite step of Tobak’s is the last step, “Help to manage the company.”  If an employee or manager sees a situation in another department where help is needed and steps in to be supportive, brainstorm, or even physically works alongside to complete a task, that person becomes invaluable to the owner.  If a manager sees a lack of direction in any area of a company and can step in and begin a process or even define the problem, that person will undoubtedly “move up” in a company.  But if an owner hears, “It is not my job” or “not my department,” you can bet that the owner is going to start looking for someone else to take that person’s place whenever possible.

There are many days I wish I had an MBA, but I don’t.  Learning from the school of hard knocks has taught me a lot about myself, and there is one thing I know for sure, I need the people around me to be a part of the team.  I believe the five steps above all illustrate a common goal, wanting what is best for the company, the clients.  If the management team is helping the owner/CEO work towards that goal in an authentic and focused manner, one can guarantee success.

@rosaliekramm (Twitter)