“Someone’s opinion of you does not have to become your reality”
“Someone’s opinion of you does not have to become your reality”
I am a proud Rotarian. I belong to the San Diego Downtown Breakfast Rotary. We meet at 7:00 a.m. on Wednesday mornings at the University Club on top of Symphony Towers. It is one of the most beautiful settings in all San Diego.
As a Rotarian, I am to follow the code of ethics created in 1932 by Herbert J. Taylor. The code of ethics is now referred to as the “Four-Way Test.” When making a decision, as a businessperson, court reporter, or in my personal life, I consider:
1. Is it the truth?
2. Is it fair to all concerned?
3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
Taylor was an entrepreneur during the Great Depression and came up with the four-way test to help faltering businesses get back on their feet. He was running Club Aluminum Company when it was on the verge of bankruptcy. No one was buying aluminum during the Depression. The story is one day he was sitting at his desk with his head in his hands wondering what to do. He took out a pen and wrote down the four principles he believed in as being what he knew for sure. Taylor gave the list to his employees, telling them all decisions had to be made only after considering the four questions. His theory was his company would win business away from competitors with these principles always in mind. Five years later, Club Aluminum Company was back in the black.
“The four-way test was ahead of its time,” noted Paul Bube, Professor at Lyon College in Batesville, Arkansas. He goes on, “Taylor developed it in a time when scandalous business practices contributed to the Great Depression.”
Is it the truth? “You could call it the sleep-at-night test,” says Allen Resnick, Vice President of Walgreen’s legal department. (Walgreen has the four-way test posted at all of its 4,000+ stores and use the principles as a standard for their company’s business decisions.)
Is it fair to all concerned? Tony Weissgarber, Texas realtor, believes asking, “Is it fair to all concerned,” is all a realtor needs when writing up a proposal or representing a client. It sums up all of the fine-print ethics guidelines that many businesses need to adhere to.
Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Reading Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” one can build on this principle with one of the greatest business books ever written. Using this test, a business can create a climate of goodwill among customers, employees, and vendors, a habit the Zappo’s CEO, Tony Hsieh, absolutely adheres to.
Will it be beneficial to all concerned? Lars –Olof Fredrikkson, of the Finnish air force comments, “Making profit is right, but doing it without ethical consciousness, moderation, and without responsibility for the consequences is indefensible.”
I like having the four-way test as a guide when making decisions for my court reporting firm. Things are changing, and I am faced with making some difficult decisions. I believe the four-way test keeps me in line for what I want my firm to be. I look forward what the future will bring.
Successful companies of this decade have embraced the philosophy of establishing core values to help define the “culture” that is unique to that company. Employees, managers, and owners collaborate as a team to come up with the five to ten key ingredients that would best describe the attributes of a company.
Friday I was lucky enough to tour the Zappos headquarters in Las Vegas. The Zappos’ core values and company culture were displayed everywhere, repeated over and over and over again. You can find their core values on their website, in all of their literature, and in their “Culture” books. While I was there, they were unboxing their “2008 Culture” book, a two-inch thick book made up of emails sent by all of the employees of the company describing what they perceived the culture of the company to be. Walking down one of the hallways of the company, one can find displayed on a wall Zappos’ Culture books for the past seven years.
Flipping through the “2008 Culture” book, I am in awe of the heartfelt words by employee after employee of what it means for them to work at Zappos. Reading the emails, I know the writers are being authentic. Kyle K. who works in the Kentucky Fulfillment Center writes, “Zappos is a very unique place to work, unique in the idea that people are still people and that people need to have fun.” Zappos’ core value #3 is, “Create Fun and a Little Weirdness.” Personally, I resonate strongly with that value, and anyone who knows me would understand.
I want to get back to the title of this blog post and focus a little on court reporting, court reporters, and core values. In my mind I have a list of what I believe our core values “should” be, but it is not for me to decide. I wonder what the industry as a whole would come up with if there was a way to get all of the court reporters in the USA and Canada to brainstorm, discuss, and agree on 10 core values for our profession. There are some obvious choices, for instance, “Accuracy and perfection,” maybe “Being totally nonpartial and transparent.”
Many industries right now are reeling from the recession, and because of budget cuts and huge layoffs, I believe “good enough” has become a new standard. People are not focusing on “Good to Great,” but instead, “What can I do to get through this?” Managers have lost their workers. Overtime is not allowed. People who still have jobs are looking over their shoulders wondering what’s next. I believe this type of company culture creates the “good enough” syndrome.
I worry for my profession and implore my fellow court reporters to not get lost in this recession. Staying great is what will keep us strong. Let’s start thinking of core values and create the culture we want to work in. I am so proud of what we do. We are a well-respected profession. As a unit, we can influence our future.
Let’ face it, Zappos is a company that sells shoes and things online. Pike’s Market is a company of fishmongers. Why are they both so successful? It is because the people that do the work have pride in what they do, have fun, and STRIVE TO BE GREAT. I promise I will work hard to create a culture that I love working in. After all, court reporting is the best profession ever.
Anyone who knows me knows that I love people, I love talking, and I love success stories. When I was a young girl, my grandmother used to pay me to be quiet. She would give me a nickel if I could give her five minutes of peace. It was tough to earn that nickel because I always had a lot to say.
43 years later, I have Twitter. The idea that I can communicate my thought(s) at any single moment, control what I communicate, and let people into my life in little sounds bites is mindboggling. Not only that, but I get to know what is happening in other people’s lives, the people I choose to follow, people who are interesting and enrich my life, people who might be “strangers” that I have a connection with from all over the world.
One of the people I have been following is @AdrianDayton. I follow him because it was suggested that I do so by @JustinRFrench. JustinRFrench is my personal social media guru. (In the world of Twitter, a person puts the @ before a name when you are singling that person out to talk to or follow.)
At the California Bar Association meeting held in San Diego last week, I bought Dayton’s book, “Social Media for Lawyers: Twitter Edition.” I have been tweeting for the past four months, messing around, having fun, protecting my tweets, and collecting followers of mostly fellow court reporters who thought what I was doing was funny, amusing, and maybe someday would have value.
Reading Dayton’s book has opened my eyes to the power of Twitter.
I’ve been following Dayton on Twitter for the past month, and I find his tweets and story to be informative and positive with action steps. I could tell he is a kind, smart man who wants his followers to be successful. Remember, I love success stories.
Dayton writes in his book about the basics of Twitter, how to get started, the theory of Twitter, and how to utilize the power of Twitter particularly as a businessperson. I use the word “businessperson” on purpose. The title of the book reads, “Social Media for Lawyers.” I would argue that Dayton’s book transcends law and could apply to any business in the service sector. Dayton goes into why one should follow certain people, how to collect information, jump into a relevant conversation, the etiquette of tweeting, and most importantly how to start “contrarian thinking.”
Last week I listened to @StephenFairley of The Rainmaker Institute speak, and he used the phrase, “contrarian thinking.” That is my new FAVORITE phrase. (I used it in soccer this morning when a defender kept stealing the ball from me over and over again. I needed to start thinking contrary to what would be my normal thought pattern to beat that guy. I told my team, “We need to start using contrarian thinking,” and we scored.)
I highly recommend Adrian Dayton’s new book. It is an easy, fast read. Attorneys would “get it” immediately. Twitter can be fun, but more importantly, it can be a way to create opportunity. Dayton gives you the tool of Twitter to be a social media rainmaker.
If you want to follow me, I’m at @rosaliekramm. I want to hear success story after success story for my fellow court reporters. Let’s Twitter.
CAUTION: What you say on Twitter is for the world to read. No one should ever write anything that is mean, angry, or gives out proprietary information. The world is watching and reading. Protect your tweets and be smart. Twitter is a tool to be respected.
When I tell a person I am a court reporter, that person typically asks, “You mean you are one of those people with the little machine that types super fast?” The person is always impressed to meet one of us. I’m asked, “How does that little machine work?”
I explain the basics of phonetics and hitting multiple keys to create words and phrases. I try to keep it short and sweet, and yet the person’s eyes start rolling into the back of their head and they reply, “You’re amazing.”
I am amazing. All court reporters are amazing. I will go so far as to say that our skills are akin to that of a surgeon’s.
Speed: Court reporters write 225 – 350+ wpm and bang on their steno machine upwards of 65,000 strokes a day.
Accuracy: Court reporters are expected to get every word, every number, and punctuate, including paragraphing and quoting.
Pride: Pride is something that is not necessarily taught in court reporting school. A person gets out of the rigorous, difficult, disciplined world of school and is thrown into the real world, whether in court or freelancing. If a new reporter is lucky, that reporter will work with a mentor, a firm owner, a court supervisor that will proof their final transcripts for the first three to six months, will counsel the young reporter on uncomfortable, odd situations with difficult people (sometimes attorneys can be difficult), and encourage the young reporter to keep pushing to be better.
The reason I used the word “lucky” is I believe many reporters getting out of school don’t have the benefit of someone watching over them and their work. Lots of firms are slow these days and have only enough work for the seasoned reporter. Young reporters start off doing freelancing, hoping to get on staff somewhere, don’t get the opportunity, and yet would adore an opportunity to get some basic answers about things like exhibits, worksheets, or tough situations.
The Deposition Reporters Association, www.caldra.org, a California State Association, has put together a series of day-long seminars, core curriculum, for working reporters in the freelance world. The seminars will be in Valencia on September 12 and in Walnut Creek on September 17. Attendees will learn what are the unique duties of a freelance court reporter. The course is outstanding. Even “old” reporters could learn a trick or two.
Court reporters are perfectionists. They have to be to be attracted to court reporting. Since there may not be opportunity to be mentored by a firm owner, I suggest young reporters join state associations, local associations, go to social media sites and forums such as at www.mylegal.com and www.depoman.com. Ask questions. Don’t be shy to ask firm owners how to do things even if you are only working for that firm here and there. Get answers. Be proud of what you produce and put your name on. Proud reporters are the reporters who are going to be requested and asked to come back by attorneys. Everyone wants to work with successful, confident people, particularly lawyers. All of us are a work in progress. We all can be better than we were yesterday. Let’s use the tools that are out there to learn and grow. We are amazing.
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