ElizabethBy: Elizabeth Gangl, RPR

Since I first began work as a freelance court reporter over 30 years ago I have been asked too many times to count why I like what I do.  I wish I had a dollar for every time that question has been asked.

I have no doubt you could ask this question of 15 reporters and end up with 15 different answers.

Easily among my favorite answer is the flexible schedule that allows me to travel when and where we want.  We all have priorities on how we want to budget our dollars, but since we’ve become empty nesters, travel is very high on the list.

This past October I had the good fortune to spend five days in Iceland with my husband and another couple.  We normally would rent a car and tour on our own.  This time we went full-on tour buses with narration by local guides and covered as much ground as possible.  We saw as many of the highlights of Iceland as we could squeeze in.

A little research before we left clued us in on how expensive Iceland can be.  Top tip:  Purchase alcohol at the duty-free store before leaving the airport, it’s the cheapest place on the island.  Second tip:  No need to bring cash.  Iceland is pretty much a cashless society.  Their currency is the krona, but it’s extremely hard to purchase before you get there and even harder to convert back once you leave.  You can exchange some funds once you arrive but why bother – everything, right down to coffee from a convenience store, is purchased using debit or credit cards.  Third tip:  Check with your credit card company before you leave to make sure you won’t be charged exchange fees.  Fourth tip:  Unless you’re a foodie and want to experience the restaurant life – bring snacks and protein bars to stretch your food budget.  As an example:  Two beverages, one plate of meatballs and a bowl of soup:  $70.00.  One beer with a burger and fries:  $38.00

We booked this trip through Icelandair.com.  The flight, transport to our hotel, guided tour of Reykjavik and two of our day-long tours were all booked on this website – one of the easiest-to-maneuver sites I’ve ever used to plan a trip.

The most popular tour is the Golden Circle – Thingvellir National Park, Gullfoss Waterfall and Geysir geothermal area.  We saw the glaciers, the volcanos, the waterfalls – oh, the waterfalls.   The next day we headed farther south to the black sand beaches, glaciers and more waterfalls – one of which we could hike behind (bring rain gear).  Then came our longest day – 11 hours – to the Snaefefellsnes Peninsula, north of Reykjavik.  We were fortunate to have a guide who grew up in that area.  We made a lot of stops that weren’t part of the advertised tour so he could show us his old stomping grounds.  What an incredibly beautiful place to grow up in!

And speaking of growing up in Iceland – English is taught starting in grade school, so getting around and talking to locals is so very easy.  The entire population of Iceland is around 330,000, with approximately 220,000 living in Reykjavik.  Leaving the city takes you to gorgeous scenery and places right out of Game of Thrones (which is filmed on the island).  Many of the little fishing villages we visited look much like they did when first established.

Prior to the volcano that blew in 2010, tourism in Iceland was relatively minor.  As our guide put it – when Eyjafjallajokull blew, it was global-wide free publicity for this tiny island nation.   In recent years, tourism has beaten out fishing to become the top revenue producer for the Icelandic economy.

Which leads me back to my first statement – if I had a dollar for every time I was asked why I like freelance reporting – I would have had enough to spend a few extra days.   It’s a small island but because of the infrastructure, it’s hard to see everything in just five days.   Regrettably we did not make it to the Blue Lagoon.  We thought going during the shoulder season it would be easy to get in.  We found out that’s one site you really do need advance reservations.

And now back to work – until the next trip!

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From the heart!By: Jan Ballman, RPR, CMRS, FAPR

Has this ever happened to you:  Just about the time you start thinking you’re pretty good at something, you get schooled!

Paradigm has spent years, quite literally, training and trying to become Best in Class in customer service in the court reporting and captioning industry.  We even underwent classes by The Ritz Carlton in how to provide legendary customer service.   And as can happen when one focuses one’s efforts in such an intense and intentional way, oftentimes improvement is actually realized.  And then sometimes accolades and compliments follow, which can serve to further the notion that “You know, we really have gotten pretty darn good at client service!”   But on a recent trip to Los Cabos, I was reminded that “pretty good” is a relative term, and we can ALWAYS get better.

Case in point:   The One & Only Resort – Pamilla.   With a name like that, you’d better be better than pretty good.   In fact, when you declare to the world that “we stand alone in the resort destination category,” you’d better bring your best game every day, all day,  in order to deliver the experience advertised.

I was so impressed when they did exactly that.

From the moment we arrived until the moment we left, every need was not only cheerfully accommodated but strategically anticipated and delivered with pride, if not joy.   The rooms and restaurants were impeccable, the grounds were immaculate, the food was incredible, the value-adds were bountiful, and the service was, quite literally, off the charts!

But what struck me most powerfully was the way every member of the resort team, which apparently numbers near 1,000 employees, held the brand.   Trust me, this is not easy to pull off!   For example, each and every time a guest walked by, no matter the team member’s role—gardener, sidewalk scrubber, pool host, bellman, laundry, maintenance, food service, management—they all did exactly the same thing:  They stopped, they smiled, and they placed their right hand over their heart; symbolic for:  “From my heart, it is a privilege to serve you!  We are here to help create for you everlasting memories!”   This was usually followed by an enthusiastic “BUENOS DIAS!”  “Have a great day!”   “Thank you for being our guest!”  “I hope you are enjoying yourself!”   Their hand on their heart just made the words seem all the more genuine.

It wasn’t long before we started mirroring that gesture as our way of saying, “From MY heart, I really appreciate YOUR efforts to make our vacation so fabulous!”   This clearly delighted them, and I swear it just fueled their desire to work even harder at their respective roles.   Thus began a variation on the old Mutual Admiration Society:  The more appreciation we demonstrated for their efforts, the more pride they took in exceeding our expectations.

I was traveling with the CEO of Planet Depos, Lisa DiMonte, and we dubbed this experience “Overdelivering On High Expectations.”    We both immediately started pondering how we could bottle this culture and bring it back with us.

Let’s face it, when clients hire court reporters and captioners, they have certain expectations, and they are formidable.   They expect our staff to get every detail right, from front door to back, the first time.   They expect our court reporters and captioners to, not just do a good job, but do a great job.   They expect pleasant professionalism.   They expect people and their deliverables to be on time, if not early.   So in the court reporting and captioning industry, how does one overdeliver on these already high expectations?

As the “Coach” of Team Paradigm, that question has made me think long and hard as to how we can take a page from The One & Only’s playbook on Overdelivering on High Expectations.   Certainly there’s not just one and only way to do it, but I think it starts with every member of our team adopting the mantra:  “From the heart, it is truly my privilege to serve your reporting & captioning needs.”

So with that page in hand, it’s back to the chalk board I go!

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Mac v. PC: An “Apple-to-Apple” Comparison for Court Reporters

October 25, 2017

By: Mari Skalicky, RPR, RMR I have been exclusively using a Mac computer to run my StenoCat software day in and day out for eight years, after using a PC for decades.   I remain thrilled that I took the initial plunge to make the switch.  Here are a few reasons why… Did you know you […]

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Oh, The Assignments We Get When We Can Type Fast!

September 29, 2017

By: Lisa Richardson, RPR, CRR, CBC, CCP, DSA-MN I would have thought that after, ahem, 40-plus years in the court reporting and CART/captioning field, I had seen it all and experienced every possible job scenario.  Well, not quite, as it turns out!  But, isn’t that one of the best parts of our field? In August, […]

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Paradigm selected as top choice in Minnesota Lawyer 2017 Reader Rankings

September 25, 2017

Minneapolis, MN:  Minnesota Lawyer just announced its first-ever Reader Rankings, a recognition program set out to highlight the top companies that support the Twin Cities legal community.  Paradigm Reporting & Captioning was honored to be named top choice in three categories by Minnesota Lawyer readers for the 2017 list:  1) Best Court Reporter & Deposition […]

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“EXCUSE ME!” Court Reporters and Interruptions: The Bad, The Ugly…and The Good!

August 31, 2017

By:  Jan Ballman, RPR, CMRS, FAPR Interruptions!  Let’s face it, no one likes them.   Interruptions have a reputation for making people inefficient and irritable.   They break our train of thought.   They disrupt our flow.  They make us forget what we were locked in on pre-interruption.   No wonder they are often met with disdain….including by attorneys […]

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