Issue #13 - Part 1 of
This edition will be Part 1 of 3 parts. I've broken it down
because the main article is so long. It touches on the same
subjects that I discussed in the last issue of The Steno Life, but
takes things to the next level and adds more. Kind of like an
extended dance remix. Everyone likes those, right?! It's
the NCRA seminar that will never happen. And there are other
goodies as well! As always, please don't email me about spelling
or punctuation errors. I appreciate it, but I'm writing this
for content, not an English class.
Past issues of The Steno Life - Issue
1 Issue 2 Issue
3 Issue 4 Issue
5 Issue 6 Issue
7 Issue 8 Issue
9 Issue 10 Issue
11 Issue 12
Articles in this issue -
1 - "Steno Contests - Prizes!"
2 - "SimplySteno Enrollment Closing!"
3 - "The NCRA Presentation You'll Never See!"
4 - "StenoWatchdog Links and Sellers!"
5 - "ApologyCenter.com!"
Let's have a little fun, huh? I'm going to have
2 more issues coming up in the next month. So let's have a contest
for each! The first winner will get a 3-year subscription to www.StenoFun.com!
That's worth about $100! And if the winner can't use it, it's
transferable. So here's the contest...be funny! I'm going
to give you the setup line for a joke, and you have to give me a punch
line. I will be the judge of which is the funniest. You
have till February 19th to email me your punch lines. Send them
to Marc@Stenolife.com with "Punch line" in the subject line.
Here's the joke -
Question - How many court reporters does it take to screw
in a light bulb?
Answer - (your punch line here)
Get your funny hat on and start emailing me your punch
lines! The winner will be announced in the next issue. The
next prize will be the framed picture below!
Closing Enrollment! (back
will be temporarily closing enrollment starting February
29th, 2008. We close the enrollment a couple times a year to keep
the student number down. Too many students means I can't give
each one the attention they need - so this solves that problem...and
keeps me sane in the process : ) How long will enrollment stay
closed, you ask? I don't know. It's usually between 2 to
5 months. It just depends on how many students graduate or move
on in that period of time. If you've been thinking of joining,
but you're not ready to start, you can sign up now and start at any
point within 6 months. Your payment kicks in the say you actually
start - not the day you sign up.
The NCRA Presentation You'll Never See!
(back to top)
(Please understand that much of what you will read below
is written for comedic effect (if you laugh). If you don’t laugh…it’s
meant to be serious)
When I saw that NCRA’s big convention was going to be in Anaheim,
California this year, I got all tingly inside. My old stomping grounds.
Home of Mickey Mouse. What could be more enjoyable?! So when I saw the
link that said, “Submit a Seminar Proposal” on their website,
I was even more excited! A chance to be a speaker…at a convention…in
my birth state! It would be like the famous rock musician who plays
his home town after 20 years of touring Europe (except that I’m
not famous, not a musician, and I’ve never been to Europe). “Helloooooooooo
, Anaheim! Are you ready to steno?!!?! I can’t heeeeeeear you!”
At first I submitted a proposal called, “The Value of Online Schooling”
that would be directed towards students. I was going to discuss how
the online experience has changed the way we learn over the last few
years. But I then decided that would come off as being a plug for my
own online program (SimplySteno)*,
so I decided to submit a second proposal.
*Now that’s a plug!
My second proposal was based on my “Top 10 Student Mistakes”
article from the last edition of The Steno Life. Except I called it,
“How to Overcome the Top 15 Mistakes Students Make.” Yes,
I have 5 more mistakes. And having a positive title really helps, I
think. I figured I would elaborate on my list and really nail some things
down. I decided to stick with this topic, since the student response
was great – about 50 email comments from students about how they
were going to print it out and pin it up (on a wall, I’m assuming).
So I sent off my email proposal and started looking up airfare costs.
After all, this was a slam dunk! Except…I’ve never spoken
to a big group before : ) Yes, I’ve spoken in front of classes,
but it’s not quite the same. I’ve never been the person
pacing the stage, trying to engage a room. In fact, I’ve always
steered clear of that opportunity. Not because of fear – I’m
not afraid of speaking in public (though I do have a recurring nightmare
that I forget to breathe, get dizzy and fall off the stage). I just
always liked the fact that I WASN’T out there for the steno world
to see. I liked thinking that I was underground in some way.
But this was different. All the stars seemed to align – the location
– time – subject matter. So I pressed the “Send”
button and started thinking about my seminar. Well, there’s an
old saying – “Don’t write your speeches before you’re
picked.” Okay…that’s not the old saying. But you get
the idea. I got a very nice email the other day informing me that I
was NOT selected to be a speaker at the convention. I know – I
know! I thought it was a typo as well. Alas…it was not. I was
locked out! I was shut down! I was turned away! I felt like that guy
who’s forced to stand behind the velvet rope at that hot, new
nightclub. I was that guy.
In all seriousness, the email was very nice. And I understand they have
limited time and space and have to appeal to the widest group when selecting
speakers. I highly encourage everyone to attend the convention. It should
be a great gathering of people and information.
BUT!!!! What am I supposed to do with the speech I was working on?!?
I supposed I could hang onto it till next year and see if I’m
selected to speak then – wherever that will be. But do I dare
take a chance that I’ll be a bridesmaid once more? Naw. So you
lucky people get to hear my seminar here…for FREE!!! And I promise
you that it will be worth every penny : )
So imagine that you’re sitting in a meeting hall with a stage.
The lights dim. Ambient smoke starts pouring in from the sides. Lasers
start bouncing off the walls as a pulsating beat pounds the room. Then,
from the ceiling, I get lowered on a giant steno machine.
Okay…I don’t know if I have the budget for all that, but
we’ll never know, so…
I’d like to welcome everybody to the seminar today. My name is
Marc Greenberg and – (crowd bursts into wild clapping) –
oh…please…please sit down. (a few minutes later, the crowd
settles). Thank you for that. But we only have 90 minutes, so let’s
hold the standing ovation till the end. Okay? Thanks.
So let me tell you a little bit about myself and how I discovered the
world of stenography. I was first introduced to it about 17 years ago.
At that time my sister was a student trying to pass school qualifiers
in order to take the California exam. Once she did, she decided a trip
to Las Vegas was needed – to celebrate! So she invited a couple
of her steno girlfriends and invited me as well.
It’s a 4-hour drive to Vegas from where we lived. That’s
4 hours by car. But in “steno time” for me, that drive lasted
about 37 hours. From the time we yelled, “Road trip!” to
the time we landed at the first casino, it was nothing but steno chatter
from the 3 of them. “How do you write…?” “Have
you heard that test about…?” “Now my theory says that…”
Not to mention this funky steno language they were speaking when they
didn’t want me to understand something. Several times I considered
leaping from the moving car to escape. Surely the asphalt would be less
painful than listening to this conversation!
It was on that trip that I became certain of 2 things. First, steno
girls were cute and I would probably marry one someday (if it wasn’t
for the second thing). Second, this car ride was as close as I
would EVER get to steno again. I didn’t want to ever hear steno,
see steno, speak steno – nothing!
And here I am, 17 years later, up to my neck in steno. And I did marry
a steno gal : ) But I did need that break between that car ride and
coming back – about 5 years. After 5 years of working several
jobs – cameraman, exterminator, veterinary assistant – I
was burned out. I really wanted to be a screenwriter. Turns out that’s
not so easy. So my sister suggested I start as a reader at the school
where she was teaching. She was pregnant and had to stop reporting for
a few months – hence the teaching.
Sounded like a fun job. I read. Surely I could do that. And it turns
out I could! What a great job! I had little responsibility. Everyone
was around my age. We laughed a lot. We’d all go out after night
school. Bill Courtland and Donna Cole (my bosses) were great to work
for. Life was good!
Over time I learned more about the world I thought I would hate. I’ve
always been an observer and organizer – those are my strengths.
So it wasn’t long before I was organizing lesson plans and streamlining
classes to ensure more teaching was done. Not long after I started,
the school was sold to Lee College. I stayed on as a “teacher”
and organizer. I put teacher in quotes because I was never legally in
a position to teach.
But my observation skills moved me up the ladder. To me it was all about
logic. If the students on the left side of the room are moving up in
speed, and the ones on the right are standing still, wouldn’t
you want to sit on the left side of the room? If these students are
doing daily finger drills and progressing, and these students are not
doing finger drills and writing slop, shouldn’t everyone be doing
I’ve always thought that being an outsider was my clear advantage.
I wasn’t in the middle of this maze, looking out. I was able to
see the whole maze and see who was getting through – where they
turned – when they stopped to ask for directions – how fast
they moved along.
My other advantage – I’m a freak when it comes to numbers.
I read the box-office results. I read the weather averages. I read the
sport statistics. I know what goes up and what goes down. I know what’s
on top and what’s on the bottom. I keep these numbers docked in
my brain somewhere, just waiting for the right moment to express them.
And with steno I get to do a lot of that. How long are students in a
speed? What speeds are students in longest? What’s the average
time to get out of school? Fastest? Slowest? Crazy stuff!
But these obsessions of mine have worked out well when it comes to teaching.
I’ve compiled quite the database of information from which to
draw. And now I’m going to share some of it with you. Actually,
I presented part of this once before. So now you’re going to get
the extended dance remix. I normally do my best to keep things short
and sweet, but sometimes the point of a message gets through better
if it’s explained more fully, with just a pinch of hot sauce.
So the following is my list of errors I see most students making at
some point. It’s in no particular order –
1 – Autopilot Writing
– I remember when I was kid I was watching the news one night.
They were doing a story about a guy who drove his VW Bug 1,000,000 miles.
Yes, 1,000,000 miles. And the reporter asked all kinds of silly questions.
But I will always remember the last one – “So where did
you go?” And the VW owner looked back blankly – “What
do you mean?” Reporter – “Well, you drove one million
miles. You must have driven to some wonderful places.” Again,
the guy just looked back, glazed over – “No…mostly
just around here.”
They guy did a lot of traveling, but got nowhere. And this relates to
how many students practice. They falsely believe that time put in equals
moving forward. Simply putting in that writing time – any kind
of writing – the more, the merrier – will move them up in
speed. “I wrote 8 hours today!” “I wrote in bed!”
“I write while I’m in the shower!”
But that’s simply not the case. Not only are you wasting time,
you may actually be reinforcing bad habits and burning yourself out.
Now I’m NOT saying you shouldn’t be putting in writing time!
You need writing time, and plenty of it. But you also need to be efficient
about it. You can put in 8 hours of zombie writing without a purpose,
or you can put in 4 hours with a goal in mind.
So here’s the saying I want you to remember…Practice With
a Purpose. Say it with me…Practice With a Purpose. It doesn’t
matter if you’re sitting down at your machine for 5 hours or 5
minutes. Make that time count. For most students, time is an issue.
So shouldn’t you make the most of yours?
Are you sitting there like a zombie, fingers going up and down? Finish
one dictation – start the next? Besides pumping blood through
your fingers and maybe building up some endurance, what are you hoping
to accomplish with all that writing? Practice With a Purpose.
You only have 15 minutes? Get out those finger drills and focus on that
control. Train those fingers where to go when those hard combinations
come up. That 15 minutes can be spent drilling this important skill.
Have 30 minutes to kill? Start off with 5 minutes of finger drills,
then maybe do 10 minutes of hard copy, training yourself visually as
well. Then 15 minutes of dictation a little below your speed to reinforce
good strokes. Have an hour? Add some faster speeds to push yourself!
You need to learn to keep a level head under pressure. Hit a rough spot?
Go over it a couple times! Make that rough spot a victory. Only have
a few minutes to spare? Get out that theory book and review the basics.
That’s your foundation, so make sure you know it!
As you have more time, add more skills – transcribing, readback,
names and numbers, popcorn 2-voice, pyramid speedbuilding, etc…
And there’s a difference between being a zombie and being in the
zone. When you’re in the zone, you did have a purpose when you
started writing. But somewhere along the way, your fingers took over.
They told your brain to take a rest – they’d take care of
business. A few minutes later you woke up to find yourself with a mint
When you tell someone you put 1,000,000 miles on your steno machine,
they are going to ask you where you’ve been. You can tell them
you’ve been down the to supermarket and back a million times,
or you can tell them you’ve been to the moon! Make those miles
count! Practice With a Purpose!
2 – Perfecting a Speed
– “I can’t wait to be in the next speed!” I
hear that all the time. Then, when that student finally passes that
test to move them into the next speed, I hear, “I really want
to feel better at this speed before I move up.” Impossible. And
I say that for several reasons.
Let’s say Tiger Woods was working on his putting. He starts off
10 feet from the hole and makes the putt. He moves to the next hole
and starts off at 10 feet. He sinks the putt. And he sinks the next.
So on the next hole, he pours some glue between himself and the hole.
The ball sticks and lips out – he misses. So now he can’t
hit a 10-foot putt, right? Wrong. He didn’t hit THAT 10-foot putt.
He’s still a master of the 10-foot putt. It’s time to shoot
for 11 feet.
Dictations are the same. You have your easy ones and you have your hard
ones. If you’re working on 150, I can give you a 170 that you
will pass with flying colors. And then I can give you a 130 that you
have NO chance at passing. I’ll speak more about this later.
The point is that you will move forward, not by a single speed, but
by a bracket of speed – a range. If you are going
for your 150 tests, you will be able to write in a range of 130 to 170.
There are things at 130 you will nail, and things at 170 you can keep
up with. Over time, as you develop, that speed bracket will move up
to 140 to 180. That will be your comfort range, for the most part. You
can’t be expected to get everything within that range, but there
will be some things. And there will be some things you can’t write
within that range. 130 will now be all yours! 190 will still be out
of reach! But that range…that’s your range!
Now imagine that you’re going for your 150 tests and you remove
all practice dictations above 150. No more push speeds. You’re
going to focus on 150…because that’s your speed…and
that’s your goal…and that makes sense. But it doesn’t.
How can you write 150 without practicing 160? Or 170? You need that
push, because if you’re not moving forward, you’re
You have to think of your speed as a bracket. You’re not working
on 150. You’re working on 130-170. And when you need your 160
tests, you’re working on your 140-180 bracket.
Accept right now that you will NOT perfect a speed before moving forward.
That will freeze you in a speed. When you get those passes, celebrate
them! That’s your sign that your bracket has now moved up a notch
and it’s time to move along with it.
3 – The Magic Bullet
– I don’t know if any of you saw, but I’m selling
a new drink in the lobby called Steno Boost! It’s guaranteed to
move your fingers 15% faster with every bottle! Now in cherry
How many students would make a mad dash for the door at
that point? Enough to cause a fire hazard, I’d say. Even though
you and I both know that no such drink exists. Yet students are constantly
on the lookout for that magic brew – that magic bullet. Let me
just say that if there WAS such a thing, I’d be selling it on
some website by now. In fact, I WISH there was such a thing! Man, that
would be sweet!
At least once a week I get a question like, “I need to get out
of school in the next 3 months! What should I do?!” Seems there
are many students out there who are in a hurry to get out of school.
Go figure. I’ve yet to run across a student that says, “Ya
know, I got all kinds of time to get through school. To me, it’s
the journey, not the destination.” And if you did say that around
other students, you’d probably get beaten up.
Students are generally short on time, money and patience. Steno pushes
all of those to the limit for many. So it’s not absurd to look
for – wish for – a shortcut. But the sad news is…there
ain’t one. There are little tricks and writing preferences that
will shave time off your steno schooling, but there is NOTHING that
will have you jumping speeds. Once you can accept that, you can focus
on moving forward at a steady pace – and maybe even surprising
yourself at how fast you CAN move forward when you work on that little
things that will ultimately make you a better reporter.
There are many writing tips I DON’T condone. They don’t
work for 99% of students. But they do work for 1%. So I’m not
telling you not to try different things. In fact, I think you should.
But don’t expect 1 thing to work for everyone. And don’t
expect anything to kick in overnight. When you try something new, you
have to give it time to kick in – weeks.
Consider this – there have been dieting fads forever that have
you losing lots of weight quickly. But those pounds don’t stay
off. They come right back! Now they advertise losing 10 pounds in 4
weeks – a big difference. And those pounds stay off because they
were taken off the right way.
Forget about magic pills. You have a limited amount of energy, and it’s
better that you place your efforts into practicing smart and looking
for steady progress. Remember the tortoise and the hare? I forget –
PART 2 COMING IN 2 WEEKS
Links and Sellers! (back
now has links for many items, and will have sellers' listings as well!
That means that when you click on an item, it will show you who is selling
it - how much they are selling it for - and a link to their website!
Just like Ebay or Amazon, you see the list of sellers and be able to
compare who has the best deal.
This is an ongoing process, so it will take some time
to add all the links, but we've already started. And if you use
the BUY IT! feature on StenoWatchdog, you'll get StenoCredits as well,
that are good for use at any of my websites. STENO
SELLERS! Go HERE
to get all the information on how to list your items. It's an
easy process and costs you nothing.
Yes, I do have a life outside of stenography. It
ain't much, but it exists! A friend and I have launched a new
website - www.ApologyCenter.com.
Ever heard of Hot or Not? This would be Forgiven or Not : ) You
can post your story about how you screwed up, your apology, then see
if others think you should be forgiven or not. Or you can just judge
other people's stories. It's 100% anonymous and meant to be fun. I posted
a lot of my own stories of regret up there myself (changing my name,
of course). If you like it, tell a friend. The official launch won't
be for a couple weeks, but we can use some stories to get started.