Last spring, March 23rd to 25th, 2022, the first annual Fearless Stenographers Conference took place at the Omni Hotel in Houston, Texas. Founder Shaunise Day, steno advocate, visionary, and lover of all things steno, went bold and bodacious with her vision for the inaugural event for the court reporting and captioning professional and did the unthinkable, taking the phrase “Do it scared” to heights previously unknown. In terms of its construct, the conference would provide an intimate, inspiring space where court reporters, captioners, and the steno community could unite, network, and brainstorm ways to move the profession forward as well as celebrate who we are and what we do, creating a memorable time for stenographers and the legal community.
On Day 1 of the conference, we held our “Speed in the City” contest, which was open to all to participate. Composed of a 280 wpm Q&A, 260 wpm Jury Charge, and a 220 wpm Literary, the competition presented a rare opportunity for those who have always wanted to compete on a state or national level to get their feet wet and test the waters. The contest also provided extra motivation for reporters preparing to take the RMR at 260 wpm, allowing them to zone in on their writing in a speed contest environment.
Legal Profession Networking Mixer. On Thursday evening, the “Legal Profession Networking Mixer” took place at The Ballroom at Bayou Place, located in downtown Houston. In terms of selecting an offsite location for the exciting event, Shaunise Day endeavored to ensure that our steno professionals would experience an unforgettably unique moment as they celebrated who they are and what they do as reporters. As the guests entered the venue, entrance stairs customized with “Steno in the City” décor transported them to the meeting space.
The exquisite aesthetics of The Ballroom at Bayou Place complemented Shaunise’s vision for the exciting first-time event. Our stenos enjoyed capturing selfies in a 360-degree photo booth. The room, adorned with a stunning backdrop featuring “STENO” in marquee letters, lit up the space. A “Fearless Stenographers” ice sculpture with purple lighting was also on display as were custom backdrops for more picture-taking, including an archway with balloon décor. Shaunise sought to ensure that the entire city would know about the “Steno in the City” weekend event. Every detail mattered and no stone was left unturned, resulting in a magical night for the legal profession.
Throughout the evening during the networking mixer, Steno Correspondent and Host, Kendra Mills, conducted short interviews with special invited guests and reporters. You can check out the videos in the gallery at www.stenointhecity.com.
Guest Speakers. To open up the event, attendees were graced by the presence of a special guest and speaker, Judge Carlos Moore, Esq, immediate past president of the National Bar Association and partner at the Cochran Law Firm. An attorneys’ conference convened during this same weekend, and Judge Moore was kind enough to adjust his busy schedule in order to make an appearance and speak at our networking event, which we deeply appreciated. Judge Moore spoke eloquently about our judicial system and the importance of having a stenographic court reporter take down the verbatim record.
Proclamation Ceremony. Next up, Mayor Sylvester Turner declared “Steno in the City Week, March 24th to March 26th, 2022.” The declaration was presented by Edward Pollard, Esq, Houston City Council Member, District J. Mr. Pollard graciously presented and dedicated this important proclamation to stenographers across the globe. We offered a special thank you to Alvin Byrd, a dear friend of Shaunise Day, for assisting with this process.
Guest Speakers (cont’d). Our next special guest at our networking mixer was the Honorable Judge Linda Marie Dunson, 309th District Family Court, Harris County Civil Courthouse. Showcasing the Houston 19, also in attendance was Judge Lashawn A. Williams, Civil Court at Law No. 3 and Judge Lori Chambers Greg, Texas 262nd District Court. Judge Dunson, who has attended prior “Steno in the City” events, also participated in the first-ever “Steno Judicial Career Fair “ conceived and organized by Shaunise Day via Zoom during the height of the pandemic. In fact, “Steno in the City” partnered with KIPP Academy to host several career fairs during the pandemic where Judge Dunson engaged with students regarding exciting career options within the judicial system.
Consistent with Shaunise Day’s mission to “network, network, network,” our next special guest speaker was Derrick A. Reed, Esq, partner at the Stephens Reed & Armstrong, PLLC, law firm. Understanding that networking is absolutely vital to our profession, Shaunise mined her vast personal contacts in order to attract members of the legal community to this groundbreaking event.
The next special guest who spoke at our networking event was our beloved stenographer Stacey E. Raikes, RMR, CRR, who did a fabulous job representing and advocating for court reporting and captioning professionals. We also received a few remarks from the National Court Reporters Association immediate past president Debbie Dibble, and past president Carl Sauceda.
Live Band Performance. What came next eyes have not seen nor ears have heard. This may have been the first-ever steno-related networking event to have a live band perform. Jazz Songstress Kiora Michelle of Houston, Texas, entertained us with several tunes. The steno community networked, enjoyed delicious appetizers and drinks, and danced the night away. On the first night of the conference, it was abundantly clear that our mission to create a magical, memorable evening for all was accomplished.
Since this was the first day of the actual conference, we wanted to kick it off in an exciting and novel way. Toward this end, we held a “Steno All-Star Keynote” featuring an array of steno-related keynote speakers. Festooned with an all-star theme, this portion of the event provided an outlet for powerful voices within our profession. Handpicked and armed with a special purpose, each speaker in the empowering lineup encouraged, uplifted, and inspired our steno community.
Keynote Speaker Presentations. We are proud to say that “Steno in the City” currently has a list of 136 legends, veteran stenographers with more than 40 years of service to our profession. It was our mission to showcase several at this important event. As such, steno legend Brenda Countz, still going strong after 53 years in the profession, presented at our event.
Next up was Allie Hall, stenographer and steno advocate, who works unceasingly hard for our profession. In fact, Allie rolled up her sleeves and took on a leadership role at the event as she resolved some unforeseen technical glitches. With a huge heart for students, colleagues, and all things steno, Allie is an MVP in our world.
A New Record. And, lastly, since the conference was held in Houston, Texas, it was only appropriate to showcase Mark Kislingbury, the GOAT — Greatest Of All Time — as our keynote speaker. Mark brought the all-star vision to life in a quintessentially Kislingbury kind of way.
During his keynote address, Mark did something that has never been done before. In order to set the stage before the other all-star speakers took to the podium, we witnessed Mark break his own prior speed record of 360 wpm while also transcribing in real time. To our amazement, Mark set a new speed record of 370 wpm on the “Steno in the City” stage in Houston, Texas. We were all on the edge of our seats reading his notes while trying to make sense of it all. As always, Mark continues to inspire and encourage others in the profession to achieve their own personal best.
Here is your daily reminder. Work on your briefs and phrases daily! For inspiration and motivation, visit the gallery to view Mark’s YouTube page as well as witness his amazing achievement at the “Steno in the City” conference.
Seminar Sessions. Immediately following our keynote speakers, guests were invited into seminar sessions where CE hours and CEUs were approved by the National Court Reporters Association and JBCC from Texas.
The first seminar session was the “Steno State of Emergency” with speakers Liz Harvey, Lillian Freiler, Stacey Raikes, and Carolyn Ruiz Coronado. It was important to showcase highly skilled reporters and nationally known leaders who have witnessed firsthand the transition of our profession over 40-plus years. Another priority was to include a Texas reporter on our panel who would, therefore, be in the best position to educate conference attendees on the changes and current events in their home state.
The theme of our second seminar session was “Fear: The Game Changer,” led by Kimberly Xavier. Kim’s fun and interactive session reminded us about the importance of setting goals, making a plan, and following through with execution.
Speaker Carrie Sheffield, an accountant from Texas and good friend of Shaunise Day, led our third session for the day, titled “Money Management.” Carrie talked about IRS laws, filing taxes, the difference between Roth IRAs and traditional IRAs, 401Ks, and preparing financially for a pandemic. Later in 2022, Carrie was requested to present at another court reporter state convention, exemplifying Shaunise’s motto, “Network, network, network!” You just never know who you will meet and connect with.
The fourth and final session for the day, titled “Steno Game Changers: The Young Professionals,” was timely and on point. Moderated by Chris DeGrazio, the session’s speakers were stenographic court reporters Kensie Benoit, Lauren Lawrence, Anna Mar-Lazo, Candice Andino and Stephanie Hicks.
Whether seasoned veteran or new reporter, there is one principle upon which we all stand united: to protect and promote the court reporting and captioning profession. We at “Steno in the City” staunchly believe that the most effective way to position our profession for the future is to focus on our efforts to attract fresh, new faces to the industry, offering them a stage for raising their voices and sharing new insights. That’s a game changer. As more of our veteran stenographic reporters retire, it is vitally important to reach out to the younger generation and introduce them to the court reporting and captioning profession. When we do, we are changing the game by helping our young professionals with their personal and professional growth, public speaking skills, and leadership abilities, thereby infusing the profession with new life, fresh perspectives, and novel ideas.
If you are a seasoned reporter, we encourage you to share your gifts with your younger colleagues. Show them the way so that they can continue to carry the torch into the future. As Shaunise says during nearly all of the “Confessions of a Stenographer” podcast episodes, “As technology evolves and changes, so must we. We have to be ready to adapt and move steno forward.”
Vendors. During each day of the conference, attendees mingled freely with vendors. Among the lineup were EV360 and College of Court Reporting. Jeff Moody and Judy Lehman played an essential part in assisting “Steno in the City” with our speed tests. Chase and Alyssa Frazier also played a key role in our contest with Allie Hall.
Due to unexpected technical glitches, we had to pivot in a different direction; thus we appreciate Chase, Alyssa, and Allie for making this possible.
Scentsy, represented and distributed by court reporters Sherry Knox, Marissa Garza, and Kimberly Xavier, exhibited their enticing products as well. We consider Scentsy our go-to spot for appealing fragrances, warmers, and candles.
Houston Steno Repair shop was also on-site at the conference. Attendees who needed their writers serviced simply dropped them off for repairs and picked them up before leaving.
We would like to thank our amazing vendors for their participation. A special shout-out to Kusar Court Reporters firm. Thank you, Jeri Kusar, for stepping up and supporting the conference in a major way.
Klor Design and Steno Swag, virtual stores with booths, were also represented at the conference. Both businesses are operated by steno students who have created fabulous products for the court reporting and captioning profession. Attendees who participated virtually were thus able to use their QR Codes and make online purchases.
Stenovator Pathway Solutions was also a vendor, featuring fun games at their booth. And, finally, Steno, the court reporting firm, was also present. Matthew Archibald from Steno was in attendance and participated in the virtual conference TikTok videos created by Stephanie Hicks. As you can tell, when you attend a “Steno in the City” event, it’s guaranteed that you’re going to have a good time.
As Friday evening drew to a close, attendees mingled with vendors during the “Steno United, Cupcakes and Cocktails” hour. As they enjoyed a slice of customized cake adorned with steno décor, attendees ended the conference on a sweet note before heading out for a night on the town in Houston.
It is our sincere hope that more court reporting firms will be a part of our future “Steno in the City” events, which helps to bridge the gap between firms, agencies, and reporters and establish positive relationships in an intimate setting.
Seminar Sessions. On the last day of the conference, there were three sessions to cover. First up was “Efficiency: Get Sh*t Done” with Allie Hall. After attending Allie’s session, some attendees were motivated to stop procrastinating, get to work on their goals, and implement systems that would allow them to work smarter, not harder.
Not only did Allie save the day on day one, she also served as speaker during this portion of the conference. Shaunise will forever be indebted to her for her willingness to step up and lead. As Shaunise laid the groundwork for and planned the details of the conference from soup to nuts, Allie was always there to advise, counsel, and remind Shaunise to breathe. A one-woman band and as resourceful as they come, Allie can always be depended on to get the job done.
Although this particular conference didn’t have committees, we did have a group of fearless stenographers that Shaunise could call on to help in more ways than one. They are Allie Hall, Nicole Rubia, Rachel Barkume, Rachel Artis, Shacara Mapp, Lamarra George, and Michelle Kirkpatrick, collectively known as our Steno Rockstars.
The next seminar session was titled “Certs Matter.” Originally this was a campaign started by Founder Shaunise Day during Certification Month. The purpose was to 1) remind the profession about the importance of certification, 2) send out updated information on testing dates via podcast episodes, and 3) remind the reporting community about reinstatement policy changes slated to take place. Thus, it was only fitting to create an actual seminar session on why certification matters.
The session was led by Angela Grant, Candice Andino, and Shacara Mapp. Each stenographer shared her own unique story regarding the importance of certification. Shacara Mapp actually did the unthinkable and obtained most of her certs during the pandemic. In fact, Shaunise and Shacara co-wrote an article about it. Click on the link to see how she did it. https://www.thejcr.com/2021/06/01/the-unstoppable-stenographer/
Candice Andino, a busy reporter who is certified in California and Texas, shared her journey and some useful testing tips. As a young professional who has also competed in national speed contests, she was featured in an episode of “Confessions of a Stenographer” titled “Steno Besties.” To listen to the full podcast, click here: https://open.spotify.com/episode/3ZDaFXIJhvmQZ0Cq9avLdm?si=c1aabfe1e8c2462f
Angela Grant, a seasoned reporter, shared her certification journey and how she put the pandemic to good use by successfully adding her California and Texas CSR and RDR to her list of certs. Kudos, Angela!
And, finally, our last session on Day 3 of the conference, titled “Evolving with Technology,” was led by Jessie Gorry. If you were not in attendance, you missed a great session! Jessie really knows her stuff, and we appreciate her many contributions to the cause.
Awards Luncheon: In case you haven’t heard by now, the Fearless Stenographers conference was a uniquely intimate and amazing space where we as a community connected, celebrated, educated, uplifted, and empowered one another. Our steno sisters and brothers experienced the feeling of family throughout the entire weekend. Although during the planning phase Shaunise stressed over whether it would all come together in the end, when she let go and let God, the end result was another resounding success.
The Awards Luncheon agenda was enveloped in love. First we honored our Men of Steno. “Steno in the City” has been acknowledging our steno brothers since our very first networking event, especially through group photos. This time our steno men collaborated to put together an incredible video for the conference. Feel free to visit the gallery to view it.
Next up, rather than wait decades to do so, it was time to honor individuals who have contributed much to our profession. For this reason, “Steno in the City” created The Steno People’s Choice Award.
When the idea of the special award, conceived by Rachel Artis, was presented to Shaunise Day, she enthusiastically responded, “Let’s do it!” Shacara Mapp, Nicole Rubia, and Rachel Artis worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make the voting process as simple as possible. All were invited to cast a vote for their favorite Steno Influencer. And the recipient of the 2022 People’s Choice Award was – drum roll, please! — Stephanie Hicks. Congratulations, Stephanie!
After the presentation of the award, we released the results of the first “Speed in the City” contest. They are as follows:
220L – 1st place: 7 errors; 99.4 percent – Karen Tyler;
260JC – 1st place: 4 errors; 99.69 percent – Karen Tyler;
260JC – 2nd place: 18 errors; 98.6 percent – Shacara Mapp;
260JC – 3rd place: 38 errors; 97.1 percent – Jennifer Miller;
260JC – 4th place: 53 errors; 95.92 percent – Kimberly Xavier;
280T – 1st place: 13 errors; 99.1 percent – Karen Tyler;
2nd place (4M pass): 40 errors – Kimberly Xavier;
3rd place tie (4M pass): 55 errors – Jennifer Miller and Shacara Mapp (Tie).
What a fun and exciting moment to witness new reporters take part in a speed contest! Hats off to the winners, who motivated and inspired others to compete on a state and/or national level.
After the speed test results were released, it was time to give out scholarships. Behind the scenes was Nicole Rubia, the lead on reviewing and grading the essays. We also appreciate the efforts of team members Doug Zweizig, Aimee Altdonna, and Alisha Conley. Thank you all for volunteering your time to grade the student and new reporter essays! The “Steno in the City” scholarship sponsors and recipients are as follows:
Esquire sponsored three students in the amount of $1,000 each. The scholarship recipients were Bethan Williams, Angie Pi, and Melissa Thai. Pay it Forward sponsored a $1000 scholarship and the recipient was Alycia Mikels. Augusta Scribes Court Reporters firm sponsored a New Professional Scholarship. The recipient of the $500 award was Kenny Rodriguez. Stenovator Pathway Solutions sponsored a New Professional Scholarship. The recipient of the $500 award was Rose Detloff. Allison Hall Reporting Education sponsored a New Professional Scholarship in the amount of $500, which was awarded to Anna Mar-Lazo. We thank all of our sponsors for supporting our students and new professionals. Next, it was time to recognize those who are truly making a difference in our profession. When Shaunise created the Philanthropy Award, she already had the recipient in mind. It all started one day when a person working quietly behind the scenes gave Shaunise tips to help with her hand injuries. Then at another crucial time in Shaunise’s journey, this same individual, who contributes much to the court reporting and captioning community, asked what she could do for Shaunise personally.
It was at that moment that Shaunise knew that she had to find a way to express her gratitude to this individual, who embodies philanthropy, in a concrete, tangible way. An expression of gratitude for constantly giving and helping others without expecting anything in return. This was the connection that had initially brought these two together, both serving the profession out of love. And so it was with gratitude that Shaunise Day recognized Allie Hall as the recipient of the first Steno in the City Philanthropy Award. Allie deserves teacher of the year, friend of the year, and colleague of the year. Why? Because she is THAT GIRL, and she deserves all the praises. It’s the things that Allie does without any desire for attention or public recognition. She works incredibly hard for students, supporting, guiding, and mentoring, doing everything she can to help them achieve their goal to join the ranks of the working court reporter. Allie Hall is the embodiment of leadership and loyalty. Thank you, Allie!
Next, Sonia Trevino, a dear friend and colleague of Kimberly Xavier, delivered a message before presenting Kimberly with the Steno in the City Lifetime Achievement Award. Kimberly, who was surprised and thankful, is another stellar stenographer who continually goes above and beyond for the court reporting and captioning profession. Having served on just about every committee for the Texas Court Reporters Association, she has an impeccable resume and deserves to be recognized for her service. With this in mind, Mekailah McChriston took the lead with other colleagues in Texas to put together an amazing video tribute to Kimberly. You can view it by visiting the gallery on stenothecity.com.
Finally, the first annual Fearless Stenographers Conference could not have occurred without the myriad contributions of the court reporting and captioning profession. It was a joint effort. We did this together, creating a new, much-needed space for our community to convene, connect, and collaborate.
Founder Shaunise Day often reminds us that there are 27,000 highly skilled stenographic professionals within our marketplace. We must commit to visiting every city and every platform in order to spread the awareness and importance of stenography to the judicial process. From this point forward, let us join our efforts to preserve, promote, and protect our profession. United we stand; divided we fall.
One Team. One Goal. STENO.
A rising steno star attends the Fearless Stenographers Conference!
ROSE DETLOFF- RMR, CRR
Interview with Student McKalie Bellew
I know how cliche this will sound but hear me out. The dictionary defines a “prodigy” as, “a person, especially a young one, endowed with exceptional qualities or abilities”. Rose is the definition of that word in all the best ways. A talented, yet humble, and kind young woman that flew through her school journey and continues to work hard, grow and impress. I had the privilege of getting more insight on Rose’s journey in the following interview.
Q. How did you find stenography?
A. To be honest, it feels more like stenography found me. During college, I was obsessed with taking career aptitude tests and researching different fields. One night, I fell down an internet rabbit hole of stenography. I saw that it was a great career for those with an interest in the legal profession, those who like English, and those with a musical background. Right away, it seemed like a great fit for me.
Q. What were you doing at the time you began your steno journey?
A. When I began my steno journey, I had recently been laid off from my job due to the pandemic and was about to enter into my final semester of senior year at the University of Arizona, majoring in general studies and minoring in film. I had changed my major seven times in college because I could never figure out what it was that I wanted to do. Court reporting came at the perfect time for me.
Q. Where are you from?
A. I was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona.
Q. What is your theory and how long did it take you to finish school?
A. My theory is Magnum Steno, and I completed court reporting school in ten months.
Q. What was the most challenging part about your journey through school for you?
A. The most challenging part of school was definitely adjusting to a whole new way of learning. It was a total shift in mindset to switch from constantly aiming for perfection to, instead, shooting for progress and failing forward. Once I got the hang of maintaining a positive mindset and giving myself rest and self‑care when needed, I was able progress quickly.
Q. What are your goals as a professional?
A. My current goal is to be a realtime reporter. Since I started working seven months ago I’ve been working hard on my accuracy and improving on my translation rate. I am hoping to earn the CRR this year. As for a long‑term goal, I would love to explore all of the opportunities this career has to offer. Right now I am freelancing, but one day I would love to experience providing CART or captioning live events.
Q. We met at Steno in the City which was put together by Shaunise Day, tell us about your experience at this convention and if anything special happened, or any seminar that stood out to you in particular.
A. I had a total blast at the Fearless Stenographers conference in Houston this year. I loved being able to see my online friends in person, as well as meeting other reports and hearing all about their careers and goals. Some highlights for me include watching Mark Kislingbury beat his world record live, hearing the inspirational Brenda Countz talk about her amazing career, and seeing Allie Hall receive her well‑deserved philanthropy award.
Q. If I’m not mistaken, you won an award or scholarship at the Fearless Stenographers luncheon too; is that right?
A. Yes, I did. I won the New Professional Scholarship at Steno in the City. I had been working for just over three months at that time.
Q. Do you have any mentors or motivators from when you were in school, or now as a professional?
A. My biggest motivator and cheerleader throughout my whole court reporting journey has most definitely been my teacher, Allie Hall. Those who know her know that she always has the perfect thing to say to get you feeling invigorated and focused. I still can’t believe how lucky I was to end up in her theory class. Even now as a working reporter she has been by my side and has continued to help me accomplish my professional goals.
Q. What has been the most challenging part about your career as a certified reporter, if any? What has been the most fun or rewarding part?
A. One of the most challenging parts I have found of being a working reporter is getting used to the way people talk and their speech partners. Seven months in, I finally feel like I’m getting a little more comfortable with punctuating disjointed speakers on the fly, but it is definitely something I want to focus on improving. The most rewarding part of the job is without a doubt the flexibility. I love that I get to work when I want to and in the hours where I feel the most productive. I love that I am able to choose to take things a little slow my first year as I get used to everything, and even then, I am still making a great living.
Q. What advice do you have for students working to get through school now?
A. If you haven’t already, find some way to get involved in the court reporting community, whether that be by going to convention or joining Facebook groups or zoom practice groups. I have truly never come across a more welcoming and encouraging group of people. Steno is such a unique and challenging skill, which is why it is so beneficial to surround yourself with students going through the same challenges you are and reporters who made it through and can offer advice and have encouragement.
Q. What is your favorite part of conventions and how was this helpful to attend as a student, and as a working professional?
A. I have been to two court reporting conventions so far, one as a student and one as a new professional. After both conventions I gained knew certifications, and I don’t think that is a coincidence. Something about being around other passionate reporters and people facing the same struggles you are just lighting this fire under you. As someone who attended school entirely online and now works remotely, these conventions are a great opportunity for me to network with reporters in person, as well as catch up with friends I have made via social media. It’s like a big reunion party, networking event, and learning opportunity all wrapped up in one.
By Angela Grant, RDR, CRR, CSR
The Fearless Stenographer’s Conference was held in Houston, Texas in March of 2022. Students, new professionals, and veteran reporters
attended this amazing event, and I think I can speak for a lot of them when I say we all left feeling inspired and motivated. There were many
great speakers in attendance that spoke on a variety of court reporting related topics, and I was asked to participate in one of the sessions.
Shacara Mapp, Candice Andino and I presented a seminar entitled “Certifications Matter”. During the seminar we shared with everyone our
journeys toward gaining NCRA certifications. For some it was a long journey and for others it was done in record time. The point that
resonates with me is we didn’t give up and we kept going until we reached our goals. Taking
tests to become certified can be a stressful process, but obtaining national certifications is
important because in some cases it enables you to qualify for a higher salary and it
demonstrates your level of skill as a court reporter. Having the initials RPR, RMR, CRR, CRC,
and RDR after your name can speak for you before anyone ever meets you. The session was
well-attended, and we got a lot of feedback from attendees saying how much they learned.
Those who were not certified and those who wanted to gain additional certifications were now
excited about working towards their goals. I’m grateful that our session was able to excite people
enough to want to attain certifications for themselves. I have been a court reporter for 27 years, and even though I am an RPR, RMR, CRR,
CSR, and RDR, I left the conference feeling motivated and thankful for my career. I can’t wait to attend Steno in the City’s next conference.
Angela Grant, RDR, CRR, CSR
Fearless with your finances- Money management tips from account Carrie Sheffeld, MBA
During the Fearless Stenographers Conference, we caught up with Carrie Sheffeld, MBA who is a stellar accountant. We were able to get some fearless financial tips from this savvy professional.
JA: As a recession looms, how should we plan?
CS: Many experts say we’re already in a recession while others say it’s coming. Inflation increased to 9.1% in June, the highest in decades, so it’s safe to conclude our economy is not very strong. The best way to plan for an unstable economy and possible recession is to be smart with your money. As a business owner, you should cut costs, find efficiencies to ensure optimal productivity, consider offering new low-cost products to boost revenue and increase your net income and by all means save your money. The good news is a recession also provides extraordinary investment opportunities. The value of many well-known stocks has significantly decreased, so invest now, hold until the value increases, then sell the stocks for a profit when the stock market rebounds. Just don’t forget to set aside at least 20% of your gains for taxes. Of course, Uncle Sam wants his cut of your stock gains.
JA: Emergency Savings Fund. What is the suggested amount to save? Three months, six months? What would you advise?
CS: Some say save 6 months of your salary, but I’ve always said 6 months of your monthly expenses is good. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average unemployment period ranged between 20 and 30 weeks over the past year, so 6 months of savings should give you peace of mind.
JA: We are halfway through the year, any tax tips you would like to recommend for freelancers?
CS: Yes, if you haven’t already, meet with an Accountant or Tax Professional to project your tax bill for 2022. Having a discussion now will allow you to implement a tax plan that could significantly reduce your tax bill. Many ask, “What is a tax plan”? A tax plan is a strategy to legally reroute your money from Uncle Same to yourself or your business. My accounting firm works tax plans for clients often and our strategies typically include, but are not limited to investments in retirement accounts, purchases of large equipment or vehicles that will be beneficial to the business, investments in employees to increase retention and trainings or continuing education that will also benefit yourself and the business. All are legal strategies that allow you to reduce your tax bill while also benefiting yourself, your family and your business.
JA: For our students and new professionals, can you explain the difference between an LLC and S-Corp?
CS: An LLC is a business entity that is recognized by each state and in many cases separates your business and personal assets should legal issues arise. A S Corporation is a tax classification for LLCs that is only recognized by the IRS. There are many differences between the two, but we’ll focus on the money! The main difference between the two entity types is the way they are taxed. A business operating as an LLC will pay 15.3% self-employment tax; whereas an S Corporation does not pay 15.3% self-employment tax. Of course, many see the 15.3% tax savings and automatically want to become an S Corporation, but prematurely requesting an S Corporation classification can haunt you. To be specific, an owner of an S Corporation is required to pay themselves a reasonable salary based upon the geographic location, position held and tasks that will be completed within the company. There are also additional administrative costs of transitioning to an S Corporation – payroll processing fees, more complex tax filings and reporting requirements. Therefore, I suggest waiting to request the S Corp election if your business is not profitable enough to pay the owner a reasonable salary and absorb additional administrative costs. Otherwise, the IRS could administer stiff penalties for non-compliance.
Fearless Feedback on attending the first annual Fearless Stenographers Conference in Houston, Texas!
Stephanie Hicks, RPR
There’s a first time for everything, and I am so happy I got to experience my first court reporting convention at Steno in the City’s Fearless Stenographers Conference in Houston! This event set the bar so high in my mind that I truly believe the only thing that could top it is another Steno in the City conference. Shaunise really outdid herself!
For starters, although I arrived in Houston a bit late and, unfortunately, missed the speed contest, I made sure not to miss anything else. I was immediately impressed with the venue. The Omni Hotel was a stellar choice hands down and instantly put me in a great mood. After settling into my room, I got ready to attend the mixer that evening, which was held at The Ballroom at Bayou Place, a beautiful space in downtown Houston. From the grand staircase entrance to the red carpet interviews to the 360 photobooth, I was in my element! I was so honored to have the opportunity to meet and mingle with fellow steno lovers and supporters in a trendy, laidback setting with a great vibe, not to mention great appetizers and a live band. Sign me up any day!
Now, talk about inspiration! The speakers, bay-BEE! I couldn’t believe the lineup for the conference: Brenda Countz! Allie Hall! Kim Xavier! Not to mention the fact that the legendary Mark Kislingbury broke his own Guinness Book world record, and I was there to witness it! In addition, I was also able to participate as a speaker myself (for the first time by the way) by sitting on a panel with fellow “Steno Game Changers”, which was a phenomenal and very inspiring experience. To sit at a table with and be in a room full of people who are just as excited about the profession creates an energy that is indescribable and can only be experienced at an event such as this!
To wrap up the entire weekend, Shaunise hosted a luncheon, wherein several awards were given out to very deserving people in the field. I even won the first Steno People’s Choice Award, which was quite an honor. I keep the trophy in my cubicle as a reminder of my five minutes of fame! I even convinced a few people to join me in creating a TikTok to celebrate how amazing the entire conference was, which was shared dozens of times!
Hands down, this convention was more than I could have anticipated when booking my flight to Houston. I came back to New York more motivated than ever, and I can’t wait for upcoming Steno in the City events, which I know will only get bigger and bigger from here. Honestly, this conference will be a hard act to follow and I can’t wait to see what Shaunise has in store for 2023! See you there! 😉
Jessica Negrete, Steno Student
SITC was such an extraordinary experience! It being the first conference I have attended, it has set the bar high. The various networking events introduced me to professional court reporters who were so willing to provide super useful advice and encouragement. As a student, I found that the seminars were filled with great motivation and helpful information. I also connected with fellow students who were an inspiration just by hearing about their journeys. I am so glad I attended and hope to be a part of any future SITC conferences. Greatly appreciate Shaunise and everyone who helped bring this incredible weekend together.
Sonia Trevino, CSR
Steno in the City, wow! What a wonderful conference. Being around so many of my colleagues and being able to enjoy it as an attendee was such a treat for me. The one-woman-wonder that is Shaunise Day and those who assisted her pulled of a phenomenal event for all of us.
There were so many moments to remember. The color block photo shoot was fun! Our own Texan Mark Kislingbury besting his previous world record was amazing! The luncheon was superb! I was extremely honored to have been asked by Shaunise to introduce Kim Xavier as this year’s Steno in the City’s recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award. Anyone who knows the smallest bit about Kim knows what a huge influence she is in the world of court reporting. If only we could bottle up her enthusiasm for the profession, we would have a winning potion for future leaders in our profession.
I do not know where and when the next Steno in the City will happen, but I do know that, if at all possible, I will be there. I am a fan of this kind of inspiration, motivation, and can-do spirit!
Lamarra George, CCR,RPR
At the 2022, Steno In The City Conference in Houston, Texas, I had the pleasure of attending the seesion given by Jessie Wack, RPR, RMR, RDR, CRR. The information Jessie shared in her session is immeasurable. Her knowledge on all things technology is vast. For a court reporter, obtaining optimal live audio is key in taking a perfected record from the start. With the suggested equipment and tips Jessie provided, advice I thankfully accepted and implemented, I, too, now have such excellent audio quality, which allows for unfettered attention to refocus more on my writing because I can now listen with ease.
Anna Mar-Lazo, RPR, CSR
If you don’t know me, my name is Anna Mar-Lazo. I am a newly certified reporter in the SanAntonio, Texas area. I started sharing my court reporting journey on Instagram as a student in 2017. After certifying in early 2021, I’ve continued to share my journey on social media but now as a new reporter navigating my way through the first year of this amazing career. I am a wife and mother of two and mostly put out relatable content as I try to juggle my home life and court reporting life. My passion is encouraging and motivating students. I believe I’ve been given the opportunity to do that on a much larger scale as one of the hosts of the Steno Talk podcast. The Steno Talk podcast originated and debuted in February of 2021. The goal of the podcast is to encourage, educate, and entertain today’s steno community through real-life experiences. The podcast highlights, features, and celebrates the accomplishments submitted by students in its very popular Crushin’ It Corner. If you feel left out because you weren’t able to attend 2022’s most epic steno event, don’t you fret. I am here to catch you up!
SITC’s The Fearless Stenographers Conference was held in Houston, Texas, and was full of fun, friends, firsts, and steno!
Day one consisted of an evening networking event for the legal profession. There was an open bar, food, and dancing! So much fun was had by all. It was a great way to break the ice and get the weekend started.
Day two was all business! It was a day jam-packed with amazing speakers. Speakers like steno legend, Benda Countz, and the ever-energetic Kim Xavier came at us with messages our hearts were meant to hear. I was fortunate enough to be asked by Shaunise to speak on The Game Changer panel along with my amazingly talented colleagues, Stephanie Hicks, Candice Andino, Kensie Benoit, and Lauren Lawrence. The day ended with more networking in the main area with drinks, cake, and more steno. The highlight of day two was definitely getting to witness Mark Kislingbury break his very own record. He scored 95.4% on a one-minute 370wpm take! It was amazing to see Mark write the dictation, transcribe it before a room full of people, and then receive the exciting news. It was such a historic day in the steno world! Day three unfortunately was the last day of this amazing conference. It’s true what they say: Last day,
best day! Allie Hall kicked off the day with her amazing words of wisdom. We heard from an amazing trio of ladies as to why certs really do matter and then instantly became techies after hearing about the many gadgets that can make our work lives easier. The very last event of the conference was the luncheon where all gathered to congratulate award, scholarship, and speed contest winners. And of course, no SITC event is complete without a photoshoot! So before everyone parted ways, we gathered in our best color block attire to take group photos and
then off everyone went to spend their final night with friends before heading home the following morning. All in all, I’d say this was the steno event of the year! Truly nothing can compare. If you’re sad that you missed it, don’t you worry! There’s always SITC 2023!!! See you there!
The Fearless Stenographers Conference will take place in Atlanta, Georgia, April 13th through April 15th! Do not miss out! We hope to see you there. For more updates, be sure to follow us on social media and subscribe to our new newsletter where we will be covering all things within the steno and legal community!