Why & When Leaders Stay Silent

There’s a 1998 Merlin movie where Merlin (Sam Neill) is created by the Fairy Queen Mab (Miranda Richardson) to bring the people back to the old ways of magic and religion. Merlin ends up turning against her because she’s ruthless. She goes on to make his life hell, getting him arrested, “permanently” scarring his lover, and sabotaging his plans to put a good king on the throne. This ends in a coalition of “good guys” storming Mab’s castle and Merlin and Mab clashing in a magic duel. Realizing that magic is her strength, Merlin turns his back on Mab and walks away, convincing the crowd to do the same. Forgotten by all, Mab and her magic fade away, she’s defeated.

Consider this my way of convincing the crowd to look away. Recently a letter was released by AAERT regarding the documents released by NCRA Strong. On the one hand, they accused NCRA of distributing misinformation. On the other hand, they invited NCRA to collaborate and help lead the market. My life experience tells me any time someone is playing good cop, bad cop, they want something out of you. Putting aside the fact that it’s hilarious to accuse anyone of distributing misinformation when you list yourself as a government organization on your Facebook page, let’s dive into what they want from NCRA and its members.

They want attention. Surprised? When you do the math, you see that NCRA is a far larger organization with far more reach than AAERT. Just look at social media presence alone. NCRA’s Facebook page has 11,000 likes, and NCRA has archers. AAERT has about 700 as of writing, no archers. The AAERT group has maybe 600 members. The NCRA group, just one of them out of several, has over 3,000. Maybe stenographers just like Facebook. But I’m betting the hard reality is that they’re trying to get NCRA members to react, force NCRA itself to react, and in doing so, give themselves credibility and a larger platform.

This is where all of you come in. Organizationally, we are stronger. I just showed you that. Even we as individuals have more reach and a wider platform. Look at Protect Your Record Project, which started as a California-based discussion; it was a video by Kimberly D’Urso and Kelly Bryce Shainline, and has evolved into a nationwide movement of over 2,000. This weekend, hundreds of stenographers are coming together in pop-up meetings in almost every state. Look at Encouraging Court Reporting Students and Breck Record, 10,000 members regularly helping each other. Even brand new endeavors, like Tricia Bidon’s Encouraging Steno Students group, have almost 500 members.

“But Chris, even if we have the numbers, XYZ Corporation has way more money than we do!” There are, at a bare minimum, 10,000 of us, but 20 or 30 in some estimates. If each person donates one hour of their time, guesstimating that hour to be worth a paltry $15, that’s 416 days or $150,000 an hour. Remember when I reported that Trint raised $168 million? They could afford to hire us for 160 workdays on that money. That’s it. There’s no equal to our numbers and our opponents know it. That’s why they’re trying desperately to convince us that we are alone and there’s nothing we can do.

We’re in this together. We have nothing to prove to any of our detractors. We have no reason to engage them on their terms. There’s a human desire to be fair, intelligent, and debate honestly. I empathize with anyone feeling the urge to “win.” I myself have time and time again let myself be baited into meaningless debates that take my attention off more valuable projects. Ultimately, the goal for them is to throw us off our game and get us responding to them. As many of you know, the way to win is to use our national presence. Get out there and educate the attorneys we work with every day. Educate people who don’t know that this is a viable, vibrant career. Educate your fellow reporter who maybe hasn’t heard that they can make a difference. You’ve got the story. You’ve got the numbers. Move forward confidently. Be the Merlin of your own personal story and know when to leave your opponent in the dust.

6 thoughts on “Why & When Leaders Stay Silent

  1. Christopher,

    This is why you are a leader and so well respected in our community. You not only grasp the overall situation but understand the value of the strategic and tactical situations. While people may think “nothing” is happening, we as an organization are always working in the background. STRONG is kicking butt and all of these other groups are working for the same goal; to ensure that we remain the gold standard and to protect the record. NCRA had a great tag line a few years ago (Guardians of the Record) and that is exactly what NCRA, the state associations, all of our committees, the independent groups, and every concerned and active reporter is doing!

    Bravo to all that stand up and help out. THANK YOU! It truly is everyone’s job to do so and thank you Christopher for articulating why sometimes it is better to not give credibility when none is warranted.

    We have two dozen association professionals, with decades of association management experience, at NCRA HQ, we have Board members that have served for years and know all the nuances of every issue affecting reporters/captioners, and we have committee members who dedicate dozens, if not hundreds of hours, to make the profession and organization better. We are the big dog and have the grassroots army that others do not.

    Getting into debates that have very little upside for the stronger group is never a good strategy. Being a federal lobbyist for over 25 years, and engaging with Members of Congress and Presidents, has taught me many valuable lessons. One being know your position in an argument and don’t give the other side any ammo to use against you. NCRA and all of you know the true value of the stenographic reporter/captioner. We are the ALPHA out there and we must always fight to remain ALPHA because someone will always be looking to replace you. If we engage others, it will be on our terms and with a thought out strategy and not a knee jerk reaction, that is what gets people in trouble.

    Stay STRONG, stay united in purpose (even with our multiple groups all working for the same goal) and never give up. Thanks for the post Christopher.

    Dave Wenhold, CAE

    1. Thank you for all you do. And the board in general! I have a post set in the scheduler for tomorrow, a little bit about why stenography is better for the consumer too. It’s not just self-interest, it’s the public’s right to the most efficient service at the best price — and that’s steno! That’s what NCRA’s about. That’s what so many of these groups are about. We’re getting the word out about it faster than ever, and it’s just great to be a part of it.

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