Try Harder; Each Time You Try Harder

Exactly Why Am I Doing This Now? Part I of III

Exactly Why Am I Doing This Now? Part I of III
By Monette Benoit, All Rights Reserved.
May 1, 2013

The requested tutor and empowerment coaching appointment began with a simple question.

My question to the court reporter was simply, “How are you?”

There was a loud sigh. The answer began, “I am so tired of …” I watched the clock. How long? Over five minutes. I did not peep one word as I listened. After a noticeable silence, the court reporter asked me what I was thinking.

Soflty, I said, “Wow, that was almost a five-minute literary test. Now please tell me what you really think.” She howled with laughter.

Ah, court reporters and court reporting students.

When someone asks us what we think, and the question is posed by someone (my opinion here) related to our field, we can really let the words fly, yes? Yes.

This individual and I have worked together in the past. She emailed with a question requesting numerous sessions.

Again, I found it interesting that the tenacity and goals that were set by this person while enrolled in court reporting school (her words) “who would never make it out of school fast enough” were now similar to today’s scheduled session.

“I’m not going to spend another dime to improve my skills when I have paid so much to get where I am.” (I remained silent.)

“I know people can do what I am trying to do now. If they can do it, why can’t I? I want – No, I need to earn more money. I didn’t go to court reporting school to be at the bottom of a seniority list with working court reporters after this period of time, did I?” (I remained silent.)

The sentence I truly enjoyed (professionally and personally here), “I’ll just get there and take it from there when I do get there, okay?”

I listened to this gainfully employed court reporter.

“The support on my software is about to expire. I have to pay for that, too. And the support on my new writer is about to expire. More money there! All that adds up to a lot of money and it is due very, very soon!”

The reporter summed it up, “I just am wondering exactly why I am doing this now …”

And there we had it. The dancing zebra in the room was bowing and exiting.

Now that the energy had been expelled in a healthy manner – and we were clear that we would focus together – we began an open dialog for the goals.

Part II of III is posted May 15, 2013, on Monette’s Musings at and

Part III of III is posted May 24, 2013, on Monette’s Musings at and

Monette, the Court Reporting Whisperer, may be reached: and

Monette Benoit, B. B.A., CCR, CRI, CPE, Paralegal

Tutor, Motivational Management & Empowerment Coach,
Multiple Title Author of Books & Test Prep for the Court Reporting, CART, & Captioning Industry
Realtime Court Reporter, Instructor, Consultant, Columnist

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About Monette Benoit:
As a 25+ year court reporter, CART provider, author of NCRA test prep material, and an instructor, public speaker, Monette Benoit has taught multiple theories, academics, all speed classes, and the 225 homeroom within NCRA-approved schools and a community college. She understands the challenges many adults now face in our industry and schooling.

Monette Benoit has worked with thousands of professionals, court reporters, CART providers, captioners, students, and instructors. She has also helped create new court reporting training programs, worked with federal grants, and assisted instructors in developing curriculum for both in-class and at-home students.

Her one-on-one tutoring, private coaching, has greatly assisted thousands of students, novice and experienced professionals to privately reach the next level.

Monette’s Musings is a blog containing information for busy professionals, students, and individuals who are fearless and seek to create their success each day.

01 May 2013

Try Harder; Each Time You Try Harder

Try Harder; Each Time You Try Harder
By Monette Benoit

Copyright by Monette Benoit, All Rights Reserved.

Sunday afternoon, I taxied to ‘Tong Sing’. I sprinted towards 615 Grant Avenue.
My sister-in-law owns a jewelry store in San Francisco’s China Town.

I darted around people selling sunglasses and picture frames on the sidewalk, launched into the store. I had looked forward to this moment for a long time. I viewed pearls of every color, rings, diamonds, bracelets, earrings, necklaces. The sign over the doorway: ‘SALE! 70% Off Everything!” I saw my sister-in-law, called her name. She ran into my arms. Wenny did not know I was in San Francisco; here I stood, arms out, waiting for her hug.

I had just spent days attending, sharing and exhibiting my products, Purple Books and CATapult CDs,, during the National Court Reporters Association, NCRA, midyear convention.

There, I laughed and listened to judicial and free-lance court reporters, captioners, CART providers, students and teachers.

Wenny was excited to see me. I followed her to the back private area; she poured hot jasmine tea for me.

As people entered, Wenny ran to the front, “How are you? Everything 70% off!” I was seated next to a large statue with oranges and incense. Wenny was busy, showing customers leather coats, purses, luggage, gifts, jewelry, silks, merchandise.

I waited for a time, then quietly slipped to an area where I took a seat in front of a jewelry case.

I listened to people speaking Chinese and English; many pointed to jewelry on shelves or deep within cases. Between customers, Wenny said to me, “I’ll make you a pearl necklace.” Wenny removed pearls from multiple ‘strings’ to design a necklace. When she was busy, I sat by the long pearl strings.

Wenny greeted each customer personally and answered the phone. She built the necklace, as I tease her with her teeth. She strung one pearl, tied a knot, used her teeth to tighten each knot, then added another pearl.

Wenny kept saying, “I’ll make a pearl necklace for when you speak, when you attend conventions.” She handed me a custom-made necklace and hugged me.

People continued to shop in her store and make purchases. I watched her in action. I had not known Wenny since she entered the family, my former in-laws.

We gathered at many formal family gatherings, but never had time to know each other. I knew she arrived in our country, working hard, earning everything she now has.

Wenny Hoang Bui left Vietnam in 1978. She traveled to Hong Kong, arriving in San Francisco, 1980. She’s worked seven days a week, three jobs each day, to open Tong Sing. When we met, this was her goal. She saved everything to open ‘Tong Sing Fine Jewelry’.

I watched, listened. Wenny answered my questions, sharing her world. As I touched jewelry, she’d giggle, “Go ahead; try it on.”

Soon, I was trying on rings, bracelets; it reminded me of visiting my granny’s as a child, playing with Granny’s jewelry.

When the store became busy, people looked at me asking ‘how much is that’ or ‘can I see that’? Raising my eyebrows to Wenny, she nodded.

Off I went behind the counters to begin selling jewelry in China Town.

I couldn’t open glass counters, remove velvet trays, confidently placing each on the counter. With shoulders back, chin up, I worked to assist customers. And what fun I had.

As soon as I placed trays on counters, customers would ask “So how much will you take?” I’d laugh, replying, “I don’t know, ask her; I’m just the sister-in-law.” Customers frowned and did ‘double-takes’ looking at my Vietnamese sister-in-law then me. Many questioned how I ‘really’ knew her – in my opinion, due to the obvious that I knew squat about working a jewelry counter.

One family asked how much ‘70% off’ was for a necklace. I pushed the calculator forward, teasing, “I don’t know; why don’t you figure it out?”

As I finished my first sale in this very busy store, I was ecstatic, yelling to Wenny, “I did it; I made my first sale!”

I couldn’t work the cash register or wrap the jewelry. So I placed the necklace on the lady, handing Wenny the money.

The store seemed to ebb and flow with families, people, shopping, viewing, touching. Each time, Wenny ran to the front, “Hi, how are you? Everything 70% off!”

Wenny shared how she discounts 70%: She and two sisters each have a store; they bulk purchase. Wenny’s specialty is pearls: “Pearls always maintain value, always timeless.”

One customer asked to see a bracelet, requesting the price. As Wenny worked, the woman was testy (some might say ‘rude’). I pursed my lips, listening as this customer worked to have the price greatly reduced.

Wenny smiled, respectfully answering questions, never showing impatience. The customer departed with a tart remark after a lengthy stay; I was offended for Wenny. Wenny smiled, never missed a beat. She ran to the back and poured another cup of hot tea for me. Then she shared that I needed to eat.  She would order ‘special’ food.  “Good for you.  Eat!”  After working ‘hard’ at the NCRA convention – very long days, little food, I relaxed as Wenny shared her enthusiasm and large heart.

Wenny opens her store each morning. It requires one hour to open, one hour to close — closing “when the last customer leaves” – seven days a week.

Three hours later, we sipped tea in the few moments the store was quiet. I was enjoying the first quiet moment…

Again, Wenny, stood, nodded to me, large smile, darted to the door when she saw people near her door. I viewed the back of her high heels as she ran to greet customers.

When the group quickly departed, almost in a u-turn, I asked, “How do you do it? ‘Each time’ you run greeting ‘everyone’ with a smile. You greet everyone with such energy. ‘How’ do you do it?”

Wenny instantly smiled, replying: “Try harder. ‘Each’ time ‘you’ try harder!” Then she ran to the front of the store to greet the new arrivals.

I thought back to the NCRA, National Court Reporters Association, convention. Many of us were enthused to gather. I met handfuls of reporters who shared they were not realtiming, did not want to improve their skills and meant it. The first time, I laughed, sure this was a joke. Nope. They were serious.

I joked, “And let me guess, you’re against voice-writers, technology, and you have a tape when you work.” Though numbers were small, this stuck with me.

The moment Wenny beamed, sharing ‘try harder; each time you try harder’,

That was exactly what I needed to hear that day. Sitting in China Town, embraced within another culture, I experienced peace,

When I asked Wenny what ‘Tong Sing’ means, she said it’s Chinese, translating: “Go up. You want to go up all the time; make more. Go up, big business.”

I helped Wenny close Tong Sing that evening, pack jewelry, cover jewelry cases. I left with a pearl necklace, earrings and two pearl necklaces for my mother. “You’re family; we only have one mother,” she kept saying.

The best gift: Wenny Hoang Bui, my sister-in-law, shared her love, culture, enthusiasm and work ethic. Now girlfriends, Wenny drove me back to The Argent Hotel. I leaped out of her car when she could not find the correct street, and we were circling the same streets.

I hugged her, grabbed my bag, sprinted up the street.
San Francisco, with crisp air, beautiful buildings, seemed different.
The city hadn’t changed, I had.

Entering the hotel, smiling court reporters approached, “Will you be at the national in Chicago? I can’t wait; see you then!”

I went to my room remembering: “Try harder. Each time you try harder.”

When I phoned ‘fact-checking’ this article, Wenny shared that she had just rented the sidewalk in front of her store to film a movie. Yes, ‘Tong Sing’.

Wenny can be reached seven days a week at 415-392-0838. With boundless energy, she ships jewelry all over the world. May we all “go up … all the time.” Happy New Years to each of you. Tong Sing.

—-  Monette, named the Court Reporting Whisperer by students, may be reached:

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Monette Benoit, B. B.A., CCR, CRI, CPE, Paralegal, CART Captioner, Instructor, Consultant, Columnist

Since 1990: Multiple Title Author of Books & Purple Books Test Prep for the Court Reporting, CART Captioning Profession

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Reach Your Goals:  Where do you want to go? Specific custom-designed guidance will efficiently assist you!

About Monette Benoit:    As a 30+ year court reporter, CART captioner, author of NCRA and State test-prep material, instructor, public speaker, Monette Benoit has taught multiple theories, academics, all speed classes, and 225-homeroom within NCRA-approved schools and a community college. She understands challenges many adults face in our industry.

In 1993, she began to CART caption to a large screen for a Deaf mass, San Antonio, Texas.  Wonderful opportunities then presented from Big D, Little D, Oral Deaf, HOH consumers -each with special moments.

Monette Benoit has worked with thousands of professionals, court reporters, CART captioners, students, instructors. She has helped to create new court reporting training programs, worked with federal grants, and assisted instructors in developing curriculum for both in-class and at-home students.

Her one-on-one tutoring, private coaching, has assisted thousands of students, novice and experienced professionals to reach the next level.

Monette’s Musings is an informative, motivational, and funny blog for busy professionals and students who seek to create their success and who seek to enjoy this special path.


25 Apr 2007