From the Editor’s Desk

Nick Ducharme

Nick Ducharme

The month of June is a time of celebration for our chapter. We hold our annual awards banquet to recognize peoples’ accomplishments over the past year, and to usher in our new elected leadership.

…I guess this June is just a little peculiar. We do have several things to celebrate as a chapter. But, our greater Orlando community is also still in mourning of the Pulse Nightclub tragedy. There is nothing I could possibly say, especially in a few short paragraphs, to make the pain go away or to speed up the healing process. An act of hate ended 49 lives, harmed 53 more, endangered over 300, and broke countless hearts. Some of us know someone who was directly affected. Some of us, myself included, were faced with the grim realization, “that could have been me who was targeted.”

Yet, just as I cannot ignore this single senseless act of evil and its far-reaching repercussions, I must also acknowledge the several million acts of love and kindness that have resulted. Orlando (and our state, our nation, our entire world) has united together to face the horror head-on. We have held our vigils, donated our time and money and blood, and worked tirelessly to figure out the hows and whys. We have tried to carry on and resume our lives, lest we allow hate and fear to rule over us.

It is through our common, enduring humanity that we all now prepare to come together and celebrate, despite the lingering heartbreak. The Orlando Central Florida chapter of the Society for Technical Communication has accomplished so much over the past 12 months! Now the time has come for us to honor those accomplishments. In doing so, perhaps we can also passively honor all those ever affected by violence and hate. Perhaps we can show that love perseveresthat love wins.

Please join us this Thursday, June 23rd, at Liam Fitzpatrick’s Irish Pub for an evening to remember. Seating is limited, so please click here to RSVP to and choose your entrée.

 

As usual, Memo to Members will be taking a break for the summer. I suspect our next issue will be in September.

Thank you,

Nick Ducharme
Editor, Memo to Members
newsletter@stc-orlando.org

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The President’s Corner (Special Edition)

Debra 2016By: Debra Johnson
President
Orlando Central Florida Chapter, STC

president@stc-orlando.org

Hello all,

It is with mixed feelings that I write my last message as President. I know it’s time to pass the gavel to the next generation, however, it’s just a little bittersweet. I’ve really enjoyed my time in such a key role for a chapter that has accomplished so much.

Added to the three years as Vice President, the last three years as President have been very rewarding ones for me. I have learned exactly what goes into leading a chapter of such committed and gifted professionals and students. Everyone has taught me so much about dedication, support, commitment, and the importance of volunteering.

It’s been an interesting reign. We have had our challenges: operational, logistical, technological, and membership. We have merged with one chapter and anticipate merging with another shortly.  We have seen changes to our Community Achievement Award process. I can say for sure…we are resilient.

In the past six years that I have been a member, the STC Orlando Central Florida Chapter has been recognized for its contributions to the Society’s goal of providing high-quality programming, resources, and networking opportunities for technical communicators multiple times.

Because of the concerted effort of all and the determination and hard work of certain key members, I am proud to say we have earned the international society’s top honor of Chapter of Distinction, four times. We have earned the Pacesetter Award twice and earned Community of the Year twice. We submitted and received nominations for Associate Fellow Karen Lane and Fellow Mike Murray.

My service to this community has brought me more than words can express…It has brought me many friends, abundant networking opportunities, a job, wisdom, joy, and a deep sense of satisfaction.

I salute all of you…for it is you who make the Orlando Central Florida STC Chapter such an outstanding community. It is you who have been instrumental in my tenure as president. THANK YOU!

While I will be personally thanking individuals at our banquet who have supported me as President, as well as those who have guided me with their wisdom and experience over the years, it is in this setting I want to say thank you to everyone. Thank you to all who ever attended a chapter meeting, helped with setup or cleanup, wrote articles for the Memo to Members newsletter, anyone who contributed ideas and asked questions, everyone who offered to search for information, or whose questions inspired others to think in new directions about common practices and generally accepted knowledge.

If you are a chapter member, thank you for your continued support of the chapter; support that enables the Orlando Central Florida STC Chapter to provide services to the community of technical communicators in our local area and even world-wide. If you are not a chapter member, but you attend our meetings, thank you for providing us ideas for programs as well as an attentive audience.

I want to welcome the new Officers.  These members will direct the operation of the chapter through their insight and discussion.  They will determine the initiatives considered each month, not only at our Administrative Council (AdCo) meetings, but also during the intervening weeks as we consider various topics of chapter governance via our online discussion list.

The members of the new board will be:

Alex Garcia (President-Elect), David Coe (Vice President-Elect), RD Sharninghouse (Incumbent Secretary – Re-elected), Bethany Aguad (Treasurer-elect), David Coverston (Incumbent Director – Re-elected, membership manager, and recognitions manager), Karen Lane (Director-elect), and myself (Immediate Past President). Good Luck to all of you!

In addition to these positions, we have a few other committee heads and managers who deserve our appreciation. Thank you to W.C. Wiese (Active Member chair), Dan Voss (Education Chair and Mentoring co-chair), Nick Ducharme (Memo to Members editor), Jon Kessler (webmaster), and Loretta Lott (employment chair).

At our June end-of-year banquet, we will be reviewing our accomplishments and celebrating our successes. It is at that meeting that I pass the gavel to our new president, Alex Garcia, and welcome our new officers to their 2016–2017 positions.

I offer a sincere and heartfelt thank you to all who have served the chapter, and I wish our incoming officeholders all success as they lead our chapter to even greater heights.

Thank you!

Debra

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If You Missed the Last Meeting

RD SharninghouseBy: R.D. Sharninghouse
Secretary
Orlando Central Florida Chapter, STC
rdsharninghouse@gmail.com

On Thursday, May 19th at the IHOP on University, the Orlando Central Florida chapter of the STC held its monthly meeting.  The evening’s lecture was led by our chapter President, Debra Johnson.  Debra is currently the manager of Technical Communication/Documentation for SunGard Public Sector, an FIS company.

Chapter president Debra Johnson discusses how to write clear, standardized instructions.

Chapter president Debra Johnson discusses how to write clear, standardized instructions.

The presentation was about “Standardized and Documented instructions.”

A portion of the evening was spent showing an example of how differently people do things and just how differently people can take/give instructions.  A demonstration of making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich made a great point.  Different instructions were given on how to make the sandwich.  One said “to put peanut butter on a slice of bread,” and the result was a full, unopened jar of peanut butter being placed directly onto the slice of bread.

Debra Johnson shows what can go wrong with even a "simple" task if written instructions are not clear. PB&J sandwiches may never be the same again.

Debra Johnson shows what can go wrong with even a “simple” task if written instructions are not clear. PB&J sandwiches may never be the same again.

We all have our own way of doing things and our own way of instructing how to do things.  These variations can have an influence on processes/instructions in documentation.  This activity proved the importance of providing detailed, specific, sequential information that is needed to carry out an action.

 

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Spotlight on Excellence

Why is Excellence Important?
By: Mike Murray and Dan Voss
STC Fellows

“Excellence can be achieved if you risk more than others think is safe, love more than others think is wise, dreammore than others think is practical, and expect more than others think is possible.”                                                                                                        —Anonymous

Personal Excellence

Whether the topic is personal excellence or organizational excellence, the principle is the same. When you focus on excelling at whatever you do, your name (or your organization’s name) is always part of the discussion for the next big thing.

A favorite story of mine is Sylvester Stallone’s rags-to-riches saga of how he overcame overwhelming odds in his life to be the international movie star we know him to be today. When he was a baby, he was born with a half-paralyzed face due to birth complications, which led to a slurred speech. This was the key reason why he was rejected thousands of times by casting agents. Because he never gave up, he finally got his big break as the star of Rocky one day—and this came after years and years of relentlessly trying.

I have often heard various versions of the expression, “If you’re going to be a ditch digger, be the best ditch digger in the world.” Oprah Winfrey says it this way: “Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment.” Through many years of my life, I’ve learned that pursuing excellence in everything I do is infinitely better than settling for mediocrity. It should seem obvious that the pursuit of excellence in everything you do would be the surest road to maximizing your potential, yet so few of us strive to do just that. You will never be disappointed in your pursuit of excellence, for there are no traffic jams along the extra mile.

Everything…everything can be done either horribly, somewhat well, very well, or excellently. This applies to jobs, relationships, hobbies, speaking, writing…everything. If you’re willing to settle for “horribly” or “somewhat well,” be ready to accept the rewards of having something that’s less than what other people are willing to accept. But if you strive for “very well” or “excellently,” you’ll reap a bigger reward and your legacy will be that of someone who tried to “do it better” and succeeded. Someone who does things excellently will be remembered well. Someone who slides by and settles for less will be remembered as a slacker. It’s completely up to us whether we strive for excellence or whether we’re willing to just let life pass by without putting out the extra effort.

Organizational Excellence

My entire philosophy of excellence is predicated on the hypothesis that the essence of excellence lies in the quality of the individual’s performance. The key, then, is to build and sustain a culture in which each individual contributor is inspired to passionately and voluntarily give his or her best every day. Whether it’s in an STC chapter or in a huge international corporation, this philosophy holds true. An organization cannot achieve a level of excellence without individual members or employees who are themselves committed to excellence.

Every human being wants to be valued and appreciated. Employees and volunteers respond to appreciation expressed through recognition of their good work because it confirms their work is valued. When employees and their work are valued, their satisfaction and productivity rises, and they are motivated to maintain or improve their good work.

In my tenure as chapter president, I realized the importance of getting to know the members individually and to identify the skills of each that were a fit for a specific position, thereby increasing their probability of achieving success. Once, a member stepped in without being asked and took over the responsibilities of a suddenly departing volunteer in addition to her own commitments to our community. She was a real hero in my eyes, and I took the opportunity to create the Chapter Hero award—a simple, inexpensive piece of round Lucite that included the person’s name, date, and the words “Chapter Hero.” Another time, a volunteer committed to making a presentation at the STC annual conference in spite of feeling so nervous at the thought of public speaking that she worried about the possibility of freezing up or even fainting on the stage. Because she gave it her best in spite of her fears, I created the G.U.T.S. certificate because she “Gave Up The ’Scuses,” overcame her trepidation, and delivered an excellent presentation.

There has never been a volunteer who has been thanked too often! To paraphrase STC Fellow W.C. Wiese, “You can never have too many awards.” Recognition before peers can be a powerful tool in developing a growing sense of excellence. People within an organization want to keep feeling that sense of pride and fulfillment and encourage others to “bask in the sunshine” along with them. They feel valued and needed, thereby encouraging them to continue on the road to excellence that the entire organization will share. It only takes a few such volunteers or employees to create an excellent organization, but every one of them is needed. After all, that ditch isn’t going to dig itself!

U.S. women’s soccer star Michele Akers personified commitment to excellence. Akers, an aggressive attacking center midfielder regarded as one of the greatest female soccer players of all time, was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS) in 1991 just as she was reaching the peak of her game. (Voss, 2003).

In her acclaimed book The Game and the Glory, Michele explained: “I get what they term ‘shocky’—my body starts going into shock as my blood goes to my vital organs instead of into my arms and legs. As my blood pressure drops, the blood flow to my brain diminishes, my mind gets mushy, and I lose concentration. A tornado roars in my head, my thoughts scatter, and my body feels weighted down and as slow as molasses.  Sometimes I’ve actually gotten delirious on the field and had to be led to the bench by my teammates or the trainers.” (Akers, 1999, p. 27)

Michele refused to give in to the CFIDS and remained a key player on the U.S. women’s national soccer team. However, her disability reared its ugly head as the U.S. was playing China for the World Cup in 1999. As center mid, Michele’s job that day was to contain China’s high-scoring striker Sun Wen, their greatest weapon and, as such, the biggest threat to the U.S. team’s bid for the Cup. In so doing, there was no time for her disability.

I can’t afford that this afternoon. If I’m tracking Sun Wen, I gotta be on. One half-second of distraction or a single mistake in judgment could cost a goal, or the game, and a world championship.” (p. 27)

As it turns out, Michelle did shut out Sun Wen that day. She gave it everything she had for 90 excruciating minutes, only to topple, nearly unconscious, to the turf after a collision with U.S. goalie Briana Scurry while helping to prevent China from netting the winning goal just as regulation time was about to expire.

Michelle was carried from the field and rushed to the triage unit, where she gradually regained consciousness as IV fluids coursed into her veins. She recalls being vaguely conscious of the din of the crowd rocking the stadium above her, at first wondering what the score was during the overtime session—then awakening to the realization that the score had to be 0-0 … until either the “golden goal” or penalty kicks resolved the outcome.

No, Michelle was not physically on the field as Brandi Chastain scored the winning goal on the fifth and final penalty kick, ripped off her jersey, and fell to her knees waving the jersey like a victory flag as her teammates mobbed her—an image that will live in sports history. But you can bet that Michelle’s spirit was on that field every step of the way during those two overtimes, during those five PKs, inspiring her teammates to victory.

To excellence.

NEXT TIME: What must we do to reach it?

REFERENCES:

Akers, Michelle, 1999.  The Game and the Glory, an Autobiography.  Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan.  ISBN: 0-310-23529-4 (hard)

Voss, Dan, 2003. “In World Cup Soccer and in Overcoming Disabilities, ‘Impossible’ is Just Another Word for ‘Work Harder,’” Proceedings to the 50th Annual International STC Conference, Dallas, TX.

Mike Murray

Mike Murray

Dan Voss

Dan Voss

 

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