Breaking Cultural Norms to Build a Business
With Irene Nakamura
If there’s one piece of advice Irene Nakamura wants you to take to heart, it’s this: Your success begins when you expand beyond others’ expectations for you.
Irene Nakamura is the Founder and Principal of iDepo Reporters and iDepo Hawaii LLC, a woman and minority-owned court reporting firm providing both in-person and remote depositions, e-filing, subpoena and process serving, and record retrieval services to attorneys, law firms, legal secretaries and paralegals.
iDepo operates two independent companies in Los Angeles and Honolulu, Hawaii, with a network of 100+ culturally-diverse court reporters and staff, nationwide. In addition to a high degree of professionalism, iDepo is known for providing an excellent workplace environment. With nearly 30 years of court reporting experience, Irene is also a Registered Professional Reporter, a Realtime Reporter, and a certified LiveNote Reporter with certifications in California, Hawaii, Washington, Nevada, and Illinois.
Prior to founding iDepo, Irene served as an Official Court Reporter for the Honorable Robert M. Takasugi and the Honorable George H. King at the United States District Court for the Central District of California. Since 1991, Irene has reported on complex cases for national and international law firms including high – profile cases involving the Mexican and Armenian Mafia and several groundbreaking business cases. She has also reported corporate meetings for the Screen Actors Guild, among others.
By founding her own court reporting agency, Irene has become the first Japanese – American woman to do so in Southern California, perhaps in the nation. As hard as it may be for anyone to start a business, Irene says it is especially difficult coming from her background.
A brand born out of determination
Looking at Irene’s success, it’s easy to assume that she was encouraged every step of the way. But while addressing cultural nuances, Irene shares that for her, this wasn’t exactly the case.
Irene Nakamura’s mother raised her to be a good wife and mom – but the emphasis was not necessarily on education. Beyond high school, Irene was informed that she had to wait to enroll in college until her brother graduated university. Irene was not having it.
After all, her brother was pursuing a double Master’s degree – and Irene was not about to wait to start her life until his graduation date. Instead, she worked full-time to put herself through trade school as a court stenographer. She didn’t even understand what it was, but she took to it naturally. Despite the challenges of becoming certified – stenographers have to pass their licensure exam with aa solid A+ and at least a 95% accuracy rate – Irene thrived and quickly became beloved to her clients for her follow-through, attention to detail and dedication.
Relationships build better companies
Irene Nakamura did not set out to become an entrepreneur.
She was frequently requested by name and became a staple of the court reporting community, and nourished her relationships with others in her field. But the inspiration for starting her own business came out of a troubling moment in her career.
Irene was requested on a case and communicated that she had surgery that week, so she wouldn’t be able to turn in her transcripts until the following week. Nevertheless, the client insisted on working with her. Despite her communication, she woke up from surgery to harassing messages from people waiting for her transcripts – and realized that it was time to make a change. Her own family, watching her work while recovering and on a holiday, suggested that she start her own company.
Upon launching iDepo, many of Irene’s former clients chose to work with the company long-term. Relationships are everything to Irene, and nurturing her client partnerships paid off in a big way when she started her own brand!
Creating opportunities for others
Irene was beloved by her clients, but she observed that the working conditions for court reporters could be improved. Starting her own company meant that she could have a profound influence on the trade – and change lives along the way.
Now with three locations and growing, Irene says that her biggest goal is growing an excellent team. iDepo works on a national level, providing services in courts across the United States. The company is in a time of rapid expansion. WIth more graduates looking for stable employment in a trade that impacts lives, court stenography is a fantastic and marketable skill to learn – and iDepo is a company born out of excellence.
“When I was young, I was conditioned to follow the path my mom had led for me. She was grooming me to become a good wife and mother, and that was my path.”
“It was all born out of relationships. I was getting so much work, there was no way I could do it by myself. I needed to start hiring.”
“One of the biggest challenges is the people you work with. Hiring and making sure you have a really good team you can count on. They need to have a really good attitude and an entrepreneurial spirit, I like that even as part of a team. I want them to work well together. Sometimes your coworker might need help! I do my best to cultivate that type of environment.”
“At first I really struggled to put myself out there. I had built my business on relationships but I got to a point where I needed to expand beyond those relationships. I had to have a website, marketing, social media, and being on amazing podcasts like yours to bring brand awareness…”
“We have to pass our national test at 95% accuracy, at 225 words per minute with two people speaking. There aren’t many exams given for a career that you have to have an A in order to pass, not just an A but an A+. One technicality can make or break a case.”
Links mentioned in this episode:
Visit the website for iDepo at https://ideporeporters.com/company-idepo-team/
Connect with Irene Nakamura on LinedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/irene-nakamura/
Check out Irene’s feature in Medium Magazine’s “Power Women” series: https://medium.com/authority-magazine/power-women-irene-nakamura-idepo-reporters-on-how-to-successfully-navigate-work-love-and-life-as-209de062481
Read Irene’s shout-out in Shoutout LA’s piece Guardian of the Record: https://shoutoutla.com/meet-irene-nakamura-guardian-of-the-record-founder-of-idepo-reporters-and-idepo-hawaii/
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