Where are the good translators?

I started to work as a professional translator in 2010. I quickly understood that I was not a translator, even though I understood, spoke and wrote perfectly at least four languages.

Translating requires skills, which I am tempted to say, you only fully acquire after at least 10.000 hours of translating (school or practice). It is very difficult to be a good translator right after leaving school and I believe it also takes a lot of people and entrepreneurial skills to survive as a freelancer, combined it takes a lot to be a successful translator.

Five years changed me a lot. From an occasional household appliance manual’s translator now I work regularly for end-clients and agencies and understand every detail of the translation procedure from server applications to machine translation, from graphic design software to branding.

Recently I started to outsource smaller jobs or jobs, which I prefer to accept and outsource to trusted people than to lose myself as referent for a client. (earlier I searched for translators in ProZ, but it was a complete disaster, so I thought, I start to ask people in my circle of pro translators…disaster2)

In the first six months I haven’t even earned money with outsourcing and considering at least 2 hours I put into writing emails, controlling the quality, invoicing and paying it is almost foolish.

This recent experience of more or less eight months make me say, that I learnt more about translators in these months than in the previous five years and six translator’s conferences before. Below I summarize the typical translators I meet when I try to outsource (all of them I met on a translators‘ conference, creme dela creme. The types do not refer to a single person, but to a type of translator)

  1. The Busy:

I know this person from a LinkedIn group, where we had the pleasure to exchange our pain about an agency, which from one day to another decided that a translator for the same price also has to include proofreading for every job.

I know for fact that this person is in the minimum tax payment level – meaning he earns less than 15000 € / year – and since we work for the same agency I know that foremost deadline is in a week. Nevertheless, he tells me on the 15th of the month to be busy until the end of the next month and possibly can’t start with my assignment before June – it is mid-March now.

Problem: it is an ideal answer, if you don’t want to hear anything from an agency/outsourcer/client ever again.

Solution: if you are giving impossible deadlines, either you should switch off your website offering quick processing times; stop snivel about your low yearly income or face that you are not an ambitious person and are unable to organize your services. Start a business school and start using a calendar.

  1. The Important

This person would never work for less than 12 cents per source word – for friends, so best-price take it or leave it – and responds to your email after two days just 20 minutes before he needs to leave town giving you only his landline number where you can call him… When you call to ask for his availability and prices – see above – he lists every goddamn thing he needs to do before he can actually take a look at your translation at all (tomorrow he is at a trade show in London, the day afterwards his son gets braces in Florence, while the coming weekend he has to attend a funeral in Berlin, right before he starts an interpretation in Austria.)

Problem: I am a busy person myself and when I need someone for a translation, I don’t want you to keep me on the line – for a call I pay for – to tell me in five minutes, what you could tell me in a sentence: I am not available.

Solution: respect your customer’s time and be short in answering, all he wants to know about you is whether you can or can’t do a translation for the money offered in the given time, the outsourcer is not your fan, but the person filling your wallet. This should change perspectives…

  1. The Diva

This person knows everything and everything even better.

He doesn’t even do the translations of his website on his own but outsources it to another diva, this makes him very high profile.

He is present at every translation conference and talks a lot about business practices. He knows every insider joke and is part of every association, updates his FaceBook status every 10 minutes, but when you ask him to work on something, he comes up with some really cheap excuse. 1. “in this moment I have headache” or 2. “no, thank you, I will go on holiday next week for a month” without even giving you any message of: this is a one time no, please ask me again or giving me a name of anyone suitable.

Problem: I have the feeling that most of these people are so insecure that they need to create a kind of bubble around them made of “professionalism”, but when you ask them a specific question, only fried air is coming out of their mouth.

Solution: Think about if working or being worshiped is important for you. Watch out to give away your business cards, actually someone might ask you for work!



I kept notes on Google Keep during this trip. I won’t change any of these, just copy-paste it.

Exhausting immigration – November 7, 2014

We are in the immigration line since almost an hour. It is hot, slow and exhausting. It seems after the first check there is another one. I am tired and just can’t figure what they are afraid of? Someone steeling poverty or Castro?

First breakfast – November 8, 2014

At our first breakfast there is Desperados in the TV. Makes me remember last year Mexico.

Playa Santa Lucia – November 9, 2014

Sometimes the good will is really not enough. We tried to take a walk at 9 AM, but it is too hot.

Now we see 5 people with one fork and a tractor who want to clean the beach. They take turns but still their work doesn’t make any difference. The beach is still dirty when they leave.
What a difference could one machine make which only would need one person.


CUC and Cuban Pesos – November 10, 2014

How does this even work with the two different valuta in Cuba? If they earn 250 pesos – more or less 10 CUC – how come a bottle of water can cost 2,5 CUC?

Casa particular – November 12th, 2014

The owners of these places seem to be freelancers since ever who also weigh the cheese you get for breakfast. Don’t wait for a Cuban old men with cigar swinging in his rocking chair instead of try weighing the money, like you’d be home and choose the places outside the Casa. That is the way to help Cuba, the Casa Particular is more a network of lucky people, who had enough money to sell a room for 25 CUC – aka 25 USD – per night and want to add to this 5 USD per person for breakfast. (if you also want to have an extra egg, you add an extra dollar). A mafia which only helps to create to separate the social classes and creates unknown differences. Don’t like…


Camagüey – November 12th, 2014

This was the stop where we acknowledged as a fact that Lonely Planet in Cuba is not reliable.

Already in Santa Lucia we faced problems with their facts but here….we found restaurants which were closed, 24 hours pubs which actually were open 12 hours, and most importantly we feared this city since it has been announced that there are pickpockets. We had NO delusions, the city was nice and calm, even in the evenings.

A beautiful place with a UNESCO heritage center loads but really loads of good restaurants and a casa (really) particular which changed our trip. You can mail them at:, Alejandro will be happy to help you!

camagüey2 camagüey

Menu – November 12th, 2014

Curious fact: in restaurants I never get a menu, only Giorgio…


Cuban music – November 13th, 2014

In Trinidad you can find everything. A beautiful beach – Playa Ancón, where snorkelling an hour costs 10 CUC pro person – places to drink Mojitos, museums and finally music.
Until this stop we thought two things about Cuba: all old men sit infront of their houses smoking cigars. These old men sometimes sing and play some music.
None of this is true until you get here. This is a touristic pearl less Cuban than anything else, you see in other cities. Every second house is to let, everyone has a taxi or a café. Here you can find Restaurants in every corner and musicians who after some Guantanamera and Chan Chan offer you their homemade CD-s for 10 CUC. After we bought 2 CD-s and almost 10 Cocktails each we found that Trinidad is the best Cuban town ever. (Tourists…)

Tip: fresh bread costs around 3 pesos cubanos, is freshly made and heals the need for food on your way home after the cocktails.


McRon and IKEA – November 14th, 2014

There is no known globalism here. When McDonald’s gets here, will offer banana chips, while IKEA invites you to put together your own rocking chair. LOL beautiful place first day when I haven’t even thought about not having internet.

Drinks in Cuba – November 14th, 2014

We are vegetarians so all we could eat was white rise, sala made of vegetables of the season (cucumber tomato and cowl every time), banana chips and drinks. We tried every type of rise, white rise with black beans, white rise with veggies, paella with veggies. Interestingly there was no potato on the menu. Maybe it is no season?
Holy Cristal and Mojito made our trip enjoyable. I had a light diarrhea after 5 days during the whole trip – might be the ice.

drinksincuba1 drinksincuba2

Berry Moré (Cienfuegos) – November 15th, 2014

He was a very famous singer who started his carrier in Cienfuegos.
There is a bar named after him on El Prado. The bar is sad, one of the worst I’ve ever been at. The Cubans come here usually just to use the bathroom.
There also is a TV showing Berry Moré-s performances.
Being the only guest the waiters didn’t let themselves disturb by our presence and continued smoking and drinking their own beers (11:30 AM).

Benny Moré bar (we were the only guests)

Valle de los Ingenios – November 16th, 2014

Framboyan, the typical tree giving enough shadow to be the preferable choice


Vinales – November 17th 2014

A whole day in the valley going on a long 15 km walk which highlight is bathing in a natural lake in a cave. A grave which in Europe would be lighted, prepared with small streets to watch the quartz formulations and at least two people looking at you during the walk that you either touch nor break or take away anything.
Here we walked through a tobacco field all alone with a guy, and once arrived at the cave we had one guide with one light for 10 people. He gabe another light to a guy who walked behind and that’s it. We walked 300 meters in the darkest dark on ad-hoc bridges over the water to reach the lake (without light) . We renounced on bathing enjoyed though this strange freedom which in Europe with the regulated regulations is all unknown

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Street thought – November 18th, 2014

There are so many Cubans on the street. In the morning going at work, those looking at them from their gardens, during the day in the parks, in the evening in their rocking chairs. Will all these people sit in front of their houses when there will be internet or sit inside looking at their cellphones and tablets?

News in Cuba – November 18th, 2014

We had the pleasure to see in one of the casas the news on a Cuban channel.
It was only good news. First day Raúl inaugurated some photo-voltaic park somewhere in the country then there was some new construction in Havana saving old houses, then good sports news from Veracruz 2014 and so on. The only bad news was from some neighbor country which performed worse than Cuba in grain production or so.
Our news starts usually with someone who has been assassinated then it goes over to strikes, health problems, wars around the world, inflation, government issues.

However when I see that people here have no money for even using buses and are in the road hitchhiking – in the middle of the tollway, literally between the second and third lane – or waiting for a “collectivo” (a truck carrying people) I see no reason why they should be kept with this intoxicating mixture of happy Cuban music, cheep tobacco and rum and good news.

Nauseating to think I was raised in a similar country (which seemingly goes back to the same political ideals of keep the people stupid and give them no power nor freedom to form their own ideas.)

Last day Havana – November 19, 2014

We left only one day for Havana. The city is big, chaotic and the after we saw the “best museum” according to Lonely Planet – El museo de la revolucion – we were convinced that one day will be enough to satisfy our interests.

We took a long walk in Havana Vieja, saw the four squares some of the most beautiful streets and drank the last mojitos.
It was raining, a beauty in the zone of the port but it made impossible visiting the Hemingway museum – the tunnel gets filled with water when it rains.

I have so many memories, thoughts and hopes for this country. I believe it was the best moment to visit, we saw the beginnings of a changing ambient, something where a double-money started dividing the classes more than capitalism ever could. We saw the poor, street dogs thin like pencils – this actually made me want to leave the most this country. Animals in poor condition, exploited or let on their destiny -, we saw cities where anything you see needs reconstruction.

When we return it won’t be the same. Not even in a year you can trust our notes, the Lonely Planet 2013 October edition appeared to be almost useless…just a year and opening hours, places, prices, quality changes.

I will miss the goodness of Cuban people, the feeling never to fear anyone, not even in the poorest streets. I won’t miss the smog, the rests of a communist state where working only means to have the power to control a small reality but not creating happiness or allowing to build the base for a good future.

It was good to be here.

lastdayhavana3 lastdayhavana2 lastday havana1 lastdayhavana4

You also can watch our photos

Business, Linguistics, Translation

Habits vs. comfort zone

The big aha-moments, you know?

– when you realize that even, if you fail an exam your life continues and the sun doesn’t really care about you just rises, like it did for the past couple of million years.

– when it becomes clear that you don’t know, why your business GROWS and when it goes better it is usually thanks to a lucky situation or to another random event.

– when you understand that even the growth or fall of your hair depends on what you eat


when you get the difference between your comfort zone and habits


It was a beautiful summer. I am not sure there was any period in my life before, when I had so many revelations in such a short time. I’ve overcome my biggest dilemma: do habits really stop me from growing and make me an annoying person?

I so much feared having a habit that in the past couple of years I just had none. I fought against them. The only habit was running, which I justified with necessity. Running is something special for me – for all runners, I believe. When I run my thoughts fly, the best creative ideas reach me during runs and I feel so good afterwards, I am happy, balanced and calm.

Beside running, I avoided every regularly repeating action, which lead to the insane situation that lately whenever I had no urgent work to do, I sit at home bored, thinking about the many things I should/could do – sales calls, client hunting, painting my office, brushing the cats, shopping clothes, going to the hairdresser, whatever).

It was James Clear, whose newsletter helped me to start this phenomenal change of my life. While I thought, I’d have no habits at all, in reality I had the worst ones (sitting around bored or watching series’ endlessly thinking that I am relaxing in between the long and exhausting translation sessions, going from 4 hours to 10 days, depending on the project(s))! This led to a series of problems, from an unhealthy diet to procrastinating my own life and seeing the days passing by without me being part of it. I just worked and “relaxed” in between.

I still had my ideas about what I need to do, I just didn’t want to take time to realize them, since I always feared to do something repeatedly – aka having a habit – which makes me boring and will close me into a cage. Most of the time I tried to understand, what could be an unusual thing I could do to “free myself from the imaginary chains”, maybe going for a walk in the morning and not after work or watching a movie after lunch in the middle of my usual working hours.

When I realized that my happiest moments were those, which I didn’t revolutionize for the sake of being random – so when I worked and ran – and when I understood James Clear and the idea of sticking good habits, my life became something wonderful. I could slowly form it as I wanted.

I had my willpower back. Better: I didn’t need to think about my willpower anymore, since I “habitized” the activities of my days. Just a few things, which I couldn’t accomodate into my daily life and which gained – or will gain in the next months – a fix place in my life, growing it towards a better one:

1. Exercises: I just stand up from my desk – from any desk and couch really – and do exercises. I am not a mono-sport-fan anymore. There are days, when I do pilates, when I walk or when I run or go by bike to Rimini. It depends, if I have 40 minutes or an hour or two to dedicate myself to this activity. The only important thing is to move.

2. Weight loss: I plan my diet. The smallest change was here, which gave me the biggest result: I now insert every meal I consume into my calorie-counter profile and try to understand from the past days, where I had too much from what. I am not planning ahead, I am learning from the results of the previous period. This requires from me to insert every day, what I ate and drank. (thanks to the barcode scan function I’d say it takes between 2-4 minutes every day).

Learning from my past days and results also freed up my soul from wanting to change the truth (inserting less food, than I had or not inserting something at all. The goal is to have it all and to know where I do something wrong, not to seem cool and keep a weight which I am uncomfortable with).

3. Socials, which I like: I use socials beside facebook. I discovered twitter, instagram, pinterest (since I use pinterest, I also cook tastier, that social is amazing, you just click yourself to the food you imagine and you are right there at the receipt. I imagine this is true for whatever topic you search. I love hashtags and I seem to be more up-to-date on certain topics, since I broadened my social-ism.

5. I sleep eight hours again every night. Beside keeping a healthy diet I also realized that sleeping is as much important as exercise.

6. I see my shortages in a new way. I am not sure, how to explain this better. I see everything through health. Global health too, the planet, the animals, forests, businesses and minds are just as important as my teeth. Everything has its scope of lasting long and evolving.

Sometimes I see so many opportunities in the world around me that it makes me dizzy. I know, something will change in my business too but it is too early for me now to understand, what I want to change. I want to become an expert I want to see the world like Neo did, in all its particles to understand more than others, to see in words another level to see opportunities there where others only see a news. I just did so much for myself in the past months that I know now, I am capable of doing anything with my mind and my body, if I keep them healthy.


I am getting out of my comfort zone thanks to my new habits, which I form just as I want to. I grow and see where I can do more where I should do less. I guess people have right when they say that forty is the new twenty.



Spending hours sitting in front of your computer puts your health at risk

excellent article!

Translation as an Art


It’s no surprise that sitting for long periods of time isn’t very good for your waistline, but recent studies go even further.

In 2010, a study published by the American Journal of Epidemiology stated that the mortality rate of a person sitting for more than six hours per day was 20% higher than that of a person sitting for only three hours per day. More recent studies indicate that remaining seated for too long is associated with double the risk of diabetes, and an increase in both the rate of cardiovascular disease and musculoskeletal disorders, even if we practise a sport regularly. Even if we exercise 30 minutes a day, as recommended by doctors, what we do with the remaining 23.5 hours has a significant impact on our health. No wonder experts praise the virtues of working standing up. However, you have to admit that this is not a…

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Business, Translation

Optimize your manufacturing process!

I am constantly in need of time.
I can’t even link the previous sentence to any of my previous articles, all of my previous articles state this need.

In the past years I figured that if I can’t work more and don’t want to raise my prices – just did this January – the best way of earning more is working less. For the sake of working less everything is optimized in my day.

I sit down between 8-9 AM and stay at my desk – or at least in house until 5-6 PM (sometimes until 8 PM). In between I do everything possibly online. Buy wine, cat-food, books, clothes, talk to friends, read news, watch my favorite series, search for information, send my invoices, queries to my accountant, organize my trips, find new events to go to, keep alive my friendships and bank online.

The less time I need to get somewhere to do something, the more time – and money – I save.
Time is money. Directly. No need to explain this.

The only places I regularly go to is the grocery store right under our flat, the farmacy in front of our flat, the market right parallel to our flat.

The rest of going out is for free time: cats to the vet, go to the beach, to restaurants, plant shop, wine tastings.

Everything is optimized, which gets twisted around, when one of these things has a bug. If one thing has a bug, my life has a bug.

I chose to bank online at a very reliable bank. Bankers bank at this bank, even my agent at the company for private pension said this would be the best choice in Italy.
They offered professional and private bank accounts, opening and closing was for free, paying taxes, remittance, saving account, all for free, doable online 24/7.

If I had a problem, I could chat with them and I never ever needed any physical bank to go to. For nothing. It worked PERFECTLY.
Until today, when I got a registered letter from them saying that their services for companies close and I need to give them another bank account, where they can send my liquidity, before they close the account completely in 15 days. Fifteen days. One five. Two weeks.

My saved time is suddenly not existent. It got sucked up by this change. I have to advice my clients about this change and await their confirmation (I changed to this bank a year ago and some clients still pay me to my old current account…). They don’t give a shite if I get paid, they already have their translations, I am the one who has to make it sure, they got the information right on time…well…not later, than I did.
This means doing an excel sheet listing all possible clients, sending out an extraordinary email IN AUGUST, WHEN THE WHOLE WORLD IS ON HOLIDAY and waiting that within 15 days they confirm to have understood that my old account closes.

I need to share new account details with the internet company – paid by SDD -, my accountant for the SDD regarding taxes and social security, which I pay in August obviously.

But first, I need to find another bank giving me all the services I need! I need new credit and debit cards, and all this in fifteen days? All this in fifteen days!!!!

Why the hell is this country and the banks and the gods and all saints against their own companies?
Is it not enough that we get paid after 90-120 days – if ever (a client of mine just told me after they haven’t paid me for 100 days that they are not liquid and I need to wait….I mean, I have no problems with liquidity – knock it on wood – and don’t do my vacation in August, but 1000 euros are still a lot of money…)

I feel exhausted before even I started looking for a possible substitute bank. So much about optimization

Business, rates, Translation

Business as usual

piazzale romaI live 800 meters from the beach. Not the most beautiful one, quite famous though in Italy due to its VIP status in the 60’s.
Not too many VIP anymore, nowadays Riccione is a good place for a stag party or to pass a night in one of the beautiful discotheques.
The town lives from the tourist. There are over one hundred hotels and you can find restaurants on every corner. Awfully big conference center and 4D movie theatre – on the left –cinepalace and many other things, which usually can not be found in a 10 thousand dweller town. We have from everything one more than enough.
Since I live here I take very seriously my share of helping the local economy and the local people to survive. The last decade with the economic crisis is visible everywhere, also in Riccione. I choose to buy in small shops, possibly avoid buying at the big supermarkets and try to build up a relationship with the owner of these places, to understand, what they go through, to remain sensible that the shop helps people to survive, just like my business helps me. I know, how hard it is for some of them, when a new regulation comes, which from all of a sudden changes the severity with which their products might be sold. Regulations are important, so are people’s life though.

My situation in this town is very unique. I can freelance really calmly, I do not pay rent – my partner owns the flat – I have no car, no mortgage, no kids, no expenses really, except for the bottle of wine, which I grant myself regularly.

My business flourishes and it goes every day just better and better. This year I paid so much taxes from which a person could live off for a year (Imagine, how much I earned. And yes, I am very proud of it).

The money, which remains after taxes goes back into my activity. I started to participate on conferences, buy books about translation and how to run a business, I have up to date hardware and software. I invest into memberships in several translators associations, I want to become more and better. This year, ATA was my new investment.
Being an ATA member doesn’t mean, you also are certified by them as a translator. By paying you pretty much can get anything from them, but the certification. This was something I really wanted to try, being certified by this association would mean a lot to me. Not just because there are about 10 people in my language combination, who made it, so being one of them would be like living in a different dimension, but also for myself, to show, how good I really am.
Since at BP14 I had the opportunity to sit their exam, I decided to try it (for not less than 225 $ membership, 35 $ for eligibility test (they had to examine, if I am eligible to take the exam), 100 $ for practice tests – 2 pieces -, 300 $ exam fee). I haven’t passed.

Yesterday, when I read the “I regret to inform you blabla”, I was shocked. I immediately thought I would be the worst translator ever, it was just throwing away money to get it written on paper.

Then I thought about how much I earn doing what I am certified at not doing well.

Is it possible that no-one ever reads my translations and I am just lucky enough to pass by every time and get paid since years from the same clients? (Mainly I do manuals, now come on, how many times, after you buy a product, you search for the manual and are keen to go back to the producer to report that in the third sentence there was an inconsistency error?) But come on again, just last week I got a feedback email from a client who said that the end-client said my translation would be excellent. Yes, they used this word: excellent.)

I immediately said the result to my friend who is one of the best translators I’ve ever known and who helped me to prepare for this exam. She read and corrected all my translations for months (certainly I paid her, it is a job, friends or not friends). She responded to me saying, she’d be sorry and this news just completes her bad day, since she would struggle getting her money from the clients she worked for, which is going on since almost a year and although she loves translating and this business, she thinks to give it up, because she is never liquid enough.

Now get this. There is me, who has money and does not get certified, and there is she, who can translate and survives by the gratitude of her clients, who finally pay her for jobs, she obviously had to send off accurately meeting a deadline.

This just brings me back to Riccione, when heading home from the beach I stepped by at my optician to buy new sunglasses, since I am not able to read at the beach without. He said me the same thing: he comes from Switzerland, learnt the profession there and is pretty good at it, but thinks to move away from Riccione, because he doesn’t sell enough to survive. He is not able to sell enough sunglasses in an Italian city, right at the beach (and normal glasses too). So what counts, when you run a business?

Am I on the side where the big names with no quality sail? Is it, where I want to be? Have I found the right place to be at or should I –raise my prices//change my clients//stand up more for the right of the single translator– more than I already do and sit over a sentence for an hour, just because in that way I would lean more towards quality and care less about money? Is a financially healthy business, without certification healthy at all? Does quality and money exclude each other? Where is the balance between doing it for money and doing it good?

I have so many questions I struggle asking them all…and, more importantly I have no time to think about it all since today as for the rest of the month: I have lot of projects to work on.


Linguistics, Translation

Wine translators wanted!

On my way back from the airport a couple of day ago I took the train. From Milan to Bologna nothing interesting happened.

From Bologna to Riccione our compartment of six people was full already in Bologna, everyone with big luggages and a need of space. Six people for almost two hours in less than three square meter. Challenge accepted! It is strange to me, how Italians do not care about making private phone calls in public. I knew so much about my fellow travellers from starting whose mother will come to the train station, who among them is going on a vacation and who is returning from one, what they ate and what they will do with whom the next day, it was like a Big Brother live in front of my eyes.

One would think after these open-ear-phone calls greeting them would be obligatory. (well…even, because you are with them for like two hours and education dictates so…) This is far from the truth. When I had to get off the train, I took my backpack and yes, said hello to the remaining five. None of them returned my greeting. They were young, had the ability to hear, I suppose, it was not, because I was a foreigner, since my “ciao” sounds like that of a native. I felt ashamed for having said hello, like I would have not understood the social situation, in which we are.

Strange, right? When you question yourself, because the majority of people behaves incorrectly…

This was my first thought today morning. Yesterday I placed my first job posting on proz. I am member of this translation workplace since 2009. Although loads of translators think it would only be a place to bid for jobs, there are plenty of other things, you can: place jobs for instance, use the extensive and good organized forum, host your e-mail and/or website, write blog articles, buy CAT software for less and much more.

However, I placed this first job on proz. I was quite accurate. I made it clear that I am not an agency, nor have the job yet, I rather am searching for people with entrepreneurial spirit, who are interested in tourism, wine and food and possibly also have experience in these fields. I took time to place this ad, since I know from the translators’ point of view, whenever I get from the same company two ads with similar requisite in a short period, for the second time I don’t even respond to that. I posted a very – well…. – inspirational message and addressed only those, who are willing to work in a team and are not looking for getting jobs, being paid but want to act actively in working out who we offer our help to become internationally understood.

Without noticing I only thought about my past experience with Proz and tried to make the ad as appetizable as possible for my fellows. I remember, I narrowed down the field to the exact point, where only people with experience in tourism and wineology could write, then I thought, it might be a good idea to include something more, since I really was looking forward to seeing applications to choose from. I mean, choosing between people is also something I need to learn, why not starting with learning from the very beginning? The job was from one source language into five different target languages.

In the first afternoon I got all together 24 quotes. I could go on and on analyzing the 24 applications, starting with: why are agencies responding to an ad, if the “Freelancers only” button is chosen? Or I could express my non-believing in why am I not able to find a Chinese translator? You would think, that like some bad tongues say in our profession, Chinese and Indian translators are our biggest competitors, since they beat our prices? I had three English native for half of the price, than the Chinese applicant.

What I really would like to point out though and why the first part of the blog starts being interesting is the fact that some translators seem not to have understood the social – professional – situation, they are in. Just like on the train, where they speak loud enough about their private life, penetrating the music I listen to with my padded headphone, but ignore my hello, when I leave the train, since I am just a nobody, who disturbs them or who knows, what else I want from them with saying “hello”.

From 24 responses actually only two, maybe three are useful. The others have sent me template responses. I felt bad and read my ad over and over again, have I specified everything? Does it seem, like I’d be an agency? Is my face not visible on the ad? I am four times “Dear Sir”, I have a quote from a translator who claims to have 25 years experience in almost every possible field (SAP, legal, automotive, geology, patents) BUT tourism or wine; a guy, who looks amazing – well…I see now, how pictures are important to me, strange, no? – but writes only that he is so busy that he actually can’t tell me anything more before Monday. Well, the ad is open until May 20th, why the hurry, wouldn’t have it been better to take time and wait until he really can respond? There is someone, who just substituted the specialty fields and my name in his template, which rather remained generic, so I know he is a fast learner – have I asked for fast learning? – delivers on time – well, I hope so, if you claim to have 5 years experience – but calls me Agency in the second sentence. I already have a bunch of people, who I fortunately found on #bp14conf, but I still needed more languages and more services to offer (like a copywriter, who is also a translator. Should I better search for “single-function-devices”?)

Before I placed the job, I told myself to respond to each and every applicant, since they took time to send me their offers. Now that I see most of them either hasn’t taken time to prepare the application, nor has read the job posting, I am not sure, if “RTFM” would be enough as a response. (obviously I am not writing anything like this, but am so close to point out that what they did was basically throwing away an opportunity, since I really had the only way to choose among them by what they write. They had my attention, I needed them and they just send me generic messages, which by the most pisses me off) Amazing, right? You’d think, it is important to them to show off, but it seems that being quick is even more important than being accurate. So much about those only talking quality.

Quality is not a word. Quality means that you care and know what you do. Just like my hairdresser (on the video at 0:44). He is not a barber, he is not just cutting, he gives me the feeling, when I am in his salon to being far from reality for some hours – not even my phone has coverage there – the air is fresh, coffee is served for free, I don’t feel for a single moment out of my comfort zone and I am not one of the puppets, who pays too much attention on appearance, but I like being treated well. I like smiling faces, I like the smell of good products, I like to be as much important as any other guest there. He is not just giving me one service of haircut, he gives my face the perfect frame and my afternoon the perfect style. He knows what to cut and what to say, like a translator should know what to write and what to emphasize…

I truly believe, quality has in every business the same roots and leads to same potentials.

Well, my ad is still on, so if you work from Italian and are Russian, Chinese, Arabic, English or German native, you think to have entrepreneurial spirit and you are interested in tourism, wine, food, hotels, and want to work with cutting-edge technology, like easyling and want to make your own voice count while building a good team, well…my availability is everywhere on this page. Write me, please!

Business, Translation

Can I have your business cards, please?

A couple of decades ago, conferences were meant for big-big companies, nowadays you can find conferences for every interest. Cats, funny pictures, natural born walkers, those who hate going to conferences, everyone.

This is a good thing if you look at it in a positive way. People find their alikes and their search for relaxation or job is not meant to be guided only by the internet. We go back being personal, right? (with help of technology though)

On the other way around organizing and participating on a conference involves lot of organization from your side. Preparation. You pay the participation fee, book the hotel, gala dinner, buy new clothes, stay on diet to fit into them and print new business cards.

When you are then finally there, in between the sessions, you join the so-called “networking events”, aka: you talk to people. These networking events are almost more important than the sessions. Since it is quite impossible that so many new things happen in your industry that you would hear about things for the first time in your life in a session, I am tempted to say that a good conference is a couple of speeches in between networking events and not the other way around. Better, if the speeches are interesting.

What happens to me in a row for the second time though that somehow I forget to bring enough business cards for these events. Last time in London I had none, this time I prepared about 50 but forgot them at home and brought with myself only the case with like eight cards inside. Crazy, no?

I would have had the opportunity of letting myself rain over the coffee-break tables instead I need to save my cards and think about, who I really would like to give it.

This raised a completely different approach in me. Rather than browsing only 15 minutes at a table, leaving my cards, after having said my elevator pitch in super-speed to build a K2L minefield in the lunch room, which might explode now or later who knows where and when, I actually listened to people to know, if they would need my card, if they ever would come to me with even just a question. I asked them questions to hear and to know if they were “worth” to be one of the eight elected, who will have my card.

It was a crazy whole new approach. While I also heard talks like: “Look, I have the same purse at home” “Oh, really? Cute! Let’s exchange business cards!”, I was sweating that I will run out of these eight cards, before the conference ends.

I even negated their existence in front of a medical translator, who also does law in Polish-German, since my goal here with networking was: finding new mates to build a team for translating wine and food texts to help small wineries to grow. I am not doing law, neither medical translations and most probably I would never recommend this person only, because I have her business card. I have no idea, who she is, she just gave me her card and ran away.

Behind all cards there are people. We all know that your card should be like a mini-you having all the necessary information together about you and your business and should be memorable for people who you give it to, but shouldn’t you also be interesting to these people? Shouldn’t you know at least something about them? How many people should you talk to in a networking event? Is “the more the better” or “the deeper the better”? What are your goals with giving your business cards? Creating the above mentioned mine-field or targeting someone? Isn’t the latter why we have our faces on the conference homepage so others can see, who we are?

After lunch with my business school mates – first time meeting in person – during relaxation in the terrasse I met a couple of girls, we had good laughs while telling our worst stories of past interpreting jobs. (BTW: best one ever when a guy was invited to work in a plant where he was supposed to do interpretation between a German engineer and the Polish workers. Then the engineer arrived and was Polish. The guy said: “I had to stand there next to him for two nights in a row and do nothing. For the second day I downloaded an audiobook to kill time”) When after a coming session then I met a girl from lunch, I immediately associated her with the terrasse people – the two things happened one after the other – and told her what good laughs we had. She looked at me strangely and said: I don’t know, what you are talking about. Awkward silence and then I just asked where we met. I mean….after the half day such a gaffe…and I am sure, I might get on the second day the same business cards from the same people because we have just no idea that we already know each other.

A conference should inspire, motivate and give you the chance to get connected with people who are more alike you among the people who just happen work in your field. You should have plenty business cards with you, sure. You can choose the method, you wish, you pour them on people, you give it after you got it, you ask everyone, if they would like to have one, but what you should understand, business cards are not given to fill up an empty space in someone else’s cupboard. They are to be used to get connected with people who can help in your business. (emphasis on connected)

Well, I only have one left for today…

business cards



Business, Translation


The day after my visit at #vinitaly2014, I slept for 18 hours. Having done research, brochures, the excitement about being there for the first time, the pressure on me knowing (thinking) ((hoping)) that this event could change my working habits – subsequently also my life – drained me.

I woke up today, started to organize the material I grabbed there and my thoughts…it is like a cloud, no specific order yet, it is obvious I am not used to “post-fair effects”.

Vinitaly is a yearly four-day event, where the best of the best of Italian – and foreign – wine gets celebrated. Getting tickets was possible only, if you work in the sector – bar, restaurant, winery – which I am clearly not, but thanks to a very good friend, who has been invited by the sales representative of the wineries, whose products he sells in his shop, I also got a ticket.

We only had one day, the first day of the event. Based on my idea about hospitality at the Adriatic sea restaurants and touristic places, which wake up after winter sleep at Easter and have visibly more energy in September, being on the first day of a trade fair meant to me more generous sommeliers, more interested sales representatives and more opportunities. Downside: it was Sunday. The alcohol-taste fair was full already at 10 o’clock with half/fully drunken people by 12.


I did my research before getting there. Last year there have been 4 thousand exhibitors, setting up “my ideal client” just helped me to get through the list a little bit quicker. My main pillars were to find cellars:

– whose wine I know and love (well…this did not really shorten my list)

– where I later easily can catch up personally (only some regions remained)

– which are not extra-famous, so probably there will still be uncovered work (this was easy to pick, and excluded most of my favorite labels. I also expected less crowd in front of slightly less known stands, which could speed up the process and would allow me to get to more potential clients. Don’t forget that a completely unknown cellar wouldn’t make the investment to get here, so being on #vinitaly was already a selection for me, I just needed to pick a few, which fitted into one day without getting robotic with my speech and without being already drunk, when I start with it).

I also knew, I won’t be able to drink everywhere, but these people love their wines, so going to their stand and starting with my questions renouncing on their wines wouldn’t be an option. (I was not a foreign delegation, who could have made up appointments with the winery before, I was a “solo flash” trying my wings).

solo flash

Kis at vinitaly

This meant four maybe five cellars, where I could blend in, and some more to seek information about future events.

We arrived around 10 AM. I immediately got shy. So many brief-cases, ties, delegations, the money could be smelled in every corner. I just wanted to hide behind my friends. I didn’t feel like I’d know anything.

We started at the stand of the Rimini wines (mostly from Le Rocche Malatestiane). After the first gamma of whites I shared a thought with my two companions. (One of them – my friend – since ever living in this region, the other one – friend now – who works since fifty years distributing wine and bottled beverages.)

I told them that I thought there’d be no way, people would take me seriously, I am a single girl, without any reputation in this field. They taught me something important: the person in front of you is nothing better than you are. People will look at you depending on how you present yourself. Going to a stand and not knowing, what you want to say or how to start makes them think you don’t know, what you want to say and how to start, while being sure and talking fluently will assure them you know, what you talk about.

I also held another important advice from the business school: if you don’t want to put your conversation partner into the inconvenient situation of refusing your superfluous services, than try not to sell them something, they don’t need. Try asking them questions, which will lead to a conversation about their plans in abroad, where once they understand from the conversation, you are familiar with this topic, they will beg you for your business card. And this is what happened.

I went to the region, which I knew and whose wine I really love and know. I started tasting and asked questions about their wines and if they already are present somewhere abroad. I took their brochure and asked about their choice of having the material only in English, where clearly Chinese and Russian delegations were more present. So we started talking and it just popped into the discussion that I am a translator, very interested in this field, having a broad collaboration network with specialized translators, no agency, just interested people. They wanted to have my contact details and asked me to come next week to their cellar to talk again. It was amazing.

At another stand there was no-one letting me taste and the marketing manager had a delegation, so I had to wait some moments. In the meantime a guy arrived and let me taste some wines. When the marketing manager got free, he stood up and asked me like so directly: good morning, what is what you wanna sell us? And I just stopped him right there: nothing, I am here to taste your wines and to know your future plans better. He relaxed, we started talking, I have his card, he said after the fair we will catch up.

I mean, I might be wrong here, but I think, if you see that products and services are made by and for people, everything gets easier. You have to stop talking and start listening.

It might happen that you will never pull your business card out, because the conversation does not lead to it, so then just don’t.

We were there until 5 o’clock. My head was full…full of ideas, full of thoughts. Now the most difficult part starts: how to turn these people into clients with a follow-up meeting. Will I meet their expectations? Will there be anything I can translate for them?

Luckily, these meetings are in cellars, wine is always involved, keep crossed your fingers, people, exciting summer comes. Cheers!