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!



Business, Linguistics, Translation

Record, report, export, read and act!

My time-management problem started, when I started freelancing and it never ended ever since. I find every day something, what completes my puzzle. Yes, time-management for me was a puzzle, which I still haven’t completed yet.

Managing your time starts, like managing a diet. You have no idea, how big a portion should be. You think an adult person really needs 2000 kcal / day (by losing 0 (zero) kcal doing exercises (in most cases of true professionals, who sit straight at the desk for about 8-10 hours per day) and by assuming that the sort of walk to reach your car and buying groceries or take-away Shushie is enough cardio for a day). Then you run a mile and know the difference.

I had no idea, what time could be measured with (a clock, so funny, hahaha). I needed to understand, that all my activities take different amount of time. Thanks to Andrew Morris I started to think about a day, like a container for all my activities, and what I can fit into one of them. I know, I already split my time to get hobbies and free-time back into my life, I am not talking about this. (that already works with setting working hours and whatever happens, sticking to it. Hard enough sometimes, but nobody touches my free-time and my exercise time anymore!)

Now I am in a much further phase, where I need to organize my business and I have no time to do it, because I work all the time. I have various software to manage my business and my time. TO3000 is known. It helps me to set up my projects, to track how many words I translated for what client, in what specialty field, for how much. This is the tool, which helps me to kick a$es. Having over 40 clients, three source languages and four CAT tools more or less regularly I need to know, who to keep, who to welcome and who to let go.

ManicTime manager – also suggested, by another brilliant colleague, Helen – gives me an exact cross-section of what I do, when I am at my pc. Now, what you can see on the image below is breath-taking.


Not, because all the colors are beautiful – also – but, because you can see, how I really spent my time yesterday. And it is completely the truth.

Another breath-taking fact is that I was all day in front of my computer and worked only 2:16 hours with Studio and 5 minutes with memoq. (Yesterday I also had an Excel translation, which was easier to do in Excel so the other 26 minutes count too, but still: I started being at my pc at 8 AM, was here until 6:20 PM and only worked 3 hours. True, I had a free afternoon).

Now, what you can not see, but I include here is that the whole day I only was 7:17 minutes on Facebook and I emailed away 2:04 hours and I was 42:35 minutes on skype. So here it is, I worked only 25% and used google chrome 48% of my time (yes, I use internet based dictionaries and I have a google email account (business, obviously)), but still…can I not do it for less time? Is this, where an administrative help could help? Emailing 2 hours per day?

This is, why I love recording, what I do with every mean, I have. Should this be TO3000, Manic Time, Studio,  or the apps, like MyFitnessPal, Runkeeper, My Library, whatever, because I learnt that data becomes information only after being processed.

Here is the last breath-taking fact for today.

I need to let agencies learn that I will have emailing time and won’t interrupt my day all the time just to confirm and “yes” any question, because they have time in that moment. Not too bad for a free tool, right? Let’s see, how this can be embedded into my new idea: separating two hours – yes, both of them continuously – for my business growth.

Business, Translation

An illiterate translator, this is, who I am

I support technology over almost everything. I know, it can be misused, but just as much as anything else. Even my biggest-ever business enemy, google translate is a beautiful tool, which enables my father to exchange emails with my fiancee in their own languages and to understand each other (no, I don’t think that any of them should hire a professional translator to send each other photos of their latest pizza or pogácsa with a nice comment, neither do I think that any of them should learn the other parties language).

I love technology over everything. When I moved to London, Giorgio gave me my first kindle, which made first time ever my move into just a pleasant trip. No books in 100 kg backpacks. Internet enables me not only to enjoy and see my friends, when we talk – for free – it also gives me information without any boundary. Yes, I am able to make a difference between any-kind-of-written-shyt and information.

Until I enrolled for the ATA exam there was nothing, what made me hate technology and my laptop. And then, ATA taught me that there still exist things like handwriting and paper dictionaries. Yes. The exam will be written by hand and the only material used for research must be printed on paper.

There will be no backspace button, no red-underline for possible spelling errors, no enter, no copy-space. Just to mention a few, which help me a lot, while I write.

There will neither be Wikipedia, nor google in general to understand through photos and cross-language reseach, how that thing is called, which has been pushed in Terminator II, to start moving the winch of the chain, on which Schwarzenegger hung to release him into the fluid metal container (pendant control panel…).

While apps already are able to recognize handwriting on the touchscreens, I try to “recognize” what I wrote on paper…(incredible that during my first university it still was possible to hand in short handwritten papers).

Well…there is no good way to say this: I am so used to typing that I have no idea, where to begin my preparation, by translating or by writing on paper again.

Business, Linguistics, Translation

Your own pace

How to be at the right pace in your business?

This week I am in Hungary. I would lie by saying, it is like every – any – other country to me. Hungary is my heart, my lounges, it is the core of my life and all, what I am. Years back, when I found this sentence: “Everyone is a foreigner, almost everywhere”, I started to think about its meaning to me, and I found that the best metaphor to understand, how I feel abroad, is like being a drop of water somewhere else, than the ocean, where I belong to. I might be needed, I might be in other waters and feel like I’d be at home, but I am not. When I am here, everything feels right I am a drop in MY ocean.

When three days ago it started to snow, I surely didn’t want to stop running. I started with belief, that until March the only thing, I need to do is being at least 3 times on the road. I don’t need to run faster, neither longer, I only need to run. So running in a one day snow at -5°C is quite a fun. Your face gets cold, the dirt on your nose freezes on the wings of the nose, you even feel cold, when you sweat, but you can keep your pace, the snow doesn’t keeps you back. Running on a three day snow, when there were two nights freezing the slush on the road, which is now covered with fresh snow is more an exercise of balance and staying on your two feet. Pace is not interesting anymore.

This same feeling I had this week with my father. For Christmas I bought him a tablet, so we can chat and use skype and he can check train-schedules and local news. He is almost 78. This was the first time, he used anything connected to the internet.

It is wonderful seeing how he learns, now he checks yesterday’s soccer goals on video and he is able to send me photos on Viber, but he struggles to make a difference between Hangouts, Viber and Email. It is all just chatting and writing on the tablet for him, I guess, he even doesn’t understand, what the difference between an app and a website is. Me, being a teacher – I think, pretty good – don’t tell him everything in the detail (obviously I tell him, how things work, but I don’t start by the difference between a bit and a byte, neither on what is Wi-Fi or what chatting means. It is like SMS for him on a different phone, and it is ok for me). I don’t want to prepare him to understand 10 years’ technology, I just want to him being connected to me, anytime, he wishes. Without waiting for me to call him, now on Viber he can call me, when he feels like. He looks at me sometimes and says: “You know, this is a pretty big difference to the radio, we made up of a crystal and a potato during war” and it opens up my mind, who was born with TV in color and remote control (and people in my age from a Western country grew up with computers and DOS already).

How is this all transferable to business? This year I want to learn, how to get direct clients, I don’t want to bend to agencies, who ask me a translation at 6:50 PM for next morning and after I say yes, they actually only send me the translation at 9 PM (well, yes, GMT is an hour back, but come on…) This won’t happen in one go. As my father has to understand that touchscreen is not push-screen, and Hangouts is not an email, so he doesn’t need to look for a Subject line, I need to understand, how to prepare myself at my own pace for this change and challenge. The biggest step is always to know, where you want to go. There will be a way, I am sure.

Business, Linguistics, Uncategorized

In the jungle

I started my campaign of increasing my prices.

Before you think, how easy it is and come with the ideological s***t, what I just posted last week, I can tell you, there are few and very important problems, when you increase your prices:

1. an agency has more than one of you. Literally you are interchangeable with other translators. There is no agency, who only keeps one translator in a language pair and this for obvious reasons. Neither there is a translator working for only one agency, I think, or if, than that translator certainly has another occupation.

2. you are not the first person, who wanted to change the cards on the table. Vendor managers – yes, for those people there is a name, they are the vendor managers – are used to get emails from translators saying: “I want to have more from the marmalade jar”.

3. you might think, you are sure, when you want to increase your prices, until you get the responses from your outsourcers, who then make you feel, like the most fortunate to be their slave and this is good so, so please shu-up and labor!

I had sent my new year’s resolution emails to my outsourcers.

No-one accepted my increase. Truly, not one agency said: you are right, sure, no worries, sorry, we used you this way. What they did say?

1. We can’t accept your decision to increase your rate to <my_new_rate>. Your <previous_even_lower_rate> was your advance. If you increase your rate, you lose this advance and our PM-s will give the jobs to other translators, because the quality will be the same.

Well…I truly had no idea, how to respond. It was like being punched into the stomach on the day of your worst hangover. You not only confirm to me, that I work for less, than the majority of your translators, but you also confirm, that the only reason, you chose me was not, because I am pretty the best, you can get in the specialty  fields, you work in, but only because you pay me less, than the others? Than a figure comes, which gives me an overview, that I got through them so much money, so if I increase instead of my newly proposed rate only with the half of the amount, I still will even get lot more money, than I got this year and this is the only thing, they can offer me.

The figure was right, don’t get me wrong, but the way, how they got here, was wrong. I can’t possibly work for a low rate, because with this low rate, working 12 hours a day, having my computer all-over-the-time on my back(pack), I get a lot of money. I want to do quality! I need time to think, it is not like assembling a chair from IKEA. What I actually do, requires time and a working mind! I am still perplexed about their response.

But here another one:

2. Thank you for your email, I forwarded it to our boss. Until (s)he gets back to you, could you please proofread for us 220 words for 1 euro?

I was crawling from laughing. I know, why she asked me to do this. Because the girl, who proofreads by them also gave them the goodbye letter. You imagine 220 words for just 1 euro? I told them my rate again and they told me, I would be too expensive, they can’t afford to work with me. Strangely this agency just has sent out to its translators a beautiful email about having taken important steps (conformity to some industry standards, new image, new website, more important international clients) to move from a small translation agency to one of the monster agencies on the market. So what, you grow on my shoulders, but I should get a single euro for working?

The last is the best:

3. Thank you for your email. If you consider to work for these rates, I hope, you understand, that we need to give you other type of work too. In this first step, please do a translation into a foreign language. We will provide a native proofreader. (and after I refused to do this translation into a foreign language, they said:) I hope, you understand how easy task this would have been for you. You just would had to translate, the native proofer will do the main job.

I couldn’t believe it. I question my ability to find good agencies. If I worked for people, who really treat me like this to follow their own interest, what should I wait from agencies, who I will work for? I sent out some applications, no answer yet. Today I continue hunting. wish me luck!