The making of…

The other day, I was asked to write some advice for translation buyers. “A translator’s advice to an SME with multilingual translation management needs on how to get best results long-term for the company”. Needless to say, if Kevin Lossner, whom I admire and feel privileged to consider a friend and a true kindred spirit, asks me to do something, my top priority list gets immediately updated. However, I get stuck in a whole lot of translation projects and let a week slip by without none of the requested 50 words. A week for a small statement?!

To tell the truth, I don’t know what to tell either… Wouldn’t an unfamiliar client/recipient of my advice be entitled to ask a few questions first?

I decide to put all cards on the table:

You want to know how you can benefit from a translator’s advice? How you can achieve best results when working with translators? (By the way, the friendly guy on the photo is neither Kevin Lossner, nor me, but Baron Wrangell, “who had a habit of swaying in front of the camera, so that we had to strap him to an iron pipe.”)

I am leafing through the pages of not quite a new book by this gentleman who I just quoted (and took all the pictures from):

The book contains great advice. Unfortunately, it is mostly meant for us, i.e. service providers, dealing with our clients, rather than for clients themselves.
How about this?

When the client moans and sighs,
Make his logo twice the size.
If he still should prove refractory,
Show a picture of his factory.
Only in the gravest cases,
Should you show the clients’ faces.

Yet, I find something applicable for both sides:

When you are appointed to head an office in our chain, I send you one of these Russian dolls. Inside the smallest you will find this message: ‘If each of us hires people who are smaller than we are, we shall become a company of dwarfs, but if each of us hires people who are bigger than we are, ours will become a company of giants.”

Hmmm… Would it be a good idea to advise a client “with multilingual translation management needs” to send his/her translator (even a Russian translator like me) these dolls, with or without any message?

In the meantime, another week passes. I feel like I have to strap myself to the iron pipe to produce the requested 50 words. I email my high-valued friend and ask for a delay. “Looks like I still need a couple of days for the ‘statement’ (Customer Education). An interpreting job in Munich and some serious PP presentations to be translated this week totally turn my plans down. I will try my best on the weekend or early next week, terribly sorry!!!!“ The response is exactly like I am looking for: “No rush, no rush!! This is a long-term project (meaning as and when we all get to it!!)“

Nothing suits me better. I must be off and running (i.e. flying) to Munich for my translation job. I value this Munich client and enjoy this job. Actually, I love my clients. Unrequited love can make you very creative, but I think, if a client really wants to achieve best results, s/he should love his/her translator too. “Trust your translator, if you care about motivation.” I still have about four hours before going to the airport, and I already have a nice, positive statement to start from.

Up to now it is the longest line. What about the title and the first paragraph? I start writing. And then:

The result is definitely more than 50 words. But finally, I am through. I push the “send” button. The response is not long in coming.

Why, I also like the title and the last line. Well, sure, I would be delighted to have a guest post on Translation Tribulations, my favorite translation blog (along with Steve Vitek’s Patent Translator’s).

While on the plane, I consider a couple of pictures to throw in and a couple of taglines. But the Publishing Committee is already done (Kevin’s real dogs look even nicer):

“Clients Get the Translators They Deserve”. The first Twitter message pops up on my mobile phone as I turn it on after landing. Hey, I already have great taglines about myself (I don’t mean an “egregious violator”), thank you so very much, Kevin!

All the pictures here are from the same book. If I managed to make you curious, please go to this site to learn more about my guest post, the book and the author.

If you are into translation technologies, marketing strategies, workflow optimization, resource reviews and all other topics of interest to translators, language service providers and language service consumers, Kevin Lossner’s Translation Tribulations is superb as a source of information and always a great read. It is not only my favorite translation blog. It is an institution, solid as a rock in the sea of today’s translation industry. It has the integrity and the ingredients to become a Great American Classic:

A friend of mine used to say: “I like reading dictionaries. The end never fails to surprise me”.

Kevin Lossner is a research chemist, software developer, physics teacher and technical consultant who now specializes in technical translations, particularly for chemistry, IT and patents. He must know all about this chemical/technical stuff. Also, I prefer to connect the beginning and the end. Somehow, it sticks better. So here goes:


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