Why Do I Manage a Language Services Partner?

Jun 24, 2019

I own and manage MTM LinguaSoft, a professional Language Services Partner in Philadelphia, USA. As an active member of my local business community and an avid observer of global events, I watch the world come closer as the scope of local business expands.

Why did I choose to be a business owner?

Passion, Connections, Flexibility: these are the rewards of running a small business, even when the unique pressures of entrepreneurship keep us up at night. My team and I help our clients succeed in foreign markets through translation, localization, and cultural consulting services. Sometimes, when I’m really feeling the challenges of business ownership, I ask myself: in ten years, will I look back with satisfaction at what I’ve accomplished? Why am I doing this?

First, I do it for the intellectual stimulation. In my business, change is a constant. Our team works with many different industries and many different languages, through every media platform. I meet people from all walks of life. I am an extrovert: learning people’s stories and unique journeys to their current situation fascinates me. Technical challenges of new media and insights into other cultures also keep me engaged. I marvel at the human mind as it is expressed in the breadth of linguistic features across the globe. Did you know that some languages don’t have a future tense? Or that some languages have seven different levels of formality, depending on who is speaking and who is listening? And that you need to consider both these issues when translating a user interface? Every day brings a new challenge.

Second, I do it because it’s relevant. For us, the global economy is not an abstraction: our work brings it right into the office. We aren’t just listening to news stories; we see what our clients are doing in the global marketplace and we help them make it work. Recently, we helped an electronics company translate slogans into 12 different languages, working with copywriters around the world who were closely attuned to their own culture’s consumer mindset. Through direct participation, I feel connected to the rest of the world more closely than if I worked at a job or a company solely focused on the domestic market.

Third, I do it because I can contribute to my community. One of my former team members came to the US from Iraq in 2007. I was her first American employer. After 6 years with me, in which she made invaluable contributions to the business, she became a Arabic<>English medical interpreter, and is now studying to become a physician’s assistant. I also feel strongly about mentoring young people who are exploring careers in the language industry. Recently a family friend’s daughter requested an informational interview. She’d just came back from 2 years in Mexico teaching English and immersing herself in the language and culture after earning a BA in Spanish. Interpretation in legal and medical settings isn’t a service we offer, but I put her in touch with local interpreters specialized in these assignments. She’s now training to become a certified medical interpreter. As a networker, I can share resources and connections with fellow professionals in any industry and anywhere, whether at an international business conference or at the orchestra rehearsal for the Christmas concert! As a business owner, you’re often “on”. My way of being “on” is to strive for a lasting difference with my clients, partners and my employees.

Fourth, I do it because of the quality of life. Over the years, the business has allowed myself and my employees to pursue a quality of life quite different from what other organizations offer and demand. I and two other team members live within a few blocks of our office, which allows us to troubleshoot family and household issues when they arise unexpectedly. I see this as one of the added benefits of working in a business that you shape. We have the flexibility to manage the integration of work and personal lives.

In choosing this path, I’ve chosen intellectual challenges and meaningful relationships. One of the strongest personal rewards comes with understanding that my work is impactful – that I am making contributions to both the local business environment and to the global community. Measuring success goes beyond financial rewards. The challenges, the intellectual stimulation, the feeling of relevance, and especially the relationships I’ve made are invaluable to me. I’m a firm believer that what we make of the journey is what makes us grow as individuals, and in the end that is what matters. In ten years, I am confident that I will look back with pride.

These dimensions inform the core values of MTM LinguaSoft. I welcome your thoughts on how your professional path reflects your most important personal values.

This article was originally published on LinkedIn Pulse.