How NOT to write to your translators July 23, 2015Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices.
I apologize for the mass e-mail, but as I am dealing with a large number of languages, I thought it would be easier to send out a message this way.
Can you please provide me with your rates and also let me know if they are negotiable for a longer-term project. Kindly include your language in the message.
Thank you and best regards,
At least the PM didn’t ask me for my “best rates”. I hit Ignore for the send receipt request and sent it straight to the trash.
TransPerfect Co-CEOs Warned To Make Peace Or Else June 8, 2015Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Translation.
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This makes me want to pop some popcorn…
By Matt Chiappardi
Law360, Wilmington (June 03, 2015, 10:01 PM ET) — A Delaware Chancery judge Wednesday warned the co-CEOs warring over translation services firm TransPerfect Global Inc. to settle because he is prepared to write an opinion neither side will like in an ugly battle that features sanction bids from both sides, including one lodged against Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP.
At the end of oral arguments in Wilmington, Chancellor Andre G. Bouchard said Co-CEOs Elizabeth Elting and Philip Shawe have until roughly the end of the month to independently come to some sort of resolution to their web of litigation over the future of the company, or the court record will feature an opinion neither party will be happy with.
“The opinion is not going to be pretty,” the chancellor said from the bench. “There’s a lot of evidence that makes both parties look small-minded, petty and vindictive. You’ll have to live with it forever … available to anyone who does a Google search.”
The fight — essentially a business divorce between Elting and Shawe who both own roughly 50 percent stakes in the business, which has been raging for more than a year in courts in Delaware and New York —- has taken a bitter tone with Elting saying in court papers that Shawe has “stalked and bullied” her for years and is seeking sanctions against him for alleged conduct that includes breaking into her office and acquiring 12,000 privileged emails.
Shawe has accused Elting of her own misconduct, such as what his court papers called “outright sabotage” of the company by allegedly getting customers to withhold business and blocking needed hires. He has also moved to have her Kramer Levin counsel disqualified from the case, arguing that one of the attorneys representing her should actually be a witness in the case because he has been a “central figure” in past disputes, and asked for monetary sanctions, accusing a lawyer from the firm of acting improperly during a deposition.
In court Wednesday, Chancellor Bouchard went on to say that both sides would be “naive” in what appears to be their expectations from the litigation — Shawe for thinking that the current situation at the company is tenable, and Elting for thinking his driving concern would be the maximization of her stake.
The chancellor said there are other factors that greatly concerned him, including the future of the enterprise itself and the livelihood of its roughly 4,000 employees, and went as far as suggesting a mediator to allow “cooler heads” to prevail.
“You would be wise to use his skills to cut a deal,” Chancellor Bouchard said. “If you don’t, I will do what I have to do.”
The battle centers on a business Elting and Shawe created together in 1992 that has grown into “the world’s largest privately held provider of language and technology solutions for global business” with annual revenues of $470 million, according to its website.
In court papers for the myriad lawsuits the partners have thrown at each other, much of it redacted because the company is privately held, it is clear their relationship has deteriorated.
Shawe has accused Elting of a series of fiduciary duty breaches, including diverting funds for her own personal use and causing business harm to the company.
Elting has said in court papers that she and Shawe are hopelessly deadlocked in every facet of the business, and has requested the court equitably dissolve the company. Shawe has resisted that outcome, arguing he does not want to cash out, and Elting has requested the court bar him from bidding if the company goes up for auction or from competing for several years.
In a related dispute in New York over control of the company’s payroll system, Shawe was successful in a bid to have the court sanction Kramer Levin for not moving fast enough to correct a complaint that identified them as co-owners of affiliate TransPerfect Translations International Inc., which is actually owned by parent company TransPerfect Global Inc.
Kramer Levin has said it believes the New York judge’s decision was incorrect and have moved to have it stayed or vacated. The docket in the case indicates Elting and the firm have appealed the decision.
In the Delaware cases, Shawe has tried to have Kramer Levin attorney Ronald S. Greenberg thrown off the case arguing that he “often crossed the line between acting as a legal adviser to Elting and directly interfering in the affairs of TransPerfect, its management and its personnel.”
Shawe has also moved for monetary sanctions against Elting and Kramer Levin, arguing that during Greenberg’s deposition, attorney Phillip Kaufman essentially wasted everyone’s time by directing Greenberg not to answer more than 70 questions and then abruptly terminating the proceeding.
In court Wednesday, Elting’s attorney Gerard E. Harper of Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP said Shawe was trying to drag Greenberg’s name “through the mud” for his own gain.
Kramer Levin’s general counsel Charlotte Moses Fischman told Chancellor Bouchard that the questions Kaufman directed Greenberg not to answer were either on information Shawe’s counsel already knew or to protect attorney-client privilege, and argued that no prejudice or injury resulted from the deposition.
Shawe’s motion was “a counterweight” to Elting’s sanctions request and it would be “a travesty of justice for Kramer Levin to be the only law firm sanctioned in these proceedings,” Fischman said.
For her part, Elting has lobbed sanctions of her own at Shawe, accusing him of not only gaining unauthorized access to thousands of her emails, many of which were communiques with her lawyers, but other misconduct including spoiling evidence by deleting files from his laptop the court ordered be turned over for forensic analysis.
Shawe’s attorneys refuted accusations of wrongdoing in court Wednesday, arguing that he believed he had authorization to see the emails per company policy, and the files deleted from the laptop were programs automatically generated when a computer performs functions with the relevant information preserved.
Elting is represented by Gerard E. Harper and Robert N. Kravitz of Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP, Philip S. Kaufman, Ronald S. Greenberg, Marjorie E. Sheldon, Jared I. Heller and Theodore S. Hertzberg of Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP, and Kevin R. Shannon, Berton W. Ashman Jr., Christopher N. Kelly and Jaclyn C. Levy of Potter Anderson & Corroon LLP.
Shawe is represented by Ronald C. Minkoff, Richard M. Maltz and Andrew J. Ungberg of Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz LLP, Philip L. Graham Jr. and Penny Shane of Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, Howard J. Kaplan, Joseph A. Matteo and Joshua MacLeod of Kaplan Rice LLP, and Gregory P. Williams, Lisa A. Schmidt and Robert L. Burns of Richards Layton & Finger PA.
The Delaware cases are In re: TransPerfect Global Inc, case numbers 9661, 9686 and 9700, in the Delaware Court of Chancery.
The New York case is Elizabeth Elting v. Philip Shawe et al., case number 651423/14, in the Supreme Court of the State of New York.
–Additional reporting by Lisa Ryan. Editing by Chris Yates.
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According to this news article, a Japanese translation company under contract with the Nuclear Regulation Authority has apparently leaked an internal, classified document online from the nuclear watchdog. The document does not contain confidential information but is marked “Classified 2,” one of three levels of classification by the government. The company sent the document, without password protection, to a job applicant and solicited translators who would double-check its translations via a private-sector online bulletin board.
News flash: anything marked Classified should not be put online. The agency I work with uses a password-protected FTP site for downloading and uploading files. I had to get my security clearance verified before I could even look at the files to see if I would be a good fit for the job.
Companies don’t seem to realize that if you are doing any kind of government work you really can’t use cloud-based translation tools, cloud storage or any other number of new innovations. Microsoft 365 will never be used by this translator for that very reason! It’s just too risky. My security clearance is too valuable to even risk it. My laptop is encrypted. I do not use cloud-based tools. My government-related files are kept on my hard drive and deleted within the prescribed 90 days. And I’m just a lowly translator!
I know we joke about translation agencies sending files to numerous potential translators, but there is a foundation for these jokes. Why would agencies risk their valuable government contracts? Let this be a wake-up call to the industry. Shaking my head this morning.
P.S. Unfortunately this is NOT an April Fools joke. Thanks to Rina Ne’eman of Hebrew Translations for sharing this on Facebook.
Guest post: Do translation customers really care what kind of people they’re buying from? November 18, 2014Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Translation.
I don’t normally accept guest posts, but I am making an exception for this one. This needs to be heard and discussed.
Guest post by Terena Bell of In Every Language.
Maybe people really don’t care. That’s what I thought this morning as I got out of bed and read today’s news on my cell phone. Maybe people don’t care, maybe they don’t want a better world, maybe there are no rewards for the good or punishment for the bad.
I’ve written in my MultiLingual Magazine column before about how American culture is trending so that people no longer want to spend money at businesses where they find the owner’s behavior deplorable. Well, I’m writing this blog to say that I was wrong. Or at least I was wrong about how or when this particular macrotrend would affect our industry.
See, there’s this little thing going on right now — maybe you’ve heard of it — Crain’s New York is calling it the TransPerfect Storm. I’ve got to admit, the title’s catchy. For those of you who haven’t seen the press, Liz Elting and Philip Shawe, co-owners of translation giant TransPerfect, are going at it in the courts, in the office, in the breakroom — pretty much everywhere these two can find a place to disagree, according to Crain’s, they’re doing it. And it’s not just Crain’s reporting the story either. It’s The New York Post and The New York Daily News, too. And when The Daily News – which let’s face it, is pretty much a fancy tabloid – starts covering the story you know it’s salacious.
According to Crain’s, the two owners “are suing each other for malfeasance and mismanagement, and each wants the other thrown out of the company. The parties have asked a judge to break the deadlock, and a hearing is scheduled for Nov. 18.” The translation industry will be watching today’s results with bated breath.
See, here’s the thing: Many in the translation industry have thought for years that Elting and Shawe are not what most people would call good people. Multiple media reports of Elting kicking Shawe with her heels and pouring coffee on him during work, all the media reports of the f-you emails back and forth, filing restraining orders against the other, all these reports of what – if true – is clearly unprofessional, childish behavior, well juicy as the news maybe, it’s not a surprise to many who work in translation for a living.
In October of 2013, the blog TranslationEthics.com called TransPerfect a “sweatshop” because of the well below standard rates it pays its translators. As far back as 2011, a different blog, TransPerfect Translation Concerns, reported, “It’s only a matter of time [before] a hungry investigative reporter will has burst the … TransPerfect PR bubble [sic], and release some less than glowing information.” Well, that time is now.
So here’s my question, and here’s what has me writing a blog entry before breakfast: Do clients even care? Court documents for the case claim Fortune 100 clients have either threatened to pull or have already pulled over $20 million worth of work. But there’s a big difference between threatening to yank your business and actually doing it. In the sales meetings I’ve been in with current TransPerfect customers, the topic hasn’t even come up. As a TransPerfect competitor, I haven’t had a single client come to me saying, “Oh my, their ethics are horrible, they’re just not good people.“ Have you?
You don’t become the kind of person who would assault your ex-fiance at work overnight. Nor do you develop so much hate for someone overnight that you would sue them in open court to the detriment of your own business. No. If the press is revealing who the owners of TransPerfect are, if this scandal is revealing the way they live their lives, then they have been the people they are for quite some time. Any client kickback now is simply because the world finally sees Elting and Shawe for who they apparently are. But where is the kickback really?
Maybe I’m wrong. What do you think? Will TransPerfect actually lose business because of this? Will clients actually leave? Do translation customers really care what kind of people they’re buying from?
Terena Bell is the chief executive officer of In Every Language, a language services provider offering translation, interpreting, and localization. She served on the Association of Language Companies Leadership Council. She is a member of the Obama Administration’s White House Business Roundtable, which has taken calls from the president and the vice-president, as well as senior advisors and members of the Cabinet. She writes the “Micro/Macro” column for MultiLingual Magazine, and has been quoted by Inc., Forbes, and CNN Money.
My impressions of the 2014 ATA Conference November 10, 2014Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in ATA, Business practices.
I got back from the ATA Conference last night. I wanted to jot down my thoughts before I drown in the translations that await me in the next few weeks. I drove this year, so I had six hours to ruminate on the conference when I wasn’t talking to people on my phone to stay awake. My eyes started seriously crossing about half an hour from home.
I thoroughly enjoyed the conference. Once again, there were a ton of people I wish I had been able to spend more time with. I made sure I never ate alone and took the time to talk to the people I could. I even closed down the bar on Saturday, which is something I haven’t done in probably four years. I simply made catching up with the people I care about my priority this year.
One highlight of the conference for me was skipping out on a morning session and spending an hour in Julius Meinl with two German colleagues – one I knew well and one I had just met. We enjoyed our Melange (one espresso shot served in a large coffee cup topped with steamed milk and milk foam) and chatted about the industry, our work, politics and various other topics. I also got to savor the most authentic Apfelstrudel I have eaten in the U.S. The crust was as paper-thin as the ones I enjoyed in Austria when I lived there. It was worth blowing the diet for!
My panel presentation with Sandra Alboum, Terena Bell and Ted Wozniak, Why Won’t You Work For Me, was another highlight for me. I think Terena’s idea of getting rid of the table (or as she called it “the barriers”) was an excellent idea that set the tone of the entire presentation. Our focus was on making contact at conferences, because Sandra and Terena have both attended the conference looking to hire translators and not been able to make those connections. We wanted to discuss the possible stumbling blocks and offer concrete suggestions to enable agencies and translators to work together. The two main take-aways (I hope) are find a way to make yourself stand out and be memorable and make your interactions a bit more personal. Don’t simply just walk up to someone at a booth, hand them your business card and walk away. Talk with them a bit, tell them who you are and what you do and ask for their card as well. And then follow up by sending an email referring to the conversation. You will get a better response with “I saw this article and thought you might be interested in it based on our discussion at the 2014 ATA Conference” than “Attached please find my resume. I look forward to hearing from you.” We have had wonderful feedback from everyone in attendance and hope to present this again with a more moderated (and longer) format to get through all of the points we wanted to discuss before opening it up to questions and discussion with the floor.
I attended several sessions that were very good (including ergonomics, HIPAA and one in my language pair on marketing translation); however, my absolutely favorite session was Joe McClinton’s Untangling German Legalese: Talkin’ Like The Supremes. He not only clearly explained the differences between the various “Supreme Courts” in Germany and shared lots of terminology, but he showed us how he breaks down complicated sentences and citations. It reassured me to find out my terminology is identical to his – even down to the usage of parentheses in citations instead of translating all the Absatz, Paragraph, Satz/Halbsatz stuff that Germans so love to cite.
The Freelance Juggling Act: Tips for Living the Life You Want panel discussion with Eve Bodeaux, Corinne McKay, Marianne Reiner and Andrew Morris was entertaining and was a great way to start the conference. Andrew’s idea of a work-life balance of 85% work and 15% life made me feel much better about my choice to favor work over life most of the time. It is still a good idea to ensure you have some free time and down time, because I personally know two excellent translators who have burnt out. So work-life balance is very important. You can find a lot of good background info and Ted talks on the subject at Eve’s website.
There were so many excellent sessions on offer that I had to make tough choices and miss some excellent presentations. As a result, I ordered the eConference recordings. I look forward to revisiting Joe’s presentation as well as watching lots of others that I really wanted to attend but missed (such as Trisha Kovacic-Young’s Translating for the Insurance Industry, Judy Jenner’s Quote This, Sanne LeGier’s Navigating the International Payment Jungle, and Riccardo Schiffiano’s presentation on XBench – just to name a few!).
The hotel was centrally located, and I was able to enjoy wonderful meals with colleagues and friends. From deep dish pizza and stuffed spinach bread at Lou Malnati’s while staying Tuesday night with my newbie last year and now good friend Joe, soup and salad at Howells & Hood, the German Language Division dinner at Bar Toma, dinner with eight good friends on Saturday night at Quay to the most amazing ramen at The Slurping Turtle, each meal was enjoyable and memorable. Chicago definitely has lots of culinary things to offer! Not to mention the hotel bar’s Old Fashioned Apple Pie Moonshine. I drank many of these with various colleagues. I am going back soon.
There were so many people I wish I had had time to catch up with. I always wish the conference was longer, but each time I am happy it is over when it is because I am exhausted. The conference was – as always – a total rush and a huge motivation. I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did.
The only downer was my friend being pickpocketed on Friday night. Her wallet was in the coat pocket over her right breast that she was wearing while we were waiting to go to dinner in the hotel bar. They/he/she were definitely pros. They somehow knew exactly which pocket to pick, and her credit card and debit cards were maxed out within 30 minutes to the tune of almost $8000, leaving her without her cards, but also without her driver’s license, insurance cards, or cash. She was understandably upset and left a day early. No one noticed anything untoward and they knew exactly how to wipe out the cards before anyone could do anything. My tweet prompted Starwood Hotel headquarters to get involved, and I am very impressed with how they responded. But the fact remains that when we are at the conference we may feel very insular, but the hotel is a public place that anyone can enter. Attendees must remain vigilant of their belongings at all times. It also made me aware that I shouldn’t carry everything together and should only take the bare minimum with me at all times.
Nevertheless, I have a wonderful memory of the conference. My body is sore, my feet ache, and I went to bed early and slept really well last night. I look forward to doing it again next year. I just hope they bring back the massage chairs! See you in Miami in November 2015!
In case you missed it, here are some highlights of the conference (featuring, among other people, my newbie last year Joe, who was a Buddy this year). Derek Platt did a great job recording the conference for posterity and editing it into a coherent and entertaining video. Jost’s fish joke alone makes the video worth watching!
Dropbox vs. Spideroak July 19, 2014Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Tech tips.
I share this with no commentary whatsoever, but it’s worth noting. I don’t ever keep client files on Dropbox or on a cloud-based server, but I know some people do. Whether you believe Snowden is full of crap or knows what he is talking about, it is still worth some consideration.
A remarkable moment from last night’s remarkable Snowden video from the Guardian.
In a discussion (around the 7:40 mark) of zero-knowledge systems whose operators can’t spy on you even if they want to, Snowden reminds us that Dropbox is an NSA surveillance target cited in the original Prism leaks, and that the company has since added Condoleeza Rice, “probably the most anti-privacy official we can imagine,” to its Board of Directors.
He contrasts Dropbox with its competitor, Spideroak, whose system is structured so that it can’t betray you, even if Condi Rice wanted it to.
Guest post – Dear Translator: Please pay your taxes! June 2, 2014Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Random musings.
I started as a translator and interpreter and now run an agency based in Arlington that serves nonprofits and mission-driven organizations exclusively.
Today I received a rather thick envelope from the IRS. Apparently, a translator who I used fairly frequently between 2005 and 2010 and for whom I submitted 1099-MISCs, had not paid some (or all) of his taxes and the IRS was approaching all those companies who had sent him work in order to levy his earnings.
This translator owed around $40,000 in taxes, but the IRS is not to be messed with: penalties added another $60,000 onto the total and he now needed to pay back over $100,000.
The IRS wanted to know if I had any pending payments for him, and if so, I had to send that money their way, and not to him.
However, here is the most alarming thing: THIS TRANSLATOR PASSED AWAY A YEAR AGO.
His estate probably has no money, and the IRS wants theirs, so they’re probably hoping that there are some monies still owed him that they could take. I don’t know, and I’m certainly not a tax professional, but that’s what I assume is happening.
Moral of the story?
Please, translators, PAY YOUR TAXES. Pay ALL of them. Pay them PROMPTLY. Don’t try any funny stuff. The IRS *will* get you (or your heirs), even after you’re deceased.
Thanks for listening!
Sandra Alboum runs an agency that serves nonprofits and mission driven organizations exclusively, is a two-time jeopardy champion, and an amateur gourmet chef and professional mother of two. She sent this post to the ATA Business Practices listserv, and I felt it was worth reposting to a wider audience.
Nothing in life is certain but death and taxes. And as you can see your taxes may live on even after death. Be sure to pay yours and to report all of your income!!
Thought of the day April 18, 2014Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices.
I read this on Tumblr and thought it was so fitting to our profession as well. It is originally from the Zibbet forum (Zibbet is kind of like Etsy – it’s a site for artists to sell their handmade works) and was written by user Sweet2Spicy (Elsie) on January 20, 2014:
A customer wanted to purchase a beautiful Wire Wrap Bracelet and spotted an artist who did absolutely amazing work, but she charged a good price too. The customer thought that the artist’s price was way too high so she approached the artist and in quite a brisk fashion stated “I want to buy a Bracelet from you, but I think you charge too much.” The artist was a little taken aback but replied, “Ok, how much do you think I should charge?” The customer replied “I think you should charge “X” much, because the wire will cost this much, and the clasp this much, and the cabochon this much. I even factored in the price of your pliers.”
The final price the customer had calculated was a lot cheaper than the artist’s original price, but she said “Ok, deal. You will get your goods in a week”. The customer was very pleased with herself and can’t resist telling all her friends what a fabulous deal she has negotiated and how smart she is, and that in a week she will have her gorgeous bracelet.
A week later her parcel arrives in a lovely packaged box. She opens it and inside is Wire, a Clasp, a Cabochon, and 2 sets of Pliers. Angrily she contacts the artist asking “How could you do this to me? I asked you for a Bracelet and you sent me a box of Wire, a Clasp, a Cabochon and 2 sets of Pliers?!?!” The artist quietly replies “My dear, you got exactly what you paid for, if you think there is something missing, then you will need to pay for it.”
Moral of the story, when you buy handmade you are not just buying the materials you are buying the artist’s time, effort, love and dedication that goes into making your pieces.
“With its global headquarters in Leeds, thebigword interprets two million minutes of speech and translates 35 million words every month. With 2,500 clients speaking 234 languages across 77 countries, the family-owned business has more than 8,000 freelance linguists and uses automated technology to co-ordinate its global operation.”
This “unnamed highest paid director who took home a total of £1.99m during the year” and is getting an additional “discretionary bonus of £1.68m” should be proud of the work the company has done… oh wait, none of the 8000 translators or interpreters – who do the ACTUAL WORK – are seeing any of that. I wouldn’t be surprised if they got another e-mail asking for yet another 15% pay cut. You know, because the company is hurting so much in this economy. You know they certainly won’t be RAISING rates since it seems they are now doing so well.
Q&A from Fire Ant & Worker Bee March 21, 2013Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices.
The latest Accurapid Translation Journal has a very interesting Q&A about Trados pricing in its Fire Ant & Worker Bee column (which is always an enjoyable read). Since I have recently received similar requests from agencies (whatever happened to the good ole 30/60/100 pricing scheme Trados used to suggest?), I was very interested in reading the answer and thought you might be as well.
Dear Fire Ant & Worker Bee,
I have been contacted by three different agencies over the last few weeks proposing the following table for CAT tool discounts, all of whom I have refused while remaining icily polite:
100% Matches @15%
95-99% Matches @20%
85-94% Matches @50%
75-84% and below @66%
50-74% and below @100%
No Match (New Words) @100%
Unedited Text in Graphics @100%
There appears to be some company trying to push this grid along with their CAT tool marketing. It is particularly derisory because low-grade fuzzy matches are in reality practically worthless, often costing more time than they save, especially for those of us who use voice recognition. I often set my CAT software to ignore them.
I am writing in case there is anyone new to the profession who is inclined to believe the sales pitch that this is some kind of “industry standard”. It certainly is not. The supplier of a service sets the price, not the buyer. The buyer decides whether or not to buy.
Dear No Grid,
We agree not 50 nor 66 but 100%, sir, and applaud your reminder that this grid is a negotiating tool—some might say weapon—and definitely not an industry standard.
Self-assured claims to the contrary come from vendors applying commodity-based business models. They are understandably desperate to lock in margins at the low end of the market, where prices are very definitely under severe pressure.
As you probably know, many skilled professionals insist that translation technology is above all a quality assurance tool for ensuring consistency. As one observer notes, “real-time savings are achieved consistently only with large blocks of 100% context matches.” And in other cases? Well, no one is saying that time might not be saved in some instances, with some texts. But that is not what “industry standard” grids—applied across the board—are.
This may be a good time to point out how much more sense it makes to bill by the hour, which recognizes genuine productivity-driven savings, however achieved.
A top interpreter once told us he developed the concentration he needed to perform at the highest level in the booth through intensive chess competitions. We find ourselves wishing translators would play more poker, to gain practical experience in the skills needed to call a negotiator’s bluff.
FA & WB