Mastermind groups and how they can benefit translators

Mastermind

I was very excited when Karen asked me to write a guest post about mastermind groups, because I absolutely love mine. I look forward to the session and always come out feeling that I’ve made progress. So let’s jump right in and talk about what a mastermind group is, what the benefits are, and some factors to consider when putting a group together.

What is a mastermind group?

A mastermind group consists of like-minded people who come together to support each other in moving their businesses forward. The idea is to meet for regular, structured sessions in which each participant takes a turn at being in the limelight for an agreed period of time. When it’s your turn, you get to report on what’s happened since the last meeting, and then talk about things you’re currently working on, asking the group for feedback and ideas. You typically come away with a few action items that you plan to work on in the period before the next meeting.

Beyond that, the mastermind group can be set up according to the requirements and preferences of those involved. The number of people in the group can vary, as can the length or frequency of meetings. Some mastermind groups meet locally and face-to-face; others are online.

What are the benefits?

Reality Check
Sometimes it’s easier to see things clearly if you have to explain them to other people. As you start to explain, you realise where the gaps are and what you have to perhaps work on a bit more.

On the other hand, it could be that your mastermind buddies notice that you’re really on to something and encourage you to pursue it.

Challenge
When discussing an issue or an idea, you may realise that you’re basing your thinking on certain assumptions, and by asking questions such as “why do you think that?” or “why not?” the other participants may help you to realise that these assumptions are not necessarily true.

Brainstorming
When you’re working on something new, other participants can act as a sounding board, offering feedback and asking questions to help you refine your concept. Even hearing suggestions that you don’t like can help you figure out what you do want.

Extended Network
Participants benefit from each other’s networks. It often happens that you need something doing, and another person will say “I know someone who can help with that”. So your network expands.

Experience
People bring different experiences and perspectives to the table. If one of you is facing a particular situation and isn’t sure how to handle it, it can help to talk things through, discuss various strategies or play through scenarios.

Accountability
For me, one of the most important aspects of the masterminding group is accountability. If I make a commitment to, say, write a blog post before the next meeting, I find it easier to be disciplined and actually do it, knowing that I’ll be asked about it when we meet again. Of course there are no consequences if I choose not to do my action items, but I find that the act of writing them down and telling the others in the group is very motivating.

Encouragement
After working with people in a mastermind group for a while, you get to understand their journey, and you know exactly what it means when they say “Hey, I achieved X this week!” It’s great to be able to offer and receive praise and encouragement.

Social Contact
You get to go out for breakfast! Well obviously not if you’re meeting on Skype, and of course it doesn’t have to be a breakfast meeting, but in my case we meet at a café and discuss business over scrambled egg and cappuccino. Whether online or face-to-face, it’s good to get out of your own head once in a while and meet with like-minded people.

What do you need to consider when setting up a mastermind group?

My mastermind group grew organically out of a couple of networking meetings where we felt we all got on well and could help each other. If you’re thinking of putting a group together, here are a few things to consider:

Trust
One of the most important things is that you feel comfortable with the others in the group. A mastermind group works best if you can talk openly, knowing that what you say will be treated confidentially. And since we often talk about ideas in their early stages, it’s important to know that nobody’s going to run off with them.

Balance
The whole point of a mastermind group is that everyone has something to add, everyone benefits. So it’s important to have a feeling of balance – otherwise it can turn into a one-way coaching session, which is not necessarily beneficial for the person in the coaching role.

Similar yet Different
Your mastermind buddies should be people you can relate to and who will understand what you’re going through. But at the same time it is tremendously beneficial to be in a group of people with complementary skills, different ways of thinking and networks that don’t overlap too much.

An important factor to consider is whether you want to be in a group with people from your industry or from a mix of industries. There are advantages to both approaches: people from your own industry will have a good understanding of issues you may be facing, while people from other industries bring a fresh perspective.

Commitment
The mastermind concept works best if all of you are committed to meeting up regularly, so it’s important to find people who, perhaps after a trial period, are prepared to stick at it in the medium to long term.

How to find mastermind buddies

There are as many ways to find mastermind buddies as there are to network. Mastermind concepts are offered in various business groups on Facebook or LinkedIn. Alternatively you could join up with colleagues you’ve met at conferences or networking events, or interacted with online.

I’ll offer just a couple of links out of many:

One of my own mastermind buddies, Thomas Lorbacher, now offers a Germany-based service that brings like-minded people together to form mastermind groups (http://mastermind.covisto.de/)

And there is a brand-new Facebook group that offers a platform for translators interested in mastermind groups or other types of collaboration (https://www.facebook.com/groups/standingoutexchange)

I would definitely recommend joining (or forming) a mastermind group. I’ve come to know my mastermind buddies very well and we all help each other stay on track with our businesses. Add to that the opportunity to go out for breakfast every two weeks, and you’ve got a winning combination.

Author: Jane Eggers is a British freelance translator who lives in Heidelberg, Germany and specialises in IT and all-round English-language support for small businesses. Her website is here: www.jane-eggers-translations.de.

The Five Steps to Charging on Value not on Price

Value

Today’s post is a guest post by my own coach, Vanessa Ugatti, The True Worth Expert. Over to Vanessa:

No doubt, you’ve heard it before – focus on value, not on price.  The question is are you doing that or not?  I would hazard a guess that many businesses pay lip service to this, rather than really doing it.  Fear dominates the world of commerce – there’s always someone willing to do it cheaper.  So let’s get straight to the point – no procrastination or shilly-shallying; it’s time to make a decision and the sooner you make it the better.  Neither path is easy; ultimately the choice is yours.

Step 1

Ask yourself the following question:

Do I want to be the person doing it cheaper?

If the answer is yes, keep on doing the same thing and I can guarantee that you will get the same results. Don’t bother reading this article either, because you’ll be wasting your time. On the other hand, if the answer is no, take a deep breath and carry on reading.

So far, so good.  If you’re still with me, you’ve successfully jumped over the first hurdle.  Well done.

Step 2

Ask yourself this: When was the last time I really looked at and understood my value?

For most people who have an expertise, it’s not easy to understand their value.  The longer they have been doing it, and the easier it has become, the more they take it for granted.  Consider the following:

  • How long did it take you to become a professional translator?
  • What did it cost you?
  • What did you have to give up while training/learning?
  • How long have you been a professional translator?
  • If you were to rate yourself in terms of how good you were when you first trained on a scale of 1-10, what figure would you put on it?
  • If you were to rate yourself in terms of how good you are now on a scale of 1-10, what figure would you put on it?

I will hazard a guess that it took years – longer than it took a chartered accountant to train, a doctor or even an architect.  It’s no mean feat.  Although I’m not a translator, I am a fluent French speaker and know how much time and effort was required to reach that stage. Remember you have gone beyond that level and are able to communicate a message effectively from one language into another. It’s an amazing skill and don’t you ever doubt it!  Are you starting to see your value?  If you don’t understand your own value, it will be unlikely that your clients will.  Understanding your value is something which takes time and you also need to review it on a regular basis.

Step 3

Ask yourself the following question:

Are the clients I’m working with in general the sort of clients who will pay me on value or are they looking for cheap and cheerful? 

If it’s the latter, then clearly you’re working with the wrong clients!  As previously mentioned, although I’m not a translator, I do know from coaching Karen that those of you who are working for agencies, for example, will definitely not be able to charge on value, as the agencies are dictating the prices and driving them down.

This situation means that you are not actually in control of your business; the agency acts as your employer, but without any of the benefits of actually being employed. This then erodes confidence, creates self-doubt and makes it harder to change.  It’s a vicious circle which needs to be broken.

Either way, you must target those clients who will value your service and pay you accordingly.  This may well mean making some radical changes in your business to be able to achieve this.  I would also encourage you to decide on a specialism so that your marketing can be focussed on a particular industry or profession.  As a generalist, you will be competing with all and sundry and therefore price will likely be the dictator.  On the other hand, as a specialist, you elevate yourself from the masses and it’s then that you can charge a premium for your expertise.

Step 4

Eliminating limiting beliefs

By now, I get the impression that you could be feeling a little overwhelmed.  If that’s the case, I apologise.  However, I’m not one of those fluffy people who say this is going to be easy.  If it was, everyone would be doing it.  Rome wasn’t built in a day; you’ll need focus, patience and determination to get where you want to.  Moreover, it’s not just about marketing and what you do practically; it’s also vital to work on yourself.   If you fail to do this, you’ll potentially limit your earnings and feel frustrated into the bargain.

What limiting beliefs do you have which are getting in the way of your success?

Karen is proof of what I’m saying.  She recently told me that because of the work we’ve been doing together, that she is now charging top fees to her clients and getting them, whereas before, that wasn’t happening.  Even though there are others in the marketplace willing to charge significantly less, (their competence level may or may not be as good as hers) because she now understands her value, both consciously and unconsciously, and has no qualms stating her fees, she is able to charge her true worth.

Step 5

Get help!  You can’t do it alone.  Be willing to invest in yourself.  Find the right people to support you on your journey.

Author biography:

Vanessa Ugatti, The True Worth Expert, coach, speaker and author of Amazon Bestseller, True Worth, dramatically shifts the thinking for people in professional services  taking them from their own perceptions of not feeling they can really charge what they are worth, to doing just that – and more! This unique ability, to bring out the best in people, has evolved for her over many years of facing similar challenges both professionally and personally, even questioning her own value in business. 

To access a complimentary copy of True Worth: How to Charge What You’re Worth and Get It, and to find out more, visit: www.thetrueworthexpert.com.

True Worth

 

 

 

 

Title photo credit: Got Credit

Why you shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions and how asking questions actually adds to your credibility

Last week I was contacted by one of my mentees who had landed herself a proofreading job to ask what proofreading actually entails. She specifically wanted to know whether she should just read the text through and correct grammatical and stylistic mistakes or whether she should go through the text phrase by phrase, sentence by sentence checking the translation against the source text document. More specifically she wanted to know what I would do. Here is an edited version of my response:

Every customer, project manager and translator instructing someone to “proof read” a text will naturally mean something different depending on the circumstances, how they work and the purpose of the final product. We’re all familiar with the phrase “the customer is always right” and here too it is actually completely irrelevant what I would understand by the instruction “proof read this text” because the only way you will be able to satisfy your customer is by finding out what it is your customer actually wants and expects you to do.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions

Many beginning translators are very wary about asking their customers questions – they don’t want to let on that they aren’t 100% sure about what they are doing and are scared that by asking questions they are shouting their lack of experience from the rooftops. However, in my experience asking (the right) questions actually adds to your credibility. By asking questions you are demonstrating to your customer that his/her needs are important to you, that you are a conscientious professional and that you want to find out as much information as you can to ensure that you can provide your customer with the best possible final product.

Your customer’s perspective

Now some may argue that your customer should provide all of the relevant information from the outset but that is idealistic. Translation and proofreading issues are omnipresent for us as translators but they are not so for people from other industries – even if they do have regular contact with translators and commission a lot of translations. As translators it is our job to consider each assignment from the customer’s perspective and to ask the right questions so that the customer feels confident that his/her text is in good hands.

What if the customer is a translation agency?

Many beginning translators start off working for translation agencies. Indeed some freelance translators continue to work (exclusively) for agencies throughout their freelance careers. I too have past experience working for agencies. Now it would be unfair to say that all agencies are the same but many of the large agencies (or LSPs as they like to call themselves these days) employ inexperienced project managers who are the point of contact for the freelance translator. In many cases these project managers will not have asked the right questions of the customer in the first place or will not think to pass on any information they have received. This leaves you, the translator, in a difficult position. You should definitely send any questions you have to the project manager but it is unlikely that you will always get the helpful answers and additional Information you need. This is an extremely frustrating situation for conscientious translators because, while trying to provide a good service, at the back of your mind you are never really sure that what you are doing is what the customer really wants you to do. Personally I do not cope well with these kinds of situations and find working for direct clients and smaller translation agencies, which are usually run by one or two other translators who really know what they are doing, much more rewarding.

Questions to ask

Whether you have been contacted about a proofreading or a translation assignment, here are some suggested questions which you could and perhaps should ask your customer to obtain the information which will help you produce the best possible final product for your customer:

1. Which language variety would you like me to use?
(Don’t assume that your customer wants one language variety over another, ask!)
2. What is the purpose of the translation/final text?
(If the translation is needed for an important publication, the customer is not going to thank you for whizzing through the text only correcting the worst mistakes and leaving what seem to you to be minor stylistic errors. On the other hand, if the text is required as a draft version of a document to be used as the basis for important negotiations to take place in two hours’ time, your customer is not going to be very happy if you are doing such a thorough job of proofreading, that you are still only on the first page of a five page document when the negotiations are due to commence)
3. Who is the target reader and what background knowledge does he/she have?
(This will help you to decide how much additional information it is necessary to provide)
4 Would you like me to only correct actual grammatical and lexical errors or would you like me to improve the document stylistically?
5. Would you like me to use track changes?
6. Do you have any past translations or reference materials?
7. Could you please clarify this ambiguity?/This sentence doesn’t seem to make sense. Is there something missing?
(Nobody reads a text as closely as a good translator. In my experience customers are always very pleased to receive feedback on the original text. I translate a lot of documents to be filed with German courts. My translations are for information purposes – for the information of the client who doesn’t speak German – so it is the original version which is actually going to be filed with the court. It is not unusual for the author of the original text to have accidentally inverted the parties (claimant and defendant). Pointing out mistakes and typos in the original text, particularly when you know that the original text is going to be used in its own right (rather than simply as the basis for a translation), also demonstrates to your customer that you actually understand what you are translating and this definitely adds to your credibility.

Don’t be scared to ask questions. Asking questions adds to your credibility. Guessing is a very risky business.