Friday, March 20, 2009

Not Lost in Translation

I've been doing this "thing" for years and years and it has been through a couple of conversations that I realized I needed to define "it" for my audience here.

The "thing" I do in my business consulting/mentoring for creative professionals is this:
I translate Business-Speak into Art-Speak.

I bridge the gap between these two worlds to help creative people figure out how the heck to navigate the business world. This gal was born lucky with both the right and left sides of her brain pretty equally developed. It took me a while to see this in myself, but I can take a creative person and "spoon feed" them the business information they need to make their dream happen.

Now for the back story:
When I was in my twenties, I was a custom clothing designer and I realized soon enough that my language for form and color did not necessarily match the language of my clients. Did an accountant know how to tell me what they wanted to wear? No. Mostly not.

I started pulling pages from magazines, mostly fashion, and asked my clients to tell me about the person in each picture. From this Q&A I was able to glean some crucial information about that person's language of color and design. From there I asked them some questions about how they wished to be perceived in the world (in really specific circumstances, like a job interview, first date, etc.)

By asking these questions I was able to figure out what my client wanted to wear and then I could create it for them. All these years later, what this exercise in communication styles and perception styles taught me was the way various personalities learn and perceive. What I didn't know back then, is where it would take me to, so many years later.

Today I take many of these same skills (plus some) to see where my client wants to go in their life and career. From there, I create a plan and most importantly, at each step, I am communicating with them in a language that they understand, about what's going to happen and how they are going to get there.

Many of my first forays into this was when I went with my clients to visit their accountant or lawyer and acted as a translator. I was able to make sense of the legal and accounting terms bantered about and helped them make some really crucial business decisions. Suddenly their stress level went down and they no longer walked out of the door, not really understanding what just happened and what they paid this person for. Now they knew! Now they had the power of information in a way they could properly digest. I still get excited every time this happens!

In this age of "do it yourself", there are many things that new entrepreneurs try to do and fail. At that point, many just give it up. They truly think that they are not capable of "dealing" with the business world. It's like going to Japan, not understanding the language and feeling like it's your fault that you ordered Vanilla ice cream and you got Chocolate. It's not your fault!

I am so lucky to have the opportunity to do this kind of work and I truly hope I get the chance to share it with some of you, beyond this blog


  1. To a large extent, I think that's a lot of what consulting is: translating between audiences. Some consulting work, of course fits more into an "outsourcing," model where the consultant is using their skills to do/make something that the client can't or doesn't need to do themselves (web developers are basically consultants, but their work isn't exactly in translation, at least as you, and I, mean it).

    The process of translating requirements and needs is, without doubt, a bit part of what I do. The doing? trivial in comparison.

  2. I don't think I am at the point of being "serious" enough with my art to need you yet. Probably after I retire and have more creative time. I definitely like the way you think and speak to us.


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