“The Future of Work: Four Generations Working At Once, Plus Machines”

(“The Future of Work: Four Generations Working At Once, Plus Machines” as published in Newco Shift Forum 2018)

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To begin, I would highly recommend that you read the full article published at shift.newco.co (The Future of Work – Article). The article made me think again about past discussions that are still relevant today, almost 10 years since I first addressed this topic.

Quoting Liz Mathews (Dell Brand and Advertising): “Ageism is actually something we must address and put on the forefront because baby boomers are staying in the workforce longer. Millennials are making way for Gen Z. For the first time ever, we have four different generations in the workforce… [and] we must be prepared to interact with machines, no matter your age, your role, or your lifestyle.”

Talking about the new relationships that are starting to develop between humans and machines, Liz Matthews states: “… the future actually favors the young… the majority of leadership roles will be filled with digital natives. As human-machine partnerships grow, this won’t only be a workplace issue but potentially a societal issue… human-machines will work together as integrated teams within the next five years.”

In the language services industry, this human-machine partnership includes, of course, machine translation. But it does not stop there. All the developments in artificial intelligence and voice recognition will soon come together and offer commercially-viable solutions for the larger masses. Translator and interpreter roles will change (have already) to functions other than they used to be 50 years ago. As much as any other profession, we must change with the times to accommodate to our environment. Acquire the new tools, learn to use them, get familiar with their advantages and disadvantages, go through the learning curve (there is always a learning curve) as soon as possible.

Academia should have all these changes already inserted in their curriculum because the digital natives who will be working in the language services industry in 10 years will need skills different than the skills I acquired 40 years ago. That is a reality and we need to specify what those skills need to be, what the new work parameters are, what our marketplace will look like in a decade, which clients we will “loose” to technology and which new clients we will “gain” from it. How will our clients’ needs change as their needs to communicate with their international customers and staff change? How will we help our clients circumnavigate all these changes?

Translators, interpreters, LSP, and others in the language services industry: let’s ask ourselves how the changes happening in “relationships” are impacting us, directly and indirectly. As mentioned at nauseum in my posts, a tectonic shift has already occurred in our world, in term of our personal relationships and our professional environment. A shift in the way we humans communicate with each other. A shift in the way we understand the world (now known to be the physical world and the digital world, both “real” worlds). A shift in the way humans relate to inanimate objects and “intelligent machines” — to the point of “co-dependency” if we were talking about two humans in the relationship. It has already happened and it is part of the “real” world of a generation known as the “digital natives”(*) – who will most probably be the ones running our businesses in the coming decades.

(*) Digital natives are persons born after the prevalent use of “digital technology” and who as children have grown up using technology such as computers, mobile devices and the internet. For these individuals, their “online world” is an integral part of their identity. Their “native language” is not only English or French or even Swahili but rather a combination of a primary tongue with the language of computers, videos, video games, social media and all other digital media.

All the above said, those of us in the language services industry must become better prepared to respond to the communication needs of this new generation. Their expectations are much different from the expectations of, say, the Baby-Boomer generation. I am a baby boomer and our generation came of age in the 1960s (half a century ago!). Our means of communication, our culture, and our relationships expectations are totally different from those of Digital Natives. We see technology as a tool (many see it as a “negative” tool). The younger generations see the digital world as an extension of their physical being. They communicate with each other and among themselves in ways we might find offensive or un-natural (our bias). They connect at a pace, intensity, depth, and breadth that seems to be incomprehensible for the “slower” (older) generation.

As part of the “older” and “slower” generation, I believe we must start “listening” more to the needs of the future than trying to “hold on” to the ways of the past. Just saying.

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Scrum Master? What the heck is that?!

[Image credit: Varunm.com]

I was looking at my LinkedIn feed and happened to see a paid advertisement from a job site looking for a “Scrum Master.”  It caught my attention because I had absolutely no idea what a Scrum Master was! In a “previous life” (several decades ago) I was a project manager, so my surprise was double when I found out they defined it as NOT being a Project Manager. Well, I would have not even thought that PM had any relationship with SM.  Scrum Master sounded like something in the Healthcare Industry…… well, it is not. From the website TechTarget, I have learned that

“… a scrum master is a facilitator for an agile development team. Scrum is a methodology that allows a team to self-organize and make changes quickly, in accordance with agile principles.”

So, you might say:
–Why would translators and interpreters care?
I would respond:
–Really? Do you need to ask?

First, we need to be aware of what is going on in the world, and in the world of business in particular. Terminology is part of our lifeline.

Second, “Scrum Master” talks to the dramatic changes occurring in the business world itself. The concept of “agile development teams” is central to this new profession.  I guess Project Managers are so 20th century! Think about that. The term agile development  has very specific connotations related to the shift of power to the “product owner.” Think about that. The “product owner” has the say.

Additionally, the Scrub Master “is not held accountable for outcomes. The team as a whole is responsible for outcomes.”  What a concept, eh? No more “leaders” solely responsible for outcomes but the team as a whole.  Sports kind of got that notion from the get-go.

There is an entire methodology around “agile development.”  Because agility has come to the forefront of how we do things in the 21st century. That is why the entire business model of translation and interpreting needs to be re-thought.  Because, as it stands, it is anything BUT agile. I see some companies struggling to understand how to best render services in an interconnected digital world. That is a good start, but we need to move fast.

One thing is clear: we must become “Agile Organizations” (full disclosure: my company is NOT!… yet).  Those of us who are not AGILE enough to “sprint” (yes, a term with a new connotation too) have a larger chance of falling behind. As we look at the business models we have been using for the past 50 years and try to make them AGILER, we must also accept that certain processes will no longer be needed, new strengths have to be developed, and new delivery mechanisms are urgently required.

Parenthesis: Freelance translators and interpreters: we are micro-enterprises. We, too, need to change our business model to adapt to the times. I don’t have the answers.  I have no idea what is best and what is not, except to know that we MUST BECOME TECH-SAVVY A.S.AP.! That should be our priority right now as freelancers. This becoming tech-savvy translators and interpreters is just a basic step to be able to “participate” in the language industry of the future (the very near future, by the way).

I  believe we have an expiration date if we don’t change soon.

What think you?

 

Interpreters learn from actors

Interpreting in 2018 is becoming progressively more of an audiovisual experience in remote encounters, than the face-to-face meetings of the past. As such, in my opinion, there is one issue that interpreters of the 21st century need now more than ever: EMPATHY, the ability to understand and SHARE the feelings of another human being.

As a trained actor from my days of youth, I believe that many of the techniques that are used by actors should be used by remote interpreters; as conduits of the thoughts of another being, those thoughts never exist in a vacuum. Thoughts are intimately related not only to our culture and the patterns of our society but also to our feelings, for thoughts control feelings (and feelings influence thoughts).

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Meisner acting

Good actors make us suspend disbelief and see THROUGH them the character that they are portraying. We see those “other” human beings (they portray) in all their strength and frailty because the actors are able to get themselves “out of the way” and BECOME a true conduit of the thoughts and feelings of the character they portray.
Good actors, therefore, achieve selfless results (i.e., we see “another” instead of the actor) by developing total EMPATHY for their character. So too, it is my belief, that we, as interpreters, are conduits for the expression of another’s words and feelings. In that sense, it is too little to ask that we “simply” convey words.  We MUST convey the words in total accuracy, but we must ALSO convey the thoughts and feelings that are attached to those words. EMPATHY allows us to do so, or at least to try our best.  It is this human-ness that will indeed separate us from the likes of bilingual Siris!

In accordance with the website “Skillsyouneed.com“:

Empathy is, at its simplest, awareness of the feelings and emotions of other people. It is a key element of Emotional Intelligence, the link between self and others, because it is how we as individuals understand what others are experiencing as if we were feeling it ourselves

Three Types of Empathy

Psychologists have identified three types of empathy: cognitive empathy, emotional empathy and compassionate empathy.

  • Cognitive empathy is understanding someone’s thoughts and emotions, in a very rational, rather than emotional sense.
  • Emotional empathy is also known as emotional contagion, and is ‘catching’ someone else’s feelings, so that you literally feel them too.
  • Compassionate empathy is understanding someone’s feelings, and taking appropriate action to help.

So, how do we develop EMPATHY?  There are many techniques and exercises.  I found some very interesting by Martha Beck, appropriately called The Empathy Workout:

[Excerpts]
EXERCISE 1: LEARNING TO LISTEN
…start with conversation. Once a day, ask a friend, “How are you?” in a way that says you mean it. If they give you a stock answer (“Fine”), repeat the question: “No, really. How are you?”   You’ll soon realize that if your purpose is solely to understand, rather than to advise or protect, you can work a kind of magic: In the warmth of genuine caring, people open up like flowers….

EXERCISE 2: REVERSE ENGINEERING
Some mechanical engineers spend their time disassembling machines to see how they were originally put together. You can use a similar technique to develop empathy, by working backward from the observable effects of emotion to the emotion itself.  Think of someone you’d like to understand…Remember a recent interaction… Now imitate, as closely as you can, the physical posture, facial expression, exact words, and vocal inflection they used during that encounter. Notice what emotions arise within you. What you feel will probably be very close to whatever the other person was going through…

EXERCISE 3: SHAPE-SHIFTING
In folklore, shape-shifters are beings with the ability to become anyone or anything. As a child, I was fascinated by this concept and used to pretend that I could instantaneously switch places with other people, animals, even inanimate objects… I recommend you try it, soon. See that strange man in the orange polyester suit putting 37 packets of sweetener into his extra-grande mochaccino with soy milk? What if—zap!—you suddenly switched bodies with him? What would it be like to wear that suit, that face, that physique? What impulse would lead to sugaring a cup of coffee like that, let alone drinking it?

EXERCISE 4: METTA-TATION
World-class empathizers…conduct a daily regimen of metta, or lovingkindness, meditation. This involves focusing all of one’s attention on a certain individual and offering loving wishes to that person with each breath you take, for several minutes at a time. Classic metta practice starts with your own sweet self. For five minutes, with each breath, offer yourself kind thoughts… Then switch the focus of your kind thoughts onto a friend or family member. When you feel a sense of emotional union with that person, target someone you barely know….


ACTION ITEM:  Give it a try!

Remote Interpreting: The Elephant in the Room (by Barry Olsen)

Remote Interpreting: Feeling Our Way into the Future Published by The ATA Chronicle New communications technologies make interpreting available where it wasn’t in the past. We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to shape the way we will work remotely, because what’s going on is game changing and shaking our profession from top to bottom. In April […]

via Remote Interpreting: The Elephant in the Room — A Word In Your Ear

What a Difference Three Decades Make!

Preamble for translators and interpreters: Maybe (just maybe) machines will not replace “all” human translators and interpreters, but all of us will be replaced by some language experts using the latest technologies. It is therefore paramount to play catchup and get on-board with actions to become technologically savvy without delay!

I recently read an 11/29/17 Washington Post Article by Marwa Eltagouiri about an 84-year-old physician who lost her license to practice medicine because she refuses to use a computer, thus failing to comply with New Hampshire State Law on medical record-keeping protocols. In reality, the case centers more around the opioid epidemic and this physician’s inability to meet the State’s electronic drug monitoring program regulations. Whatever the situation, the entire case goes to underline the “electronic” (vs. paper) component that is clearly at the heart of the issue. Regardless of what the physician believes, it is now the law to keep electronic records. That is how fast the world has moved forward in ascertaining the cyberspace as the “factual” space, as well as modern technologies as the underpinning supports for some interactions.

Although some discussions are still going on as to whether doctors have it “better” or “worse” today as a result of this technological revolution, such disagreements are do not change the fact that things “are” what they are.

Just 30 years ago –which, in historical terms, is a short period– the National Institutes of Health via NCBI still wondered if doctors had a positive or negative attitude towards computers! From those “opinion pieces,” we now see ourselves working in a world completely different from the one for which most “older” physicians were preparing 30 or 40 years ago. Everyone in the healthcare and medical fields has had to “suffer” through a very steep technology-learning curve, especially in the last two decades. In 1999 I was working at a large insurance company that employed many nurses and doctors, and I remember all of them saying they would never -ever!- use computers.

Life is not a straight line. At the end of the last century (Wow! that sounds like a long time ago!), we were implementing (*) Y2K conformity requirements, (*) the newly instituted HIPAA provisions (or equivalent efforts in other parts of the world), and (*) the novel C.L.A.S. mandate (and other cultural competency efforts around the globe). In the last 15-20 years, these monumental programs were incorporated into our routine and are now a “mainstream” aspect of our daily life.

My point, then, is that our “way of life” –our daily activities as we perceive them today– is a concept that must be re-evaluated constantly as internal and external forces change and shape it into something different than what we were “used to” just a few years ago. The rate of innovation brought about by the accelerated developments in available technologies is speeding up such rate of change. I look at my grandkids, and all of them were born after Y2K. Even for my adult children, the Cold War is a remote history lesson. Yesterday, TCM showed a movie from my youth and talked about the cinematographic importance of this “classic.” Statistically speaking, a hundred years ago I would have been dead already for a couple decades, as life expectancy for women did not even reach 40 years old!

We must at all times be aware of our surroundings, which includes perceiving, understanding, and adapting to the technological changes (extraordinary and progressive) going on around us!

Learning to Improve Our Use of LinkedIn

I met Debbie Wemyss of DW Consulting Solutions LLC via the excellent seminars offered by the Small Business Administration’s SCORE program. I attended one of her training sessions on how to harness the power of Linkedin and came out of that class with a list of ways to connect with other professional and business interests in this cyber world platform. I am working on some of her tips and tricks but quote below some of her “Favorite tips for Linkedin Success” which are just the tip of the iceberg….

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  1. Back up your Connections – Get an Excel file of first/last names, title, company, email of all 1st level Connections. The default ‘Fast File’ will be ready to download in just 10 minutes! HOW: Click ‘Me’ in black navigation bar at top; choose Settings & Privacy; scroll down to ‘Get an Archive…’; click Fast File.
  2. Profile  Summary – Start it with a dynamic sentence or two to grab the Viewers’ attention! You must get them to click ‘see more’ to expand the rest of your Summary content.
  3. Include a CTA in your Summary – Viewers will not have access to your phone/email under Contact & Personal Info UNTIL they Connect with you. Include that info right in your Summary. Make it easy for interested members to reach you – don’t expect them to leave LinkedIn to search your website!
  4. Stay in front of your audience – A surefire way to do this is to post an Update on a regular basis (1x daily) that has value: Industry news, milestones, press releases, conference reviews, networking intentions, recognition accolades, etc. +TIP: Best time to post: M-F 7am-9am, 11am-1pm, 8pm-11pm (LinkedIn’s research). Include a photo or image whenever possible.
  5. Explore Groups – Especially those that are likely to appeal to your target audience. Use appropriate keywords to Search for Groups with large #’s of members. You’ll super-charge your Network. You can directly communicate up to 15x monthly with selected Group members so be selective! (+TIP: Group Members can also post available jobs – for free – using the Group / Jobs tab on Conversation boards.
  6. Personalize EVERY Invitation – Always… always…always! HOW: The onlyway to ‘Add a note’ is to click Connect ON THE MEMBER’S PROFILE. Clicking Connect anywhere else auto-sends a wordless invitation to connect…..

DON’T DO THIS! ARE YOU MAKING THESE COMMON MISTAKES? 

  1. Forget your Settings & Privacy Controls: Always be aware of how and what you are displaying to Viewers of your profile. Take a few minutes to fo through your Settings. Click Me > Settings & Privacy > Review Basic > then Review Privacy list as well.
  2. Auto-send a wordless Invitation: Always visit the Member’s profile and click Connect from there to ‘Add a note’ to personalize your Invitation. Mobile: On profile, look for 3 tiny dots in upper right & click for personalization option. Your Invitation is 5x more likely to be accepted. (LinkedIn’s research)
  3. Pitch while thanking: I see this way too often: A ‘thank you for connecting’ note that turns into a lengthy pitch. Just don’t do this! You must build a relationship, establish the know-like-trust factor, and discover their ‘pain’ before you can attempt to offer a solution.

UNQUOTE
(Reference: http://myemail.constantcontact.com/TIPS-to-get-the-most-out-of-LinkedIn.html?soid=1113533254011&aid=P0gQVU1EOPM)

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As a micro-entrepreneur, I wear many different hats every day. From content creator to educator to business administrator to customer service agent, to tax accountant, and of course, the dreaded functions of marketing and sales. These last two are, for me, the most difficult task in the entire experience of entrepreneurship. Although I recently completed a Certificate in Small Business and Entrepreneurship (complementary to my BS in Business Management), all the theory (and even practice) learned serve little purpose to my end goals of selling my courses at a profit. I have learned through the years that you may have a “warehouse” -physical or in cyberspace- full of the most fantastic products, but if you don’t know how to take them to market, it is the same as having nothing at all. On the other hand, I have seen individuals with very doubtful products become millionaires because they simply were genius at marketing their product or idea. It is a skill like any other but, just as you can learn some skills, it is also true that you can “not” learn other skills. If you lack balance, you will not be able to ride a bike.

I have reached the point where I must admit my Marketing & Sales “gene” is yet to be found! That is why my learning experience with Debbie about all the fantastic opportunities rendered by Linkedin will come in so handy in 2018 and beyond. Until now, I have used this medium more as a sort of professional Facebook account than as a marketing tool. I learned so many tips and tricks, that my readers hopefully will be seeing some changes in the coming months. I learned that I could not do certain things in Linkedin: for example, to comply with Linkedin’s User Agreement Regulations (I admit I had not read them), I had to close an account I was using to promote my business! Instead of it, I had to open an “appropriate” company account in Linkedin for BRAUERTRAINING under my “personal” profile (I did not know that!). I am now merging, updating and upgrading the “combined” pages. I will also be adding at least three new contacts every day and will be giving and asking for recommendations. I will be more proactive in my networks and groups…. ufff… sounds like a lot of work… and it is… but at least I believe it is grounded in solid recommendations.

Finally, if you let me know what subjects you would like me to address in 2018, I will start researching those topics and hopefully providing insights in the matters that are important to us as language experts or language-experts-to-be! Also, let me know where I can improve…. I am always receptive to comments and suggestions. Feel free to send me a note via Linkedin or email me at claudia@brauertraining.com. Thank you for your continued support!

PS: Also, make sure to check upcoming training sessions using the ProZ.com platform, visiting http://www.proz.com/trainer/1271125.

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I am not the expert on Linkedin, so I will refer you to some of Debbie’s articles that will provide some fantastic tips…. and make sure to follow her and take some of her training sessions. They are worth your time!

Debbies short video

Half a Billion Members

Audience and Posts