GALA Champion Klaus Fleischmann
In this series of interviews, GALA members share their insights on the pursuit of globalization & localization brilliance. This week:
What’s in a Job Title
My academic title is “MA” (from Monterey) and “MAS” (from Austria, TechComm). I never use the titles. The only one who really liked it was my mother (MAMAS Klaus) My job title is CEO, but actually I am not the CEO, because I do not enjoy managing. Fortunately, I normally manage to not be involved in the daily operations. I am the techy guy in our company. I am in charge of product innovation and sales. The promise maker. I follow what is happening in the industry and try to shape it. I try to see what else our customers could need. I align our product and service offering to match that.
Starting Out in the Localization Industry
I started in 1993 in Monterey, CA, as one of the first hires in a local translation agency (thank you, Steve, for convincing my boss). I have always been very techy, so among the things that I introduced there right away was a computer network (no more moving files on floppy disks!), an internet account (wow!), and I introduced translation memory technology from an unknown German startup called Trados. We acquired really cool accounts based on this combination of technology and services. This is my approach even today: tech enabled services. After coming back from the US, I promised my wife not to start a translation agency, so I started a software company. Called Trados and got beyond the “no”. Also got into content. Eventually developed my own software, which is now the main driver. Eventually I also acquired an LSP.
Where GALA Fits In
I joined GALA for two reasons.
1) Networking, so you don't feel as alone in the industry and seeing how others are managing certain things. The closeness and friendliness between the stakeholders in our industry is totally stunning and something I enjoy tremendously, so I want to help foster it. I believe in giving first and then ultimately receiving. If we all give, we logically all receive. The ultimate way of contributing to this, I thought, was joining the board. This was an amazing experience. Not only to look behind the tremendous efforts in running an association and the amazing people that it requires. But also the kind of issues you hear and discuss which you had no idea even existed before. It very much opened my mind. And of course the intensity of working together very closely with the other board members, who in most other industries would be considered competitors, was fascinating. I probably would never have learned so much about localization in Egypt or the AV localization industry in China. Being able to work on the program for the GALA conference of course felt really good, since you are able to co-shape this amazing industry event.
2) Helping our industry evolve. I like to drive topics that are an issue for all of us and see us overcome them. That's why TAPICC is so important for me, but also education, training, and sharing knowledge. I think I was quite instrumental in getting TAPICC off the ground, together of course with other GALA board members and ambassadors. We had really good traction in the first two years. Unfortunately, since it depends on volunteer actions, plus Corona, it got stuck at 90% completion. But it is on my radar to try to push this again.
On a personal level: Running a successful company AND having a great family. On a professional level: Having built what I think is the best terminology solution in the market purely out of organic growth with no venture capital or so.
Career-Building Tips for Localization Pros
I have two tips. A very specific one: Customer support is really important. (Thank you, Anne-Marie, for this one.) We have concentrated on good support meaning happy customers and this has helped us grow. It really hurts me personally when I see a customer is not getting their value out of what they paid for. The same holds for process managers in the LSP. A very generic one: "When you get to a fork in the road, take it". In other words: Success comes not from what you learn or your expertise or just hard work. It is quite honestly pure luck. But there are those who see a lucky chance and grab it, and those who are blind to it or too scared to grab it.
Networking Tips and Strategies
To my students: Get business cards and hand them out. Many opportunities present themselves at the weirdest places, and you need to give people something they can take along to remember you. I got my first job because I had a business card, and a few clients along the road as well. To myself: Come on, can you please finally learn to remember names and faces? (I still can't...)
I find inspiration in nature: Hiking up on a mountain top puts a down-to-earth perspective on so many things and helps me ground myself. Hiking forces you to concentrate on what you are doing and stops the monkey-mind from going all over the place. Climbing is even better, but I tore a tendon two years ago and have to come back. Professionally, talking to clients. Finding out what bothers them, what they want fixed, where we can help.
My Brilliant Second Career
If I didn't work in the language industry (and money wasn't a factor), I would be a global mountain guide taking people into nature. Particularly people who do not know this part of the world even exists.