“Pleaaasee say yes,” she wrote. “I hope you say yes,” she begged. Clearly, she was desperate. So I asked her if I could get a free laptop and phone out of it. My phone had decided I wasn’t getting enough stress and would just shut off suddenly without any warning. The only way to get it working again was to plug it in and reset the thing. I realized I might as well be carrying around a landline. My laptop was working great though…but you never know, I thought. She offered cake and coffee instead. Sigh.
Ana supervises the team of translators who create the press digests in English every day. I like Ana. She’s quite young and walks the line between the clients and the team working to get the clients what they want, the way they want it, when they want it…every single day. She handles this pressure impressively well. You get the feeling she has about ten more years of experience than she could possibly have judging by her age. In fact, when you walk into Arhimed headquarters, all you see is young people – and everyone seems to be genuinely engaged in what they are doing.
When it comes to the translating team, management has created an environment for them where they feel completely safe in asking for help when they need it and in sharing knowledge with each other. This is necessary because new terms and phrases are coming up almost daily in the media with all the reforms, change, and development going on in the country. And it’s very interesting to notice that the translators feel safe even though they are constantly under assessment.
It all points to one thing, still lacking in most Montenegrin companies: strong management. If for no other reason, one should read Arhimed’s digests because Arhimed deserves your business. The company put a system in place – long before most others understood the necessity – to sustain constant growth and improvement. If you work for Arhimed, management lets you know without reservation who comes first. The client does. But coupled with that is a commitment, and I’d say warm attention, to employees, to training, and to sharing successes and challenges that makes everyone want to do their best. And you might think it’s obvious that the client comes first, but like the concept of good management, it’s not something every company actually puts into practice yet.
Speaking of change let me tell you a story. One day I was standing on a sidewalk near Vektra Square, reading the newspaper, waiting for a taxi. What appeared to be a father and son stood nearby, also waiting. The father might have been in his late 50s and the son in his early 20s. Suddenly, I heard the younger man remark to the older man in Montenegrin (not realizing that I speak the language), “I didn’t know women read the newspaper.” And the older man replied, “Some of them do now.” This was less than a year ago. We’ll skip over the obvious gender issues involved for now. What just happened? This young man now had an image stamped into his mind that had never been there before and could never be taken out. Women who read newspapers were now a part of his configuration. His world had expanded, shifted, and taken on a new shape.
What does this have to do with press digests? Absolutely everything. Montenegro might as well be this young man – just starting out and with a growing awareness of the world beyond his borders and his place in it. Press digests are snapshots of what that young man is thinking about. What his perception is of your company, or your organization, or your international agency, or diplomatic mission. The press digests are snapshots of his perspective on what you are doing. Is it the perspective you want him to have? Read the digests. Does he think about you at all? Read the digests. What does he think about? Are you stirring him into action or boring him into disregarding you? Read the digests.
If you don’t look at these snapshots on a regular basis, you risk missing something equally important to his opinion of you – a shift in direction. He might lean away from you. He might become influenced by forces or attractions other than your own. No one knows what’s up ahead. If we did, 24-hour news service would have no meaning. The press digests flag threats. They also alert you to opportunities – organisations, corporate or otherwise, with which to partner and magnify your results.
I don’t believe any of us can rely on past experience to know what’s ahead. I think the rules of the game are about to change completely. Let me tell you one more story. In 2010, a new generation of kids started their first year of high school at Podgorica’s main college prep school, Slobodan Skerovic. We parents were soon called to a parent-teacher meeting. After the meeting, I stayed to have a chat with the homeroom teacher whom I liked very much. My son had graduated from the same high school and I knew her. She was one of the old guard of teachers who’d been at the school for many years. She told me something very interesting. She said that my daughter’s generation of students, the ones just entering high school that year, were causing a lot of trouble for the teachers. “We just don’t know what to do with them. We don’t know how to talk to them. They don’t listen. They are completely different from all the generations of kids we’ve ever had,” she said.
Those kids are now 21. They are a completely new breed of Montenegrins, out there walking the streets. These are hybrids – raised on the internet from early childhood – who think like no other Montenegrins ever thought before.
I don’t see any clients, except maybe one, asking for press information about youth. Each translator working at Arhimed has a group of little folders appearing on the right-hand side of his or her screen for each client labelled by the subjects ordered. He or she will check each of those folders every day and digest any relevant news in there.
If you are a client and one of your little folders isn’t labelled Youth, it should be.
The past is clearly visible but Montenegro is finally turning its gaze and looking in the other direction which offers little visibility but so much expectation. As the news flows in every morning, I can hardly wait to learn of each new development as it appears.
Barbara Berest, Translator and Keeper of the Arhimed Style Guide