Another week another debate on another forum I follow. The hot topic this time was why senior translators are happy to share info on bad payers in blacklists, but are unwilling to give out any information on good clients. This is not entirely accurate in my case. I’m more than happy to leave positive reviews for great clients on different sites and platforms if they ask; what I am not willing to do is go online on a public forum with hundreds of translators and just give out potentially confidential information without client knowledge or consent.
In context, the more reasonable newbies were simply expressing their frustration at how hard it is to find good clients and were asking why seniors can’t be more supportive and give them some leads. However, the less reasonable newbies just did a lot of complaining and accused us seniors of being insensitive to their struggles, threatened by the younger generations, or just flat out selfish and petty (not necessarily in those words, though).
These claims were met with polite responses from seniors explaining the importance of client-confidentiality, the principle of fair competition in market economies, etc. But still some newbies were not convinced and others even seemed offended that this valuable information was not simply handed to them on a silver platter. So here’s my message to the angrier and more frustrated newbies in the bunch:
As much as I sympathize with your situation, I don’t think seniors would be doing you any favors by just handing things to you as if you were incapable of getting them on your own.
First, we would be denying you the wonderful sense of accomplishment that comes with experiencing the professional world and achieving your goals. All the seniors in the forum are more than happy to help you learn about marketing and business practices; they are even willing to teach you about market economies and competition. They are simply unwilling to do the marketing and business work for you. The principle behind this is simple: Give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach him how to fish and you have fed him for a lifetime.
Second, we’d be robbing you the opportunity to learn from the struggles of the first few years in the translation business. Building a solid client base takes a lot of trial and error and there are bound to be many disappointments along the way. But here’s the good news: “That which does not kill us makes us stronger”; and though I’m not a big fan of Nietzsche’s, this one’s spot-on. Every experience, whether positive or negative, is a learning opportunity. If you keep an open and flexible mind, your journey can transform you into whatever you dream to become.
Third, we’d be depriving you of the chance to try to do your own thing your own way. Through trial and error you will learn what to negotiate and how; you will experience the ins-and-outs of the business; you will develop an eye for opportunity and, in the words of one of my favorite country singers, you’ll learn “when to hold ’em, when to fold ’em, and when to walk away.”
Finally, by denying you this coveted information (which is guarded for very sound business reasons, by the way), we are helping you leave behind infantile feelings of entitlement that you need to outgrow and overcome if you want to strive and succeed in any professional environment. Because we won’t just give you our client base and tell you which companies we work with (which you could probably find out anyway if you just did the right research), we’re reminding you that you’re all grown up now, you’re a pro. Nobody’s going to give you anything you haven’t earned. So when you do earn it, you’ll be able enjoy and appreciate it. Being told “no” and feeling forced to get out into the real world and make it on your own will help you mature, gain confidence, and write your own story based on your own experiences.
Finding and securing clients is your job; it comes with the territory, a territory into which we have warmly welcomed you. We’ll help you learn how to do it, we’ll warn you about bad payers, but we won’t do your work for you, and it’s in your own best interest to learn to appreciate that and make the best of it.