Meet CSN’s Shaun Daggett Translation Industry translation jobs
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Meet CSN’s Shaun Daggett

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How were you introduced to translation/localization?

I think everyone in this industry has some story of how he or she fell into this profession. I have yet to meet someone who initially intended to be a part of the GILT industry (professional translators excluded). My history in this industry has been well rounded, but not the most interesting journey. I have held positions on both the client and vendor side and now find myself part of something very unique—ClientSide News. I think the most interesting story is not my résumé, but the reluctant birth of ClientSide News.

From that you founded the ClientSide News organization, which publishes a monthly magazine dedicated to delivering business content and information to the client side of this industry. What was it that made you decide to enter magazine publishing and focus on this group?

The honest truth is that ClientSide News chose me, not the other way around. I was working for FrontRange Solutions in the summer of 2001—with the early stages of the .com bubble deflating and just prior to world-changing events of 9/11. As the Senior Manager of Globalization for this company, my biggest challenge was developing its internal workflow model for delivering localized products. When I got there, they really had been in a "brute-force" localization mode with no process or structure. Localization projects ran over time, over budget and the quality level was substandard. I implemented a lot of innovative and powerful solutions within FrontRange to turn this situation around and was on a great path, enjoying my work immensely.

Then, the .com bubble burst and mass layoffs caught up to me along with many others in the company. I found myself unemployed and looking for a job in a market flooded with other casualties of downsizing and layoffs. I honestly could not find a job in this industry, and felt that my best option was to offer consulting services to client organizations that needed guidance in establishing a successful workflow model that reduced overall costs, reduced time to market and successfully integrated with their global goals, budgets and resources.

I honestly felt that this was the real value my skill set and industry experience offered to client companies that didn’t have a big budget for full time staff. I had to find a way to get my new consulting service offering in front of those who could benefit from it, and in a way that established me as knowledgeable, credible and capable of delivering on this promise.

I spent many weeks looking for ways to network and market myself to potential customers with no success. So, I decided to create my own—The ClientSide Newsletter.

CSN started out as a simple newsletter where I authored articles on subjects that I felt would help clients improve some areas of their internal operations, from localization contract negotiations and vendor management solutions to developing product roadmaps and how to accurately budget and forecast across product lines. On October 15, 2001, the first issue of The ClientSide Newsletter went out to a little over 800 contacts I had developed over the years. Over the next few months, this newsletter was gaining momentum and being passed around in a way never expected. By December of that year, I had over 2500 “subscribers” asking for back issues and future editions. The industry was not only accepting what I was putting out there, they were pulling the rope of this newsletter demanding more and more.

Potential advertisers started to approach me and ask for ad space and offer to contribute white papers and their own content. Other clients as well offered to contribute and share their success stories. This thing had a life of its own and I had to make some decisions as to what to do with it. And to be frank, it scared the daylights out of me! I was not a publisher, nor had any experience running or managing anything like this—but I was at a critical juncture and needed to decide how to manage this or cut it loose. It was taking all my time and I had yet to secure one single consulting project for any clients! (Ironically, I was hired as a part time consultant for a leading service provider to help them with their marketing and branding.)

So… I approached a company I was consulting for and made a proposal: hire me as a full-time employee, and take on this newsletter as an internal communication vehicle. Remember, we were now in the throes of an economic recession and this company just couldn’t take on an employee, so the answer was “no.” I thought to myself, “I will use this as a hook to get a real job and make the same proposal to another company that I would like to work for!” It was a brilliant plan, but just as fruitless as the first attempt. I know you are thinking to yourself, “Did he just say he tried to get rid of CSN twice with no success?” Yes, honestly I just wanted a job. I had a family to support and there was no certainty with this newsletter as a business (I wasn’t making any income from it at that time), and I had no experience running such a venture. Nevertheless, there were no jobs to be had and I had to find a way to make this work. Not just work for me, but work for the industry.

I set about finding “angels” in the industry like Ben Martin from JD Edwards and Fiona Agnew from Novell—both leaders and innovators on the client side of the industry—to help get this thing off the ground with sponsorship and financial contributions. I started to network and did research into why this newsletter was so successful, and what was missing from the industry that I could fill with this vehicle, and all the other areas that CSN now fills. Armed with market research and a solid business plan to bring CSN and ClientSide News Magazine to the market, I approached many people throughout the industry for support—and got it. I pulled back from publishing the newsletter, as it was to develop into the CSN, with its first Expo and magazine. In early 2002 CSN held its first expo in Aspen, Colorado and published the first REAL issue of ClientSide News Magazine in April of that year.

And I am proud to say that Shelly and Lisa at McElroy were the first contract advertisers we signed on board and have remained our biggest supporters today. This was one of those rare business starts where I created a marketing vehicle for my consulting services and instead of the consulting taking off, the newsletter did. In the rare instances where something grows on its own, you have to recognize the opportunity at hand and run with the ball. ClientSide News is one of those rare companies that the industry demanded, and I was lucky enough to be able to carry it forward. It has been a tremendous ride to this point!

What are the challenges a publisher faces?

The biggest challenge is finding good content. For so many years in this industry, press releases were cheap advertising. Every press release put out in this industry was published. So, filtering through all of the mostly vast and meaningless press releases to find something interesting, newsworthy and relevant to clients is a real challenge. Another challenge is getting clients to share some of their internal success stories. When clients implement a new solution, develop an internal process that has a real impact on their time to market or some major cost savings, we love to hear about it. But often times adding authoring to their workload is more than they can handle, or it is difficult to get approval to share their intellectual property.

ClientSide News is involved in other activities as well, such as events, education, reports, mentoring, and technology. How do these relate to one another?

With any professional association dedicated to supporting a specific community or demographic within their community, you will find a very similar structure to CSN. Events, educational workshops, industry analysis and reports, as well as specific publications like our magazine and newsletters—each of these solutions and offerings is dedicated to helping the client-side localization professional stay on top of his or her profession and excel.

Your experience places you in the position of knowing the client, vendor and news sides of translation and localization. How has this uncommon set of experiences shaped your perspective?

It is very true, my job is to stay “in the know” about everything going on in this industry, and everything that may have impact on this industry. I feel overwhelmed by the responsibility sometimes and just the sheer volume of information I process each day. But it is very rewarding and very interesting to be in that position.

What have you learned that surprised you the most?

The thing that has surprised me the most about our industry is how incredibly small the world really is how quickly information disseminates in this industry. But the real shock is how EVERYONE knows Renato! [Editor's note: for those of you who are less familiar with our industry, Renato Beninatto, along with Shaun, is another key thought leader in the translation and localization world.]

This month’s issue of E-Buzz is focused on doing business with China, especially for those who may be considering it for the first time. Do you have any thoughts on how a company just entering the global market rapidly matures its operations, particularly in China?

That is a great question. I think often times clients find themselves focusing on China for all the right reasons, but don’t have all the right plans in place before they start focusing on localization for this market. China has many cultural, language and technology challenges as it relates to localization and my advice for first timers entering this market is simply to ask for help. That help is best found with their localization or translation provider. I think one of the biggest mistakes is that first timers underestimate all of these complex challenges, and fail to clearly scope out what it will take from every side of the equation.

What are some pitfalls and rookie mistakes to avoid?

Holding things too close to the vest. Many clients are, for whatever reason, reluctant to communicate effectively with their vendors all their needs. Clients work to keep as much work in house as possible to reduce external (tangible) expenses and don’t realize the soft costs, delays in time to market and slower pace of internal maturation that this causes. New clients need to recognize that localization is a business process that will always be outsourced, and work with their vendors to establish a BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) model in a way that fosters overall savings on both hard and soft costs, provides faster time to market and a rapid maturation of their internal workflow model. All clients new to localization should ask themselves this question: “Are we in the business of translation and localization?” If the answer is no, and 100% of the time it should be, then figure out what makes sense to outsource and work closely and openly with your service provider to make that happen in a way that is beneficial to all.

Are there cost effective ways to adapt existing processes that weren’t originally designed for globalization?

I think when we, as an industry, break out of our cocoon and look at mainstream practices in functional areas that overlap—and adopt some of the mainstream solutions and apply them to our needs, we are in good shape. However, too often in our industry we feel we need to reinvent the wheel. After all, localization is complicated and hard, we have to work out a special way of handling things… or do we? I think we need to start mainstreaming more as an industry and stop falling on back on old habits of assuming everything for the GILT (Globalization, Internationalization, Localization, Translation) industry needs to be custom-made.

Shaun, it’s been a pleasure talking with you. Is there a final word you’d like to leave our readers with today?

Yes, there absolutely is: Thank you.

This industry has been very kind to me in this endeavor. While it takes effort and focus to deliver on a promise, if the industry didn’t pull so hard to make CSN what it is today, I might be bartending instead of publishing CSN!

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