Speaking The Language Of Business With Wendy Pease
People often forget that you don't have to start a business from the ground up. You can easily just buy one and grow it yourself. This is what language translation expert Wendy Pease did. Wendy is the Founder and President of Rapport International. They provide professional translation and interpreting services that serve global and local brands. Join your host Tony Martignetti and his guest Wendy Pease on how she found the language of business. Learn how she jumped all over the place from job to job before buying her own company. Discover her love for culture, language, and business growing in today's episode.
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Speaking The Language Of Business With Wendy Pease
Wendy Pease is a Language Translation Expert and Partner at Rapport International, a company that provides professional translation and interpreting services that serve global and local brands.
It is my honor to introduce you to my guest, Wendy Pease. Wendy’s superpower is connecting people because she thinks that with the right contacts, people can become more prosperous and the world can be more peaceful, which is beautiful. She is the President of Rapport International, a language services company that transforms your communications into any language, whether it's written, spoken, virtual or technical.
She loves helping people figure out the best way to handle their multilingual communications. She also sits on the Multicultural Committee for the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau and is a member of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion consortium of Lowell. I want to welcome you to the show, Wendy.
Thank you. It's great to be here.
I'm looking forward to understanding what brought you to this place where you are now, helping people with all of their needs in communication and understanding all the pivot points and turns that your career has taken to get you here.
If we are at a virtual campfire, I feel like you should be passing me a s’more. It’s my favorite food.
I will send virtual s'mores at some point. I will figure out how to do that.
Speaking of s'mores, I was a Girl Scout when I was little. You were asking about what brought me to where I am and that would have to be living internationally as a child. I lived in Mexico for 1st and 2nd grade and went to a school where I spent half the day in Spanish classes and half the day in English classes. I spent six months in the Philippines. We are supposed to move to India but because of the Pakistani and Indian War, we’ve got diverted to the Philippines for six months.
They opened a new agricultural research center in Taiwan. That’s what my dad did so we went there and I went to 3rd and 4th grade. As a youngster, I was different. I was pointed out and touched for having blond hair and white skin. I grew to love all sorts of people. It's taken years to figure out that if you have clear communication, you can avoid a lot of troubles in the world. I love what I do.
I love that you started right there in the early days. Having that foundational experience as a child is amazing. I love the fact that travel is an experience that educates people. At first, and maybe you were too young to feel this, were there any fears that you had that made you feel uncomfortable at any point? Were you uncomfortable being the oddball out?
It's less about fears but not feeling included. What we hear a lot about in the Black Lives Matter and discrimination is let the voices be heard for their reality and I certainly felt that way when I looked different. My experience was nothing like what goes on here in the United States but I can remember feeling different, having to work extra hard to make friends and wondering how things were going to be done.
I went to a school in the Philippines and I can remember my nails weren't short or clean enough so my hands got slapped with a ruler, which had never happened before. I didn't even know that was a thing that you had to do for school. I was a kid. I was outside playing all the time. It's almost embarrassing to mention it.
We are going into your childhood days here but do you remember anything about your parent’s advice to you about how to be a child in these different cultures? Was there anything that stuck out to you? In other words, tagging along with your parents to these places, which is an amazing opportunity. At the same time, your parents must have understood that you are going to be the oddball in these communities. Did they give you any advice? Did they say anything to you about how to be in the world? Was it like, “Just be you?”
You are applying the norms now to something that happened many years ago or maybe it was a view of my family. We are on an adventure. We are going to have fun. In Taiwan, they were building the research area that we lived at and there were big boa constrictors on the yard sometimes. There were no songbirds because a lot of them were killed by locals to eat because they were a delicacy. There were poisonous and dangerous things that we had. A rooster was running around that would peck at my younger brother, who was a toddler at the time. Life was an adventure. You went on and picked yourself up and said, “What's next?”
Don't say goodbye; say "see you later" because you'll never know when people will circle back into your life.
A lot of it is an experiential situation. You kept on going and moving forward. Whatever happened, happened. It seemed like the family ethos was that way, not just you but it was everybody.
The lesson that I learned is it's an adventure and let's look at the bright side. We don't need to dwell on the negative. That was a lot of moving to elementary school. The message was, “No, we are not going to say goodbye. We will say, ‘See you later,’” because you never know when people will circle back into your life.
Tell me what happens next for this child that you are. As you moved through all these different countries and you are picking up languages and ways of being in the world, what happened next in terms of the chapter in your life as you moved along?
My dad got an offer to be a professor at Penn State and my mom had dropped out of school to marry my dad. The timing was good for her to go back. She ended up getting her PhD. She did that while they had three kids at home. It was a busy time. I can remember in high school saying to my dad that I wanted to be an interpreter. His advice, which was sage at the time was, “Go learn the languages, become bilingual but also specialize in an area.”
That's still the advice I would give to interpreters or translators nowadays. What we see is they need to know not only to be fully bilingual in their languages but if they know Chemical Engineering, there's a certain translation we will send to them versus if it's a medical communications letter. I always had that interest in language, culture and travel that stuck with me.
There’s something that you said that made me think of the nuance that comes with truly understanding a language. It's not about the technical translation. It's about understanding what's not being said. It’s the underlying story.
The example that I love is a lot of leaders in leadership talks and training will say that the translation for crisis means danger, opportunity in Chinese. It means danger-decision point. The real meaning is, this is not opportunity, which means all positive. A crisis can be positive or something could go horribly wrong. Danger-decision point is the actual translation but the word would be crisis. If you google it, it comes up as a critical machine, which has nothing to do with the crisis. You look at the 3 or 4 levels of translation that are there and a good translator has to understand what the meaning is behind it.
Communication and connection are such important things for you. What does get lost in translation when people are communicating across cultures?
Sometimes there's no word for it. I love this example. I can't remember the Japanese word but there's a word that says, “Let's stall. Let's not do anything. Let's see what happens.” The US sent a message to the Japanese government back in World War II and said, “If you don't surrender now, we are going to bomb you.” The leader used that word but it was mistranslated into, “We are not going to do anything.” The US dropped the nuclear bomb. Look at how important one word can be and how it's communicated.
It makes me think of the facial, being able to read people's faces too. It's not just the words but it's the facial recognition. Being able to see people makes a big difference because you get the tone of what people mean and not just the words. If someone would be saying, “Don't do this,” you can see that they mean no versus yes by the way that they are bringing their face into the room and talking to you.
A question for you, is the visual the same on video? Does it have to be in real life as we are segregated these days to virtual meetings?
What I started to think about is, whether or not there's an element of the video and in-person being quite the same. Most people will say that being on video, being able to have the visual of another person in front of you doesn't lose the connection that you get from being in person. Whereas not having any facial at all and any visual of someone else, you are going to miss a lot of the communication that happens between two people. When you were talking about the loss in translation between two different languages, the elements of even more loss of communication between not having the facial connection, that's the thing that came to mind.
It's interesting for our medical interpreters. We send them out on appointments. There has been a lot of transition to what can be done over video interpreting. We offer both. The direct line providers like the nurses and doctors still prefer in-person but video can fill a need there. If you think about from telephone to video, to in-person, they are all different things. We are seeing that depending on what the situation is, is what modality people are going to use.
In-person is something that we are all missing and it's something that we want to get back to because nothing replaces that.
I miss hugs.
I would love to get back to some of the elements of your story. You decided you wanted to be an interpreter. You decided to go into that as a study.
No, I didn't. I said that and he said, “Go learn the languages but study something else.” I majored in Foreign Service and International Politics with a minor in Business. I took bunches of Spanish classes and even took a lot of French classes. I decided not to major in it to get a subject and I thought I was going to go on to law school but when I graduated, I ended up moving to California and getting into sales and loving that because sales are solving problems and lawyers are dealing with problems. Sales give solutions and lawyers get problems.
There's an element of people and connection that happens in both places. With a lawyer, you are always going to be dealing with people and people's problems in general. There's a commonality, a theme.
I like to solve things.
Tell me more, what happens next? What led you down your path to where you are now?
I started a business and ran it out there. We provided medical-legal experts for lawyers. I ran that business and then some laws changed and I was losing interest. I didn't know how to grow a business. I thought, “I have always planned on going back to graduate school. It's time.” I fell in love with the language of business and wanted to learn more about how to grow businesses. I moved back East and went to Dartmouth and got my MBA where I focused on, “Let's learn how to grow businesses.” It was a great experience.
You fast-forwarded there quickly around, “I started a business and did my thing.” You made it seem like it was effortless. Tell me about the early days of starting a business after coming out of college?
I did skip over a bunch. Coming out of college, I worked temp for about a year because I could support myself and get exposure to a lot of different industries, and that's when I figured out that I like sales. I went to work for a gentleman who had a startup company, leading the initiative of wellness in the workplace.
It was right around the time when they were realizing that healthy employees made more productive employees and health clubs or workout rooms going into buildings and how do you think about that. It was in the early stages. He was also doing some sales consulting. I went to work for some companies, learned how to tell a market and learn how to do in-person sales calls. I did a lot of traveling and selling.
I landed at a company that was called First Western Medical Group, which was a doctor's office and the doctors would come in there and they would do the medical evaluations. I didn't go right into owning my own company. I saved up enough money to travel through Europe. When I turned 26, I was on a four-month journey through Europe with the backpack on my back. I left in September so it wasn't the summer crowds. It was amazing. I met a friend, Katie, who lives down in Florida. She’s still a good friend of mine. I wish I saw her more. I had a great time.
I then came back and went, “What am I going to do now?” I thought, “I could go work for a company.” I had some of the doctors who had left First Western Medical Group and they said, “We have our own practice. We want more of this medical-legal report writing. Can you help us do it?” I said, “Sure.” I started a company called MacKenzie Connections.
Life is an adventure. You pick yourself up and go on to what's next.
It was connecting people. A handshake was the logo. My maiden name was MacKenzie and I have kept my last name Pease even though I'm divorced because I have two boys whose last name is the same. That's why it was called MacKenzie Connections. It was scheduling, marketing, selling office and pulled in other doctors.
I then built the relationships up with the attorneys and we scheduled according to the schedules and then the people went off to the doctor’s offices. It was great. It was a need. The reports would tell the courts how injured the person was so they could figure out the legal case and what had to happen. It married my love of fitness, medical in all that side and my love of legal, my interest in that area and working with smart people.
The only missing piece so far is language and interpretation, which I'm sure it's going to come to a head. I love the fact that you are getting that experience of the clues that are being left. There are little clues that are being left as you move along your path, little things that are being revealed. That's pretty cool. Tell me what happened next. You are in California at this point.
I graduated from Penn State. On the floor of graduation, I said, “I'm going to move to California.” I had $800 that I had saved up and my parents gave me a one-way ticket to California for my graduation present. I’ve got a little bit of risk-taking in me. I moved out there and made a life for myself for ten years. The business was running its course because they changed some laws about reimbursement for the reports and the laws affected it severely. I didn't have the energy to take it on to change it.
I wanted to go back to graduate school and I figured it was about time. I graduated undergrad at twenty. This was about 30 that I was like, “If I'm going to do it, now is the time to do it.” I decided that I wanted to get an MBA so I applied to two places. I was in the middle of another application when I’ve got the call from Dartmouth that said I’ve got in and it was the place that I wanted to go to. I sold off the house I was living in, packed up my stuff into storage and drove cross country for six weeks, camped, biked and went on to get my MBA.
You’ve got your MBA and then you decided that you are going to see what happens next. There was no real laid plan. You are seeing where the world will take you next. At this point, you are on the East Coast enjoying the cold weather, of course. It’s what we normally have here.
Dartmouth is located down the street from the Army cold-weather research center. I could not get over that when I was living there. I'm like, “I left California to live near the cold weather research center.” I loved it. It's gorgeous up there.
What happened? You graduated. Did you have kids at this point?
No kids yet. I learned about the venture capital industry while I was there. I took a class on that. I was like, “This is my dream, growing businesses.” I love that. I interviewed and got a position at a portfolio company of a venture capital firm. I ended up working with three different companies through this venture capital firm. It looks like my resume shows that I jumped all over the place right afterward but it was from this venture capital company putting me in different places.
In one, I helped the company go public. The other one, I helped build out their business development. That one was interesting. They were a multilingual telemarketing company, which I loved. You had Muslims in there that were praying, Latino sections that were speaking Spanish, Haitian Creoles and transvestites. You had this huge mix of people and I’ve got such a kick out of it because I loved the diversity. That's what made them successful because that's what they focused on.
You are in this place where you can get exposure to a lot. What would make you want to move on from working at a company or an organization like that?
I met a guy. I was in Philadelphia and he was in Atlanta. We decided to get engaged and drive cross country because he had never done that and I had always wanted to. We did that. We took two and a half months to drive cross country and we saw a lot of wonderful parts of the US.
Adventure and travel have been such an important part of what drives you. It’s almost what pulls you forward into the next thing. Every new adventure brings you into the next thing that you are meant to do in the world it seems.
That love of culture, diversity and travel. On our trip, we are looking for the perfect place to live because neither one of us wanted to settle in Atlanta. No offense to Atlanta but that wasn't where we wanted to be. We wanted to be back in the northeast. We talked about New Mexico at one point but we ended up landing in Sudbury, Massachusetts. It’s the perfect place to live.
Nothing is perfect, but it's got soccer fields, the woods close by. The missing element that you don't know until you get into the school system or start opening your eyes is it's not diverse. That has been negative about Sudbury but here we have a language services company smack dab in the middle of Sudbury so I get my culture that way.
You have this business that has taken off and has done amazing work in the world. Tell me exactly what do you do. What does your organization do for these companies? It seems like it's across the board.
The company has been around since 1987. I bought it in 2004. People who are thinking that they want to own their own business don't often think about going out and buying a business but you have a higher likelihood of success. For anybody who’s reading, go search, buy a business and look at it. There are different ways you can get financing for it. That's what I ended up doing. It was a woman that had started the company and she had raised her kids, run it and was ready to move on.
It was perfect timing for me because I wanted to own my own company. I love to work. I work plenty of hours but I don't like a real structured workday, particularly when I was raising kids. Owning a company like this, I have been able to build it family-friendly, hire people and recognize that they have families as long as we are getting our job done and covering the phones, email or wherever we are getting information.
I love your approach to looking at it, buy a business. Not a lot of people think that way. It is a brilliant way to approach something that you find the dream or the thing that you want to accomplish. It doesn't mean you have to build from scratch. You can go out and find something and then put your fingerprint on it. The way that you are operating it and the way that you are called to operate is amazing that you are doing it that way. You are calling the shots. The idea is you want to make sure you are hiring people who also think the same way you do.
We have been virtual since before the Cloud. You should have seen the things we were trying to figure out how to do before the Cloud came around. Now it's easy. You can run a virtual company, no problem. Going into the shutdown was a problem for us but we could continue much easier than every other company could in an office.
I want to ask you a question and usually, I would ask about what are the three lessons or so that you have gleaned from your journey. Instead of that, what are the themes that you have seen that have risen from your journey of getting to where you are from the child who was different from everyone else?
Somebody was telling me about the book, The Power of Now. All my decisions have been made on where I am now in my life. Appreciating the pluses and minuses of growing up, moving so much and living in such drastically different undeveloped areas. When I was young, accepting the goodness of that and being curious.
Sales get solutions; lawyers get problems.
There are a bunch of other careers that I could have gotten into and also been happy about. All roads lead to this. I had expressed an interest in interpreting when I was young and then ended up in the language services industry, in which translation is written and interpreting as spoken. We do both. Younger, I would have been more of an interpreter. Older now, I would be more of a translator.
For me, I love languages, culture and travel. This work has worked out there for a while. When I talked about living in California and working at the startup company, that was all in health and wellness. I love health and wellness. I work out every day. I enjoy it. It’s my stress release. This is what I prefer to do. When I’ve got into that industry, it took a hobby of mine and it made it drudgery. That industry didn't work for me. If you hear people say, “Take something off your hobby and try to do it.” Recognize you've got a lot of different parts and one you may want to keep as a hobby and another one may work well as a career.
I appreciate you finding those nuggets in there. When you reflect on the story and I mentioned a couple of times about clues, success leaves clues and it's in weird places. You follow where things have shown up in your story and you start to say, “That's where that came from. That's where this is all led me to.” They don't show up serendipitously. There's a pattern or theme that runs in everyone's life. That's a beautiful way to think about how success happens.
I will have to go back to more of your show because if you see that there's a theme and a pattern that runs through everybody's lives, it makes sense. When you have talked to as many people as you have, I have to go back and pay attention to that. I didn’t think of it that way.
Your story bore it out well because there are a lot of common themes that I have seen and in other people's stories, too.
That's good, you pull them out.
That's what the fun of this is. I love being able to do this with people like you. I would love to shift gears a little bit to something more lighthearted and talk about what is a book that's shaped your life.
I was on a walk with a friend of mine and we started talking about The Red Tent. I read that years ago. It's about women when they are on their monthly cycle, they are considered dirty so they weren't allowed to touch the food. They would have to go to this tent but it ended up being such a social bonding place for women. It's history. It's historical fiction that comes alive. It's about women in history, which there haven't been a lot of those kinds of books. It's the power of women bonding and supporting each other. It's by Anita Diamant. It's a lovely book.
I have never heard of it. That's fantastic when you can bring together history, some great lessons and things that bring people forward. I love recommendations like that, especially things that have shaped people's lives. That's a great recommendation.
It was memorable to me. I can remember that book that long because I read it all the time. If you mention it to anybody who has read it, they will go, “I love that book.” If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it.
Now that we are talking about books, have you ever read a book in another language?
Yes. I took Advanced Spanish in high school and we had to read Don Quixote in Spanish. It was awesome. I look back and I'm like, “I was good.” If you don't use it, you lose it. Now, I do all the business side. Our linguists are fully bilingual and phenomenal. I'm not doing that.
That would be my challenge. I’ve got to pick up Don Quixote and read that in Spanish. My Spanish is rusty so I have to pick that up.
I have two boys and they think I'm fully bilingual in Spanish because when we go traveling to a Spanish country, I can converse and I can get by but not enough to do the linguistic work.
Wendy, thank you so much for sharing your story. We hit some of the key landmarks along the way. There's so much more to cover. I want to thank you for sharing all your great stories and insights. It’s remarkable and I’m thankful. Thanks for coming.
Thank you, Tony. Have you had somebody interview you for your show? Your story would be interesting.
I have. It's episode 5th or 6th.
I didn't notice that on the list. I'm going to go back to that. Thank you.
Check that out. I want to make sure people know how to find you. Where can they find more information about you and your company?
I’m highly active on LinkedIn. We post all sorts of language trivia, tidbits and fun. If you like that or want to have some trivia for your next video call, go there and connect with me, Wendy Pease. If you search for Wendy Pease translation expert, I will come up. Our website is RapportTranslations.com. We are always happy to do a free consult or a free multilingual marketing assessment for anybody who's thinking that they need to communicate in another language.
Thank you so much.
I also want to thank the readers.
- Facebook – Inspired Purpose Coach
- Twitter – Tony Martignetti
- LinkedIn – Tony Martignetti
- Rapport International
- Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau
- The Power of Now
- The Red Tent
- Don Quixote
- 5th – Past Episode
- 6th – Past Episode
- Wendy Pease – LinkedIn
- Apple Podcast
About Wendy Pease
Wendy is the leader of the pack. She is the driving force behind Rapport International with expertise in communications and a passion for connecting people around the world. Her background in international relations extends from having majored in foreign service, working in several international and global marketing roles and spending years living abroad.
Wendy loves connecting people through networks and has a fondness for languages and cultures which she feeds with frequent travels to places near and far. Wendy is passionate about her work and enjoys figuring out with clients the best ways to handle their communications process to ensure the highest quality outcomes.
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