The way that you start your day has a bearing on everything that happens throughout that day. Prepare your mind and your body each morning for what lies ahead and you’ll be in the best possible position to succeed at whatever you do.
Ofer Tirosh is owner and CEO of Tomedes, a translation and interpretation services company that he has led for over a decade. Ofer was driven to start Tomedes by his passion for linguistics and language translation. Today, that same passion is pushing Tomedes to be an industry leader in the provision of language services, translation and localization.
One of Ofer’s reasons for founding Tomedes was his belief that globalization would be key to future business markets and economies. He recognised that any company seeking significant success, influential status and industry authority would need to take a global perspective, including in its approach to use of languages. As such, he founded Tomedes in order to connect businesses with global audiences, affording every business leader the change to make professional translation services a permanent part of their resources.
Ofer’s vision for Tomedes as a part of the translation and localization industry is to completely remove the impediments of linguistic culture and language barriers, in order to allow businesses to work more efficiently, advance technologically, communicate effectively, empathize correctly and interact productively. It may sound idealistic and like the goal of a dreamer, but Ofer firmly believes that it is not an unattainable dream.
Where did the idea for Tomedes come from?
I was fascinated by languages from an early age and throughout my schooling. I actually studied industrial engineering at university, but it was my passion for languages that won out when it came to my career.
Tomedes was born out of this lifelong interest in languages and my firm belief that businesses around the world would need to embrace globalization in order to achieve their maximum potential. I saw how increasingly important it would become to connect companies through professionally delivered translation, interpretation and localization services, so that’s what I set out to provide.
At the same time, I was determined to minimize the cost to my customers, so I set the business up using a remote structure that would ensure translation clients weren’t paying to cover bloated operating costs such as running massive offices. It’s an ethos which remains in place today, with savings passed along to the end users.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I wake up at 6 am and start the day with 10 minutes of meditation and an invigorating 10-minute workout. It’s my way of getting both my mind and my body tuned up ready for the day ahead.
After dashing around with my wife to get our three daughters to school on time, I’m at the main Tomedes office by 8.30 am, ready to start the working day.
Running Tomedes involves a variety of meetings with team members, vendors and clients. I’m constantly seeking ways to further improve our services, so these stakeholder interactions are an incredibly valuable part of my working life. When I’m not in meetings, I’m busy putting those ideas into action!
I head home at 6 pm for a few hours of precious family time before logging back on to work at around 9 pm and catching up with Tomedes members in different time zones.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I’ll ruminate over my ideas myself initially, looking at them from different angles and getting a feel for how they might pan out. I’ll then take the ideas that feel right to my top team. Their insights are invaluable and not every idea makes it past them!
I bring the ideas that make the grade to life by doing all I can to keep everyone who works for Tomedes inspired by their potential. If you explain something clearly and show its benefits, there’s huge potential for motivating people. At the same time, my door is always open to feedback. Everyone is welcome to contribute, from our translators to our clients and this can lead to ideas changing their shape as we bring them to life. It’s a collaborative effort.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The rollout of 5G around the world. We’ve seen a massive increase in video consumption already as a result of 4G networks, with companies changing the way in which they engage with consumers as a result. As our connectivity continues to improve, the use of video will continue to change and expand, and we’ll see some real innovation as a result. We’ll also see video translation demands continuing to grow, as the medium serves to connect more viewers around the world.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I always try to listen without bias. So often, we’re convinced that we already know the answer to something and that colours the way we think about the information we’re receiving.
Instead, I try to clear my mind and assume that I don’t know the solution to the matter question or challenge being posed. Only after I’ve received all of the information do I use the data and insights provided to reach a calculated decision.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Study languages and business at university, instead of industrial engineering!
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I really can’t think of anything to include. I never realised my views were so uncontroversial!
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Communicate openly and clearly. Doing so has been hugely influential in the journey of growing Tomedes from an idea to a team of 50 staff working across Europe, North America, the Philippines and Israel. I was clear from the outset, for example, that superb customer service needed to be a core component of the service that Tomedes offered. Maintaining that core value (and others) as the team became more geographically diverse was a challenge that regular, open communication helped to overcome. And by communication I don’t just mean dictating to staff what they need to do and why! Communication works both ways and listening and empathising are key to building and motivating a team who can share your dream.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Taking things one step at a time. As a translation agency, Tomedes works with clients around the world, so our growth potential was huge even from the outset. However, I wanted to bring structure to our growth plans, so we focused on tackling one continent and its languages at a time. This allowed us to build up our in-house language services and localization expertise in a very considered manner. In turn, that meant a succinct service offering for our clients, backed by established expertise.
At the same time, I built in a certain degree of flexibility, meaning that we were able to respond to the needs of our growing network of blue-chip clients with the services that their businesses needed.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Tomedes is actually my third business. I had to close two ventures before I found success with Tomedes. After each one, I took time to analyse what had and hadn’t worked and why that was. On both occasions I spent time thinking and reading before starting my next venture, rather than rushing into it. I wanted to ensure that I had learned all I could before trying again.
Everyone makes mistakes but unless you keep trying, you’ll never find success!
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
A company that is dedicated solely to correcting machine translation. This is an area of need that’s growing really fast and has big potential in the short to medium term. If computerized translation continues to evolve, then the business will obviously be time-limited, but right now the demand is huge. And given that companies have been trying to crack machine translation for decades, I’m not concerned that it’s going to happen anytime in the near future.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I’m an avid reader so my best recent $100 spend was on a stack of books. The three that stood out for me were Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, Principles by Ray Dalio and Made in America by Sam Walton. I can thoroughly recommend all three!
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
VoIP services. Skype and its ilk have done much to enable us to grow Tomedes into a responsive and flexible global operation without hugely bloating our operating costs. We use different programs to communicate with translators in different countries, in order to comply with local regulations, but VoIP in general has been a core component of our success. With such a stable internet infrastructure around the globe now, VoIP services can deliver a reliable means of keeping in touch regardless of where you’re working from.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Messy Middle by Scott Belsky. It’s a really insightful and useful guide to turning a startup into a thriving, long-term business. A lot of books focus on starting out in business but this one focuses on what to do next. There are plenty of useful tips for those who’ve already established a business. I just wish it had been written a decade earlier, so that I could have read it just after starting Tomedes! Even so, it’s a great read for business owners looking to improve and optimize their operations once the initial excitement of starting a company has begun to be overtaken by day-to-day hassles.
What is your favorite quote?
I don’t have a favourite quote. I’ve always tried to find my own way and keep developing. While I’ve found many inspirational quotes along the way, I’m constantly moving on to the next one as I continue to progress, rather than fixating on a single quote to use as my mantra.
• The way that you start your day has a bearing on everything that happens throughout that day. Prepare your mind and your body each morning for what lies ahead and you’ll be in the best possible position to succeed at whatever you do.
• Practice listening without bias. It’s surprisingly hard to do, but it’s a valuable skill that allows you to look at things from a different perspective. If you’re faced with new challenges or questions, assume that you don’t know the answer and see where this difference in mindset leads you.
• Never underestimate the power of reading. Business books can provide superb insights and practical advice, but fiction has value too. Expanding the mind through literature in various ways makes us better able to think and to come up with innovative ideas and solutions.
• Don’t find a quote to live by and stick with it your whole life. People grow and change, as does the world around us, so be ready to flex and adapt your approach in response to whatever life throws at you.
• Use failure to empower you and to feed into future success. Yes, it can hurt to do something that isn’t the success that you had hoped it would be, but how you learn from and respond to that failure is key to the chances of your next venture going well.