[quote style=”boxed”]”…when you respect others and are consistent about it, your business will grow.”[/quote]
In 2007 Mr. Sean Hopwood, MBA founded Day Translations, Incorporated and it is currently one of the fastest-growing language providers in the world. Day Translations has more than sixteen offices around the world, from San Francisco to Dubai. Headquartered in Tampa, Florida, Mr. Hopwood has used his language skills and international travels to establish a thriving translation and interpretation firm.
Mr. Hopwood has been a lover of languages since childhood. Being the child of a Lithuanian immigrant and a Francophile mother, his passion for languages was fomented from a very early age. He started learning Spanish at the age of eight, while growing up in the small town of Bartow, Florida. Despite growing up in a rural area with a population of less than 15,000, he surrounded himself with other cultures and languages. He would listen to tapes in Spanish and Thai, he surrounded himself with a diverse set of people, and diversity has always been one of his main passions. As his mother was an English teacher, Mr. Hopwood would hone his English skills by entering poetry and spelling competitions, and he was able to speak Spanish, English, French, and basic Lao before he completed high school. He eventually won an award at the state Spanish competition in Orlando, Florida for his outstanding Spanish acting skills and his achievements with the language.
After high school, Mr. Hopwood attended the University of South Florida (USF), majoring in Spanish. He continued to take Spanish, French, and Arabic courses, and even completed intense Arabic courses in Morocco to improve his Arabic skills. After graduation, he obtained a Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA), with a specialty in International Business, Economics, and Entrepreneurship. Recently, Mr. Hopwood returned to school to study German at the University of Tampa, and he also studied Hebrew at a local synagogue. Needless to say, the depth of his passion for languages and cultures is evident, and he has applied such passion to his everyday work within the growing empire of Day Translations and all of its subsidiaries.
Through his passion for languages, extreme attention to detail, and a never-ending commitment to professionalism, Mr. Hopwood has instated Day Translations in the top tier of language providers. Currently, the company is listed as the third-best in terms of employee satisfaction on various forums, such as Translator’s Café and Proz. As a local product of the USF and the Tampa educational system, the Tampa community has listed both Mr. Hopwood and Day Translations as very important local assets. Nevertheless, Day Translations has branched out into different cities, with active offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, Phoenix, Chicago, Miami, New York, Washington D.C., London, and Frankfurt, Germany.
Mr. Hopwood had always stated that his desire is to bring people together, while also fostering peace and understanding through language services and cultural awareness. Day Translations has supported its mission and goals through global community actions, such as purchasing soccer balls for child soccer clubs in Tampa, offering free interpreters in Egypt during a time of crisis, and they are currently in the early stages of an initiative that will aid children in Colombia, South America. Mr. Hopwood aims to combine a sound business plan with social and cultural awareness, while bringing profits to Day Translations.
What are you working on right now?
Thank you. I am currently working on several initiatives to improve Day Translations. I am re-designing our website to reflect the latest technology in web design, starting from the bottom. We have purchased new servers with faster processors; set up a cloud-based system to allow easier and faster access to our site and applications; developed a desktop, mobile, and tablet-friendly site; and much more. We have also embarked on a stable and steady hiring initiative, hiring three people per week and training them. I have started a holistic marketing initiative that includes online, video, radio, and paper marketing to appeal to clients from all venues.
We are also developing a site that is strictly for voice talent in foreign languages. This site will cater to clients who need voiceovers and subtitles for movies. We are also developing a nationwide initiative that will lead to the provision of our services to universities worldwide when they need certified translations for transcripts and degrees. It is a challenge, but I am always coming up with ideas to make our company grow.
Where did the idea for Day Translations come from?
The idea for Day Translations came from my passion for languages. The idea for the name was inspired by my grandfather. His name was Francis Day and he was an inspiration to my entire family, as well as myself. He was a Marine, and a very disciplined and devout man. He taught me values such as respect, formality, professionalism, and hard work. Out of respect and remembrance of him, I have named the company Day Translations. I think the name goes well with what we do and we have built our theme around it.
I have been very passionate about languages for my entire life. I majored in Spanish in undergraduate school; I have studied German, Arabic, Hebrew, French, Spanish, and a few other languages casually, including Lao and Portuguese—I love the feeling of understanding people. I love the way that no two words have the same meaning, even across languages. The little nuances in words are so beautiful and I think this translates to humans, as all of our little cultural nuances and beliefs are what make us unique, and should be preserved, celebrated, and respected.
How do you make money?
The main way that we make money is by providing translation and interpreting services.
Clients call us on a daily basis from law firms, hospitals, corporations, and more, when they need documents translated, proofread, and often certified. We do hundreds of these jobs every week and we have thousands of translators working for us. Our customer service answers the phone lines, solves any issues that a client may have, and provides 24/7 support for urgent projects. The project managers assign translations to our employees, who then pass completed translations onto the proofreaders and editors, where the document is finalized for perfection. Once our seal of approval is applied, we mail the finished document to the client. We have a rigorous training method for our translators that they must complete before working for us.
For Interpreting: Interpreting is very different. Clients will often call needing an interpretation for court, hospital purposes, insurance, or immigration (USCIS)—we do all of these. Over the years, we have ramped up our employees and offices, and we now have the world’s largest network of interpreters. If a client needs an interpreter for Mandarin in New York City tomorrow, we can do it. The client pays us and we provide the service.
We also provide over-the-phone interpreting. This involves a client calling us to request an interpreter and, within minutes, we then provide an interpreter over the phone in any language. One of our outstanding qualities is our ability to provide interpreters for last-minute projects and rare languages such as Tigrinya or Grebo.
What does your typical day look like?
My typical day is a day full of wonderful work, excitement, and surprises. On a typical day, I will get up in the morning and start answering emails. I usually answer about 100 emails in the morning from my Blackberry before I get to the computer; I use the computer to attend to emails that require more detail. Then, I may have a meeting with the marketing department to approve layouts for commercials, marketing plans, and other materials. This is followed by a discussion with one of our managers to get updates on clients and make sure that everything is running smoothly. The managers provide me with a daily briefing so I know what’s going on. My employees are one of the things that make this job so sweet. It’s truly an amazing team that I work with, and I look forward to seeing their faces and talking to them. The dynamic exchanges that we have makes me happy every day.
Then, I speak to the accountant. He often provides me with vital information about expenses and profits. He is a very intelligent man. The most important thing that I do is to be very involved in the hiring process. I often read many resumes every day, along with the Human Resources specialists—we decide together on many new hires. We are very demanding with our hiring process. Also, I go to many conferences. For example, I just returned from the Google I/O conference where I learned more about technology and implementing it into our company. I attend ecommerce, translation, and many other conferences. Our IT department is quite large and I make sure to stay up-to-date in order to make sound decisions.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I bring my ideas to life by instilling a sense of purpose and autonomy into my employees. I want my employees to know that they have the freedom to make decisions, suggest new ideas, and grow with our company. We have a very high retention rate, and I believe that having people on board for a long time who understand how the company works and my personal goals for the company allows us to have an environment of creativity. Also, I stay up late every night implementing these ideas and reading when all is quiet. It gives me a chance to be creative and free of disturbances.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
I am really excited by the trends in openness and immigration. These are things that I have always been passionate about and now it is becoming more prevalent in the world. People are starting to listen to music in different languages and respect other cultures. This makes me happy, as it brings us more business and I love to see people trying to look beyond themselves to understand the culture of other people.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
All jobs have a certain appeal to them and you can learn from every situation. However, the job that I liked least was that of laying sod and landscaping. I had to get up before sunrise, be at work, and then start with monotonous routing. Laying sod is a very basic job. You just take the sod off the trailer and put it on the ground. You repeat this task for hours. I once laid sod for 24 hours (with breaks). I would try to keep myself entertained by imagining the ground as a puzzle and I was putting the pieces together. I have a lot of respect for anyone involved in landscaping, as it’s a very tough task.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
If I were to start again, I would have been more discerning with my marketing initiatives. I am very intense in everything that I do and I have sometimes worked too hard in some departments. I have learned through the years that sometimes when you work and work and overwork, there comes a point when you need to just relax and step away, and loosen the reigns a little. I have learned the value of delegation and letting go. However, I think it takes experience to do this.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I am very consistent in my professionalism. I treat everyone with a high level of respect no matter who they are. I believe that everyone is equal and should be treated with respect. Therefore, every day, every email, and every encounter that I have, I aim to treat my counterpart with respect. I think there can be many changes around me with the world of the Internet, Skype, and Twitter and often, people lose their sense of professionalism. I aim to keep myself focused on professionalism and ensure that I never lose sight of it. I advise everyone to do the same, because when you respect others and are consistent about it, your business will grow.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
There are many miniature battles lost as an entrepreneur. However, I always aim to win in the long run through persistence and professionalism. One issue has been invoicing and payment. We have lost sometimes by not getting paid by some clients. This has ended up costing us a lot of money. We have overcome this issue by implementing stricter contracts, online signature forms, fraud checkers, and more. We work on a daily basis to solve this.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I have always thought that it would be a great idea to have a phone with a screen on the front and the buttons on the back that you can feel textually, but not see. Some people like the full screen and others like the keys. Many people have grown up with PlayStation controllers that have buttons and they never have the need to look for them—they just know where they are. I think the same can be done with telephones. Humans can adjust. I think a full keyboard is also unnecessary, as we are in an age of technology where predictive text and auto correct should be able to reduce keyboard space and save the user’s time.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
If I could change one thing in the world, it would be making people more brave and positive. I think people often feel worried or are fearful, and it can take away from the positivity in the world. I think we need to be more positive, trust each other, and assume the best from others.
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
Not many people know that I am left-handed and that I am a first generation American child of a Lithuanian immigrant. I like R&B music, Marvin Gaye, Teddy Pendergrass, and Luther Vandross, and I also compete in salsa dance competitions.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
- I love Wikipedia to research and learn things. I use Wikipedia to learn many things from history, information related to cities, and more.
- I really like the site Wordreference.com. I use this site to look into the definitions of words, and there are forums about the meanings and they go really deep into definitions. We often use very extensive dictionaries like this when undertaking technical translations.
- Online currency converters like Yahoo are a real help to me. With offices in other countries, I teach my employees to invoice clients in their own currency and not in U.S. dollars. I often use the currency converter to check the rates in other countries.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“Who Moved My Cheese?” by Dr. Spencer Johnson. There are many reasons why I think this is a good book. It’s about change and adapting to change. As an entrepreneur, we often come up with really good ideas to start our businesses, but the business world changes. We need to know that things will change and we need to know how to deal with it. There are many stages of a business and the business owner needs to know how to adapt to these changes. You go from being the one who does everything to the person in charge of teams. Then you go to directing and advising more as your company grows and you have to delegate work more and more. Also, the demand also changes. You need to prepare yourself and your business for change.
Very importantly, this book is very short. Often, entrepreneurs may not have a lot of time to read something, so this is good for a busy person to read.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
I really don’t follow people, but I think the people listed below have good ideas and are good examples:
- Eli the Computer guy – For anyone who really wants to understand how computers, servers, databases, and all of the technical aspects work, he is an excellent source. He is truly passionate about what he does and he puts a lot of free videos out there.
- Cristiano Ronaldo – As a soccer/football fan, he is a true example of hard work and perseverance. He is a true example of someone fulfilling their purpose and using his talent to the maximum. He has dealt with the pressure of the spotlight and improved, while still growing as a man.
- Carlos Vives – He is a singer that I am a fan of. He embodies a lot of things that I respect. He has a love for people, a passion for life, and a sense of humility no matter what.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
It was yesterday watching a YouTube video about nature called “Nature Walk”. There is a guy that goes around showing nature in a very funny way. I watch a lot of comedy on YouTube.
Who is your hero?
My grandfather is my greatest influence, but I really don’t have a hero. I try to be my own person and do my own thing—I don’t model myself after anyone. However, I do try to take ideas from people. I respect many biblical figures, such as Abraham, Moses, and Jesus, while, athletically, it would be Cristiano Ronaldo.
What do you look for in an employee?
Passion. Passion is a recurring theme in my life. When I hire someone, I search for someone who is passionate about what they do and passionate about languages. If they are passionate about languages and cultures, then they will probably fit well within our company, as their passions will align with the company’s mission and purpose. Often, people work for money, but they also want to feel important and feel that they are part of a greater purpose. I believe that if you can align their work position with their passions, you will get more results and a longer-term employee.
What do you do to relax?
In order to relax, I play soccer. Soccer is a way of helping me unwind, relieve stress, and be with friends. I have found that all of these things keep me balanced and even-keeled. At the soccer field, there are people from all around the world—from Africa, Asia, Europe, the Caribbean, the Middle East, and the USA. Interacting with them and the love they show me are the most rewarding things. Seeing their faces and being greeted by them when I step onto the field is a wonderful thing.