January 2013: Syndromes, trances and the way ahead


Most interpreters would agree that outside of August, January is the year's slowest month. There’s just not much work to be had. Everyone else seems to be vigorously attacking the new year, while we sit and watch. And the only thing that’s better about February is that it’s 10% shorter.



So it’s easy to get what I call the “Who Needs Me?” Syndrome. The name is self-explanatory. You look at your client list from last year and wonder if you can make the number again. Will you get the same shot in the arm from new clients? Right now, it looks like you won’t.

And then you turn on the news. On top of all the recession, unemployment, debt and cutback news, now we have corruption news. Seeminngly all of Spain’s major parties have been hit by corruption cases just in the past two weeks. This, added to at least three cases now in court. A cynic might say that if anyone is still “clean” it’s because they haven’t been close enough to power to be corrupt (why bribe someone who can’t do anything for you?). But that’d be a cynic.

You can’t help but think this is not going to attract a lot of investment in Spain. At least not the kind one would want. By the same token, it can’t do much for companies seeking to do business outside the country. I believe good business is based on trust, and hopefully, friendship. When our leaders are so rotten, what does it say about the people they represent?

We persevere. All we can do is to be at our best,  and hope the good continues to outweigh the bad. Hope. It’s a powerful thing. And it’s free.

Amidst this landscape of destruction, I feel fortunate to have had a decent month. Bread-and-butter research work in pharma and consumer goods, and six days of Trance Camp with Stephen Gilligan, produced by Allan Santos and his new partnership, Instituto Neuron.

I don’t care if it’s a seminar on house paint, any job that lasts six days is a godsend for a freelancer. But Trance Camp is really special. It’s the 5th 6-day module I’ve done, and it just keeps getting better. With his clear, resonant voice and concise style, Gilligan is a privilege to work with. The people listening are receptive and supportive. As I’ve become more familiar with the content, I’ve been able to appreciate more of it. To top it off, this year they held it in my backyard: Hotel Playafels. 5 minutes down the hill on the beach. This is as good as it gets.

But, that’s over now. It’s back to a very different world. And back to that client list. You have to appreciate that a lot of the people who came to you in times of expansion are now in survival mode. A lot of adjustments have to be made. Now may also be a good time to ask yourself what your future clients will look like, and try to point yourself in that direction.

Case in point: I went to a networking event in Molins de Rei a few days ago, with 39 other companies from this county. I talked to about 12 different people. We’re holding our own networking event at my kids’ school this Saturday. A total of 22 professionals and business owners are signed up. Future clients? Who knows? I think these networking events should be the business equivalent of the “mixers” we used to have in college. Get people who don’t know each other together to talk about what they do and have a drink (make it juice and coffee, now), see if there’s any chemistry, and take it from there.

Whatever they are, they’re better than sitting at your desk wondering who needs you.