The CEO of BeTranslated, Michael Bastin, has a passion for languages and technology and has worked on a number of startup ventures as an Internet marketing consultant, promoting both the websites of his clients and BeTranslated itself.
Michael coordinates translation projects for international clients to assist them in meeting their translation needs in a variety of languages, including French, English, Spanish, Dutch, German, and Italian. Michael is multilingual and multiskilled.
Below are highlights of the interview conducted between world’s Leaders and Michael Bastin:
Describe who you are as a person, inside and outside of the workplace.
I am a professional translator through training, and over time I have become more interested in learning and practicing new languages than reinforcing my mother tongue. When I am not working, I enjoy meeting with friends to do SUP at one of the many beaches around Valencia, Spain. We also gather regularly to play Mölkky, which I find fun and relaxing. Other than that, I enjoy traveling now that it’s possible again, and being a Belgian expat living in Spain and married to a Dominican, travel opportunities are plentiful, albeit not always for pleasure.
Describe your background, and what did you do before you started/joined the company?
I graduated from the University of Mons Hainaut in Belgium in 1997 after developing an interest in languages. I studied languages throughout my years at school, beginning with German, which sparked my initial interest in them. When I left university, I traveled some while working a few odd jobs in the logistics and telecom industries before joining a translation company based in the Dominican Republic. After a couple of years at that company, I decided to become a freelance translator while working on a future company to be called BeTransated.
Tell us about the inception of the company. How did it all start?
It all started with SEO, which piqued my interest while working at previous companies. I was garnering more leads and jobs than I could handle on my own. I started getting large projects from the UN and other NGOs, and I set up a team of French freelancers to handle the volumes I couldn’t cope with on my own. I took the decision to move closer to my natural market, and I chose Valencia as a good middle ground (mostly for the good weather!). From there, I continued working on SEO and created websites in multiple languages to make my business more accessible around the world.
What has made you successful? What do you value?
I believe I have become somewhat successful because I am a jack of all trades. Be it creating websites, promoting them, writing content, managing projects, doing sales and marketing, training junior employees and interns, plus all the administrative work, I’ve always pretty much done a bit of everything. This being said, since the recent merger between our two entities (the Belgian and Spanish branches), we’ve recently hired staff, so I could focus on developing the business rather than being available on all fronts. I think what I value most about my job is that I get to pass on my knowledge and experience to younger people, which is why I hire interns so often. It keeps me motivated and is an additional reward to the role, as well as providing a little difference to the majority of my CEO-based work.
Which are the major services of the company, and how do they help the company to get ahead in the competition? What value-added services does the company provide?
We mostly focus on the digital industry and provide added-value services to web agencies. These include SEO-oriented website translation, subtitling, interpretation, and regular translations of brochures and documentation. One way to stay ahead of the competition is to constantly invest in SEO. I always make sure at least someone is checking up on the multilingual websites, constantly improving them and their SEO. Not only does this help the business’s reach, but it also ensures that the websites are always up-to-date with fresh content, and accessible for new customers.
What are the most important aspects of a company’s culture? What principles do you believe in, and how do you build this culture?
Given our limited staff, I’ve mostly adopted a horizontal approach to hierarchy where each team member focuses 80% of their time on what they do best, while dedicating 20% of the remaining time to administrative tasks. In order to perform better, I am now dedicating time to writing Standard Operating Procedures, as we are due to grow in the coming months. In terms of a company’s culture, I think it’s important to be open-minded, and always willing to learn from people while being willing to teach others too. There’s no point in being stuck in your ways, because that doesn’t create a healthy work environment for you or your colleagues.
What is the significance of innovative ideas in the company?
I consider myself a creative person, and since life is full of challenges, and you can’t always foresee what will happen, you always have to come up with new ideas. Take the COVID situation as an example. Who would have thought? By having a lean structure and working mostly remotely already, we were able to resist the crisis, and we are now growing consistently. Aside from COVID, though, innovative ideas will always have a place, as I think they keep the business fresh, modern, and more resonant.
Give us your opinion on; do organizations rely heavily on individual heroics or team processes?
I often like to compare running a business to coaching a football team, where individual talents mean nothing if people aren’t team players. Sometimes you win a client due to collective efforts, while other times you get the deal of the year thanks to a genius idea from one of our team members. So I think it’s half and half; ultimately, it comes down to communication, but a good business can’t run without balance.
What are your responsibilities as the CEO of the company? What is the happiest part of your daily routine?
The happiest part of my daily routine is checking the bank account and my SEO stats to check if we remain competitively ranked in our principal markets, which are France and Belgium. Since I am mostly in charge of business development, I am particularly happy to see my inbox full of RFQs and leads. I also like to introduce new ideas and new markets.
What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time?
Confidence, clarity, boundaries, and respect—these are the main things. If you don’t go into a new leadership position with the utmost confidence, despite the lack of confidence that you may have, no one will take you seriously. Fake it until you make it, first and foremost. Make sure that all of your communication is done with clarity so that your intentions are always crystal clear right from the start, leaving no room for miscommunication, which costs time and money. Finally, develop and lay out your boundaries with other businesses, colleagues, and employees from the beginning, so that everybody knows where they stand. If you do all of this with respect, then your business and your role within it can only excel.
Leave a Reply