Wordsmith Casebook : Translation Services, London – Family Business Nightmare

Background

Running a translation services in a city like London is one of the most exciting, fulfilling yet formidable experiences – both business wise and personal engagement wise. The business grew naturally out of a lifelong work of husband-wife team whose core business was import-export in the eighties. I came in contact with the business in 2006, while in London and then the relationship – both business and personal blossomed. This business was our first bank ( I shall write a separate post as how your client can be your bank ) and we remember this with gratitude and humility. The business no longer exists and it is a cautionary tale from which we call can learn.

First Investigative Measures and De-briefing

  1. Quite often, people who build something, do not appreciate the depth and scale of their achievements. Their services were : honest, solid, fair, simple core values and consistent. From tremendous discipline came consistency and this strength of character of the people driving you cannot copy or replicate. Mr. H and his wife treated their clients and suppliers with deep respect. I have been a guest at their home office in Greenwich for many times.
  2. Their children did not understand the value of what was built at home – an honest, legitimate, money-making machine at home that did not need anything except love, devotion, discipline and basic skills (reading, writing and counting) to run and grow. I was amazed to see, how in the sunset days of their lives, how devoted the couple was to each other. I remember their joy when I used to bring rasagullas of Calcutta to their home and how genuinely thankful they were for these simple offerings of love.
  3. Sometime during 2014, Mr. H had a heart attack. I visited him in the familiar London home built by a lifetime of honest work. He was weak and I felt a deep sadness, as if someone like a father figure was not well.
  4. I had asked his children and their wives over a family dinner the great potential, the great asset they had at their home – they simply needed to continue and I pledged all my support on behalf of Team Wordsmith. None took any interest. They simply had no imagination.

Update

In the same year when I visited London for a Conference in Oxford, Mr. H asked me to meet him. He was weaker but dignified and respectful as usual. Over a coffee, he had gifted me something which is priceless and I pray that I should be worthy of this trust of a dying man. He introduced me to his existing clients with a grand letter of recommendation. It was too awesome to say even “thank you.”. I sat there by his bedside, overlooking a darkening English sky, an old commander is leaving and entrusting something to me, a younger man which does not die and that something is continuity. Mr. H, departed in 2016, also taught me something indirectly – the true inheritance of a self-made man should be disconnected from the legal inheritance in bloodlines.

Thank you, old commander, Mr. H – I shall remember your greatness till my dying day and I hope when I am about to leave, I shall also find and have the good judgement to pass the invisible baton to someone, dictated only by the worthiness of the recipient and not by how much his/her DNA matches with mine.

The Family Business series closes, temporarily with this personal story.

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