As founder of both LexWorks and Lexcelera and the non-profit Translators without Borders, I spend a lot of time switching between two hats.
Hat number one is an entrepreneurial hat, and I’ve been wearing it since I was 12. That’s when I started my first business in Northern Ontario, selling Christmas trees in a town ringed by forests of Christmas trees.
My next three businesses kept me busy from the ages of 17 to 21. At 18 I was politely asked to leave high school because my pager interrupted classes. A couple of years later I sold my small businesses, including Lori’s Flowers and Photos, so I could go to university.
Later, with a master’s degree in creative writing, I thought I had left being an entrepreneur behind me. I moved to Paris to write the great Canadian novel. But business turned out to be hard wired: within a month I started the translation company that would become LexWorks (known in Europe as Lexcelera / Eurotext).
Hat number two came much later. After years of almost giving, I had run out of excuses when Doctors without Borders came knocking on my company’s door to ask us to quote on a translation project. Put up or shut up time. “If we don’t charge you, can you use the money instead for your work in the field?” I asked them, and Translators without Borders was born.
Today my passion for my company comes from the same place as my passion for Translators without Borders: finding creative solutions to language barriers by putting smart people and smart technology together. And if I spend more time nowadays wearing my Translators without Borders hat, it’s because taking down the language barriers to knowledge for a few billion people is a bigger challenge.
It’s going to take the concerted efforts of a lot of people wearing two hats!