This is a letter I sent to the Translated employees for our 20 years anniversary.
Translated was born out of love 20 years ago.
I met Isabelle at university in Grenoble, France in 1997. There’s no denying that I fell in love with her straight away.
When I came back to Italy, Isabelle decided to move over as well, which was a very pleasant surprise. I was still studying, so Isabelle took a job at a big oil company to support us.
We had a beautiful blue motorbike and we used to ride to her work and my university on it together. Neither Isabelle nor I had ever worked for a big company before. We didn’t know what to expect from the world of work. One day, Isabelle invited me up to the office to meet her colleagues. It was a shock to the system. Not because of her co-workers, who were nice, but because of the dark, cold, grey offices and a corporate culture that didn’t seem to have ever prioritised well-being, generosity, kindness or happiness.
So what was the point of working? What were those people creating?
Isabelle had come from France to Italy to be with me, and I couldn’t allow that to be the way I welcomed her; it wasn’t right for her to spend the best part of her days in that office.
Just before we moved to Italy in 1998, we had travelled to Nepal intent on climbing the Himalayas… we didn’t manage it! To be fair, Isabelle probably would have made it to the summit, but I was on my knees by 4,500 metres. After a fortnight hiking in the mountains, that trip left something in our hearts: the pleasure of having the courage to face something beyond our capabilities together and the immeasurable beauty of nature. These values would go on to influence our future.
Isa’s experience at work and our trip to Nepal inspired us to start our own company. At first, we weren’t clear on what company we wanted to create, but we knew it would definitely be a place where different values were key: people, generosity, the pleasure of working hard and going beyond our own limits, and the beauty of nature.
It’s no coincidence that our first office was a beach house. It’s no coincidence that Pi1, the first office on our campus, is a beautiful luxury villa with lush gardens. It’s no coincidence that the street it’s on is called Via Nepal.
We founded Translated 20 years ago because translation was one of the major problems still to be solved. Giving everyone in the world the ability to understand and be understood was and is paramount for humanity. Rather than replacing professional translators with machines, we found a way for the two to interact: a virtuous and sustainable symbiosis. Making translation accessible to everyone is one of those difficult jobs: beyond what we believe we’re capable of, but potentially feasible over the course of our lifetimes.
When we eventually solve this problem, the world will truly be a better place. More united, freer and without borders, a world where ideas and people will be free to circulate.
So after 20 years, I want to thank the whole team. To embrace all the old hands who worked alongside us to lay down the foundations of this wonderful and unique work culture. We created it together, and what we should be most proud of is that this culture is not only fair in terms of the human element, but it also works well financially: we are creating wealth. As always, I also want to express my faith in our young people, the new arrivals, who are responsible for ensuring this culture lives on and improving it by adapting it to today’s needs.
Unfortunately, we don’t communicate what we do here well enough to the outside world – it’s never been our strong suit. But we can’t be ignored for much longer. One day, we will be a positive example that others look to for inspiration.
Our commitment to creating the ideal working environment is far from over. Needs change. Our rapid growth has made it harder to share our values with everyone. Our work is becoming more and more mentally demanding, and we need more places where we can concentrate and not be disturbed. Places that can inspire the kind of ideas that form the basis for years of work. We need a place where small work groups can come together away from the daily distractions of the workplace. We need a place where we’re even freer to express our potential as individuals and as a team. We should never find ourselves in a situation where a person or a team needs to work from home to focus. This only happens because the world has failed to design the right workplace.
If we’re really looking to the future, however, we shouldn’t just think about our work. We all work hard to create wealth for our families. With the fruits of our labour, we can allow our loved ones to live better; we can offer them a better future and more happiness. Why do we work to create money to buy happiness with? Can we cut out the middleman and create happiness directly?
Today, we need to take a bold step and make this place a reality. A place to concentrate, design the future, and take our loved ones on holiday (because why not?). A place where even Adriano Olivetti would be proud to work. A place that we can all take pride in, created through our efforts. A place that sets an example for other companies.
We are dreamers, but first and foremost we’re creators.
That’s why I want to introduce you to Pi7.
A place that none of us could afford individually; a place we’ve created as a team.
Thanks to all