GlobalDoc Founder’s Story
A SENSE OF PURPOSE (AND HUMOR) IN THE INFORMATION AGE
GlobalDoc, Inc. was founded on three principles: a growth mindset, insatiable curiosity, and a habit of challenging the impossible.
While the company is now a leader in translation technologies and global marketing communications, I didn’t grow GlobalDoc solely from a desire to profit, but rather from a fascination with other cultures, a commitment to quality of service, and the love of a challenge.
In fact, I never had time to think about how much money I could make. I had so little money to start with, in my mind there was only one direction – up! My overwhelming desire was to simply offer a service that would be needed, and that clients would find useful. The rewards for my hard work came many years later.
For as long as I can remember, I have been deeply intrigued by cultures other than my own– the food, the language, and the celebrations. To this day, I am drawn to those different than me, and to the unusual.
Perhaps because I’ve always felt I was a little bit different, the interest in other cultures came naturally to me. I have always thought the world would be a boring place if we were all the same.
– Dolly Parton
As a teenager, I admired trendsetters like Dolly Parton. Dolly overcame insurmountable odds and found immeasurable success through challenging the status quo.
Later in life, I was fortunate enough to get to know Dolly as a result of charitable endeavors and found her just as caring and genuine as I imagined her to be when I was a teenager. I think this level of honest sincerity, no matter how famous or successful someone becomes, is important – even in business.
Dolly has an incredible ability to use humor to put people at ease, and I have found my own sense of humor to be one of my greatest allies when the going gets tough.
Rather than following the usual path of a college education, I chose to explore on my own.
I started my career in 1981 at IBM, driving a forklift in a warehouse. My glamorous beginnings involved counting and weighing screws, but I was just glad to be out of the college classroom. For the first time, I found a path to pursuing my own interests. In something as trivial as weighing screws, I found an unconventional path to seize hidden opportunities and satisfy my curiosity for the unknown.
IBM embraced the philosophy of promoting from within. Because of my high performance and productivity levels, they administered an aptitude test. I received promising results. I was moved off the assembly line and enrolled fulltime in a programming course, courtesy of IBM.
While my professor found my attention span to be lacking (he smartly insisted I sit in the front row so he could reign me in when I lost concentration), I found the technical aspects of programming fascinating. I could attribute what I was learning directly to a profession that interested me.
I was allowed to explore in an environment that was relevant to my talents. I graduated first in my class. In hindsight, I realize that perhaps the kids who are bored in school may in fact be those who are the brightest, and who just need affirmative, alternative ways in which to learn. I am thankful IBM saw promise in me.
My professional momentum building, I immersed myself in software development. As a technical writer for IBM, I spent my time in information development, usability testing, quality control, and translation planning. I loved every second, excelled, and was promoted quickly.
After ten years with IBM, I joined Toin America Corporation. I assumed the role of General Manager, reporting to the President of The Toin Corporation in Tokyo. This opportunity actualized my love of traveling and exploring other cultures. The founder of Toin was a caring and energetic woman named Mihoko Katsuta, who started her company in the early 1960s. This was very unusual for a woman to do in those days in Japan. She and I worked closely together, and she encouraged me to explore my goals and dreams, just as she had done many years prior. I am grateful for her support and her encouragement when I decided to set out on my own.
Through my tenure at Toin, I grew to understand the intricacies of the translation industry and I began to critically question the market. “Where are the holes? What do our clients need? How can I make this process better, faster, and more affordable?” With curiosity as my guide, I decided to take the leap and find the answers I was looking for.
In 1993, I began my journey as an entrepreneur. As many business owners know, success does not often come in an upwards straightline. Despite doubts from peers (and almost everyone, in fact), I founded GlobalDoc in Atlanta, Georgia as a professional technical documentation and translation services company. I was 32, with very little money to my name.
I paid for a small office space and legal fees to get incorporated, then I opened the Yellow Pages and started cold calling clients. I had a dial-up modem, fax machine, basic desktop computer, and a phone at my disposal. There was no time for developing hypothetical business plans. The clock was ticking. I started accruing clients and landed a few major accounts, some of which GlobalDoc still has today.
Fast forward to 2008, I began developing what would become LangXpert, GlobalDoc’s translation management software.
We needed a translation product that could achieve two things: be customizable based on our clients’ requirements and replicate in software what at that time was our manual, well-tested, proven business process.
With a whiteboard in hand (and not a single line of code), I met with a group of programmers in India. Without knowing anyone to start operations, sourcing in India was a risk – but this allowed me direct access to programmers eager to develop our software.
During testing (after many months of development) I realized our programming was off track. We had to scrap everything. Rather than blaming and pointing fingers, we focused our attention on what went wrong. After taking time to develop a systematic roadmap, I was able to realign with our programmers to get the project back on track.
Developing LangXpert has been the most difficult endeavor we’ve undertaken in all of our years in business, but it has also been the most rewarding. LangXpert has allowed GlobalDoc to integrate with client processes and systems, while offering a cost-effective technical solution that many of our competitors do not have.
The LangXpert software also allowed GlobalDoc to expand our service offerings and provide an additional source of revenue. GlobalDoc transitioned from purely a translation services company to a technology company, which has allowed us to grow. With great risks come great rewards, and this has proven to be the case with LangXpert.
While I’ve always been passionate about what GlobalDoc is contributing to clients’ businesses, I’ve also put a strong focus on how we are contributing.
Throughout every growth stage of GlobalDoc, I’ve ensured we are a company of integrity, growing on the foundation of our values: credibility, service, quality, innovation, cost-competitiveness, transparency, technical innovation, and cultural and social awareness.
GlobalDoc is not just my company, it’s my life’s work. Since the beginning, we’ve focused on supporting our team, empowering our clients, and serving our communities.
Our client dedication and service are world-class and at the top of our industry. We know that building and maintaining trust is an integral part of a strong relationship. Once a client hires us, they can rest easy and consider the job done – on time, every time.
We strive to offer clients the best quality, prices, and services, with honesty and integrity as the key to our operations. We are fast, nimble, technically competent and quick to execute. We also have decades of experience and resources guiding our decisions. In other words, we know what we’re doing and can get the job done efficiently.
I realize GlobalDoc’s greatest strength is the people who keep the company running – some like David Jett, Vice President of International Operations, who has been working with us for over 20 years. We work with thousands of dedicated professional translators who are the absolute best in the world.
I also pride myself on our commitment to diversity.
GlobalDoc’s policies with respect to inclusion and diversity date back to our founding in 1993. We were “diverse before diversity was cool,” as I sometimes like to say. This element of unrestricted inclusion provides GlobalDoc with a competitive edge – I truly believe that. People know they are accepted for their talents. For example, as a small fledgling company in 1993, it was not common to include sexual orientation protection in corporate nondiscrimination statements, but GlobalDoc boldly did.
Fortunately, time has changed views on diversity, but I like to think that by promoting aspects of inclusion very early on, we’ve contributed to these changes. Hindsight is 20/20, as they say; but in hindsight, I am glad to have held steadfast to what I viewed as the right thing to do.
Aside from the people, our strength also lies in our ability to be very nimble and not restricted by corporate bureaucracy and red tape. Being an entrepreneur has taught me to respond quickly with a positive, open mind to client challenges. It is not unusual for us to hop on a plane at a moment’s notice to land an unlikely opportunity.
When engaging with a client, we’re not limited by our current realm of responsibilities. If there’s hope of helping a client in an unconventional way, we’ll try it. We rarely say no to an opportunity and more times than not, these risk-taking exercises have proven to be incredibly rewarding.
While I’ve forged my own path in business and entrepreneurship, my heroes are the people who believed in me during the early stages of starting the company and who took a chance by providing GlobalDoc with opportunities. In return, I have always been determined to never let them down and to pay it forward. Candidly, I can attribute some of our success to our habit of expressing gratitude.
There remains an imperative human element to business, even in our fast-paced world. From writing a thank-you letter to my grade school English teacher to assisting a college student struggling to afford books, I have found big and small ways to give back over the years. As GlobalDoc grew, I realized we were able to offer even more to our communities. In 2001, I created GlobalDoc Cares and have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to charitable organizations.
GlobalDoc started as a vision of globalization and a dream of worldwide communication years before the Information Age made the conversation pervasive.
Words matter and they matter in every language. Our opportunities to contribute to the “global voice” in the work we provide to our clients has transformed our modest operation into an industry-leading organization.
They say having a job that is in reality a hobby is one of the secrets to success. I truly believe this is the case. When we enjoy what we are doing and do not consider it a burden, then the results can be overwhelmingly rewarding. Success has come as a by-product of being fortunate enough to have a job I enjoy doing, and from appreciating the people around me.
From starting GlobalDoc in 1993 to developing LangXpert in 2008, to continuing to rise to the challenges today, this venture has been a huge risk with many rewards. I committed very early on to the dream of what GlobalDoc could become. Despite hurdles, I never wavered or gave up. With age and experience also comes newfound resilience, which has been one of the few benefits of having a few more gray hairs than I would like.
I wanted to share this founder’s story not to shower accolades on myself or GlobalDoc, but to hopefully plant a few seeds of encouragement. For those who may be struggling to find their purpose or who feel outside of the “accepted norm,” there is no one path to fulfillment.
Since 1993, this organization has been my passion – and still is today. Yes, of course we charge for our services and make money at GlobalDoc, because my belief is that “nothing worth anything is free.” Similarly, “things worth having rarely come easily.” I do not mean that purely from a financial perspective, but more from the perspective of achieving a sense of fulfillment in life. By challenging the status quo and walking to the beat of my own drum, I’ve found my own version of success.
So many have influenced my journey and continue to make an impact on my life today.
I appreciate these people and our clients greatly. And, if you are reading this and are one of those people – I sincerely thank you. I hope this story, and the work we do, makes an impact on those we’ve built relationships with over the years. I also hope it inspires someone I do not know to pursue their own dreams in life.
These are tough times, but we’re resilient. You are too. Together, we will continue to forge a path of success—one that transcends the borders, oceans, and time zones that separate us. GlobalDoc was born to bring people together. We’ll continue to do that during this unprecedented time, and thereafter.