A Sign Language Interpreter is a Sidewalk-Executive?

November 17, 2011

Every successful sign language interpreting business has at least one “sidewalk executive.” Brandon Arthur defines these well-connected, insightful practitioners and shines a light on the value they bring to the industry.

The sign language interpreting marketplace is peppered with interpreting companies big and small; some are uber successful and others not so much.  Let’s be honest, they are telling a similar story and selling nearly the same thing—whether it is Community or Video Relay services.  So, what makes one successful and another fizzle?

The answer is simple.

Successful companies have a sidewalk-executive sitting at decision making tables.

A sidewalk-executive is better known in our world as the extremely well connected, highly qualified, in demand, culturally sensitive, professional sign language interpreter.

Why is a sidewalk-executive a substantive advantage?

Lead From the Front

Sidewalk-executives lead from the front.  They are not afraid to get their hands dirty in order to get a job done.   Their “do what it takes” attitude allows them to operate with the speed of trust when working with customers and colleagues.   Sidewalk-executives are relationally oriented and understand the value of effectively managing the intersection where customers and practitioners come together.

The street credit of these professionals enables companies to gain traction quickly with paying customers, Deaf community players, and other sign language interpreters.

Feedback Loop

The connectivity that a sidewalk-executive has to the sign language interpreting marketplace runs deep and wide.  They are a critical feedback loop that assists a new company as they navigate the unfamiliar landscape and allows them to quickly correct any missteps or misperception.  This loop also helps a company stay abreast of the latest developments in the marketplace and position itself to capitalize on opportunities.

The feedback loop offered by a sidewalk-executive is central to a company receiving timely and unfiltered information.

Magic Maker

The biggest challenge in any enterprise is effectively executing its business strategy—making the magic happen.  Because a sidewalk-executive has their finger on the pulse of the interpreting marketplace, they are uniquely positioned to bring these strategies to life.  Their leadership has a tremendous impact on the motivation of colleagues and customers, and as a result they can garner the buy-in needed to make things happen.

The ability of a sidewalk-executive to successfully solicit support to implement strategy makes the difference between success and failure.

To: The Forgetful Decision Maker

To those decision makers who may have forgotten the importance of incorporating a sidewalk-executive into the decision making process, I would encourage you to remember what follows.

When you needed:

  • A guide to navigate the sign language interpreting marketplace, you reached for a sidewalk-executive.
  • An introduction to key community players and sign language interpreter leaders, you looked to a sidewalk-executive.
  • Perspective on industry practices, compensation, and trends, you looked to the sidewalk-executive.
  • An understanding of how to find customers and qualified practitioners, you looked to a sidewalk-executive.
  • Perspective on the worldview of those who generate revenue for the company, you looked to a sidewalk-executive.
  • Guidance on how to get buy-in around the company and with your customers, you looked to a sidewalk-executive.

A Hint

If you own or operate an interpreting related business—and things appear to be going sideways—ask yourself if you have enough sidewalk-executive representation at your table.  I might suggest you don’t.  After all, it was a sidewalk-executive—a sign language interpreter—that helped get the whole thing started.

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5 Comments on "A Sign Language Interpreter is a Sidewalk-Executive?"

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[…] a difficult one.  What follows are a few key things for sign language interpreters, Sidewalk-Executives, to remember when […]

Member

What does ‘sidewalk’ mean and/or imply in ‘sidewalk-executive’. I don’t get the reference, and substituting it with (my native) ‘footpath’ isn’t helping me!

Member

Hi, Alan~
I believe Brandon is using the term to refer to someone who’s out there doing the work (i.e. pounding the pavement), or has had direct experience (on the ground, on the frontlines) with the communities we serve and with the work we do.
Take care,
Sarah

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[…] spotlight on the profession of interpreting. Perhaps, the owner could benefit from reading, A Sign Language Interpreter is a Sidewalk Executive?, by Brandon Arthur. This whole situation left a negative opinion in the eyes of the executive […]

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[…] spotlight on the profession of interpreting. Perhaps, the owner could benefit from reading, A Sign Language Interpreter is a Sidewalk Executive?, by Brandon Arthur. This whole situation left a negative opinion in the eyes of the executive […]

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