Thinking inside the box On the importance of

  • Greater than 1 minutes

    “Here are six matchsticks. Your goal is to make four equilateral triangles out of them,” said the teacher and started to read an apparently engrossing book. In a lame remake of the Gauss anecdote, I came back to him with the solution in a couple of minutes, to his displeased surprise.

    I’m not saying this in a bragging way (okay, maybe just a little bit), but thinking outside the box has never been a problem for me. Whenever I face a challenge—be it in my work, business, or personal life—I instantly start thinking of unconventional and creative ways to overcome it. It’s not to say that I always succeed. Moreover, if my “creative ways” fail, I tend to give up pretty quickly. And that’s when I have to say to myself:

    Sometimes, you have to think inside the box.

    Take translation: Our work often demands creativity, especially in its literary and marketing “varieties.” But even here, sometimes translating is just translating (I know, I know). “Vladimir, ‘U nego est’ koshka’ translates as ‘He has a cat’ and nothing else—there’s no need to spend half an hour translating and re-translating the same sentence,” a proofreader once told me.

    The same goes for the methods I use to get new customers. I devise clever schemes to attract their attention, make them participate in surveys with the main goal to have them remember me once a need in translation pops up, and do a whole lot of other “outside-the-box” tricks. Don’t get me wrong: These are worthwhile and do work—most of the time.

    But in the darker hours I think to myself: Wouldn’t I be better off if I just made a good-old CV and sent it out to 300 agencies, as Una suggests?

    I don’t have the answer.

    Do you? Are you the in- or out-of-the-box type?

    And, by the way, did you already get how to make four equilateral triangles out of six sticks? No googling!

    Read more stupid thoughts of mine on Ab Hoc.

    Vladimir Zakharov

    About Vladimir Zakharov

    A translator with 15 years of experience, now Head of Community at — a platform that will change the translation industry and give the power back to translators.

    5 thoughts on “Thinking inside the box

    1. I know the answer to this, I’ve just forgotten it!
      Classic CV spamming is much easier than all those out-of-the-box ways to attract clients. I’m a very, very lazy person. So naturally, I’m an in-the-box type xDD

    2. I guess the answer is not ‘either-or’, but ‘both-and.’ Whatever it takes to get to where we want to be. Pulling at every dangling string and then looking for the ones we missed.

    Leave a Reply

    The Open Mic

    Where translators share their stories and where clients find professional translators.

    Find Translators OR Register as a translator