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善用良師成高徒

SpinVox CEO Christina Domecq on Making the Most of Mentors
2008-06-01
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善用良師成高徒
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At age 26, while slogging through 14 voice mails on her phone, Christina Domecq realized there might be a business in converting audio messages into text. Within a few months, in 2003, she had turned that idea into the start-up SpinVox. The Marlow, England–based voiceto-text service has already been picked up by a dozen carriers globally. Domecq, a 2006 Ernst & Young UK Entrepreneur of the Year, finds that listening to her mentors is a key to her success.

克莉絲汀娜.多梅克(Christina Domecq,SpinVox執行長)26歲那年,有一回用手機處理語音信箱裡14則留言,當時她突然想到,如果能把語音訊息轉化為文字簡訊,應該是一個不錯的商機。

當時是2003年,多梅克根據這個想法,只花了幾個月時間,就創立了SpinVox公司。SpinVox總部位於英國馬洛(Marlow),提供將語音轉化為文字的服務,已經得到全球十多家電信業者採用。多梅克在2006年獲選為「Ernst & Young英國年度企業家」。她認為能夠聆聽導師(mentor)的忠告,是她成功的關鍵因素。

■Starting a new business in unfamiliar territory, how did you pull together a network of mentors?

I moved to London on advice from my existing network of mentors in the States and Spain – some of whom have known me since childhood – that the UK was the best place for an entrepreneur in telecommunications to get started. But when I arrived, I didn’t know many people. Those first few months were tough. You start from a very humble position when you know no one. I remember wishing I could fast-forward to a point where I was established.

問:妳來到一個陌生的國度開創新事業,如何建立導師的網絡?

答:我在美國與西班牙原本就有導師的網絡,其中有幾位從我孩提時代就認識我了。我的導師們認為英國是電信業的創業樂園,於是我接受他們的建議,把事業遷往倫敦發展。但我剛到英國時人生地不熟,前幾個月很辛苦。創業時如果沒有任何人脈,就只能在劣勢和逆境中起步。我記得,當時心中真希望能快點站穩腳跟。

My cofounder, Daniel Doulton, and I had clear business goals: Launch a service that is easy for the customer to use, and quickly grab as much market share as possible. Both goals were very challenging.

Because language is ever changing – think about the shortcuts people use, such as“Soc Gen”for Société Générale and “Man U” for Manchester United – we had to accept a certain degree of human intervention to assist the system as it learned to interpret abbreviations, new proper names,and such. Grabbing market share meant convincing users and carriers alike of the accuracy and lifestyle advantages of the service. To reach these goals, I knew we needed significant access to the wealth base in the UK and an entrée into the marketplace.

I couldn"t achieve this without a strong network of mentors.

我和合夥人丹尼爾.杜爾頓(Daniel Doulton)訂下明確的事業目標:推出一種顧客容易使用、能盡快攻占市場的服務。這兩個目標都很有挑戰性,因為語言日新月異,例如人們會大量使用簡稱,就像以「Soc Gen」取代「Société Générale」(法國興業銀行)、以「Man U」取代「Manchester United」(英國足球隊曼徹斯特聯隊)。因此,我們多少還是得借重人為的力量,來協助系統學習辨識各種縮寫、新創的專有名詞等。至於搶攻市占率,就要讓使用者與電信業者相信,這種服務有很高的準確度,而且可帶來生活上的便利。為了達成這兩個目標,我們需要管道取得英國的資金來源,以及進入市場的門路。如果沒有健全的導師網絡,我不可能達成目標。

I looked for mentors who would be external to my business, because I knew that I would need them to be objective and that it would be important to surround myself with people of different strengths. I looked for individuals who had gone through the highs and lows of building a business and could steer me away from the lows. Daniel had his own network in the UK, so he was able to help me with initial introductions, but I also leaned heavily on my non-UK mentors, using their connections to find people who had an affinity for high-growth companies. The mentors and leaders I eventually connected with in the UK were critical to getting SpinVox off the ground.

我找的導師與我都沒有生意往來,因為我期待他們保持客觀,也希望他們具備不同的背景和專長。導師最好曾經歷過事業的興衰起落,而且能夠協助我走出事業低潮。丹尼爾在英國有自己的人脈網絡,可以為我引見一些人物。不過我也非常倚賴我自己在英國之外的導師,借重他們的人脈來接觸幾家高成長企業的人物。我在英國結識的導師與領導人,是SpinVox開始茁壯的關鍵因素。

■ What do your mentors give you, and what do you give in return?

The mentors I’ve found in the UK understand my drive and passion, and what I look for from them is their levelheadedness. Having a dependable network of people like that is invaluable.

When I can’t sleep after an 18- to 20-hour day, and I am agonizing about a crucial business decision, I can always call one of my mentors, even in the middle of the night. I know they will empathize with what I’m up against and will give me the best advice possible.

問:導師帶給妳什麼?妳又如何回報?

答:我在英國找到的導師,了解我的動力與熱情,我需要他們的穩健與明智,這種可以倚賴的人際網絡是無價之寶。每當我連續工作18到20個小時後無法入睡,或當我對重大的事業抉擇舉棋不定,總是有導師可以讓我請益,就算在深夜時分也能求助。我知道他們對我的處境感同身受,會給我最優質的意見。

There’s one clear lesson my mentors have taught me: Don’t diversify. So we do one thing –convert voice to text – and do it well. They have also helped me choose the best talent. All too often, start-ups are cash strapped, so they don’thire top people, but I wanted to hire the best.

A powerful team around you can effect change very quickly; making the right decisions about people is 90% of the game. My mentors also ensure that I stay focused, so I can better communicate with my team and translate my vision.

As for what I give to them: Time, rapport, and trust are critical to a mutually productive mentoring relationship. We have nicely reciprocal relationships,and I think one of the basic reasons is that I listen.

When you go to people for advice, they expect you to listen, and they appreciate it when you do.

導師曾給我一個明確的忠告:不要分散力量。因此我們只經營一項業務,將語音轉成文字,而且做出漂亮的成績。導師也協助我選擇最優秀的人才。新公司多半資金拮据,因此不聘用頂尖人才,但我想找最好的班底。一個強有力的團隊可以快速推動變革,選對人才是這一行的成功關鍵。導師督促我集中焦點,我才能與團隊保持溝通順暢,充分傳達自己的願景。

至於我對導師的回報,師生之間必須投注時間、維持融洽關係與培養信任感,才能營造出彼此互惠的關係。我和導師能夠維持良好關係,基本原因在於我願意聆聽。你向別人請教時,對方會期待你洗耳恭聽,如果你能做到,對方會感到欣慰。

■ You mentioned 18- to 20-hour days. Do your mentors give you any advice on how to achieve balance in your life?

Like most of my mentors, in many ways I"m married to my business. So we don’t even talk about balance. We’ve all failed at that.

問:妳剛剛提到妳一天要工作18到20小時,導師有沒有建議妳維持生活的均衡?

答:我和我大部分的導師一樣,把事業當成終身伴侶。因此我們從來不談「均衡」,在這方面,我和我的導師都不及格。

延伸閱讀:奴隸與良師益友

趨勢大師大前研一說現代社會成了M型社會,在講求效率的企業界,雙M制度則已盛行許久。「雙M」指的就是導師Mentor與導生Mentee,也就是師徒制。國內外大企業,像是台積電和IBM公司都會指派導師培訓新人。

在資訊業素有「總經理訓練班」美稱的IBM指出,人才不見得都是天生,也需要培養磨練。所以,IBM公司有一套稱為「導師專案Mentor Program 」的新人養成計畫,以師徒制個別傳承經驗與企業文化。這項專案是由員工主動申請,或是新人出現適應問題時,由公司指派導師進行協助。因為擔任導師的都是IBM的資深人員,有心上進的新員工通常都樂於申請成為導生。這個導師專案以一對一為主,實施期間從半年到一年不等,雙方確定參與專案之後,須訂下「師徒契約」。導生要主動訂定自己的目標、完成時間、實行方法;導師則會定時檢視導生的學習內容,並給予建議,甚至跟著導生拜訪客戶,指出實務上的缺失。

不僅在職場上,致富也需要貴人相助。《心靈雞湯》的共同作者韓森(Mark Victor Hansen)與理財專家艾倫(Robert G. Allen),在他們合著的《一分鐘億萬富翁The One Minute Millionaire》裡提到,單獨一個人的時候,沒有力量可以借用,必須依靠自己的知識、經驗、資金和資源,致富之路會漫長而緩慢,到最後你的資源會用光而灰心、放棄。

他們建議找一位導師。導師是一條捷徑,可以讓你不必為了改正新手所犯的錯誤,而損失時間和金錢。其次,他們建議要利用人脈。人脈龐大綿密有一個優點,就是可以增加找到關鍵人物的機率,而你只要有「一個」關鍵人物就夠了。關鍵人物具有呼風喚雨的能力,他們只要說一句話,事情就好辦。

「mentor」原來是一個奴隸的名字。希臘神話的勇士奧德賽準備出發參加特洛伊戰爭時,把年幼的兒子提利馬修斯交託給一個他信賴的奴隸,而他的名字就叫門特(Mentor)。特洛伊戰爭打了十年,奧德賽又再多花了十年才回到家。當他回家時,發現提利馬修斯早已長大成人,而且在門特的細心教導下,成為一個出類拔萃的優秀青年。因為門特既是奧德賽的忠誠朋友,又是他兒子的良師,所以,mentor也稱為「良師益友」。

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