INTRO PARAGRAPH

My name is Lindy Zoutendyk. I am the Founder and Owner of French Translation Services (Pty) Ltd (www.french.co.za) – the first translation agency in South Africa to specialize exclusively in French and English.

I launched the business in 2002, fueled by blind passion and a sheer will to be self-employed in a business that would incorporate my academic qualifications as well as my passion.

The business has been built on an unfailing commitment to quality and this has been achieved through working with a carefully selected team of dedicated professional linguists.

My SPICE4LIFE – that thing that gets me up in the mornings is my 6-year old! 

CELEBRATING WOMANHOOD

To me celebrating womanhood means revering the multi-dimensional aspect of being a woman. As women, we have an arresting ability to cope with such a diverse spectrum of daily challenges and situations. This ability to find solutions across such a broad spectrum is something we often overlook and fail to celebrate.

I believe we need to do this by taking a quiet moment at the end of each day to reflect on our endless string of daily achievements as women – both great and small. Both personal and professional.

As women, we are hard-wired to put others first and to nurture. This is a powerful innate tool that has an impactful ripple effect on those around us. Uplifting women in my world in times of need has always been one of my greatest joys – and it always comes back to me tenfold. It’s a fundamental part of my world without which my picture would look very different. 

As women, we no longer have to prove that we have all the necessary skills and abilities to operate and succeed in previously male-dominated environments. But there is still much to be done. We need to continuously march forward confidently and support those who are operating in challenging environments. Sometimes these opportunities to support others surface in the most unlikely, off-camera places. And sometimes the smallest show of support or advice or a shared experience, can literally mean the difference between someone’s success or failure.

ON A PROFESSIONAL NOTE

I am a professional French-English translator and went on to establish a translation agency (www.french.co.za) where expert subcontractors now do the magic! South Africa is perfectly poised to play a major role in the massive growth and development taking place on the African continent. As translators, we create an enabling environment for South African companies operating in Francophone markets.

Most of my team comprises female translators in various life situations. Some are the sole income earners; some have a joint responsibility to contribute to household income. It is rewarding to take a step back and acknowledge the contribution that my journey has made to these people. 

My dream job, as a kid, was of course to be a rock star! More seriously, I loved travel and languages from an early age, and this seems to have crystallized into what I do today.

For me, success is defined as the ability to have pursued a goal, a dream or a passion and through this, to have created a financially sustainable lifestyle whilst ensuring enough play time. Be that with friends, family or through interests.

How hard is it to make it to the top? I’m still on the way up and always will be, but there is one certainty: there are no short cuts.

The demands on women from sunrise to sunset are formidable. I think whatever your home situation, support in its multitude of forms is critical. Striking a balance between home life and work life is any entrepreneur’s ever-shifting goal – one which constantly feels out of reach. Whether you’re actively working in the business or simply putting mental energy into it, you can very quickly become someone who is never fully present, which impacts heavily on relationships at home. Running your own business means there isn’t an “OFF” button and this needs to be managed carefully.

Compromise is an inherent part of the entrepreneurial journey. The main trade-off is foregoing the security and predictability of a fixed income. On the flipside, you have freedom and flexibility – something that makes it every bit worth it to me. 

ON A PERSONAL NOTE

The best decision I have ever made was to stand up to the fear factor of starting my own business. Leaping in and committing. 

My best ‘switch off’ strategy is surfing. I am in the learning phase and at almost 50, it requires my full mental and physical application in the moment. Leaving no room for mind drift.

WHAT INSPIRES ME

The leadership qualities I most admire are fairness, strength and empathy.

The woman that inspires me most is hands down my sister, Jeanne Groenewald. Her free-range chicken success story comes from a solid journey of incredible focus, hard work and the refusal to fail. All the while, being an amazing mother. Something I consider all-round success.

My life’s motto is not my own, but one I visit regularly: “Every day is a second chance”. Being a female entrepreneur can be one of the loneliest journeys. There is regular self-doubt, frustration, self-reliance and guilt around compromised family time. There are also many a day where the solution to a challenging situation is not forthcoming. Instead of being defeated, I simply delete those days and start again the following day, knowing that a new day brings fresh energy and insights.

A MESSAGE TO OTHER WOMEN

I think the most significant barrier to female leadership is the limitations we, as women, place on ourselves. Our sense of self. We have a tendency to undervalue ourselves and the power and influence we hold within.

The biggest challenge for the generation of women behind me will be to strike that critical balance between our personal and professional lives as life tears ahead at breakneck speed.

My top three tips for women are:

Setbacks are opportunities for growth. Don’t be defeated by them.

Surround yourself with positive, inspiring people and the magic happens.

Look after yourself first. Without mental and physical wellness, you are no good to anyone. Keep a healthy sense of humor in your daily arsenal of tools.

LIVING A LEGACY

My personal message to the world is step outside the bubble regularly and find that quiet space to reset, to reflect and to give yourself credit for the journey thus far. We get caught up in the future too easily – today is what counts. The future is merely our framework. Lindy Zoutendyk, Founder and Owner of French Translation Services (Pty) Ltd.

I believe support/giving back to the community is important because it is part of the circle of life. Sharing knowledge and experience are the most valuable tools you can give anyone.

www.french.co.za

https://www.linkedin.com/in/lindy-zoutendyk

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