LANGUAGESPEAK, A PROFESSIONAL translation services company, was founded by entrepreneur Annette Taddeo-Goldstein. The company offers language-related services in over 240 languages, employing translators, interpreters, and instructors. A nationally recognized minority supplier, LanguageSpeak has received many awards, including recognition as one of the Top 500 Hispanic American owned businesses in 2010 by the Golden 100 Top Privately Held Companies and Minority Small Business Champion of 2005 by the U.S. Small Business Administration. Taddeo-Goldstein is also very active in the Committee of 200, an international nonprofit organization of more than 400 top businesswomen. Its goal is to foster and advance women’s leadership in business.
How did the idea of LanguageSpeak come about?
It actually started in college during my internship. I did my internship at the Tennessee Valley Authority, where I was translating documents. The documents were difficult and very technical, scientific-type of documents. It was at that point that I realized there was a need. There were a lot of translation companies out there, but there was really a need for more technical translations, and people that could translate difficult jobs. To this day, we are still the experts for highly regulated industries like financial services companies.
How do you incorporate your heritage into your business?
It had a lot to do with starting my business, and it has a lot to do with everything I do today. I am the daughter of an expat veteran that was sent to South America to start the first helicopter school. He met my mother, a Colombian, there, and that is why my background is mixed.
When I was in college, I ran for student government secretary. I had posters all over the school. On the day of the election, secretary was crossed out [on all of the posters], replaced with ‘Annette Tadeo for Deportation.’ So you can imagine, as a young college student, who was born an American citizen, and never thought she would feel unwelcome in her own country, I realized we had a lot to do to teach our country about other cultures. So my company didn’t just get started to help communication for businesses, but also because it was personal.
Was it difficult getting the business off the ground? How did you make it successful?
Absolutely, there’s always difficulty. I started very young. There were monetary difficulties. Many people didn’t take me seriously because I was so young. You have to start slow and grow. One of the best pieces of advice I can give is that sometimes you can also grow too fast for your own good. Sometimes saying no to a client is just as important as gaining clients. That’s a very hard thing to do, but I think it’s a very important thing to know when you can’t do something and what you should and should not to do. These are the reasons why I’m lucky to have an organization such as the Committee of 200, a sisterhood of other businesswomen to draw from like a board of directors. For those of us who are small business owners and 100 percent business owners, like me, sometimes you have to reach out to others.
What advice do you have for Latina entrepreneurs?
Follow your dreams, and don’t ever let anyone tell you there’s something you can’t do. Plenty of people will try. I believe in this country you can be anything you want to be and do anything you want to do if you put your mind to it.
What’s next for you? What do you hope to do politically?
Politics is definitely in my future, there’s no question. I really want to see politics in lots of women’s futures. I would love to see the day when I don’t see headlines like ‘The Year of the Woman’ or ‘Two Women are going to Head the Committee.’ That’s what I’m working for. I’m working to see parity. It’s not just about one party or another party, it’s about the country and community overall. It’s in the best interest of everybody that there is representation for all.
How did your business experience impact your political ambitions? Did it affect it at all?
Absolutely. It is important to pay attention to politics because it affects your business. Unfortunately, the majority of women despise politics because it’s not pretty. But the fact of the matter is that the laws about business, commerce, and funding, the things we care about, including education and the environment, are controlled by politics. So we do need to care, and we need to make sure we are represented.