Paulo Hutson Solórzano on Navigating Expertise and Failing Up
In this season 3 Friday Fails episode of Back of the Napkin, Paulo Hutson Solórzano, owner of A Medida Communications in Chattanooga, TN, discusses the importance of focusing on what you do best, embracing your ninja power and identifying what is more appropriate to bring to the beach – a towel or toilet paper. Listen now.
When Paulo Hutson Solórzano from A Medida Communications in Chattanooga, TN, started his business, he decided “more is good,” and embraced any project that came his way. His mentor advised a different approach.
While he toiled away building small websites and picking up random projects, she recommended Solórzano instead focus on his core skills. She encouraged him to gradually build a portfolio that differentiated him in the marketplace.
Solórzano’s mentor proved to be correct.
“Her helping me navigate, really focusing and strategizing on where I wanted to take the company in the next three to five years, saved me a lot of time, which is money,” said Solórzano.
Learning to navigate your expertise can be a difficult journey for any entrepreneur. Instead of a winning growth strategy, being a “jack of all trades, master of none” can be a detriment to a small business.
Embracing Your Ninja Power
Solórzano initially found it challenging to lean into his niche and expertise. Being in Chattanooga, with small and underserved Spanish-speaking population, he worried about how his name might be received.
“I remember I would change my name to Paul and just keep Paul Hutson and not make anyone uncomfortable,” said Solórzano. “But then I learned, well, my name is Paulo Hutson Solórzano and that's what makes me, me.”
Thankfully, Solórzano has shed those concerns and embraced who he is. Working and focusing on culturalized communications, Solórzano’s cross-cultural marketing and advertising agency has established an impressive client roster featuring a variety of government, non-profit and corporate clients.
The mission of A Medida Communications is creating inclusivity by working across diverse markets to maximize mainstream resources and reach, such as helping increase the vaccination rate against COVID-19 among Spanish speaking populations.
“Just recognizing the things that I know that I'm good at, that's my contribution to this world and this Earth,” said Solórzano. “If you have something that makes you unique, that's your secret sauce. That's your ninja power.”
Towels or Toilet Paper
Working in the cross-cultural world, and particularly working in translation, sometimes even your ninja power is not enough to avoid mishaps. Effective translation is about more than just changing a word from one language to another, it's about knowing the meaning of the word. If you doubt that, look up the translations for lechón and cochino. We advise you to do this prior to ordering food at a Cuban restaurant.
Solórzano’s work across cultures requires knowing your audience and really knowing your target audience. The Spanish language is so diverse by itself, whether you're from the Caribbean side or Central America or South America. There are several examples where words have different meanings depending on geography and that can cause misunderstandings. In English that is less of a problem with the possible exception of soda, pop and Coke.
“There was one example where we were translating something for the Caribbean side and the word we were translating was ‘towel,’” said Solórzano. “We may not have done the most appropriate amount of research and the way we translated ‘towel’ was ‘toilet paper.’ So, on billboards we thought we had ‘make sure you grab a towel for the beach,’ but instead ‘grab your toilet paper for the beach.’”
That kind of misstep can be embarrassing, but for Solórzano his focus is more on celebrating successes.
“It's important to celebrate and to recognize your own greatness and your successes,” he said. “Then when you may have done something that you didn't think you were an expert at, well that's growth. We're all under development. It's important to recognize that and celebrate when you add another feather in your cap.”
That is true in any language.
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