As 2010 comes to a close, our thoughts turn to the future. Experts and entrepreneurs agree that no matter what your business is, you'll increasingly be impacted by globalization.
That's why we asked Tom Adams, CEO of Rosetta Stone to be our December Entrepreneur of the Month. As the leader of an international language-learning software firm, he believes that American companies that don't get on the global bandwagon will certainly be left behind. "While it's obviously important to speak more than one language, it's also critical to understand other cultures, employ people from foreign countries, and look five or 10 years ahead or risk being left in the dust," he says. Read more of our interview below.
Also in this issue:
Speaking of keeping the peace, Culinaria Cooking School chefs Stephen Sands and Pete Snaith help you keep it in your home by sharing their favorite health-conscious appetizers for the holiday season: Asparagus and Prosciutto Bundles, Eggplant and Tomato Stacks, and Vegetable Napoleon.
We'd also like to introduce you to Drs. John Jones and John Maguire, owners of the new medical office in Northern Virginia, Simplicity Urgent Care. In their first article in Be Inkandescent Magazine, Dr. Jones explains why urgent care centers are filling a critical need. "Dr. Maguire and I know that finding top-notch health care can be complicated, and the last thing patients want to do when they are sick is to navigate a complex structure," he says. "That's why we focus on making every visit efficient, and most importantly, simple." Read more here.
From all of us at Be Inkandescent Magazine, here's to your good health, prosperity, and success in 2011.
Hope Katz Gibbs
Publisher: Be Inkandescent Magazine / Founder: Inkandescent PR
Illustration (above) by Michael Gibbs: www.michaelgibbs.com
DECEMBER 2010 ENTREPRENEUR OF THE MONTH
Tom Adams, CEO
By Hope Katz Gibbs
Do you speak a foreign language? How about your employees? Have many, or any of them, mastered a second language or lived in a foreign country?
If not, you may be behind the curve in terms of the future of the workforce, believes Tom Adams, president and CEO of Rosetta Stone, Inc.
"Speaking more than one language is no longer just an asset in today's job market; it is a requirement," insists Adams, whose company provides interactive solutions that are acclaimed for the power to unlock the natural language-learning ability in everyone. "The United States risks falling behind in the global economy if we do not strive to be a multilingual society."
Consider this: According to a national survey conducted by Wakefield Research, which was commissioned by Rosetta Stone, more than half (58 percent) of Americans fear that high-paying U.S. jobs will be filled by workers from abroad in the next two decades because of the country's lack of foreign-language skills.
What's more, Americans do not consider their lack of foreign-language skills as solely their own challenge; they see it also a challenge for the nation.
And roughly half of Americans think the lack of foreign-language proficiency has put the United States at an economic disadvantage compared to its foreign counterparts.
This perception has become a reality, according to the 2010-2011 "Global Competitiveness Report," which was released in September. In it, the World Economic Forum found that the United States has become less competitive, falling two positions to fourth place behind Switzerland, Sweden, and Singapore.
How do parents feel about this international trend? The Wakefield Research report tells us that nearly 60 percent of parents surveyed think that the current role of language instruction in U.S. schools is an afterthought and not prioritized as a core part of curricula, explains Adams.
"Although 70 percent of parents believe that children who have studied a foreign language can introduce themselves in that language, only a third (35 percent) of parents think that their children would know how to ask for directions, and only 20 percent think their child would be able to write a personal letter in the foreign language they have studied at school."
In fact, 66 percent of parents surveyed believe their children will need to speak Spanish fluently in adulthood, and 34 percent feel that learning Chinese will be increasingly important during the next 50 years; 67 percent of parents reported that they would rather their children learn a second language than play a new sport or a musical instrument.
Find out more about the Wakefield Research study on YouTube.
Rosetta Stone is ready to assist. If Adams has anything to do with it, more Americans will be using Rosetta Stone's products to learn foreign languages in the coming years. And, more foreign-born folks will be learning English.
The company's new product, Rosetta Stone® Version 4 TOTALe™ (pronounced tow-TALLY), integrates the well-known Rosetta Course software with access to Rosetta Studio™ sessions. These live, online, conversational coaching sessions are facilitated by native speakers around the world. Their growing online language-learning community will initially be available in 24 languages for learners ages 13 and older.
Adams has translated his personal experience into his business success. The Swedish-born executive has often been the foreigner in the room. But thanks to an immersion program, he was able to make the transition to learning other languages.
"I was born in Stockholm, and my family moved to France when I was a toddler," he shares. "I didn't learn English until my parents moved the family to England when I was 10. It was weird being an ESOL student, but I loved being immersed in a language and culture until you come to understand what is going on."
Adams went on to get a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Bristol University in England, and he worked as a commodities merchant in Mongolia before receiving his MBA from INSEAD, which bills itself as the "Business School for the World." When he met the owners of Rosetta Stone in 2003, it was a perfect match.
"Rosetta Stone was the brainchild of Allen Stoltzfus, who was trying to learn Russian back in the early 1980s, but became frustrated with his slow progress," Adams explains. "He knew there was a better way to learn a language, through immersion, which he had experienced years earlier while studying in Germany."
Stoltzfus' command of German was a direct result of being a part of the culture and the world of Germany, instead of sitting in a classroom. He immersed himself in the language, and learned German the way he had acquired his first language naturally and without translation.
He envisioned unlocking the natural language ability in everyone by using computer technology to simulate the way people learn their native language ― with no translation. Stoltzfus explored the possibilities with his brother-in-law, John Fairfield, who had a Ph.D. in computer science. While Fairfield loved the idea, he and Stoltzfus had to wait until technology caught up with their vision.
That came in 1992, with the development of CD-ROMs. The Fairfield family came together to form Fairfield Language Technologies in Harrisonburg, Va. Stoltzfus recruited his brother, Eugene Stoltzfus, from the world of architecture to be the company's first president. They named their product "Rosetta Stone," after the artifact that had unlocked the secrets of Egyptian hieroglyphics for linguists.
Stoltzfus died in 2002, and Adams was hired shortly after to be CEO. After spending three years running the company, in 2006 he and his team decided to sell the company to the investment firms ABS Capital Partners and Norwest Equity Partners.
Today, Rosetta Stone is headquartered in Arlington, VA, and has offices in the Shenandoah Valley and Boulder, CO, as well as London and Tokyo. Adams says that more foreign offices are on the horizon.
By Hope Katz Gibbs
It has been said that Rosetta Stone CEO Tom Adams is a born entrepreneur.
In true British style, the Swede who grew up in France before moving with his parents to England at the age of 10, raises an eyebrow at the idea. But then confides that he believes it's a possibility.
"I think being a good entrepreneur is an instinct," says Adams from his Rosslyn, VA headquarters, an office that takes up the seventh floor of a high-security building overlooking the Potomac River. "But sometimes it takes a while to realize that running a company is your life's calling."
What advice does Adams offer other entrepreneurs?
1. Be a visionary. Most entrepreneurs are "big picture people." Know that and get good at having others be creative and come up with solutions, but guide them through the process. You'll accomplish your goals, and build a strong team that feels valued.
2. Ask the impossible of very smart people. Of course, you want to be sure that you have the best and the brightest on your team. That means hiring people who are tops in their field. As the world goes global, it's easier to hire foreigners who bring a new set of skills and ideas to the company. Don't be shy about looking abroad for talent.
3. Don't be afraid to be bold. Taking risks is practically the definition of what it means to be a successful entrepreneur. You have to have the heart, soul, and guts to stand up to conventional thinking. Don't be afraid. Just do it.
4. Allow your subordinates to challenge you. I never think I have all the answers. As a boss, I think it's important to create a culture where you let your subordinates challenge you. One of the core beliefs at Rosetta Stone is "speak up, speak out." I am very careful about whom I hire because I'm going to listen to their advice.
5. Always have a seat at the table. While it's tempting to have your second-in-command handle some of the day-to-day business, be sure you are at every important meeting that takes place. This will keep your hand in what's really going on in your company, and it will enable you to know when changes need to be made.
6. Building a successful business is not a sprint; it's a marathon. Keep it interesting, keep working hard, and stay dedicated to your mission. That's what I plan to do with Rosetta Stone, and I can't wait to see what we'll develop into in the next 20 years.
Read the entire December issue of Be Inkandescent Magazine here: www.beinkandescent.com.