Asia Pacific Going International – Min Tan

How does an international growth localization consultant help companies achieve their goal of growing in Asia Pacific? Find out in this interview with Min Tan from Google.

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How does an international growth localization consultant help companies achieve their goal of growing in Asia Pacific? Find out in this interview with Min Tan from Google.


Andrej Zito 

Min, welcome to the podcast.

Min Tan 

Yay. Thank you for having me. Andrej.

Andrej Zito 

How are you doing?

Min Tan 

I’m doing well. How are you?

Andrej Zito 

I’m pretty good. Pretty good. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Where are you joining us from?

Min Tan 

I’m actually in Beijing right now, I just finished up a conference. So, but I’m usually based in Shanghai, China.

Andrej Zito 

So maybe let’s start with the obvious question. How did you get into localization?

Min Tan 

Yeah, so I had no idea what localization was back in school. I studied literature, more like translation or English language in college. So I started in China in a city called Guangzhou. And after I graduated, I went to Monterey. So I went to Middlebury Institute’s to pursue my master’s degree in translation and localization management. So that was the time when I heard the term localization and I was writing my application for the school. So I was like, what is localization in my mind, and I was only like, video subtitling and this and that. So I tried to piece out all my previous experience on doing video translation projects. And then luckily, they accepted me. So I studied learning localization in the school in Monterey. It was really interesting, because it was such a really small industry. So I spent pretty much two years of my master degree learning about what is localization and how I can work in different aspects of this industry, from the vendor side, from the client side or from the technology supplier side. So yeah, it was really interesting, I made the right decision to get into this industry.

Andrej Zito 

So during the studies, you mentioned that you tried different aspects of localization? Did you already know what you want to be focusing on?

Min Tan 

So I knew that I didn’t want to be a translator. It was just, like, pure translator. Well, I know, and this is a really respectful career, but I think for me, I’m usually the person who is like, yay, doing a lot of different things and like to talk to people a lot. And I, as you can probably see, yeah, so I tried to. So I was more leaning towards project management or account management, when I first got into localization. So that’s also based on my personal advantages, and also my personal interest.

Andrej Zito 

So how did that lead you to to Google?

Min Tan 

Yeah, I so after two years studies, in Monterey, I actually worked in a couple of different LSPs. I worked in a small LSP in Pacific Green, also in Monterey Peninsula. And also working locally, localized as well not like as their project manager slash account manager. And then one day, I saw a job post on LinkedIn, hiring for language manager for Google for simplified Chinese. I am Chinese, from China, and the location is back in China. I have always wanted to know what’s going on in tech industry in China, because when I left for my grad school, it was 2015. And at that time, so all the tech industry was just starting up. So I think Tiktok, or Bytedance was not that huge deal back then. But when I was in the US, like 2018, at that time, like already a few, like a few tech startup getting up, and some of them are already, like that brought this and did was really interesting. I feel like I’ve missed a lot about what’s going on in the tech industry in China. And I wanted to go back, I wanted to experience it firsthand. So that’s the reason why I also moved back for this job opportunity with Google. And yeah, after a few rounds of interview, I was lucky that I got selected to be one of their localization experts in the team.

Andrej Zito 

Besides this, I don’t know what to say, career reasons, did you want to go back home? Or did you like being in the United States?

Min Tan 

Yeah, I really enjoyed my life in California, especially even though it’s really expensive in the Bay Area. But well, everything was really nice. People were nice, and it’s pretty diverse. And also a lot of state parks I really like loved. I think there’s always a charm about the US. I can no matter if you’re in New York City, or California Bay Area. So I always wanted to go back, like two for now, like for two to the US, but at the same time, for personal reasons. I actually feel like I’m pretty curious about what’s going on. I don’t want to settle in a place for a long time, at least for now. So that’s reason why like, I don’t have to apply for a visa to go back home and let’s just do it. I can just go back home tomorrow. To work there. So just for my own curiosity.

Andrej Zito 

So what do you call actually home? Is it United States or China?

Min Tan 

No, no, I, I will say home is still China, I am still Chinese citizen. And I feel like but I call a lot of different places like, temporary home, or I feel really attached to like Guangzhou where I went to school, or Monterey or Bay Area, or even London where I studied for a short period of time. So that also I think, enabled me to be a localizer. Because you have to, to get into local culture and to understand and to have an open mind to, to make sure that you, you feel local when you are there, not like you’re a foreigner, where you are that we’re only a traveler when you’re there. So yeah.

Andrej Zito 

So when I was when I was 19, or 20, when I was working in my first job with Moravia, knowing Czech Republic, I think that’s when I saw these fancy videos about Google and their culture, you know how people work on the fitness balls, they have free food, and so on. And it was always my dream to work for a company like Google. So when you were looking for these jobs, did you have the same expectations of Google? Or did you really, I don’t know, think in your head that Okay, I’m going to be working for Google, you know, because Google is Google, you know, it’s not. Let’s say we go close. It’s Google. So did you did you always wanted to I don’t know, work for this tech giant with, let’s say, a very specific and distinct culture. And then did your expectations meet? Were, were your expectations met once you started working for Google?

Min Tan 

I think I actually it was a long time ago. So almost three years ago, when I first applied.

Andrej Zito 

It’s not that long.

Min Tan 

Like loss of life is going out. But anyway, I think, yeah, definitely. I wanted to join Google long time ago, because all the perks are the benefit on all the cultural things I saw previously. And I think for now, being a school for three years, almost three years, I think, a company or the team that people I worked with, actually made me a better person, professionally, and also personally. So it’s a it’s a really big statement. But I truly believe it helped me develop more, like professional skills, of course, more learning more about localization. But also, I think, the connection between people and our also, I joined the teams, pretty diverse team, maybe realize a lot of things. So I’m really grateful for this opportunity, and also grateful for the awesome people I work with,

Andrej Zito 

What is one of the things that you realized about yourself?

Min Tan 

About myself, I think it’s just also one thing is about my ambition, or what I want to do what I so I first joined Google as a language manager for the Chinese. And then after two years, I moved to a different role, my current role, which is localization consultant for our clients. So the switch was a little bit different, because first, you’re working with internal teams on your own product localization, then the next one is when you talk to you talk to the clients and then talk to, they can be like gaming developers, they can be big and small companies. And I think it’s still about localization. But it’s really different. I wanted to learn, I wanted to go out of my comfort zone, and then to try new things and to be activated differently. I want to try cells, and never done sales in the past, I want to do sell. But right now sales is not just about like, buy our products are two things, you will have to help the other person to grow with your customers as well. So I think that really enables me to to learn more about another side the sales part of the business.

Andrej Zito 

Yeah, so let’s start talking about your role. First of all, I thought it was a growth consultant. It is used these terms interchangeably. So localization consultant and growth consultant is pretty much the same for you.

Min Tan 

I thought the official title of my role is international growth localization consultant. So it’s a pretty small scope. So that’s why I usually started as a growth expert or localization consultant for companies, yeah.

Andrej Zito 

Okay, so you mentioned you mentioned the sales aspects. WWould you actually have to sell as part of your job? Or does someone else do the selling and then they hand over the clients to you Bbcause you’re the localization expert?

Min Tan 

Yeah, I will say everything’s like business wise. So I use the sales term as a way to define the business side. So like, as my job mainly is to help the clients understand how they can improve their localization. So I wouldn’t say my role is purely just to sell things. That’s a definition I gave for ourselves is to help people grow and help our clients grow.

Andrej Zito 

When you talk about helping them with localization, does it mean that your customers, they already know what localization is?

Min Tan 

I think they have a few ideas about what localization is. And also localization means different things to different people. I think subsequently in the industry, we may talk about like TMS tool, TEP and machine translation that. But I think for clients or for people who are not in the industry, they think about localization, they think about everything they think about like pricing, they think about customer experience, and think about user like UI design everything. I think that’s also like misunderstanding in the industries that what is look like they should become this term was used so interchangeably. Yeah, in different areas. Yeah.

Andrej Zito 

So does it mean that you help with everything? Like even with the pricing, or that’s up to them? And you really care about the I don’t know, let’s say, figuring out the best localization process that will work for them?

Min Tan 

Yeah, I will say that there are so many open resources, some internet that are available for everyone. So we have this great team, a website called market finder, and has a lot of different aspects about how when you have to decide to go to different market, what kind of things to consider. For example, localization, customer experience, logistic and payments. So and also the other things like HR, legal and other things. So we actually provide pretty professional help, and not only on the language people also on logistic and payments. So there are different consultants in our team that’s doing this job.

Andrej Zito 

What else does your role include? You mentioned reported you like to talk, what is the ratio of talking and I don’t know doing and or writing emails?

Min Tan 

Yeah, we all write emails, I think this is really important core part of our jobs. And I think talking definitely, yeah, a lot of meetings, meeting with internal folks and also meeting with clients. But at the same time, is think about how more strategically what kind of solution we have, and kind of solutions we want to bring more, because our ministry is also changing a lot of things happening, that we have to adjust our services to adjust ourselves, to better meet our needs of our clients. At the same time, we also have to ask ourselves, ourselves, because even though I’ve been in the industry for a long time, I’m pretty, I’m an expert in localization, but I still want to keep up with new trends, new technologies, and also with with a competitor or industry just to learn more about, about everything. So I also need some time for me to, to learn and also to get understand the industry more. Yeah.

Andrej Zito 

Where exactly do you find, I don’t know, inspiration or new sorts of knowledge, on localization, you personally?

Min Tan 

Localization, I think there are so many sorts of things, I like to listen to people’s talks like like podcasts, or I like, video type. So I think that’s also a way for me to learn something really fast. So I also attend, like virtual conferences like LocWorld. I also presented there last time, so I think I get a lot of informations from, from those online conferences, and also from those videos, as, at the same time, also re, I read the white papers, some companies doing really good jobs about publishing what they have done with reporting Netflix has really good blog about on their own internal systems. So I learned a lot about their, like pseudo localization and their own translation technologies in house. So yeah, that’s how I keep up with the industry trends.

Andrej Zito 

It is my understanding that you are mostly focusing on gaming. Is that correct? For helping gaming companies or?

Min Tan 

Yeah, gaming is? Yeah,

Andrej Zito 

Are there other growth consultants in Google that may be specialized in something different?

Min Tan 

I think the reason why I’m pretty focused on gaming, it’s because we have such a boom in the gaming industry in APAC but also I also focus on other industries, for example, like e-commerce, or have SaaS on this kind of industries. But yeah, I think reason why gaming is such a big deal is because I’m based in China, based in APAC. And also, one note about gaming is I talk more about mobile games. So not so much about console or PC games. Everything pretty much happens on your phone. Yeah.

Andrej Zito 

Yeah. So what actually happens with the clients, they come to you, they say, they have a game? Do they even come to you maybe in the pre production stage where they don’t even have a game? And they’re thinking, like, how should we design this game? So that I don’t know it’s popular somewhere else around the world? Or do they already usually come to you when the game is ready. And let’s say the game is popular within APAC, then they want to expand?

Min Tan 

Yeah, I think all this, I wouldn’t say there’s a specific type, or they will come to us a certain time. And also, I think that’s the charm of it. Because you are always there, you’re not like I’m not a machine, I don’t produce the same material to the same clients all the time. So I it’s also an opportunity for a consultant, especially for good consultant to understand what is current stage, the client is seeing, no matter your pre launch or after launch, I think the problem is more important than the stage they are in, and then help them paint the picture for their future. Because I also want to help them grow by themselves. So when they learn all the best practices, they can understand, okay, what is the next step for them to do? So they don’t have to come like this. I don’t work with them all the time on the like, preview of things or like incremental changes.

Andrej Zito 

So when you advise them on the strategical aspects of let’s say, going international, does it mean that you let’s say, provide the advice, and then you maybe check on them, I don’t know, in a month or two months? Or do you or somebody from your team more actively help them? Get the localization? Right?

Min Tan 

So if they have questions, I’ve definitely will follow up with the clients. So it’s not like a one time engagement. One time engagement, it’s more like a conference, or it’s a one way communication. What I usually do is I want to be there for my clients. So if they have any questions, or if we talked about one thing that might, like take a long time to implement them, we weren’t checking a certain time. So yeah, and usually I will do multiple engagements with my clients, because they’re my clients, and I want them to be successful. I want to help them as much as I can.

Andrej Zito 

Right. But it’s not like you have to execute on their behalf. Right. That’s what you leave up to them.

Min Tan 

I think that’s why we are consultants rather than a service provider. Yeah.

Andrej Zito 

Right. Makes sense. So how closely do you have to learn their product? Or how much do they share with you so that you can actually give them a good advice? Like, do you actually learn something about the games? Or is it more about where the business is right now? How is their I don’t know, user base in their current markets, and what their goals and ambitions are?

Min Tan 

I think, yeah, I think one thing a good consultant should do is to learn about the industry, that’s for sure, exploring their the company’s product, and understand more from maybe external perspective, what this company is like, or what the company does from all the sources available. And then I think the client also has a better understanding about themselves. So we can also talk about, like, ask them to share with with us what, probably like what you’re focusing on right now and why it is, I think, as a consultant, because I’m also new to consulting like and now we’re working MBBs or other consulting firms in the past. And I feel like consulting is one way for me to grow myself as well is to like consultants actually happens anywhere. Like when you’re a localization manager in your company, you have to evangelize about localization, that’s also an area where people will consult you on localization. So I think the job that I’ve been doing now also getting getting experience, experience or skills myself on how to understand the other person’s perspective, or the company’s perspective, really clearly, and understand how you can help them and also communicate yourself well, to set the right expectation and also a lie on the key milestones. And so that’s how I usually engage with a client and I think I’m still there’s still a long way for me to go. But I think that’s a good starting point.

Andrej Zito 

Yeah, that’s what I wanted to ask next, like, do you think only people who have some, say, extensive experience in localization can advise to other people? Or how do you remember when you first transitioned into this new role? Like, where are you picking? Because you already had some set track record in localization? Or did you did you have to be trained a lot to be able to do this role as a consultant?

Min Tan 

Yeah, I can tell you oversee, firstly, on why I decided to switch to this role. So there’s a story behind.

Andrej Zito 

Please.

Min Tan 

I am a big fan of podcasts. Now, as I mentioned before, I have a few that I can also recommend here. So one of them is about tech companies attack industries in China. And this one was made by a VC firm called GGV Capital. And then they have this podcast was previously called 996. Because in Chinese tech companies usually work from 9am to 9pm, six days a week, that was previously called nine and six. So sad, but they changed, they rebranded their, their podcast name to Nextbillion is connected by GGVC, GGVC. So it was really good. And one of the episodes that hanstone was one of the partners, LPs in the in the firm, I think. He interviewed this lady called Renee Wang. And she is the CEO of Castbox, which is a podcast tool, a very popular in the US. And she was talking about she was a ex Googler, she used to work as a co manager in Google Beijing. So that’s why I feel really, personally close to her. And she mentioned about how when she first started her startup business, she used Google translate to localize her app into multiple languages and launch it on Google Play. And at that point, I was like, what, what I can help you but you don’t have to use Google Translate. I can tell you all the tricks, and do things really efficiently. So that’s why I realized that my skill or my expertise can really help develop emerging with smaller companies, or some, like app developers or game developers to help them understand more about doing localization, because that’s the essential step for them to go to global markets. And that’s the reason why I decided to move to a more external front facing role to advise the clients that work with their localization strategy. So that’s, that’s the first part about this question.

Andrej Zito 

Yeah, I think the second second question was for me, how do you remember your first days of transitioning to the role? Like, did you have to learn a lot of the things you know, like client facing? I don’t know how much you did have that before?

Min Tan 

Um, yeah, I also remember your last question. I think, if you want to be a localization consultant, definitely, you have to be an expert in this field. But being a consultant is not difficult in my mind. As long as you listen to the customers, and you understand you think, I think the solution is one part of it. But the most important things is to the process when you work with the client, especially like on the previous engagement, set the right expectation and work on the project. So it’s a commitment by both parties needs to commit to this and to invest similar times. And it also makes the project even better if the clients is equally committed, and also update you with the progress and actually execute the plan that you like you to give to them. So yeah, I think it’s a it’s a learning process. And I think, also encourage people to try this, this job or try more external facing, or maybe just start your own company to work with a few clients. It’s really interesting.

Andrej Zito 

Did you get any general training from Google? Maybe let’s see on consulting like how to consult in general

Min Tan 

There are so many training resources available internally and also externally an office have so many, like mastermind I can learn from. So I think, definitely a lot of training and also before you search it for role, of course you have to, to learn a lot about this new role onboarding and a lot of other things. Yeah.

Andrej Zito 

When we talk about the solutions, are you sort of like a one woman team that you hear like the only point of the contact and of the consulting and advice giving, or the work with other people who may be, let’s say, maybe more technical, and they could advice on the technical details to help your clients or is it all up to you?

Min Tan 

Yeah, I think I’m never one person. And I think for for this complex topic, like localization, it’s also impossible for one person to have the solution for everything. So what I usually like to share all the time is the in like open source or, like open resources that people can use, including, like material design, which I think is awesome resource platform of everything, designing UX, mighty, and also has a has a one, one chapter about designing for right to left languages, really relevant to localization. So yeah, I leverage the open resources from there. And I learned also learn myself and also share with my clients. So I’m not the person writing, what’s your design, of course, but that’s what we’re I can leverage other people’s help or other. Yeah, and also the industry available resources.

Andrej Zito 

But does it mean that you’re more like a collector have all this knowledge and information? And then you just pass it on and distill it for the customers? Or do you actually work with? I don’t know, Jackie, or John’s, you know, like, I need your advice on which mt engine we should pick for this customer?

Min Tan 

I think it depends, of course, if I need somebody’s help, of course, I can ask for them. To provide me their expertise, definitely. But I think overall, is when there’s anything available online that I can describe and collected for my own purpose, then I will do it. And if I need help from anybody, specifically, also ask them for help.

Andrej Zito 

Let’s zoom in a little bit on the on the APAC situation, since I think you are very familiar with that. And maybe that’s something that I’m totally not familiar with it. Because normally, what I’m familiar with is it works the other way, you know, it’s the US the English speaking companies, they want to go to Asia and not vice versa. So maybe my first question would be, what is actually the source language? For the projects? Do they create it in Chinese or in their own local language, then they want to localize into let’s say, English or other languages? Or do they start with English?

Min Tan 

I think there’s always this conception, that the word only has APAC and the rest of the word, or I would say, like, APAC is already pretty big concept, that we’re diverse on different countries and different local nuances. And then the other part, maybe, let’s say, the western part, and that’s more us dominating the people, of course, start their source language in English, and then they localized to different languages. But I can also imagine in some other countries, let’s say maybe in some European, European countries, they maybe start with their source language in in their own native language, and they use English as their pivot languages. So I think it probably is pretty normal for any non English speaking or non English official language speaking countries to have a mix solutions, but I think that’s getting more and more not more things we the industry is getting decentralized in different so so yeah, we will see more trends coming. Yeah. I think it’s also one such example is maybe for for Japan’s pretty industry open I see it in also some other LSP service providers. Pricing list is the also provide service and they also have it on their pricing list, from example, Japanese to other languages, because they may be like gaming provided like service providers. So it’s yeah, yeah, it’s pretty standard.

Andrej Zito 

I would actually expect that you would say that it’s the source language is actually Chinese, because the market is so huge. And like, for example, or another example would be when you mentioned Japan, you know, like a lot of the games for Japanese market. I don’t think a lot of them would be let’s say mainstream, popular in the United States like they’re very quirky and weird for maybe the western market. So I’m thinking like, yeah, like, would they be mostly developed in? I don’t know, Chinese or Japanese? And then I don’t know, maybe, maybe you use the local markets as a test market to see how the people react to it? Or do the companies really come to you with the mindset that okay, we want to have this game internationally successful?

Min Tan 

Yeah, it’s a good question. I think, what I’m pretty surprised about, I’m pretty surprised about how some companies in APAC, they’re so seasoned in localization. So they’re not the beginners that we would expect, like the develop everything housing, from their own point of view, and they try to look like and that’s pretty really difficult. Some companies, they already have this mindset, because he is what they do, they do international expansion all the time. So it’s in there. Like, isn’t in your team spirit, we’re in the company’s mind, like the map to expansion to to expand. And then I think that point is less as less difficult to adjust your, like, already published game to another market, because it’s also not so efficient. If you develop everything. For example, let’s say a Japanese game developer, and you just do everything for your Japanese market, and you want to expand to the US, maybe you have to change parts. So but I think, I think a lot of companies, they already had this mindset. So when they are in the planning stage, they already consider which market they want to go into.

Andrej Zito 

Is that maybe the part where you would also assist them? Like, do you help some of the companies pick the target markets?

Min Tan 

I think this is really, I don’t usually pick help them pick the markets, because really complex decision process. And you have to consider all different kinds of like, for example, what kind of game you’re what what kind of app you are, and also the potential of that market, local, like competition, etc. So it’s usually I think, when I worked with them, they already had a pretty clear idea about where they want to go next, or where they already probably, like launched their product.

Andrej Zito 

What do you think is sort of different for the Asian companies? And how they think about going international versus maybe the American companies? Since you had experience with both sides? Maybe you’re closer to the customers now with with Google as a consultant. But do you see anything? Any any major differences? Like how do you think about the international expansion and growth?

Min Tan 

I think, I wouldn’t say that’s the biggest difference. But I will see, say that it’s really unique in APAC companies were I, which is also one thing that I really admire. I really love working with APAC companies, they’re really agile, say, like, the moves really fast. Let’s not talk about nine and six, I think maybe that’s only only happening in some companies in China. But I think it’s also really important to move things fast and to iterate, and to try and then to fix things. I also don’t have the data to compare how fast they are with American companies. But I think that’s also a big trend also, maybe also, like shared by other people, when they work with APAC companies, they move really fast. And they’re willing to try it to see the benefits of it. So I think that’s also really important in the current climate. Competition. Yeah, it’s the competition everything.

Andrej Zito 

Do you think it’s mostly because it’s a gaming company? Or do you see this as a general thing? Maybe in APAC? Because I don’t know, the companies are more used to being I don’t know, fast or? Yeah,

Min Tan 

This is a I think, this is difficult, it’s difficult to answer because also one in my mind, I was going through all the different companies I work with, but I would say that it does not be my point of view. A my point of view is not only limited to gaming companies, but also to different or different kinds of industries.

Andrej Zito 

So do you think that people are more okay to fail? You know, because when we talk about like iterating and doing things that three things fast, you know, usually usually the, the teachings from the Silicon Valley, the opposite side of the world is that you You need to fail fast? Because that’s how you learn. So do you think that people are more? I don’t know, open to failing and learning and then moving on?

Min Tan 

Yeah, this is an interesting question. Because in my mind, I think the experience from the companies in Silicon Valley, they already pass on their knowledge to different parts of the words like we all know what’s probably the mantra or lessons from the big tech companies. But at the same time, because when you ask this question, I was also thinking back about one past podcast, I was listening. So that’s another plug for a different podcast. So I talked about the next billion by ggV. Another one is called a senior’s China bus, it’s made by China bus, this has panned out something it’s called, it’s made by these two reporters and talks about a Chinese tech companies and it’s in English. So people can check it out. So in doing one of your episodes, they interviewed a person who used to work for Facebook for over in China, and also with fresh and mobike. So a few Chinese tech companies as well. And I think he is currently doing his own business and also like a stock of VC kind of business. And the interview was asking sort of the same questions about how we, the APEC companies or Chinese companies, they think about failure, or how they think about if they fail what they should do. And the person, he was basically saying that the failure in how Chinese companies perceive failure is, you as you can achieve really quick success for the startup or you have to go home, like, Go big or go home. So this, maybe it’s really different from the culture in the US because you as a Silicon Valley’s more you feel safe, even if you fail, even if your startup cannot, like, get to IPO or get acquired by big company. But I think, because competition is so fierce in a pack, and people like the founders can barely get anything out of it if they failed me. And so that’s his point of view from a VCs perspective, from more like startup perspective. But I think I really, I can see sometimes how this is different in APAC, and also in China. And he also mentioned that her thing is, so for employees for a startup, when they want to recruit new people, and they when they’re planning for the package for their new employee new joiners, they tend tend to put more percentage on the the equity or the like stock options. But in China, or in APAC, people with employees still prefer cash. So that’s also perception about how much the individual employees wants to invest in a company or in a startup it because I your equity only worse, more go like IP owed and the company goes successful. So that’s also a really interesting way from a package. percent employee package perspective to think about how, like ordinary people, the workers, they want to they think about this topic. It’s not related to localization at all, but I think..

Andrej Zito 

We’ve heard a lot about localization already. So that’s okay. I wanted to ask you personally, like, how are you? First of all, how are you? How do you think you’re agile? How do you think you’re fast? In what you do on a day to day basis? Like, do you think being fast and agile is important for a consultant? Or is it more about being thorough and really looking at every possible option, and letting the client have the final say, in decision?

Min Tan 

I think as a consultant, when I think about fast and agile is I have to move fast, and keep up with the industry trends with the new technologies, with machine translation AI, for example, that’s one of the technologies that we should keep up with. And I think overall, the client should always be the final decision maker. And also we want them to make the final decisions and also devise their own plan. And that’s usually what I consider your view more efficient, more effective when I work with a client because we have to get their commitment or sometimes verbal commitment, or sometimes just like their understanding that this their responsibility to carry out. Execute the work. The plan, I think we all have to be open minded and also be agile in a way that we can keep growing in our current role. But at the same time, we have to dig through things really deeply as a counselor, because we’re the experts, we cannot just scratch the surface of things, we have to understand what is the in and out? And also, for example, how can this service help a certain type of client? So we have to think really deeply about one topic.

Andrej Zito 

Maybe let me ask this final question about your role. What do you think are the challenges of being a growth consultant? We already mentioned some some things about it. But what do you think is the biggest challenge maybe for you right now? And what would be the challenge for people who want to become a consultant?

Min Tan 

I’m pretty optimistic. When I think of when I was thinking about my challenges, I don’t quite have so many challenges, but I don’t see any of them as a roadblock or why I think there are some opportunities, if I can say that I can be even better. And my job and also help our clients is to understand more about their business to keep with the during the stream, and say Guinea is one part of and within gaming. And there are so many different genres of games, RPG games, casual games, that have to learn about their business model or the business the industry during and then I have also to learn more about the local nuances to help them even better that’s working and I have different types of customers like yeah.

Andrej Zito 

When you mean local nuances do you mean local within where they are headquartered, or you mean local within the markets that they’re going into?

Min Tan 

Oh, markets markets, I also think if I only have to focus on localization, like I just talked about localization, but I want to Excel to a next level that I understand their overall business. Well, for example, if you’re like a casual game, you want to go code localized into Japan, then I have to understand their, for example, Japanese users, their user pattern and their user profile, and also understand how the customers are willing to, for example, in a purchase, or they’re willing to watch ads, so how the companies can monetize themselves? And who is Apple, how much they can monetize how much we can invest? And what’s the lifetime value of the individual users? And how much do you spend on the user acquisition all the other thing, then that’s just for one runner of games, or one company? And I think this is really curious to me, because I want I want to learn about a lot of different things. I’m personally really curious person, and that, Can someone help me understand customer’s business well, and when they present to them my localization strategy or the plan that I would have worked for them, but it can sound what related to that, but sometimes it does not relate. So I won’t say this is the compulsory element for a successful localization consultant. But I think some time down the road that will actually help help the consultant to build the connection report and the trust with the customer. So I’ll say that’s an opportunity for me to invest more time. I’ll say this is one thing. And another thing, I think, overall in the localization industry, maybe it’s not just related to my role, but I think we can have more opportunities for people to share and to talk to each other, and to understand each other’s pain points. And I think this, for example, we have really great open source documents or software’s, from Silicon Valley, I see a lot of companies they have like published kms systems, they have open a store TMS system for other companies to use. I am also hopeful to see more trends coming up from other parts, not just from Silicon Valley, so people can benefit from it, like from from each other’s tools and open source documents or their white papers or their unblocks. Yeah.

Andrej Zito 

So that was your, let’s say, professional way how you can elevate your job, you know, to understand the business side. Yes, like maybe. How about the fundamental part? Are you a gamer?

Min Tan 

I am actually like, I don’t I think I’m the profile person who just play casual games all the time. I am a casual game addict. So I am in a purchase person. So I purchased like, and Chinese ul to buy actual, like a few candies or something. Yeah, I do that and I am addict to the cooking games. So like the burger flipping or like, I do that a lot of times and I pretty competitive with myself. So for example, if I cannot. So I’m really stuck. It’s a rabbit hole for me. So it’s really dangerous for me to spend a lot of times

Andrej Zito 

Do you think this is something that is beneficial to your role?

Min Tan 

I think it is gives me a perspective on for example, casual game. But at the same time, I it’s not realistic for me to be truly passionate about everything. I am a shopper, I understand the user part of the journey. Also, I’d be lying to myself if I say like I’m, like big fan of all types of games, RPG games or games. But I have to have the curiosity to understand more, even though I’m not the target user, that I have to play them to download the game to try it out or to understand, like business model. So yeah, even though I’m not a huge gamer in the hardcore console game, but I still wanted to learn. And I still, I’m curious to learn more.

Andrej Zito 

I think that’s okay, that you were at least some gamer because I i’ve i’ve I know about people who work in the game industry, and they are not into games at all, like any kind of game, they just take it as a as a job. And I think that maybe especially if you’re in that consultant role, maybe the people on the game development side, your basically your customers, I think they would probably prefer to speak to someone who is into gaming, because for them, I think it’s a lot of passion that goes into making the game. So I think it’s better if I think you have a better chance at connecting with them if you actually understand their games, right?

Min Tan 

Yeah, I agree.

Andrej Zito 

Okay, so you said that you’re a very curious person. So let’s talk about that. What are you curious about right now?

Min Tan 

I am curious about a lot of things. I, I love books. So I am, you don’t see my bookshop now, because I’m in a hotel, but I have giant bookshop. Shopping in my home, I usually read nonfiction books. That’s why I’m curious. I want to learn about little bit of everything. So read about physics, about business, of course, and about brain like neuroscience, neurology. So a lot of different things. So recently I am, I’m doing a lot of things at the same time. I’m multitasking in my spare time as well. Reading one book about VC, I think the book title is called the Sandhill Road. It talks about how for example, as a startup, how you can raise money from VCs and as a VC how you can survive because usually the venture capitalist firms the rely on the big patch, or the successful IPO companies and how they can monetize themselves how they can manage their their own work system. So that’s one book I was reading and also, I’m a learning CFA. So I want to, to self learn ASAP, at least get to CFA level one. Hopefully next time when I talk to you how I already have a statistical financial advisor. Yes, kind of like analyzing. I also read the report financial reports of different companies. For example, I know Airbnb and Bumble, they went public recently. So I also read their This is a really good source of information for me to understand their business model, their competitive markets. So I also read the financial report, of course, financial reports from Google and also the companies. That’s also one way for me to get information about how companies work on their business model. And talking about the other non business related topics is like, understand what about the brain because I think brain is one area that science has not like we’re still exploring we’re still on our way we probably know 20% about how brain works. So we’re still not like located which part of brain does what so that’s really fascinating to me, because I don’t think we’re that that’s stage to other parts of our body because other part of our body we pretty much know a lot about it already, but brain we’re still relying on the MRI From my technologies for us to understand more, and once we understand more than we can develop other technologies to, to help to help us on this field like the neural link to other advanced technologies for for for people listening.

Andrej Zito 

What I’m curious about is how the focus your curiosity, because you mentioned that you were curious about so many things to do you read multiple books at the same time, or do you pick one and then you finish it?

Min Tan 

I read multiple books at the same time, it’s okay. In my mind, it’s okay to do that. I always think that everything will come back to me at one point. So even though I’m learning physics, and literally learning, business and neurology at the same time, the opinion or the points will come back to me at one point, and I will be able to connect my dots when I look back. So yeah, I don’t feel guilty about this reading multiple books at the same time. And I do Google searches a lot. If I have questions, I just like, go into the rabbit hole of Google searches. Some more,

Andrej Zito 

I was just thinking about it. Because when I interviewed Gaya, you know, I was asking her what is what is their superpower? And she said, it’s connecting the dots. So I was just thinking about that it’s good. If you have knowledge from different disciplines, even though they may not be related directly, maybe some time you will connect something that maybe other people wouldn’t Connect. So by the way, about it, what do you think is your superpower? I don’t think I even asked you before during our intro call. What do you think? Is your special a special thing that maybe others don’t have? And what is the biggest asset that you bring to the to the team after customers?

Min Tan 

Yeah, that’s a good one. I think, if I can’t say I would say curiosity is not the answer. But I am really curious about a lot of different things. And also, at the same time as I don’t think I’m unique, that I’m the only person that is not I mean, the team having this superpower. I also see from other leaders or other successful business people, they are also curious in different things. For example, I was like, deep doctor very curious about other parts. So that’s able for him, like that’s why he connected dots for different things. And also curiosity is the first step to, for you to make something new work to innovate. I will say, yeah, that’s my superpower to be curious about something. And yeah, willing to learn. I think I have other superpowers that I’m passionate about things. I’m kind of a common person and do other things. But I say the top one probably is curiosity.

Andrej Zito 

So if you’re if you’re kind of what is the what is the last thing that pissed you off? Do you ever get mad at something or no?

Min Tan 

I get mad at things. I think I’m pretty professionalist in a way that I, I can I can I can be anybody can do a lot of things. I can be a writer, I can be a software engineer, I can be a painter, like I don’t see myself only being locally famous for doing local I different consulting all the time. So in other life in a parallel universe, I can’t be a different person, if I’m in a different profession, but I really want to be really good at it. Oh, at whatever I do, I think I have this really high standard about myself, that I, whatever I do, I want to spend the most time and to be able to do it really well. So I might get disappointed. I won’t say pissed off by seeing that. Like, if you you’re just live without purpose or without thinking without reflection, or just want to do jobs, just for the sake of completion yet and that’s it. So I feel like maybe that’s not really what that’s not what I’m thinking about were passionate about. So I think is I really want everybody I hope it’s also not so condescending is to people to think more to reflect more. And once you decided to do something is the best that you were the best of it or tried to do it really well.

Andrej Zito 

Yeah, when you were talking about that, I I saw myself in that and yeah, but I also think that there is a problem with that because sometimes when I do something just for the leisure, you know, like I don’t know, sports or hobbies, or dancing. The problem for me is that I want to be better at that every time. But maybe there are things where we shouldn’t like push ourselves, we should just enjoy and being being avature. What would you think about that?

Min Tan 

Yeah, that’s a really, really good point. I thank you for bringing this up. I’m not the person that I wanted myself to be great at everything and my hobby, as well. I remembered when I was talking to one of my friends, because I also like rock climbing. I like bouldering as well. But a lot of things that you have to train, you have to invest your time to train. So I was talking, also complaining with my friends, that I can only get to a certain level. So I can only get to maybe like three lobotomy level. I cannot go above that. Because I think I don’t have the physical strength or I’m not painting long enough. And my friends like me, you’re This is just your hobby. You don’t have to be great at it is just relax. I was like, wow, yes. Yes, that’s true. That’s true. Like, I don’t have to be the top.

Andrej Zito 

Right. Rethink. Yeah. Yeah. That’s a really good point. So okay, so what is something that people seem to miss understand about you? And what I mean by that is they they meet you, you seem like a funny girl, you know, like to laugh, talk to people. But maybe that’s not the truth. So now we know that it’s the truth. But what is like the first impression that you think you give to people? And then once once they tell you about it, you’re like, actually, no, that’s that’s not me. I’m quite the opposite.

Min Tan 

Interesting. Oh, we’re getting really philosophical here. I think I am pretty much an open book I consider is I don’t hide our Try not to be pretending to be somebody else. But I also think maybe, because I’m still learning more about myself. I take personality tests, like different ones. And that’s one way for me to understand more about myself. I will say that people might consider me as an extrovert. But sometimes I also think I just want to stay at home. And I just read, I don’t like to party a lot. Now at this age. I think maybe that’s one thing is I also trying to learn more about myself because from the personality test, the test actually shows me I’m an extrovert, but in my mind, I don’t think I’m extrovert and might be a mix of extrovert and introvert. There’s a spectrum of it. So yeah, maybe that’s the one thing.

Andrej Zito 

So did you do the Myers Briggs test? The four letters, right?

Min Tan 

Yes, yes, that’s the one and also the other ones, like, we have color insights, and Strengths Finder, but I think that yeah, that’s the big, PT or something. That’s the one that was talking about.

Andrej Zito 

Do you remember what did you get?

Min Tan 

Labeled as a campaigner? Um, I don’t remember the exact letters, but I’m an extrovert. And I like to be passionate about things. So I like to campaign start different projects. That’s it.

Andrej Zito 

Have you ever heard about human design system?

Min Tan 

No, no. What is it? I’m curious.

Andrej Zito 

Like you I was also into these personality tests. And then when I was doing an interview with Gilad, he used to work from Microsoft. He was a big guy on internationalization. He told me about the Human Design System. And Human Design System is basically it’s basically based on when you were born. So you type it in and it does some analysis on something on you. But when I was reading it, the personnel that I got, actually, it seemed to be quite quite fitting. So that’s another thing that you can you can pick out. Wow. So curious. Yeah. But you need some, maybe some specialists to give you more explanation on it, because there’s it goes very deep. It’s not like, like the Myers Briggs. Test.

Min Tan 

Okay, I’ll check it out. Thanks for sharing with me.  We were talking before about, you know, the companies being agile, and maybe the culture of failing. So I’m wondering, how are you dealing personally with failures? You talked about that? You don’t see a lot of challenges with something. It’s not like a roadblock. You know, so, in your personal life, do you? Do you see failures in your life or is it just a lesson learned for you and you move on quickly from from a failure? Or you don’t even call it a failure? It’s just I don’t know, something happening. Okay, let’s, let’s move on. I yeah, I think when you first mentioned about failure or something, I think people might consider us failure is, like, before I, before I joined Google actually apply for different companies. I also, like, did some interviews with companies. And some my workout at the certain time, maybe like before the offering stage, or before maybe, maybe before, like, the interview stage, that’s like, resume selection stage. So some people will say, my learning can share with people who are totally looking for a new job is you might consider that this as a failure on yourself, like this company, they don’t want to hire me, I really love this company, I’m really passionate about what they do. And this job is a great fit for myself. But in the end, it didn’t work out. This isn’t, then I think is, with time, I realized that it’s not just on you, there are so many dependencies or so many, like reason that you don’t know, because it’s not such a transparent, not so transparent, some companies tried to give you more knowledge or information. But it’s not like equal, like you’re not in the equal status, the company holding company or hiring manager. So don’t blame this on yourself. And just keep moving. It’s also a suggestion offered to me, when I was applying for a job is don’t get discouraged, if you cannot join the company that you wanted. Right now. This also means that you have specialists in the future or the right company, the right fit for you is waiting for you for your next move. So So applying and keep learning but at the same time, you have to reflect on yourself. That’s the only thing you can change. You cannot change for like other things like headcount, or the drop scope or good managers, we’re not the companies. But you can change on how you think about things and how you can for example, better improve yourself to do the next job interviews, when you actually made it to the job interview. What can you say? What kind of answers you can give to the the questions asked. So I will say that I was rejected by a few companies in the past. And I think when I look back from from it now is maybe it doesn’t work out for a reason. But for me, it’s to keep going and to think about how I can be a better person better worse off myself in the future, for the right opportunity.

Andrej Zito 

You talked about self reflection a few times. How actually does your self reflection look like? Do you have a process for that? Or if I came to you as a self reflection consultant? How would you advise me to to best self reflect or how do you do it yourself?

Min Tan 

Yeah, I think this is a great question, Andrej, I think that I say that reflection, self reflection is one essential way for, for me for me to grow. I ever don’t have a standard strategy to do it. I have a notebook. I sometimes write things there. Sometimes I just write things on my phone. So whenever I talk to someone or had an emotion where I learned something from a book or from a talk, I would try to think more or try to keep it in my mind and also share with people so that Astro actually also reinforced my memory. Then it became a reflection point that whenever, for example, I talk to one person, this person says something I really disagree or disagree, but I don’t want to like maybe I want to share with them later or not at the moment that point. So I will keep a note in my mind. This is also similar to what I do after a day after I finish, for example, my presentation was a client after I finished my presentation in conference, I also do a mini reflection on what worked really well I have worked probably it’s something I need to improve the next. So that’s just from me from my own personal improvements to do. Sometimes when I work with the client or with with the client, what was my colleagues I think it’s also a way for for example, if you want help the other person to grow is also in a really safe environment to share your observation, your reflection to the other person. So to help each other to develop this muscle mechanism like to think through it. flecked on what you have done or concerns you everyday things. So you can just make it better or try to get closer to your goal. So I think that’s, yeah, that’s how I usually do it. Not really systematic. But I think it’s really important for me to have this moment. So it’s not to go running and accomplish all the task every day. But have a moment with myself, maybe that’s my introvert part of myself is to, to be with myself and to think and to reflect on what went through, like what happened in today, in the day.

Andrej Zito 

When you take notes, does it mean you do something like a journaling? Do you do journaling?

Min Tan 

I don’t, I don’t journal about my life. But I keep a small notebook or keep in some notes about something, it was things that will inspire me, that inspires me. So for example, I listen to the talks from, from leaders from like female leaders, then I will note down the suggestions that she offers to female workers. So yeah, I think just don’t let it go. This is really precious point, the suggestions from top leaders think about it, and also think about it constantly. So yeah, that’s how I keep it in my small like notebook.

Andrej Zito 

Yeah, yeah. That’s, that’s a good advice. I think that a lot of people make the mistake that they try to rely on their head. Yeah. It’s like you cannot, you cannot keep all the good ideas in your head, and it’s better to put it down. And even just putting it down on the paper, it helps you I don’t know, structure or think more about the idea. Just the same way, when you mentioned sharing, when you share with other people, it’s, you can get feedback. Yeah, yeah. Totally. Okay, so the notorious question, what do you think is wrong with our industry?

Min Tan 

Um, I think I also shared earlier is, I do hope to have more open communication. in this industry, I think Silicon Valley is doing pretty okay. Sometimes, for example, there are multiple conferences or like free workshops, I mark is a great platform, and also remaining localization. And some like blocks, people company share their expertise, like their own experience with each other openly. But I think overall is I do think local industry is not moving fast enough, like all other companies, and one of the reason is probably because this is not the core competency of a company. And they try not to, like, create a platform to share with each other. So when we think about the crossing the industry platforms, like lock words, or I say, Yeah, those platform those are like on organized by a third party. Third party, maybe in this third party company, or consulting company, I think we will encourage we should have more innovation and more open to hearing. And I also am hopeful to see more startups coming up. So not dominated by the big players. So I see more VC funds coming into this industry, because also really tech heavy, I see more hope to see more like startups or solution companies or smaller companies emerging. And yeah, hopeful fully hopeful to see more opportunities by the new service.

Andrej Zito 

Maybe this would be a confidential question, but would you see yourself creating the startup at some point? Are these years of more of an employee? person?

Min Tan 

Yeah, it’s not so confidential, because I can also I think, I’m really passionate about new solutions, new technology, and I also really admire the startup founders and this like maybe the early time employees. I don’t I think I can see myself in a similar role. But I think when I actually will see me. For example, starting my new company, is really my passion and I want to be all in I don’t want to do it as a side gig. I also started a few like, I also I will consider myself an entrepreneur because also started a company earlier on in my life in college. So I think at this stage is if I decided to be stopped at startup, a founder or joining startup is something I want to invest all my energy attention in. So yeah,

Andrej Zito 

Okay, so one day, maybe industries disrupting the localization space? Yes. So things you change your mind about? I’m not sure if you had a chance to think about this, because a lot of the people are. They don’t know what to think about it. But what I basically mean by this is that I don’t know you were thinking the world behaves in a certain way. And then something happened, you read something, you did your self reflection, and then suddenly you’re like, Oh, it’s actually not like that. Like I was wrong the whole time. Like something like a radical mind shift. Has something like that happened to you that you can recall and share with us?

Min Tan 

I actually can’t think of anything at the moment. But I will say that I’m probably had a different understanding about some Chinese companies and how, like, going back to the localization topic is sometimes I’m surprised about how quick to actions some of the Chinese companies are, or some of the APEC companies are, even though that they are like, what is starting up and how committed they are to work on localization? So that’s maybe one story or one, what they are case, sure about this question is how willing they are to invest in their workflow improvement or the quality improvement, sometimes really surprised? Yeah.

Andrej Zito 

Okay, so the second question, maybe hopefully, this time, it will lend what are the absurd or stupid things that you do?

Min Tan 

Oh, there’s so many stupid things I do.

Andrej Zito 

We have sometimes so.

Min Tan 

Ah, stupid things. I also do like stupid. Lot of things, I consider them stupid.

Andrej Zito 

I think it’s, I think it’s that the other people would consider it stupid or absurd. But for you, it’s quite normal.

Min Tan 

Oh. So I shared that I really love books. So when I was living in in Beijing, Beijing is a big city. And when I was living here, I was living in the like, suburb in haidian District, which is really far away from the malls or from the city centre is more like University part of the city. So really far away from everything. And I really love books. And I like one of the book shops that’s actually located in the city center. So usually will, in my, in my weekend, Sunday ritual is I will take the subway, and now we’re one way so at least two hours of to commute to the books, bookshop and then come back. So that’s my Sunday ritual. So that’s something I do constantly, probably every weekend, or maybe bi weekly. And that’s something I do try to do when I go into different cities, I will try was to visit their bookstores, and then try to explore what is going on. So I think the bookstore is one way for me to understand the vibe of that city and also defines whether I like that city or not.

Andrej Zito 

Okay, um, we’re at the end of our interview, I think we’re right on time. So the final question is, what would be your parting words, if you could speak to the minds of everyone in the industry? What would you tell them?

Min Tan 

I encourage everybody to learn and to engage with the APAC more, I think I truly believe that APAC is really promising market for a promising region, especially I think, in Asia, or in China, quarter China or Southeast Asia region. So I encourage people to switch their mindset, if not already, to think more about what is going on to understand more about what is going on in APAC, and to talk to the people who are actually based in APAC also encourage you anybody who’s listening to this to encourage to contact me and to share your thoughts with me and also with the people here. I think there’s a lot going on that you probably you’re not aware of yet. But there’s a lot of interesting thing and I think more communication, more sharing, and will help help the world become a better place and also maybe help your business or your company’s mission to accomplish here as well.

Andrej Zito 

Well, thank you for your sharing and your contribution to the podcast. Thank you for this interview. And thank you for your time. And hopefully we’ll talk to each other some other time.

Min Tan 

Yes, looking forward to it. Thank you so much, Andrea, you’re doing a great job. appreciate everything you do. Thank you so much for your time today as well.

Andrej Zito 

Thank you. Bye bye!

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