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Translating Passion to Business

Meet Elizabeth Colon, who is an honoree of the 2020 Inspiring Women in Business program, sponsored by First Midwest Bank and 101.9 THE MIX. Elizabeth is president and CEO of Metaphrasis, which offers interpreting and translation services that focus on creating true human connections for the people who need it most. The organization works with healthcare organizations, government services and corporations and the people they serve. Elizabeth believes everyone deserves to be understood. We spoke with her on her professional journey here:


Q: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to women entrepreneurs?


A: Don’t be afraid to fail. You have to remember that there is always room to reinvent yourself – every lesson is an opportunity.


Q: What role has mentorship played in your success?


A: I have first-hand experience that underscores how important mentorship really is. Personally, it has helped guide me through some of most difficult times I have had in business. Having a mentor who challenges and supports you is beneficial because it makes you pause and take a look at obstacles from a different perspective. Through my mentor, I have learned that not every setback is bad, but should be viewed as a possible opportunity. Instead of focusing on failing, my mentor has helped me focus on overcoming my fears. 


Q: What inspired you to start your own business?


A: Growing up, my parents did not speak English and I had two deaf sisters. I often served as a mediator for my family’s communications and have a true passion for helping people be understood. In 2007, I expanded my passion from personal to professional and used my savings to open a translation business from my home.


Q: What is one leadership lesson you have learned from the coronavirus pandemic?


A: Everything starts from the top down. When a leader fails from the top, it has a trickle-down impact on the entire organization. As leaders, it is our responsibility to be transparent and honest for the people who work with us. These trying times have also made it a necessity to show support for your team who may have beliefs or passions for something you do not. Good leaders lead by example and are open and transparent. My company had to go through some layoffs, and from the get-go, I made it a priority to be as transparent as I could in the process. Because of that, my employees were receptive and pleased with the honesty. Some even volunteered to work without being paid until things got a little better. This speaks to the amazing staff that I am honored to work with every day. 


Q: When have you stumbled in your career and how did you harness that setback as momentum to keep going?


A: Two or three years back, one of my biggest clients left, and I initially felt that I had did something wrong and took it very personally. What I learned is that it was not ever personal, but a business transaction. While this was difficult to accept, I learned how to overcome the challenge and move forward from the setback.


Q: What has you most excited about the future?


A: There is a reason for everything. It’s important for us to remain optimistic from the challenges of 2020. I think we are learning to be kinder, respect the planet and not take things for granted such as the families that we have and the opportunity we have to see the world in a different light.