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经济学家:Taking the long view 放远眼光

天之聪教育 2012-06-19 未知 253次

 

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韩刚老师中级面授班授课实录

 

韩刚:毕业于外交学院英语翻译理论与实践专业,曾以优异成绩考入外交部翻译室接受培训,后调任新闻司担任新闻发言人同传;曾为国际大型会议担任同传逾百场,口译实战经验颇丰。 作为B2A口译系统教学法创始人,自2003年起潜心钻研口译培训,注重系统传授,教学踏实认真,方法科学得当,现已在北京翻译培训界独树一帜,是深得广大学员尊重和爱戴的口笔译资深权威讲师。

 

马茜老师初级面授班授课实录

 

马茜:北京外国语大学毕业,师从韩刚老师,一次性获得人事部二级口、笔译证书及教育部中级口译证书,现为天之聪教育口译讲师。


Brain scan
思想扫描


Taking the long view
放远眼光


Jeff Bezos, the founder and chief executive of Amazon, owes much of his success to his ability to look beyond the short-term view of things
杰夫·贝佐斯,亚马逊的创建人兼首席执行官,认为他的成功很大程度上归功于他能够放远眼光,避免短视。

INSIDE a remote mountain in Texas, a gargantuan clock is being pieced together, capable of telling the time for the next 10,000 years. Once the clock is finished, people willing to make the difficult trek will be able to visit the vast chamber housing it, along with displays marking various anniversaries of its operation. On a website set up to track the progress of this “10,000-year clock”, Jeff Bezos, who has invested $42m of his own money in the project, describes this impressive feat of engineering as “an icon for long-term thinking”.

在德克萨斯州一座偏远山峰的内部,人们正在组装一座巨型的时钟。这座钟可以在未来的一万年内计时。一旦该时钟组装完成,那些愿意走困难山路的人可以来拜访装有这个时钟的巨大房间,房间里还会有各种纪念其运行周年的展览。为这个项目自掏腰包4200万美元的杰夫·贝佐斯在记录该“万年钟”建造进度的网站上把该巨大工程描述为“长远思考的象征”。

That description applies just as much to Mr Bezos himself. The founder and chief executive of Amazon has often ruffled investors’ feathers by sacrificing short-term profits to make big bets on new technologies that, he insists, will produce richer returns for the company’s shareholders in future. He laid out this philosophy in his first letter to shareholders, penned in 1997, which was entitled “It’s all about the long term”.

这个词同样很适合描述贝佐斯自己。作为亚马逊公司的创建者和首席执行官,他经常牺牲短期利益,在新技术上面下大注,这很让公司的投资者着恼。他坚持这些新技术会在未来给公司股东更丰厚的回报。他在1997年致股东的第一封信记录了他的人生哲学,该信题为《长期决定一切》。

Some of these gambles have paid off handsomely, transforming Amazon from an online retailer of books and other physical products into a technology behemoth with $48 billion of revenues in 2011 and strong positions in fields from cloud computing to tablet devices. They have also enhanced Mr Bezos’s reputation as a technological seer. “In the last few years there has been a re-acceleration of the rate of change in technology,” he says. His impressive ability to identify and profit from the resulting disruptions means he is widely seen as the person best placed to fill the shoes of the late Steve Jobs as the industry’s leading visionary.

他做出的赌博中有些获利甚丰,将亚马逊从一间出售书籍和其它产品的网店转变成了2011年总收入480亿美元的庞然大物,涉足业务从云计算到平板电脑。这些赌博的成功也赋予了贝佐斯科技先知的美名。他说:“在过去几年内科技变化的速度发生了再加速”。他拥有令人折服的能力,可以从这些再加速中辨认出破坏性创新,并从中获利。因此他被广泛认为是最有可能取代斯蒂夫·乔布斯成为高科技产业的领头预言家的人。

Mr Bezos’s willingness to take a long-term view also explains his fascination with space travel, and his decision to found a secretive company called Blue Origin, one of several start-ups now building spacecraft with private funding. It might seem like a risky bet, but the same was said of many of Amazon’s unusual moves in the past. Successful firms, he says, tend to be the ones that are willing to explore uncharted territories. “Me-too companies have not done that well over time,” he observes.

贝佐斯愿意把目光放长远也解释了他为什么对太空旅行这么着迷,以及他为什么会出资建立一个名为“蓝色起源”的秘密公司。该公司是现有的几间正在用私人集资建造太空飞船的新兴企业之一。这可能看上去风险很大,但是亚马逊过去采取的一些不同寻常的战略同样也曾被人批评为风险过大。贝佐斯认为,成功的公司一般是那些愿意探索未知领域的公司。他观察后得出的结论是“依葫芦画瓢的公司长期表现一般没那么好。”

Eyebrows were raised, for example, when Amazon moved into the business of providing cloud-computing services to technology firms—which seemed an odd choice for an online retailer. But the company has since established itself as a leader in the field. “A big piece of the story we tell ourselves about who we are is that we are willing to invent,” Mr Bezos told shareholders at Amazon’s annual meeting last year. “And very importantly, we are willing to be misunderstood for long periods of time.”

例如,当亚马逊进入为科技公司提供云计算服务的领域时,很多人对此表示惊讶。这对于一间网上零售商来说是很古怪的新业务选择。但亚马逊之后成功地把自己定位成该领域的领头羊。去年在亚马逊的年度大会上贝佐斯告诉股东们:“我们对自己的定义里敢于创新是很大的一个组成部分。更重要的是,我们敢于被别人长期误解。”

More recently, financial analysts have grumbled about the company’s wafer-thin margins and the hefty investment it is making in its Kindle range of e-readers, the most advanced of which, the Kindle Fire, is a fully fledged tablet computer. Amazon’s move into hardware with the original Kindle, launched in 2007, was another unexpected move. The devices have proved wildly popular, but Mr Bezos has kept details of sales figures and profitability secret. The assumption is that Amazon is trading short-term profits in order to establish its dominance in the booming e-book market. But nobody really knows. “Investors are paying a lofty premium for a company whose investment cycle is going to extend a decade and which offers limited visibility,” says Colin Gillis of BGC Partners, a brokerage firm.

最近,金融分析家们对于亚马逊利润率过薄以及亚马逊在其电子阅读器Kindle系列(其中最先进的Kindle Fire已经是一台完整的平板电脑了)上的投资金额过大深表不满。亚马逊在2007年最早的Kindle问世时踏足硬件业当时同样也是出人意料的。这些产品问世后非常受欢迎,但贝佐斯并没有公布其销售数字和盈利秘诀等细节。业界的一般猜想是亚马逊在牺牲短期利润,以确保其在欣欣向荣的电子书市场内的霸主地位,真相是怎样没人知道。代理公司BGC合作公司的柯林·吉利斯谈道:“对于一间投资周期可以长达十年,且内部运作能见度不高的公司来说,投资者支付的金额过高了。”

Such remarks do nothing to sway Mr Bezos, who is convinced that rapid technological change creates huge opportunities for companies bold enough to seize them. “There is room for many winners here,” he says. But he believes Amazon can be one of the biggest thanks to its unique culture and capacity for reinventing itself. Even in its original incarnation as an internet retailer, it pioneered features that have since become commonplace, such as allowing customers to leave reviews of books and other products (a move that shocked literary critics at the time), or using a customer’s past purchasing history to recommend other products, often with astonishing accuracy.

这样的言论可吓不倒贝佐斯。他坚信迅速的科技变化创造了巨大的机会,敢于抓住这些机会的公司才有机会成功。他提到:“有足够的空间容纳多个赢家。”但是他相信因为亚马逊具有其独特的文化和能力,可以不断再创造自身,它将会是这些赢家中最大的公司之一。即使是在其最早的网上零售商时期,亚马逊也曾首创了一些现在很普遍的网店特色,例如让顾客留下对书籍和其它物品的评论(刚出现时这可着实吓了文学评论家一跳),或是利用顾客之前的购买历史来推荐产品,这一方法的准确性惊人的高。

The view from the garage
来自车库的视野


Amazon’s culture has been deeply influenced by Mr Bezos’s own experiences. A computer-science graduate from Princeton, he returned to his alma mater last year to give a speech to students that provided some fascinating insights into his psychology as an entrepreneur. He explained that he had been a “garage inventor” from a young age. His creations included a solar cooker made out of an umbrella and tin foil, which did not work very well, and an automatic gate-closer made out of cement-filled tyres.

亚马逊的文化深受贝佐斯的个人经历影响。他毕业于普林斯顿大学计算机系,他去年回到母校给学生们的演讲为他作为一名创业者的心态提供了很引人入胜的剖析。他解释自己从很小时就是一名“车库发明家”了。他的小发明包括利用雨伞和锡箔制造的一台运作良好的太阳能烹饪机,用填满水泥的轮胎制造的自动关门机。

That passion for invention has not deserted Mr Bezos, who last year filed a patent for a system of tiny airbags that can be incorporated into smartphones, to prevent them from being damaged if dropped. Even so, in the 1990s he hesitated to leave a good job in the world of finance to set up Amazon after a colleague he respected advised him against it. But Mr Bezos applied what he calls a “regret minimisation framework”, imagining whether, as an 80-year-old looking back, he would regret the decision not to strike out on his own. He concluded that he would, and with encouragement from his wife he took the plunge as an entrepreneur. They moved from New York to Seattle and he founded the company, in time-honoured fashion for American technology start-ups, in his garage.

这种发明的热情并没有离开他。贝佐斯去年还为一个可以放入智能手机中的微型气囊系统申请了专利。该系统可以避免手机落地时遭到损毁。即使这样,在90年代他要离开薪水丰厚的金融界创建亚马逊时他很尊敬的一个同事劝他不要这么做,当时他也曾犹豫过。但是贝佐斯利用他所谓的“后悔最小化框架”方法想象当自己是一个回顾一生的80岁老人时,是否会对自己当初没有独立创业感到后悔。他的结论是会的。于是,他在妻子鼓励下一头栽入了创业。他们从纽约搬到了西雅图,秉承美国科技新兴企业的优良传统,在自己家的车库里建立了亚马逊公司。

This may explain why Mr Bezos is so keen to ensure that Amazon preserves its own appetite for risk-taking. As companies grow, there is a danger that novel ideas get snuffed out by managers’ desire to conform and play it safe. “You get social cohesion at the expense of truth,” he says. He believes that the best way to guard against this is for leaders to encourage their staff to work on big new ideas. “It’s like exercising muscles,” he adds. “Either you use them or you lose them.”

这可能可以解释为什么贝佐斯对于亚马逊继续乐于冒风险这一点如此执着。随着公司扩大,其管理层会有遵循现有方式,以安全的方法发展的渴望,这么一来一些新点子就会有被扼杀的危险。他提到:“换取公司内社会凝聚力的代价就是真相。”他相信避免这一点最好的方法就是让公司的领导人激励自己的员工来开发巨大新鲜的点子。他补充道:“这就像肌肉,你不用就会退化。”

Amazon’s unexpected move into cloud computing is a good example. The company had developed ways to allocate computing capacity flexibly in order to deal with the mountains of data being generated by its retail operations. This led to the idea that the same know-how could be used to solve similar problems at other companies, too, and Amazon Web Services (AWS) was born. It is now used by hundreds of thousands of firms, ranging from start-ups such as Spotify, a music-streaming service, to established companies like Ericsson, a Swedish telecoms giant. The firm does not break out AWS’s revenues, but Gartner, a consulting and research outfit, has estimated that they exceeded $1 billion in 2011.

亚马逊出人意料地进入云计算领域就是一个很好的例子。公司之前已开发出将计算机资源灵活分配的方法,来处理其零售运作产生的海量数据。这导致了一个新点子,即这种技术也可以为其它公司解决类似的问题,于是亚马逊网络服务(AWS)就这么诞生了。现在有数十万家公司使用这一服务,其客户中有音乐在线播放公司Spotify这样的新兴企业,也包括瑞典电信巨擘爱立信这样的老牌公司。亚马逊并没有单列出AWS的收入,但是咨询研究机构Gartner估计其2011年的收入值超过了10亿美元。

Mr Bezos is coy about where he might place more big bets in future, but there have been persistent rumours that Amazon might launch a smartphone, possibly as soon as this year. With Amazon’s video-streaming and music services, Mr Bezos clearly has Netflix and Apple in his sights. And in recent weeks there has been speculation that Amazon is toying with the idea of opening a bricks-and-mortar shop to promote sales of the Kindle, by letting customers try it in person. The success of Apple’s hugely profitable chain of retail stores shows that even in the era of e-commerce, there are some things people prefer to buy the old-fashioned way.

贝佐斯喜欢在自己将来会在什么领域下注这一点上故弄玄虚。但是现在业界有持久不散的流言认为亚马逊可能将要出产自己的智能手机,最早可能今年就会上市。从亚马逊自己的在线视频和音乐服务来看,贝佐斯很明显想要向Netflix和苹果公司挑战。最近几周也有多方观望认为亚马逊正在考虑建立一间实体店铺来促进Kindle的销售,使顾客可以在购买前亲身体验。苹果那利润巨大的连锁商店证明即使在电子商务时代,还是有些东西人们更愿意以老方式购买。

If Amazon does one day move into bricks-and-mortar retail, it would not be the first time that Mr Bezos had taken a leaf from the book of Jobs. Like Apple’s visionary leader, he has a strong sense of showmanship, which was on display at the carefully choreographed launch of the Kindle Fire last year. Mr Bezos can also be an intense and demanding manager. But most importantly, he shares with Mr Jobs an innate understanding of the importance of thinking about high-tech products from the customer’s point of view.

如果亚马逊真的有一天进入实体商店零售业,那绝对不是贝佐斯第一次抄袭乔布斯。和苹果那位眼光长远的领导人一样,贝佐斯有很强的表演意识,今年精心策划的Kindle Fire发布会上可以看到他的这个特点。贝佐斯有时也像乔布斯那样,是个态度强硬,要求严格的经理。但是更重要的是,他和乔布斯一样理解从顾客的观点来思考高科技产品的重要性。

Keeping it simple
保持简单


During the design of the original Kindle, for example, Mr Bezos insisted that the e-reader had to work without needing to be plugged into a PC. That meant giving it wireless connectivity. But he also wanted it to work everywhere, not just in Wi-Fi hotspots, and without the need for a monthly contract. This prompted the Kindle team to devise a new business model, striking deals with mobile-phone operators to allow Kindle users to download e-books without having to pay network fees. The ability to download books anywhere does not simply make life easier for users; it also encourages them to buy more books. The Kindle is an e-reader, but it is also a portable bookshop.

例如,在最早的Kindle设计期间,贝佐斯坚持该电子阅读器必须在不接上电脑的情况下就可以使用。Kindle的无线网络连接功能就是这么来的。但贝佐斯也希望Kindle可以在任何地方使用,不仅仅局限于Wi-Fi热点,也不需要手机上网套餐。这意味着Kindle小组必须设计一套新的商业模式,要和手机网络运营商达成协议,让Kindle用户可以用其网络下载电子书,而不用交网费。可以在任何地方下载书籍不但使用户的生活变得简单,它也鼓励用户购买更多的电子书。Kindle是一个电子阅读器,同时它也是个便携式的书店。

Similarly, with the Kindle Fire, Mr Bezos recognised that a tablet computer designed chiefly for consuming entertainment content is no use unless there is plenty of such content available. For many other tablet manufacturers, the question of getting content onto their devices seems to be an afterthought; but Amazon, like Apple, has assembled an ecosystem of books, apps, video and music to accompany its device. Moreover, Amazon can use cross-subsidies from the sale of digital content to keep the price of the Fire down, something that rival tablet-makers who do not sell content cannot do. Once again, Mr Bezos is playing a long-term game in the hope of establishing the Fire as the main rival to the iPad.

同样的,在设计Kindle Fire时,贝佐斯发现一款主要是为了消费娱乐内容而设计的平板电脑只有在存在大量这样的内容时才会有用。对于大多数平板电脑制造商来说,在产品中加入内容似乎是事后才考虑的。但是亚马逊和苹果一样伴随着其产品建立了一个由书籍,应用程序,视频和音乐组成的生态系统。此外,亚马逊可以利用出售数字内容得来的交叉补贴降低Fire的价格。这一点是那些不出售内容的平板电脑制造商对手所无法做到的。再一次,贝佐斯在放长线,期望把Fire确立为iPad的主要竞争对手。

Not all of his bets succeed. Who remembers Amazon Auctions, for example, or Amapedia, Amazon’s attempt to build a Wikipedia-like user-generated product directory? Even more numerous are the bets that Mr Bezos has placed on new initiatives that have yet to prove their worth. Amazon has branched out into own-brand products, has set up specialist e-commerce sites in several premium markets and is dabbling in movie making and television production.

并不是所有贝佐斯的赌注都押对了。例如,现在谁还记得亚马逊拍卖?谁还记得亚马逊曾试图建立一个类似维基百科的,由用户生成内容的产品目录-亚马百科?贝佐斯还有更多的赌注押在新业务方面,目前尚未证明自身的价值。亚马逊在尝试生产自己品牌的产品,在几个高端市场创建了专家电子商务网站,还涉足电影及电视制片业。

Perhaps his most outlandish bet is that on spaceflight. Blue Origin is one of several start-ups aiming to open up space travel to paying customers. Like Amazon, the company is secretive, but last September it revealed that it had lost an unmanned prototype vehicle during a short-hop test flight. Although this was a setback, the announcement of the loss revealed for the first time just how far Blue Origin’s team had advanced. “So little was known about Blue’s status that the amount of progress it had evidently made further enhanced its reputation,” says Mike Gold, an executive at Bigelow Aerospace, another space start-up. In a post on Blue Origin’s website, Mr Bezos said the crash was “not the outcome that any of us wanted, but we’re signed up for this to be hard.”

他最奇异的赌注要数押在太空旅行业上的了。“蓝色起源”是几间希望能对付费顾客开放太空旅行的新兴企业之一。和亚马逊一样,该公司行事非常隐密。不过去年9月它公布在一次短程试飞过程中损折了一架无人驾驶的原型太空船。虽然这对公司来说是一次打击,但该消息的公布第一次向外界透露了蓝色起源小组的进度。另一间太空旅行新兴企业,Bigelow航天公司的总裁迈克·戈德谈到:“我们对蓝色起源的进度所知如此的少,以至于这次失败透露的进度进一步增强了其在业内的名声。”在蓝色起源网站上贝佐斯的一篇文章内提到这次坠毁“并不是我们任何人希望的结果,但我们开始这个项目的时候就知道这不会是一件容易事。”

Staying on top in the fast-changing world of technology is hard, too. Mr Bezos is bound to be the target of more criticism as his company’s hefty investments in new areas continue to put a dent in its bottom line. His next move could be into smartphones or a video-streaming service that competes with Netflix, but it is just as likely to be something entirely unexpected. By being unusually patient, he hopes to create businesses that rivals will find harder to assail. As the investments in both Blue Origin and the 10,000-year clock show, it is the challenge of reaching for distant horizons that really makes Amazon’s boss tick.

同样的,始终站在不断变革的科技业前沿也不是一件容易事。因为公司不断在新领域大幅投资造成其利润受损,贝佐斯似乎最终难逃成为多方批评目标的命运。他的下个行动可能会是进入智能手机领域,或进入在线视频观看服务来和Netflix竞争,但是也有可能他的下个行动会是完全出乎人们意料的。他希望利用特别的耐心来创建对手很难攻击的商务。正如蓝色起源和万年钟显示的那样,亚马逊的这位老板真正运作的动力来自于到达遥远的地平线这一挑战。

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