A ‘lost in translation’ moment as a new immigrant inspired Elisabete Miranda to launch CQ fluency

Elisabete Miranda is the President and CEO of CQ fluency— a translation and language services company specializing in cultural adaptation with a focus in healthcare and the life sciences. 

CQ fluency was born from Elisabete’s own experiences navigating the healthcare system through language barriers when she first immigrated to the U.S. in 1994. A serial-entrepreneur, Elisabete owned twelve small businesses at different periods of time in Brazil. Eventually, she and her family decided to pack up and move to the “land of opportunity.” 

“We arrived in the U.S. with very little money, not speaking one word of English, and the hope of providing a better life for our family,” said Elisabete. 

The biggest challenge they soon faced was not only the language barrier but the cultural differences, especially in healthcare spaces. 

She experienced a literal “lost in translation” situation when her six-year-old daughter received a false positive tuberculosis diagnosis. Due to a lack of cultural knowledge, the school nurse did not know that in Brazil children are vaccinated against tuberculosis. Luckily, Elisabete found a physician who luckily understood the family’s cultural profile and the situation was resolved. However, had her daughter been given treatment for tuberculosis, the remains of the vaccine could easily have been reactivated, infecting her with the very thing they were trying to cure. 

This situation was an eye-opener for Elisabete on the challenges people face in the healthcare system when there is a cultural and language barrier. This experience is what ultimately inspired CQ fluency’s focus on healthcare. 

Today, CQ fluency is a purpose-driven, certified woman-and minority-owned and operated, award-winning company with global operations servicing Fortune 500 companies. CQ fluency partners with the world’s leading life science and healthcare organizations to supply culturally relevant translation solutions in over 170 languages.

 CQ fluency nimbly responds with leveraging the best platforms and harmonizing them to work well together for a truly customized language tech stack for each client. This focus on customized language technology is what has helped drive their growth.

CQ Fluency

Elisabete shares the story of CQ fluency’s origins and the ‘lost in translation’ moment that sparked the business. (Photo courtesy Elisabete Miranda)

We are on a mission to improve lives by leveraging Cultural Intelligence (CQ) by translating meaning and feeling to cultivate real human connections that ultimately improve health outcomes,” said Elisabete. 

Being an underdog and following your heart as a Latina entrepreneur

As a woman-and-minority-owned company, CQ fluency is ‘people-centric’ and passionate about diversity and inclusion. Elisabete attributes the strength and success of the company to their people. 

“We exist to improve lives, every life we touch – our people, clients, vendors, and partners, this is the strength that drives us to do what we do every day. You cannot grow a company alone.  I hold myself to the same standards to which I hold our people, and there is not a single thing that I would ask them to do that I wouldn’t do myself,” she said. 

The diversity and inclusiveness of our people contributes to our success. I bring my true self to work every day and encourage our team to do the same.” 

Elisabete’s true self is one who is passionate, unconventional, and a bit of an underdog. Working since the age of twelve, Elisabete developed an incredible work ethic early on. After immigrating to the U.S. she quickly learned English and finished her Business Degree. Along every step of the way, Elisabete has pushed past obstacles and succeeded. She believes that hard work, persistence, and passion are the keys to success. 

“It’s less about the eagerness to achieve success and more about the commitment to serve that resulted in success. I always want to be the best I can be so it was also very important to me to focus time on my own personal development. You can’t grow a company if you don’t grow yourself.” 

While being an ‘underdog’ against competition continues to be a challenge at times, Elisabete’s unconventional approaches have often led her to triumph over competitors. 

“For me, it’s more important to follow my heart and be true to myself.” (Photo courtesy Elisabete Miranda)

“It’s not that I don’t know the traditional way of doing business, it’s just that sometimes I decide not to follow it. For me, it’s more important to follow my heart and be true to myself,” said Elisabete. “I believe that we are ‘one person,’ professionally and personally. I know that suggesting you lead with your heart might sound crazy to some, but against all odds I can say that I have achieved success, and it worked for me.” 

Recently, CQ fluency had a request for proposal (RFP) opportunity, but lacked some of the global presence the client required. To increase their chances of success, they partnered with one of the largest translation companies in the world. Despite providing a very solid response to the RFP, they were initially eliminated and told they would not be moving on to the presentation phase of the process. However, Elisabete followed her heart and took the unconventional approach. 

“You can ask anyone that knows me, one of my favorite sayings is ‘you don’t get what you don’t ask for,’ so we politely asked them to please reconsider to at least allow us to present,” said Elisabete. “Next thing we knew, we were given a date and were among one of the three finalists.” 

Up against two of the largest translation companies, Elisabete and her team were once again the underdogs. Still, they found a unique way to stand out. What really set them apart was their ability to truly listen to the needs of the client. 

“We asked the right questions and clarified information they were looking for during the presentation, and in the end-that is what won us the business,” said Elisabete. “Business is not always about the money. This client for sure will not be our largest but is one we will be most proud to serve as they share our mission of improving lives especially for the most underserved populations in the world.”

You might be interested: Tania Molina, the architect who left her career for her chocolate dream

“Learning to think big and be bold were catalysts to my success” 

With hard work, persistence, and passion Elisabete has grown her business into an award-winning global company. Her story is an inspiration to aspiring entrepreneurs everywhere that you too can follow your heart and make your business a reality. 

Elisabete Miranda

From underdog to award-winning global company, Elisabete Miranda followed her heart to success. (Photo courtesy Elisabete Miranda)

“Being a woman and a business owner is not easy and many women think they can’t have it all, but that is false! You absolutely can have it all if you surround yourself with the right support system of people who have your best interest at heart and want to see you succeed,” Elisabete advised.

Organizations that sponsor and promote women-owned businesses, such as NMSDC, WBENC, EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women, DA4S, and even Latinas in Business, are great places for women entrepreneurs to get started and find like-minded women.

“I love the concept ‘You can’t be what you can’t see.’ Getting involved in those organizations solved that for me – I met plenty of successful women who became my role models and some of my friends,” Elisabete shared. 

Lastly, Elisabete encourages aspiring women entrepreneurs to step outside of your comfort zone. 

 “Learning to think big and be bold were catalysts that converted the hard work, persistence, and passion to my success as an entrepreneur!  Henry Ford said: ‘Whether you believe you can or you can’t, you’re right!’ – just believe you got this, because you most certainly do!”

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