Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Positioning Yourself for Success in the New Year

Each year, time seems to fly directly into the New Year almost overnight after Thanksgiving has passed.  Before long, Christmas will be here and gone and then we will all have to flip our calendars over to the next month. You may have already begun reflecting on the amazing year that you had both personally and professionally throughout 2012.

Maybe it was your first year embarking on your journey as a voice professional or maybe it was just another notch on your career’s belt that was added along with the many other notches that you have been collecting over the years. Regardless of how you will finish 2012, it is important to make sure that you plan now in order to start 2013 off with a bang!

One of the biggest mistakes that people make in this industry is that they wait for the New Year to begin before they start making plans. Waiting that long to plan how to start means that they are also forcing themselves to wait to actually start working towards the goals and expectations that they have set for themselves and for their business. This simple mistake of waiting can actually kill your business. How so?

As is the case with many other industries that are based on specific talents, the voice talent industry thrives off of momentum. You have to be able to catch the wave right when is it about to rise up in order to enjoy the ride of your life. Otherwise, that wave is going to pass right over you, leaving you stranded in still water or possibly even drowning in the ripples created by your competition. The best race car drivers know that you have to spend the least amount of time at the pit stop in order to win the race, because staying there too long will cause them to get left behind and lose out on the race all together.

Enough with the sports analogies – I think you get the point. Right now, we need to focus on the steps that need to be taken now in order to put ourselves at the front of the line and in a prime position for success immediately after the New Year begins.

One of the best things that you can do for yourself and for your business is use 2013 to start over. What do I mean by that? Treat your business as if you are approaching it for the first time with a fresh approach; work with it as if you are just opening your doors and about to work for your very first client. Why is that so important? You have to leave 2012 completely behind you, because holding on to it too long will mean failure for your business in 2013. Even if you had the very best year of your career in 2012, that will mean absolutely nothing in 2013.

You have to have a fresh approach to your business each and every year as if you are starting at Day One, because that is where you are starting. Update your business plan or better yet, create an entirely new business plan. Try new ways to advertise your services to the world; do not get too attached to sticking with the methods that may have been successful for you in the past. You have to be willing to change what you do today in order to change what you make tomorrow!

Use this time to focus on reflection. Pay attention to the areas that you succeeded in 2012 and were able to grow as a professional and expand your business to new heights. Use those areas as building blocks to create a foundation that will allow you to build even further next year. More importantly, you definitely want to reflect and analyze the areas in which you failed in 2012 and possibly almost ruined yourself professionally, jeopardizing your current image within this growing industry. Those are the areas that you need to truly come up with an action plan as to how avoid those pitfalls and steer in the direction of success in the New Year.

Enjoy the holidays! 2012 is coming to a close real soon. Spend time with your family and friends and make sure that you take the time to truly understand your reasons for being in this business in the first place, otherwise known as your “Why?”  If your vision for your professional voiceover career has gotten a little foggy over the past several months or even several years, now is the time to clear things up and get a better look. Just remember, if you wait too long, it may be too late.

I leave you now with one of my favorite Christmas songs of all time.  Yes, we hear this one a thousand times a week during the holiday season but I love this version from Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong

Baby Its Cold Outside by Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong on Grooveshark

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Gratitude in 2012

It's that time of the year again! Since 2012 is coming to an end very soon, I thought I would list my top eleven things I am thankful for. I have them listed in numerical order but it's not a ranking system. I am just listing them as I go.

1. Parents: My mother had a stroke on the eve of Thanksgiving a few years back and I am grateful she is still around and delivering her smile upon us every day. As a teacher, my father has been an inspiration. My writing and speaking skills are a reflection of what I learned from him. They've both put up with a lot of shenanigans, especially during my high school years. Or, high school year depending on who kept track of the days where I actually showed up!  More about that in another blog.

2. Tracy: The love of my life. She has helped me so much. In personal growth as well as my business. She has a way of lifting a person up when they get down or are having a bad day. Waking up next to her every morning is like waking up and finding a gift at your bedside. Her smile is like a glowing sunrise and has a tendency to lift your spirits immediately. She does an awesome job with her photography and social media customers as well. They just love working with her and I love being with her.

3. The Neumann TLM 103: Would I sound insane if I told you that my microphone was one of my best friends? Wait, don't answer that. Who cares, right? We're a match made in heaven and without it, I wouldn't be in business and doing what I love. When Tracy and I get married, I think I am going to ask the TLM 103 to be my best man! I bet it looks great in a tux.

4. Family: I am grateful for my family and Tracy's family. They make living life such a joy on a daily basis. My family even has a private facebook group page that we all stay in touch on. Some of the conversations are downright off the wall but that's what makes us unique. It's also brought a few of us closer together and with my youngest sister and brother-in-law living in NYC, it's been a great tool.

5. Facebook: Rumor has it there is a cool social media site out there called facebook? I'll have to check it out. Seriously, facebook has not only been a ton of fun but it's proven to be a powerful business tool as well. In 2012, I was hired by more than a dozen clients who found me on facebook! Not to mention that Tracy and I would not be together if it wasn't for this addictive little gem. Tracy and I went to the same high school in the early to mid 80's but we weren't exactly close friends. We got to know each other via facebook a few years back and the rest is history. Just like many others, I also reunited with several cousins and many high school friends. I love that!

6. Friends: I am honored to have so many friends not only in the voice-over industry but close friends who I have known for quite a few years now. They were there for me when I went through my divorce, when my mother had a stroke and on days where I am feeling a little down. As a die hard Minnesota sports fan, you need good friends to help you cope with the disappointment! Lol!

I heard a lot of people complaining during the election that they were "unfriended" by a few so-called friends on facebook for their political views. Well, REAL friends don't unfriend you based on your political stance. It was disappointing to hear that, which made me feel grateful that I have surrounded myself with friends who respect you, no matter what your personal opinions are.

7. Pets: My dog Kaytee has been a staple in this house since 2003 and with the addition of Tracy's cat, Huckleberry, they are as entertaining as a good sitcom! A couple of true characters that amuse us on a daily basis. They should seriously have their own comic strip! Kaytee is aging now and she's a had a few minor health issues but she is still a beautiful dog and in terrific shape for her age.

8. YMCA: It's not the prettiest of health clubs but the YMCA is responsible for getting me back into shape! I started running and playing basketball last winter and it has really paid off. I try to go every other day in the winter months. I ran quite a bit outdoors this past summer and participated in my first 5K. Even though I still have work to do, I feel like a different person!  It doesn't mean I am giving up pizza, french fries or beer!

9. Clients/Students: What good is a microphone if you don't have any clients! I am grateful for all of my clients as well as my students. They are fun to work with and we all learn from each other. The learning factor is something that gets taken for granted on occasion. Think about it. Every time I do a medical narration or an audio book, not only am I getting paid to do it but I am also getting an education!

10. Lint Brush: Sometimes it's the little things, right? This past year, I discovered black shirts again and without my lint brush, I would have been arrested and fined for having too much hair on my shirt! Kudos to whoever invented this wonderful little tool.

11. Working from home: There is nothing like heading downstairs to the studio in your flannel pajama pants and your hair standing straight up. Sometimes I take this for granted until I have to run to the store and I see 394 backed up to Jupiter! I didn't handle rush hour very well back when I was working in Corporate. It's even worse now because I am no longer used to it. One morning, I came close to pulling a "Bill Murray in Stripes" and considered leaving my car on the side of the highway and walking away! It doesn't mean that I work any less just because I work from home. I've never been busier and I am grateful for that.

It's always tough to come up with just ten or eleven! Feel free to comment with your own lists. I would love to read what you have been grateful for in 2012.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


My inner sense of skepticism is always stimulated when it comes to being involved with any type of conferences or seminars similar to this one. Being a victim of so many of them in the past, I have truly reached my overall limit when it comes to “opportunities” that promise me wealth and health but just leave me walking away high and dry with nothing but a raised eyebrow, a bag filled with advertisements and promotional materials along with several hours from my day that I will never get back.

FaffCon is NOT one of those conferences. Leaving your ego at the front desk of the hotel when you first check in will unlock the door to an overabundance of cherished nuggets flowing from within a gold mine of talented voiceover artists! Continuing my education was a positive factor that I was expecting before I went, but I was even more impressed and privileged to have the opportunity to offer some of my own nuggets that I have discovered during my career to fellow listeners that were eager to learn from my experiences.

My ADHD and overall anxiety issues presented their own challenges for me when it came to attending FaffCon, especially since just the idea of being among a massive amounts of people for ten hours a day was overwhelming in itself. However, this was truly nothing that a few warm hugs and hearty laughs could not cure! By fighting my way through those mental and emotional obstacles, I was able to enjoy the awarding and thoroughly enjoyable experience of networking with and learning from my peers.

One of the main things that can be learned and appreciated from experiences like this one is the fact that some people can be much different than what you think when you get a chance to meet them in person, regardless of whether it is at a public event or not. Take for example different social media websites, such as Facebook. They normally have the innate ability to conceal a person’s overall warmth and strength, hiding them behind vague profile and posted status updates. When you meet them face-to-face, however, you may quickly come to the realization that their online profiles only scratched the surface and barely reached the tip of their figurative icebergs. A good lesson to take away from this is that we should never allow ourselves to judge others simply based on what we read or see on the internet.

Regardless of whom you decided to talk to at this conference, one of the best parts of the event and overall environment was that you felt reassured in knowing that they were actually listening to you and were keenly interested in whatever you had to say. As most people that have attended similar conferences in the past will agree, that is definitely a rarity that most people will never get a chance to experience regardless of what the advertisements promoting those events promised. Ego and insecurities can truly roam rampant at these types of events, but FaffCon truly is the exception to the rule. The confidence and humility of all in attendance significantly contributed to the overall enjoyment of the total experience.

Every experienced expert within the voice talent industry should seriously consider attending an event like this as soon as they have the opportunity to do so. This is definitely one of those few milestones in your career that will be able to change you both personally and professionally for the better. Personally, my brain has been recharged and has professionally ignited a blazing fire under my “you know what!" Even if this specific event is not the right fit for you, do some research and find another conference or meet up event that will allow you to share your nuggets of knowledge with others and receive so many more in return that will help boost you to the very next level of your career.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Butterfly Dreams

One of my favorite childhood memories when visiting Grandma Johnston’s house was the delicious aroma that would come from the kitchen. There is always something about Grandma’s and cooking. They’re like magicians in the kitchen. They have all the magic tools and they’re not about to give away their secrets.

Grandma Johnston was also famous for leaving candy dishes everywhere. The living room, the bedroom, the bathroom…they were everywhere. It was like Grandma Johnston and the Chocolate Factory.

Grandma Johnston’s house was always a cozy place to visit and although anyone over six feet tall would have trouble walking around without their head going through the ceiling, it was always a fun place to be. There was a park down the street where our family would take walks, play a little catch or just take in the scenery.

Mapleton was a folksy kinda town. It was like one of those towns that you see in a Folgers commercial and Grandma Johnston fit in perfectly. Like a bird in a nest. I would love to go back to the park and pay one more visit. Just to reflect upon Grandma’s life and the joy she brought to everyone.

If you see a twinkling star in the skies above Mapleton tonight, it’s Grandma Johnston looking down upon us with a smile. After all, who wouldn’t be smiling after getting a private concert from Andy Williams!

Now, she is free as a butterfly, spreading her wings and gliding across the heavens. I’m sure she has already reunited with her youngest son, husband and other loved ones in our family who have passed. She will be missed by all of us. Goodnight Grandma Johnston and may you rest in eternal peace.

(Somewhere) Over the Rainbow by Ray Charles on Grooveshark

Thursday, September 6, 2012

If The Mic Isn’t Rockin, Start Walkin!

When the mic is rockin’, don’t bother knockin’! Okay, so what do you do if it’s just not rockin’ and you’re having a tough time getting your delivery down and you're stumbling through the entire script? Instead of getting frustrated and stressed out, take a break and come back to it.

That’s right! Go for a walk, turn up some music, make yourself a cup of tea or take a power nap. Fifteen minutes can do wonders! While excessive napping doesn’t pay too well, either does excessive stress. I enjoy running and playing basketball at the gym. It's great exercise and it always reboots my brain!

The point is to just break away from the studio – completely remove yourself and escape for a bit so that you can refresh! If you force it to happen when it isn’t, your frustration will come across in the recording. The voice is transparent and modulates to express our span of emotions. Any frustration, anxiety and stress will show through, stalling the flow and zapping the energy from your voice.

It’s like a good major league pitcher who just doesn’t have his good stuff on a particular day. If he struggles, the coach takes him out. If you're struggling during a day of recording, remove yourself from the studio.

So go ahead and break away! You’ll come back to the studio refreshed, full of vibrance in your voice, and ready to deliver!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Managing Mr. Shiny

Hey look! Something shiny! Yes, we have heard a ton of jokes about ADD. I've been known to come up with a few of them myself. For example: how many people with ADD does it take to change a light bulb? SQUIRREL!

It's good to have a sense of humor about it but it can also be a pretty serious condition. A client once hired me to do a narration on ADD and ADHD and I told her it was right up my alley because I have this condition.

Some consider ADD a disability, but in reality, it’s a super-ability. People who do not have ADD have the ability to regularly focus on one thing at a time, while ADD people have the ability to focus on multiple things.  It’s not uncommon for a person with ADD to be simultaneously listening to music, playing a game, texting a friend on their cell phone, instant messaging several more on the computer, all while reading a blog with the television on in the background!  

People with ADD deal with it in different ways. Some need medication. Some need Yoga. Here I've compiled a few stories featuring some voice talent friends of mine who have ADD and how they deal with it on a daily basis. Especially, since many of us in this industry work from home, this presents immediate challenges and distractions for anyone with this condition.

I believe I have had ADD since I was a child. I struggled in school my entire life because it was very difficult to focus, and things in which I would be interested, would always fade in favor of something new and fresh. In the past year, I have really turned up my level of exercise. Running, playing basketball and working on the machines in the gym have really improved my focus and my overall work ethic. I feel less anxious and more relaxed. Now, don't get me wrong. I still have stressful weeks where I feel like I could pull my hair out, but it is so much better than it used to be.

My doctor subscribed me to Adderall once and it didn't really work for me. It felt like a really good caffeine buzz, but all I wanted to do is stare at the screen for 20 minutes. I know it works for some but it didn't for me. I have found that less coffee and more exercise has really been the difference maker for me. It's not a cure for ADD, but it sure helps me manage it a lot better.

Here are some stories about how a few of my voice talent friends are coping with ADD:

Pearl Hewitt:
ADD—where do I start? My motto used to be "If it weren't for the last minute, nothing would ever get done!" Keywords are procrastination and distraction, lack of focus but also hyper-focus! I get hyper focused on projects on which I'm working and other stuff (especially in the house) gets avoided until I'm finished. If you have ADD traits or tendencies, it's so important to get some business training on time-management skills. Bad time management will cause unnecessary stress, the inability to stick to a schedule and could potentially ruin your business. Working with various coaches to learn about the VO business I am gradually improving my time-management skills and consequently achieving greater things. It's very—very hard to break the habits of a lifetime, but with the right coaching all will become clear and you will be enlightened! I'm nowhere near perfect, but I'm getting better and my business is now prospering because I'm learning to work according to a schedule, setting timers and consequently, I’m less stressed! I'm much happier because I can now see the wood for the trees. I could never have done that on my own. People with ADD have to learn and be trained to be more organized. It's worth every penny.

Laura Branch Mireless:
Although I've never been officially diagnosed, I have no doubt I have ADD. It's gotten worse since I had kids, so I call it "Mommy ADD"—she loses brain cells with each birth!  I agree with my dear friend Pearl. She has made some very good points. I guess for me, the biggest "ah-ha" moment was when I realized that working in a "project" oriented business (such as VO or video production) is where I'm happiest and the most fulfilled. It's those pesky little follow-ups like billing and marketing where I drop the ball. Oh, to have a business coach for that!

I have found that using any kind of visual aid to keep me on track helps. I have a large monthly calendar next to my editing screen so it's in my left peripheral vision at all times and a daily log sitting on the desk to my right. That way, I have a mental photo of what's coming up or if there's not much written on them, I know I need to work on marketing. Overkill for some, but helpful for me.
Mara DuRousseau Junot: 
I also have never officially been diagnosed, but I’m a firm believer that I developed ADD soon after I became a regular internet user in 1996. Clearly it's not just my imagination either, as articles seem to abound on the this one fresh from today:

Case in point -- at this very moment I have 15 browser tabs open, email with no less than 5 accounts constantly updating, I’m texting my mother on my cell phone, Oprah Super Soul Sunday playing on the DVR in the next room, and Spotify playing music. Bored much? Lately I've been forcing myself to practice mindfulness meditation exercises for at least 20 minutes, and it's definitely making an impact on my ability to focus.

I'd like to thank Pearl Hewitt, Laura Branch Mireles and Mara DuRousseau Junot for the gift of sharing their stories on my blog.  I hope by sharing theirs, you'll be able to gain more focus for your own!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Voiceoverland- A Recap of Voice 2012

I have to admit, I was pretty skeptical at first when I heard that Voice 2012 was going to be at the Disneyland Hotel. I didn't think it was the right location for this event but I was wrong. It was perfect! Between the spacious conference rooms, beautiful pools and the bar/restaurants in Downtown Disney, this is one of the best Voice International events to date.

This year, the event seemed to lure a few more voiceover students than pros but it was a nice mixture and everyone got along tremendously. It was nice to meet a few of my talented students in person as well! Everyone was gracious with their time and the energy was uplifting. You don't always see that in other events.

Some of the best networking came by way of the conversations that took place in the infamous Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar. I had several intriguing conversations with Stew Herrera, Bobbin Beam, Dave Fennoy, Trish Basanyi, Tom Dheere, Stephanie Ciccarelli and many more.

I didn't make it to all of the presentations but Tom Dheere's presentation on "Goals and Action Plans" was fabulous. The Super Socials presentation was well received. For the first few minutes, I was hiding in the basement of the hotel waiting for Dave Courvoisier to come and get me. It was all a part of a skit, where I accidentally sleep in and Dave has to come and wake me up for the presentation. It felt like I was back in theater again. Loved it! Here's a pic of us on stage as well as the video we used for the opening!

Downtown Disney was fabulous! Tracy and I had so much fun going to dinner with our VO friends. We had a lot of laughs and it was great exchanging marketing ideas!  The Jazz Kitchen was one of my favorite places. Great food and scenery.

I took Tracy to this event not knowing how she would interact with a bunch of voice talents but she did great and everyone loved her. She was also a big help in running the PPT for our presentation. We had plenty of time to play. We spent some time at Disneyland. It was the first time I had gone since I was a kid and it was a very nostalgic moment for me. I had gone with my family in the mid 70's. We took a "Griswold" type family vacation to the west coast via motor-home!

The Garden Party was the last event we could attend due to having to fly home a day early. It was great to see Joe Cipriano and some other pros I hadn't seen for a couple of years. The weather was perfect. Crystal clear blue skies and the temp was in the middle 70's. This was another event where the networking was priceless. For the new talents, you can learn just as much from networking with some of the pros as you can sitting in the presentations.

Special thanks to Jim Alburger and Penny Abshire for putting on another impressive spectacle at Voice 2012 and for giving us, the "Super Socials" another opportunity to present on social media and the voiceover industry. See you in 2014, if not sooner!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Ten Reasons Your Microphone Is Collecting Dust

1.) You’re taking your clients for granted: You’ve built up a solid clientele, and now you’re assuming they’re always going to be there. This can be a dangerous assumption when it comes to developing your professional career as a voiceover artist. Never assume that those regular clients are going to be eternally consistent. This is a business and it’s important to reach out to new and existing clients on a regular basis. Continue working to earn their business because nothing is ever guaranteed in life.

2.) You’re not making time for marketing: It may sound basic, but a successful marketing campaign is what launches a career. Not only do you need to be sending demos out, but they need to be reaching agencies, production companies, marketing firms as well as audio-visual services weekly. Making the most of your voice means getting it out into the world and hopefully, ringing in the right ears. Make a point to prove to top executives that you have what it takes by actively submitting your best work with confidence.

3.) You’re not keeping it fresh: It may be easy to recycle the same demo time and again, but that doesn’t mean it’s the most effective method. Copy can become outdated as quickly as any music trend, so it’s important to update your material regularly. Promoting demos you used five years ago doesn’t show anyone that you have the ability to evolve. Market your talent, growth and ability to stay current in the industry by continually tweaking your demo to fit professional standards and trends.

4.) There’s a void in your virtual world: In our age of modern technology, it’s imperative that voiceover artists maintain a website to showcase their talents and run their business. Not only does this exponentially expand your sphere of promotional marketing, but it gives you a platform to connect with potential clients and share advice with other professionals in the industry.

5.) You’ve invested in sub-par sound quality: If your sound isn’t professional, it’s going to be difficult to be taken as one in the industry. If you’re sending out recordings and audition tapes that are fuzzy or filled with background noise, it’s only distracting from the star of the show—your own voice. In a business that runs on audio, quality is key. That being said, it’s important to invest in treating your recording studio. If it’s a job that seems out of reach, than it’s time to make an appointment with George Whittam (God of all things audio). A little Whittam influence will go a long way in turning your amateur sound into professional success.

6.) You’re a no-show at networking events: A large part of marketing your services is meeting up with people who can boost your career and make your visions a reality. In order to meet these individuals, you must attend scheduled meet-and-greets, as well as events hosted by the Chamber of Commerce in your area. Not only are these opportunities to network with other professionals, but it’s your chance to hand out business cards and really get your name moving in industry circles of influence.

7.) Your taking your time getting work finished: A true professional doesn’t just finish on time… they finish ahead of schedule. In any business, it takes work to make sure you’re standing out in a crowd and the voiceover industry is no exception to the rule. When it comes to completing work for your clients, be early and show them you’re exceptional. Give yourself the time, space and focus you know you’ll need to delivery incredible work in a timeframe that leaves clients knocking on your door time and again!

8.) You’ve cut out coaching: Those who are most successful in the voiceover business never stop learning.  Professional voiceover artists are always working with coaches to remedy bad habits that may have slipped into their delivery patterns. Additionally, coaches are incredible marketing resources and can help keep you up-to-date on what platforms are available for getting your work into the right hands. Never turn down an opportunity to work with someone who can improve your method and help put you a step ahead of the competition.

9.) You’re not paying attention to protocol: When it comes to submitting demos, following directions and paying attention to the details is essential. Always take time to check the talent agency website and carefully package your demo according to their standards. Sending an mp3 attachment when they’ve specifically asked for a CD, is a sure way to miss out on a great opportunity.

10.) You’re not utilizing social media: While you may not be a personal fan of Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin, the fact of the matter is that businesses are booming in the wake of their influence. Not only are they FREE and powerful marketing tools, but they provide a consistent client pool each and every month.  Push past the idea of viewing social media as nothing more than conversations and photos. Instead, begin to use the virtual world to benefit your business endeavors.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Social Media and the Voice Over Industry

We're less than a month away from Voice 2012 at Disneyland! For the second time in four years, I am joined by Dave Courvoisier and Trish Basanyi on stage to present another seminar on social media and voice over industry. This is a subject I am passionate about because it has helped the growth of my voiceover business. I usually book a couple dozen jobs a year from Facebook and Twitter alone. I consider both to be powerful marketing tools. My girlfriend, Tracy's photography business has benefited from Facebook as well. When she posts photos on her brand page entitled Universal Soul Photography, she usually gets a couple of leads right away. Social media works!

Our presentation at Voice 2012 will be educating yet entertaining. We don't take ourselves too seriously and we aim to have fun! At Voice 2010, we started with a silly parody song to the tune of "Drive My Car" by The Beatles. It was a great way to start the presentation and loosen people up. This year, I am considering flying through the air on a wire like David Lee Roth did in the "Panama" video many years ago.  Ha!

Our presentation is Thursday, June 14th at 8:30am at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, California. It is one of many presentations at Voice 2012. I'll be discussing Facebook and how it can help your business. Dave will be talking about Google+ and LinkedIn and Trish will cover Twitter. John Florian of Voice Over Xtra describes us as "The Super Socials" and even created the logo above when the three of us did a webinar for his site a few months back.

Special thanks to James Alburger and Penny Abshire for inviting us back for another presentation this year.  This is going to be a blast!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Losing the Nah!

Nah, I don't have a chance at getting that gig. Or nah, not for me. Is it really not for you or is there a wall up in your brain preventing you from believing that you are qualified? This is true in any kind of business. We get so locked into the notion that a certain job just isn't for us or there's a skill that we just can't do. I said "nah" to Sushi for decades and now I absolutely love it! What didn't work ten years ago, might work for you today.

A friend of mine recently got his black-belt in karate. He used to always whine that he would never get there. "Nah, that takes like 50 years to get your black-belt." The more he procrastinated, the bigger the burden it became. It felt as big as building a 200 floor skyscraper after a while. Now that he has it, he thinks it was no big deal! Lol! Sure, it took time and a lot of work but he finally got rid of the "nah".

In the voiceover business, there are many talents including myself that have often looked at an audition and went, "Nah, this one isn't for me." Sometimes that might be the case but most of the time, it's us believing that we have no shot. I want to take a flamethrower to this kind of attitude. My brain used to be locked into this frame of mind at one point but then I got headaches from shaking my head and saying, "nah". Now, every time I audition for a commercial or narration, I always believe that I am going to get the gig. Even if it doesn't happen, it trains my brain into believing that I have just as much of a chance as the next talent.

So the next time you say, "Nah, not for me", take a minute and think about what you are saying. More times than not, it IS for you!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Heavenly Voices

2012 has already been a challenging year with illnesses in my family and the loss of several loved ones that were close friends. There are always times where we feel alone. In those moments, we may feel like we are the only ones feeling that way. However, in the real world, just about everyone does!  And you know what?  It’s perfectly okay. It is in times like these that we are drawn closer to each other. My late Uncle and Grandmother are always smiling down from the heavens, telling me everything will be alright. They are the ghosts in this house. They keep things in perspective. In a way, they are protecting my house.

When I feel alone or like I am really struggling, I look up to the old record album of my late Uncle Terry. I feel as if he is looking down upon me and saying, “Come on, guy. You gotta keep going!”

Do you have a ghost in your house looking down on you? I bet you do. Don’t take life for granted; not even the lives of your loved ones that have passed on. Every single breath, thought and even chuckle are all precious moments. Embrace them. Accept them.

There is always a voice in your head offering words of wisdom. These voices do not have to scare you; they can be positive reinforcement that you could have received from a loved one before they passed away. Maybe one of your grandparents or another close relative said something to you that engraved itself into your mind. Now, every time that you are having a rough day, you are able to reflect on those empowering words.

There have been many times in this house where my dog would look up and bark even though no one would be there. Sometimes, I even hear whispers throughout the house or strange noises in the middle of the night. Imagining that it is just one of my loved ones hanging out in the kitchen or fumbling through the clutter in the storage room always brings a smile to my face. I never feel afraid. I am comforted because I know the memories I cherish about the people I love will always live within me.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Voice Over Cafe

A few years back, Trish Basanyi and I recorded twenty episodes of "Voice Overs on Demand", a podcast that quickly earned a steady following of voice over pros and students. We interviewed guests like Joe Cipriano, Randy Thomas and Rodney Saulsberry, just to name a few. We were very candid the way we went out about our business on this show. We kept it educational but didn't take ourselves too seriously because we wanted it to be a fun show.

This year, we are launching a brand new podcast that will begin where "VOD" left off. It's called, "The Voice Over Cafe." We decided on this title because we were looking for that laid back coffee shop vibe.  Like coming to a coffee shop, relaxing and engaging in some good conversation.

The new show will feature some entertaining segments.  Rob Sciglimpaglia, an attorney, film/tv/theater and voice actor based in the NYC area will be a regular on the program. He will be doing "The Legal Minute", a segment in which Rob will offer up some tips for voice talents and their business. For example, contracts, incorporating your business and more! Rob's latest role was playing a young father on the famous Chevy Super Bowl commercial, Happy Grad! His new book, Voice Over Legal, will be released soon. For more information, visit

"The Cafe Mailbag" is a feature we're bringing over from the old podcast. The segment will feature both of us taking questions from listeners about the voiceover industry. I suppose if someone wants to know our favorite 80's bands, we'll be glad to cover that as well!

"The Random Skype Call" will be an entertaining feature. This is a segment where we'll find another voice talent who is currently logged in on skype and just call them with no prior warning and ask them a few questions. Perhaps they can provide some insight into the industry as well. Beware all you voice talents who are linked up with us on Skype!

The show will feature other segments as we go along but we also plan on having guests on a regular basis. The show will be featured on the Entrepreneur Podcast Network and also available on iTunes. EPN is the brain child of Eric Michael Dye and is the ultimate source for business advice, information, motivation, inspiration and major live event coverage.

Trish and I plan on recording the first episode of "The Voice Over Cafe" next Thursday. Stay tuned for more information. This is going to be fun!

UPDATE:  The link is

Monday, April 2, 2012

A Healthy Diet Means A Healthy Voice And A Healthy Attitude

Towards the beginning of every year, millions of people around the world make the decision to get in shape and get healthier. That day came for me about a month ago. 

Up until that moment, I was still fairly active throughout the week by playing basketball. However, my biggest weaknesses came in the form of breaded foods especially the greatest invention that I could not say good-bye to – FRENCH FRIES!

Many people may not know this, but consuming foods that are high in carbohydrates (such as white bread, white potatoes, noodles, etc.) will cause you to feel tired throughout the day. Why is this? These foods have very high levels of sugar, which cause your blood sugar to rapidly rise and require more and more of your energy to become absorbed. Therefore, before you know it, you’re crashing soon after you ate because of all of the work that your body had to do just to process all of that sugar. Many of you may be experiencing this day after day and probably did not have any idea why it was happening. Until I changed my diet, I was just like that. 

My body was being negatively affected in two different ways. The first way was my energy was being drained. I felt energized and ready to go when I woke up in the morning but because of what I was eating, I felt bloated and extremely tired in the afternoon. The second way affected my voice. Like many of you, I make my living my using my voice so this was definitely not a good thing!

With the research I have done and because of the negative affects, I decided I needed to make some changes. With doing this consistently, I can now hear and feel the changes in my voice throughout the day. It is much stronger and lasts much longer because my energy levels are higher than they have been in years!

Let me break down my basic day for you and the changes I have made. I have always preached to my voiceover students to stay away from cream in their coffee but was still at times putting it in mine. So now, in the morning, I normally stick with a cup of black coffee mixed with a lot of bottled water at room temperature. Studies have proven that drinking lots of water works wonders for your voice. In the afternoon, I get an extra boost by adding a little bit of honey to a cup of green tea, which makes a great afternoon beverage! 

I used to eat a sandwich every day for lunch. I have now cut out bread, potatoes and pasta from my meal choices. I eat a lot of soups, vegetables, fruit and meat/cheese without the bread. To get a little exercise in throughout the week, Tracy and I started running together. It’s been great in so many different ways. It’s great for our bodies, attitudes, energy levels and has even benefited our relationship in general.

Until I jumped on the scale, I had no idea how much weight I have lost just by making these small changes in my exercise routine and diet. Within one month, I have lost 15 POUNDS!  Now, that was a nice surprise! I didn’t have to join any weight loss program or follow any hardcore diet to see a drastic change in the way I feel and look. Keep that in mind when you are thinking about the resolutions that you probably made for yourself over the past couple of months. It really doesn’t take much to see a change; you just need to be consistent! If I can do can you!

Please excuse me now as I go to Taco Bell to celebrate my accomplishment.  Juuuust kidding. Ha!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Social Media: A Positive Tool, Not a Negative Trap

With the rising popularity of the social networking in recent years, the increasing misuse of this tool has been rising almost just as quickly. If you are one of the people that find yourself using Facebook and Twitter as ways to argue and insult others, stop it! Admittedly, yes, I have been sucked into a few debates myself on Facebook and have learned one important rule because of those experiences – NOBODY EVER WINS! 

It is understandable that 2012, just like any other election year, is going to be filled to the brim with political debates and discussions. However, if politicians themselves struggle to the win these debates on television, what makes other people think that they would be able to win political debates on the internet? Do you seriously believe that you are going to change the political views and opinions of a Republican or Democrat through a Facebook posting? 

Sure, we all have been trapped in fierce crossfire of debates bouncing back and forth online. However, there are some members of Facebook that have the sole purpose of engaging cyber warfare with others. Who are these people? They are the so-called “friends” that never support anything that you do. However, the very second that they do not agree with you on something, they are always the first ones to immediately starting pushing your buttons. Do NOT allow these people to get to you! Keep in mind that you don’t have to respond to every post on your page or even look at them. You have the option to ignore or even delete the comment and you always have the choice of unfriending them all together.

So many people seem to forget that a Facebook friend is supposed to be just that – a friend. If they only jump at the chance of arguing with you or mocking you, they really are not your friends and need to be dumped. 

People that use social networking simply for fun are free to do whatever they like with it. However, if you are using it for business purposes, you need to focus on using it more as a tool instead of a hobby. You are still able to have fun with it while, at the same time, always remaining professional and courteous to your followers, friends and business contacts. 

It is also important to continuously be mindful of the time that you spend on these sites. Just like with TV, it is too easy to get hooked within Facebook and Twitter for several hours at a time. Because of this time trap, it will not take long before you are sacrificing important time that should be dedicated to your business.  If you are getting new clients through your time in the social media world, great! Keep at it, because it only means that all of the power networking is paying off for you and your business. However, if you find yourself just hanging out like we used to hang outside the "7-Eleven" as teenagers, then it is time to change your social networking habits. 

It’s FaceBOOK, not FaceWHINE

In 2012, Facebook seems to be evolving into Facewhine with millions of members finding new things to complain about almost daily. Even though it is extremely difficult to stay positive, try your best to stay away from this growing trap of negativity. I admit that I have been guilty of complaining about my Minnesota sports teams many times, but I assure you that I am taking medication for that! (lol) Besides, can you blame me? So you see, I too need help with this problem. 

The purpose of this blog is not for me to point fingers just at everyone else, because I am also guilty of doing the same thing. Whenever I write or type things out, I am able to have an accurate perspective of my own thoughts and actions. Isn’t that why people use journals and diaries in the first place? These tools help them to improve in many different aspects of their lives.  

Share the Space & Avoid Suspicious Postings

Make sure that you are not hogging the room on Facebook. For example, when you go to a party, you definitely do not want to hear from the same dude all night long, right? Of course not! You want to be able to engage and communicate with the other guests at the party as well. Social media works the same exact way. Multiple posts in the same day from the same person can literally drive a person insane, especially within the Facebook group pages. There are times when there may be several people posting on these pages every single hour. Everybody else that may want to post a link or start a topic shy away from doing so because of the excessive number of posts being published by those same people. Back in kindergarten, we all learned the importance of “sharing with the other kids”. That same principle can easily be applied in social networking as well. 

If you notice an unusual picture, video or any other kind of attachment, NEVER open it. Facebook has been susceptible to viruses, spam and phishing lately. When these posts pop up on your page, hide or delete the postings immediately and alert the member whose page those links were found on. More times than not, they had nothing to do with that posting and probably aren’t even aware that it is on their page in the first place. If this happens to you, immediately changing your password will often resolve the issue. 

In conclusion, please remember that social network marketing can be a fun and enjoyable process as long as we use these tools in the way that they were intended to be used.  

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Dream Train

When I was a child, I always enjoyed biking up to the edge of the railroad tracks close by where we lived to watch the trains pass by. I would imagine myself running alongside the tracks and then jumping on one of the trains like they do in the movies. No matter which movie you have watched with a train scene in it, I’m sure you will agree that it looks adventurous & daring. 

Even as time moved on and I grew older, those childhood dreams and visions were never erased; they are engraved in my mind. It’s truly amazing but reassuring at the same time. Those visions have been a source of rejuvenating encouragement for me whenever my life compass is facing a direction that I am not happy with.  

I distinctly remember dreaming about this one particular train. It was the train of dreams and opportunity, a vibrant breathtaking machine filled with life, hope and smiling faces. I strongly desired to come aboard that beautiful train but I was always too uncertain and afraid, never feeling as if I was ready to make that kind of a leap. At times, comfort can definitely be a good thing to be able to experience. However, I had to learn the hard way that comfort can also hold you back. 

I thought that my life was actually comfortable. I was too comfortable working at a job that I never liked in the first place. Here I was, working part time at a radio station and also working at a sports bar as a DJ.  While I am truly grateful for meeting so many good people during that time in my life, I honestly did not feel as if I was heading in the right direction. I felt trapped, as if I were stuck in a barrel with no hope of ever being able to break free. 

When I decided to go back to radio full-time as an account executive, I believed that everything had finally changed for the better. The job held me over for about a year, but I still kept standing there by the tracks of opportunity watching my dream train pass me by again and again…and again. I constantly would ask myself, when am I going to jump on it?  When I’m 65?

I used my tenure as an account executive to try and master the art of selling. I learned a lot of great information and tips about marketing and networking. While I was learning a lot that would help me overall in life and in my future endeavors, I did have some great times and feel that the time I spent working there was worthwhile. A position like that works for a lot of people, but it was clearly not working out for me. My heart was just not in it.  My passion and desire was to work from home doing voiceovers.  However, the question was, How in the heck am I going to make that work?

I had an agent that was working to get me work. Unfortunately, the work that did come in was not regular enough for me to be able to make a decent living. However, I knew that there were talents out there that were able to do this from home so I knew that it was possible for me to do the same. At that time, the industry had already transitioned to the digital age of technology, so more and more clients were depending on the Internet to help them discover voice talents. There was not a doubt in my mind that I could more than likely find success in the industry if I put my mind to it. Nevertheless, that would require me to step out of my comfort zone. Could I make that sort of sacrifice? Could I quit my job and finally make a leap for that train?  

The thought of venturing off into the unknown frightened me tremendously, but I could not stop thinking about it. I finally came to the conclusion that I am not comfortable being comfortable. I am the happiest man alive when I am taking chances and throwing myself into challenging situations. 

It was apparently clear to me that I was not getting any happier doing what I was doing and I was definitely not getting any younger. Therefore, at this crossroad in my life, the dream train was looking more and more inviting to me. Was this the time to finally jump on? I had only about $5,000 to my name at the time so I knew that if I was going to go through with this, I would need to make money fairly quickly.

I took a deep breath, put all uncertainties and doubt behind me and finally hopped onto the dream train. I have not taken a look back since I made that monumental leap. Please believe me when I say that it was not like I jumped into this and came out as clean as a whistle immediately. It was truly scary for me at times.  There were plenty of days when I had to ask myself, “Was this the right decision?” Pain and discomfort led to a lot of stress and headaches. Even through all of that, I never lost my passion and determination. At that point in my life, selling my plasma sounded more inviting than going back to the office environment. The urgency of me having to make this work or not be able to pay my mortgage was an empowering motivational tool for me.   

Starting out, I had to spend hours and hours making a lot of cold calls, send a lot of emails and continuously study what other talents of the industry were doing to be successful. It was hard work and long hours, but it all started paying off simply because I believed in myself. When I started getting regular work, it was mostly for training projects and eLearning scripts. Through these opportunities, I quickly came to the realization that my niche was playing the role of an expert or instructor. 

How do I feel now about my decision to jump aboard my dream train on the tracks of opportunity? I have never been happier. This journey has allowed me to meet and learn from so many great people that have not only inspired me but also encouraged me to keep going. 

Each and every person has their own dream train that continues to travel on the tracks laid out in your mind.  You have seen it coming down the tracks numerous times. What are you going to do? Will you just stand there and watch it pass? Or, are you going to take that colossal leap of faith and jump on board? Only you can answer that question; only you can choose whether to stand by the tracks or ride on top of them. You never know how many times you will hear that whistle blow again. The choice is yours to make so…make it!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Kiss My Budget!

Wait, WHAT?  Budget is not a curse word!  It’s a term that we should all become comfortable with using frequently.  All clients have budgets to work with and we should get used to getting them to talk about it.  Remember, this is not a hobby that we are doing for free – this is our business!  Since money is a necessity that all people in business have to deal with on a daily basis, it should not be an uncomfortable topic that we try to avoid when speaking with our clients. Based on responses that have been gathered from conversations held with other voice talents, we all get a little reluctant sometimes when it comes to asking a client about their budget and even more so when it comes time to discuss our rates with them!  How can this hurdle on the track towards closing a deal be effectively overcome?

First, when it comes to a project, you never want to over sell or under sell your client. The only way that this can be accomplished is if they have informed you of their budget beforehand.  This is why it is imperative that you always want to get them to the point of discussing their budget with you. Otherwise, you more than likely will not get the results that you are looking for. For example, if your client sends you a 10-page script and you immediately give them a rate off the top of your head,  you are taking a huge risk that could only be of benefit to the client.  How so?  They would either be joyful because you have made their selection process a lot easier by removing yourself from their list or because you just gave them the deal of a lifetime that would end up costing you more than what you’ll make from doing the job!

Just the other day, a client sent me a 3-page script for a narration.  Since I wanted to ensure that I gave her a fair and friendly rate, I politely asked her about the budget set for the voiceover.  To my surprise, it turned out that her budget was about $500 MORE than I was originally going to quote her. Of course, you don’t want to come back and say, “Sure that sounds about right!” However, you can certainly come close.

Unfortunately, it does not always work out this way.  Sometimes, the client’s budget is far lower than what you were going to quote them.  At that point, it is up to you whether or not you want to work within that budget.  Many blogs have been created (including some of my own) that have been focused on lowball rates. If you haven’t done so already, it is recommended for you to read over those articles and educate yourself on this so that you can be further prepared whenever these types of situations arise.   

We all need to work, but it is also important for us to try to set and maintain the standards for fair and reasonable rates in this industry. Therefore, please be careful when agreeing to do a 5-page script for only $50. 

“Budget” is not a dirty word. Get used to the word and implement it into your daily vocabulary! Our clients are comfortable with talking about money for their business, so we need to be just as comfortable (if not more) with talking about money for our own. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Is business a little slow right now?  Spending too much time on "Words with Friends?"  First quarter can be very slow, no matter what business you are in. The good news is there are steps you can take to make it easier to slide into the fast lane.  So, before you push the panic button and start looking on for jobs you don't really want, here are five steps that I put into action when business is a little slow.

1.  Pour a glass of Scotch and sulk.  I'm kidding!  Sign up for as many meetup groups as you can possibly handle and go to the events.  You will learn a ton, meet great people and you'll get new business!  There is usually one for every kind of business person and they are free.  There is only a fee, when you register for one of the events.  Definitely go to the events and bring lots of business cards!

2. Build a Facebook business page for your business.  This works as a secondary website and will not only help build traffic to your website, it's an outstanding way to network with others in your industry.

3. Join your local Chamber of Commerce!  These are all business owners you will be meeting with and some may hire you for a job or two.  It's an excellent way to network and also a tax deduction.  Search for your local chamber of commerce to locate a website and contact information.

4. Send out postcards!  Yes, this may sound like the "old school" way of marketing but snail mail is still effective.  This gives the client something tangible they can keep on file or put on their refrigerator.  E-mail marketing can be effective as well but sometimes e-mail gets lost in the shuffle or ends up in spam folders.  Plus, snail mail is a little less intrusive.  My last mail-out consisted of a post card and a refrigerator magnet business card!

5. Be active on Twitter!  Don't tweet stuff like, "Spring sale going on right now.  Everything is 40% off!"  Instead, tweet about how cool the stuff is that you're selling or how cool it is to have this product and what it can do for you. Engage in other people's conversations as well.  Don't just yap about your own stuff.  Twitter is one big party.  When you go to a party, you don't want to listen to the same person talk about themselves all night.  Chances are favorable that you will get annoyed and leave the party.  Instead, share what you have going on but also ask questions about their business!  Re-tweeting posts is also very effective because you are showing that you care and are willing to help.

There are times when you should embrace the slow lane because you'll have more time to work on marketing and other things going on in your life.  Sure, money can be tight but life is too short to hover in a corner in a state of stress, wondering where the next gig is going to come from.  The gas pedal is still within reach.  Get into the fast lane and step on it!  

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2012: No More Excuses

We all procrastinate.  It’s a part of life but there is always something we can do about it.  I have enjoyed a fruitful voiceover career.  I am looking forward to doing it for the rest of my life but ever since I spoke at Voice 2010 in Los Angeles, I have wanted to pursue public speaking on the side.  2012 is the year where I plan on being more aggressive with that dream.  No more excuses.  No more, “I’m just too busy to do it this year.”  You are NEVER too busy to start something you are passionate about. 

I get calls and emails from people all the time who are looking to get into voiceovers.  I love these inquiries because I learn something different from each person.  It’s exciting to learn what drives them or what made them pick up the phone or write the email in the first place.  It’s that first step that takes a lot of courage.  The ones who are determined and have a plan are the ones I love working with. 

We all need to work together to conquer our fears and start taking action.  This isn’t just a blog for voiceover artists.  It’s a message for those who have wanted to try photography, music, marketing or whatever!  Put your finger on the pulse of what makes you happy and go for it.  We’re not getting any younger!  A couple of fine clich├ęs there but it’s true!  Phrases like, “maybe next year or maybe when I have a little more free time” are killers!  When thoughts like this enter your mind, tell whoever is sitting or standing next to you to smack you.  Lol! 

The fact of the matter is that you will never begin as long as you allow circumstances to dictate your starting point.  You must begin at once. Take action and change your life.  You cannot succeed if you never start.  Learn what steps you need to take to make it happen.  You don’t need to launch at light speed.  Put together a plan of attack to reach your goals and begin the journey.

“Put one foot in front of the other and soon you’ll be walking out the door!”  Did I really just quote the Winter Warlock from “Santa Claus in Coming to Town?”  You bet I did!