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!