Tag Archive for Bob Souer

The Faffcon Community

I wrote this a while ago. By the time this posts, registration for Faff 9 will have already happened, but I wanted to share the love of my ‘tribe’ here on my blog. 

Every time Faffcon approaches, I can’t help but find myself thinking about my history with this unconference, and everything it has meant to me. Faffcon was the spark that started my business, the reason that I’m sitting here writing to you, and one of the catalysts that changed my life.

Six years ago, I was working in a grocery store chain in NC, living with my brother Eric Souer. To make a long story short, this was a store that put profits over people, and although I made okay money, I was never happy there. I’m not their ideal type of worker-physically fast and efficient-so it was not the best situation all around. Our Dad, Bob Souer came to visit, and he said, “Eric and Karen, you’re coming with me to Faffcon.”

I had no idea what this Faffcon thing was. And I remember feeling very uncertain about the whole situation, I was going to a place where I didn’t know anyone, had no idea what was going to happen, and Dad had just said that maybe people would hire me to do the sorts of things that I had always helped him with. (A little writing, a little editing, that kind of thing.)

My biggest memory from that first Faffcon (Faffcon 2 in Atlanta) was the kindness that people showed me. None of them knew who I was. (Some people had met Eric, but I’d never met any of them.) But all greeted me enthusiastically, and were interested in who I was and what I had to say. I remember going home from the event, on fire and excited to see where I could take this brainful of ideas that I had. Fast forward to the present day, and I am a different, much happier person, enjoying a reasonable amount of success.

But over the years, the thing that truly astonished me was the community that developed from the conference. Friendships were created, businesses grew one another, many people lifted one another up through challenges in both work and personal life. There are strong divisive, dividing elements in our society today, and it has been truly astonishing to see the kind of strong, communal vibe that has developed.

In 2012, after Faffcon 5, Lori Taylor created a Facebook group, Faffcon friends. This group has had a strong element in keeping the community together, and bringing folks together to tap group knowledge, share, or to ask questions. It gives people a place to talk to one another between events, and it’s been a pleasure to watch all the positive interaction. Lori eventually turned the administrator role in the group over to me, and it’s been an interesting job, to say the least!

I decided early on to limit the group to people that have already attended a Faffcon. The reason for that is the intensely personal stuff that is often shared in the group-health struggles, life issues, and the like. I wanted anyone in the group to understand the nature of a Faffcon, the lowering of barriers, to keep it unlike other groups, to folks that “get it”.

One of the phrases often used at Faffcon is ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’. The community is proof of that, and it has been a valuable experience to get to watch it grow over the last five years, and change with the addition of new members with new ideas. My hope for the future is that it can continue to be a place where the good of the group is a big part of what goes on. Through Amy and Lauren, Connie and Pam and everyone who’s ever attended, we have created something unique, in terms of the community, and that it should be nurtured and taken care of, even 2 years from now when the event is no longer happening. Our industry doesn’t have water coolers or company picnics, so what we have is something to hold on to. May it always endure, and continue to spread and bring in new people.

Archive Thursday: The Avalanche Killer

This week’s Archive Thursday was originally posted on December 17th, 2012.

Many folks who have been to Faffcon have heard my Dad speak on the topic of Inviting the Avalanche. For those who haven’t, the basic idea is to invite as much work as you can handle, then a little bit (or a lot!) more, and then figure out how you’re going to get it all done. Dad does this by outsourcing to myself and others.

What I want to talk about today however, is the single most deadly thing to finishing your avalanche, and indeed getting further ones. In order to explain, I’m going to use an illustration from my own work–and the reason I didn’t post last week. Recently, I invited the avalanche and took on 3 audiobooks and some other minor work at the same time. The narrators I was working with were new to me, but I’ve done a ton of audiobooks! I would be okay! Right?

Wrong. Every narrator is different, and it was a huge mistake for me to assume that I would be able to go through things at the same pace and in the same way as I have on other projects. Every book is different, and I made another mistake in not reviewing the book before I really got into the project. I discovered to my horror that the book was actually 45 chapters long!

I got the work done on that project and the two subsequent ones. However, this meant that I got something like 21 hours of sleep over the course of five days, and suffered some minor health problems at the same time. (Too many hours spent hunched over the computer!)

So what is the avalanche killer? Lack of planning! When you are sitting there in front of your mic as the snow begins to rumble down the work-mountain, look up a moment and assess what’s coming at you! Don’t get caught up in outside concerns and end up buried and miserable like I did. It’s vital to be sure that you are using your time in the most efficient and effective way possible when you are digging your way out of the snow pile. Too many mistakes in this arena can damage the quality of the work you turn out, and can of course hurt your chances of getting another one!

To finish this post I want to give a shout out to my new client Mark Nelson. He was very understanding of my crazy circumstances and was very willing to work with me in that I was trying to finish editing his book and proof another at the same time, with the same due date.

I was truly lucky in my circumstances to be working with understanding clients and to be able to push myself as hard as I needed to to get the work done, but I am very aware of how much worse the situation could have been, and how much damage I could have done to my own name and client relationships. Don’t make the mistake I did, and avoid the avalanche killer!

Next week I will be coming back to my Faffcon Session, Online Presence Part 2.

Thanks For Sharing

thank you noteI want to take a moment and publicly thank all of the many people whose advice and thoughts have contributed to this blog. Many of my thoughts and ideas are personally spun iterations of common topics-we all deal with the same issues, and it does no harm for there to be more helpful literature out there. I hope that my take on things has been useful or educational to my readers-that’s my goal here. I want to continue to do so for years to come. 🙂

If I were to list every single person, this would be an awfully long post! Anyone who doesn’t get a personal mention rates no less thanks from me-these are just a small selection, in no particular order.

Misty Ellis- my best friend, and the subject of the post What Starbucks Taught Me About Customer Service, you always have a good thought or insight on things, and your customer service and dedication to what you do are amazing, as always.

Lauren McCullough & Talmadge Ragan– you guys were two of the folks who encouraged me to start writing this in the first place, thank you!

Bob Souer– Where would this list be without my Dad? He’s often given me ideas, direction, and writing advice. It’d be a different blog without him.

Paul Strikwerda– At Faffcon 3 where I got the inspiration to start this blog, Paul gave me a lot of thoughtful advice on direction, overarching goals, and a lot of his time in order to do so. 🙂 He continues to be one of my favorite content providers, and an interesting and thought provoking writer.

Derek Chappell– I met Derek at Faffcon 2, and we have since shared a lot of social media interaction. He is a great person to follow on social media, as he makes a point to share and retweet helpful content. I often seek him out when looking for good content to share, or for thoughtful inspiration for my own writing.

Amy Snively– Well, as most know, Amy created Faffcon. Without Faffcon, not only would this blog, but my business would not exist. She’s been a wonderful and caring friend since the first time we met, and has offered me tremendous encouragement and help in many areas.

Blogger Profile: Bob Souer

bob_souer_professional_story_tellerThis series came to mind before the new year, and I knew one of the first people I wanted to feature was my father–and not just because he’s my Dad! I can’t count the number of people over the years who have mentioned Dad’s blog and how much they’ve enjoyed it, learned from it, and valued his words. They usually start out by telling me how awesome my Dad is, and then mention the blog, but still… 🙂

Dad has been blogging since May of 2005. He doesn’t post on a regular schedule, but I know that his readers find him worth the wait. His posts cover a pretty wide range of topics, but one of the first things he told me when he and I were discussing blogging, online content, and how you should present yourself was that he made a point of featuring other people whenever possible. Not only does it generate goodwill, and make you look good, there is also a lot of cool stuff going on out there that people should know about! In that vein, Dad also keeps a pretty lengthy blogroll of everyone he’s ever been able to find who blogs about voice over in some fashion.

In short, I would venture that my Dad is one of the mainstays of the voice over blogging world, and someone that is always interesting and valuable to read.

What are your resolutions?

a_fresh_startHappy New Year! It’s been a while since I’ve written. I used the end of last year as an opportunity to re-evaluate a lot of things about my business and my writing for this blog. I had kind of gotten burned out, and I wanted to take a chance to step away and refresh my perspective and come up with some new content.

My business has gone through a lot of changes–I started in 2011, but really only gave things my full attention a year later in late 2012. I’ve grown by leaps and bounds since then as far as clients, reputation, and the different types of work that I’ve been involved with, but it’s been a challenge to write my own ticket, to create a job and a business that’s not quite unique, but is certainly unusual. When I first started things, I always introduced myself as “Bob Souer’s Daughter,” so people would have a context for me in the voice over community, but more and more often now I find people who have heard of me, and never heard of my Dad! (This was very startling the first time it happened.)

So for a New Year, I find myself re-evaluating and taking a hard look at myself and my methods. I don’t want to get too comfortable and I don’t want to miss out on things that could improve what I do both in efficiency and effectiveness.

What are your resolutions? How are you going to make this year better than ever for yourself and your business? Next week I’ll be talking more about mine, and issuing a challenge for you! Think about it.

Faffcon Retrospective

faffcon-logo-compact.gifReaders of my blog know that I’ve often written about Faffcon and the numerous joys and benefits it has brought to me and many other people’s lives, on both the personal and professional levels. After Faffcon 6, I was immediately deluged with an avalanche of work so I haven’t had time until now to mentally review everything.

I’d never been to Texas, so I was excited from the point I was heading to the airport to catch my 7:30am flight. One thing I knew would be different right from the start was the absence of most of my family. The previous 4 Faffcon events have had at least my brother Eric and my father with me, and often also my mom and brothers. This would be a father daughter Faffcon and I knew that that in and of itself would feel different. Dad and I met up at the airport, and we headed to the hotel and the Amy and Lauren goodness. After enthusiastic greetings, Dad and I went out to lunch with CC Heim and Fran McClellan where I had my first encounter with what it meant to be in ‘meat land’. (I’m a vegetarian.) The meals all included a pound of meat with a side of more meat! After margaritas containing a Texas sized portion of tequila, we headed back to the hotel.

After that we met up with some other Faffers, and went off to some staff work! I stuffed tote bags, CC made her cheerful signs, and in all the myriad ways, we got organized like we always do. I always catch myself thinking how this event becomes smoother and more system like every time we do it, fascinating considering that it didn’t begin all that long ago. In the evening, we have our Staff Dinner where Amy and Lauren discuss plans for the weekend, and then we meet up with the crowd of Faffers who come the night before and fill up some local watering hole. It feels like family. It feels familiar, no matter what city we’re in.

The rest of the weekend was full of many new faces, a fantastic night of karaoke, lots of sessions, giving out my hastily ordered but very popular notebooks, a great trip down the river, and some fantastic food. Faffcon is an event that is always changing and yet in some ways always the same. The welcoming people, the environment of creativity, interesting and challenging sessions, and the large portion of Faffing about. If you haven’t gone, it’s always worth it, and I’d recommend it to any working pro.

One Hour a Week

clockI’d like you to think about the course of your week. If you’re like most talents I know, you’re pretty busy, combining your skills behind the mic with marketing, family time, possibly also a ‘day job’, honing your skills, editing, proofing, and many other things. Think about what you could do if you had one more hour a week of time free to do anything you needed to.

Many people I’ve talked to love the idea of outsourcing, but most of them reserve it as an idea for ‘someday, they’d like to’, or ‘they’ll do it when they’re really busy’. I truly believe that even if it was only for an hour a week, or even an hour a month, every talent from the greatest to the least could benefit from outsourcing. I’ve collected below some quotes from talent who outsource on a regular basis so you can see from their perspective how valuable they find having some of their tasks taken off their hands.

Outsourcing is actually a big issue and broad topic. And the reasons to outsource probably vary for people, depending upon their small business needs. I guess you have to think about where your personal expertise as the business owner should be focused, and how you can alleviate other tasks to give yourself that focus. The first few times, sometimes it’s about making the decision that you can afford to do it, in fact looking at it as an investment. When things get really busy, you’ll be happy as you’ll have “as needed” resources.  Then as your business grows you need to outsource in the areas you feel someone else can do as good a job as you, or where you can quickly show them how so you don’t have to do whatever that is, so you can focus on what drives your business forward.Rebecca Michaels Haugh, VO Artist

I am so grateful to have found Karen. I am a voice over artist in Tokyo and am expanding my business. I created a weekly radio show and a monthly radio show that Karen is now 100% in charge of booking and scheduling. Karen is prompt, efficient, warm and personable and the guests that I have on the show are happy with the contact that they have with her. I am increasing my voice work business by creating and voicing online products for English language learners in Japan and Karen’s assistance in this end of my business leaves me room to do what I love—voice over. I listened to a lot of successful business people talk about what they wish that they had done—all of them—100% wished that they had gotten assistance in their businesses. In setting income goals for myself I realized that if I wanted to reach them, I was going to need help. Karen gives me the professional assistance that I need to reach my goals and expand my brand name thereby increasing my in-studio bookings in Tokyo. I highly recommend that if you have projects that are on the back burner because you do not have time and if you have income goals that you are not realizing that you hire Karen to take some of the load off of you so that you can get those plans realized. Katie Adler, VO Artist

The primary reason I outsource the vast majority of my editing, even much of the relatively short stuff is because doing so allows me to take on more work that would otherwise be possible. I like to work, but I especially like to work narrating; so by hiring others to do the stuff I don’t enjoy as much I both increase the amount of work I do and even better, increase the percentage of work I do that I enjoy doing. This is turn increases the level of delight I have in my work and my life in general. To me, it’s a “no brainer” to trade some money for greater satisfaction. Bob Souer, My Dad, VO Artist

We have all learned in other careers or projects, the importance of delegating. Sometimes it seems, as business owners with no full time staff, we forget that we still need help, or we think it impossible or unaffordable. Outsourcing is simply delegating tasks that someone else can do, so that you have more time to grow your business, stay in touch with your clients, practice your craft (those things that no one else can do for you). You may be a self-employed solo operation, but you don’t HAVE to go it alone. Everyone wants more time and we’re generally told, it’s the one thing money can’t buy, but guess what…you can literally buy yourself some time if you simply outsource some of your tasks! It’s super easy to get started and it doesn’t cost a fortune. What else and how much more could you do (including profit producing activities) if you had more time? How much more would you enjoy your work if you could have an hour a day or a few hours a week to do other things you enjoy? Next time, before you say “no way”, look at the big picture and consider the benefits! Kirissa Shipp, President TVandRadiovoices.com

It’s all about opportunity cost. What gig am I giving up by trying to save money by doing my own grunt work?

Even if you’re only doing a $100 pfh stipend audiobook, give up that $25 so you can move on to the next $100 pfh stipend gig while your proofer is doing his/her thing. 2 x$75 hour books nets you more than 1x$100 pfh book. –Jeff Kafer, VO Artist

As small business owners in the field of voiceover, time is often our most valuable asset. Unless you’re rolling in residuals, income is directly tied to how much time you spend talking into the mic. In my experience, outsourcing allows you to have the other essential elements of your business tended to so that there is more availability for recording.

Furthermore, I also wanted to be able to prioritise my time to be able to put more into marketing rather than data entry; more time into networking than audio editing and so on. Also sleeping – I like sleep.

I’ve found tremendous value in having my assistant direct and live-proof my voiceover sessions. It means having a fresh pair of eyes that let me focus more on the performance and there are almost no pickups in post. Outsourcing allows me to be selective about what I spend my time on, so that I can give my attention to the aspects of my business that are most important to me. –Matt Cowlrick, VO Artist

Faffcamp!

It probably won’t surprise anyone that I feel the need to write about Faffcamp. I’m going to Faffcamptake a break from my interview series this week, and tell you about this awesome event. So, Faffcon got bigger than anyone expected. Therefore, to keep up with the need and desire for more Faffing, Amy came up with Faffcamp. There’s been some great buzz about it already (EWABS and Courvo, plus awesome Aussie explainer video) but I particularly wanted to highlight the post of the always great, never late Peter O’Connell. He discusses the event itself and the sponsors that are the lifeblood of all things Faff.

The talents and mind of our Faff-mama-creator-amazing-director, Amy Snively, and the Faff-get-everything-organized-and-done-er, Lauren McCullough have a great event in store for everyone who has been looking for some Faff and hasn’t been able to get some. I’ve written about Faffcon a lot (One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, times plus my Faffcon Session.) in the past, and I won’t be able to attend Faffcamp, but I know all of you people will have a fantastic time and learn lots! My Dad and Sign Master Eric will be there to make sure that this Faff has some Souer too. So, read, register, and Faff on folks!

If you’re wondering about the interview series I mentioned above, you can catch up here:

And next week I’ll be continuing with Louanne Frederickson, editor and fellow Faffer!

 

The Avalanche Killer

Many folks who have been to Faffcon have heard my Dad speak on the topic of Inviting the Avalanche. For those who haven’t, the basic idea is to invite as much work as you can handle, then a little bit (or a lot!) more, and then figure out how you’re going to get it all done. Dad does this by outsourcing to myself and others.

What I want to talk about today however, is the single most deadly thing to finishing your avalanche, and indeed getting further ones. In order to explain, I’m going to use an illustration from my own work–and the reason I didn’t post last week. Recently, I invited the avalanche and took on 3 audiobooks and some other minor work at the same time. The narrators I was working with were new to me, but I’ve done a ton of audiobooks! I would be okay! Right?

Wrong. Every narrator is different, and it was a huge mistake for me to assume that I would be able to go through things at the same pace and in the same way as I have on other projects. Every book is different, and I made another mistake in not reviewing the book before I really got into the project. I discovered to my horror that the book was actually 45 chapters long!

I got the work done on that project and the two subsequent ones. However, this meant that I got something like 21 hours of sleep over the course of five days, and suffered some minor health problems at the same time. (Too many hours spent hunched over the computer!)

So what is the avalanche killer? Lack of planning! When you are sitting there in front of your mic as the snow begins to rumble down the work-mountain, look up a moment and assess what’s coming at you! Don’t get caught up in outside concerns and end up buried and miserable like I did. It’s vital to be sure that you are using your time in the most efficient and effective way possible when you are digging your way out of the snow pile. Too many mistakes in this arena can damage the quality of the work you turn out, and can of course hurt your chances of getting another one!

To finish this post I want to give a shout out to my new client Mark Nelson. He was very understanding of my crazy circumstances and was very willing to work with me in that I was trying to finish editing his book and proof another at the same time, with the same due date.

I was truly lucky in my circumstances to be working with understanding clients and to be able to push myself as hard as I needed to to get the work done, but I am very aware of how much worse the situation could have been, and how much damage I could have done to my own name and client relationships. Don’t make the mistake I did, and avoid the avalanche killer!

Next week I will be coming back to my Faffcon Session, Online Presence Part 2.

Faffcon Diary: Part 5

I have been jokingly referred to as ‘the Herald of Faffcon‘. (I don’t know why that could be.) But, to continue the tradition, for this past Faffcon, I decided to do something a little different for my blog. Since this one was very close to home for me, I ended up having a 5 day long event of helping, and the event itself. So, I decided to keep a journal of sorts of my impressions for each day that I was there. Sort of a ‘behind the scenes’ peek into things, and a different perspective on events. Today is my last entry in this series, Sunday, October 14th.

Faffcon Day 5 Impressions:
This day started a little slower. Most people stayed out fairly late drinking, and everyone is getting tired. The weekend is always very intense emotionally, mentally, and physically for everyone, and by Sunday even the most hardy partier is dragging a bit. You also feel sort of mentally overloaded, trying to keep up with the vast torrent of new and useful information that has been presented. As is traditional, we announced the next conference at lunch, which will be in San Antonio Texas, in October 2013. The universal comment from folks was that they did not want to wait a year for the next conference. This conference sold out in 7 hours, which is a new record for us, it will be interesting to see how quickly the next one gets snapped up. My Dad gave a variation of his avalanche talk, which is always worth hearing. (It’s also amusing to me that ‘avalanche’ has become part of the Faffcon vocabulary.) It seems strange that Faffcon is almost over. It seems like I just got to the hotel to be greeted by Lauren and put to work stuffing tote bags. I attended a couple more sessions today, but also spent a lot of time at my info table relaxing. Closing circle is always very emotional, Amy had me make a note that we needed to have some Kleenex for next year. Voiceover can be very isolating, and the internet has done a great job of bringing people together, but there’s nothing like spending time with your peers in such a positive and creative environment. People thanked each other, many with tears and all with lots of hugs. Lauren McCullough got her second standing ovation. (Well deserved!) We also presented over $3000 to a local charity, which is another Faffcon tradition to do something positive in every city we visit. This particular charity was the TEACCH Autism program, one that is particularly close to my family’s heart since my younger brother Brian has a mild form of Autism. He made a short speech thanking everyone for their donations. It’s always so humbling and inspiring to see the generosity of the voiceover community in action. After everyone dispersed, I stuck around to work on clean up. As fun as it is to go out with everyone, I like to stay busy, and there was quite a bit that needed doing. Later on when we were done, I was heading out, but was unable to make it to the bar since my Dad needed to take the rental car back. I headed home, a little sad but with a brain-full of ideas and inspiration just like always. Here’s looking forward to San Antonio!

Faffcon Diary: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5

And next week I will be posting the first part of my Faffcon Session talk on Online Presence.

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