Tag Archive for personal growth

Archive Thursday: What an Assumption Made out of Me

assume1My Dad, Bob Souer is a voice talent. Somewhere along the way he home grew us (myself and my three brothers) into various kinds of help for his business. My father has (as all talent do) his share of mouth noise, and working in such a narrow environment led me to believe that his noise was the exception to the rule. Somehow, I grew to believe that there was such a thing as a perfect, noise free voice.

I was of course, way off base. Noise is normal, noise is part of voicing, and although there are measures one can take to reduce the problem before you get in front of the mic, nothing is perfect, and you simply (like many other things) have to develop measures to deal with it. I spent a lot of time being frustrated with voices, when I was really just running in circles. Eventually it dawned on me that what I was hearing was in fact, normal. (It was audiobook narrators that cured me of this.) The problem was squarely in my lap, and I was the one who needed to change.

Where am I going with this? Question your assumptions. Something that you’ve always believed to be true can easily be inhibiting you from…well, just about anything. In my case, it was inhibiting me from finding proactive ways to handle problems instead of just reacting to issues by being frustrated. No one needs more stress in their lives, and I can say that changing my perspective and getting rid of my assumption has helped me feel worlds better about what I do.

So think about it! What do you believe is true because it’s ‘always been that way’? Or because ‘everyone says so’? We all have those things, and it can be truly eye opening, and very freeing to realize that something that was inhibiting you truly no longer has to hold you back. At all.

Being Left-Handed Gives The Right Advantages

17d86d9218bf061f80808beba1575286Being left handed has taught me a lot over the course of my life. Things like: I will always have a smudge on my hand when I write with a pen. Scissors are a challenge. In high school and college, there was a certain kind of desk that was the bane of my existence.

But the most important thing it has taught me is how to be adaptable in my daily life. For me, many of the things (like paper notebooks and computer mice) that most people take for granted as easy to use are backwards. I’ve had to develop my own ways to use these things, my own way to move through the world.

I believe this adaptability is an important strength for anyone in the digital age, and especially for the freelancer. There is a constant flood of new things that bombard us every day, and sometimes it’s hard to keep your head above water when trying to stay abreast of everything. Should you try this new scheduling planner? Buy a new bit of gear that everyone seems to like? Go for a course with this coach that has great reviews?

Learning how to mesh new things with your established pattern is a powerful tool to take your business to another level. I see it every day with people in our community who don’t know or don’t understand something that could be a bountiful benefit to them in their career. Integration and adaptation are a challenge, but as the digital age continues to advance, anyone who doesn’t learn how will be left further and further behind.

(Even though the quote is about not being left handed, I had to figure out a way to reference the Princess Bride in this post.)

Why are you here?

whyareyouhereWell, 2015 is here! We’ve all had our holidays, and are now gearing up for a new year of work and progress in our businesses. At this point in the year, I think everyone feels the openness of possibilities, the clean slate ahead. It feels great, doesn’t it?

For me, one of my favorite things to do is to evaluate myself around this time of year. To really think through what I’m doing and why, because as I’m sure we all know, it’s really easy to get into a rut and just keep doing the same old thing. Times change, the nature of the business changes, and it’s a good idea to take your head out of the booth and look around from time to time. Think about these things:

Is there something you just ‘keep meaning to do’?

Do you have a routine or a system that works for you, but could be better or more efficient?

What’s one thing you could do to improve your business this year?

Where do you want your Voice Over career to go in 2015?

Is there a part of your business you could let go of (hire an accountant, a personal assistant, an editor) to free up your time for the things that only you can do?

There are a million questions like this to consider. But hopefully these can help you clarify your goals for the year ahead, or at least give you a place to start. I wish each and every one of you a wonderful and productive year, where ever the mic takes you!

Oh, the Humanity!

humanityThe internet, and as automatically follows, text based communication is a vast wonderland of information, kitten pictures, and arguments. It’s changed the way we think, communicate, remember, research, and probably a dozen other thesis making words that I can’t think of right now. A great percentage of voice talent use it as a singular vehicle for their livelihood.

But I see many people in our community forget something very important when communicating online. They forget the humanity of the person they’ve read the words of. This can be on various topics, career related or otherwise, but the effect is the same. They assume, they forget, and they lash out and someone or something with words. Why is this so bad? Let me outline some thoughts for you:

1. What are others seeing reading your words?

Think about how you look when you post an angry rant about something. Whatever the topic or reason might be, think about what people might see and assume when they read that anger and make their own decisions based on it. Although it’s not as prevalent in voice over, hirers do look at social media, and this is only going to increase over time. People want to know who they are working with, and what kind of person they are. And even if it’s not a specific voice talent hirer, your colleagues are going to get a very specific kind of impression of you based on what and how you post.

2. Do unto others.

Regardless if they ‘deserve’ it or not, is ranting necessary? Is it kind? Could you regret it in the future? Whatever you believe, the golden rule is a wise one to follow. Whatever you disagree with someone about, they are a human being deserving of respect and kindness.

3. Beware assumptions!

Recently, I noticed a particular talent write a rant about another. They assigned a lot of feelings to that person, they called them some names and made a lot of suppositions about what they were intending, feeling, and doing. You don’t know what someone else is thinking or feeling? Do you truly know everything this person means with their words? Do you have the entire picture, for sure, with no doubt whatsoever? Could you be misinterpreting something?

If you really, truly need to say something, why not ask them what they mean? Why not ask about it? Find out for sure, avoid making a mistake, and behave with respect and reserve rather than rush in and end up looking like…well, something negative to be sure. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s easy to make a judgement and react on the basis of feelings, but take a pause, a deep breath, and avoid rushing to a potentially wrong conclusion.

Although there’s no guarantee that giving someone the benefit of the doubt, respect, and kindness will garner you any favors, or that it’s even deserved, it’s a good thing to practice. You’ll feel better about yourself, look better to others, and it’s just the right thing to do.

Book Review: The Voice Over Entrance Exam

artworks-000011353896-xfzwnn-cropPeter K. O’Connell is a person with a lot of marketing know how. He has a background in that discipline, and has well married that with his voice over career. The book I’m writing about is not new-it came out in 2009, but perhaps you’ll forgive me for being a little late to the party when you think about how useful it could be to you. (Grab a download here.)

The book is fairly short, only 53 pages, but The Voice Over Entrance exam covers some unique territory in that span. Most voice over books take it for granted that you should be doing voice over. That if you’re there, and putting effort in, than there’s no reason you shouldn’t continue. In Peter’s book, this is one of the first topics covered. In no way is the writing mean or negative, it’s merely clear and factual. If you want to do this, here are the realities of the business you’re considering.

We’ve all seen the herd of passionate and interested souls who want to get into voice over. I think I see a couple stories a week of someone who got approached by a clueless newbie, or see someone do the approaching in a public forum. People even approach me once in a while! If you’re reading this, you should read his ebook. It’s free. If you’re a voice talent reading this, you should download it regardless. Why? It makes a great thing to send to those people who approach you! I know I’m keeping it on my computer for that purpose. (With all credits to Peter for writing it, of course!) It’s going to save me some time and effort-this way I don’t have to put a lot of thought and care into an email-I can just point them to this ebook as a great place to start, particularly since Peter finishes the book with several resources to check out for more information.

In short, new talent or established, this is a useful (free) resource to have!

ROI Why?

ROI 2Return on investment, or ROI is one of the most important things for any small business owner to consider. Time is limited, and we all have a multitude of things to do. It’s very easy for any of us to end up wasting out effort, putting ourselves in a position of not getting adequate return for whatever we’re putting into things.

Since we’re at the traditional pre-New Year’s Resolution time frame, in a place where people often examine their lives to one extent or other, it’s useful to think about your business and personal endeavors this past year, and identify areas where your return may not be sufficient on what you’re doing. Before I get into some ways to examine what you’re putting in and what you’re getting back, let me offer this caveat:

I do not denigrate or speak negatively about anyone’s personal emotional returns. If you do something in your life that’s only return is to make you feel good, or to satisfy you in some qualitative way, by all means, keep at it!

Okay! To the questions:

1. What are you putting into it?

This can be harder to identify that you think. Obviously with something like a P2P site, a major part of the effort is the membership fee that you’re paying. However, there’s also the secondary cost in time-combing through gigs, identifying ones you want to try for, and the audition process, including checking to see how someone rates you. Perhaps the straight dollar ROI is worth it–you make plenty more than you put in. But is the secondary cost worth it also? What else could you be doing with that time you spend, and could it be used to yield an even greater return?

When you think of costs, be sure you think about everything that goes into a business strategy. If you make 1 cold call a week, but spend the first four days psyching yourself up for it, and a half hour sweating at the phone in dread, you can probably find something else to do with that time, and moreover, something that will drop your stress level! Who needs that?

2. What are you getting back?

Again, this is an area where you need to take some time to identify all aspects of return. Like I said above in my caveat, sometimes the return is not a straight dollar value return but rather something that satisfies or gives an emotional value.

An easy example of this from my own life would be my participation in Faffcon. I don’t get directly paid for anything I do for the conference. I put in a fair amount of time before and during the event (Not as much as Amy and Lauren, but some!) and there are always stresses, major and minor that go along with any large gathering of people. (For example, I’m actually quite shy. Being social that much is a lot of effort for me. )

But going to Faffcon yields immense rewards on so many levels-I’ve gotten a lot of secondary work from people who simply say nice things about me. I also get the tremendous satisfactions of watching lives change and careers transform. I’ve seen love and friendships start, and laughed and hoisted many a beverage with my friends there. I also take a small enjoyment of trying to connect people wherever I can-one advantage about knowing a lot of people who go is that if I hear someone say ‘oh I want to know about this’ I can often times find them someone who is particularly good at that thing.


 

Anyways, count your returns with care. Make sure that your reasoning is solid. (Even though I still don’t have a demo, I keep going to this coach because we get along so well!) Look hard at what you’re doing, and take the opportunity to brainstorm ways that you could maybe make it better, or try something new. Don’t hesitate, don’t waste time, and seize your moment! Now is a great time for change!

4 Things I’ve learned since 2011

calendarI started my business officially in September of 2011, after returning from Faffcon 2 in Atlanta, Georgia. To say that I’ve learned a lot since then would be a vast understatement. More than my business, my life, health, and outlook have changed in cataclysmic fashion. I can say without exaggeration that I’m not the same person I was before.

I find this time of year leads me to a lot of contemplation about where I’ve been, where I’m going and what the year has taught me. So I decided to share my lessons with you!

1. The importance of communication cannot be overstated.

Little secret for you guys-I’m not a phone person. I am not very fond of calling people that I don’t know well. But this is something that I’ve had to overcome to increase the clarity of my communication-sometimes email just doesn’t cut it. I’ve also had to learn in those emails to think very carefully about what I’m saying, how I’m saying it, and if I’m not sure what someone means I ASK! You cannot get sloppy here–I’ve lost clients because I didn’t double check that someone knew something, and they were VERY unhappy with the result.

2. Try, try, try again!

Self motivation is really hard. Yes, you can call me Captain Obvious. But it is, and I’ve had it brought home to me again and again that it’s not something I can take for granted. I have to work on this every single day, and look for every possible trick to keep myself on track and doing everything I need to do. I have to be able to forgive myself for making mistakes, but I have to get back on the darn horse every single time I fall off. And most importantly-action wins out on waiting 100% of the time. I don’t mean not taking thought before you do something, I mean taking whatever steps you can now is always better than waiting and not getting it done.

3. First impressions are the first thing!

When I went to Faffcon for the first time, everyone I spoke to loved the idea of what I do. They were enthusiastic, and I thought that I could just go home, sit back, and the work would roll in. Boy, was I wrong. I did get some calls, but nowhere near as many as I had expected. What did happen was a sort of ripple effect. Because I had made that good impression, those people who met me talked well about me to other people, who were the ones who ended up calling me. Every time I’ve gone to a public VO event, posted online in a group, or anything that puts me in front of people I don’t talk about hiring me. I don’t talk about what I can do for someone (unless they ask directly), I just concentrate on being professional, fun, and learning the person I’m talking to.

4. Excuses are easy. Success is hard.

It’s so easy NOT to do something. So very easy to not market today, to not make that call today, or send that email. Maybe you have enough clients, but will you always? I’ve had that problem. 2013 was a really great year for me for various reasons, but 2014 has been a far harder one. I will admit that I got complacent, and I’ve really paid the price.

I hope that wherever you are, and however you celebrate the season you take some time to think of lessons learned. Reflection is important, and I hope you’ve enjoyed my little trip down memory lane. ๐Ÿ™‚

Pulling The Trigger: Wrapping it Up

triggerIn this series, we’ve covered a lot of ground and tackled what I feel is a pretty important issue in the life of a freelancer. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this series, and I have two last thoughts for you as I wrap things up.

The first is to take action. Much of success in life doesn’t come from waiting, it comes from movement. Yes obviously you can make a poor decision, but even wrong movement can result in a lesson learned. It’s really easy to not do something. Inertia is a powerful force in life as well as physics, and you can use it to your advantage. Moving is easier to maintain once you do it for a while. It’s how those insanely busy people get it all done every day, how every mom manages to juggle 150 things at once. ๐Ÿ™‚ Take a step, even half a step today, and tomorrow, take another. You won’t regret it.

The second is to remember the value of accountability. We work alone, mostly connecting online with our colleagues and friends. It’s incredibly useful to have someone out there saying to you, “Did you remember to write those marketing emails this week?” or whatever you need reminding on. Someone to nudge you from time to time, to encourage you when you falter, and help you suss out whatever it is that might be holding you back. Find someone, find a friend, ask your spouse, but strongly consider someone in the industry. It helps if you can share your struggles with someone who is in a similar space. If you were so moved, you could even hire me-or one of the many other fine VO-helping folks out there-to work with you on a schedule and touch base with you. There’s a million ways to make something happen, to help yourself stay on track.

I hope you take my words as encouragement, and perhaps a little inspiration. I love to see people succeed, to move higher and do better. The year is close to ending, and you have a fantastic opportunity not just to change in the new year, but to change right now. Change is possible every single day, don’t let it pass you by.

You can see the previous post in this series here!

Pulling The Trigger: 5 Ways to Find Momentum

triggerIn the past two entries of this series, I’ve discussed the problem I’ve seen with lots of voice talent–they have the idea to improve their career, and they know it’s a ‘should’, but they never actually get to it. They don’t pull the trigger. We’ve defined the issue, broken it down, and now comes the last major problem.

Momentum. Keeping it going. Everyone, at least once in their life has made a change. They’ve started something new, felt great, and moved forward. But three months down the road? Six months? The minutia of daily life and the ruts in the road have them squarely back in ‘the old way’. How do you overcome this? How do you stick to it? Remember the following things:

1. Everyone falls off the wagon.

Whatever that wagon might be, we all have a tired day, or a busy day, or any one of a number of things that prevents us from doing what we know we’re supposed to be. You’re not alone. Don’t beat yourself up-that’s a waste of time!

2. It’s never too late to get back on the horse.

So you stopped that one thing a week ago. A month ago. A year, or five or ten. Who cares? It’s never too late. Don’t say well, I’d really like to, but….just do it! (Yes, I’m visiting clichรฉ land, but I think you know what I mean!)

3. Do whatever it takes.

To remind yourself! Post its, lists, an app, a friend, whatever. Build the structure you need to keep moving, give yourself something to hold on to. If something isn’t working, change it! Don’t get wedded to a system that won’t help, clear the slate and try something new. There’s always another organizational method out there.

4. Make like Nike.

And just do it. No excuses. Don’t say, but, don’t say I’ll do it tomorrow. Just do it!

5. Be all that you can be.

Remember that you’re always more capable than you think you are. You never know where you’d be if you stuck with it. You CAN do it. Don’t think of the reasons why something won’t work. Think of the reasons why it will!

Check out the next post in this series here, and the previous here!

Pulling The Trigger: Making The Time

triggerIn my trigger series so far, I’ve talked first the idea of pulling the trigger. Then, the idea of defining exactly what you need to do, breaking down big new-years-resolution-ideas into something that is easy to do, easy to understand, and is most of all specific. The smaller you can break it down, the more easy it will be to actually do something about it.

And today what I write about is one of the most persistent problems of the modern world. Time. Having enough time, allocating the time when you do having, and utilizing it to the best possible extent.

So, how do you do it? How do you have enough time? Again, the answer is in something we’ve already covered. Break things down. Make a (flexible) schedule. Write it, but in pencil, as we all have our last minute “oh crap!” situations regardless of our type or level of work.

For me, timers are a big help. I suffer from an ADD-like problem where I will worry about what other tasks I have to do than the one I’m doing, so I’m not mentally present enough to work efficiently. So, I do a 2 timer cycle, 45 minutes, then 15 minutes. This allows me to accomplish more than one set of things per day, and also means I can trick my brain into focusing on the amount of time I have to work, rather than the list. I’m able to do other things (like write this post!) and stay far more focused than I do otherwise. What works for you may be something totally different, but keep trying things until you find your ‘fix’ for a broken or ineffective schedule.

One important note though-whatever you do to make yourself use time better, forgive yourself. Everyone has off days, and it’s far better to say, well, I messed up here, and this is how I’m going to make it better, than to spend a lot of time kicking yourself for what you didn’t do.

So, specificity and schedule fixing are two big keys. Start on one of those small tasks during your day, chip away at it. Most of these things don’t need to be finished all in one go, and making progress leads to more progress as the mental kudos stack up. Sometimes getting things accomplished also can mean asking for help. Can you hire or train someone to do something you need? Remember, you really don’t have to get everything done yourself.

When it comes to your ‘should’ list, don’t let it lie, don’t forget about it, and don’t allow yourself to get so caught up in the daily minutia that you never get started. You never know where your career would be if you actually went for it.

Check out the next post here, and the previous here!

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