Gone With the Wind is my favorite movie of all time. I could give so many reasons for liking it, but you would wonder why I thought about it today when this is a blog about voice-over. True, I was born and live in Atlanta, but a ride on public transportation to downtown Atlanta this morning actually reminded me of something in the movie.
Remember the big scene early in the film at the magnificent Twelve Oaks estate, where everyone went for the barbeque? The camera panned to a sign on the grounds that said:
Do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.
No matter where I go, I always have things with me to advance my voice-over goals. I press any spare time into service. On the way to my appointment this morning, I studied background material for a major audition. Other times, I may:
- read books for upcoming audiobooks
- read marketing books
- write blog ideas and entries (sometimes jot the ideas in my PDA, other times write longer sentences by longhand)
- plan marketing strategies
- listen to audiobooks and podcasts on my iPod
- listen to accents, dialects and foreign languages on my iPod (I have loaded Spanish and French CDs, and I have Italian and German CDs ready to be loaded.)
- make notes about the podcast show that I am developing
- write in my journal
In addition, my PDA cell phone is a Pocket PC, so I can surf the web and get e-mail anywhere. I can read my voice-over newsgroups and blogs while commuting. I also can respond to inquiries about projects and review web sites of prospective companies. Time spent on public transportation or in places like a doctor's waiting room are always highly productive for me.
Whenever I ride public transportation, I have noticed that a majority of people get on board clutching their cell phones like Linus from the Peanuts cartoon clutched his security blanket.
In the words of Theodore Roosevelt:
Do what you can, where you are, with what you have..I saw a show on the Biography channel a few days ago about Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Their names may not be familiar to you, but I’m sure that you have used their marvelous invention countless times: the Google search engine.
While Google is an Internet mammoth now, I was very impressed to learn about the humble origins of this company. After Page and Brin wrote the code for their search engine, they tried to sell it to other established companies,
When people ask me about starting a career in voice-over, I usually recommend that they first read a book about the voice-over industry. A book is a small investment of time, money and energy to see whether a voice-over career is the right choice for you. I have quite a few books and audio programs. You can never learn too much, and every author has different experiences and viewpoints to relate.
Since I haven’t found time to re-create the static page on the new site with my recommended reading list, I’ve created an Amazon list that features my favorite voice-over
because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.
-- Thomas Edison
I have read that one of the fastest ways to achieve your own dreams is to help other people achieve their dreams. I think that universal law is true because what you put out in the world comes back to you. In fact, one reason I started this blog is so I could help other people achieve their dreams of thriving voice-over careers.
However, when I write these articles, I benefit, too. I'm reminded of the days when becoming a voice-over artist were just a whispering in my mind. I think about every step I've taken to change that whisper into the reality of being a professional voice-over talent working in my beautiful Parisian-themed studio, and I can see how my consistent actions over time have built upon each other to make this fabulous career that I love. If I give advice to someone else, I re-read it as if I am the recipient and immediately think of areas in which I might improve in my own business.
I really do like to help people who are getting started or otherwise building their careers in voice-over, but I don't have much time to help people on an individual basis. I'm finding that it's much easier and faster for me to point anyone seeking my advice here and to my web site.
In this age of incredible technology and abundant information, I also think that people should do some research and have some respect for others' time. READ AND ABSORB everything you can before you start asking questions. Building a career takes time, and no shortcuts exist. No matter how much I or anyone tells you,
your success is totally up to YOU.I can't decide any action you should take. I can't do the work for you.
I can, however, highlight some lessons that I have learned along the way. When I mentioned the Atlanta attorney in yesterday's column, I said he was a brilliant marketer. Observant students of marketing would have noted that I said he had repeated his message in multiple media. While his slogan is "One call -- that's all", his success is due to the frequency and repetition of his marketing message in several formats. He's not just relying one type of marketing (or even more simply, one call!) and hoping to bring in business. He wants to make absolutely sure that you see him everywhere you look, and you know exactly what he does and what he can do for you.
We have an attorney in Atlanta who has made a fortune with the simple and effective advertising slogan "One call -- that's all." The guy is a brilliant marketer who has worked hard for his success, and he has imprinted his business and niche on the minds of everyone in the city. His face and phone number are everywhere -- TV ads, billboards, Yellow Pages, park benches. He probably has an ice cream flavor named after him somewhere. If I'm ever in a car wreck and fighting with my insurance company, I know who to call to settle the case and get my check.
Unfortunately, I think that a lot of people enter the voice-over business with his slogan in their minds. As often is the case, I received an e-mail from someone who read my advice page about getting started in voice-over. This person had recently completed a commercial demo, was frustrated by the "lack of response" to it and was requesting my critique on the demo. Since I am not currently teaching or coaching anyone on an individual basis, it's my policy not to give demo critiques as I would not be available to assist anyone with any revisions they might want to make on the basis on my comments. I always suggest that people find a reputable coach in whose opinion they can trust and work with that person to make their demo the finest it can be. Of course, if someone is interested in the random opinions of other working voice talent, they can always ask the good folks on the various voice-over Yahoo groups and the www.VO-BB.com site to share their views.
Anyone who reads all of my advice page will see that marketing, self-reliance and
PERSISTENCEwill be critical to your success. The dictionary can list different definitions for persistence, so maybe I need to add some from the perspective of a voice-over actor.
When someone tells me they have had "no response" to their demo, I will ask a series questions, such as:
- What is your marketing plan? Do you HAVE a marketing plan?
- What steps did you take to elicit a response?
- How many people who could hire you have you contacted about work?
- What follow-up steps did you take?
- What methods are you continuing to use to put your demo in the hands of as many people as possible?
- Do you have a web site?
- Do you take steps every day to market your talent?
Sometimes I’m amazed by the synchronicity of events in my life. For instance, this week I have been looking at sites on-line for postcard vendors. I’m planning my next postcard mail-out and have been comparing prices and offerings, as well as requesting samples. I previously have been working with a local printer, but I may be able to get a better deal on the glossy paper from a company that specializes in postcards. BTW, if you want to know why you should include postcards in your marketing mix and how to plan a campaign, I recommend that you download the
I no longer am the only person in my family to have earned a Master’s degree. As of yesterday, I’m proud to report that my brother Michael Schubert has joined me as a graduate with this illustrious degree. He was awarded his MBA in Finance from my alma mater Georgia State University. You may think this entry has nothing to do with voice-over, but the lesson it conveys should be helpful to everyone.
While we dined at one of Atlanta’s historical and celebrated institutions for unique cuisine to commemorate his latest achievement, I
Drew and I watched the third Austin Powers movie again over the weekend. I had forgotten that John Travolta had cameo at the end of the movie, and I was reminded about an amazing part of Travolta’s story that proves to me once more that
things happen for a reason.
To quote Wayne Dyer:
All things are happening as they should, and the Universe is acting in complete synchronicity.You may not know or don’t remember that John Travolta had a hit album in the 70s. The only song that I can remember was called Let Her In. When
I subscribe to several voice-over lists. The subject question is actually a current and very active topic on one of them. Many people have answered the question, but I will never be among them. If you haven't already posted an answer, I hope I can give you some new things to consider before you press the Send button with your reply.
It's not like these lists are some little private gathering where you can whisper secrets among close friends. Sure, camaraderie exists if you've been a list member for a long time, but you don't really KNOW the other list members. You may have regularly contributed to an e-mail list or forum, but would you know someone from that list if they walked into the room?
Answering or reading such messages is a huge waste of time. If you have some down time, you could be doing any number of productive things to advance your career like calling a client, updating your database, modifying your web site, recording new scratch tracks for practice, learning to apply filters in your editing software, etc. You could be doing things to otherwise improve your life like communicating with family and friends, taking a walk, learning to play a musical instrument, decluttering your office, planning a trip, etc. Of course, you could just sit and be for a few minutes, reveling in the quiet, doing absolutely nothing other than enjoying being alive, perhaps meditating and visualizing the kind of life you want for yourself!
In addition to the time-wasting nature of the topic, you never know who might read your words later and form an opinion about you. Would you answer this question if you knew that your clients or potential clients were reading your messages? How about if your parents or your significant other were to find your post? Would they be hurt or shocked by your response to something that you thought was just silly banter? Any of these people could read what you write on-line because your words live on into perpetuity!