Success Breeds Solitude
Over the last few years, being a professional voiceover talent has become more and more isolating. And in most cases, the more successful you become, the less time you spend around like-minded people. This can be difficult for just about anyone, but maybe more so for creative, artist-types. We tend to thrive around people who “get” what we do. If you ever go to an in-studio audition, and see the energy among the actors in the waiting room, you’ll see what I mean.
One of my favorite things about the time I get to spend among other voiceover artists, is the contact high I get from their enthusiasm. I’ve never seen those other actors as my competition, per se, just as other people who are lucky enough to do what I do for a living. I’m always glad for the opportunity to share in their successes, and for the chance to blow off a bit of steam with a war story or two. “What? 112 takes for a 4-word script? Really?” (Yes, really.)
See, those waiting rooms are the voiceover actor’s version of the office water cooler. Except that we can’t just get up and walk over for a chat whenever we feel like it. With most voiceover talent now working from their own studios, we rarely get to talk to each other, let alone see each other. Unfortunately, maintaining that sense of camaraderie and community is getting tougher all the time.
The motivation and recharge that I get from those sessions are always a blast. But like anything else, the “high” begins to wear off after a while.
Teamwork! Accountability! Attitude!
Over the years, I realized that I’d unconsciously developed a strategy for dealing with those times when I needed a little boost. And while I’m not the kind of guy who goes for a framed motivational photo (complete with pithy quote) on the wall, there are certain lines that can have a powerful effect on me. I know this because without really meaning to, I’ve collected them on sticky notes over the years, and have always kept a couple of my favorites in my studio. My “favorites” sort of rotate over time, but somehow the right ones always seem to show up at the right time.
I didn’t realize just how many of them I had, until a few weeks ago when I was organizing the studio, and ended up with all of them in one pile. Within a few seconds, I knew that I had to put them all in one place. On one page. But how?
I’m a Lucky Man!
I know! I’ll marry a fabulous, beautiful woman who will be a wonderful, devoted partner, an incredible mother and is also a talented graphic designer. Luckily, I did exactly that about 15 years ago. (Yes, fifteen years of “Wow, what is she doing with him?”)
Well, one of the results of that marriage, and that pile of sticky notes, is the Voiceover Talent Manifesto©.
It’s All About Connecting
The basic principle behind a manifesto, is that what we focus on tends to expand (manifest) itself. And my main focus in writing this manifesto was connection.
Connection with each other: We all deal with the same challenges. We’re more alike than we are different. Support and community are vital.
Connection with our work: Our scripts, our intentions, our clients.
Connection with ourselves: We are, after all, entrepreneurs, and no one cares as much about our businesses as we do.
I’ve pasted the full text of the manifesto below. And after a number of requests, I thought it’d be fun to put it on a few different items (posters, prints, mouse pads, mugs, T-shirts) at Cafepress.com, so you can have one of your very own in your studio. I even put one on my laptop:
Full Text of The Voiceover Talent Manifesto©:
Words are magical. Respect them.
Don’t worry about being discovered, just be discoverable.
Become a mentor. You’ll learn at least as much as you teach, and probably more.
The best kind of marketing is quality work and a stellar reputation.
Fulfill your promises, and your clients’ expectations.
Learn to love technology. It’s gonna be around for a while.
Be generous. And give without expectation.
Recommend other voice talent. When your voice isn’t right for a project, help your client find one that is.
If you can imagine yourself doing any other kind of work, do that.
Expand your world: Read. Live. Be. If you aren’t interesting, your reads won’t be either.
Market yourself. Remember, you can’t work for the people you want to work for any less than you already do.
Clarity is power – know who you are.
Listen at least as much as you talk. No, listen more than you talk.
I hope you enjoy the manifesto, and that it’s as motivating for you as it is for me.
And I’d love to hear what you think about it in the comments below.