Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Game Plan


As a continuation from my post last week...  Making plans, taking baby steps, and reminding yourself each day of where you're heading is really important.  The trick is not to write some random goals on the back of a Chinese take-out menu and then just shove it in a drawer and forget about it.  You want to keep the dream alive and in front of you.  Hang your goals on your bathroom mirror, or in your sound booth, or on your fridge.  Just put them where you'll see them daily.  The next step is doing one small task each day toward achieving these goals.  Baby steps.  One email, one phone call, one extra audition.  Whatever it is, just do it.  2014 is just around the corner, but the truth is each day is a new day.  Each moment is a new moment.  And you can hit the re-set button anytime you want.  But ya gotta have a game plan.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself that will help get you off to a good start:  

    What did you make progress with in 2013?

    What are you most proud of achieving during 2013?

    What are three goals you want to work toward in 2014? 




   What steps are you going to take to achieve goal #1?  #2?  #3?




So, what’s your #1 goal that seems too big or too scary to even write down?  In other words,   what would blow your mind if you accomplished it?  What do you really want?   
Write that one here:


This is a little reminder just for YOU…  Put this where you’ll see it every day.  You got this.   
Baby steps. ;-)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


Can someone tell me where 2013 went? It's December? What? Like they say 'time flies when you're having fun'.  It's been another year of learning and growing for me.   Running a small business requires you to wear a lot hats, but I'm always reminding myself that the overall goal is to be in a constant state of progress.  I also find that "baby" goal setting helps keep me on track and doesn't overwhelm me.  I look back at what my goals were for 2013, and I feel really good about what I've accomplished so far.  Progress, indeed. 

I once read that it's the little extra effort you put in each day that equals the big payoff.  You can make really big things happen when you have a clear idea of what you want.  But you have to define your goals specifically. You can't be vague. Then each day you actually have to put energy toward that specific goal if you truly expect a result.  It's common sense really.  The cool thing is we're talking about a few minutes.  This year I wanted to create many new client relationships.  So each day I took about 15 minutes, and researched production companies in a different city and contacted them.  That wasn't too hard.  And guess what?  I have quite a few new relationships.  I also wanted to be more organized.  So I created a daily checklist for myself.  At the end of each day I cruise through it.  And, presto!  I'm more organized.  I also wanted to start getting more daily exercise.  So I found a walking buddy, (thanks Kirissa) and I force myself to get up at 5:45 Monday through Friday and get a 1 hour power walk in each morning before I start my workday.  These are three examples of changes I made in 2013.  Am I getting results?  You bet I am.  And these are only 3 examples!  

I've discovered that big changes truly come from the little, dedicated steps we take every day.  The 10% of awesomeness required really isn't that difficult.  We owe it to ourselves to do it.  As I grow my business and voice over career I keep myself on track with these little tweaks so I can continue the progress.  Progress feels so good.  The other great news is that you don't have to wait until 2014 to start.  Do yourself a favor and start right now.  What's one little change you can make?  You got this.  Like I said, "baby goals."  They grow up fast and become big accomplishments in no time. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Human Connection

Photo thanks to

There’s nothing like real human contact, eye contact, a handshake. Seeing a person’s smile, getting and giving high fives, it’s so nice. As much as I love working from home, I really try to make it a point to meet as many people that I work with face to face as I possibly can. Why? Call me old fashioned, but it’s great to know the person behind the email address. Not just know their face, but get to know the actual person.

A few years ago my husband and I set out in our Mini Cooper on a cross-country road trip to visit friends and family. We drove from California all the way to Michigan, down to Florida and then home to LA. We thought it would be so fun to meet many of the people we worked with all of the time. So we called ahead and told many producers we’d be passing through their area and asked if it was okay to stop in and say hello. They were all thrilled, and amused by our little adventure. 99% of the producers I’d been working with and corresponding with for years, but had never met before. It was such a blast! I loved meeting the staff, touring the studios, laughing about how different we all looked than how we'd pictured each other. We learned that we all had way more in common than we ever knew. 

Not only was it fun to meet clients and producers, it’s also so great to meet fellow voice talent. So many of us chat on Facebook or get to meet at occasional voice over events, but making a point to meet people and build long lasting relationships and friendships is a beautiful thing. Oh, and don’t overlook getting to know fellow talent and producers in your own backyard. I am thankful for cyberspace but nothing beats a hug in my book. Just one quick side note as I come to a close with my little story, it takes 44 hours to drive straight through in a Mini Cooper from Tampa, FL to Los Angeles, CA. In case you were wondering. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Session

An example of a voice over script

You booked it. It's session time. You received the copy 24 hours before your session, and you've had time to carefully and thoughtfully revisit what you brought to your award-winning audition. You take the time to artfully mark your copy to capture every nuance you have in mind for the gig. Just kidding. It's two minutes before your ISDN box locks with your client and the script just came through. Oh wait, it's two minutes after your session started and you just got the copy and oh, look at that. It's a totally new script because its been revised 2,044 times. Being prepared for sessions can be challenging at times, but here are some things you can do to enjoy the process and keep your clients happy.

If you do get your script beforehand, look it over and run it down. Make sure you know how to pronounce everything. Yeah, especially the client's name. I keep a $5 stopwatch from Big 5 Sporting Goods on my desk, and I clock everything I read before I get on mic. I like to know if it's tight for time, or if I can breathe. I actually print all of my scripts for live sessions because changes are bound to happen during session, and I prefer to be old school: paper, pencil. I use a pencil because if they change their mind once, they'll possibly change it again and again. [Insert winky face here]. 

I always write the name of the producer I'm working with and the clients or creative team at the top of my script, so if I have a question I can address everyone by name. It's polite. If you don't get the copy beforehand, don't sweat it. You're a pro. You've got this. This is where your amazing cold reading skills come in handy. If you're not a good cold reader, start developing that skill, stat. It's one skill you will need. If you do need a minute to look things over, just coolly and calmly ask for a quick minute to scan it over. You'll get 27 seconds to check it out. Maybe 28. Another thing that I've found to be invaluable is following the lead of the people I'm working with.

Whether you're physically in a studio for the session, doing an ISDN or phone patch session, you can get a pretty good idea of how everyone's feeling in about five seconds. If you're getting the serious lets-get-down-to-business-vibe, it's probably not a good time to talk about the weather or about who got kicked off Survivor last night. Mirror your clients and producers. Be pleasant. Always say, yes. Yes, you'll do another take with a Southern Accent. Yes, you'll do it faster. Absolutely, you'll add more smile. Don't ever take direction personally. You're a piece of clay. Yes, you're Playdo. Let them sculpt you however they want. 

I can't forget to mention that we are not there to help suggest how to rewrite the script. If it's coming in eight seconds too long and you know a few words they can cut to make it come into time, let them decide that. We're the voice talent. I've seen a lot of talent try to be helpful by doing this, and it just annoys the writer client producer. Think it all you want. Just keep it to yourself. You'll thank me later. 

Okay, so you're there. You are the voice they've chosen for their project. How great is that? Be a good listener. Give them what they ask for. Be flexible. Be kind. Be patient. Be thankful. Because guess what, there's a pretty good chance if you're easy to work with and you do a good job, you just turned that customer into a client. And that's always my personal goal. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


No my number isn't 867-5309, it's an 80's song reference.

We all have to start with that very first break. Someone takes a chance on us. We build our first relationship with a production company, we book our very first client, or that agency we've been really hoping to sign with says Y-E-S. It starts with one. One gets you going. One fuels the fire to get you to two and so on. It’s a domino effect really - and it’s awesome. 

After working hard and studying voice over for a couple of years, anxiously, I decided to take my shiny, new demo “tape” with my fancy font phone number on the side around to local producers. I jumped into my beetle and set out on a scary, exciting adventure. Keep in mind this is about 11 years ago, and my strategy was to make a genuine connection with all of the local production companies in Las Vegas where I lived. 

Well, someone said yes. John McClain, the now owner of Dog and Pony Show Studios in Las Vegas called me on this thing called a telephone - the kind with a cord. He must have liked the fancy font I put so much thought into and asked me to come in for a live audition. The studio where he worked at the time was considering new talent for their roster, and liked what he heard on my demo. So, he had me read a variety of scripts, many different styles, moods, and attitudes. I was so nervous I thought he could hear my heart beating through the mic. He was so nice and laid back, and threw a lot of different direction at me to see how well I took it. He said, ”Well, you've got quite a range there. Nice job. I'll put a good word in for you. We’ll give you a call.” Gulp.

He called again. I was added to their roster. It was my first Y-E-S. My game-changer. It’s now more than a decade later, and at this point, thankfully and humbly, I have booked thousands of spots. And to think it all started with one. You know the coolest part? I still regularly work with John after all these years, and I don’t know if I've ever told him this story. So, thanks, John for taking a chance on this nervous, hopeful girl who wanted to make a career voicing. And to all of you voice over hopefuls out there: work hard, be prepared, get your mp3 file polished up and set out for your first Y-E-S. Someone is going to take a chance on you.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Blue Moon

Fruit Roll-Ups® Wicked Witch Hats Courtesy of

I toyed with the idea of pursuing voice over for a long time. As a kid I loved commercials. I’d memorize them and record myself on my Strawberry Shortcake Cassette Recorder. A few of my personal faves? Fruit Roll Ups® TV Spots and Zips. Yes, as in the super cool Velcro Shoe's commercials from the 80’s. I knew I was destined to do creative things. When I was 16, I auditioned to sing for a 20-piece big band in the Chicago suburbs where I grew up. I showed up knowing one tune: Blue Moon. To my surprise, I was hired on the spot to be their lead singer. Let’s just say I had many songs to learn. After high school I became a cruise director and singer on a few different cruise ships. It was a great experience, and I learned a lot while seeing the world and meeting so many interesting people. 

As a new bride, my next move was to Las Vegas, where I could sing on the infamous Vegas Strip, but still come home each night. After many late nights and smoky lounges I revisited my childhood dream: voice over. This idea kept popping into my head. But how? I found out about a voice over class, and decided to check it out. You know how they say when you meet 'the one' you just know? Well, after my first class I 'just knew'. Voice over was my true love, aside from my amazing husband of course. So I dug in. I listened. I studied. I read... and read... and read. I was dedicated to developing my skills and my understanding of this unique craft. I did the work, and I couldn't get enough of it. After two years of working with a coach on a weekly basis I cut my demo tape. Yeah, I said tape. My demo was on a cassette, but unfortunately I’d lost Strawberry Shortcake by this point. 

Because this is a blog and not a novel I have get to my point. And my point is, if you’re interested in pursuing voice over work, or opening up a doughnut shop, or anything at all, just take that first step. Check it out. Be true to yourself. What did you want to be when you were a kid? What does your 'inner child' want to be when it grows up right now? I’m really glad I knew the song Blue Moon and that I had people around me who said I could do anything. But mostly I’m really thankful that I have a chance to inspire people to follow their dreams. It does require work, but you owe it to yourself to take that first step. 

P.S. Thanks Mom and Dad for good ole’ Strawberry Shortcake. I was manifesting my dreams and didn't even know it.

Monday, October 21, 2013

I Workout

I’d like to dedicate this blog entry to my workout group, The Vegas Voicers.I absolutely love this group of people. Not only are each and every one of you super-duper talented, but you’re amazing human beings. First, let me describe what our “Voice Over Workout Group” is all about, and let me tell ya, every voice talent out there should jump into a local group or start one of your own. Twice a month about 20 local talent come together in my home studio. It’s kind of a big deal because we all take showers, actually put on clothes, and spruce up. After all, we’re talking about real human contact! It gets lonely in our home studios, so coming out of isolation is step one. The evening is divided into a few segments. We talk about stuff we need to talk about. Like technology, the latest-greatest gear, marketing tips and ideas, cool blogs everyone should check out, questions, concerns, sometimes we need a pep talk.

Whatever needs to happen happens. We then move into phase two: we workout. We don’t do Jazzercise or Buns of Steel, nope. We read for each other. Sometimes it’s recorded. Sometimes we read in a circle, other times we do a mock audition round. That’s when everyone reads the same piece of copy with the same direction, but I kick everyone out into my backyard so the reads are fresh and no one can hear one another. It’s so interesting during playback. It’s a rare treat to hear what everyone did with the exact same copy and the exact same direction. We all learn a lot from this exercise. We share constructive feedback. Sometimes people want to branch out and try a new genre. What better place to do it than in a peer group where you have professionals who voice so many different styles? Maybe you recently did an audition and you'd like to get some feedback on it because you struggled with interpreting the direction. Or maybe you do hundreds of explainer videos and you want to try commercial VO. You get the idea. The key is: we help, we share. It’s a safe environment to grow and try new things on for size. The goal is to make it a very positive experience for everyone. Listening and observing fellow talent work their own personal magic is such a huge part of the process.

Oh, and I can’t forget about our special guests. I often invite local producers to join us. We do helpful Q & A’s with them, and it’s nice to get new local talent on their radars. I also invite agents, out-of-town producers, vocal coaches, top talent from across the country, etc. to Skype with us. This is extremely cool. We ask the tough questions. We go straight to the source. It’s exciting, it’s fun, and it’s helpful. I’m super thankful that so many knowledgeable people are happy to do this with us. You’d be surprised. When you ask people for help, they’re usually happy to. 

Last but not least, the fourth segment is crucial. We eat. Highly important. Voicing totally requires nourishment. We usually have some great snacks and some quality social time. It doesn't hurt if a member of your group is a gourmet chef hobbyist. (thank you Daniel Dorse). The roar of laughter during our break is one of my favorite parts of the night. It’s really special to spend time with people who do what you do, wear the many hats that you wear, and sing the song that you sing. I love bringing people together. One of my favorite quotes is, “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” Share, share, share. I bet you've got some great stuff to share and some talented folks in your zip code. Ask around. Come together. It’s powerful. 

I’ll leave you with this “We push each other to get better. We could never be as good alone as we are together” Ryan Wittman. Thank You Vegas Voicers, for becoming and continuing to be my voice over family.