[Originally posted as a comment on my friend Pam Tierney’s excellent and introspective blog. My comment went on so long, it turned into a post of its own…which wasn’t the intent. So I’ll put it here too, even though Pam has first claim.]
She was writing about the disappointment of realizing there wasn’t going to be any “magic bullet”, no “secret code” to instant and consistent voiceover bookings, fame, and big sacks of money. Pam’s no slouch. She’s a great talent (whether she know it or not), and has done marvelous work, while actively pursuing ways to improve what she already knows how to do.
But she’s right. Although there are plenty of people out there willing to sell you a book or a study course or a wonderful weekend master class complete with whiz-bang demo…all telling you otherwise…the simple fact is, there is no “magic bullet”. What most of us think of as success develops over time, and quite often we don’t recognize even a tiny form of it in our own careers until someone else re-directs our attention.
[Here begineth the stuff of my comment.]
Two of the first…and best…pieces of professional advice I ever got went completely over my head when I first heard them. Only in the past few years have they even started to sink in.
The first was from a guy named Jack Shaw, who hired me for my first real radio job, and taught me how to adapt my talents to radio copywriting / commercial production. I remember complaining to him that I didn’t have that great DJ voice the other guys on staff did. His reply was something like: “Don’t worry about that. Lots of people can do that. How many people can do what YOU do? How many people would love to do the voices you can do?”
The second was L.A. Lentz, who owned a studio in town and whom I’d become friends with during my radio days. When I finally committed to go freelance I asked him for the “Rules”. “The first Rule,” he told me, “is ‘There Are No Rules’.” I thought he was pulling one of his trademark wisecracks, and it wasn’t until he repeated it that I knew he was serious. I’m STILL trying to get my mind wrapped around that one, and it’ll be a glorious day when I finally succeed.
Obviously, my friend L.A. didn’t mean to just go out and wing it…rather, that outside of a few basics, I would discover along the way what worked for me, and what didn’t. And that trying to follow another person’s career path point-by-point would most likely provide more frustration on my part.
And I’m pretty sure Jack didn’t mean I shouldn’t notice, study and adapt what I could from other voices I heard in the business. He just wanted me to stop and listen to and appreciate my own.
I’ll add another item here that wasn’t on the comment at Pam’s site, although she was present at the workshop where the “advice” was offered.
In my first learning experience with noted coach Marice Tobias, she practically pounced on some self-deprecating remark I uttered while agreeing with a point she had just made. Without a trace of malice, she stopped and called me out on it, saying it was b.s. – along with another observation as to what I might rightfully be accused of being full of when assuming such an attitude toward myself (she used fewer and more precise wording, if you must know). I don’t remember ever thanking someone for telling me something like that before, but I thanked Marice. Hers is yet more advice I’m working to adapt and use. Sometime I’ll have to tell you about the only “character voice” of mine Nancy Woflson hates…the little one in the back of my own head that keeps telling me I’m not good enough. Oh…I just did.
And if you’re looking for your career’s “magic bullet”, good luck. Just make sure you don’t end up with a hole in your head!
— over and out —