Talking Elephants

One of the cool things about radio is Chicago is several of the stations are owned by the major networks.  So are the big four TV stations.  In the vernacular of the business, these stations are called O & O’s, owned and operated, because that is exactly how they are owned and run, by the networks.  And sometimes the programming crosses over.  So the CBS radio station here, WBBM-AM, will run programming from the TV station, WBBM-TV.  They mostly run news shows like the Face the Nation and CBS Sunday Morning but they also run 60 Minutes every Sunday night.  WBBM-AM is one of the oldest stations in the country and they have a special type of broadcast license thats let’s them broadcast at 50,000 watts.  That means the signal travels pretty far.  I can listen to them all the way home to my folks house only getting static the last 20 minutes or so of the drive when the corn is high and blocks the signal.  On Sunday nights, I try to time my trip back so I can listen to 60 Minutes at some point when the signal is clear.  It sounds strange, listening to a TV show on the radio, but with a show like this, the whole theatre of the mind thing takes over.

Last Sunday I was driving down to my parents house (holiday weekend and all) and I tuned into the show.  One of the segments was about a researcher in Africa who’s been studying elephants for 20 years for Cornell University.  Actually she’s been listening to elephants.  Turns out they have a very complex language that we are only beginning to understand.  The really cool thing is they say a lot of things in a pitch we humans can’t hear.  They’re having these entire conversations right in front of our nose and we don’t even know they’re talking.  Makes you wonder about the commentary on the people they see gawking at them at the zoo – look at that guys haircut…what was she thinking wearing those shoes with that outfit?…will someone please find that kids pacifier?!!

In a weird way, I suddenly felt proud of the industry I’d chosen to be in.  Not that I’m ever going to be figuring out what a species is communicating.  But voiceover is all about communicating.  Sure I may be voicing an on-hold phone message or a commercial about the newest juice box, but I also voice e-learning projects so people can learn about new aspects of their fields, documentaries that inspire and inform, and audiobooks that transport the listener to another reality.  In communicating with my voice, I connect someone to something important.  Every species communicates in some form or another.  I’m just jazzed to be one of the communicators in my species.

Helicopters

We had quite a bit of rain in June.  I think it was one of the rainiest, if not the rainiest, June on record.  Before I left for my sister’s wedding I wanted to get the flowers planted in the front yard and get a really good weeding done.  So around the second week in June I got all the flats of Impatiens and spent the afternoon planting and weeding.  I don’t have a huge front yard, at least by suburban standards, but it’s pretty big by city standards.  Some yards are 4 feet deep by about 12 feet wide.  Because we have a wider lot and the house is set back, my front yard is about 18 x 20.  Massive.  In the parkway, there’s a huge oak tree that’s been there forever.  It’s about 60 feet tall and really shades the front of the house which is why I need to plant shade flowers.  I love how the sun dapples the light through the leaves when I’m in my office working.  The tree seems pretty healthy which is good.  I can’t imagine what it would be like not to have this tree outside my window.

Every spring though, in nature’s unyielding cycle, the tree in it’s quest to maintain the species showers the front yard and every other surface area with helicopter shaped seeds.  They thwap down seeking a place to germinate and put down roots.  This year we had more than I’ve ever seen.  I think that means we are going to have a long cold winter.  Great.  I spent the better part of the afternoon plucking the seedlings out of the ground where they’d rooted underneath the mulch.  I cut short the future of about a dozen dozen little oaklings.  It’s was cold hearted but I got over it.  I got the flowers planted just in time for the week of rain that followed before I went out of town.  When I returned and resumed my walks 10 days later, I was astonished at all the seedlings that were now popping out of the ground.  I thought I’d removed all of them!

It made me realize that you can’t see all that’s germinating whether it’s planted deliberately or not.  I also learned not everything pops up at the same time.  I’m hoping this is what will happen with my new business efforts.  Lots of helicopters going out from me at the moment, hopefully reaching fertile ground to sprout at a later date.  As for the actual helicopters, they’ll meet their fate this weekend.

Pretty Good Progress

Today is the 4th of July.  I’m kind of dork when it comes to this day.   The parades make me smile, especially the one that just went down the street with tricycles, strollers and doggies on leashes all decked out in red, white and blue.  Patriotic music chokes me up.  It’s just something about the way the notes come together that really puts a lump in my throat.  And don’t even get me started when I see a Veteran wearing his uniform or his cap.  I can remember 34 years ago when we celebrated our bicentennial and how proud we all were. 200 years sounded like such a long time.  This was put into perspective when I spent the summer in France studying and I stayed in a hotel that was 107 years older than our country.  We really are such a young country.  And it is truly quite amazing how far we’ve come in those 234 years.  We went from being a scrapping colony to the only leading superpower in that time.  It took a lot of hard work, quite a bit of civil strife, tolerance and dedication to get to this point but here we are.  And we continue to evolve.  Which is ever so hopeful.  I am very proud of this country, warts and all.  We aren’t perfect, but we keep trying.

Makes you wonder, if this Titanic we call the United States can change that much in 234 years, what can one person do with the same hard work, tolerance and dedication to change their future?

Stepping into Liquid

The other morning I happened the catch a documentary about surfing called Step Into Liquid.  The title alone was so intriguing that I spent the next 90 minutes watching a film about a sport that I, as a landlocked midwesterner, will most likely never try.  It followed the sport all over the world.  One of the most surprising thing I discovered were all the places people surf.  Not just the expected Australian coast, or Maui, or the stereotypical California, but the unexpected places like 50 miles north of Milwaukee on Lake Michigan (we get fetch winds that travel straight down the entire length of the lake.  When they finally hit the southern end, the waves are pretty amazing).  Or off the coast of Ireland.  Or most intriguing, in the wake of the supertankers that travel from Galveston to Houston with their bellies loaded with oil.  Those guys are called Tank Surfers and since they’re Texans, with a Yee Haw as their battle cry, they are a breed unto their own.

Along with seeing some pretty spectacular scenery from all these exotic and, er, industrial places, there was scene after scene of men and women having fun.  The overriding sense I got from every surfer interviewed was how much fun they had doing it.  You could see it in their faces.  It was pure joy.  That joy brought them back time after time to the beach, knowing the minute they hopped on their boards and started paddling out, it would be ecstasy with a spray on their face.

One of the guys commented that surfing was a very selfish sport, in spite of the camaraderie.  Even though you most likely surfed in a group and hung out with the guys, when one of them caught a perfect wave, you wanted it for yourself.  You weren’t surfing against them, you were surfing for yourself and bettering what you did before.  Much the same in my business.

I thought about how fortunate these folks were to have found something in their lives that brought them so much happiness.  They made it look so easy, so effortless.  But these people were at the top of their game.  They’d been practicing for years, chasing waves all around the world, getting knocked about by one of the strongest forces of nature.  It made me think about my efforts to get some traction for my business.  Our journeys weren’t too dissimilar.  I’ve been practicing for years, I’m chasing leads all over the world, I’m getting knocked about by one of the strongest forces of human nature – the word no.  I realized I need to find some of their joy in what I was doing.  Even though I described the process as a slog, I need to reframe that as riding another wave that will lead to the next one.  And there will always be another wave, somewhere.  I need to step into my own kind of liquid and just have fun with it.  Find the Stoke as the dudes say.

A subtle, but important, distinction

Today was an office day.  No auditions or appointments were scheduled so I was able to spend a substantial amount of time working in the office.  Now I will admit there was a bit of faffing about.  And by faffing, I mean goofing.  It’s a VO term that’s currently in vogue and is the name of an unconference being put together by a wonderful group of VO professionals.  All the details can be found here.  Faffcon isn’t the purpose of this post but didn’t I work it in nicely?

Instead I want to talk about the cold calling I’ve been doing.  I know, exciting stuff.  I’ve been trying to make as many contacts for my Voiceover business so today was a research and cold calling day.  I try to set a goal of so many cold calls each week.  I hit my goal for the week today and I still had several hours of the business day available.  I had a momentary thought that I would stop for the week and save some for next week.  But then I realized, this is exactly what I would have done when I was working in corporate and I no longer wanted to work that way.  I wanted to make as many contacts as I could because there would be more contacts in the pipeline.  Always more people to contact.  Why stop at the week’s goal?  So I didn’t.  I made a few more calls and plan on making some in the morning tomorrow.  I mentioned this to a friend of mine,Bob Souer, who said this was the difference in being an entrepreneur and a corporate drone.  When you work for yourself, you don’t want to leave any stone unturned, any opportunity overlooked.  And just because you hit  your goal, you don’t stop.  You keep the momentum up.  I used to do this when I was selling local television time.  Once I achieved my goal, I wanted to see how much over I could achieve.  It’s a great way to approach the business of finding new business.  And I have tomorrow to add to my number.  It’s all good.