A quivering vulnerable mess

Several weeks ago I wrote a post that I thought long and hard about publishing.  It was about the difficulties I was unexpectedly having with a transition I’d made quite a while ago.  The reason I hesitated to publish it was I laid myself pretty bare, exposing a vulnerable side I usually lock away in a deep dark secret place where no one can see it.  I sat on the post for quite a while wondering what to do.  That of itself is unusual because once I write something, I’m pretty sure about what I’ve written.  I just proofread it, miss all the spelling, punctuation and syntax errors, hit publish and never think about it again.  Until someone points out all the spelling, punctuation and syntax errors.

This time was different.  I was really shaken by the whole insurance thing and the anxiety it had brought on me.  I didn’t know if I wanted to let the world know how I’d been affected.  But once I stopped making it all about me and how I felt (never any easy thing to do because deep in my recesses I think it should always be about me) I realized that I may not be the only one going through an experience like mine.  There might be others out  there who were feeling the same way I did and having the same anxieties.

So I hit publish.  And waited nervously for my 4 readers to comment on what they saw.  A wonderful thing happened, I got only encouragement and support for the post.   It was very heartwarming to say the least.  I’m glad I took a chance and shined (wrong tense I know…shined?, showned, sheened?) a little light on the quivering mass of fear that is my vulnerability.  People can be pretty wonderful if you just let them.

 

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A Starbucks with no coffee

I know, sounds a bit ridiculous doesn’t it?  But that’s what happens when you don’t give yourself the tools to properly market yourself in your chosen profession.  Not too long ago, I had the opportunity to intern at a local casting office.  This is a very busy casting office with sometimes several different sessions going on all at once.  Working in the room was great but I also really liked working at the front desk.  I like greeting everyone, telling them which waiting room to head to and then shushing them when they got too chatty and loud.  Right up my “I’m the boss/big sister/know-it-all” alley.  When a talent would come in to audition, they present their headshot with a resume of previous work attached to the front desk so we could attach an info sheet for that particular casting.  I was continually amazed at how many experienced working actors would come in without a headshot, or the picture was in black and white still (meaning it was at least 5-6 years old) or they were bald and the photo clearly has hair.

Voice Talent does the same thing.  They sit on a demo that was produced back in the mid 90’s with a style that clearly is no longer current.  They don’t have a website.  They don’t promote or market themselves to those that can hire.

To me, this is tantamount to going into a Starbucks and being told they don’t have any coffee.  Really?  This is what you do for a living people.  Get the beans.  Grind the grounds.  Foam the foam.  Overcharge me.  Ok that last one wasn’t really relevant but I couldn’t resist.  Just so Starbucks doesn’t feel as if I’m picking on them, it’s as if McDonald’s didn’t have any burgers or the pretty Apple store with no overpriced Macs.  There I go again.

Having the proper tools, up to date and relevant to today’s work and world is a basic responsibility of a talent.  It’s hard enough to get hired, why make it harder on yourself by using old materials.  Do yourself a favor, lose the 10 pounds, think about the image you want to portray and get thee to a photographer.  Or not.  But no griping when there are no calls or coffee for you.

Just what is a no?

No is a pretty powerful word.  When we are growing up, it stops us from putting our hands on a hot surface, keeps us from eating all our candy at Halloween and as a teenager, creates wails of agony, foot stomping and cries of “you just don’t understand” when it follows a request to hang with the crowd.  We learn pretty quickly that no is not a good thing.  Avoiding a no becomes an eternal quest.  Anything to feel that disappointment or shame from hearing it.

When you choose to become an actor, no becomes in intrinsic part of your world.  It’s not often expressed verbally but you know the no is there when you don’t get that call back or the shoot date comes and goes and by golly you weren’t on set.  Or heaven forbid, you don’t even get the call in the first place.  Ugh.  It’s hard not to take that personally.  Especially when the product you are behind 100% is yourself.  And if you hear, or don’t hear but it’s implied, no often enough, you start to believe it.  I’m not right.  I’ll never get hired.  I’m just not good enough.

I had an AHA moment recently when I heard something about the word no and it hit like a 2 x 4 between the eyes.  No is just a result, it’s not a judgement of me or my talents.  So while it’s not the result I wanted, it is nothing more than a result.  And I can take that result and refine whatever it is that I’m doing so I get closer to the result I do want.

Taking the judgement and rejection out of no really helps dull the sting.  It is merely a notation in the grand experiment of life that gets you closer to the yes you want.

Announcing FaffCon 2!

As many of you know I was involved in the planning of the first FaffCon and was able to attend due to a schedule switch at the last minute.  It was a career and life changer all the way around and I was so happy I made the effort to make it out to Portland.  The second one has been in the works, just like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, since the day after the first one ended.  All the i’s have been dotted, all the t’s crossed, and we can now announce that FaffCon 2 – Electric Boogaloo (don’t you just love that title?  I keep singing the old disco song Electric Avenue for some reason!) will be in Atlanta on February 25-27, 2011 and the registration is now open.  FaffCon is an unconference for working voiceover professionals.  The Westin Peachtree Plaza right in downtown Atlanta will be the HQ for the fun of it all.  I’ll be there, with bells on of course.  Wouldn’t miss is for the world.  It’s kind of hard to describe what the premier event was like.  I hate to say you had to be there, but that really was the case.  Over 50 people, not just Voice Talents but engineers and marketers, took a chance on a new concept in conferencing and their courage paid off.  It was a paradigm shift for many, including myself.

The growth I underwent and the great stuff I learned went way beyond my expectations.  I usually have a great time with my VO peeps, and have long asserted this is one of the most, if not the most, supportive branch of performing artists.  So I knew I’d have fun with these fabby people.  What I didn’t expect was to learn so many nuts and bolts of how people run their businesses.  The event far exceeded my expectations.

There are many ways to separate a talent from their hard earned money.  Many people and companies who offer this service or that coaching.  FaffCon was designed purposely to keep the costs low.  Let me tell you, the return on my investment would make many a hardened Wall Street investor smile.