The other day, one of my colleagues asked me an interesting question.
“Paul,” he said, “Why don’t you speak at voice-over conferences? I mean, we have a number of these events throughout the year, and you’re never on the program. Don’t you feel that you’re being ignored?”
“Not really,” I said. “You seem to think they should invite me. Why is that?”
“Well, for one, you’ve published a pretty unconventional voice-over book this year. They always invite authors to these events. Secondly, your blog has thirty thousand subscribers. I don’t think anyone in our small industry has as many followers. Doesn’t that mean anything?
But more importantly, many see you as one of the thought leaders of our community. Weren’t you the guy who kind of discovered Studiobricks and the CAD E100S microphone? These days, most colleagues have either heard about them or got one. I think that’s pretty amazing.”
“That may be true,” I said, “but that doesn’t make me (keynote) speaker material. You’d be surprised how many people still believe that I live and work in the Netherlands! They’re not going to fly a Dutchman in to speak at a conference in the States. Even though I’ve been here since 1999 and I’m a U.S. citizen, the myth persists that I reside in Holland with one of my fingers stuck in a dyke.
Secondly, some of these conferences are organized and frequented by people I have managed to piss off in the past. I don’t think voices.com or any other Pay to Play will ever ask me to say a few words, or even write a guest post for one of their online publications. They’re probably too afraid I will say something that is less than flattering. And you know what? They’re right!
I don’t play the game that everything is hunky-dory in voiceoverland. I consider myself to be a positive person, yet, when I feel my colleagues are being taken advantage of, I can’t help but raise my voice. That’s how I was brought up.
Having a minister for a father has taught me that so-called authority figures are ordinary people like you and me. They fail from time to time. They love the limelight. They enjoy being looked up to. And many of them can’t handle criticism very well. They take it way too personally. But there’s more.
Throughout the years I have blogged about increasing voice-over rates, and raising professional standards. I’ve talked about coming together as a professional group, and about ways to counter the erosion of quality and the influx of cheap, ignorant amateurism. Some have seen that as an attack on the free market. Others believe I enjoy belittling beginners. You know better than that.
The way I see it, many conferences want to create an atmosphere of We’re one happy family. Look how wonderful it is to be in voice-overs! Imagine this silly Dutch guy walking in on his wooden shoes, creating controversy. Why doesn’t he go back to Europe where he belongs?”
My colleague chuckled. I continued:
“Here’s the thing. On one hand, we have a very supportive community. If you need a new pop filter, tons of people will tell you which one to get. But if you wish to create a strong, non-profit, member-driven international association of voice actors such as the world voices organization, most colleagues look the other way. What are they afraid of? A little bit of solidarity? Socialism? You tell me!
World Voices is trying to do what I have been doing in my blog for years: Empower and educate people; give them tools to stand out from the crowd. I guess empowerment and critical thinking isn’t that popular anymore. But I digress, don’t I?”
“You could say that,” said my colleague. “I was just wondering why you don’t speak at voice-over conferences. I really think you could shake things up a little.”
I paused for a moment. Then I said: “A prominent voice actor opened up to me recently, and confessed:
‘I considered inviting you to my event, but I was afraid you’d be too critical.’
That surprised me a little. Is that really how people perceive me?
When I look back at all the stories I have written, most of them were about the business of being in business. I’ve written about selling, marketing, and about communicating with clients and colleagues. I just finished a six-part series on improving voice-over performance. None of that stuff I would label as controversial.
Even if I’ve been critical in some of my writings, why would that be a bad thing? Are we that insecure? As they say: Feedback is the breakfast of champions. It helps us learn and grow. Getting a kick in the pants may hurt little, but any coach knows it’s sometimes necessary for a student to make progress.”
My colleague nodded approvingly. I leaned forward, and whispered: “Do you want to know the real reason why I don’t speak at conferences?”
“Absolutely,” he answered. “I’ve been waiting for that.”
“It’s actually very simple,” I said with a smile. “I’m too shy and too modest.”
“Get out of here,” he responded.
“You? Shy and modest? You must be joking!”
“Guilty as charged,” I said. “However, with thirty thousand blog subscribers and counting, I do feel I have built up quite an audience. It’s my way of public speaking. And I’m not even charging for it. My blog is a platform I’m very proud of, and thankful for. And that’s why I want to give something back to my community.
Here’s the plan, Stan.
I’m going to ask my readers to nominate someone who -in their opinion- could really benefit from my book Making Money In Your PJs. It could be someone who’s struggling at the moment. It could be a beginner. It could be someone with talent but without any business acumen. Perhaps it’s someone who needs a little encouragement.
To keep it confidential, I want my readers to use the contact form on this website to send me the name and the email address of the person they’re nominating. No one else needs to know about it. (Please don’t nominate yourself. This is about giving, and not about getting.)
To celebrate reaching thirty thousand subscribers (and almost 1,000 Facebook fans), I will send at least thirty nominees a PDF copy of my book. Remember, that’s the edition with ten bonus chapters. The person receiving the book will not learn the identity of the person who nominated him or her. It’s like a secret Santa thing.”
So, if you’re reading these words and you have someone in mind, please let me know before December 1st. I’ll make sure they get a complimentary copy (I will not use the email addresses for promotional purposes).
And should you consider having me speak at your conference, rest assured that my bark is bigger than my bite.
As long as you don’t call me Shirley, these two lips from Holland promise to be on their best behavior.
Paul Strikwerda ©nethervoice
PS Within a week I received over 50 nominations! It is no longer possible to enter a name. Everyone will receive a PDF copy before December 7th. Thank you!
Leah Frederick says
Oh, Paul…if you only knew how many people I mention your book to. I often preface it with, “(Making Money In Your PJs) sometimes involves a bit of tough love and yes, occasionally, it may be difficult to swallow, but Uncle Paul is a straight-shooter and you can guarantee he’s not gonna sugar-coat notions about being an entrepreneur (or more specifically, working in the VO industry).”
How can I only nominate just one? 🙂 Congrats on the 30,000 mark!
Paul Strikwerda says
Thank you so much, Leah. After “Uncle Roy,” I guess we now have an Uncle Paul! Your nomination has been received.
Ted Mcaleer says
YEA! What a great blog. I could hear you narrating it as I read. Wooden shoes indeed!
Karyn O'Bryant says
Thanks for being such an outspoken supporter of WoVO!
And what a great idea to share your book as a Secret Santa gift. It’s very generous of you.
Michelle Armeneau says
Delightful read, as usual, Paul! Personally, I love how you call a spade a spade. I’m sure there are some who can’t take that! Glad you will keep writing frankly in spite of them.
Paul Strikwerda says
Thank you for your kind words, guys, and thank you for your nominations. Keep’em coming!
Conchita Congo says
Your book has inspired me to rethink my strategy; take a “detour” in the right direction for building my VO career!
I thank you for your candidness from the bottom of my heart.
I recommended your book to someone at least weekly!
Thank you, Paul!
Paul Strikwerda says
Every time someone recommends my book, I am deeply honored!
Randy Parchment says
I’ve gained quite a bit of information from your writing, I look forward to following.
Deb Coloma says
I love your blog, and appreciate your honestly so much, thank you for always sharing your knowledge and experiences… I look forward to more and more…
Karen Asconi says
Hi Paul and congratulations on reaching 30,000+ subscribers!!! Once again, a WONDERFUL post. Your wealth of knowledge, generosity and honesty, tempered with a wicked sense of humor and wonderful play with words, is always a delight. Feedback IS breakfast of champions. It has to be the kick in the pants AND the pat on the shoulder and you deliver both so well. I’m looking forward to reading your book. Thank you … always!!
Michael Orenstein says
Paul – I just found out that the father of one of the kids that goes to physical therapy with my son is also a VO artist – and he recently quit his day job to go full-time into the VO world. I know that he was get great value from your book –
His name is Eddie Garvar, and his email address is email@example.com.
Thanks for listening, and for contributing so much to our global community.
Paul Strikwerda says
Hi Michael, the idea was to nominate anonymously, and use the contact form on my website to send me your nomination. I will make sure Eddie gets his copy!
Lee Pinney says
Bless you Paul for being true to yourself and your readers. If you’re ever in Southern California, we would welcome you and your beautiful bride Pamela into our home, as long as your criticisms of our culinary expertise, and choice of wines are kept to a minimum.
I just realized that you and your wooden shoes weren’t from Norway, and that you are actually living in the US!
I will submit my vote for a copy to the person that I feel would get the most out of your book, which by the way is terrific.
Paul Strikwerda says
Pam and I are looking forward to that culinary experience, Lee! I promise you: my feedback will be tasteful!