Chloe is a puppy my wife & I rescued a few months ago, to go along with our other 13-year old rescue, Bauer. Raising Bauer all these years has been work enough, but adding an 8-month old rambunctious puppy with an under-bite & socialization problems to the mix, and we’re now 137% sure that we’re being driven crazy (margin of error +/- 37%).
It hasn’t all been maddening, though. One perk of being a doggy daddy has been that my dogs have taught me quite a bit in a very short amount of time about running a voiceover business. Some of the lessons include:
My dogs definitely respond better to positive reinforcement (like praise) than negative (like punishment), just like my voiceover business (or any business, for that matter) seems to do much better when I’m keeping a positive attitude. Don’t get me wrong- there are definitely days where I’d rather eat a bathtub’s worth of ice cream in one sitting while ignoring the world around me- but keeping a positive outlook on things goes a ridiculously long way in maintaining a successful business.
There is nothing worse than taking Chloe outside on a bathroom break, making it a quick trip because “she only has to pee,” and being greeted with fresh turds (this is the scientific term, I think) on the carpet three minutes after coming back inside. I get that same “I’ve got to clean up all this crap” feeling when I rush to submit an audition doing my best Morgan Freeman impression, only to realize after I hit “send” that the directions clearly stated, “Please no Morgan Freemans. In fact, anyone doing a Morgan Freeman will be drawn and quartered.” Speed can definitely be a virtue at times, but when it comes down to it, I’d rather get it to the client “right” than get it to them “right now.”
Bauer loves meeting other dogs, but Chloe goes absolutely ballistic when she spots a strange dog. In fact, the only dog Chloe doesn’t try to go after is Bauer. Why? Because Chloe has gotten to know Bauer, and feels comfortable around him. When it comes to making a purchase, who are you more likely to buy from: The company you’ve never heard of, or the one who’s built a relationship with you (via things like customer service & engagement)? Don’t try to dance around making a few friends out there- no one can buy from you if no one knows who you are.
Bauer & Chloe love sunbathing, and they REALLY love going outside…just like every other dog. When it comes to the voiceover world especially, we spend so much time cooped up in our booths, that we can sometimes forget that the sun even exists. Hard work in the booth is important, but it’s also important to take a few breaks here and there to recalibrate your body and clear your head. And don’t forget to eat lunch!
I can calmly ask Bauer to do something and he’ll do it, no problem. With Chloe, well…she’s a work in progress (if “do that tilty head thing” counts as ‘work in progress’). That being said, just because I say it to Bauer one way doesn’t mean I can say it to Chloe the same way. Just like there are different ways to give a command, there are different ways to read a piece of copy, and there are different ways to market yourself. Don’t be afraid to throw a different emotion into a piece of copy (as long as you can justify it), and don’t hesitate to learn different ways of marketing yourself. You never know what you’ll find on the other side.
Seriously. No one likes fleas.