BOSS Mindset: Make Those Mistakes

When did it become a self-imposed rule that voice actors are perfect and NEVER make a mistake?  OMG You’re human – so why is everyone so embarrassed, ashamed and mean to themselves when they make a mistake? Your personal and professional growth is actually dependent upon learning from errors. Stop holding yourself to impossible standards and start owning your mistakes like a boss!


Quick Concepts from Today’s Episode:

  1. There’s a good reason why VOBoss episodes often contain outtakes. As Bosses we have to learn to risk a little embarrassment and not take ourselves too seriously.

  2. But more importantly accepting and owning up to mistakes are a part of personal and professional development.

  3. In voiceover sessions, mistakes can become stuck points that actors obsess over.

  4. Mistakes on mic can be like a snowball. It starts small, but as it rolls down the mountain, it becomes bigger and bigger, until you are buried.

  5. We make on-mic mistakes at the most inopportune moments – like when clients are directing.

  6. How you handle the emotional aspect of the mistake makes all the difference.

  7. Your client should not feel as if they have to help you in that moment.

  8. The famed Voice Acting Academy in San Diego CA has a Sorry Jar. Students are required to put money in the jar every time they say ‘sorry’ on mic.

  9. Acceptance is critical. Sometimes we make a mistake over and over and over and over and…

  10. Sometimes mistakes are due to miscommunication. It may feel like you aren’t ‘getting’ the clients’ direction.

  11. Sometimes repeating direction back to your client in your own words can clarify the direction for everyone.

  12. And sometimes your client simply does not know what they are looking for.

  13. See a discussion about direction as just that, a constructive discussion.

  14. Rather than panic or be embarrassed know that the client is likely feeling empathy toward you, not anger.

  15. When we being to spiral and the thoughts in our own head start racing, we have stopped listening.

  16. Author Brenee Brown writes and speaks on the topic of shame.

Referenced in this Episode

Direct links to things we brought up ++

Lifehacker talks about the benefits of mistakes!
Learn more about The Voice Acting Academy in San Diego that won’t let you apologize
Watch Brené Brown’s Ted Talk on the power of mistakes and being vulnerable.
Recorded on ipDTL


>> Today’s voiceover talent is more than just a pretty voice.

>> Pretty voice.

>> Pretty voice.

>> Pretty voice.

>> Today’s voiceover talent has to be a BOSS.

>> BOSS.

>> A BOSS.

>> A BOSS.

>> Join us each week for business owner strategies and success with your hosts Anne Ganguzza and Gabrielle Nistico, along with some of the strongest voices in our industry.

>> Rock your business.

>> Rock your business.

>> Rock your business.

>> Like a BOSS.

>> Like a BOSS.

>> Rock your business like a BOSS.

>> Rock your business like a BOSS.




Anne: Hey hey, everybody. Welcome to the VO BOSS podcast. I’m your host Anne Ganguzza, along with my VO BOSS bestie~ Gabby Nis…ugh, Gabby Nistico! Damn, I made a mistake. [laughs] Sorry, Gabby. 

Gabby: And how do you feel about that mistake? 

Anne: Yeah, I’m owning it. I’m owning that mistake. 

Gabby: Because you know what? You’re human. We make mistakes. It happens. 

Anne: We’re very well aware of that, especially when you play outtakes. [laughs] How many mistakes does Anne make? Quite a few. I think that making mistakes and owning up to them is a part of your professional growth as a entrepreneur. I know there is so many of my students, and I know yours too, they’re so scared of making a mistake. 

Gabby: Terrified, and it becomes like a session stuck point. People will make a mistake, they’ll linger on it. I had a teacher years ago who called it the avalanche effect. It was a snowball. And the snowball would start rolling downhill and it would just get bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger. Eventually it was like the mountain falls on top of you, and it’s because you’re, in a sense, you’re allowing it to happen. You make the mistake and you get flustered, you get frustrated, you get frazzled, and you make the mistake again or again or again or again. Guys, it’s part of this job. I mean, any voice actor who tells you that they’ve never gotten tongue-tied or hung up on a phrase. They’re full of [beep].

Anne: It happens all the time.

Gabby: Constantly.

Anne: You just get into a rut with it, and then it becomes –

Gabby: Yeah, repeat and repeat at that point. [laughs]

Anne: We’re here to say it’s ok, guys. It does happen. And it happens in front of clients. But can you imagine, Gabby, like thankfully, I mean I do a ton of my work here in my home studio, and I know you do probably more directed work than I do. I [laughs] it’s ok. I think I’m comfortable with making mistakes and owning them, even if I’m in front of a client, which really helps because I’ve been in the situation where, a long time ago, when I really became panicked by it. And then it just makes you look less than professional. Because you’re not handling the emotional aspect of the mistake well enough to actually continue with the session.

Gabby: Exactly. The people in the session, the client, the writer, the engineer, producers, directors, whoever is there, it should not then become their job to have to emotionally talk you down.

Anne: Yeah right?

Gabby: And deescalate you so that you can get back to the business at hand. For the majority of us, when you’re used to home recording, working from home, you’re cool, you’re calm, you’re collected, it’s your space, it’s your environment, you know exactly what’s going on. You make a mistake, no big, you keep going. That exact same thought process has to be replicated –

Anne: Yes, in the studio.

Gabby: – when there is a client on the line. Or anywhere that someone else is a part of your session. The Voice Acting Academy of San Diego and James Alburger, he has a sorry jar. And I’ve always loved this concept, because he talks about in his classes how students will waste so much time apologizing for their mistakes in a session, that it’s a rule at his facility. If you screw up and you say you’re sorry, you have to put a dollar in the sorry jar. [laughs]

Anne: Gabby, I did a great example of that in the beginning of the podcast. I said I was sorry, and guess what, guess how much time I wasted?

Gabby: It’s collective, right? If you add them all up at the end of a session, yeah, you’ll have like five minutes of somebody apologizing. And it’s like, dude, let it go. [laughs]

Anne: Yeah. We even had a podcast on sorry, not sorry.

Gabby: Yeah, you can’t let that kind of rule what’s happening. The biggest thing I think for especially the newer folks is stop trying to avoid making mistakes. No one expects you to be perfect.

Anne: Yeah, that’s number one. [laughs]

Gabby: Yeah.

Anne: Because that’s not – you can’t, you can’t help it. Like we’re human.

Gabby: You grow from that. Like if you try to avoid making a mistake in the first place, you never grow from that. You never learn from that. You have to be ok with the fact that you’re gonna make a mistake. And sometimes you’re gonna make that mistake over and over and over and over again.

Anne: Now, so there’s making a mistake where you’re actually like, you can’t get a word out, right, you’re tongue twied –

Gabby: Exactly.

Anne: Tongue-tied.

Gabby: Tongue twied. Yes.

Anne: There is also where you’re not necessarily taking the direction the client is giving you. This is the classic like, “like you’re talking to your girlfriend,” you know, when they want you to be more conversational. Interestingly enough, Gabby, I had a session the other day where they asked for conversational and then they said “hmm, you know actually can you give me a little bit more sell on that?” 

Gabby: Yeah, yeah.

Anne: So there’s like – 

Gabby: That’s happening all the time now.

Anne: So that’s like, how great is it that I was able to at least give them the conversational they asked for and they recognized it? So the difference being, they’re both performance related, but I think there is more perceived shame when you can’t seem to follow the direction that they’re giving you. So what are your tips for that? 

Gabby: Hmm, one is repeat their direction back to them. That’s a really great way to just, “ok, let me make sure I understand, you want me to,” and express it in your own words. They’ll tell you, they’ll let you, “no, we were thinking more like this.” Ok great, you get clarity. Another option is to simply go, “I don’t – I’m not sure I’m clear on what you’re looking for. Can you – could you repeat that?” It forces them to maybe think of a new way to say it.

Anne: Well because sometimes they don’t necessarily know what they’re looking for either, and so when they’re describing what they want you to do [laughs] you know, they’re also formulating it in their own head. I would say, if you thought of it as a constructive discussion about the direction, that’s better than thinking you’ve made a mistake and not given them what they have asked for.

Gabby: Yeah.

Anne: Because the majority of the time, they don’t know what they’re looking for and they don’t quite know how to ask for it either. So if you think of it as a constructive discussion between the two of you, I think that will help you to not go into the panic mode of “oh my God, I suck.” Because that’s the thing. When they say, no, can you, and they keep giving you different direction, and internally I think a lot of people are like, “oh my God, I suck, I don’t know what they’re asking.” And then there is that panic like “what do they want, how, I don’t get it. I don’t understand.” Then that just really starts to affect your performance.

Gabby: When that’s happening, you’ve stopped listening. You’re no longer listening to them. You’re listening to the voice in your head.

Anne: Yeah. That internal like panic.

Gabby: Yep. It’s the itty bitty [beep] committee. 

Anne: [laughs] Yes, oh my God. I haven’t heard that in so long.

Gabby: They live in all of us. It’s that collective consciousness of, “you suck. You should not be here, you don’t deserve to be here,” whatever that is. And if we start to listen to that, we’re no longer present and accountable to what the client is telling us. I also think, you know, the shame piece that you bring up.

Anne: Oh yeah.

Gabby: That’s just a big frickin’ word. And it’s a heavy word.

Anne: It’s a hard word.

Gabby: It is. But you’re right in that a lot of it’s, it is shame, it’s embarrassment, – 

Anne: Yeah.

Gabby: Think about your own, like your own children, right, or your spouse or significant other, whatever. If somebody you love makes a mistake, what do you tell them? 

Anne: Yeah, you’re supportive. “You’re ok, it’s ok, it’s ok.”

Gabby: “It’s ok, it’s all right. Not a big deal. We’ll get it right the next time.”

Anne: Sure.

Gabby: What you’re basically doing is you’re taking power away from the gravity of the mistake. You’re helping them to get past that and realize it’s not catastrophic. It’s gonna be ok. You try again. You’ve got to tell yourself that.

Anne: I just listened to a podcast with Brene Brown the other day.

Gabby: Love her.

Anne: That is what she spent most of her career studying is shame.

Gabby: That’s right.