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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.

Anne: She has a great Ted Talk, she’s got a great book out there. Definitely I would say listen to her if you can. She’s amazing. And yeah, shame is just – 

Gabby: And if anybody knows her, for the love of God, get her to us, because I would love to have her on this podcast. [laughs]

Anne: I was totally thinking about that. I was totally thinking about how am I gonna get Brene Brown to come on this podcast? 

Gabby: We’re gonna put it out there right now.

Anne: Yeah, there we go. Manifesting it, manifesting it.

Gabby: We need Brene to come be a guest boss, because she is.

Anne: Exactly. That emotional aspect of, “oh my God, I made a mistake, I suck, I suck, I suck,” and shame, you have to breathe, not listen. I know it’s very difficult, but try not to listen. And realize that sometimes the person on the other side of the glass may be kind of a jerk. [laughs]

Gabby: You know – 

Anne: There’s a lot to be said [laughs] for, you know – 

Gabby: You’re right.

Anne: – what goes on on the other side of the glass. Sometimes there actually can be a jerk on the other side of the glass.

Gabby: There can be. But for the most part, that’s not the typical encounter.

Anne: No, it’s not. It’s not.

Gabby: No. The majority of your clients while you’re stuck in a mistake pattern, whether it be tongue-tied or whatever is going on, maybe it’s a word that you’re reading improperly, whatever, while that’s happening, I want you to realize the majority of your clients are thinking “God, what they do is so hard. I could never do that.”

Anne: Yeah, exactly. 

Gabby: They’re empathizing.

Anne: “Perhaps I didn’t explain it right.” You know?

Gabby: Yeah.

Anne: That’s what they’re thinking.

Gabby: Yeah, they feel empathy. They’re not sitting there going, “God, who did we hire?” [laughs] 

Anne: Here’s, Gabby, where I was heading. The majority of people are not jerks on the other side. They want to help you. Right? But if it turns instead to them where it feels like they don’t know how to direct or that they’re not saying the right things to get you to where they want you to be, that internalizes in them and makes them feel frustrated. “Well, I don’t know why this is so hard. I’m asking you for this.” And so, and that also has to do with the level of experience. There is the engineer who is working on the engineering aspect of the audio, and then there could be any number of clients there. There could be casting director, which is used to working with talent, understanding what happens in the studio on a day-to-day basis. Then there might be a client who’s never sat on the other side of the glass before. Those are the ones that typically can be the wildcard, I think.

Gabby: Yeah.

Anne: Because they’re not used, they’re not used to directing. They just have never witnessed somebody doing a voiceover in the booth before. And if there is a stumble, oh, that’s absolutely normal. 

Gabby: It is, and that’s how most people see it. I’m gonna suggest this as well. Part of why mistakes become such a stuck point for actors is because we refuse to acknowledge them. We get embarrassed and flustered, and we don’t, we just don’t acknowledge them. Now I’m not talking about acknowledging them by saying, sorry. Well, this is what I do. So I’ve talked about my dog clicker before. [laughs] Because the same way you use it to correct a dog’s behavior, I use it to correct my own behavior in a sense and do take markers at the same time. So when I’m reading, I have the dog clicker in my hand. And if I make a mistake, or I stumble, I force myself to [clicks] and do it again. Just like that. I don’t say anything. There is no sorry. There is no, rarely will I say the words “pick up.” There is just – 

Anne: Exactly.

Gabby: I just do it again.

Anne: So I think if you’re in the booth in a live direction situation, where that happens, I think you need to have your mental clicker.

Gabby: Yes.

Anne: Where you basically just reset. You say nothing. You don’t apologize.

Gabby: Do it again.

Anne: Accept it and say, well, it’s normal. Because when you’re in the booth, and you’re clicking, like I don’t think twice. 

Gabby: No.

Anne: It’s just something that happens. That same action, do the mental clicker in your head.

Gabby: It simply gets you used to acknowledging it, correcting it, moving on from it. It just becomes another part of your job and another part of the workday. You’re not giving it any additional attention that it doesn’t need or warrant.

Anne: Gabby, you bring up a good point too, you don’t say “pick up.” I know so many talent to say “pick up.” I don’t buy into that when I’m being directed live in the studio. I simply just stop and restart from the most convenient part of the paragraph, and understanding that the engineer I’m working with is probably, you know, at that same level.

Gabby: Yeah.

Anne: They might ask me for a pickup, but I won’t, if I stumble, I’ll not say “pick up.”

Gabby: We should be able to feel secure that if there is an engineer, recording a session, they’re making their own take markers. They’re using the software that they have at their fingertips to create the take marker, and they’re keeping record of where those takes are and where any mistakes happened. The pickup process and verbalizing that came from the fact that if you’re yourself recording, we didn’t always have a way to do it. We would get into the habit of saying “pick up” so we had a point in the audio we could recognize. Now a lot of us can do our own take markers in our booths because we have wireless mics and monitors, we have the dog clicker process. We have – some people just [clicks] do that.

Anne: Which gives you a spike, which I think is super, a snap –

Gabby: Exactly, a spike – 

Anne: Anything that gives you a spike – just saying the word “pickup” doesn’t produce a spike unless you’re gonna go [high voice] “pick up” – 

Gabby: Exactly.

Anne: – and you’re like something crazy.

Gabby: No, but it gives you something you can at least visually see, but the spike is way more helpful.

Anne: Oh yeah.

Gabby: So that’s where I think that process came from but no, I haven’t said that consistently in a session for years and years and years.

Anne: Yeah. Me either.

Gabby: There is other methods.

Anne: Me either, me either. I assume the engineer and I are in sync, and I don’t need to say the word pickup, and I assume the engineer is a professional and will be making their own markers, as you mentioned, and doesn’t need the word “pickup” because it doesn’t help him at all.

Gabby: There is beautiful choreography that takes place between the talent and the engineer.

Anne: Oh yeah, absolutely.

Gabby: And when they understand each other – 

Anne: It’s a dance.

Gabby: – it’s just flawless.

Anne: Yeah.

Gabby: And it’s beautiful to watch. Again, don’t give your mistakes any more attention or emotional recognition than they deserve. You know, don’t “ugh,” don’t sigh it out. Don’t groan. Don’t grunt, because any of those things, they immediately throw your performance, immediately.

Anne: If you really had a problem with a word, you’re really in a rut, after maybe five times or six times, if it becomes that evident you’re in a rut, ask, “do you mind if we continue and then we’ll come back to it later?” 

Gabby: That’s one way, yeah.

Anne: “I seem to be in a rut, would you mind, let’s just continue and could I do a pickup later?” 

Gabby: It’s that, or just, “guys, I’d need two seconds” and I’ll turn my back on the mic and just say the word over and over and over and over and over and over again until my mouth and my brain are cooperating. Guys, we’re human.

Anne: We’re human. Nobody expects us to be superhuman.

Gabby: No. The definition of voice actor doesn’t mean flawless perfect speaker who never makes a mistake. No.

Anne: [laughs] You just made one. Just saying.

Gabby: I can name some companies that never make mistakes though. Never, never ever.

Anne: Never ever. Never ever. One of them, our favorite sponsor, If you’ve never met Kevin or spoken to Kevin, he just, he’s so knowledgeable. Every day he blows me away. If he makes a mistake, he’ll absolutely own up to it. You can check out

Gabby: And then, there are companies that see the mistakes others are making and resign themselves to doing it better. [laughs]

Anne: There you go.

Gabby: And that brings us to our good friends at fair, efficient, transparent, your voice, your way, please go check them out, And hey guys, share some of your crazy mistakes with us. We have all made them, we have all been there.

Anne: Oh yeah, that will be fun.

Gabby: There are so many great and hilarious stories out there, and I think it would be really fun to post those.

Anne: Yeah. All right, guys. Have a great week, and we’ll see you next week.

Gabby: Bye!

Anne: Bye!

Announcer: Join us next week for another edition of VO BOSS with your hosts Anne Ganguzza and Gabby Nistico. All rights reserved, Anne Ganguzza Voice Talent in association with Three Moon Media. Redistribution with permission. Coast–to–coast connectivity via ipDTL.



Anne: [loudly] Hello? 

Gabby: Oh my.

Anne: Wait, that’s a bad microphone. Bad microphone.

Gabby: Jesus [beep]. 

Anne: That was the wrong –

Gabby: That’s, wow.

Anne: That’s my MacBook Pro microphone.

Gabby: Howow. Take-a two.


Anne: Hold on, I’m gonna sneeze.

Gabby: Esplode. When you hurry up and explode already? 

Anne: [sneezes]

Gabby: Wow. That was a good one.

Anne: That was off mic.

Gabby: I’d have peed myself.

Anne: [laughs] Oh my God, let me make sure that I’m recording.

Gabby: Let me make sure I didn’t pee my pants. Hold on.


Gabby: Please, I’d like to think I have 20 more years before a Poise commercial, but realistically – damn it, “Golden Girls” of voiceover.

Anne: “The Golden Girls –  [laughs]

Gabby: Today’s geriatric edition.


Gabby: But, hold on. [coughs]

Anne: Oh God. [laughs]

Gabby: Choking on my own spit. [laughs]

Anne: Just caught your lung over here.

Gabby: I don’t know what the hell just happened.

Anne: Got it, got it. There, I got it.

Gabby: I’m back, OK.


Anne: Um, damn it, I lost my train of thought. [laughs] What was I talking about? Umm. Crap.


Anne: Gabby, did you say ass clown?

Gabby: Yes, I said ass clown. Because we have a flash flood warning alert thing, the weather channel, ass clowns. That’s all.

Anne: [laughs] They’re ass clowns. What’s like an actual ass clown? Why, where did that term come on, ass clown?

Gabby: I don’t know, but I know that there is an Ass Clown Brewery, and I love them because what’s not to love? 

Anne: [laughs] Ass Clown Brewery.

Gabby: Ass Clown Brewery is a real place.


Anne: All about the coffee.

Gabby: [singing] All the coffee all the time, coffee all the time. 


Anne: I’m hanging my head out the studio ‘cause it’s hot.

Gabby: Like a dog? What do you…? 

Anne: [dog-like panting] Yeah.

Gabby: Aww.

Anne: I’m wagging my tongue out the door like a dog.

Gabby: Oh.

Anne: Because it’s hot in here. [singing] It’s gettin’ hot in here.

Gabby: [laughs] Oh boy.


Gabby: And then you perform a take, and then you know, there is either the silence, or there is a little bit of back and forth, and then somebody barks a new direction at you, and then it’s ok, rolling, take two.

Anne: Hey Gabby? 

Gabby: Mm?

Anne: I don’t think I pressed record.

Gabby: No, you did not. Are you [beep] me right now? 

Anne: Yeah. I’m not [beep] you. [beep].

Gabby: I mean, I have the first 11 minutes. You suck ass. [laughs]

Anne: I do suck. Oh my God, I suck. Ahh!


Gabby: Don’t assume that just because you can’t see them, they can’t see you.

Anne: [laughs]

Gabby: I’ve learned the hard way that a handful of studios I’ve been to have had camera systems. 

Anne: My God, yes. They can see you.

Gabby: And I was on camera and didn’t know it. Yeah, I always send James a selfie when I leave, when I’m in another studio. 

Anne: So you’re making faces, I’m sure.

Gabby: Yeah. So I’m making light kissy face like at my phone.

Anne: Duck face.

Gabby: Duck face.

Anne: Duck face into your phone, oh my gosh.

Gabby: And I hear the engineer go, “are you taking a selfie?” And I swear to God, I about jumped out of my skin. I was like, “how the [beep]?” He was like “oh yeah, we have a closed circuit in here.” [laughs] Damn it.

Anne: You know, that’s for insurance purposes, Gabby, because if something were to happen in the booth, right, they have to have a record of it.

Gabby: You know, and I’m sitting there, going, “did I pick a wedgie, have I – like what embarrassing thing have I done in the last 10 minutes – 

Anne: Try not to do anything embarrassing.

Gabby: – this guy totally saw now?” 

Anne: What if you got into an accident? You want to make sure you have clean underwear on. That was my mother.

Gabby: She’s right, but sometimes you have to adjust a boob or something, you know, it happens.


Anne: All right, guys. Um. Oh. Damn it, you have to cut this out.

Gabby: That’s fine.


Anne: And another person drinking from the BOSS mug, that I would like to give a great big shoutout to, who happens to be in Amsterdam at the same show as my husband, by the way, and that’s Kevin from ipDTL. You too can connect and network like a BOSS, and connect with studios just like we’re doing right now and just like Rick did. We can connect with studios and get directed, and I don’t know, you’re gonna have to like completely like put this in an outtake because just babbling on and on and on and on.

Gabby: Listen, listen.  All I have images of right now is like this BOSS fountain and like, everybody drinking from the Fountain of Boss.

Anne: Drink from the Fountain of Boss.

Gabby: Oh my lord.

Anne: Drink coffee from the Fountain of Boss.

Gabby: That’s all that would flow. That or whiskey. There is no other – 

Anne: Coffee and whiskey, or coffee and Bailey’s from the Fountain of Boss. There you go.

Gabby: [laughs] Oh my God.


Gabby: You’re frazzled.

Anne: I know right?  Is it gonna be horrible? 

Gabby: No, I can make this work.

Anne: It’s a good episode I think.

Gabby: It’s a good episode.

Anne: You’re gonna have to retake me, you’re gonna have to cut me out.

Gabby: It’s just hilarious to see you get frazzled.

Anne: [laughs]

Gabby: Hilarious.

Anne: I don’t have enough boxes!

Gabby: I’m sorry.

Anne: It’s very stressful.

Gabby: [laughs] Can’t you call somebody to bring you boxes? 

Anne: They’re on order from Amazon.

Gabby: [laughs]

Anne: And I got frantic so I ordered another set –

Gabby: Anne!

Anne: – that’s coming tomorrow, and now two sets are coming tomorrow.

Gabby: I don’t, I don’t understand this.

Anne: I ordered shrink wrap, Gabby.

Gabby: Who are you, who have you become that you order, who orders boxes? You go to the grocery store and you go get the boxes.

Anne: I tried. In California, they don’t.

Gabby: What? 

Anne: They’re only certain days. The two places that I asked, there’s only certain days. I’m like, “do you have any extra boxes?” “We won’t have them until Tuesday. So you can come back” – I’m like screw that, I’m not – 

Gabby: That’s bizarre. OK. Freaky Californians.