BOSS Mindset: The Perpetual Student

All voiceover actors are life-long learners but are you a perpetual student? The former is great. The later can be a scary money pit. If you take classes to further your career and increase your revenue you’re doing it right. If you’re taking class after class after class and continuously stalling your always pending launch-date.


Quick Concepts from Today’s Episode:

  1. All voiceover coaches know at least a few students who never graduate – they just remain a student for a very long time and continue to take classes.

  2. Making the leap from student to working pro is an essential part of the voiceover learning process.

  3. Many people want to break free from this cycle but something is always holding them back from doing so. Usually, fear.

  4. Voice actors want to ‘get better’ before marketing or getting out into the work place. But you’re always getting better. So when is enough, enough?

  5. The voiceover industry is responsible for creating this fear.  We caution students not to seek jobs pre-maturely.

  6. Validation must come from your coach but also from within.

  7. There’s a lot of on-the-job learning in most every business.

  8. You can’t necessarily wait to graduate to a certain skill level before starting your voiceover business.

  9. Too many fledgling voice actors feel that they need to train with everyone and master all the genres before they can launch a career.

  10. Voiceover is made up of core-classes and specialties. You only need core classes to start.

  11. Being the voice for everything is a lofty and unnecessary goal.

  12. Ask yourself if you are learning a new skill-set or seeking validation for the skills you already possess.

Referenced in this Episode

Direct links to things we brought up ++

Book a 15 minute consult with Anne if you’d like honest feedback from The Bosses on your career and coaching goals.
Recorded on ipDTL


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

>> Pretty voice.

>> Pretty voice.

>> Pretty voice.

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>> BOSS.

>> A BOSS.

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>> 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.

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Anne: Hey everyone, welcome to the VO BOSS podcast. I’m your host, Anne Ganguzza, along with my bestie, Gabby Nistico. Hey Gabby.

Gabby: Hi.

Anne: Gabby, Gabby, Gabby.

[both laugh]

Gabby: Yeah? Am I in trouble?

Anne: I just celebrated with one of my students [laughs] the fact that they’ve been with me for a good couple of years. And it made me think, it made me think. I mean, I — don’t get me — I love my students, and I want them to, you know, progress and go on in their career, and there’s lots of reasons as to why the student is with me with a couple of years, but it made me think about, I’ve encountered over the years quite a few students that are students. And they never seem to kind of come out of the student phase. What about you?

Gabby: Yeah, oh yeah. I, I talk to people every week that will name many, many coaches that they’ve worked with. Well-respected names, colleagues, you, people that I know and I love in this industry, and then I go, “ok, so what have you been booking or what have you been doing?” And the answer is surprisingly, “well, I’ve been taking classes.” And I go, “oook.” So we have a little bit of an epidemic in the industry right now with people who are what I call perpetual students. They never quite make the leap. They never quite transition over into being an actual working voice actor. They just sort of stay a student forever. 

Anne: Let me play devil’s advocate here and let me take it from the teacher’s perspective, or from the girl, me, who was a perpetual student all of her life because she just loves to learn. This is one of the reasons why I stayed in education for 20 years because really, I was just that student. I just thought I’d get paid [laughs] to be a student. And that’s why I was a teacher.

Gabby: Hey, do you know what? There are absolutely people out there who are lifelong learners and really just the love of the process of being in an educational environment and of being in a class. I respect it. I dig it, whether it’s our industry or others. I mean, I’ve met plenty of other people in other sectors of my life, and you know, they’re always, they’re getting another degree, they’re getting their masters, they’re working on an MBA.

Anne: My brother is like that, yeah. He’s got like five degrees.

Gabby: Hey, that’s cool. If that’s your thing, like, that’s great. Where I get worried is when I meet people in voiceover who clearly want to break free from that cycle, and yet they’re not. Like something is happening. Something is stopping them.

Anne: I think that might be fear.

Gabby: Yeah.

Anne: Yeah. And I think, you know, they might be looking for something in their classes that will be that, I don’t know, that motivation, that light bulb that gives them permission maybe, to go out and trying get a job. I mean, I’ve worked with students who, I’m like, ok, so are you gonna get your website up, are you gonna think about, you know, direct marketing,” and that also is another stalling point for them. “Well, you know, I want to get better first before I market myself.” And so that’s a — boy, that’s a tough call. [laughs]

Gabby: The industry itself, ok, we created this animal, if you think about it. It’s partially our fault. Right, there’s no graduation, there’s no degree, there’s no certificate. There’s no completion. There’s never a moment where a person can say, ok, I’ve done the work, I’ve —

Anne: Graduated.

Gabby: — earned this.

Anne: Yep.

Gabby: And now I’m free to go forward and pursue it as a career. And since we don’t have that, it creates a lot of confusion for people where there’s this big gray area where, right, what does everybody say? “You got to be really good before you do this, or you’ve really got to, you know, really have honed your skills before you try to get an agent, or you really shouldn’t be on a pay-to-play if you don’t know what you’re doing.”

Anne: Not unlike learning on the job, right? I mean, how many jobs did I take in my lifetime where it was like, it’s ok, it’s ok. You’ll learn that. And as a matter of fact, I was just talking to somebody, one of my good friends, colleagues that I used to work with, and he’s got a new job, and this is not in voiceover, but he got a new job. He said “yeah, I’m gonna be doing this, this, this.” And he said “I’ve never done that before,” and I said “oh, you’re, you know, don’t worry about it. Don’t stress, you’ll be fine, you’re a smart guy.” He said “yeah, that’s what the employer said too.” So you know, there’s something to be said for, at one point, you’ve got to like take that jump. You’ve got to take that risk and just start. And a lot of times it’s, people are so like frantic sometimes to get their demos, but then they don’t start. Right? We had that episode, what do you do now that you’ve got a great demo? What do you do now? This is the same type of thing. Like people I think just want to keep taking classes, keep taking classes, and they just don’t want to start marketing themselves because they feel like that they haven’t had, they haven’t graduated, right, to that skill level yet.

Gabby: And there’s also this weird things of “oh, but I haven’t trained with this person yet. Oh but I haven’t learned this skill yet, and oh, I haven’t done this thing over here yet,” and that somehow, yeah, there’s gonna be some miraculous moment, some light bulb that goes off that makes all the pieces click. Whereas you know, I liken it more to, in traditional education, right, whatever degree you’re going after, you have the core classes and then you have everything else.

Anne: Yes.

Gabby: But if you compare us to, say, medical school, which I know is crazy because wow is that a big difference, but still —

[both laugh]

Gabby: Go with me here for a second.

Anne: That’s eight years at least.

Gabby: Stay with my crazy journey for just a sec. Anyone who wants to be a doctor, who wants to go to medical school, it’s the same thing. You have core classes. You have core requirements, but then there’s a specialty. Just because someone’s a doctor doesn’t mean they’re a doctor of every type of medicine.

Anne: Exactly.

Gabby: Of course not. So it’s the same thing for us. You have core classes, but just because you’re a voice actor doesn’t mean you’re a voice of everything. It’s ok to not have taken an animation class or an imaging class. It’s ok to not feel like you haven’t experienced it all because newsflash, guys, I’ve been doing it 20-plus years. I haven’t experienced it all.

Anne: I think when you first start out in this industry, you want to be able to be the voice for everything, and you know, honestly, it just never, it just doesn’t work that way. It doesn’t work that way in marketing. Remember, we’re always talking about target marketing, you know, focused marketing, know your niche, know your genre. It’s all about branding. For me, I, like I don’t pursue particular genres because, first of all, it doesn’t bring me joy, Gabby, it’s all about the joy. But it’s also not my skill set either. However I’m gonna again be on the side of the students who may be taking classes or coaching with different coaches as they want to experience different genres to see if maybe it’s something they will get joy out of or you know, and just learn for the experience to be able to help enhance their other genre.

Gabby: I’m all for that. All for it. I think that’s fantastic. But I also think there’s a moment where as a student you have to ask yourself, “am I really learning a new skill set, or am I simply getting some sort of a psychological evaluation from another coach, that — 

Anne: Procrastinate.

Gabby: Yeah, basically. Because I find myself doing that a lot. I have whole classes with people that have more of a counseling session than they’re a voiceover class.

Anne: But you know, it’s ok, Gabby, because I’m gonna say, I’m gonna say in that respect, there’s a certain part that I feel it’s ok because — 

Gabby: Sure, we all need that sometimes.

Anne: Yeah, any coach, it’s part of a journey, right, it’s part of a journey, and I know that there are people out there — of course we don’t want coaches that, you know, coach just for, you know, they want our money and that sort of thing. I’m not of that — of course I’m not for that. But I do also understand the aspect that a coach can be there for that, right, to coach in areas in addition to, right, just the technique of voiceover. It can be of — a career path. It can be apart of, you know, the student’s journey of self-discovery, of where they belong in the industry, what genres bring them joy, where they want to go. I feel that the coaching process and the learning process is definitely apart of that.

Gabby: For sure.

Anne: And so I think it’s great to take classes with multiple coaches to get all different aspects, all different points of view, all different experiences. However as you’re mentioning too there can be a time where, ok, at some point, you have to jump, and you have to like get in to the industry. And there can be a considerable amount of investment that you’re putting into your learning that at some point, have the faith to put that into yourself and start the journey.

Gabby: I’m a big Henry David Thoreau fan, and I — 

Anne: Me too.

Gabby: — have different quotes and things of his all over the place. Something that sits in my booth on the copy stand that says “what would you attempt to do, if you knew you could not fail?” 

Anne: Yeah, that’s a great quote.

Gabby: And I mean, he’s also the father of “know thyself.”  I feel like it’s such an integral part of being a student, right? Being a student still means being in control and being present for your education. Not simply waiting for everyone else to tell you what you should do or how or when or why. But it’s quite the opposite. You should be going to them, saying, “here’s my goal. This is what I want to do.”

Anne: Absolutely.

Gabby: “You’re part of helping me get there. And I agree with you, I mean, we’re just a part — for me, it’s a joy when people come to me and go yeah, I’ve got three, four, five coaches. [beep] A, because that tells me that you’re broadening your horizons. That tells me that you’re — 

Anne: They’re investing.

Gabby: Yes.

Anne: Investing in their business.

Gabby: Pursuing this properly. At the same time, please understand that every single coach comes at what they do and the training they offer from their perspective, from their experience. There are so many times that coaches both agree with one another and contradict each other, but it doesn’t mean that one’s right and one’s wrong. It’s perspective. It’s where our individual journeys have taken us in this industry and how that information is applicable. And so students have to know that and keep that in mind.

Anne: Yes, with us being coaches, and for me I take it very seriously the responsibility I have as a coach. I’m happy if you want to work with me. I’m not necessarily gonna push you away. I’ve pushed some students away because they haven’t started, because of their fear. I did say to one of my students not so long ago, I said, “I’m not taking more of your money. You need to get to this point. I have faith in you, you’re ready. I want you to really believe me, and so therefore I’m not gonna take any more of your money until I see that you’ve done this. Because I know that this is what you want to do and I know you want to get started. You’re just fearful of taking the leap. I won’t be apart of taking that.”

Gabby: You kicked him out of the nest.

Anne: I did.

Gabby: I respect to that.

Anne: I basically did. That was tough love. Because I genuinely care, and I think any coach, any good coach is genuinely — they care about their students, and they want them to do their best, and I think that most coaches, I would hope they would do the same.

Gabby: Some will and some won’t, but I agree with you. I think those of us who are on the same page and do really care and have a vested interes