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Business of VO: Control Your Coaching

The BOSSES are concerned. Because blind faith can be a business blunder. Stop asking coaches and other voiceover actors what you should do in this industry. Stop relying on others to tell you how you should run your business. Opinions are great, but ultimately, the journey is yours and so is the destination.  Listen too much to others and you’ll end up in Toledo, which is nothing like the Tahiti you envisioned! These are Boss basics, and we invite you to join this week’s discussion about voiceover coaching.


Quick Concepts from Today’s Episode:

  1. Is our industry becoming entitled? Are adult learners being lazy?

  2. Recently aspiring voiceover actors have gone from asking ‘can I do this?’ to ‘tell me exactly what I should do as a voice actor?’

  3. Anne and Gabby are concerned because blind faith in any one party can potentially be a business blunder.

  4. Adults often like to be spoon-fed information and are not always motivated, engaged learners.

  5. You can waste lots of hard earned money by arbitrarily trusting a person to company to make decisions for you.

  6. Coaches want to help their students but help comes in many forms.

  7. The coach/student relationship must work as a team. And use their combined input to create action plans and steps for the learner.

  8. Business owners must learn to trust their own gut-instincts.

  9. You cannot run an effective business if you don’t trust your own thoughts and standby what is best for you.

  10. Failure is a learning experience that we can’t negate.

  11. Life coaching is a popular trend and it’s easy to become dependent on one, however we do need people to bounce ideas off of.

  12. None of us can attribute our success to one person. There is likely a team of teachers.

  13. Ask what you want for your career and who can partner with to get there.

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Referenced in this Episode

Direct links to things we brought up ++

  1. More info about coaching with Anne

  2. Recorded on ipDTL

Full Episode Transcript

>> 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 everybody, welcome to the VO BOSS podcast. I’m your host, Anne Ganguzza, with my VO BOSS bestie, Gabby Nistico! Hey, Gabby.

Gabby: Hey. So Anne, I got a question for you.

Anne: Yeah? 

Gabby: How many times [laughs] do you get phone calls or emails or students who schedule time with you and ask you what they should do in this industry? 

Anne: [laughs] Yeah, all the time. All the time.

Gabby: Happens to me constantly, and I feel like it’s so funny that we’ve evolved from a place of “should I do this, can I do this,” to “tell me what I should do.”

Anne: Yes.

Gabby: I always, always laugh because I’m like “didn’t your mother ever – ‘if your friend goes off the bridge, are you gonna go too?’” 

Anne: Oh my gosh.

Gabby: Why? Why would you want someone else to just assign or dictate your career, your business? 

Anne: That’s a good question. I used to run into that all the time, Gabby, when I taught.

Gabby: Well, you still teach. I mean –

Anne: I mean, – 

Gabby: [laughs]

Anne: When I taught in the school system because simultaneously, I taught high school and I also taught adult continuing ed, and I taught college.

Gabby: Yeah.

Anne: So different levels of learners.

Gabby: No pressure.

Anne: I found that of course the kids were fun, and if you inspired them and motivated them, they were very much self-motivated to learn. Adults, they were kind of a different beast. They like to be spoonfed their information. I find that that’s sometimes the case as well when I’m working with adults in voiceover.

Gabby: [beep]

Anne: Whoa.

Gabby: Bumped the microphone. [laughs]

Anne: Wow!

Gabby: So riled up, I’m bumping the microphone.

Anne: Gabby, calm down.

Gabby: I know, I’m sorry. To me, that’s how you get scammed. That’s how bad things happen. That’s how you waste loads of your precious, hard-earned money, is just arbitrarily or blindly trusting another person to make decisions for you.

Anne: I agree. And it’s not to say that we don’t want to help.

Gabby: I do want to help. I want to help badly. But I want to help the right way. I want to help not based on my motives or what I think is right for you, but rather for you to work with me to explore those possibilities.

Anne: Oh yeah. I think a lot of people, they’re afraid to trust their instincts, afraid to trust the gut, which is, again, I do – I run my life that way.

Gabby: I hate that.

Anne: So they’ll ask and say, “what should I do,” or “what is normal? How does it work?”

Gabby: It makes me sad. Because I’ve had so many students over the years who, you know, maybe they’ve played me a demo and it’s not very good. There’s issues or some technical problems. I’ll tell them my honest thoughts, and then they say, “you know, I thought that.”

Anne: Oh yeah, and they didn’t pursue it.

Gabby: “That was my gut instinct.” And I’m like, “well, why didn’t you go with that gut instinct? Why did you fight that?” “I trusted them.”

Anne: “I trusted them. They were my coach, and they’re in the business, so I believe them.” [laughs] You guys can trust your instincts. What’s the saying if it looks rotten and smells rotten, [laughs] I know, there’s some more finessed way of saying it.

Gabby: Something about a duck. I don’t know. 

[both laugh]

Gabby: Looks a good duck, quacks like a duck.

Anne: Yes, exactly.

Gabby: It irks me on a very fundamental level because that’s not how business owners operate.

Anne: Fundamentally they cannot operate that way or they just won’t be in business. You won’t have a business if you expect somebody to tell you how it works and how it, how you should run your business, and you need that type of coaching all along the way, then you’re probably not going to be successful.

Gabby: No great entrepreneur ever went, “I have an idea. Now everyone else tell me how to do it.”

[both laugh]

Anne: You just got to go on that gut instinct and fall down and fail and succeed and fail and learn and all of that good stuff.

Gabby: Smack your head into the wall of you times, fall again and skin your knee and maybe get run over.

Anne: Cry. Cry. We’ve talked about that before. I’ve cried.

Gabby: But all of that is part of the learning process. All of that is what makes us stronger, more capable, more dependable. And I even look at the trends outside of voiceover, life coaching right now is everything. And I’m like, what is that? What? I’ve been curious. I’m like, wait, so you literally tell people how to live? You’re explaining incredibly fundamental, like have a schedule, stick to your schedule? 

Anne: Ok, on the side of life coaches, right – 

Gabby: Anne, what is happening? I am scared.

Anne: Let’s just put it in perspective that a lot of times, people really just need another set of ears to bounce ideas off of.

Gabby: Agreed, it’s called a therapist. [laughs]

Anne: It’s nothing different than hiring a coach to listen to your reads and direct them, right, in a specific way. But there are people out there, take it to an extreme where they will, as you mentioned before, just blindly trust what their coaches tell them. I think there’s a lot to be said for Google. Your set of peers that are out there in the industry that have been working, there’s lots of ways for you to find out things about this industry that are right there at your fingertips, and you don’t necessarily have to put all of your trust into a coach. If you’re not feeling comfortable, there’s usually a reason for it.

Gabby: I don’t think any successful business owner can attribute all of their success to one person. It’s multiple people along the way. Right? We have multiple teachers. It’s just like traditional education. There’s a reason why you have a math teacher and an English teacher and – 

Anne: Absolutely. They are all experts in their field, and it helps to have their valuable leadership and knowledge and advice, but not necessarily discounting your own, right? 

Gabby: Correct. And I think there comes a point in time where we have to say, what do I want for my career, and how do I partner up with people who are going to help me get there? As a coach, that’s how I prefer to coach. I see myself not as this weird omnipotent, like, you know, decision-maker, no. And it’s not about me telling you what to do. It’s about me helping you figure out what’s right for you.

Anne: Like a team.

Gabby: I think there’s a very bizarre cycle right now in this – again not just voiceover, creative industries, sort of like a two or three year early learning curve, where almost everyone does that. Blindly putting faith into one or two people, and then going, “oh, I guess that wasn’t the way to go. I have to steer this, I have to be in control of this.” It’s like a do-over. It’s like their practice run.

Anne: I’ve encountered way too many people that have come to me saying, “you know, I did this, and here’s what I have, and I’m not happy with it.” So let’s address that first because [laughs] if at any point in the process you’re not happy, right – 

Gabby: I think that’s brilliant because yeah, you’re absolutely right. If one of your students comes to you and says, “Anne, I’m not happy, what’s your answer?”

Anne: Oh my God, I’m gonna fall over backwards. What can I do to make you happy, and if it, if there’s something I absolutely can’t do, if I can’t work that magic wand, [laughs] I’m happy to say look, maybe we’re not the right fit.” However every single session I’m, to my student, “please, let me know, what do you think, what are you thinking about this and how do you feel about this,” and that really I think works. I think engaging the student and allowing them to take part in their journey and in learning process, and for me to be more of a teammate really helps them to feel confident in their abilities, in who they are. It helps them discover who they are. I think that’s so important, Gabby, in the process is to know who you are because that affects everything, not just voiceover performance. It affects your business, it affects how you present yourself to the world.

Gabby: Yes. This is a trend that I’ve noticed in health care. It is very important for health care providers and companies to make certain that their patients understand what’s happening.

Anne: Oh yeah.

Gabby: So patients are now being prompted to “please explain to me what I just said in your words. Please repeat this back to me,” because it’s a way for the health care professional to validate the patient’s concerns and to correct any misconceptions or misinformation.

Anne: And to see if the patient completely understood the information presented.

Gabby: That’s what teachers are supposed to do.

Anne: That’s why we give tests and quizzes, pop quizzes. I have a pop quiz for you, Gabby. [laughs]

Gabby: Right now? 

Anne: We’re going to wait ‘til the end of the podcast. Alright, it won’t be a pop quiz because now I’ve just –

Gabby: You’re right. Pop quiz would mean right now.

Anne: So we’re going to have a test at the end of the podcast.

Gabby: I’m a nervous test-taker. I’ll get my number two pencil, hold on. 

Anne: [laughs] Fill in the blocks.

Gabby: If you give me a Scantron, I swear I’m gonna smack you. 

[both laugh]

Gabby: All joking aside, this is very palpable, very real in any profession where you work with other people, and you have to make sure the information is disseminated correctly. So what the hell? There’s a lot of coaches in our business and others that don’t do this. They just sort of dump information onto the student and then they’re just sort of left to their own devices.

Anne: Then it’s goodbye. And then at the end, you feel like violated. Here I gave you my heart and my money, and my wallet, and then you left me. I think that’s the way a lot of people feel, and it’s like, “well, now what?” I remember that was the preface for me starting my VO Peeps group. If you remember, I had gone through a series of classes and it was like boom, boom, boom, they were done. 

Gabby: Ok, buh-bye, go forth.

Anne: Ok, so now what? I think can accredit a lot of my maybe bravery into saying “alright, that’s it, I need to go find out what do I need to do?” Let’s get out there and meet people that are doing the same thing and let’s form a community.

Gabby: You are that not only inquisitive and social, yes, that’s you as both an educator and a learner stepping forward to seek out what is next. A lot of people don’t. The complacency, the amount of people that just accept it and “go, oh I guess this is how it is,” no, guys, no, it’s not. It doesn’t have to be. If you’re coming to a coach to be challenged, then you in turn also have an opportunity to challenge the coach.

Anne: Oh yeah, absolutely. It’s a two-way street.

Gabby: Yeah, and I don’t mean that in an antagonistic way. You have questions, you have specifics, you should be propelling that conversation. And I’m sorry, no is not an option. I can tell you firsthand the number of classes, and my students know this, that I have completely derailed because someone said “hey, I have this question” and I had to go “aha, well, that’s a larger conversation that, let’s shift gears for a minute if you want to do that.” And that’s what I do. They’re the ones driving this car, not me.

Anne: A lot of it too has parallels with coaching style. I know that, both you and I, we work with our students typically for a while before we produce anything and create a demo, and a lot of that is, is really getting to know the students so that you can work as a team, that you can understand who they are as a person, who they want to be as a business entity, and how the two of you can arrive at a custom solution for them. Because if we produce demos, well then, I certainly want people to be happy with their demos. How are you going to make your client happy? You have to ensure that your client is  happy every step of the way. And if you’re not asking the questions are you happy, how do you feel about this, and involving, and engaging your student or your client – I’m proud to say that I’ve never had anybody come back to me and say, “oh my God, I was so unhappy.” And if they – please, I’m inviting you to come back to me if you weren’t, and tell me why you never told me. [laughs] Because I’m very open to shifting gears, to suit the learner and journey best to their voiceover, you know, dreams.

Gabby: How interesting. I want you to take it a step further for us, because you, you’re always my default for all things educational.

Anne: Well, thank you.

Gabby: What are the essential qualities for the student to extract or get the most out of their coaching? What are the two or three things that they should constantly be sort of using as a guidepost? 

Anne: Well, I think that’s a great question. Number one, they have to ensure that they are invested, and I don’t mean invested moneywise. I mean invested with their minds, invested with their hearts to want to be there and to want to learn. If you want to be successful in the voiceover industry, and that includes studying, that includes asking questions, that includes learning technology, if you have a problem with that – I tell them, look. I’ve got to be realistic with you that you’re going to have to utilize technology in order to be successful in this business because you have to be able to edit your audio files, you have to be able to send them appropriately. You have to be able to communicate with your clients in an online setting, and if you can’t do that, it’s going to be very difficult for you. Ask questions, take notes. I always have students, they can record their sessions with me, super easy because I use ipDTL, right, they can just record the sessions and go back and review them at any time. After that it then becomes kind of a synergy between the coach and the student. And if, for whatever reason, the synergy is not there, it’s ok. I know because I’m a student too, certain people click. Sometimes you don’t.

Gabby: I would much rather that a student say, “hey, Gabby, you know what? I like you, whatever, this has been great, but I’m going to pursue this other thing because I think it’s more suited for me.”

Anne: And just say thank you and be done with it.

Gabby: Exactly. I think that’s wonderful, and it’s what you have to do, and there’s nothing wrong with it. If the coaching process is paramount to becoming the business owner you want to be, then you cannot be a meek student.

Anne: Oh no, not at all. You have to come at it with full force.

Gabby: Yes, like a boss.

Anne: Like a boss. Gabby, what do you do with your students to ensure that they have a value learning experience that works in their favor to really build their businesses? 

Gabby: And make them accountable.

Anne: That’s a good one.

Gabby: To me accountability is huge. It’s not simply a matter of, do this thing over here. Do – no. Read this – no, there has to be action steps. There have to be things that they are engaged in doing in the building up of their business, building their performance skills, working on their audio technology skills. And if I am not helping to set those expectations, and then making sure that they follow through, I’m not doing them any favors. 

Anne: I’m going to give you homework, and by the way, I make sure that students can do their homework so that they can get the most out of their sessions with me. If they’re not thinking voiceover business, voiceover career every day at least for a little period of time, even if they work full-time somewhere else, they’re not gonna get to the point where they need to be as quick as they want to be. Some people are like “I want to be able to triple by income by next month.” Well…

Gabby: Me too!

Anne: Me too. That’s probably not gonna happen if you’re not gonna do homework in between or you’re not gonna be seeking out answers, and you also have to be willing to make the investment. You can’t just stomp your feet and say, “well, I just want to do animation” and not like take the steps to build the other parts of your business that’s gonna help support it.

Gabby: I have stopped classes if I have somebody show up and they’re really, really ill-prepared. I’m like, you know what, this is a bad use of your time and mine. We need to reschedule this class because you need to do the work. That’s kind of sobering for some people. I always approach it from an honest standpoint. I mean, you and I are both a little biased here because we are coaches, but these expectations that we set on ourselves as coaches come from a place of what we want as students. Guys, what we’re trying to sort do here is lay out the foundation of what an invested coach actually does, and how they conduct themselves, and the types of people you should be seeking out to help you get there. And God knows, it’s not just you and I. There are scores of amazing voiceover coaches that we work with and recommend all the time who are also equally as invested.

Anne: Oh yeah. And again, it’s a back and forth. As any good teacher will say, there are no stupid questions ever. You have to feel comfortable and confident enough with the person, the coach that you’re working with that you can ask those questions and not feel silly. Just as if, you know, when we’re asking you to read a piece of copy and you’re subconscious, no. It’s a safe space. So I hink a good coach will create a safe space that allows the student to feel comfortable, to feel confident, to ask the questions that they need to know and not feel silly or stupid. Because there really are no stupid questions.

Gabby: No, no. I have met a few stupid coaches though. Am I allowed to say that? That was terrible, I know.

Anne: [laughs] I know a company that works just like you and your coach should work, and that is ipDTL, because ipDTL allows us to go back and forth and to connect and work like a boss.

Gabby: I see what you did there, there’s that two-way interaction. I’m with you. I see it.  I love it.

Anne:  I love it. We are engaged. We are engaged with ipDTL. Find out more at

Gabby: And another of our sponsors, who I think is very similar, right, trying to bridge the gaps and create an environment where everyone is being heard, and voice actors feel good about being able to question and talk about what’s happening from the transparency of the business, is

Anne: Efficient, fair, transparent, go check them out, 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.