top of page

BOSS Mindset – Assertiveness

Get in touch with your inner boss! The Amy Poehler and Tina Fey of VO (A.K.A Anne and Gabby) get into the BOSS mindset and talk about being assertive. They give tips on dealing with difficult clients and Gabby sheds some light on the other side of the coin with her experience in casting.

This episode is great for learning how to navigate your relationships with clients, vendors, and others we need to run our business. *Also, make sure you listen until the VERY end – even after the outro for a fun little treat!*


Quick Concepts from Today’s Episode:

  1. Clients respect confidence

  2. Work with people who value you and your time

  3. Being assertive doesn’t make you a bad person

  4. There are definitely gender roles in play with assertiveness

  5. Know your personal limits

  6. Assertiveness happens in day to day life. Not just business.

  7. There’s a difference between assertiveness and bullying.

Referenced in this Episode

Direct links to things we brought up ++

  1. Subscribe to VO BOSS on YouTube!

  2. Our podcast is recorded entirely using ipDTL. Get better than ISDN quality with: ipDTL!


VO: Today’s voiceover talent is more than just a pretty voice. Today’s voiceover talent has to be a boss, a VO BOSS. Set yourself up with business owner strategies and success with your host, Anne Ganguzza, along with some of the strongest voices in our industry. Rock your business like a boss, a VO BOSS.

Anne: Hey, guys. Before we get started on today’s episode, we want to share some bossolutions and some of the ways you can have more boss in your life.

Gabby: Come on, you can never have too much boss, my little entreprenerds.

Anne: [laughter] After an extended period of time in my studio, Gabby, sometimes I just get really dry, and my, my vocal cords are just tired. So if you guys are interested in getting some essential oil organic solutions for vocal health, hop on over to the shop page, and you can select from a variety of different natural health, homeopathic products to help you with your vocal health. We have got a vocal immunity blast. We have got a vocal wellness kit, which has all the products in the line, as well as vocal booth breeze, vocal H2O, and our best seller, the vocal throat spray.

Gabby: Anne has long been supplying these products to voice actors, and I can tell you first hand, they are awesome. And if you are looking for solutions to keep your instrument in top shape, this is a great way to do it. Go to, go to the shop tab, and check out BOSS Essentials.

Anne: Welcome, everybody, to the VO BOSS podcast. I’m your host, Anne Ganguzza, along with my BFF bosstie, Gabby Nistico. Hey, Gabby.

Gabby: [laughter] Hey, Anne.

Anne: You know, Gabby, I’m, I’m actually laughing, but honestly, like earlier this morning, I was really in a bad mood, like really annoyed. [laughter]

Gabby: Why, what happened? Why were you annoyed?

Anne: Ughh, you know, I have this client that I’m trying to schedule a session with, and they’re not getting back to me, and I’m just like arghhh, I’m so annoyed. I’m like, and I have to like — I think I have to really start being assertive, Gabby.

Gabby: You are usually a pretty assertive woman. I, I don’t know. I think, I think you’ve got to get in touch with your inner boss and, and get this train on the right track, woman.

Anne: Right. So here’s the deal. Like how assertive should I be? I think we should talk about that today. Is, is being assertive like a good thing, a bad thing? How assertive should I be, and, I don’t know, is it bad to be a…bitch? Can I say that? [laughter]

Gabby: I don’t know, can you? Can you say bitch and not like cower and do what you just did, because that is not assertive at all.

Anne: I did, I cowered, I cowered. See that’s — I did not know, I did not know my limits. I did not know my limits.

Gabby: My goodness, woman. Look, I do think this is a fascinating conversation, and I think as business owners, we have to talk about assertiveness not only from the standpoint of our relationships with our clients, but also with vendors, with other people whose cooperation we need to do business. And there’s two really distinct, really important sides to this that I do believe are the battle of the sexes, right. So men typically are received better when they are assertive, and women –

Anne: Not so much. They’re quick to be labeled.

Gabby: Yeah. We get labeled the bitch, right?

Anne: Absolutely.

Gabby: So, so let’s start with what you just said. Is there anything wrong with being assertive, with standing up for yourself, with knowing your value, knowing your worth, your limitations?

Anne: You know, you and I are so together, so forward thinking about, you know, know your worth and you know charge what you’re worth. And I think there is a place where we’re really confident, and I think assertiveness can come from that place when you are confident. And you’re confident in your value, and you are confident in what you do. And so, I guess I never really thought about it as being assertive so much as being confident of your value, and this is what I am worth. And so therefore anything that’s taking place in this, this transaction, right, umm is, is going to be OK because I’m confident about my worth, and I’m confident about my value, and the client respects that.

I think that’s, that’s already a two-way street when that happens. But when you’re feeling like the client is not respecting you, or respecting your time, at what point or how far do you go in being assertive?

Gabby: Hearing you say all of that, I kind of wonder. I sit back, and I go, is it really confidence, or do I just not care?

Anne: Well, now there, there is the other end of it.

Gabby: In a weird way. Like seriously, I think about it and I go, OK. When I state my rates, my hours of operation, my procedural policies, my whatever, even when I’ll work and how, am I being assertive, or am I just setting my limits and not really caring? You know, I don’t care. I don’t care how the other person perceives them. I don’t care if they like my policies or not. I don’t care if they agree with them or not. They’re mine. That’s how it goes.

Anne: Well, see, now there is a confident — there is a confident statement.

[both laugh]

Anne: But Gabby, what if, what if you lose the job? What if you lose the gig? I know a lot of our listeners out there are going, are thinking exactly that. Like, OK. I can be assertive, but I really, you know what, I kind of, I want to develop a relationship. And I want this job because, you know, maybe I need this job, or maybe it’s not even that. Maybe it’s just trying to build a clientele.

Gabby: I’ve spent many, many years on the other side of the fence in casting. And one of the things that I learned is that at any given moment, we are contenders for jobs that we never find out about. We lose jobs pretty regularly that we did not even know about —

Anne: Know about.

Gabby: Existed. Because that’s part of what your presentation, whether it be casting party, an agent, a — some, another third party, maybe a production studio, whoever’s negotiating on your behalf, and, and is the keyholder of that job, they are setting limitations and being assertive on your behalf, and if terms aren’t met, well, then the job is simply never brought to your attention. So I sort of adopted this mentality a long time ago of every day, I’m potentially losing a job that I didn’t know about, or that I, you know — I don’t really worry about that.

Anne: mmm.

Gabby: I go, that’s gonna happen. That’s the nature of this industry, and sometimes you lose a job for no, for no reason.

Anne: And you never know why.

Gabby: Right. It’s just, we went another direction. If I had a dollar for every time when I was in casting that I heard someone say, “we went another direction,” oh my God. I’d have a lot of money.

Anne: Yeah, yeah. But now, Gabby, you’re speaking from experience, which is great, as a casting director, but what about, what about everybody that’s just getting into the industry and is just now, you know, kind of feeling their way out and setting their rates and, you know, negotiating with the client, and dealing with the clients for the first time?

They don’t necessarily have that experience. So what would you say are some tips umm in dealing with a client who may be difficult or a client that may be, I don’t know, not responding umm — and it’s affecting your schedule, it’s affecting your — it doesn’t appear to be valuing you or your time.

Gabby: I think you have to again know your personal limits. What is acceptable, and what isn’t? Where are you willing to give and take, and where are you not? If you give in, or you concede to someone else’s terms, and they don’t sit well with you, you’re gonna be left feeling horrible about the job. Nothing is ever gonna make it right. Nothing is ever gonna make you see it differently. You’ve just got such a bad taste about it now that that’s ultimately I think what we’re all striving for, is to feel good at the end of the day about the choices that we made, and knowing what’s right for us.

Anne: That’s a good point. Yeah.

Gabby: And it’s different talent to talent, person to person. You know, my limits now after 20 plus years in the industry are going to be completely different than someone who is just starting out.

Anne: I think you’re learning about your own limits as well.

Gabby: mm-hmm.

Anne: And especially because if it’s your first time being uh in your own business as an entrepreneur and, and working for yourself, and negotiating for yourself, and you know, getting — wearing all the hats, I think that it is a learning experience. And I think it’s a good one in actuality, and I don’t know if I ever have stopped learning — [laughter]– after all these years, but I have, I absolutely learned myself and know what it is that I will stand for and what I won’t. And I love that you’ve put that whole spin on it, do you care, In a positive way.

Gabby: Yeah.

Anne: Because sometimes you can’t let it affect you, and if you do accept a job or treatment from a client that is less than desirable, you are going to have that, that bad feeling, and who wants to feel bad about that? I have turned away clients that in the end, I was so thankful, it was like a weight was lifted off of my shoulders.

Gabby: [laughter]

Anne: And you know, my assertiveness in that respect really, and the fact that I didn’t care after — I probably, I had put up with so much of it, at one point, I was like, all right, that’s it. You know, I — the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Gabby: mm-hmm.

Anne: That made me feel really great. So I think that in terms of, you know, being assertive, is there a limit, it doesn’t make you a bad person. It is a journey.

Gabby: It really doesn’t.

Anne: A learning journey, and it makes you a better business person, actually.

Gabby: And this is again where I bring it back to the difference between men and women. I think when guys are assertive, people see them as solid business owners. People see them as being confident.

Anne: Right.

Gabby: Very knowledgeable in their craft.

Anne: mm-hmm. That’s a power, a power –

Gabby: It is, it’s a power play. It is a good position. Women on the other hand tend to become uhhh, I don’t know.

Anne: Labeled.

Gabby: Almost feel bad. Well be on the labels, women tend to feel bad about being in that assertive position and about asking for what it is that they need or want.

Anne: mm-hmm.

Gabby: And traditionally we are more likely to cave because of people pleasing pasts.

Anne: mmm.

Gabby: One of the things that I absolutely adore — it was many, many years ago when Tina Fey and Amy Poehler were still together on “Saturday Night Live,” uhh Tina Fey did this phenomenal bit about being a bitch. And she was hysterical, and she goes, “this one’s a bitch, I’m a bitch, we are all bitches, and guess what, bitches get — done.”

Anne: Done, yeah.

Gabby: I think it became my mantra like right then and there. Bitches get — done. And it’s, it is sad that in a way, a lot of people will see assertion and will see a woman who stands up for what she believes as a bitch, but you know what, that’s their problem.

Anne: But you know what, Gabby, then you will get the other side of the coin where you’ll get the people who respect it. Those are the people that I think, those are the clients, and those are the people that you want to surround yourself. And you know, let’s extend this beyond, as you were saying, not just clients but vendors, people you work with on a daily — day to day basis. I think that’s who you want to surround yourself with. Obviously those people that are going to respect you, and value you, and value your services, value your time, and not take advantage of that.

Gabby: Yeah. But I knew you and I have both had instances where, because we asserted our opinion, our thoughts, or –

Anne: Oh yeah. [laughter]

Gabby: Whatever, we were very quickly sort of put in the position of going, wait a second, wait a second. Just because I’m asking for what I need or want right now –

Anne: Doesn’t make me a bad person.

Gabby: Doesn’t make me a bad guy, yeah.

Gabby: Exactly. And that is so critical for everyone to remember. Assertiveness is not just about our day to day as business owners, even though that’s where we flex that muscle the most. Assertiveness also happens in our day to day life. When you effectively and clearly communicate to someone else what your needs are, whether it be a spouse or a family member, or even a child, you are being assertive. It’s, it’s not wrong to say, this is what I need right now. [laughter]

Anne: It, it actually is something that I think you can put in practice in all aspects of your life, and it only serves, I believe, to enhance, uhh to enhance your life, and to enhance your relationships with your uh, with your clients, with your family, with your friends, and you know, gosh. I, I just, I’m all for it, Gabby.

Gabby: Yeah.

Anne: I am all for it.

Gabby: I am too, and I think that assertiveness and confidence, they do go hand in hand.

Anne: Yeah.

Gabby: But it’s a practice makes perfect scenario.

Anne: [laughter]

Gabby: As a business owner.

Anne: Isn’t that the truth? Yep.

Gabby: The more, the more you practice assertiveness, and the more you perfect your technique of assertion, uh the better you’re gonna be, and the more comfortable it’s gonna become for you.

Anne: And I think that there’s a way to execute assertiveness in a positive manner.

It doesn’t have to be like, all up in your face, yelling and screaming, angry type of thing. I think that assertiveness, a quiet assertiveness umm — and again, I’m gonna say that word, confidence. A quiet assertiveness that stems from confidence, or even if you don’t feel that confident, a lot of times, you know, I’m faking that confidence. That’s kind of something that kind of propels me forward and helps me to grow because even if I don’t feel that confident, I am trying to talk myself into that confidence, and that helps me to grow. And so again, it’s like a practice situation in all aspects of my life. And you’re right, being very clear about what your needs are. And then listening and respecting, you know, that response and going back and forth in a positive, respectful manner I think is a great way to be assertive, and not necessarily, you know, the type of assertiveness that comes from yelling or screaming, or you know, calling names, or you know, any type of that sort of thing, so.

Gabby: That’s not assertion, that’s bullying.

Anne: Yeah, oh yeah, absolutely. Whole other term for that.

Gabby: Oh, totally.

Anne: So Gabby, I’m going to be assertive and say — [laughter] — This was a great podcast. [laughter]

Gabby: I, I’m, I’m also going to be assertive and say that you’re kind of like the Amy Poehler to my Tina Fey.

Anne: There you go.

Gabby: Which I sort of love.

[both laugh]

Anne: Ahh my bosstie, great episode.

Gabby: Yeah.

Anne: Big thanks to our sponsor ipDTL for our quality connection and recording. You too can record like a boss by going to, and also –

Gabby: Make sure to check us out on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Stitcher, iTunes. There’s a plethora of ways. We’re also now on Google play and –

Anne: Spotify.

Gabby: And spotify, of course. There’s the VO BOSS Pod –the VO BOSS website,, for all things boss, and ways for you guys to, especially iTunes listeners, to rate our podcast. Please make sure you do that.

Anne: Yes, please. Please go and rate us. It’s super simple to do from your app. Basically there’s just a rate, you know, ratings right at the bottom. So make sure to give us lots of good stars and actually write something. That would be awesome. We have already got, we have already got some really great reviews up there, and it would really help us out.

Gabby: And if you want to take this topic of assertion to an even further level, make sure to check out some of the products and services at VO BOSS University, where we get into all kinds of ways to be assertive, probably the most important, negotiations.

Anne: There you go. Assert your bossness. Check out our — all of our products on negotiating. We have got a webinar that is available as well as being assertive with getting your business out there with the BOSS Blast or a book-out builder.

Gabby: Thanks for listening, guys. Have a great week.

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

VO: 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.

Gabby: I can, I can, I’m waiting to the last second to turn my fan off because holy – it’s hot in here.

Anne: Why is it hot? What is –

Gabby: My booth is a —  oven.

Anne: Is it hot where you are now?

Gabby: Because there is no ventilation.

Anne: Yeah, I don’t have ventilation in mine either.

Gabby: Yeah. –

Anne: So I booked a job, rather than having us go to San Diego, it is me and Milton.

So I am shopping for a mattress, and it’s a big mystery to me. So Milton is my husband. And Milton Lorenz, if you don’t know him, he is adorable. He is one of my favorite, he is one of my favorite people. I have known him forever. He has been in the business for a long time. He is super talented, so she schedules it for my, for my booth. I like Milton, but his wife might have a problem because we’ll be touching. Like, we will be in contact. Like, our bodies in more than one place.

Gabby: Yeah.

Anne: Will be in contact if we are in this booth together, you know what I mean?

Gabby: Lewis and I, it’s so funny to do anything in tandem in the booth like –

Anne: ugh, it is hard.

Gabby: It is hysterical.

Anne: And you have got a bigger booth than mine.

Gabby: I do, but he has to like squat because I’m so much shorter than him.

Anne: [laughter]

Gabby: So he has to do like this big wide like football stance and like squat down. It is hysterical to watch.

Anne: Oh my God. I can only imagine. I must have, I must have a picture of that the next time. From the behind — Nothing, nothing.

Gabby: So what episode are we doing? Are we doing bitchy, bitchy bitchiness here? I…you know, I think well, no. I don’t know what I am saying here.

Anne: I know, right? What are we thinking? Have a great — shit. Ahhh, what is wrong with me in the ending? Sorry. [laughter]

Gabby: No, it’s OK.

Anne: I am like screwing up the end. What’s wrong with me?

Gabby: It’s OK.

Anne: What’s wrong with me?

Gabby: I don’t know.

Anne: Sorry, you’re going to have to edit that a lot.