Special Guest: Paul Strikwerda

Truthteller. Revolutionary. Trouble maker. You’re not a Boss if you haven’t been called at least one. Today’s guest has been called all three! Dutch-born voiceover actor/activist Paul Strikwerda joins us for a tell-all 20 minutes. The author of the infamous Nether Voice blog drops loads of Boss Bombs.  So grab your clogs, we’re going where no voice has nether gone before!


Waarheidspreker. Revolutionair. Onruststoker. 

Je bent geen baas als niemand je tenminste een van deze namen heeft genoemd. 

Onze gast vandaag heeft ze alle drie gehoord. 

Paul Strikwerda is een in Nederland geboren voice-over acteur en activist, en in de komende twintig minuten praat hij met Anne and Gabby. 

De auteur van het beruchte Nethervoice blog neemt beslist geen blad voor de mond, dus trek je klompen aan, want we gaan naar waar geen stem ooit is geweest…



Takeaways

Quick Concepts from Today’s Episode:

  1. Paul Strikwerda’s voiceover blog Nether voice has over 39K subscribers.

  2. His blog is a weekly staple in voiceover industry.

  3. He has a large number of non-voiceover reads from all areas of the freelance arts.

  4. He was born and raised in the Netherlands and started using his voice semi-professionally at the age of 17.

  5. His mother taught him how to read at the age of 2 and began entering him into reading and literacy competitions.

  6. He was recorded ‘radio plays’ by the time he was 8.

  7. His story is a shared love of words that most voiceover actors can relate to.

  8. Paul was a broadcaster and owner of a business & personal training institute in the Netherlands.

  9. He came to the United States from Holland at the age 36 with 2 suitcases and not much else.

  10. It took many years for his blog to take off and gain notoriety.

  11. Instant gratification does not happen how people want it to and he attributes persistence to his success.

  12. He writes from a very personal perspective and he’s not afraid to say what is on his mind.

  13. Paul had a stroke about a year ago and has since written many blog posts about his ordeal and recovery.

  14. It was a bold move to open-up and expose a weakness as intimately as he did.

  15. He admits to be rather emotional at times – his passion is undeniable and he writes from the heart, not the mind.

  16. Paul tells us his thoughts on the European and the American mind-sets.

  17. He sheds light on some key differences and how those differences shape our culture in the USA.

  18. Paul urges voiceover actors to travel over-seas and experience first-hand how it can change your life.

Referenced in this Episode

Direct links to things we brought up ++

  1. Check out Paul’s Website

  2. Read Paul’s Book on How to Make Money in Your PJs!

  3. Recorded on ipDTL

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.

>> A VO BOSS.

>> A VO BOSS.

>> A VO BOSS.

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

Gabby: Hi.

Anne: Gabby, I’m super excited today.

Gabby: Me too!

Anne: A colleague that, God, I’ve known for years, he’s a multilingual voiceover coach and well-known as an awesome writer and blogger. He records videos, virtual tours, commercials and documentaries for his clients, and what I think everybody knows him for is his weekly blog, one of the most popular in the business. He has over 39,000 subscribers. Also the author of “Making Money in Your PJ’s,” welcome to the podcast Mr. Paul Strikwerda.

Gabby: Yay!

Anne: Yay!

Paul: Hello, hello, hello! [speaking Dutch] It means “how are you doing?”

Anne: You’ve certainly had a varied and wonderful career.

Paul: Yes, and it comes out nicely if you write it yourself as well. In this business you have to give yourself some credit.

Gabby: You don’t need to give yourself credit. Truthfully. If people in voiceover don’t know who you are and have not in some way encountered your blog, then they’re living under a rock somewhere. We can’t help them.

Paul: Well, the last time at VO Atlanta, there were 700 people. I think I discovered 10 people who didn’t know who I was. And I’m OK with that.

Gabby: That’s about right.

Paul: It’s amazing. This blog has done so much for me. When I started this about 12 years ago, I honestly had no idea that it would give me the opportunity to connect with so many people from all over the world. And the fascinating thing is that I think that maybe 50% of my readers are voiceovers, and the rest are like freelancers, photographers and scriptwriters, and editors and fellow journalists. They read about my stories, and in a way I try to talk about we have a lot in common as freelancers, you know, we all want to find out how to run the silly businesses that we’re running, how to get more clients, how to put our foot down, how to negotiate a good rate, how to stay sane in an insane world. And whether you’re a freelance hairdresser or a freelance voiceover, doesn’t really matter. We all share the same problems. Feels like such a privilege to be able to reach out to these people. Every single day I get an email about a blog that I maybe have written five years ago, six years ago, or people who have read my book because they feel that connection. It’s just the most wonderful thing that’s pretty much ever happened, and no idea that it would when I started writing. 

Anne: How long were you a voice artist before you started writing? 

Paul: Huh. I started using my voice I’d say semi-professionally when I was 17 years old. I was living in the Netherlands. That’s where I was born and raised. And I entered a competition for young people who wanted to gain experience in the world of radio and television. It was at that time still all public broadcasting in the Netherlands. I entered as a joke and I got admitted, and I started making radio and television programs while I was coached by people who were pros in the business. I learned so much. So that’s how I started recording, never having the idea that I would ever end up being a professional voice artist. When you really want to look at how it all started, I have to give my mom credit because she taught me how to read when I was like two or three years old. I was very young when I learned how to read. She signed me up for all kinds of reading competitions that were run by local libraries in the Netherlands. You would memorize a piece of book, and they would give you a book to sight read, and I still remember like it was yesterday that when I was seven, eight years old, my dad gave me my first cassette player, and I started recording little radio plays. So I’d take a storybook and I started reading and doing all the side effects on a xylophone, on different flutes and harmonica and everything. 

Gabby: I think so much of what you’re talking about is a commonality for a lot of voiceover actors because it really is the love of the words. That kind of I think is the starting point for so many of us. Ok, 2, 2½ , that’s a little young. I’ll give you that.

Anne: That’s fantastic.

Gabby: We’re a very literate people. We kind of have to be to do this job.

Anne: Yeah, I was that person that always raised my hand to read out loud in class. I bet you were too, Gabby.

Gabby: I was voluntold more times than I can count by English teachers.

[all laugh]

Gabby: “We’re reading ‘Anne Frank.’ Gabby, you’re playing Anne.” “Oh, OK.”

Paul: I was in my class, and the teacher asked for volunteers and he said “not Paul.”

[Anne and Gabby laugh]

Anne: “Not Paul.”

Paul: Always the first one, “not Paul, please.” I thought it was so unfair.

Gabby: Well now, we can’t get enough. You found your people.

Paul: Now they can’t shut me up. But the fun thing is my daughter has the same thing. She started reading license plates to me when she was three years old. And that’s how she learn how to read. Now she wants to study English. She’s in the last year of high school and wants to become an English teacher and an author. It’s just wonderful, wonderful.

Gabby: Wow. That’s beautiful.

Anne: Paul, tell us a little bit how your blog has helped your business. What does it take to grow a readership like that? 

Paul: Well, when I came to United States, I was 36 years old. I had had a career in broadcasting in the Netherlands, and I had my own training institute, teaching trainings in personal growth and development, and I came here with my life packed away in two suitcases. Nobody knew me, nobody had an idea of what I was capable of. When I made the choice to start a voiceover career, I needed a way to find an audience, to find clients, to make myself known. And in Holland we only have 16 million people, but here, I just had to find a way to introduce myself. And writing was really easy for me. I had ideas that I thought people were not talking about, or not enough. At that time, the Internet became really a very valuable tool, especially because I didn’t have any money when I came to United States. Really a typical immigrant story. So I needed something that I could do on a shoestring budget. That’s why when I used my pen. It took a long time before this whole blog took off because I remember writing for years and years, four or five years, and I was so happy that I got one person to comment and then another person and another person. It was kind of a snowball effect that was very slow, it was rolling down the mountain very, very slowly, and I could not have done it without persisting in a time where everything has to be presented so quickly, where people believe in instant gratification. That’s a hard thing to do, to be patient, to do the work, to make sure that you get good at what you do before you put yourself out there. So I think what you really need as a blogger, but also as a voiceover talent, is you need to be persistent. So many people that I see on Facebook, they want to have this big break, and they want to have it quickly. The idea that we see on television, you take part in a talent show, and all of the sudden you become America’s darling, and it happens overnight. These things do not happen overnight. I think I gave myself that time because in the days where nobody knew who I was, I gave myself the time to refine and to listen to what was going on in my community. That’s the thing you have to have as a writer. You need to be I think interesting as a person before people become interested, and I think I’ve had a pretty interesting past that I could draw on. I’m not sure this is an answer to your question.

Anne: Actually I was thinking about how much I agreed with, you really, truly do listen because anybody who’s read your blog, you are speaking directly to them, and to the issues that we’re all talking about. And so I think that’s one of the reasons why your blog is like one of the most popular blogs in the industry, is because you do address things on a personal level. It feels like you’re writing to me. And it feels like you’re addressing every concern that I have and what could possibly be affecting my business.

Paul: I think that’s one of the best compliments, one of the biggest compliments people can ever pay me. I thank you so much because it’s exactly what I want to do. I think another reason is that people notice that I’m not afraid to say what’s on my mind. The Dutch are known for being very direct.

Gabby: That’s why I’m a fan.

Anne: [laughs]

Paul: And I really don’t care about the consequence. I don’t even think about the consequences. So when I write about the establishment, and big names, and big companies, and organizations, I really don’t care how they will respond. I don’t really care what my readers think of me and what they will do. I don’t care if they continue to read what I’m saying, or if they say, “this Strikwerda, guy is an idiot, he should go back to Europe.” I know it’s a risk because for instance when I had my stroke a year ago, I was very hesitant about writing about my stroke, because should you reveal that you’re weak and that you’ve lost your voice, and that you’re unable to work, what will clients think? What will colleagues think? Will you lose your career? Things like that. And at the same time, I discovered the flipside, that people really appreciate that you open up and that they can see, ok, I’m not the only one in the world who’s dealing with this problem, who’s health challenges. I try to be kind of a mirror for people and say, “you know, look, I’m able to do it. Well, if I can do it, you can certainly overcome this.” To me that’s something that still astonishes me, that really makes me super happy.

Anne: I know when we read your blogs, regarding your health issues that you’ve undergone in the past, I mean, it’s so very moving and touching for me personally because I’ve gone through my own series of health challenges. And it really resonates with me. I know it resonates a lot with our audience when Gabby and I speak about it. I really want to thank you for being open about that, with your readers.

Paul: You’re very welcome. Also at least people have told me it makes a difference that I’m a man, that I write from the perspective of a man, and we’re not in this society, this day and age, not always used to a man daring to be open and vulnerable. We always have to be the provider, the strong guy, the shoulder that everybody leans on. I sometimes am moved to tears by how wonderful people are and the response that I get and by the experiences that I have in my life, and I’m not afraid to show it openly. At this point in my life, I can’t hold it back. I just have to – there is an outpour in me that just cannot be contained, and sometimes it’s inappropriate, and I really think I should contain it better.

Anne: [laughs]

Paul: To give an example, a couple of months ago I was doing a presentation here in eastern Pennsylvania where I live, in a local museum, about the farmers market that I’m a volunteer for. I’m one of the announcers of the farmers market, and I’ve been doing this for six, seven years, and I love that place so much and all of the volunteers who are involved in it that I got teary-eyed. And the elderly ladies who were in the front row just felt really sorry for me and came up to me with their tissues and says, “what’s going on? Are you sick, are you not feeling well?” I said “no, I just had a stroke, and I’ve to” – I have a very emotional response to what I’m talking about. I think that’s one of the reasons why people also react to what I say because I try to write more from the heart than from the mind. Especially after my stroke because I think there’s a difference in the quality of my writing now that has become more emotional, that’s resonating with people. That’s what they’ve told me.

Gabby: I also find, and this goes back to what you were saying earlier about, you know, not really caring what other people think, and what companies think about the things that you’re saying. You’ve a very pure, European outlook. I have family in Europe. Anne has family in Europe. There’s something about that that’s very refreshing when America is sort of in this political climate where everything is so offensive, and everyone is upset about every little thing. You’re sort of laying it out and going “mmm, that’s not – is it really worth it? Do we really have to be so upset about these things?” 

Paul: Absolutely. One of my things I want to pass on to people is it’s OK to be different. It’s OK to be you. You can say, isn’t that obvious? You can only be you, but I don’t think so because we live in a world where people are trying to mold us and trying to tell us how we should be and how we should act. You’ve got to buy this, you’ve got to do th