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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…


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


>> 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: 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 that, you’ve got to avoid that otherwise you’re not part of us. Boy, what will happen if you’re not part of us? I remember one of the very first experiences in my voiceover world in the United States, I was going to Mike Lemon Casting. That’s a big casting agency here in the Philadelphia area. One of the very first things the voiceover coordinator said is, “you know, we really advise you to take one of our accent reduction trainings, because I think it would make you more marketable.” And I thought about that, and I said, “I don’t think I’m gonna do that because I don’t want to sound like everybody else.” And I think ultimately that was the very best decision I’ve ever made because the reason my clients hire me is because I don’t sound like a typical Brit or typical Dutchman or typical American. My accident what you hear right now is just a mishmash of my entire history and my entire education, and my accent has changed from the moment I set foot in America to this very day. It’s still changing, and if I would have tried to reduce it and sound like everybody else, I don’t think I would have the amount of work that I still have today. You’ve got to dare to be different. You’ve got to go with what you have, do what you’re good at and do that brilliantly. Don’t sound like a movie trailer man or that fake happy girl next door. You’ve got to sound like your best self.

Anne: [laughs]

Gabby: Spoken like a true boss. Oh my God.

Anne: There you go. [laughs]

Gabby: I love it. Paul, what’s your opinion, what are your thoughts on maybe why Europeans tend to be more embracing of that idea than Americans? Is it just a cultural phenomenon? 

Paul: I think that we’re much more open to different countries, different societies, different languages because I grew up in a very small country. If you’re in the middle of the Netherlands, you would drive two hours no matter what direction, you would be out of the country. So we’re very much focused on the rest of the world around us. When you watch Dutch television, it’s not all in English. From the moment I grew up, and we could watch television, we had all the German channels, all the British channels, all the Italian and the French channels and the Spanish channels. So we got all these influences from all these cultures, and we took them in. And what they do here is usually, when you watch a Spanish movie on Netflix, you can choose for the dubbing. And I talked about that to one of my colleagues. She said to me, “yes, Americans don’t read subtitles.” They want to hear Americans, even though the show is in Dutch, or it’s in French. They want to hear American actors do that sort of stuff, and you miss out on so much. You miss out on the whole melody and the color of the different languages. And most people don’t even want to watch these shows because they’re from a different country and a different culture. We were kind of forced to go out of our comfort zone, out of our borders, and a lot of people in Europe have weeks and weeks of vacation. That’s also something the Americans don’t have, so what do we do? We go abroad. We meet different people who do things differently. You learn to respect them. You learn to enjoy them. You drink their wine, you eat their cheese, you make friends, and that gives you such a different perspective of the whole world, plus I think that over all, the level of education is a little bit higher still in Europe than in United States. Take for instance learning of foreign languages. I grew up learning German, learning French, learning English, and German was my first foreign language. And many people learn Latin and Greek and even Spanish these days, and that’s just normal. Here in America, it’s normal for people just to speak English, or to speak Spanish, and not too many people know another language. And learning another language means also embracing another culture. You learn to think differently and to feel differently, to experience the world in a different way through another language. So I think that is a climate of enrichment, but I don’t see as much here in the United States, and I think that’s just so sad. 

Anne: I think that’s such a wise assessment, Paul, because I remember myself 10 or so years back when I first traveled to Europe, it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life, and I thought to myself, why have I not done this before? Because it opened my eyes. It just was such an amazing learning experience and heart opening experience that I was like, everybody needs to do this. Everybody needs to travel abroad and to really experience all those cultures.

Gabby: Plus you know, there’s the wine and the cheese.

Anne: Wine and cheese.

Paul: I know. 

[Anne and Gabby laugh]

Paul: But you know here in Pennsylvania, what do people do? They spend $5000 to spend two weeks at the Jersey Shore. So, do you know what you can do for $5000? You can go to Europe and travel all over Europe. Have a great time and come back a different person. Widen your horizon.

Anne: Yeah.

Paul: There’s much more to the world and the United States. But guys, you don’t have to because United States is such a beautiful and diverse country. I love being here. I love living here. In one way it’s beautiful and the other way it’s terribly limiting too. So that’s what I tell my students, too, you know. If they want to find out, “how do I become a better voiceover,” I say, “you know, get out of this country. Go away, please. Meet other people, see how they live, and it changes you as a person.”

Anne: It sure does.

Paul: And it will change you as a business person as well. We are living in a very international world, and you’re bound to deal with people from all over the world who are your clients. You need to know how they’re thinking, what they are thinking. The United States is a very informal world, but if you deal with clients from, for instance, Germany, they expect you to deal with them in a much more formal way. So if you want to be a good match to them as a voice talent, you need to figure out what makes them tick, see the world a little bit through their glasses. I think that helps tremendously in the running of your business as well.

Gabby: Well, it does, and something that I don’t think enough U.S. born and raised voice actors understand is the process of localization and how a company uses that to expand its horizons into new marketplaces, but also how that creates jobs for us. So many of the multilingual castings that I’ve ever seen, that was their sole purpose, localization. We have a product in market A, and we want to bring it into market B, and we need to know all about this new audience.

Paul: When they invest a lot of the money in advertising campaigns, they do a lot of AB and ABC studies where they have the same commercial but dubbed with a different voice, whether it’s a male voice or a female voice, whether it’s an American accent or a British accent, and for different parts of the world, they know which accents will be more popular, which accents won’t work. So the client is clearly listening for something very specific, and you got to be able to give it to them. So localization is absolutely key to expanding your business. You know, for me as a European, the same thing was true for learning the American market because that was completely new to me. I had to learn it, that it’s ok to brag about yourself. I grew up with the idea of being modest, you know. It’s sinful to boast.

Anne: Yep.

Paul: In Holland, we have a saying, [speaking Dutch], “act normal because you’re crazy enough the way you are,” and it really says like, you know, don’t stand out. We also say [speaking Dutch], “the taller the tree, the more wind you catch.” You know? What’s the English equivalent of that? I know there’s a saying.

Gabby: Oh, the bigger they are, the harder they fall.

Anne: Yeah. Yeah.

Paul: Yes, something like that. It’s the Dutch way of saying, you know, don’t become pretentious. This was just the talent you have that was given by a creator, and you don’t have to take credit for it. You just use the talent that you have to the best of your ability, and all credit goes to our creator. Which I think is a beautiful thing, but you know, we were given this diamond in the rough, but it’s for us to polish it. And for that whole polishing process, you can definitely take credit. That was so hard for me to do. It was hard for me to sell myself, and I found out that if you don’t sell yourself, if you don’t present yourself as someone who’s confident, who believes in his abilities, then you’re not going any further because you’re not going to convince people to hire you. So that’s something I had to learn as a European. I learned that it was OK to be special.

Anne: There you go.

Gabby: Yes. I really hope that our listeners are paying super close attention to what you just said.

Anne: Right?

Gabby: Because it’s the essence of marketing in this country.

Anne: It really is.

Gabby: We have some really insightful guests, Anne.

Anne: That we do. [laughs]

Gabby: I think I’m going to pat us on the back for that one.

[all laugh]

Anne: Paul, it’s been a pleasure.

Gabby: It really has.

Paul: But my one piece of advice is if you want to get a leg up, you sometimes have to put your foot down. That means having to conquer your fears. When you put your foot down, you set a boundary and say this is where I’m willing to go and not one step further, because too many of us, I think, in this business, act out of fear. The fear of rejection, what will the client say, think or do when I make them a counter offer, when I offer some resistance? They are too afraid of what they don’t even know will happen. And instead of that, act out of confidence, know that you were chosen as a voice for a reason. The client is talking for you. They have selected you, and it’s ok to put your foot down, especially when it comes to a negotiation of your rate. You are going to hell in a handbasket as far as rates are concerned, and I think more people need to say no and find it ok with themselves to do that. If you are going to get a leg up, put your foot down.

Anne: There you go.

Gabby: Amazing.

Anne: Great advice.

Gabby: Amazing. Paul, give us our Dutch lesson again, because I already forgot how to say it.

Paul: [speaking Dutch] You are the boss, [speaking Dutch] the boss’ boss. In Holland [speaking Dutch] is “you are.” [speaking Dutch] Think about that. [speaking Dutch] You are an independent contractor. You pull the shots, you do things on your terms and on your turf, you take the risk, you get the credit. That’s the only way to create the life that’s worth living as far as I am concerned. [speaking Dutch] “Be the boss.”

Gabby: And our transcriber is going to kill us, Anne. I just want you to know that. Jordan, we love you.

Anne: [laughs] We do!

Gabby: Please know how valuable a teammate you are. [laughs]

Paul: I love you too!

[all laugh]

Anne: Paul, it’s been such a pleasure. I’d like to give a huge shout-out for one of our favorite sponsors, ipDTL. You too can connect and network like a boss and find out more at

Gabby: And, it’s underway, guys. The official launch has not yet happened. We’re still in the early preliminary phase, but auditions are going out, and we’re going to see activity, so we want to make sure that you’re a part of that when the official launch actually does happen. So, fair, efficient, transparent, check them out.

Anne: OK, guys, have an amazing week, and we’ll see you next week.

Gabby: Bye!

Anne: Bye! Thanks, Paul.

Paul: [laughs]

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.