In honor of Veteran’s Day and all who have served, The Bosses have a super special guest – Rob Reese, Founder of WarriorVoices.org. Warrior Voices is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to training and job places for voiceover veterans. Rob tells us all about the amazing work his volunteer staff is doing to make a difference in the lives of veterans every day. These good works left us speechless a few times. This episode will give you all the feels!
Quick Concepts from Today’s Episode:
WarriorVoices.org provides training, equipment, demos and more to Veterans free of charge.
Veterans are very well suited to a career in voiceover. Especially those with disabilities.
The digital nature of voiceover allows veteran voice actors to work from all over the world.
All Veterans from any branch of service are encouraged to contact Warrior Voices.
Norm Silver created the Warrior Voices voiceover curriculum.
Vets with PTSD may have a hard time working a standard 9-5, so at-home work environments are a great option for them.
Warrior Voices is 100% volunteer and they are actively seeking more help.
As a 501-c3 non-profit company, any money a client pays is 100% a charitable donation that they can claim on their taxes.
All the money a client pays for a voiceover goes to the Veteran. Warrior Voices doesn’t change a commission.
Warrior Voices will also create commercials free of charge for any Veteran owned business.
Referenced in this Episode
Direct links to things we brought up ++
Visit the Warrior Voices Website
Learn more about Rob Reese
Recorded on ipDTL
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Anne: Welcome, everybody, to a special edition of VO BOSS. I’m your host, Anne Ganguzza, along with my amazing cohost, Gabby Nistico. Hey, Gabby!
Anne: Gabby, today we are talking with Rob Reese, who is founder and CEO of Warrior Voices, an amazing nonprofit organization, whose goal is to provide support, training and employment for veterans and their spouses in voice acting and voiceover services. Welcome, Rob Reese, to the show. Thank you so much for joining us.
Anne: You have such an impressive resume and experience in all aspects of voiceover and production. Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got started with Warrior Voices.
Rob: Well, I, I started radio when I was 17 years old up in a tiny little town called Petoskey, Michigan. And from there, I, I got into voiceover, voicing for the station. I’d voiceover advertising and you know, commercials, different things of that nature. That eventually blossomed into a television career, and as far as how Warrior Voices came about, it was January 5, 2014, about 6:05 a.m. I woke up with the words “warrior voices” in my head, and couldn’t figure out why I was thinking about those two words. Was getting my daughters ready to go to school, and poured a cup of coffee, decided to check my email, and I had an audition request for a voiceover. And that’s when the lightbulb went on, and I knew right then, Warrior Voices is going to be a U.S. military veteran voiceover agency, and we’re going to teach especially disabled veterans. That was our, that’s our main focus is to help disabled veterans with this. Within a couple of weeks, we had a Board of Directors. We had a 501(c)(3) nonprofit status from the IRS within three months, and away we went. And since 2015, we have given out over $150,000 in voiceover work to the veterans that are on our talent roster.
Anne: Wow, congratulations. That’s amazing.
Gabby: So cool. I kind of found you guys I think through social media, and I was just blown away. I was like, this has got to be one of the coolest things happening in our industry right now, and more people need to be aware of it. And of course we wanted to have you on specifically for Veterans’ Day. Can you tell us a little bit about what some of these vets are going through, what some of the process looks like with training, and, and just helping them to have this new career?
Rob: We receive emails believe it or not from veterans all over the world, who are living in the Philippines, Vietnam, Germany, and —
Rob: And of course all across the United States. And when a — when they find us, a veteran will email us and inquire about online voiceover Academy or voiceover training. And if they’re from, let’s say, Dallas, Texas, we have a coach down in Dallas, Texas, we put them together with a coach, and they, they begin coaching them. They give them lessons. They teach them mic techniques. Everything we do is free for the veterans. So all of the training, if they need a blue microphone or if they need even a laptop, we’ll, we’ll provide those for them. And then once they’re, once they’ve gone through the training, we create a demo for them, a voice reel, and we create a talent page, and so they become a Warrior Voice talent upon graduating were being certified as a voiceover talent.
Anne: Wow, you are like an all in one. That’s amazing. Not just —
Anne: Not just education but also equipment and demo production. You must have quite a team.
Rob: We do. We have got — as a matter of fact, Norm Silver is our, is our, what we call the head coach. He was a voiceover talent for many years in Hollywood and a very well renowned voiceover coach as well. And so he’s, he created our curriculum, and everyone that, that’s part of our team are either former military or voice, you know, working voiceover artists. Many of us are both. We all take turns helping new veterans. We have a pretty good roster right now of working voiceover talent, veterans who have been in the industry for, you know, 20-plus years. As a matter of fact, one of our, one of our top talent is Dan Wachs, and he’s the voice of the Republican National Convention. He’s the voice of the Buffalo Bills. If you see our, you’ve looked at our website, we have done voiceover work for some of the biggest companies on the planet, everybody from Microsoft to the NFL to Major League Baseball. And the list goes on. But yeah, everything that we do is, is to create a new career or enhance an existing career for our veterans.
Gabby: Absolutely fantastic.
Anne: In your opinion, what makes voiceover such a, maybe a suitable career for a veteran?
Rob: Well specifically dealing with PTSD, if they are physically disabled, voiceover is something they can do from their home, and create an extra, you know, an additional revenue stream. Those with PTSD, depending on the degree that they have it or are suffering from it, it is difficult for them to work, let’s say, in a, in a 9-to-5, you know, structure, office structure. So this is something that they can do from home. Everything is done digitally as you know now. It’s, you know, a lot of clients will email a script, you record it. You edit it on your home computer, you upload it to Dropbox. And there you go, you’re done. It’s great for those veterans who need something like that, where they can work from home. That’s, that’s big for them, and it’s great because voiceover is not something a lot of people think about as a career.
Rob: And as you know, there’s, there’s so many different — there’s a huge range of different types of voiceover that you can do, everything from radio and television commercials, animation characters. A big one we have right now, Cisco is one of our big clients. We voiceover a lot of educational models, and you know, those go around the world to different techs that have to watch if, if they come out with a new software, these techs have to watch these modules. That keeps a good six or eight of our veterans are on that account alone. So again, it’s, it’s something they can all do from home. Everyone has a home studio nowadays, so it fits in perfectly with, with veterans who are suffering from PTSD, or if they are physically disabled.
Gabby: People don’t always realize that military men and women all had specialties while they were serving actively, and that a lot of those specialties can translate to tons of different areas of voiceover. So are you starting to see a little bit of that as well kind of building up their resumes?
Rob: Oh, absolutely. As a matter of fact, I just mentioned Cisco, and their third-party content creation company is called Enter One. We have a saying here at Warrior Voices. When you hire a warrior voice talent, you are hiring, you are getting military precision, pride, and performance. These guys —
Rob: These men and women, they hit deadlines, they do it right the first time, and they take pride in their work. And with Enter One, within the first six months of working with us, they were able to increase their billable hours to Cisco by 20%.
Rob: The ended up going, you know, switching a lot of their voiceover needs to Warrior Voices because it’s one company that they send scripts to, and we take care of all the talent, and it’s just, it’s very streamlined. Like I said, it’s military precision, performance and pride. It’s phenomenal.
Anne: Do you find that you have opportunities to do government work as well?
Rob: You know, we, we started looking into that. We’re, we’re sort of at a plateau right now where we’re putting in for, for grants and charitable funding, that type of thing, so we can market to different media agencies and hire a couple of extra people. Right now we are 100% volunteer. Everybody that works on the team of Warrior Voices, we all have our day jobs and, and our voiceover that we have to do, but we haven’t been able to reach out all that well with you know, going after government contracts. You know, the Army, Navy, they all have like deployment videos that they need voiced. What they do, you know, the branches of the military, they farm that out to third parties, to different production companies around the U.S. So it’s all about tracking those guys down and saying, “hey, let us do your voiceover.” So it’s one of those things where we want to and we’re ready to, and it’s just about pulling the trigger at this point. You know, we are going up against Voice123, you know, .com and voices.com. Those guys, those guys have a pretty good chunk of the market. We are unique at Warrior Voices in the fact that we’re a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. So whenever, let’s say Big O Tires comes to us and says, “you know, we need three 30-second commercials that are going to run in the Texas, the Texas market for three months. Our budget is $350 per 30-second commercial.” Well first, all the money that they pay, the rate that they pay for that voiceover, 100% of that goes to the veteran. We don’t charge a commission. If the client wants to make an additional let’s say a 15% agency fee, the entire amount that they pay becomes a charitable contribution. And so they can actually take that off, you know, take that off their taxes as a charitable contribution. Helps them financially as well.
Anne: That’s a great marketing boon for your guys.
Gabby: What kind of — tell us what kind of volunteers you are looking for currently. I know that there is always a need, and I’m sure that, you know — I, I know the commitment that you are putting into this, and, and it’s commendable and massive, but I know other people are going to want to help. What can, what can the voiceover community do right now? What’s the best way for us to rally behind you?
Rob: We would love to have some additional coaches. We desperately need more female voiceover artists, so that’s, that’s a big one for us. We’ve reached out to a couple of female veteran organizations, and they’re, they’re putting the word out, so we will start training hopefully some more women in this field. We can also use people who can produce demos for us. Once we get somebody through the academy, and they are ready for a demo, we would love somebody that, you know, demo producers are a big thing, because that demo is probably the most important thing that a voice talent can have, because that’s what gets you your jobs. So we need some help in that area as well. And then of course, just getting the word out. We’d like to be able to talk to some of these media agencies, television production companies. We’d love to be able to provide voiceovers for everything from radio and television commercials to e-book or audiobook narration, you name it.
Gabby: That’s fantastic, and I, I think, I certainly hope that after this episode airs, you are going to hear from quite a few of our listeners, and people are going to start kind of coming forward and, and volunteering time. Is there also a way to donate funds? Is, is that something that’s currently part of the, the structure?
Rob: Absolutely. As a matter of fact, I mentioned earlier that we are, we’ve teamed up with, with a girl named Sherita Hering, one of the top Grant writers in the country. And she is setting everything for us now to where we can accept — we don’t have a Gofundme page, and she’s, she’s urging us to do so, to build a Gofundme page. So we’re looking into that. We do take donations via PayPal through our website, and you know, just being able to provide voiceover work, you know, if somebody needs a voiceover for their company, you know, come to us. We’ll, you know, it will help create work for our veterans, and if you want to make an additional donation on top of that, that’s always welcome.
Anne: And if there are talent that are out there that are veterans that want to contact you to perhaps maybe be on the roster? Can they do that?
Rob: Oh yes, please. Actually, they can contact me direct at firstname.lastname@example.org. And they can visit the site, and they click on find a voice, they’ll see what the talent pages look like.
Anne: I recognize some of the talent there, yes.
Rob: Yeah. Our tagline is, “hear their stories, hire their voices.” We want to know about, we want to know about our veterans. And that’s something that we encourage as well. I don’t — if you’re a Vietnam era veteran, if you’re Iraq war veteran, or if you know, you spent 22 years in the Navy and did a bunch of WESTPACs, we want to know what your story is. Because what we provide the client is not only your voice, but they get to know you as a person as well, as far as where you served. It gives them an opportunity to thank you for your service, and they feel great because they are supporting and providing work to veterans as well. So we “hear their stories, hire their voices” is a big part of what we do.
Anne: Wow. Well, Rob, thank you so much. First of all, thank you for joining us, but thank you so much for just being apart and having this idea, this amazing organization. I know how much work it is to set up a nonprofit, and to do everything that you are doing especially, and all of your volunteers and team, I think it’s just amazing. And I think, I speak for Gabby and I, you know, anything we can do at VO BOSS, you know, to kind of help spread the word, help you guys out, I think it’s just phenomenal, and thank you for that and for the service that you are providing.
Rob: Absolutely. There was a point where we knew we were doing something amazing. When we first launched in 2015, we started holding locals casting calls for military veterans in our area. And there was a, one of the first casting calls that we did, you know, we had I think it was 12 veterans that joined us. And we, you know, had a conference room set up. We introduced them to what a voiceover is, and as we explained the voiceover industry, you just saw these little lightbulbs go off over all their heads, like “wow, this is great. I didn’t know that was a voiceover.” Well, we surprised them and brought them all into a studio to a recording booth, and we had a template set up for a couple of different types of commercials. One was a Big O Tire commercial. And we had the coach in the recording booth with each veteran, and we had them record a script. You know, it took 3, 4, 6, 10, 12 takes.
Gabby: We’ve all been there. We know.
Rob: I’m still there like 10, 12, 15, that’s a common everyday occurrence. All right. As they were recording, we would take the good takes outside the booth, and we’d drop those good takes in that part of the script, or that part of the commercial, so that by the time they walked out of the booth, they had, you know, we had a commercial pretty much edited and put together for them. Well, at the end of the casting call, which was about two hours, we played each one of the talent’s — each one of the veteran’s voiceovers back to them in the commercial. And the look on their face was just incredible. They, they couldn’t believe that with them.
Rob: There was, there was one veteran in particular, he was a Marine who had been blown up in his Humvee by an IED, currently waiting for a liver transplant. This guy was a house of a Marine and still had his – I mean, he was 6’2″, just built like a house. When we played him his commercial, he, he just didn’t, it didn’t click at first. And he was like, “that’s, that’s not me.” “Yeah, no, Chad, that’s you.”
Rob: He was like, “no way.” And then, it was incredible. He sat there, and then that lightbulb went off again, and we just saw this look on his face. He goes, “I don’t think you guys know what you’re doing here.” We kind of looked at each other like, “excuse me? What do you mean?” He said, “no, no, no. Let me rephrase that. You guys are doing something so much more than teaching me how to be a voiceover artist.” He said, “you’re creating a community for us again.” He said “leaving the service, that’s what I miss the most is my brotherhood.”
Rob: And he said, “I would love to be apart of this and support other veterans who are trying to build their career in voiceover.” He said, “I, I have a medical, I get a medical pension. I can only make so much money on top of that, so I would be so happy to donate my earnings, part of my earnings back to Warrior Voices so that you can provide equipment and training to other veterans.” He said, “this is what I miss the most. You guys are giving that back to us.” We just kind of looked at each other. I mean, this guy was in tears when he told us this, and it just blew us away. And we knew at that moment, Warrior Voices was going to be something big.
Anne: That’s — I’m wiping tears. That’s, that’s —
Gabby: I know, yeah.
Anne: So amazing.
Rob: It was hard for us. It was tough.
Rob: Pretty much everybody in the room, you know, here’s this big 6’2″ guy telling us this. It was, it definitely affected us.
Gabby: I would like for our listeners to just kind of contemplate and think on this Veterans’ Day about what they can do. Even a small donation, a tiny amount of money, it may not seem like a lot, but if all of our listeners are able to give just a few dollars to an organization, Warrior Voices or another veterans organization, it makes a massive impact, and please know that there are VA, Veterans Association, hospitals and facilities all throughout the country. Many of them need volunteers, need assistance. My husband and I try whenever possible around the holidays to bring, bring a meal, cater either homemade or as close to home made as we can, from a restaurant, and bring it to some of the hospitals where you have vets that are, that are, you know, staying there long-term and maybe aren’t able to, you know, go see their families. It’s, it’s really important, and it, it can make such a difference in, in someone’s life, such a small thing.
Anne: Rob, tell us again how our listeners can get in touch with you and how to get to the website.
Rob: It’s warriorvoices.org is our website, and then they can also email me direct at email@example.com, and one thing that we’re doing for — every day, and in conjunction with Veterans’ Day, if you are a veteran-owned business, please get in touch with me. We will be happy to, with our students, we’d be happy to provide to you a free voiceover anytime you need something like that for your business, a commercial, we can build a commercial for you. Our students will use the script that we create for you, or if you already have one. We’ll use that as training, and we’ll provide you with probably a number of different voiceovers that you can choose from for your commercial. We will provide those for free.
Gabby: What you are doing just keeps getting better. I, I — [laughs] I’m so thankful for this and, and for you taking the time to talk to us today.
Rob: Well, thank you.
Anne: I’d like to give a big shout out to our sponsor who is helping to bring us all together, ipDTL.com. You can find out more on their website.
Gabby: And for more things BOSS, please check out our social media: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube. We’re, we’re a pretty accessible bunch. Our website of course, voboss.com, has loads of different opportunities where you can work with me and Anne direct and find out more about Warrior Voices.
Anne: Thanks so much, guys. We’ll see you next week.
Gabby: Thank a veteran!
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.