I have learned a lot about how you can use psychology to be successful in this competitive voice over industry. I hope you have learned something, too. Unfortunately, I do not and will not know everything on my own. You must turn to other professionals and those who have had tremendous success for years (and even decades). So, I wanted to put my psychological research to a bigger test to see how a thriving voice over talent has (unknowingly) used psychology to his or her advantage. That is why I turn to Rodney Saulsberry.
Rodney is a true success. He is a celebrity voice talent, actor, author, voice over coach and extremely talented musician. Right now, you can see him as Anthony on CBS’s daytime drama “The Bold and the Beautiful.” His voice acting credits cover the gamut: from movie trailers like “How Stella Got her Groove Back” and “Finding Forrester” to promos and commercials for “Dancing with the Stars,” “The Grammy Awards,” Twix, Zatarain’s and Instant Tax Service. And I would kick myself if I didn’t mention that he lent his vocal talents to one of my favorite movie’s best songs: “Hakuna Matata.” You can find even more of his insights in his best-selling voiceover books: You Can Bank on Your Voice and Step Up to the Mic. Rodney is also a highly-sought voice over coach and even has a VO workshop coming up soon. He truly is a man of many talents and has been a thriving voice over talent for decades.
I reached out to him recently to see if he would be interested in sharing some of his VO insights. He answered almost immediately. In my phone conversation with him, I could feel his energy and excitement for the voice over industry. It was contagious. I hope you can feel that passion and drive in his answers below:
First, let’s start with a fun and (hopefully) easy question:
1. What is your favorite kind of voice over gig (commercial, trailer, documentary, etc.) and why?
My favorite kind of voice over job is the job itself, whatever the genre. I’m just happy at the time to be working. Getting paid handsomely for something that I would do for free is a blessing. I can speak on what I like about some of the areas you mention in your question. I like commercials for their residual value. There is nothing quite like hearing or seeing a union commercial you voiced and knowing that every time it plays you will receive a check. I like the trailer for its epic value, no matter what the subject matter. Trailers are just epic. I did several trailers for the George Lucas directed “Red Tails.” It doesn’t get any more epic than George Lucas. Documentaries give me a chance to contribute to history, current issues and causes. I like the importance of being a part of the documentary process. Animation allows me the chance to do exciting characters. In a nutshell, I like them all. I like working.
In the competitive rollercoaster ride that is voice over, there are often dry spells or times when you feel discouraged. In a sense, you start to lose momentum. Studies suggest that psychological momentum “encompasses changes in [your] sense of control, confidence, optimism, motivation, and energy” (Crust & Nesti 2006). When you lose psychological momentum, you start to lose focus of your goals and start to make costly mistakes (Markman and Guenther 2007). According to researchers, one of the ways to counteract that momentum is by finding a focus point so you don’t lose sight of your goals.
2. As a seasoned veteran of the voice over world, I’m guessing you’ve gone through your fair share of ups and downs. What have you done to maintain a focus point? Specifically, what do you focus on to continue to build momentum even when things aren’t going your way?
I try to always maintain a positive attitude. I believe that unless you have been diagnosed by a qualified physician to be physically or mentally ill, all of your fear and anxiety is in your own mind. So if you can control the negative thoughts and false self-diagnosis, you can go forward in a positive frame of mind most of the time. To bring that attitude to my voice over world, I choose to believe that I will always be gainfully employed and prosperous in my VO career and therefore I am. Thoughts are powerful things, and they can become your reality.
Dr. Robert Cialdini, Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University, finds that one of the ways to influence someone else’s decision is by using scarcity (finding something more attractive and alluring because it is seemingly rare).
3. When interacting with prospects and clients in the voice over world, how have you used scarcity in your marketing strategy to influence them to take you on as a talent?
My scarcity comes to light for my clients by way of my professionalism: my ability to follow direction and give them what they want in a session, my creativity when they want improvisation, and my humbleness and humility when they critique my performance and ask me to do something again. Professionalism can be scarce in this business. If you have it in abundance, you will probably work more than the voice over talent who doesn’t. That’s how I use scarcity to my advantage. When you market to new clients, remember that there are hundreds of great men voices and women voices out there with loads of talent. Push your professionalism and separate yourself from the pack.
The psychological and physical benefits of sleep are plenty. For one, sleep allows you to focus on your daily tasks and make good decisions. As a voice over talent and entrepreneur, your business never sleeps, and you have to make good decisions for your business every day.
4. How do you manage to stay so busy and work so hard while still maintaining a healthy sleep life? Can you offer any advice for balancing them properly as a voice over talent?
Sleep is very important, but sometimes we can’t get the proper amount of sleep we need to function at a high level daily. I recommend meditation during the day if you can. At least twenty minutes of meditation is very helpful for me even when I don’t get a good night’s rest. The other thing that I do is power nap or just rest with my eyes closed for fifteen to twenty minutes. Either one of those things will do the trick for me. I find that if I exercise three to four times a week, I sleep better, making the meditating or napping unnecessary. Final thought: eat well and exercise, and you will sleep.
Angela Duckworth, PhD and her colleagues found that grit (defined as perseverance and passion for long-term goals) was the most accurate predictor of success for West Point Cadets in completing their intense summer boot camp called Beast Barracks, proving to be even more accurate than West Point’s own testing measures. As a voice over talent, you are faced with your own challenges throughout your entire career that can sometimes seem impossible to overcome.
5. Why do you believe grit is so important in determining success, and how have you used it throughout your voice over career to overcome sometimes harsh obstacles?
Like I stated in the first answer to your first question, “I like working.” And the reason I like it so much is because it is such a rarity in our business and in show business in general. You have to have a measure of grit to survive in the entertainment industry. A proactive approach to your career is advantageous. You show grit by never giving up. If you don’t get a job that you audition for, forget about it and go on to the next one. If one contact turns you down, forget about it and seek new contacts. Saturation is the key. You have to saturate the market with you. Compile a list of new avenues. Do your due diligence and check out any leads that may lead to employment. You show grit when you realize that you are never really unemployed because you are always working to find work.
Finally, positive thoughts rule the day. If you believe it, you can achieve it.
I emboldened that final thought by Rodney, because it is a powerful message for anyone in any career path or life journey. I want to thank Rodney for sharing his valuable time and insights with us. It turns out that he was using psychology to his advantage all along. I hope you learned something today, because I know I did.
Thanks for reading, and be sure to share Rodney’s valuable words with others via the Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media buttons below! I also encourage you to subscribe to my future blog posts in the box on the right.
Crust, Lee, and Mark Nesti. “A Review of Psychological Momentum in Sports: Why Qualitative Research Is Needed.” Athletic Insight: The Online Journal of Sport Psychology (2006): n. pag. Web.
Duckworth, Angela L., Christopher Peterson, Michael D. Matthews, and Dennis R. Kelly. “Grit: Perseverance and Passion for Long-Term Goals.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 92.6 (2007): 1087-101. Http://www.sas.upenn.edu/. University of Pennsylvania. Web. <http://www.sas.upenn.edu/~duckwort/images/Grit%20JPSP.pdf>.
“Influence Summary.” SellingandPersuasionTechniques.com. Web. 17 Apr. 2012. <http://www.sellingandpersuasiontechniques.com/influence-summary.html>.
Markman, K.D., & Guenther, C.L. (2007). Psychological momentum: Intuitive physics and naïve beliefs. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 33, 800-812.