The Mosquito and the Mentor

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I love almost everything about Minnesota summers – the weather, vacations, and beautiful days at Lake Calhoun and so on. However, towards the top of the list of things that I absolutely hate about this season are mosquitoes!

Tiny little bugs who can very easily make your life miserable just by forcing their way into it! But, do you know what the most irritating part is about being the victim of a mosquito? You more than likely will never see them coming. It seems as if you would not even know that they have chosen you as their prey until they have already gotten exactly what they need from you and all you’re left with is an itchy bump that can easily leave an ugly scar over time.

So now comes the point where you’re asking yourself, “Why is he talking about mosquitoes? What do these bugs have to do with voiceovers?” The sad truth is that mosquitoes have everything to do with the world of business as a whole, including the voice talent industry. There are mosquitoes flying around within this industry on a daily basis, searching for their very next targets. Who are they? Where are they?

The parasitic bugs of this industry are the voiceover training companies that feed off of the ambitions and desires of talented individuals by offering them empty promises, pipe dreams and wishful thinking. All that they have been able to actually deliver, though, is a substantial charge on their victim’s credit card statements and massive disappointments. You have more than likely seen their advertisements, online social media pages and even viral videos. You may have even moved towards the delicious bait that they have placed in the water and stopped just shortly before you realized that it was a trap. Some of you may not have even stopped.

How can you identify which opportunities are legitimate and which are not? It is actually much easier than you think. It all starts with a basic question that you have to ask yourself, “How seriously do I take my career?” If you do not take it seriously at all, then you should not have a problem with finding the best “deal” or the quickest route to learn “everything that you need to know” within a single website that may use those specific quotes as catchy taglines and slogans. That is how some of these predatory companies are able to succeed at hunting down their targets in the first place.

They are fully aware that most humans desire things that they can have right now without delay. We are naturally drawn towards instant gratification and following our instinctive impulses, which is another reason these companies are just like mosquitoes. What draws mosquitoes to us in the first place? Is it the cologne or perfume that we may choose to wear on any given day? Is it the skin that we expose by wearing summer clothing? No! Mosquitoes are naturally drawn to us because of our carbon dioxide emissions – something that naturally happens and is beyond our control.

They really don’t care about you personally. To them, you are just another good meal that will keep their bodies nourished. After they have gotten what they need from you, they do not plan on sticking around just to follow through or stay attached to you. On the contrary, their goal is actually to get away from you as fast as possible so that they can move on to their next victim. Some voiceover training companies behave in the same way. They truly do not care about the individuals that sign up for their programs and online courses. They are primarily just focused on getting exactly what they need from you (i.e. your money) so they will tell you anything they need to in order to achieve their goal.

However, after you have given in and allowed them to bite you, they are going to suck you dry and move on to their next target as soon as possible. They are not going to stay by your side to make sure that you get the personal training and one-on-one mentoring that you need in order to truly be successful. You will just get access to an abundance of generic videos and training materials along with a bunch of generic, mass e-mails that are “personalized” simply because they have your name at the top.

So, you have to go back to the original question – “How seriously do you take your career?” Becoming a success story within this industry is not something that you can do by paying a substantial fee for a bunch of vague information that you could have gotten for free simply by doing a Google search. You need to have someone who is truly willing to invest their time into you to make sure that you get the quality training that you deserve.

Why do you think a cubic zirconium gem costs a fraction of the price of a genuine diamond that is the same size? Why is the original painting of the Mona Lisa worth much more than the thousands of duplications that are being sold around the world today? Because time is not money – time is actually worth so much more than a dollar sign!

You need to invest in a mentor who is going to take the time to mold your skills of coal within the voiceover industry into a high-carat diamond of success. Someone who is going to spend the countless hours necessary to develop you into an artistic masterpiece of voiceover talent instead of selling you a cheap duplication that they have sold to everyone else for the same price. Not a parasitic mosquito that is just going to suck your money out of your wallet, precious time from your day and ambition from your heart before they force you to suffer with itchy bumps of disappointment that they leave behind.

A true mentor is going to be the one that stays by your side from start to finish. This is going to be the person who doesn’t just take your money and run with it, but understands that you are only paying them as a mutual investment. You will be investing your time, money and trust in them and they will be investing their time, knowledge and experience into you. Instead of giving you a bunch of generic information, a mentor will truly personalize their training to meet your specific needs and give you the one-on-one coaching and development that you expect and deserve.

Benjamin Franklin was once quoted as saying, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” If you want to polish your craft and receive quality training that will allow you to do so, invest in the services of someone that is going to truly involve you in the training from start to finish. They will view you as a person that needs their attention, commitment and time instead of just another sales figure to add along with all of the others. Spray yourself down with repellent to keep the mosquitoes of this industry as far away from you as possible and focus on making wise choices when it comes to choosing the person that will guide you towards achieving your goals throughout your career.

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    2 Responses to “The Mosquito and the Mentor”

    1. July 30
      John Melley @ 9:31 am

      Hi Terry-

      This is a great topic and one that I am wrestling with lately with people interested in training with me so your timing is great.

      I’ve recently had several conversations with potential students about VO coaching and like you, I don’t like the “Demo factory” business model. I’m up front with clients that it may take a while before they’re ready to get a demo.

      However, the opportunities you speak of are so pervasive that it’s difficult to get them to understand that it doesn’t really work this way.

      Before we even start talking about classes with a potential student I ask them to tell me what their expectations are. How do they think the process is going to work?

      I explain to them that putting out a bad demo before they’re ready may do them more harm than good, but they all want to know “How long will it take until I’m ready for a demo”?

      While you explain it well in your article, what do you tell them when having a conversation? Do you refer them to an article – talk of your own experience and hard work to get where you are? Just curious as to how you get through to them that it’s not a 10 hour course and you have a demo and you’ll be making money.



    2. July 31
      Chris Thomas @ 8:31 am

      Hey John,
      I produce demos and have worked with a reputable coach. I would suggest simply talking about your own experiences and if you have specific examples of other people’s experiences, by all means use those as well.

      I usually tell people that what they need to realize is that sometimes you get lucky and will book a job, but that it will most likely be low paying and may only be a one-time job. I tell them if they want the better jobs, they need to make sure they are ready and for some it means years of coaching, for others maybe not; nothing is guaranteed in this business.

      I also make sure they know it will take a lot of hard work involving marketing (so they need to know that end of the business as well). Just make sure that as a coach, you can give them as much instruction as you can and be fair in your pricing (especially in this economy LOL).

      I loved this article because I hear so many horror stories of good intentioned folks getting sucked in. They come to me with poorly produced demos they are “proud of” and I have to break it to them gently that they wasted their money. Thank you Terry for sharing this.