Wednesday, November 26, 2014

There's Something Wrong with 40 Under 40

For years now the business community and its corresponding journals has been obsessed with a concept called Forty Under Forty. They select young business professionals under the age of forty to celebrate their accomplishments. What's wrong with that? A lot is wrong with that.

The whole concept of putting the young professionals on a pedestal as if some sort of god like creature gives them a greater than thou unrealistic view of the world. The universities have already done serious damage to their students by instilling a “the world owes me” attitude that was rolled up, tied with a ribbon and presented on graduation day. What this group really needs is an attitude adjustment and a reality pill with a chaser of failure to wash it down.

The United States of America may not be the only country but certainly leads the way when it comes to its disrespect and disregard for its elders with the knowledge and experience they possess. They have gained this knowledge by being allowed to fail and then by learning from those failures.

Am I biased? Certainly. Why? I think it's because I fear for the day the forty under forty finally get to experience reality. I believe they will come crashing to the ground like a rocket with a bad fuel stage, in a blaze of glory. Then, as Edward R Murrow once said on his radio show, “I Can Hear It Know.” The forty under forty will wonder: “What went wrong?” What happened?”

Here's what happened. They forgot to embrace their elders and didn't seek the sage advice the experienced could share; advice that could propel their career and might protect them from the crash and burn that is their destiny.

Disclaimer: The writer of the blog is well beyond forty years of age and is generally accepting of youthful opinion and ideas as long as they are tempered with reality and experience.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Climbing the Ladder of Success

The young and energetic are always eager to climb the ladder of life. Yet little do they realize that each step along the way might be met with a rung that's a bit shaky and they might risk a fall. That risk shouldn't discourage but often it does. Even those that have been in the business a while find that the tree house isn't as easy to reach as we once thought. We have to be cautious of each step. One wrong move and we're back at the base of the tree. If you take it slow, it's an amazing journey.

Ladder photo - copyright 2014 Jerry E Reed
The voiceover business is a system “in flux” as some say. The dictionary usually defines that as meaning it's in a state of constant change. Well, that's certainly true. Last time I talked about adjusting a voiceover delivery to different age groups and demographics. This week it's about needs and wants. The treehouse I alluded to previously is that “prize' or “big job” or “ultimate gig” that everyone so desires. But once you reach the top, is the prize the same as you had believed or did it change along the way?

What was it you were seeking anyway? Was it a great job, perfect voiceover gig, to be famous? Or, was it to be comfortable in life, to be a good provider, to be financially stable or just be a good mom or dad? We all make choices based upon what our needs are, emotionally and physically.

I am fortunate to have had two very successful careers prior to jumping into voiceover on a full time basis. I spent 22 years in broadcasting, a career culminating with development and ownership of a regional farm news network serving 43 radio stations in the Northeast. Then it was 24 years in a new career of public relations and promotion. I worked with the beef industry, an agricultural lobbying organization and an American Indian nation with a casino. Voiceover has always been a sideline. With each of the full time careers I didn't reach the top but I found a limb of the tree that allowed me to be comfortable, rewarded financially and to enjoy many of life's comforts.

I'm a lot older and somewhat wiser for those experiences. Now, I focus on being a successful voiceover talent. It's an inner drive that keeps me reaching for that big treehouse. But, I am enjoying each branch of the tree as I head for the top. So, my point is to always reach for the next rung in the ladder of success, but realize there are some nice comfortable limbs where you can “sit a spell.” There are things to experience, places to see, and great people to get to know along the way. Don't be in such a hurry to get to the top. You'll miss life's amazing journey.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

What Goes Around Comes Around

Warning: This blog is written by and contains wisdom of a senior citizen. Proceed at your own risk.

When I first entered broadcasting as a teenager, “The Announcer” could still actually be heard on some radio stations around the country. There was a local announcer by the name of Elliott Stewart that still rolled his “Rs” and had perfect diction, something you never heard in a real conversation. While I didn't roll my “Rs,” I tried for that perfect diction. But gave that up when one of my mentors told me to “be more conversational.” He said that if I wanted to hear an example, I should listen to Arthur Godfrey. “Arthur who,” I questioned. The TV & radio show was actually called Arthur Godfrey and Friends and was still on the air in my early radio days and continued till 1972. Art had a knack for conversation. As a matter of fact, that's all his program was, a program length conversation. He was also quite controversial, but I won't go into those incidents here.

Then came along a couple of hot shot radio program consultants by the name of Bill Drake and Gene Chenault, both now deceased.. They further perfected the idea of some earlier radio programmers who played the top 40 popular records over and over and the announcer would insert short but rapid shouts or yells between the records. The news reporter was to deliver a sensational news report usually of 2 minutes or less at twenty minutes after and before every hour. Out the window went the conversational delivery. I don't think broadcasting ever recovered.

So you see, the goal of being more conversational has been with us for a long time and is appropriate in many situations. But it depends upon the audience and whom you are targeting. So, if you are going after the “baby boomers” you might want one style of delivery because the audience might relate better. If it's generation “Y” you seek, often called the millennials, you may need a different style as this generation doesn't want you to “sell” a product, yet wants to be catered to. The younger audience today wants to discover your product through their friends and generally rejects formal advertising unless it appeals directly to one of their interests. Today, we are much more aware and responsive to our audiences. We have adjusted our messages and delivery to multi-cultural segments of our population and to the needs of the huge LGBT segment which has gained much wider acceptance in recent years.

My point in mentioning this is to suggest that the more styles of voiceover we can master and deliver the more marketable we can be. But, finding a niche and appealing to it is worthy of a specialty.

Today the casting directors and creative directors often ask for a conversational read but is that what they want or do they just want to appeal to their target but don't know what to ask for? I think it's a little bit of both. Knowing what appeals to an audience segment can give a voice talent a huge “leg up” as they say. Here's a link to an interesting article that might provide some insight. It's called Consumer Segments of Consequence in 2020: Are you prepared?