When Did You Stop Doing Your Job?
(an open rant to those who view coaching as the apex of all careers)
Q: How is a Free VO Conference Call like a Free Vacation at a Time Share?
A: (c’mon, you already know the answer!)
I dunno about you, but one of my current pet peeves it the sheer volume of advertising I am deluged with by folks trying to sell me their coaching services. I mean, it used to be said that anyone with a $10 Radio Shack microphone could be a VO, but now they’re skipping that completely and going to where the real money is: Coaching!
It used to be that people took pride in their craft. For me, that is voice acting. But somewhere along the way it seems like some folks get lost. They achieve just enough success to claim that they are “experts” and go directly to coaching. So… When did they stop doing their job?
True story. I’d signed up for a Free VO Conference call recently. Yeah – you’d think I’d know better. But no… had to give a listen. Out of an hour call, the first 20+ minutes involved the interviewer and the guest telling folks how they could buy their book, sign up for classes, get a signed gold-plated copy of their 74 part lesson dvd set telling in excruciating detail how YOU (yes you) can make a tonne of money in VO! The call ended with another 10+ minutes reminding the listeners of the same info. So over 50% of the call was devoted to selling, selling, selling. Don’t get me wrong. I did learn how to make money in VO. Become a coach.
Now, to be absolutely fair, I have been privileged to work with some truly great coaches and trainers. They are mentors in every sense of the word. Each one has invaluable expertise in the industry. They gave feedback that advanced my skills and career. They enjoy teaching, and it was an honor to be their student. Which is precisely why it makes me see red when everyone and their idiot cousin is claiming that they are teachers worthy of taking your hard-earned money. How can we separate the wheat from the chaff?
How can you tell if a coach is truly a mentor worthy of investing in? And investing is what you are doing, make no bones about it. Unless you’re independently wealthy and this is a life-time hobby for you, then every dollar spent should be advancing your skills or your career in some way.
I’m not sure I have a definitive answer. But I can tell you this: good coaches and mentors are hard to find. Maybe because there are so many snake-oil salesman to weed through on the way.
So… What do you do?
Are you still doing your job?
Hey joe. So who are the mentors you worked with because I’m looking for a real coach. Thanks.
Following some general guidelines can help.
It’s like finding any professional you’d hire.
Check into their reviews.
Ask others whose opinion you trust.
Watch for warning signs, such as anything that’s too good to be true (ie. take my class for $$$ and get your demo at the end!)
Many of the good coaches will let you sit in and audit one class.
Or they may have free info and advice online.
VO forums are another good source for reviews (though not as reliable as advice from trusted friends 😉
Hope this helps,
Perfect, Joe. This very situation is why I became the kind of VO teacher/coach I am to begin with. I was tired of being pitched from the stage. And I didn’t want my students and clients to EVER feel that way.
Thanks for writing what a lot of us have been thinking.
I can imagine it’s frustrating for good teachers who’ve built both their VO and coaching skills, to compete with those who just want a quick buck.
Joe…I could have sworn you weren’t at our last Voices Anonymous (and you weren’t of course). This is part of what we were talking about….although it was more focused toward “classes” etc. David’s comment echoes the same vibe. Right Arm, dude! No, really.
I was there in spirit, Bob!
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I’ve often wondered myself how you can tell if a coach is worth investing in and this is so true that good coaches and mentors are hard to find! Great article & thank you 🙂
Glad you enjoyed it – if you find a good coach, hang on to them and spread the word!
Hi Joe. This is a really interesting topic for me. I’m a VO turned coach but from a slightly different perspective. I’m just a bit voice obsessed so completed an MA Voice Studies program at Central School of Speech and Drama in London, it’s a respected voice coach qualification, one of it’s only kind in the world. It’s improved my voice no end and opened up a realm of possibilities as a performer. It’s also given me an incredibly amount of vocal knowledge, not just related to VO – we cover anatomy, breath, text work, accents, phonetics…the lot! And this is what I bring to my clients. Coaching for their voice, not their voice over careers. The animosity towards VO/coaches is difficult to hear sometimes. I absolutely understand there are cowboys out there for a fast buck, but some of us have a lot to offer, having invested and worked to get a qualification to make sure we are fully equipped to help people. I also think it’s important for me still to work as a VO, to understand the trends in the industry and keep up to date with what is going on. I hope you stick with your good coaches and mentors and keep your eyes peeled for the chancers. And good luck!
VO & Coach…
Thank you for chiming in, Nic!
Some people were meant to teach. They have a passion to learn and to pass that on to others.
I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today without all the classes and coaching.
The difficult part for actors is separating the wheat from the chaff.
Perhaps the best way to find a good coach is through others who have learned from them.
A personal recommendation goes a long way for me.