In Inner Voice by Steve Zarro

A peer of mine in voiceover recently posted an inquiry to her followers and contacts, asking what sets them apart from the rest of the field. 

“Why should they hire you?”

I always love this question and the conversation it spurs, because I’m actually particularly fond of my own answers to this. I have yet to hear every single person’s answer to this question, so I cannot speak to the uniqueness of my response, but I do like it. And reflecting on it often leads me to other such answers as well. The first answer I give to this question is also related to one of my guiding principles.

I live and work by the “Confident yet Humble” philosophy.    

Confident enough to say “Yes, I absolutely can accomplish that for you and delivery beyond your expectations”. Humble enough to know that I, myself, am on my own journey of learning and that, for all I have learned, someone out there knows more.  

These are generally two conflicting ideals which typically do not coexist well within one individual. Confidence can often toe the line of arrogance and cockiness, which can be a turn-off to some. And humility can sometimes be interpreted as a marker for weakness, or lack of confidence.

Additionally, what makes this more challenging to present is that different people use different metrics for measuring these levels. What comes off as confident and polite to one may be deemed as arrogant and obnoxious by another. What one sees as gentle modesty might be viewed by someone else as too passive.

Depending on the audience, it’s helpful to be able to find where these lines get drawn by each party and communicate more freely within that space. There are times and places where the “boiler room/closer” style is well received and desired by the client, for example.  Other times, not.

A Guiding Principle.

The second answer I provide, depending again on the audience, is that I am multilingual. Not in the traditional sense of being multilingual, though.

I am instead fluent in two unique and different languages – the language of business and the language of the arts. 

Before I was a full time narrator and studio owner, I worked for over 20 years in the wireless industry within the call center environment. I am no stranger to the vernacular used within big business, the timeframes kept by their leadership teams, nor the reason why communication is so different from one world to another.

There are things you can say at a rehearsal to one of your cast members that you simply cannot say at a staff meeting. In business, you are often discouraged to say what you truly think and encouraged to guard your words and actions. 

At rehearsal, however, if you played that game you’d be wasting everyone’s time and also doing your project a disservice. You can get away more easily with giving honest, straight-forward feedback that would never fly in a traditional workplace.  Such as…

“Okay, people, once more! From the top! And please, can we suck a little less this time? Thank you!”

Performers know that such feedback is real, genuine, not meant to be personal, and is actually very important to the creative process of putting on a show. We can take it. We get how it works.

If you said something in that vein to your direct reports in a staff meeting, though? Whoa, boy!! Completely different results, guaranteed. But being able to be fluent in both languages after over 20 years working in each world absolutely makes me a unique and powerful element when added to a project, especially the corporate videos I work on often.

In preparing this entry for Inner Voice, I stumbled into a train of thought which led me to an even simpler, but more powerful, explanation as to why I am good at this. Why my studio is the one to choose. Why communication is so important to me, and how that importance will benefit my clients.

More than anything in the world, I treasure being clear and understood.

It is the cornerstone of my communications. And, it’ll be Part 2 of this entry, coming soon!

Thanks for reading. Tune in next time.

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