Podcasts Vox Talk Being Disciplined in Your Career Marine Style with Travis Partington
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Being Disciplined in Your Career Marine Style with Travis Partington

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Stephanie Ciccarelli
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Marine-turned podcaster, Travis Partington, shares insights on how to create a morning routine, arrange your day and keep in shape when working from home. Get a glimpse into his U.S. military-inspired work ethic and gain an appreciation for the purpose and discipline required to host a successful podcast, manage a voice over career and more.

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Travis Partington

Oscar Mike Radio

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Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Hi there and welcome to Vox Talk, your weekly review from the world of voice over. I'm your host, Stephanie Ciccarelli from Voices. This week, Travis Partington, former Marine turned podcaster, shares tips from his military background on how to bring a more disciplined approach to your voice over career. On his show, Oscar Mike Radio, Travis invites veterans to share their stories and support one another while using his gift of speaking. Welcome to the show, Travis!

Travis Partington:
Thank you so much for having me, Stephanie. It really is great to be here.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
First of all Travis, thank you for your service. It's an honor to have you here and we're so grateful for the freedoms you fought to protect. When you left the marine corps, I'm sure there were certain things you took with you, including your work ethic. How has your background in the armed forces shaped your approach to podcasting?

Travis Partington:
The military and especially the marine corps fosters this can do attitude, adapt and overcome. No objective is too high or too tall, right? And so we were taught to break down larger problems into smaller, more manageable problems. And if we worked in those smaller manual problems, all of a sudden we found out that, hey, we had success. So it's just a matter of taking that approach I learned the military and repeating it in this form of podcast and voice work.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Thank you for sharing that! I think it's important for all of us to remember that everything that we do is just one little step leads to another. What's an average morning like for you, Travis, and what goes into bringing your best each day?

Travis Partington:
I get up, you got to get plenty of sleep if you can. I know that's hard for a lot of people, including myself. I try to be disciplined in my sleep routine. I get up, I make my bed, which is actually a pretty important step to kind of just set the day off on a good note. Then I go and I immediately drink a quart of water. Three 2oz of water is drunk. It gets my voice loosened up. It makes me feel better. So I drink a quart of water and I get the stationary bike. And while I'm on the bike, I'm thinking about what I have for the day. Do I need to reshuffle anything? Do I need to reallocate time effectively? And then breakfast. I'm a firm believer in breakfast. You can't operate on a stomach effectively. You just can't. So I have a nice, good nutritional breakfast. I'll do some reading and then start work at 8:30 for my current, real employer. And then it's off the races, full throttle, full speed ahead.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
So that sounds like a lot of discipline work, like eating a good breakfast. Lots of people skip breakfast, right, and it's kind of not the meal you want to be missing I don't think.

Travis Partington:
It's not! It's so important.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
And all that water, I'm really glad you mentioned the water, too. So, there are things in life where we do find that there are challenges, and there are hard, hard things. How do you do the hard things? What are some ways we can we motivate ourselves to do what needs to be done (even when we don’t want to do those things)?

Travis Partington:
I'll look at maybe an Instagram or TikTok reel about how when things get hard, you're on the right path. And I firmly embraced that. I had to get into the mindset that when it got hard, vocal work got hard, when podcasting got hard, when life itself got hard, that was actually a good sign. It meant that I was starting to grow or in a growth mode at that point in time, it can be hard, even painful. But breaking down those things to smaller and easier objectives and then consistently applying effort to those over time got me through that. So when you have this big, huge thing in front of you and it seems insurmountable, it's just stepping back and either getting help from professional or from a mentor, or for somebody who knows you really well or just, hey, I need to go back to the drawing board and plan this and breaking down those huge hard things into smaller things and stay focused on continuing this aspect of continuous improvement. I look back a year later, six years later, I'm like, wow, how did I accomplish all that stuff? And it's not that I did anything special. I just maintain my focus. I understood that progress is not a straight line. Your line is going to be some ups and downs. And if you help yourself, we will be there to help you out. So it's a concept of discipline plus consistency.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
That all sounds so easy when you say it, Travis!

Travis Partington:
It's not!

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
But what does it look like? Can you give us a practical example of how you've implemented that breaking it down.

Travis Partington:
Sure. Absolutely. Let's go back to podcasting, for example. I was having a problem understanding how to properly edit and master my vocal tracks with video. This is when I started doing video to make it sound good, because anybody out there knows that our camera audio is not good at best, unless you're just pro-set (?), whatever, but if you're just like me and starting out, how do you make that sound better? And it was insurmountable to me because I didn't have an audio visual technical background. I didn't, that's not my first calling. So what do I do? I'm like, well, how do we do this? So we go on YouTube, you call up B&H photo and they have little ads saying that they're going to help you figure out how to use this stuff they sell, and they actually did, I love them. And so a lot of times I'm going to sit there and do a little five minute video clips, take my Zoom 8 6 and record along with the video and finally understand how they get the audio and video to sync up. Understand where to place a lav mic and which mic to use, and then I'd watch it back, I'm like 'Okay, I'm starting to be happy with this.' And people would watch the work and listen to the podcast and one of the questions was 'How do you get it to sound so good? It must have been easy!' And Stephanie, you of all people know, you definitely know, because you've forgotten more than I know, it is anything but easy on a good day. But it's situations like that where if I don't work to make improvement in my craft, I'm not going to be able to get my sound to sound the way I want it to sound, I'm not going to be able to you know improve, so I've got to be uncomfortable, and while I don't have the benefit of past education or a heavy background working in vocal production, it's okay because it all comes back to breaking the problem down, understanding how it works, and you know, being a help, checking my ego, making mistakes and doing it all over again. And six years later doing audio, two years later doing video work too, I think I'm starting to get really good at it now.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Wow, two years is quite a long time when it comes to running a show because there's so much that, you know goes into it, you have to be inspired, motivated and have an audience that wants to engage with you and I think you've established that for yourself, so that's great.

Travis Partington:
Yes, six years we're going on into Oscar Mike radio.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Whoa, six years? Okay I take two years, we'll take 6 years. That's awesome. Good for you, and over those six years, how often do you assess where you're at? Is there a way that you gauge your progress and how do you know that you're doing a great job?

Travis Partington:
Every year I'll go back and look at shows I've done, listen to shows I've done and say, you know, that didn't work out very well, or that show worked out, I really liked that. People can watch the show consistently, whether you're listening or watching, and say, wow, that was really good. Or hey, something's a little off and you can ask people, but no, I'm pretty relentless and worthless when it comes to improvement. The competition is me, Stephanie. So I don't obsess over every show. I have to look at things in the aggregate. Otherwise I've just drive myself nuts. But I look at things over time and seeing where I'm at it's like the video where I started doing videos in 2019 really didn't get involved in until 2021 and now 2022, it's okay. How I measure success is since before podcast awards last year for the news category, my success is based on the number one. Stephanie, I want to know at the end of my time doing this, last time I hit upload for my show that I impacted one life. So every guest, every subject has to be treated that way. And I'm trying to get somebody to listen to my show or my work is come away, you know, I felt it positively. And if I can do that, I feel that I've had all the success that I could ever want. I might not ever be a Gary Vee or Howard Stern or Rush Limbaugh or Garrison Keeler. Maybe, maybe not. But at the end of the day, I want to know that someone listened to what I did and came away impacted to make positive change in their lives, in somebody else's life.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
I think that's why we should all do what we do. The impactful-ness. Working hard is important. That said, there also needs to be balance. What are some telltale signs that you've pushed yourself too far?

Travis Partington:
For me, when I start getting irritated at little things, whether it's in my show or in my day, oh man, I didn't fade that correctly. Or darn, I wish I'd ask that question differently. It's little things, right? That all of a sudden start becoming larger and larger things that I get underneath my skin. And so to do that, when I feel myself doing that and it leads over to other areas of my life, whether it's my professional career outside of voice work, vice versa, with my vocal career, I have to really step back and say, you know what? I'm going to take a day at night or even weekend and just unplug. That could be a walk or on a motorcycle, being outside and being away from technology and just really recharge. And I find that that gives me the mental energy to do this. Our craft, you know this better than anybody, Stephanie, takes so much out of you and we are giving ourselves, we are our own instrument that I think the aspect of both voice work needs to be discussed more often is taking care of the mental aspect.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Voice acting doesn't always lend itself to the pursuit of fitness. There's a lot of sitting and standing. How important is physical fitness to a voice actor, and what are some things we can to do from home to keep in shape in between reads?

Travis Partington:
For me, just personally, I like the power of a walk. Now I'm a big gym guy. I like on the gym, I like working out with weights but to your point, when you're sitting in front of a microphone and screen reading copy and you're so focused and you're so just in the moment trying to execute properly, I just believe a quick 15 to 30 minutes walk, I keep saying it but that's what I go with, getting away from the studio, getting outside, it is a huge aspect of it. I'm not a big yoga guy, but I started doing yoga type stretches to keep me loose and limber because I'll get up after a couple of hours, after I'm working on audiobook right now and I'm like, "Travis, you are stiff." So that's where I know I need to be mindful about gaining weight and doing that. Now if you don't, your voice depends upon your body being healthy, right? And you always see yourself, if you're going to be in this career for a long time, to take care of your body. That's one of the ways we do it. Drinking the water, trying to move around, getting rest. And yet you might be going from audition to audition. You might be going from reading to read. There are little things you can do to you know get movement in and rebalance yourself, whether it's taking the stairs and not take the elevator, if you can park far away in the parking lot and walk through the front door, all those things when you're getting some lived in.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Right, I think a lot of voice talent right now could probably relate to getting out of their bedroom, walking 20 feet maybe to their studio if it's in a room nearby and then the next walk would be to the bathroom or the kitchen. So, you've got to think about just getting out. I love the fresh air. I've heard people talk about being in nature and how that's really helpful. So those walks you mentioned, they take your mind off things but it's also just good to be out and about and to get some vitamin D. Get some of that sunlight, because when you spend most of your time in a sheltered booth, you're not getting very much, and also the air that you're breathing is just circulated inside this small little area so it's always good to go get some more fresh air. I know what you said about fitness and it's funny because I took it seriously when I was younger and just recently started going to the gym and trying to build up muscle mass, trying to do all these things. It's not cardio, but there's weights. So for anyone listening who might be interested in 'well I don't want to get on that treadmill, I don't want to do this...' there are other ways to exercise that don't necessarily mean having to like breaking out in a huge sweat and your heart rate is up to 160 and you're running... it can be small things as you mentioned, you can do stretching, go for a walk, but always consult your primary care physician when you're going to start a new exercise regiment of any kind just to make sure that you're on the right page with that.

Travis Partington:
I totally agree. That's why I've been able to start growing my portfolio. And then there's a middle aspect, too. You've got to mentally unplug from the studio to recharge yourself to go back in there and do it again.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Yeah, and the whole 'doing it again,' that's what it feels like when people audition, right? You go and you're like 'Here comes another one,' or 'I've got that one! And just thinking about how you have that background, that discipline, do you batch your work, Travis? When you're doing a task, do you try to make sure that you're using most of your energy for what you should do first? Is there a process you go through for determining what should be done first?

Travis Partington:
When I'm doing a podcast or a show, I try to plan outline what I'm going to talk about, how I'm going to engage the guests, and then there's the actual recording, and then the post production and the promotion slash getting it out there. So I know that the post production is going to take the most amount of time. So I'll balance my time around there, like in a couple of weeks, I have four interviews in one day, possibly five. And so I know that now I have all the planning done to execute on interview day, and we're going to do the interviews, make sure they're uploaded and backed up. And I'm going to start going through and doing the editing and getting the video set. And so doing that workflow of our planning, executing the interview itself, and then having my template of how I'm going to do the actual post production makes me more efficient, so I'm not wasting time or I'm not forgetting to do anything. Like the dreaded "no, I forgot to hit the record button on my Zoom," which did happen a long time ago. It only took like one or two times for me to break that habit, right? For lack of better term, I have a checklist of things that I want to do for each show. For the audio book, it's a little bit different being to that different discipline. And I found the audiobook I do a chapter. I break it down by chapter and then by paragraph, so I'm not trying to rush through each chapter of the book, and I can focus on each paragraph. And that's where I think it's different for me, audiobooks, as it requires a lot more focus. Not that I'm not focused doing podcasting, Stephanie, but I am definitely having to focus on each word and trying to understand what the author is wanting to convey in the book and like to it. It's a very different discipline. But to answer your question on a larger scale, it's all about planning and organization.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Yes, and not all of us have those skills, so that's why we have you here today, is to learn a bit more about what goes on and the mechanics of all that, so thank you. And one last question for you Travis, and time is precious, and certainly in the military you probably have things timed to the minute or to the second. So, in the armed forces, you receive orders from superiors up the chain of command. In voice over, much of what a talent does is admittedly self-directed, you know a little bit of trying to figure out what a client wants, but still under direction of some client somewhere and they've given details of some kind. Now, how might we find a balance between making artistic choices and following directions?

Travis Partington:
It's a great question. I actually had this happen, and it was very interesting. I did an audiobook for a person. They told me, Hey, I like your voice. I think you'll fit very well with it. Don't try to change anything. Just read the book with your natural voice. I always do like a chapter one test to see if the person really likes it, right. And he said, I think that's pretty good. Came back two weeks later and said, you know what? Your voice is not deep enough. I don't like it. I'm going to go in different direction. I'm like, "Okay, not really sure what happened here. Fine." Project number two, the gentleman said, "Hey, I don't want you to do anything special. I want your natural voice." Send him a draft chapter and comes back and says, That is precisely what I want. Don't change anything. Keep it going." But I still send a chapter as I'm done to keep the lines of communication open. To me, and I'm getting into doing audio work more and more, I just find that keeping the communication open. The project and ask me to go through the project is much easier to course correct than if you get an entire project done and the person is like, "Well, gee, I really didn't like that" and you realize you could've fixed that on day two or three instead of day thirty. So it's a combination of communication with the person you're doing the work for and then also we can communicate, "Hey, this is why I took this liberty or this track with your work because I'm trying to do this because a person needs to feel that" and sometimes we're like, "hey, that's great. I still want this one." Sometimes like, well "Hey, I like that. I think I'm going to go with that. That led me to a different way of thinking about my own work. Thank you." So there's no magic mystery. It's just part of vocal work I believe is beginning with people understanding that people are all different and our voice is connecting people with different people. Sometimes we have to understand that. So I think it's a combination of communication, adaptability and then again organizing your work in a way that you can correct mistakes or differences of opinion sooner rather than later.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
I fully agree. You want to know right away if what you're doing is what the client wants. It's always good to be open to feedback as you say and being able to take direction is very important in the field of voice over. So, Travis, with all of that said, I want to thank you so much for being with us today. Where can people connect with you and follow your work?

Travis Partington:
The two easiest ways to see what I'm up to is at my website, travispartington.com. That's P-A-R-T-I-N-G-T-O-N. That's all one string, travispartington. And then second one is my show, Oscar Mike Radio and then it's oscarmikeradio.com. That's all one string. And I'm on social media, LinkedIn and Facebook and everywhere else you can find be there. And if you check me out, drop me a line. I'd love to hear from you.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
Absolutely. Any voice artist should feel comfortable reaching out to Travis. We first met at a showcase in New York with Lau Lapides and since then we've been in touch through LinkedIn, and also I wanted to say that if anyone feels they might be a good guest for your show, they come from a military background, you can certainly check out Oscar Mike Radio and connect with Travis that way. So thank you again for joining us, Travis!

Travis Partington:
Thank you for having me on. Looking forward to talking to you again soon.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:
And that’s the way we saw the world through the lens of voice over this week. Thank you for listening and for spending your time with us. A special thank you to our guest, Travis Partington, for encouraging us to be the best we can be at work in the studio. For Voices, I’m your host, Stephanie Ciccarelli. Vox Talk is produced by Geoff Bremner. Thank you again for joining us and we will see you next week.

Stephanie Ciccarelli
Stephanie Ciccarelli is a Co-Founder of Voices. Classically trained in voice as well as a respected mentor and industry speaker, Stephanie graduated with a Bachelor of Musical Arts from the Don Wright Faculty of Music at the University of Western Ontario. For over 25 years, Stephanie has used her voice to communicate what is most important to her through the spoken and written word. Possessing a great love for imparting knowledge and empowering others, Stephanie has been a contributor to The Huffington Post, Backstage magazine, Stage 32 and the Voices.com blog. Stephanie is found on the PROFIT Magazine W100 list three times (2013, 2015 and 2016), a ranking of Canada's top female entrepreneurs, and is the author of Voice Acting for Dummies®.
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Comments

  • Keith Hayes
    June 21, 2022, 12:17 pm

    Awesome!!! Travis and Oscar Mike Radio Rocks!

    Reply