Podcasts Vox Talk Resonance vs Reach, Maker Monsters and More with Jay Acunzo
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Resonance vs Reach, Maker Monsters and More with Jay Acunzo

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Stephanie Ciccarelli
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What’s the difference between reaching an audience and connecting with them? Author, show host and brand consultant Jay Acunzo shares how resonance differs from reach, why you should always start with empathy, the ‘who’ you are speaking to and knowing what it means to create an emotional through line for your listener. You’ll also learn how freelancers can create ‘useful friction’ in finding the clients you want by sharing how you see the world and your work, how to dance with your maker monsters and why our very humanity transcends AI as storytellers connecting with an audience.

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Jay Acunzo

Unthinkable: stories to inspire creativity

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Stephanie Ciccarelli:

Hi there, and welcome to Vox Talk, your weekly review from the world of voiceover. I'm your host, Stephanie Ciccarelli from Voices. Do you know how to connect with an audience on today's show? Jay Acunzo joins me to discuss resonance and the role it plays in engaging with listeners. Now, Jay is an author, the host of the Unthinkable podcast, which I listen to, I must say, and a brand consultant. Jay has previously worked at Google, ESPN, and HubSpot and is just an amazing communicator and Storyteller will have such a great time today. So, Jay, welcome to the show.

Jay Acunzo:

Thank you, Stephanie.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:

Perfect. Okay, so to start things off, I think we need to get a definition from you, and that would be the definition of resonance.

Jay Acunzo:

Sure. So to understand resonance, we first have to compare it to a sibling or maybe cousin, which is reach. I just want to decouple those first, and then I'll share a definition of resonance. So reach is how many see it. Resonance is how much they care. Resonance is about depth of connection, but more so, it's about action. Because I think resonance is that urge to act that someone feels when a message or an experience aligns so closely with their own experience of the world or their lives that they feel somehow amplified. And what's fascinating is I'm on this little journey to understand this concept in the creative world, and it landed me in the sciences briefly to understand it from sort of an audio very appropriate to the show standpoint, audio, vibration waveforms frequencies, these sorts of things. And the science and the creative arts is very similar. It's about the alignment of two frequencies. When you match somebody else's or something else's natural frequency, that second system is amplified. So you think of pushing someone on the swing. When you align with their actual motion, instead of pushing them too soon or too late, you push them at exactly the right cadence. They are amplified. So it's the same way when you communicate with others, whether you're creating something in audio or video or text or in person, the goal is to somehow align with them to make them feel amplified. So you stand shoulder to shoulder, and then you can march them every step of the way that they need to go to arrive at whatever conclusion it is, whatever action you're looking for them to take, whether it's to understand something better and you're sharing your ideas, or to coming out of the marketing world like I did, to buy, to subscribe, to share something. So it starts with alignment, and it leads to amplification, and it lands on action. So that's the way you can understand residents in the creative world. Very similar to the sciences.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:

Nice. So alignment. Oh, gosh.

Jay Acunzo:

Alignment, amplification, and action. When you communicate in a way that people go, oh, you're speaking to my soul. You're now aligned, and that person feels amplified, you literally impart an energy. And we experience this all the time as creative people, when we encounter something that inspires us, something that we love, something that matches the taste we have, we do feel that, like emotion or that energy in our chests, in our hearts, in our minds. So in the sciences, it's a literal or technical impact of energy from one system to another. And I think it's actually very, very similar. Again, back in the communicative world.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:

Yes, of course. And one of the main reasons why I had you on, because you talked about this topic a lot, it's one of your favorite ones. But in the business that we're in, in voiceover and voice acting, the core objective, like the main thing they have to do, it's like you have one job, right, is that they have to connect with that audience. And they need to be able to, first of all, learn enough about the audience in order that they may connect. Because a lot of what goes into this is actually an awareness of who you're speaking to.

Jay Acunzo:

Absolutely. It all starts with empathy. That word gets thrown around a lot. And people don't necessarily give it much power or credence. But it does start with an understanding of the ‘who.’ Right? And you hear all these pithy maxims in the work world, like start with your ‘why’ and understand your why and all these things. But honestly, picking your ‘who’ and understanding that, I think, supersedes everything. Because when I write a newsletter, it could be sent to thousands of people, but in my mind, it's sent to one. I'm writing to one. I'm speaking to one person on my podcast. Very rarely are you actually speaking to a community or a crowd, which makes it harder to understand who they are. But of course there's some through line in that crowd. A big part of my career is public speaking, so then everybody knows they're speaking to each other. But then I'm back at home alone on my couch watching a YouTuber say, hey guys, welcome to my channel. And I'm looking around, I'm like, Where are all the guys? It's just me. So we're always speaking to one person. And understanding who that one person is very deeply allows us to align with them, not just based on demographics. Like, this person is a business executive. This person is a child looking to learn this thing. No, the psychographics matter much more that emotional through line that you're sort of reaching through the screen, tapping someone on the chest and going, feel this. Does this make sense to you? Does this hit home and resonate with you emotionally? That's far more important when you understand who your audience is than job title or area of the country or other demographics that people tend to talk about a lot more.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:

No, of course. I'm just thinking about your background as a writer and how you're kind of in a way geared to be thinking about that more like, you're the one who's actually creating the message that will be shared. So a lot of people are listening right now. I'm going to help share the message that someone else has written. So bearing that in mind, with a writing background, how can you help someone who is a messenger, in effect, share what it is that you're saying? Are there ways that you as a writer would kind of prepare someone to deliver that message?

Jay Acunzo:

I mean, I do this all the time in both technical senses and almost like, implied. So the technical sense is writing scripts for a narrative style podcast that I host. This has become just natural to me over time. And I assure you, at first, it wasn't. The way the script is written to be read out loud is very different than the way you would read. This is what the problem is, I think, today with, like, audiobooks, for example, that's written to be read through your eyes, to be read silently in your mind, it is not written to be spoken. And so you get these really awkward moments where the sentence runs on too long. The first thing you learn when you write for a narrative podcast to be read, in my case, by me, or if I'm working with a producer, they're writing for me, or I'm writing for someone else. If it's a client show, it's like, okay, forget everything you learned as a writer with a capital W throughout your English classes. You need to write in smaller bursts. You need to weave in ellipses for pauses, capital letters for emphasis. You need to actually mold the written word to become the spoken word. And I think a lot gets lost in that translation. And by the way, I could talk about this for hours. Just the difference between writing to be read and writing to be heard is so subtle, but it is literally everything in terms of what the audience then receives. And I don't know how many folks I've talked to over the years and I'm very grateful for this will hear my show and they'll go, ‘Oh, I want to do a narrative show too. I'm burnt out on interview shows,’ or ‘I just done the interview show. I'd like to try my hand at narrative. Like, any advice?’ And I was like, ‘Yes. The most important thing I can tell you to do is when you write your script, please read it out loud first before you hit record.’ That's just good writing advice in general. Just read it out loud to yourself. You'll catch stuff. But oh my goodness, the amount of people I hear who are speaking in these academic terms, that if you read it is a beautiful language, but if you speak it, it makes them sound so bizarre. Like, you'd never say soliloquy. All these words you're using, you'd never speak like that. And also, I use a lot of parenthetical asides in my writing that torpedoes the spoken word. Like you can't just wedge in the middle a quick aside, it's like, hold on, keep this thought in your mind, listener. And now I'm going to go to this aside in this tangent and now we're going to come back to the other thing. No, there's not the visual cues, so the subtleties are everything in the art form.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:

That's right, yeah, you can't italicize a voice other than to change your tone or the way that you speak or the volume.

Jay Acunzo:

Right.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:

Whereas in the printed format, it's easy to have something look like it is something other than what you're meant to be hearing out loud. But I love what you said about reading the copy out loud. My goodness, everyone should be doing that. I know voice actors will read the copy out loud, perhaps the writer didn't, and they're like, wow, maybe I should edit this, or can I do? And I know that's almost I don't want to say it's like the worst sin ever for an actor trying to read someone else's script, but how do writers actually feel about that? Like, let's say there's a piece that isn't written very well, and I'm not saying that would be anything you'd make clearly you write very well, but the odd producer here and there, they might not go through with a fine tooth comb, they might not read aloud. So how acceptable is it for a talent to then say, this doesn't flow very well? I think that there could be a pause here. I might inflect there. Is that something that they should do or something that someone might be offended by?

Jay Acunzo:

Right, well, let's talk about two things. I think there's two important things there. One is the difference between selling your time and your talent, and then the other is the purpose of words. It feels like a silly exercise, but let's start with that. The purpose of the writing, the purpose of the words on the page is not to then read those words or deliver those words to the audience, it's to convey meaning. That meaning happens in two domains or two dimensions. It happens in terms of understanding the what, like the visual, the sequence of events, etc. But also the emotional thrust of it, right. The way you want someone to feel as a result of how this was described, or did the sentence run long or short? All these mechanical things convey not just the technical meaning of it all, but the emotional meaning of it all. So the meaning unfolds on two dimensions and so the part that the word plays is to convey that. And if you're speaking what was once written, something is going to be different, but you need to arrive at the same meeting. And so if you can show somebody, a client, for example, or a producer I'm working with on my show, saying this to me or vice versa. Hey, this was the intended meaning. This was the outcome that we're going for here in the minds of the audience. And this avenue to get there is better. That's what should matter. In my work, I am nothing if not a creator. That's what I do. I just serial side, project maker, day job creating content. I understand that if a producer were to read a script from me, for example, and they take it in a slightly different direction, I'm looking for what I had in my head was that still conveyed, regardless of what exactly was said. I know a lot of people on the receiving end of your audience's work, Stephanie may not have that relationship with someone or may not be serving like a pure artist or creator on the other end. And so this goes back to time versus talent. Whether you're a freelancer or you're working for a firm and then the firm's marketing takes this role. It's really important that we bring a point of view to the work because coming out of content marketing, writing more text driven mediums, as I have, I see this with freelance writers all the time, where they say I write well, I write this, I've written that. And so what ends up happening is they're promoting what they can do. They're promoting essentially their time and maybe their skills, but not their point of view on it, not their taste, right? It's sort of like you get put on a spreadsheet against others who do what you do and it's a race to the bottom because then you get compared to your peers and it's based on price. Again, a race to the bottom. But if you can bring a point of view and market it that way, whether you are a freelancer and that's how you position yourself or you are working for a firm and that's how hopefully, the firm goes to market. Now, I'm not bringing on someone who is a voice actor, someone who is going to do some narration for me, someone who's going to write an article for me, produce a podcast. I'm not bringing on what you can do. I'm bringing on how you do it. I want your taste, I want your unique point of view. So for example, I make podcasts and documentaries for brands and I'm often involved in the strategy and the development phase and sometimes we'll host them. Well, I make no bones about it. I'm focused on the work and business categories and I lead with the fact that I think content about work feels like too much work to consume. It's boring, it's dry, it's dense, et cetera. So I lead with this belief and all over my website you can find what I believe in, including on my client page. I start with this and basically it's useful friction so that by the time you're working with me, you get what I'm about and also how I view the work. It's not just that I can do this. A lot of people can do this. Only a few people or maybe even just I believe that the work should be done in this way. And by the way, that means some people will be very for me and some people will be against that. Some people will not want that even if they have the dollars to pay me or they want a podcast. And I think it's that decision we have to make on an organizational level or an individual level. If we're free agents or freelancers. What do I want to stand for? What do I believe this work is about? Can I be forceful in my beliefs upfront? Because the entire game is the same, it's win better clients, right? And the way you do that is not to get fancier logos on your page, although that's what we're told. It's certainly not to upsell existing people paying you because if you're the $10,000 person or service, you'll never be the $100,000. It's really hard to go that route. It's to win better clients by aligning back to resonance more deeply with how they see the world and by sharing how you see the world or the work in this case.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:

Now that's really important. As you said, I think talent are always saying ‘how do I differentiate myself, how do I stand out?’ And one way is to actually say what it is that you believe and how you work and what makes you different. Because if you're just, oh, I can do this work and it's just basically punch and punch out or like I ticked all the boxes and woohoo right now. If you want to actually do meaningful work with people that you really want to work with, then you do have to be a bit vulnerable and let them know what it is that you're passionate about and the sorts of projects that you really want to work on with the clients that you have.

Jay Acunzo:

Right. We're in the business of marketing and sales and it's not the marketing and sales that we maybe have. The idea of those things built up in our minds over time. I especially understand this as a creative where we might run kicking and screaming from those ideas, but to me, marketing and sales is about conveying the best of you. It's about understanding like ‘who is my tribe? What is my market?’ It's not everybody who could possibly pay me for the thing that I am uniquely good at doing. It's the folks who are aligned with me. It's the folks who want the type of work that I want to exist and look like I'm a freelancer. There are pay the bills clients all the time, right? And maybe they're not on the website or maybe their logos on the website but you don't see the sample of it anywhere. That's a reality. But bit by incremental bit, I think we can start to show up in the world publicly, on social media, through our blogs, our newsletters, the content we create to talk about what we believe in, the communities we run in, the events we attend or speak at, wherever we show up that brings us notoriety, that brings us community. That's our chance to say, ‘this is why I do this stuff.’ It's not just what I do, it's why I'm doing this. And for my money, that's where you win better clients, that's where you feel more fulfilled. And it's hard because you're saying at first I'm not getting in line. There's a line down the street for people who say, oh, I do this, I'm voice talent. Right? And there's a very short line that forms when you're like, I'm voice talent that believes in this very specific thing. Or I'm creating a developing podcast or brands, but have this bent to it, right? Usually you basically have to get ahead of the message to be proactive and be like, I have to go out and tell people that's what I'm about. Or they came to me and I have to say, look, you want to work with me, I understand that. I'd love to talk you out of it. I'd love to tell you all the reasons that I'm not a fit for all these popular approaches to hiring someone to develop a podcast. Do you want a basic interview show where it's just a parade of the same old experts and authors in your industry and that you call that a business podcast? I'm not for you. Here's this typical, here's the average, here's the stereotype. I'm not creating average things for the average audience here. I'm creating something very specific. And by the way, I'm the best in the business of doing that specific thing, but not everyone wants that specific thing? And so it is a trade off. But I think over time, the more you do that, the more the trade off becomes worthwhile.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:

Yes. When you were talking about this, it reminded me of a past episode on your show. I think it might have even been a series of episodes about maker monsters and how there are these little I don't want to call them little henchmen or like boogeymen or whatever, but the things that you tell yourself or that you believe that are false, that can just stifle that creativity and frankly, actually hurt someone in the areas that you were just speaking about because they're afraid to step out and do something, so can you maybe share some of what a maker monster might be? Just your definition of that? Because I know, we both know, but for everyone else out there, maybe you can give them an idea.

Jay Acunzo:
Sure. So Unthinkable I mentioned quickly is a narrative show. So there's voiceover, there's music and sound design. There's often multiple voices to support one story. But the way I frame it is aspirationally anyway, it's like, if Radiolab was about a creator's career, that's what I want it to be. Radio Lab is at the top of the mountain of all audio experiences, and I'm a huge fan. So the consistent through line has always been folks feel called to do a higher caliber creative work that aligns with their values. And it's often hard to push that out into the world because you feel so many barriers, things pushing against you. And oftentimes we point to, but my boss, but my clients, but my resources, but this industry, but the trend is heading this way, and I dislike that. But a lot of barriers are actually internal. A lot of it comes down to trusting yourself. A lot of it comes down to what's in your brain. And time and time again, the more we told stories of creative people, the more that proved to be really rich and cathartic and relatable moments in their stories. So my producer, Ilana Nevins, and I were talking about, how do we highlight those maker monsters? And I called the maker Monsters and we're like, Okay, let's just do a series where we actually didn't interview a single individual. We sent prompts to as many creative people from a diverse array of backgrounds that we could reach activists, writers, authors, podcasters, entrepreneurs, like, folks that are constantly putting themselves out there, that you would go, Oh, they figured it out. They're successful. And we just asked them about their maker monsters, where it shows up, how they handle it, etc. And so what you heard in the final cut of the first was a chorus of voices all dealing with these monsters, almost like you were hovering above the jungle and everyone was trying, but sort of languishing to hack their way through that jungle. And then over time, as the series unfolded in different episodes, we would dive down below the treeline to spend some time with two to three creators who are dealing with similar monsters. So we had one on imposter syndrome, we had one on perfectionism. We have very many more planned as we move from a weekly show that we're actually doing seasons. That's the big change for the show coming up, so we can pursue more ambitious storytelling. And so, yeah, everyone is dealing with their own maker monsters. And the conclusion of all the series, just to give it away, is you're never going to defeat them. What you learn to do is dance with them. What you learn to do is put them in their place to acknowledge them and say, you're with me on this journey, but I'm leading you're not. And that's really what everybody arrived at, whether it was the producer of a podcast for the Smithsonian, Lizzie Peabody from Side Door Podcast, talking about, ‘we're not saving lives here. None of this matters. It doesn't matter.’ And she creates a song, and her husband helped her make a song, and she sings the song on the pot on Unthinkable, she sings this song about it doesn't matter. ‘No, it doesn't matter.’ It's wonderful and it's just the way we all come at this stuff. It often starts and stops with what's going on internally and that really is the barrier. And we like to point to external things, but so often it's these maker monsters that hold us back.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:

Yeah, maker monsters. If anyone has not heard of that before today, make sure that you write it down and go check out the Unthinkable podcast and find those narrative episodes on the maker monsters because they were really well done for someone who comes from the audio world and mostly as a voice person, but still, my husband's an audio engineer by training.

Jay Acunzo:

Oh, awesome.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:

So as co founders of Voices, he was the technical side and I'm the creative side. But yeah, I just really enjoyed your show. And something I do admire about what you do is that you are a master of narrative. And I admittedly I am not that sort. So when I thought, oh good, I have Jay on the show, I've got to think of all these things because he thinks everything out so much and that's maybe one of my maker monster is that I'm thinking, ‘oh my gosh, I have to measure up to what this person might expect because they're just at a different level or different talents and gifts,’ really. Right.

Jay Acunzo:

I faced that, too. And I remember there was a couple of interviews early and Unthinkable's run, where I sort of tried to prove to the guests, prove to the subject that I was on their level and what they did. Honestly, what ends up happening is you try to be the expert and try to be the subject, essentially, and you're not. But your unique skills are. I understand the questions that I want to ask. I understand the journey I'm on with the overall show's premise and I can press anybody through that unique premise and outcomes an original because it's my show. It's this show specifically, not another show about creativity, of which there are many really great ones, but we have a very unique bend. So if I show up as the guide into this person's life career story, not I'm on par with this person, I'm the star. If I let curiosity win the day, then good things tend to happen. But where we, I think, fall short, especially I'm speaking mostly to interviewers because that's a lot of the shows that exist, is we want to be the star, we want to be the expert. But that's actually not your role. Your role is to be a guide. You let the byproduct be people trust and love you. But on the show, you are a guide into a theme. You are a guide into the show's overall premise. You're a guide into this person's life or work. Taking sort of hat in hand and being more humble about it or curious about it and framing yourself not like an expert, but more like an explorer. I feel like it removes impostor syndrome really nicely because nobody is commenting on what I made or who I am. It's stuff that I found ‘here, I dug this up for you. I found it. Do you want it’? And people go, ‘Yeah, this is great, fantastic.’ I'm going to go find some more stuff now. Or people go, ‘no, this is terrible’. And I'm like, ‘no worries, I'm going to go try to find other people who like what I found,’ or ‘no worries, I can go and find other things.’ Right, so you're an explorer, not an expert. And I feel like that's a healthy way to beat back that one very specific maker monster I think you're speaking to, which is impostor syndrome.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:

Yeah, that's a big one. And I know on a past episode of the show we had a guest on and he was another podcasting expert and just talking about how when a voice actor is hired to actually host someone as a show similar to how you had done in past, for other things, you have to at least sound like you understand what's going on in the show and you know the audience. And there's two different kinds of podcasts, I think, I believe, but Jeff Large was a guest and anyway, we're talking about how you might have a podcast format that is meant to be very much like, we're going to tell you how to do this. Here's all the steps. You could find all the information on Google and it was more prescriptive. And then you would have another model that is more like, let's go on a journey. This is more about story. And it doesn't so much matter that you're a subject matter expert, whereas it would in the first one, but the transformational content is very different. And so this whole idea of someone maybe stepping in shoes like yours saying, well, I might not be host material on my own, but if I'm hired as a voice actor or a narrator to give life to this corporate show, because I no doubt some of your clients might go that route, then you obviously have to be in alignment to have resonance with what that content is in that brand.

Jay Acunzo:

100%. Of all the podcasts, I've hosted six podcasts and two document series, and in that time, one, maybe two, were entirely in my brain and my own, so it didn't matter if I aligned with anybody else's. But in all others, I did have to sort of shape myself in some way as a performer and a storyteller to what the client was seeking. But the way we did that wasn't to say, give me the history of your business or everything that's in your head, because quite frankly, a lot of clients don't know. They can sense it, maybe. But my job is to be the synthesizer that says, ‘Okay, are you thinking of it this way?’ And they go, ‘Yeah, exactly. I didn't have the words for it, but you're the communicator. That's exactly what is in my head.’ And also, by the way, what we do creatively is inherently selfish. It's impossible to totally remove you from the work, including if you're reading someone else's words, you are involved, it's going to change the fact that you're present. And if I sub you out for someone else, something will change. So we're better off stepping into that versus, ‘Oh, no, I'm a white label solution.’ So I'm not a white label solution to host a client's podcast, but I can figure out the marriage or the overlap of sort of my perspective, my quirks and idiosyncrasies as a performer and a storyteller and my vision for this with theirs. And the way to do that, the way you kind of come to a harmony is what is the premise? Like, if this succeeds, what's different for others? Because they're going to arrive thinking, ‘what will be different when I'm done?’ It doesn't matter the experience that's always implied in your mind as a consumer of anything, what will be different when I'm done? I'm hiring this into my life to serve a purpose. What is that purpose? And if the client I serve brands with podcasts, most of them go if they say drive sales, drive brand awareness, sorry, we're not there yet. We haven't arrived. I'm talking about the audience. That's who I'm here to serve. Because if you want me to do that, if I serve the audience better, I'm serving you better. If I make things that are irresistible, that they go, ‘Oh, my gosh, this is speaking to me. And by the way, I got to tell five of my friends even before I opt into this because look at the way it's positioned and the premise that's described in the intro. Like, I need to find other people that love this like, I love this even before I hear it.’ If I do that, well, then you're served better client, right? So it's almost like you want me on that wall. You need me on that wall. Like, you want me thinking audience first. You need me thinking audience first. And again, the overlap of them and me is, ‘so what is the premise? What are we here to own outright in the market? What are we trying to change for the audience?’ And I can constantly come back to that as a reset if I start to lose my way and it becomes too much of, like, the Jay show and not the premise show, right? I need that North Star. And oftentimes they don't know they need it too. So that's part of the value I can bring.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:

That is so awesome. And I was just thinking, before we let you go, I have one more question. Not sure how much into the AI space you are, Jay, because I know you're very creative. You're all over the place. But as you might know, AI voices are becoming more and more prevalent. They're everywhere now, and just everything you've been talking about being deliberate with choices and understanding your audience and connecting and resonance and all this, what you're doing right now, obviously it would feel like AI could not replicate that. But it gets better. And we were hearing just yesterday, I had a guest on from the world of sports, and he said, you know, all those highlight reels that you see? They show this, the set up to that, to this. It's all AI. And, like, what? All these things surprised me, and, well, maybe they shouldn't have, but I'm just curious as to your take. Like, how is AI influencing storytelling?

Jay Acunzo:

I don't know. And I don't want to sit here pretending to be an AI expert. What I do know is we tend to worry about these very macro level trends like that which preclude us or distract us, I think, from pursuing the uniqueness with which we can bring our own personal style to the work. And so rather than worry about the big stuff, maybe we worry about what feels very small, which is, how am I differentiated in this next project? How did I improve piece to piece, moment to moment? I think about the photography world, and you have companies like Unsplash.com, which was, Getty and all these other paid services aside, Unsplash was giving away tons and tons of stock photography for free. And a lot of photographers were excited because they got exposure. And then others were like, this is terrible. This is chewing into our work. And it's like, but that's what the market wants. And so what you have to do is not just be a photographer. You have to have a point of view as a photographer because no one is going to be able to replicate your point of view. And you have to work hard on what is that point of view. It's not enough to be technically competent. I don't think it ever was, quite frankly. I think we just have a boogeyman excuse, which is AI or Tech or whatever you want to say, curated content from around the web, or copyright infringement. I'm fairly certain the folks that have a unique identifier, that have a point of view, that have educated the market, that show up as teachers and inspirers of others, that, oh, by the way, you can hire me to do this stuff with you. Those folks are not sitting around worrying about AI. It's the folks that are worrying about the letter of the law. Like, I am a voice actor, I am a podcast host. I am an interviewer. I am cutting sports highlights. Those are the folks that, because what they're doing ends up being wrote, because they can be placed on a spreadsheet and compared to everyone else on price because they have not thought about their belief system and led with that publicly in their conversations. And wherever they show up, they are the ones at risk. And by the way, I'm being really flippant about this because there are some folks that maybe they're not privileged enough to think about that stuff. Maybe they are just trying to put food on the table. They have a lot going on in their personal lives. It's a luxury of mine that I can say, think about your differentiation, but I think quickly that luxury is becoming the job. Table stakes are the skills because knowledge is ubiquitous. Expertise is commodified. You're not going to out-expert or out-competent someone else. You need that extra layer. You need that ability to say, this is my own style, this is my point of view. And I have testimonials to back that up and I have samples to back that up. But I think that's what people are increasingly going to hire on the human side. The stuff that can't replicate is the stuff that feels a little bit more bespoke and a lot more belief focused and a lot more taste driven. It's not the stuff that you can just repeat through technology.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:

Everybody, you've got homework? Okay? So you need to go and figure out what your point of view, your perspective is, the ways that you can differentiate yourself. Because we've all talked about this, all the actors, you know, I'm talking to you. But just basically when you go through method acting and you approach a role or you see a script and you think of something, a memory, sometimes you think of like with Inside Out, that Pixar film, you have a core memory and you draw on it and you infuse it into whatever that scene is. And no one will be able to perform it as you did because you're using something that was unique to you, that was your own experience, and it just shines through in a way that can't be replicated. And I think that's part of what you're saying there, Jay. A lot of it has to do with the branding and the way that someone positions themselves and the work that they go after to find something that you're really passionate about. And I know you're probably a big believer in this, but making your own content, if you're not getting hired right now, then make something and then you'll get noticed.

Jay Acunzo:

I forget the exact. I'm going to butcher it. I'm trying to frantically look this up. There's an old adage, whoever tells the stories rules the world. Something along those lines. And what I see from a lot of creative people is, and this is the history of creators and artists, is you've always needed the patron. You've always needed someone to put you on. You've been underpaid and underappreciated and sort of beaten down. And that's why we turn to side projects. That's why a lot of artists become rebellious or love the rebelliousness of certain people. I understand where this comes from. It's culturally ingrained in us as creative people to sort of be more shrinking violets. And the funny thing is, though, is in this world where everything is tech related, everything is tech enabled, the most powerful people are the storytellers. The stories rule the world. And we can tell stories better than anybody else. Whether we're hired to then be a long form narrative podcaster, a ghostwriter voice talent, it doesn't matter what specific sub sector of that we occupy. We are the masterful communicators in this world, and what we're waiting to do is to have someone gift us money, time, resources, permission to tell their stories. We need to get better at telling our own, and we have that ability. If we show up in a potential sales interaction or job interview or client relationship and we are telling stories about the work we're doing and our value and our belief system around it, they won't help but feel gobsmacked, ‘oh, we got to pay them.’ Like, yeah, there's technology, but that's the lowbrow stuff. We're not looking to do that stuff. I got to work with Sarah. I got to work with Sam. Because, you know, emotional reason here. People make emotional choices, and back to resonance, we understand the things we need to say and the order in which we can say them to resonate with others. So they pick us the best stories in the day, and so power to the storytellers, and it's time we stepped into our own power.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:

So much to think about. Absolutely. Well, Jay Acunzo, it has been an absolute pleasure to have you here on Vox Talk today. Thank you so much for joining us.

Jay Acunzo:

Thank you for pushing me out of my comfort zone and asking incredibly great questions. I hope that your audience appreciates the masterful work you do on the mic, and I'm sure they do.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:

Oh, yes. And before we let you go again, how can people learn more about what you do and where can they find you?

Jay Acunzo:

JayAcunzo.com that's everything and anything. But if you are listening to a show and you want to move quickly over to another show, the name of mine is unthinkable. But don't hide within advice content. Go make something. If you want to support my mission in the world, yes, fine. Listen to my show. But mostly go make something.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:

All right, well, go make something. I couldn't have said it better myself. And that's the way we saw the world through the lens of voiceover this week. Thank you so much for listening to Vox Talk. And also, thank you. Oh, my goodness. Thank you so much to Jay Acunzo. He was just an amazing guest. I really hope that you took a lot of notes. Go back and listen again if you need to. There's a lot of good information in there for you and a lot of inspiration as well, I might say so. I'm Stephanie Ciccarelli, your host at Voices. Our producer is Geoff Bremner. You've been listening to Vox Talk. We look forward to seeing 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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