Podcasts Vox Talk Scheduling Your Voice Over Studio with Nic Redman and Leah Marks
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Scheduling Your Voice Over Studio with Nic Redman and Leah Marks

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Stephanie Ciccarelli
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Do you have challenges with time management? How about remembering what you need to do next? Nic Redman and Leah Marks from The VO Social share tips for keeping yourself on track, motivated and feeling accomplished with insights from the latest edition of The VO Planner. Leah and Nic reveal how getting organized, creating habits, goal setting and keeping hydrated can change the trajectory of your voice over business for the better.

Mentioned on the show:

VO Career Planner | The VO Social

The Voiceover Social Podcast

Abacus Entertainment NYC

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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. Are you good at keeping the time? While most of us can time a voiceover really well, not all of us are good with the general practice of scheduling, allocating the right amount of time or remembering everything we have to do. So joining me today are Leah Marks and Nic Redman. These fabulous ladies have put together the VO Planner. Nic and Leah host the VO Social podcast and are both career voiceover artists. Welcome to the show, Leah and Nic.

Leah and Nic:

Hi, Stephanie. It was a lovely time already.

Stephanie:

Oh, my gosh, so amazing. And you guys are not at home in the UK. Right now. You are actually in New York at Abacus. Our good friends at Abacus have lent their studio. Thank you, Bryant. They let you in. Thank you, Bruce. Thank you, Emma. And thank you also to Tom for his hand and all this.

L & N:
Yeah.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:

So, Nic and Leah, obviously this has been a journey of over a year of working on these planners and coming up with wonderful things that can help other talent and so on. But tell me, what is the origin story? Why did you think to create this amazing planner in the first place?

Nic Redman:

Well, I am a bit of a planner, to be honest. I'm not great historically at, like, sticking to my schedule and I get a bit distracted and I have to do lists and post it notes and all kinds of nonsense all over the place. Reminded me what I need to do every day. And I've explored various just generic business planners over the years and social media schedule and diaries and all that kind of stuff. And I was laying in bed one sort of 03:00 a.m. Morning, ideas, random popping my head. I was like, ‘I don't think there's a career planner for Voiceovers and that seems mad.’ So I contacted Leah, because ‘I was like, I'll make it,’ but I bet Leah will want to help.’

Leah Marks:

And then I immediately took over completely. That was great. I thought, oh, that's the thing that definitely needs to happen. So then I spent the next two years now we've been developing this and working on it and talking to Voiceovers about what they want and focus grouping it. And we're now on to the second iteration of the whole thing. So we had one last year. We launched the first generation of The Voiceover Career Planner, which we sold 100 copies of, and then badgered the hundred people who bought those planners for their feedback and their views on it and how they thought that it could develop and change and improve and what else we could add. And then we put all of that stuff, we poured it all into the second generation of The Voiceover Career Planner. So this now what I'm holding in my hands, flippity flapping, thank you, is the perfect version of a Voiceover Career Planner, because it's got so much user generated ideas built into it and how functional it is and how useful it is and how user friendly it is and all those things. It's all in there now.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:

Oh, yes. And the book is just like I remember your first edition and that was only available in the UK, and I think it might have gone out to a few select people overseas. I don't know, it kind of didn't seem like there are only so many copies, so it was like, oh, get it while it's hot. And now I assume they're probably only limited copies, too. So, please, everyone, order yours early.

Leah Marks:

Well, it's complicated. If you're in the UK, if you're listening in the UK, yes, there is a limited edition version for you, which is hard back with shiny gold writing and a ribbon. And it's lovely. And it's lovely, but in order to get it to you, I need to personally pack it, pile it all up onto a little trailer and tow it down to the post office from my house and frighten the living heck out of the people who work there. All the women in the post office, like, they hide when they see me coming with so many things to stamp! We've done 200 of those and they're more than half gone at this point. So, yeah, if you're listening to this in the UK, absolutely get yours, get it quick, because that fancy limited edition version is going to sell out. However, once it does, it's moving to this soft back version that Stephanie can see and I can see and you can see see, can't you? But not everybody can see unless you look at the website. And then from then on, everybody will have the standard version. So it's soft back. There isn't a ribbon, but you can tie your own one on to the end. And it's still got all the same lovely content. And it's not quite as shiny. There isn't the gold lettering, so that was the idea. But it's much more functional content as well, isn't it?

Nic Redman:

Yeah, there is a slightly different content.

Leah Marks:

We have adjusted the content. So for the UK version, there's things like tax dates, end of year tax dates, and it's more UK centric in terms of events and social media stuff. Maybe for the international version, we wanted to think about it from a truly global perspective, as in what would be useful for everybody all around the world. And so, although there is, like, plenty of fair stuff there for North Americans and Australians, which is where a lot of our listenership to the podcast is based, it's also there's stuff in there about voiceover in India, voiceover in Africa, lots of other things that we're trying not to leave anybody out, which is tricky, because there's how many people in the world?

Nic Redman:

Like, millions,

Leah Marks:

Several billion so sorry if we’ve missed you out.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:

I think 7 or 8 billion people, probably.

Leah Marks:

We’re trying not to leave anybody out!

Stephanie Ciccarelli:

Yeah, absolutely. Everyone needs a planner and definitely yours is catered to this market. So I know you've mentioned that there are some things that have changed and I think for anyone who's listening Leah, you confirmed with me just a bit earlier that this planner is not dated. So you don't have to wait until January 2023 to actually start writing in it. It could be literally and Nick, you've mentioned this too. At any time someone can pick this up and start turn over their new leaf or whatever, they're going to do some kind of I'm going to do better in my business. This can happen at any time.

Leah Marks:

Shall I tell you a little bit about how it works?

Stephanie Ciccarelli:

Of course.

Leah Marks:

It's a 52-week planner. Each week has, at the start of it, a different tip. We essentially spoke to 52 experts in the audio industry. So whether they might be agents or producers or voice coaches or people who work in mindset or whatever it might be, we ask them to answer this question. And the question is, what is the single most useful thing that you need voiceovers to know that you are the only person or the person that is best placed to suggest it, to offer it. And so the stuff we got back was actually brilliant. We've got 52 separate tips that can really kick off each week with a new idea and a fresh perspective. And then at the start of each week you divide up all the things you're going to do that weekend, whether it's urgent or important, according to the Stephen Covey Time Matrix, which is a very well known way of managing your week, which I recommend very good. And then after that you move on to your day and you can work out what you're going to do each day. And by putting everything down in that daily planner in that column, which is just for that one day, you're sort of outsourcing the whip. You don't have to tell yourself to do it anymore because you've already told the book to tell you. And then you just have to follow what the book says after that. So that's the weekly and daily way of structuring your life. What the main thing is, I think that it does, is it allows you to set an overall goal, or more than one overall goal for yourself. You can work out. It supports you to work out what you want to achieve in your career. What is it you actually want? Where do you see yourself in a few years from now? What do you want to make happen for you in terms of what will bring you the most creative fulfillment or the most money or the most whatever it might be? And then there's a structure at the start of the book for you to set down that goal or those three goals, to work out why you want it and to work out the actions that are going to get you there. And then because it's at the beginning of the book and because you're using this book every day, it's always bringing you back to that original goal. Does this serve my purpose? Is this going to get me to where I want to be every single day? And it'll keep you hydrated because there's a special little hydration tracker at the bottom of each page. Just tick it off. Little raindrops there of water.

Nic:
Or you can color it in with a nice coloring pencil. If that’s your thing.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:

Yeah, like a little blue drops represent water. But yeah, along the whole lines of this hydration or how much water, I should say, does each drop represent or does it not represent an amount?

Nic Redman:

I think probably if we go by the it's glasses a day general rule, there are eight little raindrops, so one droplet per glass. But if you're interested in super in-depth hydration tips, then I have a whole episode of my other podcast, the Voice Coach Podcast, on how to stay hydrated efficiently. So there's loads of geeky science in there about how much you should actually be drinking.

Leah Marks:

And myth busting, there's a lot of people if you go on Facebook and post something about, I feel really dehydrated, or like, how do I make sure I'm hydrated before a session? 3000 people will be like, nonsense.

Nic Redman:

I do like a bit of well researched, well researched.

Leah Marks:

Oh my word.

Nic Redman:

Well researched science. When it comes to vocal health. Clearly I need to work on my articulation today.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:

As we're talking about your beautiful VO Planner, which I remember the original and the spiral bound book, which it is now, which is really functional, it's obviously a written journal. So can you tell us why it's important that people actually put pen to paper? Like so many digital options out there these days, and little notifications that hang up and say, oh, you've got this going on in ten minutes. Why is this important to actually get down to writing on paper?

Nic Redman:

So there's actually kind of neuroscience behind the idea that when you write something down, it's more impactful and the chances of you sort of coming back to and meaning something to you is much, much higher. So even if all you write down is new demo, you don't have to be like, ‘Dear Diary, I really feel like what I mean,’ it doesn't have to be detailed, but there's something about like scratching it out on paper with a pen or a pencil or a massive crayon or whatever gives you joy is like scientifically proven to actually make more of an impact. What I tend to do now is have a written and the digital setup so I'll get all my ideas out on paper and big bubble spider diagrams and colors and running around like Picasso with big pieces of paper and then I put it down in the planner in a slightly more organized way. And then when I'm out and about, if there's anything else, I tend to translate a lot of it into digital anyway. So there's, like, actual science behind it. There's some weird thing, I think this statistic was something like, we remember, like, 70% of what we write down or something. I can't remember the science. I should definitely have checked that out.

Leah Marks:

That's more than if you just don't write it down.

Nic Redman:

More than if you just read it. So writing it down commits it to memory much more.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:

That makes sense. Yeah, that definitely makes sense. I know that's true for me, if I write something down, even if I forget that to do list at home, I'll remember it because I actually wrote it down. Now, if I had put it in, like a text message or I've done, then I won't remember it necessarily, or even if I said it out loud. But it's not the same as actually the mechanics of writing something and having that impact on the paper. I don't know. So many people like these digital things. I'm totally a paper person. I’m like you, Nic. I'll take everything, put it in the digital so that it doesn't slip your mind when you're out and you're, ‘oh, what am I supposed to do? I'll write that.’ Right. But there's nothing quite like actually being able to commit to something by writing it down.

Nic Redman:

And I get a lot of joy and fun out of making it look aesthetically pleasing. Like, I'm not an artist, but I do tend to when I'm doing my big picture goal setting, I tend to have, like, stickers and things that I can kind of get a bit mad and silly with it, like, lots of colors, stickers and highlighter pens and all that kind of stuff. That really helps me because it feels more fun. And I think one of the things about when you're building a new habit, like goal setting, if you're new to goal setting, is that making it, like, fun and something you're enjoying rather than you with a blank piece of paper and a boring pen, if you're like, ‘oh, look, I've got some lovely emoji stickers. I've got all these highlighters.’ Just make it silly and interesting. That's my tip anyway, colors and stickers.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:

And then, like, ticking something off when you've done.

Nic Redman:

It is so satisfying.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:

It is. For anyone who has tenacity. I'm a big fan of the Working Genius and the six working geniuses, but one of my top ones is tenacity. And there is nothing more I love than writing a list and ticking off the item on that list. And even if I didn't write it on the list, but I've done it, I'll write it on the list and then take it off.

Leah Marks:

Take it off after that. Absolutely couldn't approve more.

Nic Redman:

Yes. Sometimes I like putting stuff on post its and sticking them on the wall, and then I get to really dramatically rip it off the wall and squish it up and throw it in a bin, which is even more brilliantly satisfying, done you've been achieved.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:

And I imagine there's also some aspect of rewarding yourself too, when you've actually achieved something that you put in your planner.

Leah Marks:

Well, there is a lovely thing that we just have been there since the beginning, since our very first little focus group came from, Brenda came up with this. And essentially at the end of each week, there's a little reminder, a little prompt to tell you to write down one of the things that you've achieved that week that you're really proud of on a page at the back of the planet. And you go to the page of the back of the planet, you write it down on the My Achievements page. And then at the end of the year, at the end of your 52 weeks, you've got 52 things that are like incontrovertible proof that you've achieved stuff that you've done great that year, you've had a wonderful time and everything is going really well. And if you can keep that mindset, you can keep that mindset of positive reinforcement of how great you are, that's going to serve you well in the following year with your next planner.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:

Yeah, well, everyone's always looking for metrics ways to know, did I achieve something? Is this worthwhile? Should I keep doing it? And so if you have a way to look back and say, well, you know what, these activities actually generated this for me, or I did do those things and achieved whatever it was, and I now can document or show to someone else who's involved in my business or maybe, I don't know, a banker or someone you might be looking for a loan. Well, there's a track record.

Leah Marks:

I'm glad you mentioned that because absolutely, that's the thing, because I've often found myself flailing and not really knowing where I'm going and what I'm doing in terms of my business. And so one of the things that's always really helped me is a spreadsheet or a list or a way of tracking what's happening. And so we have built into the planner a number of different trackers. We've got a social media tracker so you can keep track of how your reach is developing. We've got a job tally chart so that you can mark every time you complete a job and get an overview of how busy you are at different times of year. And then you can also note how much you're making each month. And then you can track your business growth throughout the year. That way there's an expensive record so you don't forget to claim the things that are relevant to claim. We just wanted to make it as multipurpose as we possibly could to help people feel in control of their business and across everything that's happening in every part of it.

Nic Redman:

And one of the questions in the goal setting bit at the start asks you how, you'll know you've achieved the goal. So, like what's the outcome? So, for example, if the goal was getting an agent and you work through the process of making that really specific and achievable and realistic and things through the method in the planner, and then the question is ‘and how you know you've achieved it?’ Well, the answer there is, is it just, well, I've got the agents, or is it I got the agents and I've got a job? Or it just allows you to be right down and be really specific about what achieving that goal will actually literally be for you. And then when you go back each quarter to reassess your goals and look at things again and tweak things, you can have a marker there to know whether you feel like you've got there or not.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:

Yeah, accountability. I think, and even just the goal setting aspect of everything is so important because if you don't write it down, it won't happen. As you've probably heard, there's a saying that if you plan to fail, then you (or sorry) don't know when to plan to fail. You can keep that in, Geoff. It's kind of funny. Sorry, we'll try it again. I'll have to blame it on my water. But it's been said that if you plan… NO!, why does this happen to me? Thank you. Okay. If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail. You can tell I am not the person who coined that phrase, but that's just what it all is, right. So much of this is planning, thinking ahead. Not all of us have been blessed with the ability to do that at the same level. I know that I'm not someone who's constantly thinking ahead unless it's absolutely crucial in life and death situations. So how important is it that people are in more of a planning mindset like planning, and Leah, you understand this too.

Leah Marks:

Yeah. Something that I've really enjoyed as a result of creating the planner is having conversations with people about what they want and about how they're going to get it. Because we've spoken to people where when we ask them how they plan, they just say, Well, I don't really and then they don't really know what they want. And they're just kind of plowing on and getting plodding through their business and plodding through their voiceover career. But then when you actually really start to drill down and say, okay, but what do you get the most joy? From? Where do you really find the most creative fulfillment? Like I said, they'll pick something and then you can actually say to them, well, if that's what you want, then you need to work out how to get there. Otherwise you won't. You'll just keep wandering around in circles over here. Maybe go left or right a little bit, but you'll never get to that end goal and you'll never have achieved all those things that you could have achieved. For me, I was doing that a little bit with my business. I was sort of plowing through and building my voice over business and getting more clients and I was having a good time and I was enjoying my work, but there was something missing. And I realized what it was, was that I wanted to be working more in audio drama, in radio drama. And so I had to really specifically think, using the methods in The Planner about how I was going to get myself there. I needed an acting agent as well as a voiceover agent. I needed more acting work, therefore I needed to create my own work, therefore I needed to write a play, therefore I needed to do a class on how to write a solo show and therefore I needed to do another class about how to get funding for that solo show. And I've been able to break it down and follow those things through. And now I've written my play and I've got an acting agent and it's all working because of making those plans and sticking to them.

Nic Redman:

As you can see, Leah doesn't really think very much about this or achieve much.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:

Leah, are you coaching anyone on this?

Leah Marks: No, no no

Stephanie Ciccarelli:

I think it's just wonderful. Everything you've put into that book is just so relevant. Obviously not seeing the most recent one, but I know that you've got tips from all kinds of people to inspire and motivate.

Leah Marks:

Can we tell you about one more thing that's in it? Actually, it's a huge oversight. We haven't mentioned it so far. One of the things that has changed since the first generation to the second generation is we have I'm going to say we because I'm going to claim it anyway, but Nic has developed this extraordinary, extraordinary warmup system. She's created four individual bespoke, unique warmup routines to cover every eventuality. So if you can think of any kind of thing you might think you need a warm up for, it comes under one of those four warm up routines. Whether you've got no time, you need a quick one, whether you're about to do something really intense like a video game screaming session, there's a warm up routine right there and it's broken down in the planner in terms of bullet points of activities that you need to do to get that warm up right. But also, if you go to the very back page of The Planner, there is a QR code which you can scan and it takes you to a top secret page on the website. And on that page there are lots and lots of links to things that I mentioned throughout the planner. But there's also four videos, one of each of the warm up routines of Nic demonstrating the warm up routines for you, so you cannot fail to get it right.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:

Yes, I was going to ask about that. I wasn't going to put you on the spot, Nic. It's like, ‘oh, do one of your warmups right now.’ But obviously there's a QR code that you would like to direct people to when they have The Planner and do that. Awesome. So before we go, I know there's maybe a couple of little questions I wanted to ask you, but just basically how impactful is time management for talent and also what does it take to be consistent?

Nic Redman:

So, in terms of planner users, we've had some remarkable feedback from people in terms of understanding and utilizing time management via The Planner. And what they found is it gives them a sense of purpose and structure to their day. So on those days you don't have loads of glorious, fun things to record and you're sat in your studio or your office going, right, ‘nothing's in what shall I do now?’ that's my career. Instead of just kind of randomly waiting for inspiration to strike. Because they've worked through the goal setting process, they can manage their time based on how on the next step they need to get towards the goal that they've set. So it gives them a process to break down the day you can set your little period of time, do your task, reward yourself and then move on to the next one. So I think in terms of how useful time management is, it's definitely adding structure and purpose to people's days, isn't it?

Leah Marks:

Yeah, don't waste a single second, I always say. And then also, when it comes to consistency, one of the focuses of the book is successful habit creation. And the details are in the book but also we made an episode all about planning and successful habit creation when we launched the first generation of the Planner. And we interviewed a man who specializes in teaching mindful acting and also knows all about the different ways that you can make sure that the habits that you set up for yourself stick. And so we've got a page from him in The Planner, his top tips about how to make sure that works out for you and also it directs you to the episode as well so that you can listen to the full interview. Because consistency is about habit creation, it's about working out what you want and working out how you're going to get there and then just keeping on doing it. Keeping on doing it and not letting it become boring and not allowing yourself to think of it as boring and making sure that every time you sit down to do it, you get it done.

Nic Redman:

I think the other thing that helps with consistency is the fact that you can see that you're progressing towards the goal that you've set. So instead of getting three months into your year and going, well, I was going to get a new demo but you're not really sure what you've done or really tangibly have any proof of what you've done to get there, then it's really nice that you can flick back through and see the things that you've managed to do towards that goal. So I think, yes, seeing what you've achieved is incredibly important for consistency as well.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:

Yes, it is. I want to hear from everyone who gets one of these planners, or anyone who's just tracking their work, for that matter, how many boxes have you ticked off today and how far do you think you progressed? Because you've actually taken what Leah and Nic have said to heart and have really had a new way of looking at your business in terms of how productive and efficient you might be, but also just how that makes you feel. Right. Because that's a good feeling, to actually move forward in something and to have achieved your goals.

Leah Marks:

That's something you talk about quite a bit, Nic, isn't it about not just writing down your goal and figuring out how much money is going to make you or anything like practical like that, but also if you connected to something emotional.

Nic Redman:

Yeah, so it's understanding. Again, one of the questions in the goal setting process within the planner is how will it make you feel to have achieved that goal? And I think that's really important because it's not just about being able to take your family on holiday or pay off your credit card debt or buy a new piece of equipment. Sometimes it's just about knowing that you feel more settled within your environment or you feel like you've stepped up a level in your career and you feel like you've got a little bit more kudos and reputation. Does it make you feel proud? Does it make you feel inspired to move forward? And if you can make that sort of neural pathway link between the achievement and the emotional reaction to that, then it's a much stronger connection and again, helps with consistency, I think.

Stephanie Ciccarelli:

Wonderfully said. Well, thank you so much, Leah Marks and Nic Redman, for joining us at Vox Talk in our happy little Riverside studio today. So nice to see you. How is it that people can learn more about you and where can they get this planner?

Leah Marks:

Well, if you go to TheVoSocial.com, which is TheVoSocial.com, and then you can head to the Voiceover Planner tab and find it there, and everything you need to know about both the UK edition and the International edition is there. That's probably the best way to go about that.

Nic Redman:

We're both on Instagram if you want to have a

Leah Marks:

but I'm not really on Instagram. What's your Instagram handle?

Nic Redman:

Nic at NicRedVoice.

Leah Marks:

Yes. But leave me alone. Leave me out of it. It's not worth anyone's time. Thank you. Very good. Well, thank you so much. And I want to take a moment here again to thank our good friends at Abacus in New York City. If anyone is in New York and looking for a great place to do pretty much anything that you need to do for your voiceover business, get a demo done or what have you; Bruce and Bryant. Amazing people.

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. We love to hear from you all. Just make sure that you share these episodes if you found them to be useful. A very special thank you to The VO Social. We have Leah Marks and Nic Redman. So obviously beautiful conversation that we've had for Voices. I'm Stephanie Ciccarelli. Vox Talk is produced by Geoff Bremner and we'll 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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