In his book Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, Simon Sinek challenges us to find out why we do what we do. (It’s also succinctly covered in his Ted Talk "How Great Leaders Inspire Action"). All too often, he points out, companies and people are fixated on what they do. He cites several examples of companies that never found their why and failed. In other words, these companies were focused on what (e.g. “we make widgets that have these features and benefits”). According to Sinek, that’s simply not good enough because it does not inspire customers, and turns your product into a commodity that gets bought on price.
So, this got me thinking. What I do is voiceover. I talk into microphones for a living, and I do this for a variety of clients. Simple enough. But why do I do this for a living? There are many easier ways to earn a living with a more defined schedule, and a steadier paycheck. I’ve tried that path, and it just wasn’t for me – and that’s a discussion for another day. But still – why voiceover?
To find fame and fortune as the voice of some hot animated property? Well, I’d have to move the family to LA for that, and we have no plans to do that. Because I like being sequestered in a dark windowless area? Well that depends on the day. Because I like being judged by strangers on the relative merits of my speaking voice? Sign me up for that any day, he retorted sarcastically.
My why, it turns out, is quite simple. I’ve always loved reading aloud. You can hand me the most boring, dull, dry as dirt financial regulation script, and I’ll welcome the chance to speak it into the microphone. Same with industrial flooring, HR benefits, and the proper ratios of medications to treat disease. Yes, these are all actual projects I’ve worked on. I’m not picky, just send me the copy!
And this did not start recently, either. I’ve always loved reading aloud. In school I wanted to get called on to read aloud and would be frustrated when a classmate butchered the text. Yep, I’m not above my own judging, thank you. But now, I get to do this. I do it for projects that have a limited audience, and I do it on the radio. I do it for sales training and e-learning.
I’m not looking to be famous. I just like to talk on a microphone. If you’ve got something to say, I’m happy to say it for you!
So, what is it you do? And what is your why?