Timing is everything in life.
This is doubly true in the business life of an entrepreneur.
And that is doubly true again when it comes to technology.
It often feels like I came to my industry rather late in life. While I’ve always been entrepreneurial, I was in my forties before I started to record and edit my voice professionally. I often wonder what I could have already achieved if I had heeded the call to voiceover acting in my early twenties instead. Surely, I would sit atop a vast creative empire by now, replete with blue-chip clients and throngs of adoring fans. What could I have accomplished with those extra twenty-five years?
Not as much as I might think, actually. The problem here is that voiceover today, as an industry, bears little to no resemblance to its 1990’s younger self. (Just like I don’t.) Those were the days when Don LaFontaine and a very select few others ruled VO; as forever captured in the infamous “Five Guys in a Limo” short. Market segments like explainer videos and eLearning, as we know them today weren’t invented yet. Remember the internet was still quite new, without the bandwidth we now easily take for granted, so anything like those came on VHS tapes. Animation and commercials may have already been in full swing, but they were still being cast like regular television in Los Angeles, and the fan-based YouTube revolution was not yet even dreamed of.
Most of all, the technology of recording was still mostly analog. No MP3’s, or even WAV files, to send to the client via email. The use of digital audio as a broadcast standard had yet to evolve that far. Back in the 90’s VO Actors were still recording to tape, editing with literal razor blades, and audio engineering was a specialty not found on laptops of the era. Demo’s were recordings of recordings being mailed around the world looking for work somewhat blindly. There was no LinkedIn or Twitter to create a supportive and helpful community that tries to mentor the new people as much as possible.
For a kid in Ontario (but not Toronto) there was no way I could have hoped to become a voiceover actor in the 90’s. (At best I might have fell into radio; I was certainly a fan.) The timing just wasn’t right. Without the websites and the audio technology we take for granted today, my current career was simply not possible. So I take this as a sign to go a little easier on my younger self for not stepping up to the microphone earlier. Apparently I had to wait to find myself where I am meant to be today. A good entrepreneur needs a sense of timing.
One response to “An Entrepreneur’s Timing in Business and Tech”
This is great stuff, Graham. Like I tell my students: it’s never too late to start.