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The Secrets To Becoming Exceptional:
Learn ... Do Your Best ... Win With 'No'

By Bob Souer
Voice Actor

Let’s get very real for a moment. No one, no matter how talented and dedicated and industrious, is going to be able to excel at everything.

We’re all going to have areas of weakness and average-ness. Even in our professional lives, some things are going to be outside of not only our comfort zone, but our ability.

Having established that, here’s what I also know:

You can be exceptional if you will take the time and exercise the humility needed to learn what you need to learn, in order to become exceptional.


Once you’ve begun this process, stick with it.

The main thing that can derail you on your journey to being exceptional is to change directions or change focus. Doing so will derail your efforts every time.

Needless to say, quitting will also derail you.


And once you’re on your way, here’s something you won’t hear from a lot of people: Don’t be afraid to say "no.”

Know yourself, your strengths. You can’t please everyone.

You really can’t be all things to all people. So don’t even try.

Say "no” to the things that aren’t right for you. I do this all the time.


When you say "no,” it can still be a win for you.

For instance, refer a job that isn’t right for you to someone it is right for. It’s a win for not just you, but also for your friend who gets the job and the client who gets what he or she needs.

Do that often enough and you won’t know what to do with all the work you do have.

What? Turning down work leads to more work? Yes. Because at least some of those people to whom you refer work, will refer things back to you.


And at least some of those clients you helped are going remember you, too and when they have something that is right for you, who do you think they’re going to call?

Yep. You.

The more you concentrate on doing the work you are best at - the work you most enjoy - and turn down everything else by referring that work to someone else, the bigger your avalanche is going to grow.


Bob Souer has been a voice actor for over 25 years, helping an array of faithful clients tell their "stories” through commercials, narrations, podcasts, e-learning, promos, imaging - you name it. He also posts a highly informative daily blog about voice acting, The VoiceOver Boblog.
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Comments (8)
Dan Deslaurier
2/19/2012 at 5:01 PM
Bob, your wise words are well-considered and well-spoken! And John, thanks for another gem of a column!
Bettye Zoller
2/14/2012 at 11:08 AM
Terrific advice from a terrific guy. Thanks Bob. And the mention of "referrals to others always pay you back" is so true and often overlooked. Give others the jobs not suited to you or when you are too busy to fulfill needs adequately. Always under-promise and over-deliver, and never let people down. They will always remember excellence and never forget shabby treatment!

Helping others comes back to you tenfold in good karma.

And by the way, Bob, your daughter is a GEM. She's wonderful and I enjoy our online friendship and hope to meet her (and you!).
Bettye Zoller
Bobbin Beam
2/13/2012 at 9:36 PM
Excellent and wise advice, Bob. Thank you.
Liz de Nesnera-Bilingual English/French VO
2/13/2012 at 1:34 PM
Love this, Bob!!! :-))))
Ron Whittemore
2/13/2012 at 10:39 AM
As always...good stuff Bob...thanks!!
Roy Wells
2/13/2012 at 8:18 AM
Great advice, Bob! I've tried it the other way (being everything to everyone) and failed miserably. I recently switched to operating as Bob suggests, and have a modicum of success. Appreciate seeing this idea reinforced in print, and thanks again Bob.
BP Smyth
2/13/2012 at 8:00 AM
Excellent advice, Bob. What you say really does work. I can attest that it has for me. Staying with one's own brand/niche and helping others with their's is definitely a win-win program all the way around.
Reuven Miller
2/13/2012 at 5:01 AM
Wise words to live by, Bob! It starts when we make the paradigm shift, stop thinking of our fellow VO actors as competition, and start thinking of them as colleagues. Everybody wins.
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