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The VO Boss podcast blends business advice with inspiration & motivation for today's voice talent. Each week, host Anne Ganguzza shares guest interviews + voice over industry insights to help you grow your business and stay focused on what matters...

Oct 19, 2021

VO is a marathon, not a sprint. Anne and series co-host Laya Hoffman kick off the Modern Mindset series with an honest look at the voice business from a fresh perspective. They discuss learning from industry trailblazers, mental and physical health in the booth, and the financial reality of VO. More at


>> It’s time to take your business to the next level, the BOSS level! These are the premiere Business Owner Strategies and Successes being utilized by the industry’s top talent today. Rock your business like a BOSS, a VO BOSS! Now let’s welcome your host, Anne Ganguzza.

Anne: Hey everyone. Welcome to the VO BOSS podcast. I'm your host, Anne Ganguzza, and today I am thrilled to welcome special guest cohost Laya Hoffman to the show. Laya is an Atlanta-based voice, actor and podcaster with over 20 years on the mic. She specializes in commercial, corporate, promos and others short form audio projects for amazing brands like BMW, Google, Amazon, AAA, Kind snacks, and much, much more. She's a former marketing exec -- woo-hoo, we love marketing -- nightclub DJ and creative agency lead. She brings a modern minded approach to business. So Laya, thank you so much for joining me on this special guest series on modern mindset.

Laya: Thank you, Anne. It is such a pleasure to be here. I am a huge fan, always have been since we met years ago at, uh, VO Atlanta, and I've loved your show and all the quality content and the information you've provided to the industry. So it's an honor to be here. It's really nice to be able to continue our conversations on the mic.

Anne: Well, thank you. And I'm excited because this is going to be a really cool series. We're not just here for one shot. So BOSS listeners, you're in for a treat while we explore all things modern mindset in our voiceover business and our entrepreneurship. So with that being said, Laya, you've been in the industry a long time. So I think having a modern mindset, especially when you have so much experience in the industry, it takes some effort, and it takes like a really good, focused mindset in order to remain successful in the industry. So tell us a little bit about your experience and how it's led you into this modern mindset for your voiceover business.

Laya: Yeah, sure things. You know, I always say I've been on the mic for 20 years because I went to school for radio broadcasting at Columbia in Chicago. And I was on the air for many years. And then because of that, you know, 20 years ago, voiceover looked a lot different. It was us radio jocks, just doing the ads that were given to us by, you know, clients in the sales team for the radio. I didn't even realize that's what I was doing was voice work, right, voiceover, and I loved it because I loved storytelling. I love delivering somebody else's message and also being able to play with different tones and textures and deliveries and things like that. It also came at a time when I was on the radio, I came out of a very dramatic situation that took my voice away from me.

So it was a self-healing revelation when I could use my voice in a quiet room, and I could find the strength again, and that to me was equal parts, healing and empowering, and part of my growth journey and my own personal work in therapy coming out of that situation. So to me, voice work always meant something different maybe because it was taken from me. So I never took it for granted until it was taken away from me, and then to come back and realize that power in our voice and that people were listening meant something kind of different. And so I think maybe I had a unique introduction to voiceover and then also not realizing that there was a job in that. And of course, if you're not on top of your game in radio, there's not a whole lot of stability in that.

Anne: Yeah, yeah.

Laya: At least there wasn't in my media market station.

Anne: Sure.

Laya: And so after radio, I continued to voice projects for clients just by word of mouth for about the next 17 years off and on throughout my career, throughout all my travel. A few years back, of course, I owned a creative agency with a partner of mine that had to do very forward-thinking ideas for big brands in order to get the engagement, and get people listening, and get people to interact with their brand on many different levels. So it was experimental marketing at its best. And so with that forward-thinking approach to brand work, I had to get very creative and pay attention to what brands needed and what their consumers needed to get the traction that those brands needed to see their ROI. And so that was a unique perspective.

Fast forward a few years, I became the vice president of global marketing for a haircare company and for many years traveled the world is seeing what consumers and brands alike needed to really buy into loyalty and brand identity. And that gave me another unique perspective. When it came to social media, I was managing teams that would manage brand social media, the voice of brands across multiple platforms, and that had a unique voice. And all throughout this time, I continued to do voice work and projects for people that I knew. And I still didn't realize that there was a career in voiceover, 'cause I was just running and gunning, but I was doing it and making money this entire time, very low level. It wasn't until actually the conference that I met you at VO Atlanta a few years ago that I realized there was really something here, and I was burnt out on corporate.

Anne: Really? Wow.

Laya: Yeah. I didn't really realize or pay attention to the industry that is voiceover work ,and the craft, and just the amount of complexity and nuances that go into being a voice actor.

Anne: Oh yeah.

Laya: And I have an eight year old daughter now, but at the time she was four, and I was just gone a whole lot. And it became very apparent to me that I needed to be present for her, and raising a young woman, a young girl in this day and age meant that I needed to show up and be present and be my best self, but also be a positive role model for her growth. And knowing the pain of my past, I wanted to make sure that from a very early age, she knew that she could use her voice, stand up, be heard and use her voice for good. And so --

Anne: I love that.

Laya: Yeah, thank you.

Anne: Yeah. And I love that you have a podcast with her.

Laya: I do.

Anne: That's so --

Laya: Yeah.

Anne: Yeah. That's amazing. I mean, that just is one thing that really struck me about you. And I thought what a wonderful way to really involve her in such a wonderful way, to have her believe in herself and have a voice and have that encouragement. That's amazing.

Laya: Yeah, it's called, She Sounds Like Me. We're in our, we're going on our third season here in the fall, but she was a part of the creation when we started. She was six and she, believe it or not, had a hand in everything from picking the music bed to helping --

Anne: Wow.

Laya: -- craft the colors and the logo design. I had her with us the entire process, which was entirely grassroots, bootstrapping your own podcast, as you all know. It's quite a --

Anne: Oh yeah.

Laya: -- quite a feat, maybe a no -- an entirely different conversation.

Anne: We should talk about that.

Laya: Yes, for sure.

Anne: In another episode --

Laya: For sure.

Anne: -- we will absolutely discuss podcasting, for sure.

Laya: So yeah, it was it's been a -- it's been an honor to have her along for the ride and help grow and develop our conversations that range from everything from bullying to systemic racism. So the podcast is its own thing, but going back to, you know, this modern mindset approach, it was because I stepped in and committed fully to voice acting, when I realized I was missing a huge part of my life with her. I got burnt out on corporate and it had to come to an end. I ripped the bandaid off, and I said, I am all in on becoming a voice actor. But from the beginning I took a very brick and mortar approach to that. And what I mean by that --

Anne: Sure.

Laya: -- is I knew that the investment was going to be significant, and that our family may take a hit financially.

Anne: Yeah, yeah.

Laya: My husband had to be on board. My daughter needed to be on board, and I needed to fully be present and ready to learn, absorb, and invest, and be patient --

Anne: Oh goodness, yes.

Laya: -- every bit of the way.

Anne: Yeah.

Laya: Because you hear so many stories of people that don't realize that from the beginning. And it really is a -- is an eyeopening thing to understand just how much investment financially, energetically and --

Anne: Oh my goodness, yes.

Laya: -- your entire household has to be to take this seriously and really get it going from the beginning.

Anne: And I think that that is really important. I mean, myself, I remember when I jumped from corporate into full-time entrepreneur, a voice actor and it just, it's a scary thing. And I think there are lots of lessons learned along the way. But yeah, you absolutely have to be ready to put in the work, because it's not something --

Laya: No.

Anne: -- that happens overnight, that is for darn sure. You know, that overnight success that takes you 10 years. And I think that having a modern mindset absolutely helps you because it is a business. It's not just about your voiceover in the studio. I mean, building the business really encompasses so much more than just the performance acting part of it. And I know that when I first started, myself, in this industry, I mean, I had to have the absolute support of my husband and just say, I knew we were going to take a hit income-wise as a family and we had to be prepared for that.

Laya: Absolutely, and so did we. And so, you know, I've heard stories from some of the most iconic voice talent out there that say, you know, you can expect to start making money after like the second or third year, and money, I mean like 40, $50,000 a year.

Anne: Yeah.

Laya: And so just, you know, hold onto your hat. It's going to be a long process.

Anne: And it might take longer.

Laya: And it might take even longer than that.

Anne: Than that even.

Laya: But I have to be in with all due respect, and for those icons that have taught me so much like yourself, you know, I think it's that modern mindset and that laser focused approach that I brought to my business and the experience of coming in fresh to an industry that has been so well-established, and so many incredibly talented people have led the way, and provided all this rich education, and kind of let me see behind the glass to share their perspectives and the gifts that they gave me. I think being able to have a laser-focused approach in that modern mindset is what got me on a fast track to that high success trajectory very early on. So --

Anne: I want to say 20 years, right? I mean, we've evolved so much as an industry.

Laya: Of course.

Anne: And everything has changed in terms of -- like, when you said, I didn't even know voiceover was a thing, I didn't either. And I started doing telephony at my company, you know. Everybody needs somebody to do the voicemail.

Laya: Sure, always did that too.

Anne: So that was how I, yeah, that's how I got involved in it. I didn't even know it was a thing. And back then, I mean, the Internet was just kind of becoming a thing, and there wasn't as much information out there when beginning in the voiceover industry. So there wasn't a lot of people. It was very isolating in the beginning, and you couldn't really like, well, who do I ask? How do I give somebody a quote? I don't even know how to ask somebody to do that because there really was no method. There was no Internet communication. There were no Facebook groups.

There were -- you know, now it's crazy where there's all this electronic media where we can look for help or search for help on how to do something. But back then it was, it was crazy. And having a modern mindset or at least having some experience, I think out in the world beyond voiceover probably helped you a lot in terms of buckling down and really giving it a go and making this a business.

Laya: Absolutely, Anne. And you touched on so many things I want to come back to. What I noticed is, and I do say, of course, I have been working and getting paid on the microphone for 20 years, but I've only been full-time for the last three.

Anne: Yeah.

Laya: And I really didn't consider this a career probably until the last year and a half, when I was able to sustain and make this --

Anne: Sure.

Laya: -- as a contributing member of my family's financial pie. So it is, it is um -- while I say that, I also want to give credit to all of those people, um, that have led the way and paved the way for helping us people that have come in newly with fresh eyes in the last couple of years. There's, there's so much to be gleaned from your experience and your history and fellow voice actors who have paved the way and led to so many coachings, to so many seminars, now that you can get information in so many different ways. And it's such a beautiful thing.

Anne: Right?

Laya: It can be an overwhelming thing, but --

Anne: Yes. I think that's the other part of it --

Laya: Yes.

Anne: -- the other part of it, absolutely. So what information do you believe, do you trust or what information is correct?

Laya: And who's valid and who's really in it for the right reasons?

Anne: Yup.

Laya: And who's not really trying to sell you?

Anne: Exactly.

Laya: And so there were some interesting hurdles I came across early on in the new version of my voice over career. So, and I talk about kind of where I'm at now. It's really what I've learned in the last two or three years, and taking the experience that I had in my previous roles and applying it through this fresh lens -- because what I think is interesting, so many of my colleagues that have long established careers in voiceover, you know, had to learn those things from the ground up and had to build those processes from the ground up where some of us newer talent comes in able to take these resources and kind of fast track. The other difference though, I notice, is that so many of my fellow colleagues that are more established have a harder time converting their pre-established mindset and then shifting it --

Anne: Absolutely, yup.

Laya: -- into this modern mindset. And that's exactly what we're here to talk about over --

Anne: Yup.

Laya: -- the next couple of episodes.

Anne: You've hit the nail on the head right there. And, you know, there's something to be said for being in an industry for a certain amount of years, but yet I think the hardest thing for people is to evolve along with industry. And it's not just the voiceover industry --

Laya: Every industry.

Anne: -- it's just the world today. You know, I think technology has had such a huge impact on all aspects of the world that, you know, I think in order to evolve along with it, it's an important part of your, of your business.

Laya: Absolutely.

Anne: And modern mindset in terms of being able to evolve, what are the new trends, what's happening now? We're now starting to see, and especially anybody that's been in a business for so long, you start to see where the younger generation is now the people who are hiring you, the people who are directing you --

Laya: Absolutely.

Anne: -- and it's important for you to be able to, how shall I say, step out of a bubble, step out of that bubble that you've been in, maybe, for, you know, so many years to be able to evolve and understand where the market is going, and how you can continue to serve the market in a way that allows you to maintain and still remain successful in your career.

Laya: And be an innovative and meet those people where they are --

Anne: Yup.

Laya: -- because that's really the difference. That's why we see the shift in the pay-to-plays. It's because those new CDs and the new copywriters, those people either haven't been trained or aren't willing to adapt the old school ways of doing things. They want to click a button.

Anne: Sure.

Laya: They want to, you know, hit their search bar.

Anne: Yeah, absolutely.

Laya: They don't want to talk to anyone. They want to have options at their fingertips. They also don't understand why this person who talks for a living gets paid more than they do.

Anne: Sure, absolutely.

Laya: You know? So there's all those things you have to really like put into your brain wave about how to meet these people, not only your clients, but the people that are hiring us in casting and things like that where they are. And then also how to position yourself as a brand, as a thought leader, how do you approach your social, your messaging out there? And even in the way we communicate and just the language that we use in short form --

Anne: Oh my goodness.

Laya: -- brevity, right? That they want to hear in your email correspondence or whatever your messaging is.

Anne: I have to give you like two words that I heard the other day. And I was like, oh man. And I, I always consider myself, you know, I try to be really on the edge of everything. I try to really keep up with things, and I heard "paid acquisitions." And I was like, what, what is paid acquisitions? And I'm like, it's marketing. It is, you know, Facebook ads, Google ads. And I was like, oh, so that's the term the youngins are using these days. Right? But yeah, trying to just keep up on that because I'm going to be interviewing this really wonderful, wonderful, strong female entrepreneur. And, you know, she's all about training people on paid acquisitions. And so I'm like --

Laya: And you're like, what?

Anne: Okay, I had to Google, I had to Google it.

Laya: Oh, that's code for marketing. Check.

Anne: Yes, exactly. I gotcha.

Laya: Yeah.

Anne: So. You know.

Laya: There's so many layers to it, you know. It's really -- and, and, and I don't have all the answers. I just know that through observing some of the most well-respected voice actors in the industry and creatives and agents and managers, and having such an incredibly giving industry, I've been able to absorb such quality information and then pass it through this modern minded filter, regurgitated, and seen some incredible success that was unexpected. And people often ask me, well, how are you compartmentalizing your time? How do you communicate? What are you doing for wellness? What, what about those pay-to-plays? How come you're successful on there? But you also have management like, oh, how do we approach our taxes, our finances? How are we --

Anne: Sure.

Laya: -- you know, there's so many layers of it. And so, hence, this is why our conversation has kind of come up, because I think the more we know and the more we can share, the more I can give back to those that have given to me, the more we can work symbiotically or work from a place of gratitude together to grow this industry from a 360 approach. Right?

Anne: Sure, sure.

Laya: And so that we can, all we can all learn because gosh knows I've, I've learned so much from, from others. If I can even give one nugget of information back, uh, I will feel like I'm maybe contributing to the greater good of this industry.

Anne: So I guess I want to ask, what would you consider the first step in getting yourself into a modern mindset for your business? Is there a first step, or is there multiple steps that you need to take to get yourself, keep yourself open to something like this?

Laya: Yeah, that's a great, great question. I think I hear, you know, on the forums and things like that, Facebook groups, you hear a lot of people, you know, they want to jump right in with a demo and some coaching. And I think it's even before that, it's checking in with yourself. I always tell people, they're like, oh, so how do I get into voice acting? And, uh, you know, I got, I gotta -- get sign up at this -- no, hold up. What you first need to do is check in with yourself, and check in with your family, and check in with your support system, and your finances and where you are really aligned. Is this --

Anne: Oh my goodness. Yes.

Laya: You know, I think that's the base of it because --

Anne: Finances!

Laya: Yes, because --

Anne: I have to just, I have to echo that because --

Laya: Oh, for sure!

Anne: Yes, you do have to mentally check in, check in with your support system, but finances is so important when you start on this journey. And I just want to back you up on that --

Laya: Absolutely.

Anne: -- because you really can't endeavor to embark on a new career without any thought about financial stability, or if you have money to invest in, in establishing a business, so.

Laya: Absolutely. If you're going into any profession, right, you've made the commitment to yourself. You want to be a doctor. You're going to make the commitment that you've got to pay for student loans. You're going to need at least eight years of college. It's going to take blood, sweat, and tears to get you there. But in the end, you will be a doctor. The same thing goes for being a voice actor. Now you can also stick your toe in the pond and just see if it's for you by taking an improv class or, you know, taking a local, a group class or something like that. Sure.

That'll get you at least enough information to see if you want to make the commitment. But I think at the end of the day, you have to check in with yourself and see, am I all in? And I'm an all-in person.

Anne: Yeah.

Laya: I knew I was all in. So that brought a different set of questions or --

Anne: That's my personality too.

Laya: Right. Right. Or are you half in?

Anne: All or nothing.

Laya: And you just want to check it out as a side gig, but just know that if you go in as a side gig, you still are not making money --

Anne: Well --

Laya: -- for a long time.

Anne: -- what's interesting. Yeah. You know, what's interesting is they did something, right when in high school, you know, you had a career counselor. You had a guidance counselor in terms of career paths. And I really feel that voiceover was never one of those paths than anybody explained --

Laya: No.

Anne: -- because it is, you know, and --

Laya: Sounds easy too, right?

Anne: Everybody that looks to get into it, like you need to, you need to have that counseling. You need to find out what is this industry all about.

Laya: Yeah.

Anne: And what does it take to get into this industry and be able to succeed in it? And so I feel like there's a little bit of career counseling that needs to happen. And in that career counseling, there has to be a modern mindset factor. Right?

Laya: Absolutely. And you have to kind of scrape away, and I know, there's a lot of incredible coaches out there, but they want to get right to reading copy. And I wish there was more of a push towards --

Anne: Introduction.

Laya: Yeah, and saying just --

Anne: Here's, here's the industry.

Laya: -- here's the reality because you can't get that from a Facebook post. You can get it from --a lot -- you can get a lot of opinions. Oh my gosh, there are some, right? But the reality is, and I would tell anybody like, this is no joke. This is not a sprint. This is for sure a marathon, no matter if you want to go full-time and you're going all in, or if you, even, if you want to think and consider this as a part-time hustle or a side side gig. I mean, either one of those things take a significant investment time, energy, and effort. And if there's any part of that, that you don't love, then just check yourself, and you know, maybe re-evaluate before you hemorrhage a lot of money because it really can add up fast.

Anne: It can. And I, I'll tell you when I have people that I offer a free consult, that people, if they want to find out what it's like to get into the voiceover industry, and the first thing that I always say is like, look, I am not going to sugarcoat this for you.

Laya: Right. Good for you. This is hard.

Anne: And the thing of it is, it's not just about the voice and being in a booth and creating character voices and having fun. It is truly a business. And so there's a lot to be said for, you're going to have to not only have fun in the booth, but in the beginning, you're going to have to market yourself like crazy. And especially if I hear from people that are like, okay, I'm retiring. I want this to be for my retirement. I make sure, I'm like, look, you have to make sure you have, you have -- the whole finance -- I'm going back to the financial thing.

Laya: Yeah.

Anne: Right? You've got to have some financial backup because getting into this, there is an investment. It's not just, you know, obviously watching some YouTube videos and reading words.

Laya: Yeah.

Anne: So I'm always careful when people say they're looking to -- to support a family, especially a family. If there's children, I get really nervous. And I'm like, the first thing I'll tell them is that, look, this is hard. And it's, it's crazy competitive and make sure that you always have either an alternate piece of income that can help you support your family until you get that business underway. It's important.

Laya: Absolutely. Absolutely. And so there's that gut check there that I think is important. You're asking earlier about what are the first steps. I think that first step is having a real conversation with yourself of like, are you just checking it out or are you all in? I knew enough to know that I was all in, and I needed to make -- I make a brace of changes when I do. I take big risks. And, uh, sometimes they pan out. Luckily this one did, but you know, my family had to be on board because there was going to be a time commitment --

Anne: Well, exactly.

Laya: -- and a financial commitment.

Anne: I was just gonna say, when you made that decision to go all in, you had done your prior research. You had educated yourself on the industry, right? And you talked it over with your support system, your family, to make sure that they were onboard with it as well. And I think that that's important.

Laya: Absolutely, absolutely.

Anne: So important to have that support.

Laya: And the second thing I did that I don't think we are aware enough of, but it is so key -- and I totally attribute some of my success to it -- is checking in with your body and making sure that you're in a healthy space, both state of mind and emotionally and physically. Because this is far more demanding, physically, energetically, mentally and emotionally than we talk about honestly. I mean, I am a self-proclaimed extrovert and I am now choosing to talk to myself in a box for a living. It is highly introverted. There is very little pats on the back that you get. Nobody's cheering for you along the way, unless it's your family or your friends or your, you create a, you know, a support system in the voiceover community, which is incredible by the way.

Anne: And --

Laya: That is a big part of it.

Anne: Well yeah, and also because it is, so it is so much based in auditioning and rejection.

Laya: Rejection, rejection --

Anne: Rejection.

Laya: -- rejection.

Anne: That's a whole mental mindset. In the beginning, I remember in the beginning, oh my goodness, like being in tears. First, I couldn't get the right sound out of my studio. I didn't have the ear, and somebody, I remember long time ago when I was first setting up my studio, I had submitted an audition, and they came back and they said, it sounds like you're talking in a tube. And I was mortified. I was mortified. I was like, oh my goodness. Like, I don't belong here. And there's that whole emotional mindset that was like, oh my God, I, I just, I shouldn't be here. You know, this is maybe not for me.

Laya: That's exactly right, Anne. And if you're not strong, and committed, and confident in yourself, or at least confident in knowing that this is going to have some low moments, and you realize openly that it is mmm a lot based on a lot of rejection or at least no reassurance. Right? I will say that, like you are just sending things out to the ether. Maybe you'll get some feedback one day, good or bad.

Anne: Yeah.

Laya: Um, but most likely bad first, you know, that takes a hit to our ego. And, um, and then it really makes you question things.

Anne: Sure.

Laya: So I think, I think just along with checking in with your family and about finances and commitment and what level of commitment you're willing to bring to this, uh, to this career or this idea of, uh, you know, a side hustle or this industry, you really have to see, are you healthy body, mind, soul, and spirit to withstain and go the distance because it can crush you if you're not.

Anne: Sure.

Laya: And that's something I don't think we talk enough about. With mental health being at the forefront of so many things these days, it is a hundred percent.

Anne: Absolutely.

Laya: And I'm not great at it either, but I take steps every day to make sure that I can arrive to the booth, to the mic, to the studio, to my clients, and myself, and my family with a grounded sense of self by doing meditation, by doing yoga, by doing breath work, stretching, getting my feet in the soil, getting grounded every day before I come to this, because I know at the end of the day --

Anne: Absolutely.

Laya: -- it can take the wind out of your sails.

Anne: It is so about your mindset and your mentality for your performance as well. So not just for you in entering a business and being an entrepreneur, but also bringing a mindset to your performance that can really, that can really be something for your clients, right? That you can be that voice for them. You can elevate their brand.

Laya: Yeah.

Anne: Wow. I think that there is so -- we've got, we've got another episode.

Laya: We've got a few, I think.

Anne: -- on this mindset. Absolutely. So I'll tell you what, BOSSes, make sure to join us on our next episode, where we were going to continue this conversation on getting yourself into a modern mindset with Laya Hoffman. Laya, thank you so much --

Laya: Thank you, Anne. It's such a pleasure.

Anne: -- for -- yeah. I'm so excited to have you for multiple episodes.

Laya: Thank you.

Anne: I just love it. 'Cause I just think this is an amazing conversation, and I think it's going to be super valuable to our listeners. So.

Laya: Thank you so much. I'm super grateful for this. It's going to be a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to continuing to dig in.

Anne: Yay. I'm going to give a great, big shout-out to our sponsor, ipDTL. You too can connect and talk like BOSSes. Find out more at You guys, have an amazing week, and we'll both see you next week. Bye.

Laya: Bye-Bye.

>> Join us next week for another edition of VO BOSS with your host Anne Ganguzza. And take your business to the next level. Sign up for our mailing list at and receive exclusive content, industry revolutionizing tips and strategies, and new ways to rock your business like a BOSS. Redistribution with permission. Coast to Coast connectivity via ipDTL.