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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 4, 2022

The hardest boss you’ll ever work for is yourself. In this episode, Anne & Lau jump into Business Superpowers by recounting Lau’s many interesting jobs and career shifts. She has been an actor, a voice talent, a manager, a professor, but most importantly, she is fierce in the face of fear. If you feel nervous, excited, or scared about a new opportunity, run towards it. What’s the worst that could happen? Failures and mistakes teach you more than success ever will, and with every overnight success comes years of unnoticed hard work. If that’s not enough motivation for you, tune in for the full career deep dive with your favorite self-employed Bosses!


>> 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 excited to start another brand new series, Business Superpowers with special guest Lau Lapides. Lau is founder and president of Lau Lapides Company, a boutique coaching, training, and production company for voice talent and actors headquartered in Boston with satellites in New York City, Miami, and LA. Her programs include hybrid online and in-person workshops, seminars, and one-on-one personalized coaching as well as showcases in New York City, LA, and online. Lau's media and broadcasting career coaches all currently work in television, film, radio, and theater, and their voices can be heard around the world. Lau, it is so much fun to have you here today. Thank you so much for joining me.

Lau: I'm so excited to be here. Like I can't believe it. We finally met each other, got together, east meets west.

Anne: Here we go.

Lau: Here we go. <laugh>.

Anne: I'm just so excited that you agreed to do this. And I'm so excited about our series, the Business Superpowers, because we've got a lot to talk about. So let's start with you so that our BOSSes can get to know you a little bit better. Let's talk a little bit about your history, how you got started, and how you became such a BOSS in this industry.

Lau: Wow. Thank you for that introduction. I appreciate it. I always feel like BOSS term in regards to me and personally has been like the overnight success. You know, when someone comes to you, Anne, and says, I wanna have it overnight, I wanna get that dream. Let's go. And I say, yeah, you can be an overnight success. Absolutely. A 40-year overnight success.

Anne: <laugh> Yeah, I always say my overnight success happened 12 years later. Sorry. Or at least you've gotta start with that.

Lau: That's right.

Anne: It's true.

Lau: I always feel that way that it, it really has been such a lifelong process, such an amazing journey. The path splits off in so many directions. It's hard to even think about what the origins really were, but I'll tell you I was a dancer. Believe it or not. I was a dancer.

Anne: And I was an engineer, so, wow. That's pretty cool. There you go.

Lau: There you go. Same thing <laugh> in a lot of ways, right? Walking, choreography.

Anne: Right. But you don't always think, well, you'd end up with your own company in voice acting and, and acting, so.

Lau: No, no. If someone were to tell me that I would do this 30, 40 years later, I would've laughed. I would've fell off my chair. I would not have believed it. So I started off as a dancer who really didn't speak at all. And then I went into an acting career. I had a whole acting career for a good 20 years, went through top level graduate program at UC Irvine in California. And that really changed my life, your neck of the woods.

Anne: East and west. Here we go. So <laugh>.

Lau: East and west, east and west. And so after having this extensive theater background, I did a lot of repertory, a lot of regional, a lot of stock, became Equity, became an Equity actor, yada yada, so on and so forth. I ended up at grad school in California. That was really a turn for me. I started getting into a lot of media driven entertainment, started doing more TV/film, started my voiceover as a voiceover talent as a performer, really mid to late 20s. It was kind of later for me and then just kind of launched in that direction. And once I got my master's degree, I became a professor. I became a college and university professor and one of my specialties was to create curriculum . So I made my way back to New York. I lived in New York and I started creating curriculum all while I was acting and directing, 'cause I had also become a director and producer.

Anne: I was gonna say, acting curriculum?

Lau: Acting curriculum but it was interesting, Anne. The twist is, and this is where the whole BOSS in business situation starts to enter my world, is I was approached by top business colleges, and this was really out of my realm. Honestly, I'll be quite transparent with you. I knew nothing about that. I think I had business savvy, but I had the mind of a creative.

Anne: Sure, absolutely.

Lau: I was actor, voice talent, director. You know, I was on the other side of it, and all of a sudden I got approached by Harvard. I got approached by Babson. I got approached by Bentley. These were all the top business colleges at that time, now universities, Boston University saying all kind of like the similar theme. What is the problem and how can I fix it? So I knew right away, they all had a problem or a need. And it was, we want programming for our business students that is creative and teaches them how to speak.

Anne: Mm yes. Right? Important.

Lau: It's very important.

Anne: To be, to speak and present. I know that for sure. We have so many parallels, you and I, because I was 20 years in education and started up as an engineer, and I was on the east coast and then started my voiceover career a little bit later. So I had what I consider the creative in the engineering aspect, in the technology aspect and then in education, because I got so geeky and excited about it, I wanted to share it. So then I taught and, and then it just, it became all these passions and loves of mine. And then ultimately I started a full time voiceover career after that and moved west. So we have so many parallels.

Lau: Yeah.

Anne: And you're absolutely right. The business aspect of things is so important in the creative. I think a lot of students that come to me, and I'm sure you're familiar with this, they feel stuck in their jobs. And they need the creativity, and that's exactly like, what's that problem? Like where's the creativity in your job and where is that outlet? And a lot of times people turn to the creative arts, which is fantastic that you had that left brain, right brain 50-50, which is something that I was always told I was very good at, that you could relate on both sides of the thing. And so fantastic. So now bring us up to date now. You're currently still on the east coast?

Lau: Yes I am. And skip 10 years, got an offer to open a studio. It was the right time. I got a brick and mortar. I was very excited about it. Always wanted to have a studio, had been now teaching for a good decade, had been now directing. While I was still performing, I was acting and doing voiceover all the way through. There was something in me, Anne, that wanted to be a leader. And here's the interesting thing I wanted to bring out about being in business programs. I got an education by default. So I started to learn that I could be educated by the students I was teaching.

Anne: Oh gosh, yes mm-hmm.

Lau: Right? So these were students from all over the world. They were undergrad, graduate, MBA, fast track people, every country in the world. And I started to learn what I needed to know as a business woman to then open a studio. So when I was 40, I opened a studio and I opened first an actor division. First I opened an actor division, and then about two years later came my voiceover division. And this was in the first recession. One of the worst recessions we had in the country was the first five years of my business. And so I knew I was either gonna sink or swim <laugh> this was it.

And somehow we made it through. It started to explode. What I thought was a luxury based business or a dream based business really turned into a reality and something very pragmatic that people were looking for to solve that problem, to fill that need in them. You know, what do I do next in my life? Or how do I restart a career? Or how do I live my dream? And we were learning, we meaning myself and then I hired a staff of like six to eight really amazing coaches from all over the place, to help me realize this team leadership, client centered kind of philosophy that I had in my head after teaching for 10 years all these amazing up and coming entrepreneurs. And so that was an amalgamation of all those years. I had no business model. I should have. I didn't. My business model was hardcore. It was like, my dad always taught me. He was a great entrepreneur. And he said, put the key in the door, show up early and just go to work.

Anne: Well, I was just gonna say to you, you talk about, well, I just opened up a studio. Like, oh, it was like literally a split second of our conversation. But in reality, <laugh> like, I need to know like that is a BOSS move. Like there's a lot of things that go into saying, oh, I'm going to open up a studio. And I'm sure that you probably went through, oh my gosh, like, how am I gonna get the money and will I make money? And you didn't have a business plan, but I love how you just said put the key in the ignition and just go. I think that says a lot for just foraging ahead and manifesting success for yourself because I can only imagine how difficult that is. And BOSSes out there, I mean, as entrepreneurs, this is something that you really need to do when it comes time to taking that leap of faith and going for it and making this a business that you can support yourself with, I mean, and make money. I mean, it's the reason why we create businesses is so that we can make money. And that's just such an important factor. So this is the same studio right now that you're working out of, the one that you've opened?

Lau: This is another one. We've moved since, and of course COVID had changed everything for everyone. So, you know, everyone has home studios now. Everyone has condensed down. Everyone has compressed. We are just getting back to live in studio again and traveling. We just came back from a showcase that we produce, our company produces in New York City and then a week-long competitive convention that we are a part of. So we're just literally now getting back to physically getting on a train, going to New York, going back into studios. And that's also part of our mainstay is to connect voice talent to people live if possible in an industry.

Anne: So let's talk about the pandemic because as a studio, how did you survive during the pandemic? I mean, you've gotta pivot. So not only are you just opening brick and mortar studios, which have become with the progression of home studios, being something that everybody's got, that's a tough biz anyway, right? So, and then the pandemic, which pretty much just cut off all in person, in studio gigs. How did you survive and how did you pivot during that time?

Lau: Yeah, I mean, so I'll take it to a moment 'cause you know how it is about life, Anne. There's so much you can talk about, but you gotta get down to the nugget of what you really wanna say. There was a moment for me in COVID, and to get back to your comments about the putting the key in the door, how does it feel, the terror that you have inside of you, the fear of failure, the how do I make the rental? This is all internal life that I had inside of me, as many BOSSes have inside of the, of saying I have to feel the fear and then I have to do it anyway. So if I feel the fear, I acknowledge it. I affirm it. It's natural. Now I'm gonna do it anyway. I'm gonna take that calculated risk.

So to answer your question, there was a moment in COVID where I thought, okay, all production has gone down for actors. Voiceover is still great, viable and running. What do I film now? Like I'm a good, good problem solver. What's the need that we need right now? And at the time I was sitting in Boston thinking, what does New England need? And I came to me, we needed a voiceover division. We have no voiceover divisions that run out of agencies in New England. Like I know out of the major hubs. And I said, huh, how do I create that?

So I immediately started reaching out to agency friends and colleagues, 'cause we work with everyone everywhere, and certainly in new England, we know the handful that are out there. And the bite that I got was a, a friend and colleague of mine, Tim Ayers, who's amazing and has Run Model Club Inc out of Boston for many years. He's owned it for about 10, 12 years. And it's been existence for a good 30 years. A lot of us are repped by them in the New England market. And I reached out to him, and he just had that progressive moment of saying, listening to his meshugene crazy friend Lau, just spout on, in the middle of COVID and all he said was yeah, yeah. Do it. I don't know anything about voiceover, so you're gonna have to do that. And I said, great! Not knowing anything, anything about being an agent or becoming an agent. So I had done casting. I had done producing, I was an actor, certainly a voiceover talent, but I had never been an agent.

Anne: But you had all the knowledge and all of the industries surrounding it and the things that you would need to know to be a good agent actually. So I think all of you -- this had prepared you for the moment to become an agent.

Lau: Right. But going back to your question earlier, which was brilliant is you are in that moment, you feel excited. And then when you realize the reality you go, ooh, that's a little scary. That's a little terrifying. Now I have to know stuff. Now I have to like now I have to lead.

Anne: Not just a little terrifying. It's pretty much terrifying. Just saying.

Lau: It's terrifying. And then when I felt it, I knew I was on the right track because that was the challenge that --

Anne: When you're scared.

Lau: When you're scared, yeah, you need to jump out of the plane. You need to jump off the cliff. You really do. And I always think to myself, and I pass this on to clients and talent. I say, what's the worst that's gonna happen, really? I wasn't sinking a lot of capital or a lot of money into that, you know? No one really knew I was doing it. I said the worst is it doesn't work. It just doesn't work. And that's okay. I will learn a lot from the not working if it doesn't work.

Anne: Yeah. Yeah. I love that. It's a learning opportunity.

Lau: it is. It really is. I think everything is to be honest with you. And I think once we make mistakes and once we do the wrong thing, we learn even more oftentimes than when we do the right thing.

Anne: Absolutely. So then you developed your voiceover division. And that is now running strong and now you're starting to come back in studio as well?

Lau: Yes. Yes.

Anne: Fantastic.

Lau: Yes. So, you know, the agency of course is mostly online nowadays, you know. Tim works online. I work online. Very rarely are we seeing actors or voice talent in person. It's just not necessary. It's expensive to do that. It's time consuming. And so we had to learn how to be a hybrid business model. We had to learn that.

Anne: Sure, sure. Now what sorts of things are you doing in studio these days?

Lau: Well, we have a handful of folks that come to us. And the interesting part about it, Anne, is we have a really unique model. Our model now runs as the studio, which is Lau Lapides Company. That's our training production base. That's totally separate than the agency. The agency is under Tim. He's the owner-operator. I'm his lead agent that launched the voiceover division, MCVO.

Anne: Got it.

Lau: And they run parallel to each other. And it's fascinating. It's really interesting to see where are the crossovers and where's the distinctive separation, because in essence I'm a, for lack of a better term, a hired consultant to launch a division, but yet we're the ones who know how to run it. We're the ones who know the world. We're the ones who are bringing in all of the talent in the roster. So it's a very interesting kind of parallel that we walk. The people that we see in person, mainly coaching, mainly studio clients that will come in. Maybe they'll need to do a recording or they'll need a coaching session, or they just wanna come in and talk about their career. And there's always a group of people that are geographically local enough to do that and wanna have that in person experience. Then everyone else is online.

Anne: Yeah. Technology is a beautiful thing, but also in person is something I think through that pandemic, I mean, people are just desperate to get out for face to face, an in person meetings, sessions. And I think that hybrid is really a wonderful thing. I remember myself when I moved from the east coast to the west coast -- it's funny because you said you wanted to be a leader, and I missed teaching. I missed leading a group, and that's what created my desire to start the VO Peeps. And that was a group that I wanted to lead and bring educational initiatives to. And it's just something that was wonderful at the time. And because I started in Southern California, there was only a certain amount of people that I could reach out to locally. And because I had such a background in technology, I was one of the first meetup groups to both stream meetings personally, as well as onto the Internet. So I had a very hybrid group.

And so I could actually at that point become a global networking group. And that became something that I did long time ago, back in 2000 and, I think 2010 I started to do that at the time. Not many people were doing it. And so it became a really wonderful way to just reach out to a much broader audience. So you have such a, a wonderfully wide audience. So even though you're located on the east coast, you have a widespread reach that is global, which is something that, as voice talent today, it's something that we need to address and understand the market in that way. Because gosh, when I started doing voiceover, a home studio wasn't even a thought. It was a luxury. Some people, oh, they dabbled in it. And other than that, you just have to go to the studio and, and audition and do the jobs and getting the work was -- that was before pay to plays. And really the agent was the person who served you.

Let's get a little bit more in depth with, let's say the casting processes. I feel like if you had to sum up like, what one thing do you do the most of right now? Or is it all things? Is it casting? Is it performance? Is it managing? What is it that you do that consumes your day? Or what's a day like for Lau?

Lau: I would say managing. You brought it up. That's the word managing and management as you know, Anne, is hard. It's challenging. It's about how you deal with temperament, balance, time, energy, you know, it's all those things. How do you have longevity to keep going? How do you maintain stamina? How do you hold grace and not lose your patience? There's so much that goes into an education about how do you run a business? How do you manage people? How do you manage yourself? How do you keep yourself in line? I always joke with my people. I say really, honestly, I work for the hardest boss I've ever worked for.

Anne: <laugh> Yourself.

Lau: She's tough. And that's me.

Anne: I love that. That's I get. Yeah, I get that.

Lau: Like I can stand outside and be honest about that and say, wow, she's a bitch. Sometimes I have to be really tough. And sometimes I have to be really strong, and sometimes I have to be really vulnerable and empathize with situations that I myself may or may not, or I myself may or may not think is a big deal. So I think the management factor of making an eclectic, diverse program run along with the agency division is a lot of the circus plates in the air. It's really a lot of that. And I realize I'm gonna drop plates at times. I realize I'm gonna set myself on fire at times. And I always have some sort of extinguisher waiting, you know what I mean? Like you're gonna get burned. That's just the reality of it.

But yeah, so we're coaching all the time. We are working on jobs and gigs all the time. This was a great week for us. We hooked a lot of our agency MCVOs up with some great gigs this week, three big jobs we landed this week. So it's a lot of balancing act, and it's a lot about getting to people quickly, right? People want responses, being responsive quickly.

Anne: I have to completely agree with that. And as a manager, right, as a boss, we expect those things of ourselves, of people we're dealing with. And I wanna kind of just bring what you've said in perspective for, let's say, people just coming into the industry. You may not have people to manage yet, but you absolutely have to manage yourself. And also part of the growing and part of growth, even as a small business entrepreneur -- you don't have to open up a studio to be managing things and managing people. Because I've talked about this on previous episodes and I'm sure Lau and I will talk about this as outsourcing. You will have to manage people, manage your business, and to do so successfully requires some skills that you can learn as you go. I mean, I think it's a wonderful thing.

Once you become an entrepreneur and you're not necessarily -- you know, I worked in corporate for many years and I worked in education, which is another form of working for someone else. When it comes time to working for yourself, you're probably the hardest boss. And that includes not just the aspects of the business, but you're also hard on yourself personally, because what you're selling is part of a brand of yourself. You are a personal brand. And so not only is it doubly hard, I think, because you don't have a physical product necessarily to offset. Right now, if you're hard on someone, you're also hard on yourself because now you're gonna be hard on your product, which is your voice and your performance. And it's a very personal thing, which makes I think being an entrepreneur in our industry very difficult. You have to try to separate yourself so that you're not affecting your product by being hard on your performance or hard on your growth or lack of growth.

Lau: That is beautiful, Anne, just perfect. And you have to play paradoxes every single day of your life. You have to play these opposites, which feel really weird and uncomfortable. Like on one hand, you have to be super hard on yourself so that you can perform, you can produce, and you can do it in a timely manner. And then on the other hand, you have to go easy on yourself. You have to forgive yourself. You have to not hold yourself to standards that are insanely ridiculous. You know what I mean? And you have to treat yourself as a human being because if you beat yourself up too much, you're just not gonna last long. You're not gonna have the esteem and the confidence to really last long in the industry. So you have to play these kind of opposites, this antithetical effect all the time, and go back and forth from it, and kind of say, hey, I need to do this. I need to get this done. It's important, but hey, wait a second. Where's the flexibility in it? How can I do it again better? What did I learn from it? And really kind of fluidly go back and forth from that mindset.

Anne: Right. And it's not something, as we both mentioned in the beginning of this podcast, it's not something that happens a few times like a day or week. I mean, we're talking to really be successful in this industry in a marathon, not a sprint, right? Our overnight success took 12 years or 40 years, whatever that is, that is continue -- and I don't know if the fear factor for me got easier or I just dealt with it better because if I'm not doing something every day that scares me, then I'm not growing. And if I'm stagnating, that is the death of me. That is where I felt I was when I worked in the corporate world. I felt like it just wasn't growing. And that is something to me and my psyche and my development is really important.

Lau: It's super important. I love that quote too. That's I think a famous Eleanor Roosevelt quote is do something every day that scares you. You know, and never, never, never give up. So there's that element of, yeah. I need to be afraid, but not so terrified that I'm paralyzed. You know, I like to say now analysis can be paralysis. Like don't overthink it too much. Don't overanalyze it too much because you can find a reason why not to do things all the time.

Anne: Oh, gosh.

Lau: <Laugh> Right?

Anne: Oh yeah. Yeah. There's ways -- I'm a good procrastinator on certain things.

Lau: <Laugh> I think most people are.

Anne: Those are the things I wanna outsource. I wanna outsource those things, but.

Lau: But you know what you said earlier, which was so true is like the delegation effect, learning how to delegate, learning how to --

Anne: Let go control.

Lau: Yes.

Anne: That's me. I'm a control freak. Did you notice that about me yet?

Lau: Listen, you and me are gonna start that club because I am a self-professed control freak too. And part of that is a beautiful gift because you wanna have that sense of like, I can fully 100% manage what's going on, but we have to know that, you know, at the end of the day, we don't really have control over anything. It's like an illusion, you know?

Anne: You're right. And I'm learning as I grow that it's impossible for me to grow without delegating and letting go control because I'm only one person with only so many hours in a day. And so I cannot grow my business without letting go of some of that control and trusting. And then it becomes a whole 'nother lesson I think in growing your business is trusting your team and getting people on board with you that believe in you, believe in your process, believe in the company and that you have a mutual respect for each other. And I always say that, you know, I treat my employees like gold because they really are gold to me, and I make sure they're paid well. I make sure all those things that scare me and say, oh my God, can I afford to do this? Do I have a budget? I make the budget. Right?

And so again, you have to throw out a lot of faith, a lot of faith that things will come to you if you put it out there and that you are putting your faith in your employees and they have a sense of loyalty and pride and want to work with you for success of the company. And that's a really hard thing if you're not used to doing that, if you've worked for someone else for all your life and that's scary thing.

Lau: And it's a skill. You're right, it's a soft skill. But ironically, it's a hard skill. <laugh> It really is. And you need to cultivate it to some degree because you want to have your team, your village, your tribe, whatever you call them, no person is an island. I'm telling you, I could not build the studio myself. I had my family, my husband, my own children who now work in the business with me. I mean, it's immense, the help that and assistance that you need as you grow. And just like identifying, you have to be able to identify who are my people that are really great, and they're supportive, and they're helpful? And then who are the people who are the growth people? Those are the people who can really help you grow and level up in your business to the next tier and really not mixing up. Yeah, not mixing up the two, 'cause they're very different people, equally valuable and equally loved. I'll use that word love. I think you need to love people.

Anne: And -- I agree -- and of course, even harder I think is if the people are not necessarily a fit for you and in letting go and in making that decision. There's that whole boss-employee kind of relationship. Are they friends as well? And there's a lot of delicate things in there, which, oh gosh, we could spend a whole 'nother podcast probably talking about that.

Lau: We could, we could spend forever talking about that. <laugh>.

Anne: And actually I think we will, but I'm gonna say for today, Lau, thank you so much. It's been a wonderful privilege to have you coming on the show. I'm excited for our future episodes of BOSS Superpowers, of Business Superpowers. And so thank you so much for your wisdom today and telling us a little bit about yourself. And BOSSes out there, I want you to know that as individuals, sometimes it can seem difficult to make a huge impact, but as a group, you can help contribute to the growth of our communities in ways that you never thought possible. And you can visit to learn how. Also a great, big shout-out to my sponsor, ipDTL. You too can connect and network like BOSSes. Find out more at You guys, have an amazing week and we'll see you next week. Thanks so much, Lau. Bye.

Lau: Thank you, Anne. Loved it.

Anne: 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.