Just Sayin' - Unconventional Like The Cactus

After spending 5 days with some of the most talented voice actors I know, who are also supremely wonderful people-many of whom I have the privilege to call friends- I’ve been reflecting on the experience of attending “FaffCon, the Unconference,” held in Tucson, Arizona.

Faffers (as the attendees are affectionately called) create the topics for discussion based on questions raised and skill sets people are happy to share, so the content flows in every direction all the time. Even with the seemingly chaotic, liberal structure, it’s actually well organized; the only drawback is not being able to attend all of the workshops—since there can be 6 or 7 happening in different rooms at once.  

It’s an event (limited to 120 in size) designed to inspire, support, teach, encourage, stretch and bend working pro voiceover talents to grow inside and out as we work side by side and push each other to morph into better, stronger, more confident and radiant versions of ourselves.

Topics we “Faff” about are: How to Bring eLearning Copy to Life, Taking Care of Your Voice, Clarifying Your Brand, Industry Trends for Remote Recording Sessions, Negotiating Rates, How to Deliver a Conversational Read, Business Analytics, Audio Editing Tips, Keeping your Website Secure, How to Make Your Audition Standout, Time Management Tools, Accent Reduction and Dialects, Building Your VO Sound Booth, and Online Casting Sites: Love ‘em or Leave ‘em?, just to name a few.

The experience is exciting, stimulating, nurturing and empowering. Everyone is there to find Golden Nuggets-- tidbits of information, tips, tricks, tools, insights, goals, strategies, anecdotes, advice, support, new perspectives… you get the idea. And to give is to get. So everyone does it, and there’s no one not giving, and no one not getting.

Never before have I come away from a FaffCon experience, with as clear a metaphor to enccapsulates the many take-a-ways: the lone cactus.

Like the hundreds of thousands of cactuses that surrounded us in the desert, voice actors are also everywhere— one report has us at a million strong. Working from personal studios we are frequently alone in our work, and it can be quite solitary, especially for those actors not in major cities where casting calls and production studios still have actors show up IRL (in real life).  

To have a successful career requires patience.  Cactuses can survive droughts because they store water and have shallow roots to capture moisture, and so too solo-preneurs learn to adapt to the dry spells.   The spine of the cactus is tall and straight- a reminder of the importance of having a strong backbone and believing in one’s worth. Another prickly-point of wisdom I received in the desert and hope to integrate into my life.  

So whether you attended FaffCon or not, every day you can search for and share golden nuggets and when you do, think of the cactus, which rhymes with practice and do just that.  I’ll be doing it too.