Monday, March 14, 2011

Blog Update

I will no longer be posting the Good Karma Network Weekly Update here. You can now find it at:

Please subscribe to the RSS feed or you can read it on WordPress, Twitter, MySpace, Facebook, or Yahoo! Groups.


Monday, March 7, 2011

GKN Weekly Update 3/7/11

Happy Windy, Flood-Warning Monday!

Be careful out there guys. It's pretty gnarly out there today!

I, like most people, love to be needed. It's good for the ego as well as the soul. When I am called upon for advice by my peers it makes happy to know I can help. With that in mind, this morning I got a lovely email from my dear friend & fellow GKN member Christina Rodriguez, asking for tips on how to turn a new client into a regular client. That's a good question! We had a great chat and I hope it helped. I only wish there was some way I could share it with you. You know, put it in some part of my blog that's designed to pass along advice. Hmm...

TIP OF THE WEEK: When you land a gig with a new client, try to connect with them on a site like Facebook or LinkedIn, if you think it's appropriate, that is. It’s rare they don’t have one of those accounts and don’t want to connect. Say something like, “Do you mind if I send you a LinkedIn invitation so we can easily stay in touch?” Then make sure your status updates show a steady stream of auditions and bookings. Even if you have a slow week, post about new equipment, websites you discovered, anything just to show you’re immersed in your craft and moving forward.

Also, I think it’s critical to have a quarterly newsletter, even if it’s just a simple email you send to all of your contacts.

Here’s another trick. I save every job submission done via email and once in a while send a follow-up letter to all of them just to say hi. I did it recently and I got more than a few auditions as a result. Once I go through all of them, I save the new responses and delete the emails of the contacts who didn’t respond, then I do it again a few months later.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: I am so sick of people taking out their insecurities on me. from the film American Beauty

STUFF!: This is most likely my last Good Karma Network Weekly Update sent via Blogger. My WordPress account should be up & running by next week. I don't know diddly-squat about WordPress so forgive me if things get a little weird. I'm also going to stop posting it in so many places. Most likely just WordPress, Facebook, and Yahoo Groups. For those of you who read this in other venues, I encourage you to subscribe to the three venues I just mentioned or pick up the RSS Feed. Thanks!

From Tom Dheere's apartment, this is Tom Dheere, GKN News...

Monday, February 28, 2011

GKN Weekly Update 2/28/11

Happy post-Oscar Day! Did your favorites win? Not only did I forget to print up one of those voting sheets to track my picks, I almost forgot about the Oscars entirely. All I got to say is: Nine Inch Nails won an Oscar!!!

So, last week was very cool in my world, technologically speaking. Allow me to elaborate...

I got studio monitors! The ever-spiny Phillip Banks recommended the Alesis M1 Active 250 but they were out of stock at Guitar Center (BTW that's where I get all my studio equipment and they have never steered me wrong). Instead I got the Tascam VL-M3. They were on sale and I love them. I've always had PC speakers and they make a world of difference!

I downloaded a new Internet Browser called Rockmelt. This thing rocks! (get it?) This browser is geared online toward social networking and it has a bunch of great little features towards that end. This was recommended to me by my buddy Morgan Barnhart. Thanks, Morgan!

Here is the big news: I'm getting a new website!!! It will still be but it will be powered by Wordpress and have a completely new look. This here blog will also be hosted by the website. Remember how I posted a little while back about how inefficient my blog posting is? Well, no more! A big thanks to Jessalyn Coolbaugh for all her hard work. The new site should be up & running in a few weeks.

TIP OF THE WEEK: I'm not a real tech-savvy person in general. I'm better at teaching people how to use stuff than to use it, actually. My parents were teachers and I was a corporate restaurant trainer for many years so I guess it comes naturally. I was given a great piece of advice when it comes to learning new things, which gets harder and harder as we get older: learn with the intent to teach. It completely changes how you process new information! You find yourself not just mindlessly sucking in data just so you can belch it all over a test a few days later in hopes of getting a good grade. It forces you to listen, truly listen (remember last week's Tip?) This will be my approach when I have to figure out how to use Wordpress in a few weeks. Wish me luck...

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: I swore I'd live above myself. Gabriel Byrne as Dean Keaton in the Usual Suspects

STUFF!: The GKN Update is coming at you a little late today since I was watching my darling Asha all day. She is the best-behaved little girl I have ever encountered, and she STILL trashed my place like Axel Rose at a hotel party!

From Tom Dheere's fershimmeled apartment, this is Tom Dheere, GKN News...

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

GKN Weekly Update 2/22/11

Happy President's Day! Wow, that's two weeks in a row I didn't have to make up a holiday...

Sorry I'm late. I was recording for the bulk of yesterday then I went monitor shopping. I got a set of Tascam VL-M3 monitors. I haven't hooked them up yet but I'll let you know how they sound.

So yesterday I recorded two short audio books: Eight Miles and Under the Moons of Venus. Eight Miles takes place in 1840's London and the protagonist tells the story in the first person. Other characters in the story have different accents, most notably Upper Class British and French. I asked the engineer if I should give the other characters their own accents, even though the same guy is telling the story. She said I should for two reasons:

1) To make it easier for the listener to know who is speaking
2) It's more esthetically pleasing

So I did and it was pretty hard! Changing accents from one sentence to the next was very challenging. I hope it came out alright...

TIP OF THE WEEK: When I took my lunch break from the session, I had a Snapple and the Snapple Fact under the cap said, "It takes an interaction of 72 different muscles to produce human speech." That sounds like a lot of work! It actually takes far more effort than that to produce EFFECTIVE human speech. I'm not just talking about an audio book where it takes preparation, technique, breath control, etc. I mean taking the time to craft real thoughts that inform, enlighten, entertain, soothe, and inspire.

I've noticed lately there are a lot of VO online forums, groups, clubs, etc. where almost everybody feels the need to chime in just to feel like they're part of something when they have no idea what they're talking about. They often embarrass themselves and hurt other people's feelings. The "flaming" that's been going on recently has been very damaging to the voice over community and it concerns me.

Here is some advice to everybody, not just VO folks, and this is coming from a guy who loves to babble all day: if you can't contribute positively to a conversation, whether it's at a cocktail party or on a forum, zip it. Just listen. Listen, listen, listen. Listening is everything. You'd be AMAZED at the stuff you can learn about yourself, others, and the world around you if you spend more time listening and less time preparing to blurt out your own opinion.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Every time you argue with your wet blanket, you lose. Sally Johnson

STUFF!: I saw "Taxi Driver" for the first time in about 15-20 years. What a freaky, disturbing, brilliant movie! If you want to watch a genius of an actor portraying a man slipping into insanity, this is the film to watch.

From Tom Dheere's apartment, this is Tom Dheere, GKN News...

Monday, February 14, 2011

GKN Weekly Update 2/14/11

Happy Valentine's Day! Look at that, I didn't have to make up a holiday...

Today's GKN update is coming a bit late in the day because I was recording for about five hours. I narrated the first of five stories for "Top Ten Tales of Science Fiction 3", courtesy of Allan Kaster and the great people at Infinivox. Today's story was 77 pages long. I'm pooped! Narrating audio books wipes me out. The energy and focus required to sit still for all that time, speaking clearly and at a proper pace, and keeping all the characters distinct is considerable. Man, I wouldn't trade it for anything! Audio books are my absolute favorite form of voice work.

TIP OF THE WEEK: Being a voice actor is my dream job. The funny part is that I didn't know it until I was well into it! Like most people, it was the abstraction of the career that appealed to me at first. Talk for money? Hell, I can do that! When I actually started doing it and discovered how hard voice acting is and was told what the odds are of making it, that's when it became a dream job. A real challenge that I knew I could meet, though for many years I didn't know how to meet it. It took me until the age of 35 to be truly successful in this field and happy as a human being. Coincidence...?

I talk to people all the time who are stuck in jobs they hate as a result of making a series of choices that put them there. So I ask them "What did you want to be?" and many have no idea or just some vague notion of doing something cool and highly profitable that apparently requires little or no effort (BTW that's the curse of the VO industry!). Some of them, however get a wistful look in their eyes and say "You know? Everybody always told me I was good at X, but I just never applied myself..."

Unless it's something that's beyond your physical capabilities or natural talents, it is NEVER too late! It's just a matter of how hard & long you're willing to work at it to make it happen. That's why they have night classes, summer courses, online courses, student loans, etc. If you really, truly want to do something different with your life, you can make the time for it and find the resources necessary. Now get out there and be what you've always wanted to be!

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: There is no fight when you go to your dream. Sally Johnson

STUFF!: I want to wish everyone out there a very Happy Valentine's Day. I know it's a goofy, made-up, over-commercialized holiday, but the take the time to tell the people in your life how much you love them. It makes a big difference when they actually hear it!

From Tom Dheere's apartment, this is Tom Dheere, GKN News...

Monday, February 7, 2011

GKN Weekly Update 2/7/11

Happy Post-Super-Bowl Party-I-Lost-My-Shirt-In-The-Box-Pool Day! I hope every had a good time and a safe drive home.

So, I was at my friend's Super Bowl party for what I think is the tenth year in a row, whooping it up, then I realize I'm halfway through my third beer. I said out loud "Crap! It's a school night." (yes, I got some strange looks from my friends, but I'm used to that by now!), poured the rest of the beer out, and grabbed a soda. Why, do you ask? Was it because I didn't want to have too much to drink and then drive? That was part of it, but I was eating a lot and I know my limit and it was early so I had plenty of time for it to wear off. The other reason is that beer dries my voice out and I have two recording sessions today. I lose that young, energetic sound that gets me the majority of my gigs and I didn't want to risk sounding "off".

Why are some voice actors able to smoke, drink, etc. and they sound great whilst I, the gentle flower, can't have so much as a second glass of wine the night before and I sound like Hervey Fierstein? Is it genetic? Is my voice not in good shape? Do I need to do a particular kind of exercise to stave off the effects of shouting, alcohol? Does such an exercise exist?

TIP OF THE WEEK: Many times I have quoted the Chinese proverb, "One disease, long life. No disease, short life." It means know your limitations and work within them. It takes time, observation, and objectivity to know what you can and cannot do. Learn to look at yourself, I mean really look at yourself, to know what your strengths & weaknesses are and work with them, not against them.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Never complain and never explain. Benjamin Disraeli

STUFF!: BTW I did the first recording session this morning and I sounded fine. My next recording session is in Midtown Manhattan at 4:00 PM. When I'm done I'm free for dinner! If you want to get together either write me at or give me a buzz at 973.216.3808. There a bunch of great places by the studio I'll be at. It would great to hang out!

From Tom Dheere's apartment this is tom Dheere, GKN News...

Monday, January 31, 2011

GKN Weekly Update 1/31/11

Good morning, everybody! Getting ready for another week of crap-tastic weather? I sure am.

Sitting down at my desk every Monday to write this here thang has been a ritual of mine for over four years. I get immense pleasure out of it, but sometimes I sit down, open up Blogger, and discover that I have absolutely nothing to say. When that happens, I sit here and wait for something to inspire me. Usually all I have to do is look at my planner and read what happened in my life the previous week. More often than not, it reminds me of something interesting or profound or just plain goofy that I did, said, or experienced and bang, I'm off to the races. Other times I am given a gift, usually in the form of a phone call or email that gives me something fun to go on. On this particular morning, I just got not one but TWO emails, both about the exact same subject! If that's not a sign, I don't know what is. The gift is: The Cohesion Project.

The Cohesion Project is a documentary focusing on the lives of three amazing dudes living with Cerebral Palsy, one of whom I went to college with (BTW this guy climbed Mt. Washington!). This doc was produced by my very dear friend Doug Bollinger (remember Can You Imagine and Transition?) and the extremely groovy Kim Surowicz, who I had the pleasure of meeting for the first time last summer at a Cohesion Project fundraiser. Principal photography is completed and they are in post-production. However, they need funds to finish the film. They have posted their project on, an amazing website designed to help fund projects. To check it out, click on this link. Please share this link on every site you can think of to help complete the Cohesion Project and bring awareness to this extremely worthy cause!

TIP OF THE WEEK: The Good Karma Network is a great place to bring awareness to your latest entertainment industry project. I strongly encourage all of you to post your casting and performance notices here. This is also a great venue to bring awareness to noble causes in the entertainment industry or other venues. However, and I'll be totally blunt here, please don't post any materials of a political, religious, or sexual nature. We're all friends here and I want to keep it that way. If you want a perfect, and I mean perfect, example of my vision of how the Good Karma Network is meant to be utilized, I give you The Cohesion Project.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: The quality of life is determined by the quality of the questions you ask yourself. Dan Duckworth

STUFF!: Are there any projects you are casting right now? Anything you're rehearsing for?

From Tom Dheere's soon-be-snowed-in apartment, this is Tom Dheere, GKN News...

Monday, January 24, 2011

GKN Weekly Update 1/24/11

Hello on this...holy crap it's cold outside! I am so glad I don't need to go anywhere today.

First off...ANNOUNCEMENT: I am a featured talent on Nextcat! check it out here.

Recently my dear friend and fellow GKN'er Morgan Barnhart give me some great tips to improve the quality of the GKN Weekly Update (which is basically a blog), to increase the number of loyal, wonderful readers (dats you guys), and to encourage more participation. Morgan, thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Her kind gesture made me really examine what I'm doing here and how I'm doing it. I'm not talking about the content. Many, many of you great people out there have told me how much you enjoy reading my silly little stories so I'm not changing that. However, the way I get the message out definitely needs to be improved...

If you're reading this, the odds are it was delivered to your in-box either from the Facebook Group or Yahoo Group and you're reading it because it's convenient. Most likely you didn't go to my blog to read it, it came to you. I compose it on Blogger then I re-post it on Facebook, Yahoo, MySpace, Nextcat, Game Voices, and VO Universe. I honestly have no idea how many readers I have since it's spread out all over creation and there is no way to track it on most of the sites I post. I have six Blogger followers (which is obviously not indicative of the actual amount of readers), 380 Facebook Group followers, 120 Yahoo Group followers, and I can get anywhere from 0 to 100 hits on Nexcat per week. I use Blog Patrol to track my Blogger activity, but it's inaccurate and frequently crashes. See what a mess this is?

So, what should I do? What do you VO bloggers do to get your message out there? Do you post on  multiple sites? Does it matter to you how many readers/followers you have? What keywords do you embed in your blog, if any? How do you encourage comments?

Among the many great suggestions Morgan gave me, one was to switch from Blogger to Wordpress for many reasons. I Googled "Blogger vs. Wordpress" and I found a TON of online articles comparing the two. Wordpress does seem to have the edge. However, I'm reluctant to switch. I'm comfortable with Blogger even though I'm aware that Wordpress can serve my cause better.

TIP OF THE WEEK:  I know darn well that the way I've been getting the Good Karma Network message out there is messy & inefficient and I've known that for a while. However, I've gotten used to it, which makes me a knucklehead. No more, true believers! Let this be a lesson to all of you: just because you're used to doing things a certain way doesn't mean it's the best way. Always look to improve every facet of your life whenever you can, for the betterment of yourself and those around you.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: The only purpose your life has is the one you give it. from the book Conversations with God

STUFF!: So, fellow bloggers, what's your preference? Blogger or Wordpress?

From Tom Dheere's apartment, this is Tom Dheere, GKN News...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Monday, January 17, 2011

GKN Weekly Update 1/17/11

Well, hi there. How YOU doin'? I'm alright.

So, let's pick up where we left off with Goal Setting 101. Last week we talked about setting goals for the year. This week were going to talk about the dreaded Action Plan!

I've been writing Monthly Action Plans for myself for over five years. Let me tell you, there is nothing more grounding than to have it all written down, staring at you, every day. It's like that volleyball Wilson in Tom Hanks's movie "Castaway". It makes you a little crazy, but if you didn't have it, you'd go completely crazy.

My Action Plan has evolved over the years. For a long time I broke it down by category: Finances, Tools, Technique, Marketing, and Health. Now I break it down into the following categories: Daily Stuff, Weekly Stuff, Monthly Stuff, and Special Stuff. Why do I do it this way? Because it needs to be fluid. Anything can happen on any given day, especially considering that I'm self-employed and the phone could ring any second and I may have to go to New York, Princeton, etc.

So here are the things I do every month:

  • Daily Stuff: exercise, look for work online
  • Weekly Stuff: post my blog, audition for a minimum amount of gigs, lose weight, do online networking
  • Monthly Stuff: a lot of this is "maintenance", like backing up my hard drive, defragging my PC, syncing my Blackberry, updating my website/resumes, etc.
  • Special Stuff: these are where all my projects are and they change every month. I also leave some lines blank in this section for when new things pop up in my travels. For example, if a friend recommends a website, I write it down in this section and check it off after I check it out.
At the end of the month, I look it over to see how I did. I take some notes about what worked and what didn't. Then I carry over any unfinished stuff for the next month. It's rare that I get every single thing done. I'm only human, you know!

TIP OF THE WEEK: If I didn't have a Monthly Action Plan, I don't know where I would be right now. You need to remember that this is not supposed to be easy. If it was, it wouldn't be worth doing. Start small, start simple, and you'll build some momentum. Before you know it, you'll be accomplishing far more than you ever dreamed!

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Treating others with love does not necessarily mean allowing others to do what they wish. from the book "Conversations with God"

STUFF!: Okay, kids it's time to get cracking! I want all of you to write down one Daily Goal, one Weekly Goal, and one Monthly Goal. Take that piece of paper and put it somewhere in your home or office where you will be forced to look at it every day. Keep the goals short, simple, and achievable in one month. For those of you who are really brave, post your three goals here so we can root for you!

From Tom Dheere's apartment, this is Tom Dheere, GKN News...
Quote of the Week: Treating others with love does not necessarily mean allowing others to do what they wish. from Conversations with God

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I narrated 5 medical narrations on Monday only to find 14 more in my Inbox. This is a fun week!

Monday, January 10, 2011

GKN Weekly Update 1/10/11

Hello to you on this brisk Monday morning! I had a great weekend, the coolest part being the poker tournament I participated in. Out of 42 players, I came in FIRST PLACE! That's right, I won the whole shebang. Last year I won one hand so my goal was to win two. I overshot. Anyway, we have much to discuss...!

First off, thanks to those of you who visited the GKN blog and checked out the Wibiya Toolbar I installed. Please check it out and tell me what you think. Also, I'd really appreciate it if you clicked on the Facebook "Like" button as well as Tweeting the blog link. A big thanks to fellow GKN member Amy Ricalde for recommending Wibiya!

OK, here is the deal with Red Dead Redemption. Yes, I am in the video game. No I am not in the "Undead Nightmare" add-on. My character Benton Manning is in two locations. He is in Benedict Point guarding Moses ("Stay away from them animals!"). He is also in Blackwater as part of the "Great Men are Not Always Wise" encounter. He's on the roof with John Marston shooting at the bank. He goes into the bank with Marston and battles the bandits. You can hear screaming phrases like "Heretic!" during the gun battle. It's hilarious!

I've been thinking about getting a Good Karma Network logo. Would any of you like to try and design one? If I get multiple designs, we can hold a contest and the logo with the most votes will become the official one for the GKN. What do you think?

TIP OF THE WEEK: Here's Part Two of Goal Setting 101!

Last week I said I'd walk you through my goals and how I came up with them. First I'll talk about the annual goals, and next week I'll talk about the action plan I use to achieve said goals.

I break down my annual goals into five categories as taught to me by the esteemed Dan Duckworth of Voiceovers Unlimited: Finances, Technique, Tools, Marketing, and Health.

Finances: this one is pretty simple, make more and spend less! I looked at my monthly income & expenses from last year and adjusted them to do a little better this year. Make your Cash Flow goals challenging but realistic.

Technique: this one is about becoming better at my craft. This includes not only the quality of voice but my knowledge of the industry. Seeking a coach, reading publications, following trends etc. are ways to improve your technique.

Tools: This is the material stuff like my website, demos, swag, and sound equipment. Set goals to acquire and/or increase the quality of your tools.

Marketing: This is all about getting my name out there. Joining online networks, attending networking events, and writing a blog (like this one!) are ways to improve your marketing.

Health: this pertains to physical, mental, and emotional health. Staying in shape, being sharp, and being happy! Like Finances, make these goals challenging but realistic.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Include yourself among those you love. from the book "Conversations with God"

STUFF!: The big story for the past week has been about Ted Willams and his "rags to riches" journey. There have been some very heated debates concerning this story amongst my voiceover colleagues. I'm not going to get into the parts about him being a substance abuser with seven kids and an extensive arrest record or the fact that the "Good Samaritan" who videotaped Mr. Williams waited five days to release it on a slow news day to get more publicity.

It does bother me that Mr. Williams landed gigs for Kraft, MSNBC and the Cleveland Cavaliers not because he earned them, but because he is the latest "Sneezing Panda", "Chocolate Rain" or what have you. Would he be where he is right now if he was a homeless accountant doing someones taxes from a cardboard box?

Yes, it's a heart-warming story, the epitome of the American Dream, and I am not unsympathetic to Mr. Williams. However, my fears are this:
  • Producers will start asking for the "Ted Williams Sound", a sound no longer in demand which will have an adverse effect on guys like me.
  • Even more people will flock to the voiceover industry and further water down the talent pool as well undermine the industry's integrity & financial structure.
  • This poor guy will be back on the street in six months and nobody will give a crap because they got their good PR from him and cast him aside.
 Feel free to comment, but please keep it civil, folks!

From Tom Dheere's apartment, this is Tom Dheere, GKN News...
Quote of the Week: Include yourself among those you love. (from Conversations with God)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Word of the Day That I Have to Say For a Voiceover Script: Poly-ethyleneterphthalate. Yikes!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I've already booked seven voiceovers this week. A nice way to start the new year!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Check out my latest voiceover blog entry!

GKN Weekly Update 1/3/11


2010 is in the books and I'm sure you're all geeked up for 2011. Well, aren't you? Hmm?

Today we are going to review Goal Setting. Why? Because so many of you asked. I must say I am impressed by the amount of GKNers who wrote me asking for help. That speaks very highly of you!

So, how did it go last year? Did you achieve your goals in 2010? Did you set some and give up by February? Did you set any at all? Why is this so freaking hard?

Setting the goal is part of the problem. Most of the time the goals you set are too vague, too unwieldy, or both. "I'm going to lose weight" never works. "I will lose five pounds by March" is better. "I will switch from white bread to whole wheat" or "I will not have a second helping of starch" is even better.

Executing the goal is the other part of the problem. Most of the time you just declare your goals in a half-drunken haze at 2 AM on New Year's Day and then pray. Doesn't work, does it? IBM just doesn't shout from the rooftops "We're gonna make more money this year!" then run off and slam into things sideways hoping that cash will fall out. They think about it very carefully. They craft a plan. Then they execute the plan.You need a system for executing your goals. They must be simple, incremental, and achievable.

TIP OF THE WEEK: To achieve your goals, do the following:
  • Be Specific
  • Be Realistic
  • Write It Down

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Everyone can love everything the moment they understand what they are doing, and why. From the book Conversations With God

STUFF!: While doing all of this, you must ask yourself two very important questions
  1. What do I want?
  2. What am I willing to sacrifice to get what I want?
Next week I'll walk you through how I set up my goals for 2011. Once again, feel free to write me if you need any help.

From Tom Dheere's apartment, this is Tom Dheere, GKN News...
Quote of the Week: Everyone can love everything the moment they understand what they are doing, and why. Conversations with God