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Diversifying For Disruptions with Anna Vocino

May 16, 2020

The Art of the Pivot in Business.

Anna Vocino is an actor, comic, voice overer, podcaster, cookbooker, and the Owner of AnnaVocino.com.

Starting out as a voice actor many years ago, it became apparent to Anna that she needed a way to have income in-between acting jobs. Now, Anna is a full-fledged entrepreneur who enjoys touring as a comedian and podcasting about food.

Learn more about how Anna Vocino became a pivot artist by listening to this episode of The Thoughtful Entrepreneur above and don’t forget to subscribe on   Apple Podcasts – Stitcher – Spotify –Google Play –Castbox – TuneIn – RSS.

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Welcome to The Thoughtful Entrepreneur Show. I'm Josh Elledge, Founder and CEO of UpMyInfluence.com. We turn entrepreneurs into media celebrities, grow their authority, and help them build partnerships with top influencers. We believe that every person has a unique message that can positively impact the world. stick around to the end of the show. We're all reveal how you can be our next guest on one of the fastest growing daily inspiration podcasts on the planet in 15 to 20 minutes. Let's go.

And with us right now, we've got Anna Vocino. Anna, you're a comedian, voice actor, cookbook, author of two books. You've got Eat Happy, and Eat Happy Too. Thank you so much for joining us.

Thank you for having me, Josh. Glad to be here.

You know, but you actually do more than that. How many jobs do you wear a lot of hats.

I'm so old. I remember a little sketch comedy show called In Living Color and they had this recurring sketch about people having so many jobs and like having 27 jobs. I feel like sometimes I have 27 jobs. Yeah. Okay, here's the deal. I've worked in Hollywood for so long. And now I currently you know, I work as a comedian, my husband and I do a dual stand up act about marriage. And well, we used to tour quite a bit, but now everything's shut down. I don't know how timely we're going to get with what's going on in the world as we're recording this, but maybe we can talk about that. But I have worked in Hollywood for so long. And it's just the nature of it is you can market yourself, you can get really good. You can go out and do open mics and get booked on shows. But ultimately, you're kind of at the mercy of somebody saying yes to you. And in a way we're all at the mercy of that but once you kind of get things going you still you know you're still kind of waiting for the phone ring. Did I get that part? Am I are they gonna hire me for this job. And then when you get the part, it's very lucrative for sure, but then you might not work for like, a long time. And it's a very, for me, a disempowering place to be. And I realized very early on exactly that I need to build businesses. So I would do the the model of if I earned money from Hollywood stuff, I would go buy a piece of real estate or I would invest in the stock stock market, like I would do that. And then eventually I started building up and being becoming a content creator. And so that's I always had blogged about food. I love recipes. I love cooking, and I was diagnosed with celiac in 2002 way before it was cool.

You're a trendsetter because here's this gal from Hollywood. She's got celiac. Oh, it's you know, so all your groupies who was it gonna be just like you.

Elizabeth Hasselbeck I think was the first one to make it really cool because she was she was on the view, you know, diagnosis celiac and everyone's like, what's cool gluten free. And then it became a trend and everybody thought they would lose weight if they went gluten free, which, by the way is a myth. It's a total myth, right? But so I kind of was like I'm a I'm a person who turns her passions into ways to make money. And so when Vinny […], who's my podcasting partner of the past eight years came to me and said, let's start a podcast about fitness. And I was like, I know nothing about fitness. But I know about food. And I'm, I'm a comedian, working out really well and I just kept parlaying it into let's well let's write a cookbook, okay, well, let's write another cookbook. Okay, well, let's keep putting content out there. And and build the business that way because, frankly, I can be an old broad in Hollywood cooking recipes on camera, but you know how Hollywood feels about their old broads? Mm hmm. I know an interesting place to be anyway.

So when I think about, you know, this process of you know, if you are an artist and you're performing and you're waiting for the phone to ring, like I I see like three barriers. There, you've got, you know, the sheer number of exposures that you're doing to expose yourself

and have to be really high.

Yeah. Then there is how masterful Are you in your craft, like your raw talent? And then I think that third one is, you know, aside from just numbers, how well are you selling yourself in in that? And so if you were to say, Okay, if I were to divvy up 100% of all of your focus, I would say, you know, spend what percentage in which of those buckets? Well, how would you break that up?

Well, I guess that would depend on an age thing. And I would actually add a fourth bucket which is availability. Sometimes you just get jobs because you're available. For example, about five or six Saturdays ago, I was driving home from a book signing in San Diego and I was exhausted and my agent I'm supposed to go home. Take a 15 minute power nap, get up, make some food real fast and take it over to my friend's house who I've I've canceled on dinner plans three times. So I cannot miss this dinner. You know, it's one of those real like, I'm going to be I'm going to ruin the friendship if I don't show up this time. And as I'm about to walk out the door, my New York agent calls me so it's about 6:30pm pacific time. My New York agent calls me and says SNL is looking for a fierce British voiceover. It's good. Okay, are you in front of the mic? Can you just read? And I said, Sure. And so I said, I told my husband who's very used to this, by the way, stop the car I gotta read and then I'll bring my mic with me. And so I read from here on my fancy mic back there. I read from here, send it in. And I was like, you know, this is in the pocket of voiceover that I do. However, it's Saturday live. I'm not gonna get it. Yeah, you know what I mean? Like what is happening? So but I brought the mic just in case and as we were driving to Encino. My agent calls and goes, Okay, I need all your paperwork, because it's a union job, they have to have your paperwork and have you cleared that we need all your paperwork. And we need this. And then the moment you walk into your friend's house, plug in that microphone, you're going to record it, they're going to call and direct you. And it's going to go on the air and a half an hour. Oh, it's like, again. So that's why I say the fourth bucket is availability, because sometimes you just get a job because you're the one who happens to be in front of the mic. You're the one if you make yourself available to work, you might get the job over somebody else. Listen, talent is important. So here's how I would answer your question which one to focus when you're younger. Make yourself as good as you can in whatever it is that you're trying to sell yourself at. You don't have to be an artist. I feel like that lesson applies. If you're creating content, if you're are, if you're writing something, if you're you know, whatever. If you're getting good at sales, if you're building your business, get really really good at it and when you're young, look around and absorb As much as you can from everybody, learn from them and figure out what they're doing wrong and you do it right, like really observe, really have those those observation skills going and then keep taking action and keep keep failing. Honestly, I know it's it's so trite, we keep hearing that, but you have to fail a million times. And when somebody tells me, you know, Oh, I got fired from that, or Oh, they dropped my podcast, and I'm always like, Great, good, that's making you better. It's making you stronger. And you can move on to the next thing. Yeah, I for what you should focus on is get really good, undeniably Great. So that people have to say yes to you.

You know, you bring up a couple of like, how we learn right? So there's learned knowledge, you know, you just learn from I've listened to a podcast and it says, do

this. I love doing that. That's right, right way to fill my time.

Yeah. And then activity knowledge like okay, well, let me just test this and see how it goes. Then modeling knowledge, you know, you look at like, Well, okay, what's an add on and I'm gonna follow and do what she did. And hopefully if I do what she do I should get similar results make sense. And then teaching knowledge. Of course, when now the, you know, the student becomes a teacher and you internalize it in a way, that is a lot more impactful. So, and obviously, you know, your, your, I think you were very smart early on to diversify. And I think particularly, you know, as we have been going through and as a when we're recording this, like, we just kind of started the lockdown, you know, lockdown, and you know, in terms of safety

three, four, yeah.

So there are a lot of industries that are impacted in a very, very big way. And if you have everything and you bet it all on black, and you're an industry that got disrupted because of the pandemic, it sucks, I know it sucks. And I think that that's one thing again, I think because you're diversified, and it doesn't mean that you are a jack of all trades and a master of nothing. I mean, you really have some Great. Yeah, going in multiple places. Yeah. And so listen, if Hollywood shut down for a little while,

that's okay. Which by the way have to do which by the way it is. I mean, I agree I'm used to working from home for voiceover so that's great. comedy is completely shut down we will not be performing we've had we've had to cancel tons of shows we were supposed to do is awesome show in New York that we are producing my husband are producing it and performing in with Sunday night sex with Dr. Drew, it was going to be super fun. We're so looking forward to it. And then boom, you know, stuff just getting gang I know everybody out there listening has had sporting events or concerts or something fun. They were looking forward to this getting cancelled. And that's a bummer. But you know what I did? I just logged into Instagram yesterday and somebody forwarded me Chris Martin, doing a half hour Instagram Live and performing his stuff. And this is what's gonna be happening more and more. So I would tell people who and if you're at the least bit creative or you have some information you want to share or doing like what Josh and I are doing word remotely working in podcasting, get get on there and start getting used to it and start getting practice and start putting your face out there. If you have stuff that you want to share, now's the time because people are at home watching and they need content and they need entertainment. And I will say this too. We keep hearing all these stories of like, well, Shakespeare wrote King Lear when he was in quarantine and all these like beautiful pieces of art and literature came out of medical quarantines. They didn't have the internet, okay, they weren't at home like surfing looking at stuff. So I will tell everybody this. I personally, yesterday realize this was happening. Oh, it's way too easy to go down the internet rabbit hole and not actually produce or make anything. Oh, yeah. And so I said I have to do two things a day I have to make I have to make progress on two things a day. So yesterday, we have a television project that we're pitching that we had to put some final touches on a sizzle. So I did that. And then I did a 40 minute cooking video. So I was like okay, I did my Two things. So I have to like get off the internet. Stop reading all the terrible news about how everybody's dying. Yeah, and just create two things a day. That's

it. It's interesting. I was just thinking about this, you know, when, when you have something disruptive like this, you know, you know, savings Angel, my last company, that's we made millions of dollars because of the economic downturn, right? Because we provided a solution to help people save money, and everybody at the time was really interested in saving money. And so I think another thing to ponder over is, how can I use this event to help people in a way but yet I can absolutely thrive and flourish through helping people recover? And guess what I mean? There are going to be a lot of people that are going to need a lot of help. And so what is it that we can do in your case, you know, maybe it is, you know, entertainment in a new way. And I think that and i'd love your perspective on this. How do you see this event? You know, where we've all kind of, you know, social distancing and all that sort of thing. I see this as something that is going to, I think we're going to learn a lot of lessons from this. And a lot of people are going to look at their business and say, okay, you know, how can I virtualize aspects of my what I do? But But, you know, I think you've pointed out a couple of things. But But what other lessons Do you think that business owners in particular, will learn as a result of going through this experience?

I think you I think all of us are doing a bit of self reflection. And yes, I agree, this is going to be a 911 level of disruption, and game changer for how we proceed as a society. And obviously we want the the economic stuff to get back and flowing again. But I think that we're gonna actually ultimately think we're gonna wind up improving on stuff because I very, very early on. I've been working remote And I think that the more that we can figure out how to work remotely and also be you know, the whole thing was a member of the California gold mine it wasn't the people who made the money actually getting the gold is people selling the pickaxes and the supplies and the shovels and the pans etc. And, and so I think if you if you get inspired to ideas of how to how to make people work remotely, I have had an evil overarching goal. And I say evil like I'm an evil cartoon villain. I have wanted to get every American back in their kitchen to make real food that's been a goal of mine and I feel like in a way, I've accomplished that not because I've had any anything to do with the lockdown of the pandemic, but now every day I had this opportunity where every American is in the kitchen. So it would be foolish for me not to be for just consistently everyday doing cooking videos, telling people okay, you're you have to be here. You bought a bunch of food now what do you do with it? Most of my audience are people who are coming from the standard American diet and processed foods and pick up and take out to now they want to cook at home and they've never boiled water before. No, no, you know, I'm used to this. I got this. I'm, I'm ready. So but you got to keep thinking about opportunities like that. Okay, well, where? How can we put this into that? Because it really sucks if you're in hospitality or restaurant. And now you got to do something else. I totally get it. It's a crappy place to be right now. It will pass I know it will pass.

And what gave you the audacity to think that you could start a cookbook? We have enough cookbooks, right?

Plenty of cookbooks. You know what it was my friend Vinnie […] who I podcast with who's the one who talked me into it because I didn't understand it. Here's what happened. I was celiac. And I was making all of these delicious gluten free treats, you know, red velvet cake and Key Lime tart and and whoopie pies and all these yummy things that I just started putting on weight and at the time, I was still working a lot on camera. I was like Crap.

Exactly. And, and I was like, I met my friend Vinnie. And I was on a show that had been canceled a couple years before. And I went into a pretty dark depression about that show. And I think that actually really shaped me. No, it's okay. Because it shaped me to go, I never want to feel that disempowered again, where it's like, in Hollywood, you could have a beautiful, wonderful thing. And it just for whatever reason, they're like no, like a new president comes in He's like, No, not that or like it's so it's you're just can be dismissed so easily. It is a very disempowering feeling. And I did not like that. And so Vinny calls me and said, Let's podcast and he tells me you know, you need to cut out the sugars and the grains. I was like, No, I have already cut out gluten. I am not cutting out all the other sugars and grains. That's where my entire comfort is. And then he was right. And I did it and I lost weight. And I started turning all my recipes into NSG what he calls no sugars, no grains, that's his trademark. And, and he told me he's like, you need to assemble these into a cookbook. And I was like, Why? You can literally punch into Google anything that's in your fridge and and get 2 million recipes. Right? Why do I need to do a cookbook and he said, just wrap it up nicely with a bow. And they will buy it. And they have and then I insanely made a second one. And it was just as hard as the first one. Although I had that soft sophomore expectation of it not being it certainly was. And then but also to I had to learn food photography, because I found out it was going to cost about $50,000 to photograph the recipes. And so I that was another thing was like well, but I'll pull myself up by my bootstraps and learn how to do food photography. And it did Oh,

wow. Well, congratulations

on that. I love food photography. And now I mean, I have to turn down offers to go shoot people's

food spreads because I'm like, no I'm not interested in that.

So obviously these books are available on Amazon you have a website in support of Eat Happy and Eat Happy Too.

Yes, my website AnnaVocino.com or EatHappyCookbook.com has all the information but yeah Amazon, Barnes and Noble, indie bound.org you can go enter your zip code and find out the local bookshop near you where you can order it from or get it from. I love I love the socials, Instagram and Facebook are tend to be where I spend most of my time because I can do live video and interact with folks.

Yeah, and so Anna's website is AnnaVocino, A N N A V O C I N O dot com and then that'll have everything that we're talking about with Anna you know, and obviously one thing that has been a kind of a fantasy of mine and I you know, I know the work and effort that it takes since I've just not been able to do it but i i don't know if it's ever going to happen for me if I really wanted that badly. But, uh, you know, doing voice acting and I've got a good friend of mine Tim Page that has.

Yeah, he's great.

Go. Yeah, he's done some great work. Did you? Did you see the video that he posted? Singing Hamilton? No. Oh, he he's, I think he's just so talented.

He is very talented. Yeah.

So how did you start that? And is that something that someone who, like me has a fantasy of doing it? Is that something you can do? Every time? Here's the thing

with voiceover and I'm going to say it with a couple of caveats. Yeah, I'm going to say anybody who wants to do it can do it. And I am proof of that. It's nothing. It's nothing special about my voice that it's like, oh, she's got that Demi Moore thing. Like, I mean, if I need to, I can do many voices. But anyone can do it. But most people won't put the work in. Yeah. So the way I got started was, first of all, I was working in my home market in Atlanta at already as an actor and I am I just wanted to do it so I took a class and they said you could be good at it. And that was just sometimes what you need to hear is you need to hear somebody tell you you you could actually do this for you to open up your belief system, which by the way, I'm a huge we could do another episode of beliefs because what what had to happen in order for me to get to the level where I am was crack open all those negative beliefs that said, I couldn't and I would systematically crack them open then notice there would be a jump and a jump and jump in my bookings in my revenue in the in my connections and everything. So I saw I researched all the coaches and then I narrowed it down to Nancy Wolfson. She's at brain tracks audio calm, she's the best. She was the best for me, you have to find the best person for you because it is it is the people interacting thing. And she produced my first demo, and I got with my first agent. And this all is skipping like a bunch of steps, but he at the time, I had a small All child she's all grown up in college now but I, you know, I was reading to my child constantly and and there's all this confluence of events that kind of made it the right fit. So but I think people and I'm not saying you at all because I am asked on a daily basis multiple times a day, how do I get an voiceover? Yeah. And I always pumped them over to Nancy summer chip. She's the one she'll do. She'll do it all for you. Um, but I I feel like a lot of people ask this question and they want to hear it's easy. And it Oh, not easy, right. And it's in the sense of, it might be easy. If you have a natural affinity for it. That'll that'll take away like, some of the hardship of getting your talent up to speed. But you it's just constant, selling yourself and getting the agent once you get agents that makes it a lot easier because agents are still very much the gatekeepers of jobs. However, that being said, I mean, the more high profile jobs that means said you could do, you could contact you could market yourself to say a medical device company and say hey, I'm great at medical narrations. I'm a very, you know, I'm happy to narrate stuff for you. You can market yourself to your local television station, say, Hey, I would love to do your imaging stuff, your promos, whatever, you could market your there are a lot of ways that you can mark yourself. And in fact, I know a lot of voice actors who don't have agents and are not in the union and are making 300 400,000 working from home narrating things like that. So it's you can do it. You just gotta get in there and, and start, you know, making these forward steps and taking the actions and most people when I tell them what they need to do, they won't even go to Nancy's website and listen to a demo and I'm like, well, then it's not it's not

you. You don't have to be like you have to be driven to do it.

Yeah, for sure. Now, you've had some great jobs. Do you mind kind of rattling off some of your some of your notable

rattling off because I

got it right. Hear if you want me to rattle off, so rattle off. Yeah. So you've done a lot of Jimmy Kimmel office I've been so you were McDonald's, Disney, at&t. Everybody. Basically, I think it'd be easier for me to say who you haven't yet

done voice work for the MTV celebrity deathmatch. So when that was my first animation job, and that was in 2006, and I voice match Kristin, Kirsten Dunst Kristen Dunst, I don't know for sure. And and celebrity deathmatch was that show where they would just spoof all the celebrity to just like be super exact, you know, and but that opened up for me that I could do voice matching, which I've done a lot of you can get. In fact, there's a lot of credits not listed there. Like I voice match mersa Toma in crazy stupid love and Kate Winslet in divergent and Maria Bello and third way or fifth wave I can't remember what that movie was like a ton of movies where you can get a contract. tract on the movie and they need they can't get the celebrity in to say loop the movie, you know, they're changing dice called ADR additional dialogue recording. Oh, they want to like have a perfect example of ADR is when you're on the airplane and you're watching the movie and you hear a voice that's similar to theirs and you hear like you hear them say like fire pants instead of cussing or whatever. Yeah,

right, right, right. Daniel Jackson, Samuel Jackson Windsor

makes on a fire pants plain. You're like, wait, what did he say?

Okay, that's a perfect example of ADR and they would get somebody who sounds like the actor to come in and do that. So that's like a thing and of course nobody can you can't really talk about it's not like hey, guess what? I did this thing. It's like no one cares, but it's a good way to make money and get residual income.

Yeah, well Anna Vocino, you are a delight. Your website is AnnaVocino.com. And so you are actively producing podcasts is that Were you part of it? Yes,

I do the fitness confidential podcast with Vinnie [..]. And of course my cookbooks eat happy need happy to are low carb. They're low carbs having quite a moment right now. We're ahead of the curve on that one, that's for sure. But no, it's just it's real food recipes. It's how I cook and eat at home. I do cooking videos all the time. I've got them on YouTube. I do Facebook live videos, I have a Facebook group of about 8000 people in it, and who are all they're talking about because low carb people are like trying to figure this out, you know? And I would say this to keep your immune system up. It would be really smart to cut out the sugars and the grains and cut out the processed foods. Yeah, a little bit. Right about now.

No doubt about it Anna Vocino, thank you so much for joining us. Thank you so much, Josh.

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