#112-Taking a Chance with Voiceover Artist Erika Del Sordo
John (Intro): I have been on a quest to learn everything I can about leadership obsessed with what makes the best leaders so good. After running companies small and large for the last 20 years, today I speak on stages all across the world to audiences who are interested in that same question. My name is John Laurito and I’m your host. I invite you to join me on this journey as we explore this topic: What makes the best leaders so good? Welcome to Tomorrow’s Leader.
John: All right, welcome to today’s episode of Tomorrow’s Leader, where we dive deep on all things leader related, related to leading yourself and leading others. I am John Laurito, your host here today with a fantastic guest, Erika Del Sordo, who is a former news reporter and now a full-time voiceover artist and podcast host. Erika, welcome to the show.
Erika: Hi, thank you so much for that. Thank you very much. It’s nice to be here with you.
John: Yeah, it’s great. Well, there are a few reasons that I wanted to have you on the show. One is I think your story is great. I thought it would be great to share with the audience. You’ve got a lot to share. And I love your voice. I love it. I think people are in for a treat because they’re going to listen to this over and over again because you’ve got that soothing voice that is like listening to music.
Erika: Oh, well, thank you. Thank you very much.
John: Yeah. So there are so many things I want to ask you about. But, you know, you’ve really got an interesting background, you know, and maybe the best place to start is a little bit from the beginning of your career. You were sharing it with me. Obviously, you are a former news reporter. You started, I believe, as a news reporter. Is that how you started your broadcasting career?
Erika: Actually, that came later. I had started writing news, but this all goes way back to you know, it’s funny. I had wanted to go into police work when I was young. And so I started as a community service officer where I just basically did kind of like a traffic accident investigation. I wasn’t a sworn officer and I did that for a little less than a couple of years. And I decided after a few mishaps on the job, it was really bad. I had gotten injured a few times and we’ll leave it at that. But I said, you know, I need a different career direction. And it was about twice it was 2001 when I kind of went, well, I don’t know, you know, when I worked for the police department, any time I’d keep on the radio, they’d be like, you have a great radio voice. And I never saw myself doing that because I was always a very shy person. I didn’t like being in front of the camera. I didn’t like keeping up on the radio where no one could even see me. And it wasn’t even a broadcast issue. And what’s so funny is I ended up going to school. I went to the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale for two years, graduated in 2003, didn’t really like what I was doing at first in 2001, 2002, I started really liking it. 2003, I fell in love with what I was doing and I realized this is what I’m going to do the rest of my life. I feel very comfortable speaking and it’s just, you know, I had a great internship at one of the radio stations. I did very well at that. And then it moved on from
there. And I do want to mention to folks, by the way, regarding internships, I still get phone calls for voice work and job offers from people from twenty-one years ago, from when I was doing those internships they pay and just don’t burn bridges, you know, do a great job and just be professional at everything you do because I’m still getting phone calls from people twenty years ago.
John: That’s amazing. Well, you obviously made a great impression, I believe so much in internships, too. So for, you know, kids that are out there that are thinking about it, whether to do it or not, whether it’s paid or not, as a matter, it’s experience, it’s a contact. It’s all that. So that’s great. So what’s interesting, though, is you so you were shot. You were not somebody who would have at some point in your life envisioned yourself doing this was shyness, was how shy were you? I mean, was it a good idea?
Erika: That’s what’s amazing. I did not like to get up in front of people in school. If I won an award, let’s say, or something, I would make sure I was sick at home that day because I didn’t even walk up. I didn’t want to walk up to the altar and receive my award. That’s how shy I was. Wow. I wasn’t such a shy kid, but I guess that came toward my teenage years and I was just extremely shy and then it just came naturally. You know, later on, I did a WPT to pledge drive and I stood there as they were introducing and my co-host was introducing something and I was shaking like a leaf, petrified, shaking. This was about, oh, maybe 2012-13. And all of a sudden it was my turn to speak. And the moment I opened my mouth and started speaking, everything calmed down. I stopped shaking. I was completely conscious when I realized, like, this is really what I’m supposed to do. Wow. So you tell me my speaking just calms me.
John: Were you surprised by that? Like, were you expecting it to be a disaster? And you just. Yeah, you were in the zone.
Erika: I was expecting a huge disaster. I can’t believe, you know, if I showed you the video, you would never see my mouth quivering. But my mouth was quivering and it just stopped. I completely calm down and the show is great. We did a great job. It was a lot of fun. So that was later on.
John: That’s amazing. What? Well, it’s interesting. First of all, people usually never seem. As nervous as they feel because I talked to a lot of people in the like, I can’t you know, they do a presentation, maybe I watch it and give them some feedback, too. Like I know I came across so nervous. I’m like, not actually you always feel more nervous than you are. What was it, do you think that came for you? Is that just because that was your calling and that’s your passion and your comfort zone? I mean, how does somebody find that? How does somebody bring that out where they can go up on stage and just be relaxed or it just happened kind of naturally for you.
Erika: It just happens naturally. I couldn’t tell people how to calm themselves. I honestly have no tips. I just started speaking and it just relaxed me and I realized that I was supposed to be there and everything came together. And I remembered it was half a script. You know some of it was prompted, some wasn’t. And it was I don’t know, it was just so natural. And I think that’s when you realize that you’re doing the right thing in life when it comes that natural.
John: Well, it’s interesting, too, and I think a lot of that is stepping outside your comfort zone. You never would have known that had you not been in a position where you were facing a fear you were nervous going into that. I think most people shy away from even those experiences that mentally give them any kind of anxiety. But you don’t know. You can overcome that if you put yourself through it. And in your case, you might just find that it’s a life passion of yours and what you’re really meant to do.
Erika: Yeah, yeah, and, you know, it’s funny. So I did some news writing and everything, and it was the last gig I had before I went full time into voice work that I was a traffic reporter for 15 years on television and radio. Now, I was behind the scenes. I was a traffic reporter, but all you saw was the camera. And I would just speak over. It was a voiceover over the roads, so I was never in front of the camera. So even starting my podcast was a huge deal to me because I’m not used to being in front of the camera. I’m used to reporting traffic. I’m not used to interviewing people. So this is all very, very new to me. But another reason why when I had done that pledge drive, I’m just not used to being in front of the camera. Yeah, and it worked out well.
John: I didn’t realize that, when you’re a traffic reporter, you’re not, you weren’t on the camera. You were just, there was just audio. Was it live or was it recorded?
Erika: It was live. We did traffic in the mornings from five to nine a.m. every 15 minutes. And it was live.
John: Wow. So are you in an open helicopter. Are you doing it that way or how was it?
Erika: No, no. Actually, we did a tandem thing. There was a gentleman in the helicopter and we did tandem traffic. It was Miami Dade and Broward counties down south. And if he was flying over an accident in Miami Dade County, well, then he would take Miami-Dade and I would report Broward County and vice versa. So we did it like that. It was tandem traffic. He was in the helicopter and I was sitting on the ground.
John: Yeah, live stuff has got to be nerve-racking. You know, I do presentations live in front of an audience. But when you’re doing something like that, you know, there’s a lot of pressure on you too. Do you ever screw up?
Erika: Yeah, there were times when I was kind of like, whoa. And it’s funny that you talk about my voice being so relaxed. I didn’t mess up a lot. But there was one time I think I was talking about a roadway that only went east and westbound and I said northbound and no one caught it. And I say no one, because new in the news, people catch everything. And then they call into the new station and they want to complain and write in. And I went, wow. And I asked the new station. I said, No one caught that. No one caught that.
Erika: But yeah, there were moments when, oh goodness. The helicopter almost crashed once and he let out a fantastic curse word. And it’s just, you know, there were moments when you want to say a bad word and you just you’re like searching for you know, it’s something else. They got drunk drivers, you’ve got school zones. You’ve got pets that have been injured. You’ve got and it’s really tough to report on that life.
John: Yeah, I would imagine so. That’s pretty fascinating. So then what happens next with your career? How long did you do that and then would you move on to?
Erika: Well, that’s what I did for 15 years. I started in 2004. It was the end of 2004 and I had worked up until 2019. And that’s when I decided to move to North Florida. And this is when I made my own business. So now I’m a full-time voice work and podcasting. But it was prior to that that I had written news for NBC Universal down in Miami and I had worked for the Miami
Media School. And I taught broadcasting, of course. And then I taught writing the proper writing etiquette for news. And that was interesting. And within my company for 15 years, the two of those years I was acting director of operations. So I was the interim director. And then I stepped out of that and maintained my on-air status. So it’s been a busy career and it’s been a fun one.
John: What was your I mean, you were saying you I mean, you wrote for NBC? That’s got to be a pretty exciting job. Was that fun?
Erika: That was interesting. You know, it’s funny because when you’re sitting in the same spot and, you know like you don’t move, it’s about ten hours of just sitting in the same seat. But the news is always different. And that was the exciting part about it. There’s something new. And that’s funny because I really enjoyed the police work being outside of the car and being outside, just outside period. And I thought, how on earth am I going to sit still for fifteen hours a day in one place? Well, that’s what’s nice about what I did. Traffic was always different. There was always, I was on the edge of my seat because we were live every 15 minutes. News writing. You’ve got a different story every day. Although it was Miami, you definitely had several people die. You know, it was just every morning the same thing. So that gets a little bit monotonous. It’s like, seriously, was it high pressure?
John: I mean, are you like under obviously you’ve got a deadline. You’ve got to write these. The story before the live show, was there a lot of pressure?
Erika: Yes. And that’s part of actually the good part about it. The pressure is good because it keeps you on the edge of your seat. It makes the time go by fast. And yes, there’s a lot of breaking news, especially being in the Miami Broward County area. You know, you always got breaking news.
Erika: Yeah, well, it’s amazing. I somebody I have a twin sister, Julie, who was an intern at a TV station in Hartford, I remember. And she would tell me that there would be times where they’re still typing the story into the teleprompter. Or during the live show, as the reporter is, as the anchor is going through the stories, the stories that have been fully into the so it was just that type of environment. I can’t even imagine deal with that kind of stress.
Erika: That’s why you have to think on your feet. Improv. You’ve got to. And of course, traffic reporting for 15 years taught me that as well. All of a sudden, you know, there were on a couple of occasions and I think I have one of those demos I think I have on erikadelsordo.com when I’m in the middle of speaking and a car flips out of control over an embankment and you better think on your feet. You got to talk about it.
John: Yeah, right. That’s great. So do you think that I mean, that’s pretty amazing because most people don’t get training about how to think on their feet? Somebody was asking me
about this the other day. That’s really valuable, right? I mean, how has that helped you to be able to deal with those situations and the unknowns that come out of you so suddenly like that?
Erika: That helps tremendously. And it’s been a learning curve. Obviously, when I first started in 2004, 2005, I didn’t know how to do that. I was kind of by the script, by the book, you know, here, a few accidents they’d give us, and then I’d write something out and I’d read it. And then just over the years, it became more comfortable for me to kind of make it a story, let it flow. It’s like a swan. Just, you know, just let it flow and tell a story. And, you know, there’s a car that flipped out of control and you can’t, you know, scream, holy crap, look at that. You can’t do that. And now we have this accident over here. It’s blocking the turnpike. And, you know, you just keep going as if you didn’t even see that and you just let it flow. And that all just comes with experience. There’s really not, because I trained a lot of people doing what I do. You can’t sit someone down and express to them and explain to them 14 years of experience. Yeah, you need to let people just, you’ve got to do it on your own and it’ll come to you. And if it doesn’t come to you, you’re in the wrong field.
John: Let me ask this. I mean, there’s a lot of people that well, not a lot of people everybody has days where you wake up in the morning. You’re just not feeling it. You’re maybe something personally happened. You’re dealing with a lot of stuff. It’s weighing on you. I mean, when you’re dealing with live shows, you have to bring your A-game. How do you get yourself prepped for that? How do you change your mindset if you’re really in a funk or in a bad mood?
Erika: Yeah, I’m glad you asked that because that has happened over the years and you have to just maintain a sense of professionalism. I know that we were discussing just recently, October was a very difficult month for me. I was sick twice. My cat passed away suddenly. And it was just when you’re feeling like that, you’re ill, you’re down. You don’t want to do anything. You want to stay in bed, you want to keep crying and you don’t want to do anything. But you know, I’ve been working for 24 years of my life. I’ll be 40 next year. And it’s just that sense of the show goes on, you know, because I had a sniffle or two over the years of my broadcasting career. You still go in. If I was at home sick, it was because I thought I was dying. And so, you know, in October, there was a couple of days after my cat had passed away. Saturday, I had to do a show with my breast cancer episodes. It was episode two, I want to say, and I wanted to just tell everyone, it’s not going to happen. I can’t do these episodes. And then I thought, I’m like, that’s not me. My entire career, my entire life, I’m used to, you know, working seven jobs, sometimes those seven jobs in one day. And I’ve always just pushed, pushed, pushed. And I pulled myself together, as I always do. And I was just like, you know what the show goes on and I’m going to do it with a smile. And then when we’re done, I can cry later. Yeah. And that’s how it’s been my whole life.
John: Do you feel that sometimes it’s just the getting your body physically moving and actually just getting to where you’re trying to get to or starting your day, your workday or going to the gym, whatever it is that that helps you get there and kind of get the mental side going, you get the physical side going first and the mental falls in place?
Erika: You know what? Always. You know what always helps me? Here’s my recipe for that kind of success in the morning. Pray and then take a shower, start your day, just, you know,
your prayer, and then just cleanse yourself. You gotta get some showers, wakes me up. But yeah, whatever works for someone, just get your day going. Start because if you’re moping around the house in your PJs slopping around. Yeah. I mean motivated to do anything. Get up, move your butt.
John: Yeah. You got to change. You know, I’m a big believer. You’ve got to, you’ve got to change your, your pattern, whatever it is you’re doing, that if you are in that funk and whether it’s a thought pattern or just a pattern of actions and behaviors, you’ve got to change it, mix it up. You’ve got to shock the system. And ultimately, that will help lead the way to a better mental state. But I think that’s important. Also having the routines in the morning that, you know, OK, if I do this, if I pray, take a shower right away, that puts me in a better frame of mind than whatever the routine is. The fact that you have a routine helps get the day started off, right?
Erika: It does. It really does.
John: Yeah. So take me back to the seven jobs. How did you manage seven jobs and tells us, well, what happened?
Erika: I mean, it was like when I was going to school. Of course, I purchased my first, you know, my first condo I purchased on my 21st birthday. The day I closed on my condo, I had turned 21. And it was you know, I had always been very, very independent. I’ve done everything on my own. I’m very successful. And the reason I push is because I don’t have anyone else. When you don’t have someone to fall back on, you just go, you do it. So now I’ve got a car payment, I’ve got a mortgage payment, insurance that comes with all of that. And you have bills, period. And when you don’t, you know, you can’t ask anyone. So, you know, GodLove radio. And I hadn’t been in that just yet. I was still in school at the time. And then but through you know, maybe I cut back down to five, four jobs once I started in radio. But to pay the bills I was doing, you know, anything from I think I worked at a law firm as a part-time accountant. I worked at the airport. I had already done so many things. I’ve been in the restaurant business, of course, and I have just done so many different things. And then I got hired by NBC. When I was a writer, I was still doing certain jobs. I think I worked at the airport for five years that overflowed all the way into when I was a traffic reporter. When I started in 2004, 2005, I became a full-time traffic reporter, but the bills still had to get paid. And again, as I said, Godlove Radio, I love what I do and there’s a passion for that because so many people go into it not making a whole lot of money.
Erika: And that was the problem. So then I, you know, continued working. I think I worked at Nova Southeastern University and I was just here. I was there. I was doing voice work at that point. And that didn’t turn full time until 2009. So I kind of had two full-time jobs and it was a bit busy because I would go from traffic reporting my hours from 5:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., I would see sunlight right around when I walked to the car at, you know, between 1:00-1:30. And then I would sit in the house and record until 9:00 p.m. at night. So those days were a bit crazy. But that’s where that comes from. It’s just I’ve never had that one job that just, you know, made all the money. And so I’ve worked seven jobs. And like I said, sometimes in one day I do some voice work and then I’d run out and I’d go do something else. I worked at Nova Southeastern, you know, for a while, and I would do that sometimes in between. And that’s why I would record later at night.
John: Yeah. So the news reporting, how did you get your first opportunity? Was there like one breakthrough moment when you went from news writing to reporting?
Erika: Oh, that’s actually really funny. So I was getting a little bit sick of the news writing, I have to say. I had been doing that for a few years and we were all having a bad day. I remember that it was just bad for everyone. And here comes the traffic reporter for NBC. And she walked past my desk. And I just remember sitting there and I looked up at her and I go, Are you hiring? That’s it, she handed me her card and she goes, call me, and so I did, I gave her a call and she asked me to come in and there’s something to be said for, and now the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, by the way, is dissolved by the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, really trained me because I hadn’t worked in this scope of things. I hadn’t done, I hadn’t read the news, I should say, on my own just yet. I was writing it, but I hadn’t read it. I hadn’t been in the field yet doing that. So she says, OK, well, as I go in for my interview, you’re on the air in four minutes. I’m what? I walked in with my resume thinking I’m going to sit down and it’s going to be light. So she sticks me in a newsroom. I know how to work nothing at this point. Now, imagine that you’re sitting in a new place. You’ve got a board, you’ve got a microphone in front of you, computers, monitors. And she says go, walks out the door and I’m live somewhere. And I figured it out. And that’s what I was like. You know, they’re surprised. They’d never seen that. I was just, I was like, OK, that’s not real.
John: It was the live news you were on?
Erika: It was. I did a five-minute newscast. Maybe I’m a great BSer because I sat there and I well, what I had done and for there’s plagiarism and everything else that goes along with this, I just pulled up the news sources. I knew, you know, I pulled up the Sun-Sentinel, Miami Herald and I just started reading news stories because I didn’t have time to reword them or anything. So I started reading them. Then there was, they play a traffic thing for a traffic break, and hadn’t known how to report traffic yet. And I somehow did it. And then I did some weather. God only knows how that came out.
John: Wow, that’s amazing. Is this recorded somewhere, like, do you have this tape?
Erika: No. You know, and I wish I did. I should ask her. I wish I did, but I’ll never forget. So she walks back in the room. After I did that, I’m like, what just happened when she walked in with her mouth open. She goes “you’re hired.” And I just and that’s how it all started and, you know, that’s what, you pay attention in school. Just learn what you need to learn. But that was the most nerve-wracking day of my life.
John: I will bet. And you had no idea. That’s a really cool story.
Erika: I had no idea how to even turn the microphone on.
John: I figured it out, you know, before you and I started the problems that I had. I’ve done now 100 plus episodes and I still have trouble. I’m like, well, why is this not recording? I can’t imagine that going into that situation, that much pressure. And obviously, you’ve shown Bright and she and you got a job. That’s so that’s how your reporting career started from that?
Erika: It is. And then I was a traffic reporter after that. But that’s how I roll my whole life. You just do it. Just do it. Yeah. You’ll figure it out. Just do it.
John: Well, think, you know, talking about just doing it. And I’m a big believer, you know, you only prepare so much at some point. You’ve got to just do it. You’ve got to take the leap. You took a major leap. You did something that most people and I know you talked to a lot of people. I do, too. That they want to or they wanted to or they, for the good part of their career, have had a dream about doing something, being on their own, taking a leap. And they never do it. 95% of people, maybe even 99% of people never do it. And you did what people have talked about doing. And that’s going from a really stable, successful career that you knew and you took a big leap. Why don’t you tell us about that? I’d love to hear the story of what it took to do that.
Erika: What did it take to do them? My goodness, you know, it took a lot of sacrifices, I have to tell you. You know, it’s funny, I want to take it back real quick to when I was also teaching at the Miami Media School, that was one of the other jobs I had had. And then I’ll move into how I had gone into the full time work, just voiceover work. But when I was teaching. There are many students who were paying a lot to go to school who didn’t take it seriously, and I couldn’t figure that out. And it’s funny, out of my class at the Art Institute back in the early 2000s, I’m the only one that stuck with broadcasting. And I still to this day, I’ll get a LinkedIn message from one of my former fellow students and they’ll say to me, You realize you’re the only one still in this because it’s not about the money. Like I said, radio is just you need seven jobs. That’s the unfortunate thing. Unless you make it big and you’ve got a syndicated show in the morning that pays you $600,000 a year, you’re not making that as a regular person just on the radio. So I took it seriously. I took it further. I’m just used to pushing. So I worked seven jobs and I made it work. Other people stepped out of it. And you’re doing very well selling cars or whatever they’re doing. You know, now I take that to teach at the Miami Media School. And I was just kind of like, why are these people not taking this seriously? This is an expensive school and some people were very successful who came out of it. I’m so proud of some of my students and others who are just flunked out. They didn’t do so hot. And I can’t figure that out. So now you take someone like me who I have a whole lot of just, push myself. I want to do well in this. I wanted and I’m a perfectionist. I want to do well in everything that I do.
Erika: So I, you know, went ahead and just made the leap to once I think 15 years of traffic reporting was enough, the stress and anxiety of being in there all morning long and the 5 a.m-1 p.m with no sleep. And like I said, I’m getting older. I just decided that it was time to take this leap and move from all this reporting and this anxiety that I had all down in South Florida and I moved to north Florida. And now I am, you know, doing everything on my own. I am. I’ve created Erika Del Sordo Productions, LLC and a firm that I operate all of my voiceover work. And it’s me. You know, there’s something to be said about that because it’s no longer working for someone else. When I can’t record something that’s on me, you can’t just call the next person, “All right. So Erika is not at work today, so we’re going to have someone else step in and do her job”. There’s no one else to do my job. And so if I’m sick with a sinus infection or something, I need to get rid of that quickly because people want their voice to work in less than a couple of days and it needs to go away now. I feel like I’m working harder, honestly, because when you and I don’t want to knock anyone. But I’m
saying, you know, when you work for someone, it’s very easy while I have a sick day. So I’m just going to take a sick day. You don’t get that when you work for yourself, right?
John: Exactly. If you’re out, then you’re not making money. If you’re if you’re down. So what’s first of all, what is the voiceover business like for people and I’m one of them. I had wanted to get into the voiceover business is the old part of me that has this fascination with it. What’s it like to be a voiceover artist?
Erika: It’s fun. That’s also very fun because it’s all different. I’ve done radio commercials from when I was down south. I do a lot of on hold messaging and I was very fortunate to take my south Florida companies that I worked for up to north Florida with me because I had the studio set up and it was just a very simple transition. If you’re listening to on-hold Pizza Hut, you know, you’re probably listening to my voice. And it’s funny, I get a phone call every now and then from friends and they’re like, “I’m on hold with such and such and I’m listening to you.”
Erika: I’ve done infomercials. I’ve got that on my website as well. Erikadelsorto.com. I’ve done different infomercials. I’ve done voice overs for restaurants who want a website commercial where if you go to their website, then you can see the video that we did. I was working with a company at the time and so I voiced over a video for that restaurant and just many different things. And it’s fun. It’s so much fun because like I said, it’s all different. I get to use a different voice. There’s another company where I’m voicing for children. It’s a whole learning thing. It’s called Top Score Writing. And so I’m the voice of that. And so when you’re looking at these little minions on the screen teaching the children, that’s my voice. And I’m talking like a kid as best I can.
John: Oh, wow. You know what’s interesting? Most people don’t realize how precise the business is. I mean, it’s not just, you know, talking into a mic recording and you’re done in thirty seconds. I mean, there I went to a class. I took on voiceover artistry. And I was amazed at how exact and really specific the client would be with regard to what they’re looking for and whether how you pronounce a word, the tonality, the pitch, the volume, the pace. I mean, all this, that. Factors in and you might do 10 different takes or versions, and they really do sound very different and there’s so much variability and interpretation that you have to do in terms of what they’re looking for is that challenge. And first of all, am I right about that? And is that challenging? Is a voice in earnest?
Erika: You are. There’s you know, there’s one commercial that I had done down south that was extraordinarily difficult in the sense of this. And again, go to my website and you’ll find Oh Palm Beach. It’s Oh Palm Beach Resort and Spa. I sat in a recording session. It was the classic. I had the seven executives on the other side of the glass. They were all listening and watching the commercial as it went by. And then I was behind the glass with a microphone and my cup of coffee and I was doing the read. Now I’ve been, not to blow smoke up my own, you know what I’m saying? But usually it’s just one and done. I would do a read because I’ve done it for so many years and it would be like, OK, thanks, have a great day. This one I was in there for three hours. Let’s start there. It was a three-hour session and my reading type, I don’t, you know, it’s corporate, girl next door, friendly. I just have a very friendly read. And they had pulled me off of one of the sites that I’m on. And they said, OK, we want you to sound. I don’t know if it’s a bad word, they you know, they were like, you
have to sound like a nasty person. And I go, OK, you pulled me off this site and that’s not what I do. So that’s what made it very difficult. They wanted a very dry read. They wanted the woman to sound nasty. I can’t even describe it. And so it was just as they said we don’t want any inflection. Well, that’s what I do. I inflect.
Erika: So this was very difficult. They didn’t like anything. And then it was about two hours and 55 minutes into it, I started getting very angry. I was hungry, I was tired. I’m like, OK, and that’s the read they took. They liked that. I sounded annoyed and upset. And so you’ll listen to this commercial and you’ll hear that. And it still doesn’t sound that bad.
John: Maybe that was part of their plan. They just wanted you to get angry. Well, so is there a lot of competitiveness? I mean, it’s a pretty, pretty big industry. And people don’t realize there’s a lot of genres. I mean, from, you know, the corporate training and the voice mails and the documentaries and the, you know, whatever the cartoons or whatever. There’s a lot of different genres. Right?
Erika: There are. And I always tell people also because I do get a lot “I love your voice. I love your voice.” And I was born with the voice. Honestly, like I said on the radio 22 years ago with the police department, they would be like, you have a great radio voice. Well, it wasn’t even perfected yet, so I was just born with it. But you don’t have to have a radio sounding voice if you think about it. And some of it is acting. But if you think about it, you know, I could never on a television commercial play the voice of a male surfer. You know, what’s up, dudes? You know, like you need the voice of everyone. And so and the same thing goes for not everyone on television needs to look like Cindy Crawford, you know, and Hugh Grant, you know what I’m saying? Yeah, it’s everyone. It encompasses everyone. If you look you know, with that, you can have any kind of voice because you never know who’s looking for what. And the same thing goes for your face and your body that doesn’t necessarily eliminate anyone. So even though I have a corporate sounding voice and I get told all the time, “I like your voice”, it has nothing to do with that. You can be a voice artist and still do work successfully because that’s needed.
John: Yeah, it’s I think that and there’s a good takeaway there because I think a lot of people also feel like they need to be the master of everything. And I dealt with this when I was starting my business about how broad do you go versus how narrow and specific. And there’s a lot to be said for really being very narrow specific, and really being excellent at that one very narrow specific area versus trying to wear every hat that’s out there.
Erika: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, I mean, exactly what you’re saying, so it’s sometimes I have to tell you, I got a job and they were like, well, we need this. They wanted me to sound like a man. I kid you not. So I’m like, let me find one of my male friends who can do this for you. So it’s interesting what people request, what people, you know, the resources that you need and that it’s just very interesting.
John: Now, did you get or do you get coaching?
Erika: No, but you know what, I am going to look into that. I recently had a bit of an issue with my voice and I went to the doctor. This is just recent. What’s today? No, I went last week, so I went to the doctor last week and we were discussing, you know, my voice and why is it doing this? And so they went down with a scope. They looked at my vocal cords.
My vocal cords are beautiful. We can’t figure out why I get, you know, the scratchiness I get sometimes. Maybe it’s allergies. But with that said, he was discussing with me about a coach. And, you know, he said, don’t take any offense to this. I don’t take offense to anything, that’s fine by me. But, you know, we were discussing if everyone has a coach. Brad Pitt gets a, you know, an acting coach before every big gig. And look who he is. Everyone has a coach for something. Opera singers, they have a coach. So we had discussed that. And I said, well, that’s wonderful. I’d never thought of that. And so now I’m going to look into probably getting coaching because I don’t know why. Sometimes I’m straining my voice. And it might just be because I’ve never had that proper coaching. I speak the way I speak. I’ve done it for many years and I’ve never realized maybe I’m doing it wrong.
John: Well, it is amazing how and you do speak phenomenally well and you enunciate very well. I’ve lived in probably 30 different places in my life and many spots around the country. So you pick up accents at different points. I know what I went in for, you know, some doing
some learning about voice overs. They’re like, yeah, you got to get rid of your accent. I’m like, I don’t realize I have an accent like, oh, yeah, I’ve got a big accent, you know? So that’s another thing. People I think can get coached right. They can get coached out of those accents and somebody wanting to get into the voiceover business. I guess the point is that you know, some people naturally have great enunciation and a great voice, but there’s a lot of opportunity to learn and develop that, too. It’s not just a God-given gift. It’s something that can be developed.
Erika: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. And there are certain things you know, it’s funny, in the morning, we’d make a joke out of it when I was doing traffic reporting. But the gentleman who was in the helicopter and me, we would do our, you know, your exercises and would be over the mic as he’s in the air. And I’m like, you know, doing these stupid weird things. But you really did because it’s 5:00 in the morning. I didn’t wake up at 1 a.m. I rolled out of bed, jumped in the shower, got to work. I haven’t spoken a word. So now I’m sitting down and my voice is not what it is at 3:00 p.m., you know what I mean? So you have to sit there and you have to do stupid things and start singing and open your mouth wide and start exercising your voice. Because there were mornings when I would sit down and I would go to report and I’m like, oh, that was a bad one, you know because I just wasn’t ready to go yet. And it sounded like I was sleeping. And then there’s something to be said about that. You know, in that industry being live and stuff, you can’t sound it. That’s a big part of where I get my, you know, you can’t go on the air because you’re tired, sounding like you’re tired. I couldn’t go on and be like “Ugh, the traffic”. It doesn’t matter if you’re ready for your deathbed. You better sound like I do right now. Right. You know, there’s no time for sounding any other way other than awake and alive.
John: Yeah, no. Let me ask you, for those people who might be listening or watching this at a different period of time. We’re right at the beginning, January 2021. We’ve just finished 2020. How has COVID affected both your voiceover business? And also I want to talk about your podcast, which you have. How has it impacted those?
Erika: Yes, actually a lot. I’m happy that you want to discuss this because. Oh my goodness, I had just had a podcast myself talking about just the blessing and the curse of 2020, that pandemic my podcast was born and that was a scary thing. And we’ll get to that in a
moment. But, you know, at the same time, I lost a lot of voice work when the pandemic initially happened. I think it was in its prime. And like March, April, everyone got scared, businesses shut down. So all the voice work that I do for companies, all the on-hold messaging and of course, the commercials, everything just shut down. And I’m sitting here going, oh, I still have bills.
John: Yeah, that’s right. What do you do with that?
Erika: And fortunately, because of the pandemic and everything, you make some phone calls and you tell people, hey, I don’t have a paycheck coming in. And there was a lot of leniency there, but it really only started to pick back up at the end of the summer that really affected my voice work. And that is scary because you don’t have anything to fall back on. I wasn’t working for a company where I’ve got vacation time and sick time and, you know, everything else that you can maybe fall back on me.
John: But you kept going. You kept doing your podcast. Tell us about the podcast. What do audiences get when they listen to your podcast? Which I’ve been on and I love your podcast. Yes, I think it’s fantastic.
Erika: Thank you, thank you very much. Yeah, so this was born out of COVID and again, it was scary because I’ve never done anything like this. I’ve never interviewed folks, you know, for a living. Maybe I’d done it a few times back in school in 2001 or something like that, but never to this extent. And again, I’m not used to being in front of the camera a whole lot. So this was scary for me. But the reason it was born is that I had a cousin my mother’s age, but she was dying of brain cancer and I was over her house with her daughter, my cousin. And we’re talking and she was telling me she’s like, this is nuts. She has three kids at home. She owns her own insurance company. She’s my very first podcast, March 2013, 2020. And so she has the insurance business. Not only is she taking a cut, but she also had to cut her employees because nothing’s coming in. So now she’s got to homeschool her kids and her mom is dying. This was like, so I sat there and I thought, I have had so many people ask me to do a podcast. And I was like, I need to buck up like I always do and let’s do it. I got on Zoom and I did it on my cell phone the first few times and I said, Let’s do it. And the funny thing is out of her show, it was so empowering, if you will, because people were like, oh my gosh, you know, everyone’s going through the same thing. You got kids at home. What do you do with that? I’ve never homeschooled, you know, kind of like that. You know, her business, there were a lot of my friends who own their own businesses. So they’re like, wow, what is she doing? And then there’s the whole you know, her mother was dying and it got to the point where she couldn’t even visit her mom. Her mother ended up passing April 16th of 2020.
Erika: But that’s where this was born. And what was so amazing is that I had so much amazing feedback from that one show where, again, I thought I was a disaster because I didn’t really know what I was doing. I had a few questions lined up. She’s my cousin, so it made it a little bit more comfortable than doing this with a stranger. But I stuck this on social media and it blew up. I had interviews up the wazoo for the next several months. I was booked. I had a podcasting company Skyhawk Radio, and here’s another testament to when you remain professional your whole life. I had done some voice work with him down south as well, but he was one of my teachers. Brian Campbell was one of my teachers at the Art
Institute of Fort Lauderdale, and he had asked me for several years, start a podcast, start a podcast. And I just didn’t. And when I put this on social media, this first podcast with my cousin, he must have seen it because he calls me up and he goes, “Are you ready to do this?” I said, Well, I guess so.” So now he handles my audio portion of my podcast.
John: That’s fantastic. And do you love it?
Erika: I love it. I really do love it. Talk about something different all the time. I know I had you on recently. If everyone can go and find your show that was recent in 2020, it was one of the later ones. And it’s there’s always something different. I love speaking to people. I love learning new things from people. I’m sticking with what I know I’m doing the YouTube portion of my podcast. So I’m editing the video and I’m doing what I did twenty years ago in school. And so it’s very exciting. And I’m so happy that the podcast was born out of the pandemic.
John: Well, that’s amazing. Well, I’m inspired by everything you’ve done. I love your story. I know where the time has flown by and we’re running short on time. But you’ve got an audience of people that I’m sure are very interested in what you’ve been talking about, about taking leaps and doing what you’re passionate about. And even the stories that you’ve told that have shared, you know, stepping outside your comfort zone, everything. What parting words do you want to share? I mean, what would be this one piece of advice to the listeners out there that coming off maybe a really tough year, maybe looking at 2021, not knowing what to expect? What advice would you give to them?
Erika: If you have a passion to do something, do it. Don’t wait and make sure you love what you do because it really makes life that much easier. When I crack the microphone, you know, I open the mic and I start my recording. So I know that I’m in the right spot, that I’m doing what I want to do and something that I do well. And I love that. So I think to keep everyone’s sanity in life do something that you love. And I understand that sometimes you gotta go outside of that because you need a paycheck. Bills are due, but start somewhere, you know, start somewhere, maybe work outside of that job that you have and start with your passion and make it grow. Make it grow. I want to mention one of the other guests that I had on my show, it was a gentleman here in north Florida with me. He and his wife are fantastic people, but he works for a corporate company and he and his friends started a greenhouse business. And I have him on the show, which was one of my earlier shows. But there you go. You know, he still has this corporate business. They’re trying to see how this turns out. They’re doing very well with their greenhouses. They’ve actually been building them throughout the country, more so out of Florida, which is ironic. But that’s what you do. You just start somewhere and make yourself happy. Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.
John: I love it. Great advice. And I couldn’t agree more. And that’s such a good, good thought to leave the audience with. So if people want to find out more about you, they want to follow you. They want to listen to your podcast. How do they do that?
Erika: Well, you can find me on todaystalkwitherika.com, and I have a blog as well. So I’ve been writing that. So there’s a blog there. You can find all of my audio podcasts there as well. Erikadelsordo.com. If you would like to check out my voice work, you can also find my podcast there. But there are so many different things that you can find on these different ones. So todaystalkwitherika.com and Erikadelsordo.com, and from there you can find all of
my social media links. Just find me anywhere. And by the way, there are advertising abilities as well with my new mobile app. I now have a mobile app. That’s amazing. This is what I mean. Brian Campbell set me up with a wonderful gentleman who put me on the Android and iOS apps. And so now I’ve got opportunities for folks to advertise with me. And there you can watch the YouTube video if you click on it, or you can just listen straight out of the app. So it’s wonderful.
John: I love that. I’ll have to talk to you about that. That’s interesting. Well, excellent. It has been so much fun having you on here. I really appreciate it. I appreciate you sharing your story. It is inspiring. I know you’ve impacted people that have been listening, and I hope you come back again sometime.
Erika: I would love to come back. Thank you so much for having me on. Thank you.
John: Excellent. And thanks, everybody, for watching. Today we’ve been here with Erika Del Sordo, a professional voiceover artist podcast or and an inspiring story of success. Thank you for joining us today. Make sure as always, you share, subscribe, give the thumbs up, add comments, go down below, give the five-star review, you know, all this stuff. And again, have a great day. We’ll look forward to seeing you next time. Thanks, everybody.
John (Closing): Thanks for joining us on today’s episode of Tomorrow’s Leader. For suggestions, or inquiries, about having me at your next event, or personal coaching, reach me at email@example.com Once again, that’s firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks! Lead on!