Size 46 Pajamas!

I like a big story. I like a big idea.  And every ounce of my Newfoundlander upbringing likes a big laugh. But apart from being 6’2”, (blue eyes and blonde curly locks-once-apon-a-time), I’m not a big person…and I have no real interest in being someone “big”.  It’s not me.

I was working on a project earlier today for a client. He’s a custom homebuilder with a great reputation, a string of home building awards to his credit, and a waiting list of clients who want him to build their homes. And you’d think in this economy, he’d just hire a bunch of those out of work trades people we keep reading about here in BC and build everyone’s house right away! Get it done before the money and work goes elsewhere.

Hell, I would have thought that, too.

So in his email to me regarding his blog update and website changes he said he decided he only wanted to build three to four homes a year. The whole idea of being a “large volume builder” was a loss to him. He couldn’t focus on giving each client personal attention, nor could he be hands-on with each project if he spent all his time managing ten or more home constructions in the one year. Of course when you see the kinds of homes he builds, you come to understand his commitment to quality.

Essentially, he knows that being big does not mean being better.

It didn’t really surprise me, but it made me sit back and think about the ever-growing list of companies who obviously think bigger is better – like Wal-Mart, Canadian Tire, Home Depot, and the American “we’re buying Canada” company Target; who collectively occupy about a half-million square feet in retail space and have at least ten employees between them. (I swear Home Depot’s motto has changed to, “You can’t find it. We won’t help”.)

Is bigger better? (Texans need not respond). Do we really need one or two mega companies at the cost of many smaller ones who actually treat customers like humans and genuinely appreciate our business? For that matter, is it necessary to have 26 ounce steak on a menu?

Bigger is not only not better, (Jeeze, my high school English teacher, Stump Kelly, is spinning in his grave after that last display of poor sentence structure, double, possibly triple negatives, and the aside into which I just launched) it’s bloody friggin’ annoying. No one can be everything to everyone… not even Stephen Harper – although you can tell him, I’m not risking my position on the voter’s list.

Big doesn’t mean better service. It doesn’t even guarantee the company will be here next year. You know the saying, “The bigger they are, the harder they fall”. Heck, In Kelowna, BC alone, three big advertising agencies have gone boobies to the sky in the last 2 years. While little guys like me (www.greatcreative.com) are still here, chugging along making a living – and providing exceptional customer service in the process. (a wee moment of shameless self-promotion, if you will)

And, when the feeling is right, and the client is willing, I have a big idea. It just comes from a small company.

Back a long time ago when I was first dating the girl I would marry, her sister made me a pair of pajamas for Christmas. They were size 46 waist. I’ve never been more than a 36. ..okay, maybe a 38 that first year at St. Francis Xavier University (you know how it is, away from home for the first time, lots of comfort food in the cafeteria) …but never near the PJ size as Bri thought I was.

They’re big.  And every once in a while they pop up in front of me like a big idea…

…so I try them on.

Albert Berkshire is a writer, producer and voice actor. He lives, writes and plays on Canada’s West Coast, and from time to time, he shares the stories that make his company, GreatCreative.Com successful. Other times, it’s just, “Blah, blah, blah, his mouth won’t stop”. For a much shorter rambling follow Albert on Twitter @albertberkshire.

Multitasking, Procrastination, And Politeness

Yah. Yeh. Yaw. Yeh.

I sit here during a recording session listening in one ear as a great talent, who absorbs direction, is in the booth opposite of me.  In one ear he’s narrating for educational film.  In the other ear is a new-to-me director giving simple direction in the most considerate manner.

In the background I can hear, “Yah Yeh Yaw Yeh.” Reminds me of the older gentleman with whom I boarded in University. (I hated that University) He would say almost nothing on the phone except, “Yah Yeh Yaw Yeh”. I always assumed he was being given direction, or at the very least, the days events from a talky-talker.

Still, the “Yah Yeh Yaw Yeh” is deafening.  However faint it may be on the line.  I think she wants to be elsewhere.  The more I hear her, the more I’d like to be elsewhere.

<pauses to hit apple+s>

More polite direction.  I like this director.  He’s clear, concise and doesn’t waste time. When he has what he needs, he moves on.  Not a single “Yah Yeh Yaw Yeh” out of him.

I’ve directed quite a few talent over the years and I’ve always appreciated the straight to the point questions.  And most certainly, the straight to the point responses.

<text message. another welcome distraction.>

The art of polite conversation (or in this case, direction) seems to be lost on so many people.  In previous recording session, the director was…well, rude.  It made me cringe.  I think at one point I was about to say, “Okay, we’re done here.”  But that would be rude…and I’m not a fan of rude.  Politeness, the noun derivative of the adjective “polite”, is by definition relating to a person in manner that shows behaviour that is respectful or considerate of other people.

Yah. Yeh. Yaw. Yeh.  I like that definition.

<excellent. an IM from a producer. I’m loving the distractions here today.>

Where was I?  Right.  It’s important to be polite when you find people procrastinating when they should be multitasking.

Yah. Yeh. Yaw. Yeh.  That’s what I meant to say earlier.

Albert Berkshire is a writer, producer and voice actor. He lives, writes and plays on Canada’s West Coast, and from time to time, he shares the stories that make his company, GreatCreative.Com successful. For a much shorter rambling follow Albert on Twitter @albertberkshire.

Share The Love!

I think I once had an ego…not so much anymore.

It’s not that I don’t care about my work.  I do!  I love it.  I just don’t care what my peers think.  Clients?  Hell Yeah I care…but those who are in the business?  Naaaah.  If they like it or not makes little difference to me.

Maybe that means I’ve hit my stride.  Maybe someone will tell me what that really means.  Maybe I don’t really care what it means.  And maybe THAT means I’ve hit my stride.

Or maybe it really means that psycho internet stalker that found me to be an interesting source of entertainment for his/her/its evil, hateful brain is wasting his/her/its time…cause I really don’t care.   Byegones, asshole.

I’ve seen and heard campaigns that made me say, “I wish I wrote that.” I’ve seen and heard campaigns that made me say, “I wish I could write those kind of campaigns every day.” I remember hearing a country music star back in the 90‘s talk about a rock song, saying, “I wish I wrote that.” And even then, before I was more than a year or two into my career, I completely understood what he meant.

I’m always telling my clients to brag a little.  Don’t be so humble.  You do amazing things everyday.  Tell the world.  “Yadda Yadda”, I’m sure they all think.  But the point is, when someone LOVES your work – be they clients, industry peers, or just people who had a few wobbly pops at an awards ceremony – you should lap it up like sparky with a bowl of milk.

You should.  Because it’s your work.  And there’s a good chance you put your heart and soul into the project.  And when someone says something good about it – take it and relish in it.  Live in the moment! Like my good friend Bryan Shrake says, “You have an amazing story to tell.  So tell it!”  (or for the Lords of Kobol sake, hire me to tell it for you)

Anyway, my company’s client, Frame Custom Homes, won a Tommie 2010 Gold Award for Excellence in Logo Design.  And after we walked up on stage in front of over 500 cheering guests (possibly drowned out by our wonderfully supportive partners) to accept that oh-so coveted award, I realized, this is really great for my friend and designer – Jeff Chandler

And it is.

You should hear his story.

Yes, we won. No, this isn't ours to keep. No, I have no idea what the hell was up with my shirt.

Albert Berkshire is a writer, producer and voice actor. He lives, writes and plays on Canada’s West Coast, and from time to time, he shares the stories that make his company, GreatCreative.Com successful. For a much shorter rambling follow Albert on Twitter @albertberkshire.

Pick Me! Pick Me! Pick Me!

– by Albert Berkshire

Okay….don’t.

It’s odd how we, as writers, producers and voice actors will do just about anything to get the attention of an agency or production company. It’s the hunt for the job and the need for good quality clients. The kind that pay a decent fee for our rare and wonderful talents.

Too early to be self-indulgent? Maybe. But read on, and you’ll understand.

Most of my colleagues have been writing, producing, casting, directing and (voice) acting for a long time. Over these years, most of us have established pretty good relationships with great agencies and production companies – big and small. Some others haven’t, and the state of their careers reflects their poor judgement and poor performance as a talent and business person. It is, after all, a business first! And in some cases, we’ve given exceptional service and value to some agencies, only to be ignored, neglected or just flat out stiffed.

Alarmingly, one shitball boutique agency stiffed me for over $10,000 back in my earlier years in the business. To the best of my knowledge, that agency which used to be called Sound Advice no longer exists. I still do. In your eye, shitball.

Okay…now that that’s been cached for all eternity by Google, I’ll move on.

I’ve done some wonderfully fulfilling projects. I have written, produced and voiced some hilarious radio creative and some gut wrenching, heartbreaking creative over the last 15 or 20 years of my career. I’ve picked up clients because of the creative, some because of my reputation for great customer service <pats self on back>, and some because I can do what they need within their budget.

I’ve also said “No, Thanks” quite a few times. Now, not to be in complete contrast to my marketing goals – both as Albert Berkshire – writer, producer and vice actor – and those of my company Great Creative.com – I find its more important to pick the right projects… those projects that will make us shine as a company, and that make me happy to stroll into the studio every morning.

So recently, when asked to book a voice talent for a client session, I said “No” to a really nice film-slash-production company. And I did it despite the potential for easy money for pressing buttons like a monkey. The reason I declined the project was because the talent and I have a great working relationship with a production company in the same market as these new commercials were to run.

Conflict? In my world, it is. You see, loyalty is everything to us in this business. We give our clients loyal service. And if we’re lucky, we get it in return. Most of us won’t voice two clients in the same product category, and for Great Creative.Com, we won’t solicit two clients in the same category unless they are in completely different markets. It’s our way of presenting our best work to one client per category, per market, per relationship.

So do I want Great Creative.Com to meet and attract new clients? “Hell Yeah!” But I’ll never let it happen at the expense of a solid relationship. No one’s money is that good.

Pick me? I sure hope you will. Will I pick you? Only if you are a fit for us.

Our reputation depends on it.

Albert Berkshire is a writer, producer and voice actor. He lives, writes and plays on Canada’s West Coast where his production company Great Creative.Com has earned a great reputation, and an equally loyal following. For a much shorter rambling follow Albert on Twitter @albertberkshire.