Reckless Optimism Pays Off

We've all read about the lives of people like Abe Lincoln, who tried and failed at one thing after another before eventually becoming successful. Something down in their souls kept driving them forward. What was it?

I got onto this train of thought today while looking at the somewhat meager viewership on a series of "Studio Takes" YouTube videos I've done lately. As I created each of them, it was with enthusiasm for the subject matter, and in each case, I felt the video would have to be well received because of what it taught/revealed. Looking back over their stats, I'm surprised that they haven't been watched more. It'd be easy to say, "hang it," and move on, but for some reason I don't. Instead, another idea pops into my head for another subject I want to cover, and another, and another, and I keep doing new videos.

As I considered that behavior, it made me wonder what drives it, and whether it's unique to just my YouTube videos. It's not. Over the years, I've had ideas for product after product, and have released many of them. There have been training courses, a radio automation system, various other software, websites, services, streaming radio stations, blogs, and of course, voiceovers, Few of the ideas I've had have been raging successes. Some of them have gone nowhere, others have made some money. One way or another, I have continued to make a living as an entrepreneur since I struck out on my own in 1996, though I can't point to more than a few of my ideas that have been uniformly successful.

Recently I dreamed up a service called "RealCount," which I think is an awesome service for the voiceover community. It's a free online resource that lets people find out what the REAL word count of their scripts is by converting numbers, URLs, and other figures into words. I'm using it successfully in my own voiceover work, and I've seen a few others say it's useful to them, but it's not taking the world by storm, at least yet. Still I'm not especially discouraged by it. Let people use it if they will, and I'm on to the next thing.

In examining my life today, it occurred to me that what I suffer from might be called "reckless optimism." And in thinking so, I thought I might have come up with an interesting phrase there...but some quick Googling revealed there have already even been books named after the idea. Nevertheless, it is probably a good way of describing me. There's a constant hope and even a stubborn confidence that always thinks, "this is going to go over well." "People have to like this." "People are gonna want this!" More often than not, my expectations are overblown, though the spaghetti sticks to the wall often enough to keep driving me on.

When I tried Fiverr after having watched a course about it, I thought, "Heck, I can do this." I went after it with determination to see what would happen, and lo and behold, it began to bear fruit. Despite discouraging initial experiences with jerky lowball buyers, I hung in there. I grew on the platform rather quickly, and in the process, came up with some ideas and tried them because, after all, "how could they fail?" :-) Well some of them bore fruit, some of them didn't, but in the end, the cumulative effect has been that I have turned Fiverr into a very good income source. Last year, I did over $100,000 in sales on the platform, and altogether, I'm zeroing in on $300,000 since I started there.

About a year ago, after having lost a couple nice paying jobs doing voice tracking for radio stations (no job lasts forever, which a good reason to diversify what you do) I got the idea for The Gig Doctor and began offering my services doing that. At first, it was slow, just like Fiverr started out slow, and it would have been easy to just shrug my shoulders, but somehow that reckless optimism kept driving me forward, and now it's fairly flourishing. Shortly thereafter, I also started offering my services doing voiceover coaching...and there also, it started slow and has grown over time. This past week, between Gig Doctor and coaching, I did about 20 consultation sessions. But it took a year to reach that point.

Also in the recent past, I started the Gig Doctor Facebook group, which is growing at a modest rate and has around 500 members as of this writing, Rate My Voice-Over group, which I haven't checked recently but is in the thousands now I think, and The Fiverr and Upwork Voiceover Lounge, the most fun group of the bunch, which just crossed the 1,000 member threshold. None of them are setting the world on fire, but we're having fun, making new friends, and some of them are seeking my services. It's all good, as they say. And I'm confident they'll continue to grow.

Many of my readers are voiceover people, so let me apply the "reckless optimism" thing there as well. There's a stubborn optimism that rises up in me as I audition, that refuses to consider failure (or ignores it). As I'm doing the auditions, it always strikes me that they'll have to like this! Ultimately, they may or may not, but my lack of doubt in my success results in success occasionally, and that's enough to rally me back to the mic to audition more.

Late last year, I decided to try my hand at another freelancing platform, Upwork, which is still so new to me that I don't yet feel qualified to