Oh What A Rat You Are

…so get in the Race

Free vector graphics of Rat

Used by permission from GDJ via Pixabay


“Everywhere I went, I was running!”

Remember Forrest Gump?  Boy, could that boy run.  His wonderful quote to Jen-nay: “And after that?  Everywhere I went…I was runnnnning…”  Such great memories!  Tom Hanks’ finest.

Anytime I look at Forrest Gump and that slim, healthy physique, it’s like looking in a freaking mirror.  The mirror of course being one of those circus funhouse mirrors that is comically warped to the point of utter shameless deceit, sending me on my way in ignorant bliss with the top button on my pants popped out from the cotton candy, elephant ears, ice cream, double-cheeseburger, fries and soda.

But when I think of Forrest Gump and that gripping montage of running scenes from his namesake movie, it’s immeasurably inspiring. He ran so far and so long, at one point reaching the Santa Monica Yacht Harbor: I love it when he pauses, thinks, turns around, thinks, and resumes running in the opposite direction.  And then, finally, after 3 years, 2 months, 14 days and 16 hours, he was done.  He had accomplished his mission of running.  He was full-bearded, skinny, he had developed a following and inspired a nation with memes and more.  He was done.

Forrest Gump inspires me every morning. I get up, yawn and stretch, and with a smile look out and see the bright sunrise; I know my time has come.  I slap on my running shorts, throw on the Apple watch, don the headband, lace up my running shoes, and run downstairs to the couch to watch reruns of Snapped.  (It concerns me when my wife watches it with me and takes notes).  Kicking back in my couch, I think, “Man, what a workout.”  *grabs beer*

Forrest Gump I am not.  But I sure do like to run, and I sure enjoy the race.


You’re in a Rat Race – deal with it

Voiceovers are a rat race.  Like any entrepreneurial pursuit, it’s all about keeping something coming down the pipeline.  It’s running to get to the next client, hopefully before the other voice talent does.  Sure, we extend a great deal of congratulations and genuine joy when another artist receives a voiceover job, perhaps one that we ourselves were auditioning for, but secretly, we yearned for that one too.  So, as we firmly grip the hand of the backstabber-I-mean-colleague who stole-I-mean-rightfully acquired the job that we wanted, we can’t help but exude contempt-I-mean-joy for them as we plot their demise -er- celebrate their success.  It’s a rat race, and you and I are rats.  Nice whiskers by the way.

It’s really not as bad as I make it out to be.  I do imagine the “I’m so happy for you” scene in Dumb & Dumber where Jim Carrey firmly grips the hand of Mary Swanson’s husband with a sinister begrudging grip, refusing to relinquish his bitter, icy clutch.  But that’s not us as Voiceover Artists.  Instead, we rejoice in the accomplishments of our colleagues, and we celebrate when those we’ve taught, helped, trained, coached, or simply encouraged, rise to the level of Voiceover Accomplisher.  We’re truly, innately thrilled for them, you know, in the same way that a black market kidney victim is genuinely thrilled for their unintended recipient, or…how a bear is thrilled for another bear that snatches that giant salmon jumping out of the river in mating season.  Ya know…thrilled.

Honestly however, as long as it’s not the same job that I wanted, I’ll celebrate your joy and do nothing to subvert you of course.  If it IS the same job I wanted, I may harbor, well, a wee bit of frustration – temporarily – and start calling up hitmen, but that’s just so that I can engage in a little fantastical retribution.  I’m not really going to do anything, and I’m not mad at you.  Really.  I swear.  You look peaceful when I watch you sleep by the way.

In this great thing called voiceovers, boy is it ever a Forrest-Gump-bum-rush to get clients, to put bread on the table.  Each day I do the following:

  • Send 50 Advertising Emails
  • Connect with at least 20 target contacts on LinkedIn
  • Follow at least 10 video producers or VO’s on Twitter
  • Send at least 20 Instagram emails to target contacts
  • Eat five pieces of taffy
  • Send at least 20 emails to E-Learning developers
  • Send at least 20 emails to Realtors
  • Contact at least 10 YouTube Producers
  • Contact at least 10 Vimeo Producers
  • Yodle
  • Contact at least 100 leads a day
  • Watch the Morning Show
  • Shower, time permitting

The yodeling is necessary, I assure you.  The taffy is most assuredly not.

It’s a Rat Race.  Every. Single. Day.  Do I love being a rat?  Yes.  Do I love racing?  Yes.  Do I love being a Rat in a Race every single day?  Most assuredly.  Each morning I wake up and I can’t wait to check things off of my daily goals sheet.  It’s my intention to race to the finish line strong, fast, and determined, and to finish each day well, without complaining and without whining, as I wrote in my last blog.

So the question for you is, are you ready to enter the Rat Race?


Tips on surviving a Rat Race

The Rat Race can be difficult.  It can be brutal.  If you’re ready, I salute you.  But to therefore help you successfully navigate and in fact survive the Race, I’ve constructed the following helpful Rat Race Rules list for you to implement:

  1. Prepare for the Rat Race by having clear, defined, attainable and reasonable daily goals
  2. Do not eat your fellow Rat
  3. Droppings are to be offloaded OFF-track so that subsequent Rat Racers do not slip and fall in your entrails
  4. Focus on making each day extraordinarily productive
  5. In the event you are depressed in the race, no Rat shall be allowed to commit Hari Kari. Violators who do this shall miss lunch.
  6. No Rat shall at any time be allowed to use the slur “rat” on another rat as an epithet. This rule has been created so that I might be able to finally use the word “epithet” in a sentence.
  7. As a Rat, your primary objective is to run the race. Run it well, and you get fresh cheese.  Run it poorly, and your cheese will be stale and will be stuck in Accounts Receivable for 60 days.
  8. No cheesily cutting in front, and no frontal cutting of the cheese.
  9. Running the race does not at any time insinuate that you will in fact finish the race. Many do not.  Your tenacity will determine how well you run; your perseverance will determine how long you run, and your commitment will determine if you finish the race.  Therefore have tenacity, perseverance, and commitment. All three of these are essential ingredients – and they are multisyllabic words that will assist you in games like Balderdash.
  10. All Rats race. We don’t not want all rats to not stop stopping to not race.  Does that clear it up?  Anyone seen sitting on the sidelines shall be fed to The Unemployment Cat without mercy.

Abide by these 10 Rat Race Rules, and you’ll do just fine.  The race doesn’t belong to the swift, by the way; it belongs to the sturdy.  It belongs to Forrest Gump.  It belongs to those who seek to run a marathon, not a sprint.  But every day, you can win the war by winning little battles…which all consist of running the race well and Forrest Gumping your way toward your goals.

So rise up as One Nation of Voiceover Warriors, O Mighty Rat Racers One and All!  Steel yourselves!  Get ready to nibble your way through your goals, swish your tails, and go through the mouse wheel with your little legs pumping hard, your whiskers flaring, and your little black eyes bent on world domination!

 “Run that race!  Run that race!” is what I’ll chant from my couch with my beer during Snapped, because such pursuits in life can make you tired!  And speaking of life: it’s kinda like a box of beers.  You never know what you gonna get, Jen-nay.



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Joshua Alexander
Seattle Voice Actor & Voiceover Talent for hire

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