PEARL LEMON INTERVIEWS:
Al Black trained as a sound engineer and has worked for over two decades producing audio-visual translation solutions for both business and entertainment projects.
A Fireside Chat
I had the opportunity to have an amazing conversation with Al Black from Voquent today. I became intrigued with Al’s work at Voquent after we spoke about the impact their work could have on site readers and text-to-audio applications for website optimisation.
He took the time to talk to me and answer some questions so I could get to know him better and hear more about the things that have helped shape his business success to date – let’s get stuck into it!
What Is The Book (Or Books) You’ve Given Most As A Gift, And Why?
I love business books, particularly auto-biographical books that give an insight into the everyday challenges faced by successful business leaders. Highlights for me are Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, Shoe Dog Millionaire and Masters of Doom.
What Purchase Of $100 Or Less Has Most Positively Impacted Your Life In The Last Six Months?
The LastPass app has made my life much easier. Managing hundreds of logins and generating unique passwords on the fly is so easy now. It’s changed my life!
When You Feel Overwhelmed Or Unfocused Or Have Lost Your Focus Temporarily, What Do You Do?
I go for a walk. Then I try to focus only on what is directly in my control at that specific time.
What Are Bad Recommendations You Hear In Your Profession Or Area Of Expertise?
Some businesses try to commoditise voice-over services by making it all about price per minute or per word.
Never ever choose a voice to represent your business, product or service based on the price alone. Pick the best voice to engage the audience and make sure it is recorded and edited to a high standard. It will always pay for itself. This also goes for scriptwriting. A good script will make it a lot easier for the voice actor to nail the message.
If You Could Have A Gigantic Billboard Anywhere With Anything On It — What Would It Say And Why?
“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past, I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone, there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
DON’T FIXATE ON
‘DOING WHAT YOU LOVE’.
- Al Black
What Is One Of The Best Or Most Worthwhile Investments You’ve Ever Made?
I constantly invest my time in focussed learning. I digest books, blog posts, YouTube videos and courses daily but always with a practical application in mind.
What Advice Would You Give To A Smart, Driven College Student About To Enter The “Real World”? What Advice Should They Ignore?
Don’t fixate on ‘doing what you love’. My son is age 20, and I’ve always told him NOT to do what he loves as a job because he’ll stop loving it. Do something you can excel at and can potentially specialise in later.
Becoming a specialist is key because people will seek out and value your expertise higher.
How Has A Failure, Or Apparent Failure, Set You Up For Later Success?
My first solo business venture was started just after PayPal integrated with eBay. I was Drop shipping refurbished TVs to make some extra money to save for my first mortgage deposit. I was making a small margin (like £30-£40 per TV).
It went quite well for about 1 year but then the delivery company refused to deliver the top-selling 40″ Rear Projection LCD TVs because they weighed over 35kg (hey this was before plasma’s!).
This completely killed the business because I didn’t have enough margin to deliver each TV on an individual pallet and I couldn’t increase the price; so I quit. My mistakes here were aplenty, but not having a backup TV supplier, or delivery company was really dumb.
Tell Us About Your Business. What Does It Do And What Value Do You Add?
Voquent.com is about accelerating audience engagement. Right now we’re focussed on delivering exceptional voice-over services, enabling brands to speak to a global audience in any language.
Voice-overs are ubiquitous. Every business needs voice-over for their promos, telephone messages or eLearning. We also offer accessibility services such as subtitling, audio description and sign language.
Where Do You See Your Industry In The Next 5 Years?
Exploding. There is huge growth in the use of digital media content, much of which uses voice-overs.
How Has Covid-19 Changed Your Industry?
In recent years, it has been increasingly important for voice actors to have a professional home recording studio, but now it’s vital. Before the pandemic, around 60% of voices on Voquent had home studios, not it’s closer to 90%.
How Has Covid-19 Changed Your Company?
We’ve blossomed and trebled in size. The remotely-produced online voice-over production services we offer are in higher demand than ever.
What Is A 'Hack' You Have For Success That Most People Don't Know About?
Learn what needs to be done, then make a detailed SOP (standard operating procedure) for it and delegate it out.
Most small business owners think they have to do everything themselves. They think working 24/7 is something to be proud of. Wrong. Success is a grind. It’s all about choosing which tasks to do yourself and which to delegate. Delegate as many tasks as you can as early as you can.
Check Out Al's Company Profiles:
Pearl Lemon are an SEO, PPC, PR, and B2B lead-generation agency. We are based in London but service clients around the world.
We have taken the time to interview entrepreneurs and experts (like Al) in this new series.