“Get to know your team members and understand their personality types. It’s amazing how much stronger and empowered your people can be when their strengths are known and are leveraged daily in their roles. One of my favorite personality typing frameworks is Myers-Briggs. While it certainly doesn’t cover everything about a person, you sure do learn a lot about yourself, where you get your energy from, how you think, process information, and make decisions. This knowledge about yourself and others is endlessly helpful in understanding the right ways to encourage each other to really thrive.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Stephanie Ciccarelli, Co-founder and Chief Brand Officer of Voices.com, the industry-leading website that connects businesses with professional voice talent. Voices.com has been written about in The LA Times, New York Times, Forbes Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine, and The Wall Street Journal. A respected mentor and industry speaker, Stephanie is considered one of the most connected people in the industry, and has been listed on the PROFIT Magazine 2013, 2015, and 2016 W100 lists, a ranking of Canada’s top female entrepreneurs. Stephanie is also the author of Voice Acting for Dummies®
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
This career path is one that I’ve been on since I was a little girl. What brought me into the voice acting world specifically, though, was the need to make a demo for my singing career. After making a demo, other opportunities to use my voice came up for radio commercials, telephone systems, and more. Fast forward to married life, kids, and running an audio production business with my husband, where I was the voice talent and he was the audio engineer. Simultaneously, I was wife, mother, university student, artist, businesswoman, students’ council member, and parish council member. Simply put, it was a very busy time. During this season of life, I discovered that as much as I loved being a performer on stage, what I truly enjoyed was helping others to get work. What I also craved was the freedom to set my own schedule and to create opportunities that would add value not only to my family, but also to those of our customers. That’s around the time when we took our fledgling voice over business and grew it into the marketplace leader it is today.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
The most interesting story? Definitely acquiring the Voices.com domain. When we started, our domain name was InteractiveVoices.com. As you can see, it was too long and too niche for the spectrum of work we were doing. Also, as many customers would attest, it was a nuisance to type. Shortening our name from InteractiveVoices.com to Voices.com solved a number of brand challenges while also positioning us as the global platform we aspired to be. We purchased the domain name during the Web 2.0 boom when every company was dropping vowels, creating words, and generally not sticking to the familiar. Investing in a dictionary word related to exactly what it was that we did laid the foundations for a solid brand with staying power. As well, the domain Voices.com is older than Google.com. Because of its age, we also benefited right away from the vintage of the domain in the search engines.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
For a company that works a great deal with words, I made a rather silly mistake early on. This is why it is important to have a good editor on staff! The marketing department was only me at the time. When writing about a high profile industry professional, I honestly thought that using the word ‘infamous’ meant that the individual was beyond famous, or in other words, massively famous. As I soon discovered, not only was ‘infamous’ the wrong word, but it was a thoroughly negative word that I would never have used in that context had I known. How embarrassing! One of our readers kindly pointed the spelling mistake out in the comments of the blog article and it was quickly resolved. Since then, whenever I’ve been in doubt of a word or its perceived meaning(s), I’ll look it up on three different sources to avoid making the same mistake.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Something that makes Voices.com stand out is its approach to the marketplace. The kind of work that we provide through the platform exemplifies content that will educate, entertain, and inspire, all while keeping to an ‘E For Everyone’ standard. Our commitment to this has created a safe environment for professionals to do business.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
The voice of the customer is extremely important to us. We’ve been working on projects that will serve them better and make their user experience the best it can be. I’m passionate about helping voice actors get work and all my efforts are focused in that direction. Finding new and exciting ways to showcase our voice talent and introduce new businesses to what we have to offer never gets old.
What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?
Get to know your team members and understand their personality types. It’s amazing how much stronger and empowered your people can be when their strengths are known and are leveraged daily in their roles. One of my favorite personality typing frameworks is Myers-Briggs. While it certainly doesn’t cover everything about a person, you sure do learn a lot about yourself, where you get your energy from, how you think, process information, and make decisions. This knowledge about yourself and others is endlessly helpful in understanding the right ways to encourage each other to really thrive.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Definitely my mother. My mom has always been my biggest cheerleader and she gave me every opportunity possible growing up to develop my voice and serve others using that same gift. One of the first occasions was singing at mass. The organist was singing on his own and my mom spotted an opportunity for me. The result was the beginning of a decade-long commitment that helped me on my journey as a soloist and also put me on the trajectory that led to pursuing a career in music, studying music at university, the newspaper article about a young man who’d opened a recording studio (given to me by my mother), meeting my future husband at said recording studio, and eventually starting Voices.com with him as co-founder.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
The work that I’m doing is closely tied to my heart and mirrors what I’ve been called to do. Our family believes that we receive blessings in order to bless others. Knowing that we’ve made a pivotal difference in the lives of those struggling in this world, be it for basic human rights, safety or sustenance, is gratifying beyond measure. The freedom to create as an entrepreneur equips me to fight the good fight that brings hope, redemption and restoration into some of the darkest, most dangerous, and desperate places.
What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
Excellence, Not Perfection
I’ve learned the painful lesson that perfection is unattainable. Years of punishing yourself and being critical is never worth it. Instead of trying to be perfect, strive to be excellent. Excellence is achievable and far more satisfying.
Be True to Yourself
Knowing who you are, what matters to you, and why is vitally important. It’s how you live your life each day, make decisions and an impact on the world.
People Matter Most
Without people, be they family, co-workers, or customers, you have nothing. Life is about relationships. The way you treat people matters. All people have dignity and the work that they do is important.
Anyone can be successful in business, not just the tech-savvy. Creatives are integral to any business and every business needs someone who brings artistry fuelled by passion. A creative brings different strengths to the table, and being a creative (as I am) does not limit your potential in business when you surround yourself with others whose gifts complement yours in service to your business.
Feed Your Passion
When you’re in business (or working in a business), you are responsible for filling your own inspiration bucket. The onus is on you — yes, you! — to feed your passion in effort do keep doing the work you love doing.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
A movement I’d like to inspire would be to let people know that every person, regardless of age or stage, has dignity. That everyone has intrinsic value, was created for a purpose, is wanted, and is loved. Through this movement, people would better understand themselves and get answers to the deeply important questions of who they are, why they’re here, and why they matter.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
There’s a great quote from Brennan Manning that I find myself regularly referring to, which is:
“In every encounter we either give life or we drain it; there is no neutral exchange.”
As someone in leadership, understanding the power (and weight) of your words and actions is important. This quote puts life into perspective. Am I doing something that will help people, or is what I’m saying or doing hindering them? Knowing that there is no middle ground is crucial. It makes life simpler and decision making easier.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)
The person I would most love to have a private breakfast or lunch with is Queen Elizabeth II. There’s a lot I’d love to ask her, but most of all, I’d like to thank her for her leadership and the way she has lived her life. Queen Elizabeth II inspires me and it would be an absolute honour to visit with her.