“We also need to forgive ourselves when mistakes happen from us not being accountable. I don’t want us to be perfect, but I do want us to strive for excellence.”
As a part of my series about leaders who integrate mindfulness and spiritual practices into their work culture, I had the pleasure of interviewing Arthur Samuel Joseph, founder, and chairman of the Vocal Awareness Institute. Arthur is widely recognized as one of the world’s foremost communication strategists and authorities on the human voice. A renowned teacher and mentor, Arthur’s mission are to Change the World through Voice. Not only does Arthur have M.A. in Voice, but he is also a trained classical singer. His proprietary voice and leadership training program, Vocal Awareness™ is designed to teach Communication Mastery through a disciplined regimen of highly specific techniques, vocal warm-ups, and storytelling skills to cultivate an embodied and enhanced leadership presence, as well as personal presence. What emerges is an integrative and integral communication style, which together creates wholeness.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you please share your “backstory” with us?
Arthur has studied the physiological, psychological and spiritual aspects of the human voice for over five decades. Throughout the course of his career in the entertainment industry, his students have ranged from Academy Award winners such as Sally Field, Sean Connery, and Angelina Jolie, to enduring onscreen stars including Sylvester Stallone, Pierce Brosnan, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. A few of his many corporate clients have included Ernst and Young, Business Management Consultants, Deloitte & Touche, Financial Management Consultants, Lexus International, Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, CBS Spotd, NFL Network, FOX Network, and ESPN. Not only is he a voice to the stars, but Arthur works with many colleges and universities sharing his methodologies. Most recently, Arthur is teaching Vocal Awareness to the students and faculty in the Dan Patrick School of Sportscasting at Full Sail University.
What role did mindfulness or spiritual practice play in your life growing up? Do you have a funny or touching story about that?
Arthur’s origin story is as bereft as many others. Growing up in poverty with a single mother, Arthur never had much, but somehow, when Arthur was 4 years old, his mother was able to sacrifice enough to be able to give him accordion lessons. It was at this time that Arthur knew that music was to be his life. At 12, he knew that singing was the direction he would now take. At the age of 15, when he began to study voice, he recognized that he could hear voice, very insightfully, very differently. At 18, Arthur began teaching and laying the foundation of his methodology and life work. “When I hear a voice, I hear who you are, and it creates a complete imprint.”
How do your mindfulness or spiritual practices affect your business and personal life today?
Communication is part of everyone’s business — and life. Arthur’s lifelong mission is to “Change the world through voice.”
People ask, “What’s it like to work with Sean Connery, or to teach Emmitt Smith or Pierce Brosnan, or to train so-and-so?”
Of course, for Arthur, it is exciting and gratifying to work with such luminaries, but it doesn’t matter if he’s teaching somebody like that, or if he’s teaching a Holocaust survivor who felt that she had lost her inner voice as a result of the Holocaust. What is far more meaningful to Arthur is that he gets the opportunity to help her find it. He feels strongly, the privilege, the responsibility of teaching Vocal Awareness.
Our culture is more dependent upon technology and social media to do the work of communication. As Arthur states, “We are on the cusp of losing the art of public discourse.” He has become a lone voice in raising the alarm regarding the fact that we aren’t simply losing the ability to communicate, but that we are losing our innate ability to connect with each other on even the most basic levels — physically, psychologically, and spiritually.
Do you find that you are more successful or less successful because of your integration of spiritual and mindful practices? Can you share an example or story about that with us?
If you look up the word ‘champion,’ it says, “Dazzling, skilled in any field,” it is not a sports-centric term. In Vocal Awareness, Arthur says, “the Journey is never outward toward accomplishment or fulfillment of our goals. Rather, always and only inward toward the discovery of the Deeper Self.” Arthur’s breakthrough work is designed to help you embody all that you are capable of being — in full Conscious Awareness — to maximize your possibility. When we do so, goals are fulfilled. It is the inevitable outcome of Communication Mastery. That is what he intends with the students and faculty he works with at Full Sail University’s Dan Patrick School of Sportscasting. The opportunity to play a part in helping them discover their deeper selves, then Arthur feels that he is fulfilling his calling.
What would you say is the foundational principle for one to “lead a good life”? Can you share a story that illustrates that?
You never get a second chance to make a first impression. That is why Empowerment Through Voice is Important™. Arthur teaches that our personal integrity is the template for carrying us through our interactions with everyone we come in contact with. When we are congruent in Mind/Body/Spirit™ we are no longer afraid to embody who we are capable of being. He continues, everything in life revolves around two principles, to choose to do something or choose not to. All that matters — does our choice empower us or disempower us. Choosing to live in the embodiment, the Conscious Awareness of what we are possible of being is an empowering goal that we can all strive for.
Arthur has been taught to lead a good life by living a life of integrity, which taught him to be better than he ever thought possible. Part of his talent is that when he hears a voice, he can hear who the person really is. When he first began teaching, he would have students that he could sense were practicing and doing well, but Arthur’s integrity wouldn’t let him move past his students just being okay. So, he would always make sure to dig deeper, helping the student discover what was truly possible. In turn, living a good life means to not cut corners, and to stand up to be your Self and in turn doing so for others. This is ultimately what led Arthur to create the concept to teach Empowerment Through Voice.
Additionally, Arthur notes, “We also need to forgive ourselves when mistakes happen from us not being accountable. I don’t want us to be perfect, but I do want us to strive for excellence.”
Can you share a story about one of the most impactful moments in your spiritual/mindful life?
Arthur was the vocal director for the movie Annie (1982). When production began, things didn’t start out very smoothly, especially when he met the Executive Producer, Joe Layton, who told him, “You ruffled feathers when you arrived here, boy. What you do doesn’t count, wait your turn at the end of the line.” Shortly after his run-in with Layton, Arthur began working with, talented nine-year-old, Aileen Quinn who played Annie. When they began to work, Aileen barely had an octave and a half range, and her head would shake on the high note of “Tomorrow” due to tongue/jaw tension. In four days’ time, Arthur was able to coach to have a three and a half octave range with no more vocal tension. When Arthur went into the recording booth with her, they were able to record the song “Tomorrow” in one flawless take. Layton was impressed and complimented Arthur on his mastery and told him that he wanted to learn from him. This was a transformative moment in Arthur’s life and represents one of his key principles — Surrender/Serve/Soar. Arthur believes that it is critical to Surrender (to yield or give back) to our calling. In this way, we are more invigoratively serving Spirit/God. Arthur explains that we do not want to be the “cork in our own bottle and stop the flow of our intrinsic energy,” and to let Spirit/God’s energy flow through us. When we do, we Soar.
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?
For Arthur, there hasn’t been one particular person to help him get to where he is. However, it has been from working with a variety of luminaries in the arts, business, and athletics that he can attribute his success. For 53 years, Arthur gets up at 3:30 a.m. for prayer and meditation every morning. While in prayer time, he always takes a moment to think of his mother and wife. Arthur makes sure to thank his mother for giving him life and for giving him his life. He also thanks to them both for being his rock, and his due north on his Journey. When Arthur was 15, he met his first vocal teacher, Mrs. Julia Kinsel. She could see something in him that he didn’t quite know yet. If it wasn’t for her allowing Arthur to discover his talent, through her guidance, in his unique way, he would have never begun his life’s mission — to help everyone he works with to discover their own enlightenment and to enjoy their own empowerment.
In his mid-20s, as Arthur was building his trademarked work Vocal Awareness, things became so daunting that for a while, he and his wife had to survive off of food stamps. With Rebecca’s unfailing support in Arthur, it gave him the courage he needed to make his dream a reality. In his first book “The Sound of the Soul,” he created a character called the Pragmatic Visionary, which stems from this experience. All the dreamer does is dream a dream, but the Pragmatic Visionary works to make the dream come true.
Can you share 3 or 4 pieces of advice about how leaders can create a very “healthy and uplifting” work culture?
- Ask your employees to create a vision statement by having them think about, “What is the contribution I want to make?” Then follow this up with the goal statement and timeline, beginning with Q1, through Q4. “If this is where I want to be by the end of Q4, Q3, Q2, Q1?” Then, “What do I have to do on a daily and weekly basis to ensure I fulfill my goals?” In Vocal Awareness, we also integrate a timeline with this. We don’t just write some theoretical or aspirational statements; we actually create a business plan around it in very tactical ways, so it holds us accountable. To support fulfilling your vision, goals, and commitment to your timeline, Arthur created a unique matrix called 168 Hours, teaching us how to structure time. This concept rings especially true for the students he works with at Full Sail University’s Dan Patrick School of Sportscasting. For most of the students’ life, all they have known is one singular identity where they have had someone guiding them, telling them what to do. Now living life on their own terms, they don’t have someone telling them what to do, therefore they need to learn self-accountability. 168 Hours explains the breakdown of how we spend our time and how to create more quality time. Arthur believes that the most important commodity we have is time. When it is gone, we never get it again. This is critically important in helping us to fulfill our goals and Vision in the time allotted us.
- Decades ago, Arthur created an important teaching method called your Persona Statement. The root of the word persona comes from an ancient Greek word meaning, “through the sound.” One’s identity is largely conveyed through the sound of your own voice. There are two questions one must ask to create a Persona Statement: 1. How do I believe I am presently perceived, 2. How would I ideally like to be known? It raises an interesting notion that we actually have a choice. Arthur teaches that every single thing in life revolves only around two things: to choose to do something or to choose not to. It never matters how scary it is or how seemingly daunting. All that matters is how badly you want it. Even in abdication, you make a choice by walking away. In Vocal Awareness, all Arthur cares about is, “Does that choice empower us or disempower us?” Then the meticulous techniques of Vocal Awareness, we learn how to show up every day as we choose to be. As we deserve to be known.
- Voice Is Power. Great leaders communicate their drive, passion and commitment not simply in their rhetoric, but embody them in the tones of their voices, through their body language, in the very sinews of who they are. In his last book, Vocal Leadership…Arthur created a leadership acrostic, in which the L stands for: leading by example. The E represents: empowerment/empowering/ethical/ennobling.
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 number of years ago, Arthur coined the phrase ‘The Human Achievement Movement,’ extrapolated from George Leonard’s Human Potential Movement. The word ‘potential’ means capable of being but not yet in existence. Achieve means to perform successfully. In Vocal Awareness, Arthur teaches us to respect that we all have the ability ‘to perform successfully,’ but we have to do the work to achieve. In this context, he also states, “Vocal Awareness is a Being Work, but you have to do it to BE it.
How can people follow you and find out more about you?
Website: https://vocalawareness.com/ Twitter: @VocalAwareness