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The Road Not Taken & Chance Encounters

Lessons from a Leap of Faith

A few years ago, as participants at a training program, we were asked to write about someone who changed or influenced our lives. That was an epiphanic moment for me. Two individuals popped up in my mind and I realized just how much of a game-changer they had been in my professional life.

I was working in a French leather merchandising company. My love for theatre, saw me team up with some well-known names in the Madras (as it was called then) theatre scene for various events, albeit with smaller roles/appearances, as a hobby and pastime. One particular event was a revue which necessitated speaking into a mike. A few days later or was it a month (?), this theatre friend of mine with whom I had performed at the revue, called me up, and very nonchalantly remarked, “Hey, there is an eLearning company in MEPZ and they need a good voice over artist. I am too expensive for them. You have a good voice, sound great on the mike, why don’t you go over and check it out?

Having anchored quite a few programs and performed in school, college and cultural associations, I knew I had a good voice that was universally appreciated, but being a professional voice-over artist was a different ball game and there was no scope for an audition or trial/demo! I just had to go and deliver, since I was coming with a recommendation from a leading voice-over artist. And go I did. And that road that I had never taken before changed my professional path forever.

I walked into a plush, large office and was taken to the recording studio inside. In the studio, I could see another room with a big plain glass divider. I was handed my script and asked to go inside that room. Inside, I was instructed sit in front of the mike, wear the pair of headphones, and asked to test by speaking a few lines into the mike. Once they were ok with the effect, the ‘take’ began and my voice rolled and dipped according to the script, which was for a technical course. At the end of the hour, I realized I was really enjoying myself. Preoccupied with reading, I didn’t notice a gentleman standing in the room outside listening to me. When I was done with the recording, the studio manager said it went well, and that the Managing Director would like to meet me.

Mentally gearing up for an interview, I walked into the MD’s office. He began by complimenting me on my voice (he was the gentleman in the studio!), saying that mine was a great voice which could easily vie with and even win against those of the leading voiceover artists in Mumbai which was the hub of VO artists. And then he went on to ask me about my current job, my past experience, and my interests. He heard me out completely and then – hold your breath – offered me a job!!! A role in the company which would be completely in line with my interests  – of the English language, education (I had taught English for a while, and written a couple of text books for schools), writing, voiceovers, not to mention my current experience of production coordination and project management! I was stupefied!

eLearning was the new sunrise industry and I of course had no experience in this field! But here was the MD of the company who seemed to have total faith in my capabilities to be able to come up the curve and flourish! A faith borne of a few minutes of a listening in on a voice recording (which in itself was a chance encounter) and a few minutes of a chat, without any medium of any directly related immediate past experience. To say that I was just excited would be banal. I was bewildered, excited, tremulous and finally riveted. Post discussions with the family and my current employer, I accepted the offer in this wonderful eLearning company. Thus began my walk on a road not taken before, which I have yet to walk away from, even after a decade and more.

All because of two discerning gentlemen, one who just knew I had ‘the voice’ and the other who intuited my strengths and married them to a glorious role in an emerging industry that very few had heard about. 

What did I learn out of these experiences?

  1. That no experience, no learning is ever futile. They resurface unbidden and become stepping stones. Just like my experiences with teaching and my foray into theatre.
  2. That there are others around you who many a time see/know/understand your intrinsic worth far better than you (the self) can. Listen to them. Trust them.
  3. That the universe has a way of connecting the dots for each one of us. And sends down emissaries who can read the emerging picture and create the suitable setting. Just like the two gentlemen in my life were.
  4. That finally, follow your heart and take that leap of faith.
  5. Because at the landing stands a long and winding road that will take you far in the journey of life.
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