She’s a brilliant and funny creative with far too many talents to list. She recently entered the world of self-employment and, like most of us, has never looked back. Please welcome Casey Eade.
Amanda: There’s so much I want to talk to you about since you’re one of those people who is just uber-talented at so many things. But I’ll start with the first time we met, which was for a one-on-one business session. You were still working in the corporate world, not under the best circumstances, and you were laying the groundwork for your great escape. That was about two-and-a-half years ago. It doesn’t seem like that long ago.
Casey: I can’t believe it. Yeah, I was working, you know, I’ve worked in, oh my gosh. You name it, I’ve done it. And yeah, at the time, I was at a corporate job and I was doing voiceover on the side. And I knew this is what I wanted to do. And I had in the back of my mind, like, okay, maybe if I plan everything out, in detail, real specifically, I’ll feel better about the uncertainty. So then I scheduled the session with you. And I was like, tell me everything that could possibly go wrong so I can adapt to it. And you were like, well, that’s not realistic, so let’s get realistic.
Amanda: That sounds like me.
Casey: You gotta roll with it sometimes. It’s like, what if, what if, what if, what do I, what do I do? And that was one of the first times I think, like, you know, all the information you gave me, and I remember leaving feeling like, can I actually do this? Like, she makes it sound like I can actually do this!
Amanda: Because you can!
Sometimes breaking points can be good.
Casey: So that was pretty cool. Yeah, and then after that, I kind of had, you know, all the information about building a business, and getting everything set up to make sure invoicing and all the behind-the-scenes stuff is running really clearly. And I was still kind of waffling a little bit. I was like, I don’t know, I don’t know if I can do this. I don’t know, I don’t know. And then I kind of had a come to Jesus moment with Melissa Moats at The Voice Actor Studio, and I was like, I just, I really want to do this full-time. I really want to do this full-time, but I don’t know if I can. And she was like, you could just do it. Just do it. And I don’t know if it was the permission from another adult, because mentally I’m actually just five still. But I don’t know if it was getting the permission from another adult, coupled with all the information you gave me, but a week later, I quit my corporate job and I jumped into it full-time. And now I’ve been doing this full-time for over a year. And I can’t. It’s bonkers.
Amanda: But that’s the thing that stops so many of us. Myself, too. I stayed at the job job for way too long because it’s scary to make the if that final leap. You can do all the preparation, but there’s something that has to push you. So I was actually going to ask you what it was that made you decide it was time. But that permission thing, that sounds familiar.
Casey: There were a couple things for me that kind of pushed me into doing it. One was knowing that I had support from you guys, from the folks at TVAS. I’m lucky enough to have support for my family and friends. And I was prepped performance-wise at that point. I built up a small but steady client roster to where I was like maybe I can do this, and then getting that permission. And then I had also just emotionally, psychologically, kind of gotten to the point where I couldn’t not do it. Because in case you couldn’t tell, I’ve always been a theater kid. Like I’m just loud, I have no inside voice. There was no other career option for me ever. I’ve always wanted to do this. And it had gotten to the point where I was just like, you know, and I’m not a risk taker, either. That was the other thing. I always did everything by the book, like I’m super Type A, and super, like, I get straight A’s in school. And uh oh, I said a bad word. But it got to the point where I was like I’ve got to try. I just think I hit a breaking point. And sometimes breaking points can be good, because it was like, well, the worst that’s gonna happen is nothing. And then I still won’t die.
The lack of a backup plan makes you work even harder.
Amanda: That’s a big part of it. If you do it, is somebody going to die? Yourself or somebody else. And if not… A lot of us, and I say us because I am an overthinker, and I can put way too much emphasis on places where it doesn’t need to be. But then you kind of have to dial back and it’s like, well, what’s the worst that can happen? And it’s really scary to leave a job, leave a steady income, and to say, okay, I’m just going to do this. But that motivation of not having the safety net or the stable income, I think that really is what will push you. Because so many of us start to… we do the “right” thing and start building up things on the side and try to get a client here and there while working the full-time job, thinking that, well, I’ll feel better when I get more clients. But then you’re also spending 40 hours a week at a job, and that’s 40 hours you could be spending on getting the clients.
Casey: That’s what you had said to me, too. It’s like, all of your energy is going towards corporate day job. Make the leap. Because my big fear was that failure. What if I crash and burn? What if? And it is scary, especially since we grow up kind of thinking indoctrinate – well, you’re gonna get a job, you’re gonna have a steady income. But I think part of this process was learning there’s no certainty anywhere really, especially these days. So why not? And I knew I’d gotten to the point where I was equipped to handle it. And you’re totally right, that almost lack of a backup plan makes you work even harder. And absolutely, there was a little bit of that free falling sensation, where you’re like, oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh. But I was consistent with auditioning every day and just hitting the ground working. And I wanted it. And I loved it, even when I was scared and going crazy and, like, what if this doesn’t work? What if it doesn’t work? What if that doesn’t work? I was still having a ball. Because this is what I really love to do. And I know that sounds cliche. But man, it makes a difference.
Amanda: I think since I started this podcast, pretty much everybody I’ve interviewed has said the same thing. We love what we do. And that’s one of the big parts that makes you successful in business. Because if you start a business doing something you hate, I don’t know why you would do that.
Casey: Yeah, no. Been there, done that. You know, too, where it’s like, I can’t anymore. I just can’t. I love voiceover because it combines so many things I like, right? I like being loud and weird and just all the time. But it’s also real self-motivated. I get to indulge my kind of nerdy Type A side with the business side of things. And it wound up being perfect. Because I had abandoned the stuff that was holding me back, the corporate day job, I was able to divert that energy into finding new clients. And I’m telling you, within like two to three months, I built up a full-time client roster. And I still can’t believe it as I say it. I’m still like, What? I’m an adult?
Duh. We’ve got to adapt.
Amanda: Well, you say that that you’re an adult now, but I’m very interested in hearing the millennial perspective of what a career is now. Because I have 10 years on you, and I’m in this weird middle-ground place based on when I was born. I’m actually somewhere right between Gen X and Millennials. It’s been given a bunch of different names, but not one that’s actually stuck. Basically, I grew up without the internet, but it came around early enough that it’s become an easy part of my life. But I see some people who are a little older than me who’ve had some issues adapting to what’s realistic now. They’re a bit stuck in how things used to be. And from what I see, it’s not going to be that way again. And that’s something I thought before this whole worldwide pandemic we’re experiencing, but that’s certainly affecting us even more. Most of us aren’t going to work for one company for multiple decades and then retire. Our priorities are a lot different now. What is important to you in terms of work? And how do you think about your career going in any long-term future sense?
Casey: I mean, everything’s on the internet now. None of this would be, like what I do, what we’re doing right now, wouldn’t be possible without the internet. I personally am seeing a big shift in, you know, I can only speak for self-employed millennials. It is pretty unpredictable, only because new tech is coming out every five minutes, right? And you know, again, especially this year, it’s like, I’ve got to adapt to this, and got to adapt to this. I’ve noticed among folks that are around my age that are self-employed, it’s not even a question of “Are you willing to adapt to all these tech changes?” It’s, well, duh, we gotta adapt. And it’s almost like, you’ll see kind of old or maybe older school business decisions where like, well, when’s the right time to adapt? And that’s not even the conversation anymore. Everybody goes into this knowing things are gonna change, sometimes on a daily basis. And that’s part of owning a business online today. Which is kind of cool, I think. If you go into this with that kind of growth mindset, knowing like, you know, what’s that…? Improvise, adapt, overcome. It’s nonstop. I think that kind of mindset that a lot of people are going into this with has allowed me personally to be way more creative and think on my feet way more than I normally would have. Because again, like if I had my way, I’d plan everything out 50 steps ahead. So I’d be like, check this, and then this is going to come and I don’t have to… Yay! No improv! But it’s all improv. It’s all improv. And I think that’s made me a better business owner, honestly. As clients are adapting to changes, whether it’s… sometimes I’ve had to explain to clients like, “Alright, let’s connect using this platform” and they’re like, “How do I do that?” And I’m like, “Oh, it’s easy.” I can explain it to them. Maybe it’s because I grew up with the internet forever, but that just makes you more useful to them. They don’t have to go to someone else. You can explain it to them. If there may be a client that’s not as used to the tech or whatever, it’s exciting. I don’t think business is working the same way as it used to. But I think that unpredictability is leading to some really cool creativity and changes, just in general, that are pretty exciting.
Amanda: I think it’s such a good time to be in business for yourself, because so many people like that whole job job thing – I’ve got a boss, I have a set week. And they feel like that’s somehow more stable. But I feel it’s more stable when you have control over your own business. And a lot of people right now, they can’t afford a full-time employee. I need this service for this amount of time, so I’m going to outsource this little piece of it for just when I need it. And then, at least for me, that helps because I figured out when I was in my last job for 10 years, I don’t want to be at the same place every day for the rest of my life. I don’t want to do the same thing. And that is what this allows me to do. I get to pick all the different things I want to do. And when there’s work, there is, and if there’s not in this one area, I can go do something else. And I’m not sitting there in the slow week staring at the computer because I’m chained to a desk and I’m not allowed to leave, which is the worst.
Most people from the Millennial generation have multiple jobs.
Casey: Exactly! Oh my God. Oh, trust me, I’ve been there and just sort of sound of silence playing as you sort of disassociate in front of the computer. I get it. And that’s the other thing. Most people my age, from the millennial generation, have multiple jobs. Whether it’s a daytime 9-5 thing and then they’ve got things they’re doing on the side, or they’re freelancing and they do four or five things freelance, or they have multiple projects. I think that’s becoming the norm almost, especially with all the work from home lately. It’s, I’ll take on this, and take on this, and take on this. It’s going to be interesting to see post-pandemic, how, or if, we adapt back into that physically come to work model, because more and more people are enjoying that freedom. I’m interested to see how that’s gonna work.
Amanda: I am too, because I’ve been saying for a long time that if employers let their employees work from home, you solve a lot of problems. Because the complaints I would hear from the most employees were “I have no freedom. I’m missing out on time with my family. I’m stuck here at this office, but I’m more productive at this time of day. Or if I can get all my work done by the deadline, why does it matter where I am and where I’m doing it?” And the owners, a lot of times it’s that micromanagement and they think, “Oh, I can’t trust my employees.” Well, number one, if you can’t trust your employees, why are they working for you? It’s that fighting change. But then this pandemic came around and said, you don’t have a choice right now. And they’re seeing that, yes, people are capable of getting their work done from home. You just have to give people an opportunity. And when you have good people on your team, they’re going to do good work for you. And that flexibility keeps people happy, and then they want to keep working for you, and it wins. It’s a win for everybody.
Being in charge of what I do has made me so much more productive.
Casey: Spoiler alert, I’m not a scientist or a neuroscientist, just in case you were wondering. But I think that that just works better for the human brain, that kind of change and adaptability. And I mean, that’s also one thing I’ve noticed going from a structured 9-5 job to “Alright, it’s a free-for-all. You gotta stay disciplined, and you gotta make your schedule.” is the ability to find out, okay, what kind of workflow works best for me? What are my optimal hours, especially from a physical standpoint, like when do I sound my best? When do I reach my limit where I’m like, I can’t. I have no more brain cells to give today. Being in charge of what I do has made me so much more productive.
I’m so big on letting people find out what works for them in terms of work schedule, in terms of the rhythm you’re in. And, you know, caveat on top of that is even that’s going to change. I might have an idea of I’m gonna do this, this, this, this, this. And then, surprise, it’s 2020! You gotta redirect. So it’s like, well, okay, you don’t have choice. Let’s go. And I think those are the businesses that ultimately are able to stay afloat, because things change. Unfortunately, things change, you got to adapt.
Amanda: What you said is something I agree with also, that you have to give people a chance to do things in their own way. And that’s, to me, the number one problem of managers everywhere is they’re trying to get people to do things the way they do it. And that doesn’t work. I had this realization once when I was working with somebody who was somebody who needed to be in the room and have that verbal conversation with somebody to understand it. If you sent him an email, that wasn’t gonna work. The way I work, I want everything written down so I can refer to it later. It was this realization, oh, wait, he’s not benefiting from doing things my way. Maybe I can change the way I do things and work the way that he’s gonna work. And just making that little shift, where I still emailed everything so he had the information. I would email it and then go talk to him about it so we could get things the way he wanted. And then everything worked so much better.
I can get the work done. You just need to let me do it.
Casey: Time for big time ideas. We live in a society… I think it’s so ingrained that everybody can fit into a cookie cutter mold, whether it’s in school… you know, I used to teach. It’s sort of this one-size-fits-all learning model. Well, that’s not true with kids. And that’s not true when we’re working in a work setting, or whether we’re entrepreneurs. Everybody has a different working style that works better for them, and allowing people to figure out A) what makes you happy and actually enjoy what you’re doing. I know I’m such an active physical person, I can’t sit all day. I have to be constantly moving around. I know other people that need to be in that stationary workspace to focus. So I think part of the appeal of this sort of, kind of online, you know, self-employed entrepreneurial boom, that I’ve been seeing is that I can get the work done, you just need to let me do it. And I’ll let you do it how you want to do it. I’m hopeful that that’s… and we saw a lot of like articles on this when the pandemic first started, but is this is going to revolutionize the way we work? It’s interesting to think about that. Man, let people work how they need to work. If you need to sit on an exercise ball (hi, that’s me) and get weird while you’re working, just do it. You know, it gets the work done. It works great. It’s fine.
Amanda: That whole idea of the 40-hour workweek is archaic. It’s not based… It’s like daylight savings time. It’s not based on anything that’s relevant today.
Casey: I am not an 18th century farmer, despite all the indications to the contrary! Maybe. There are weeks when I work like 60-70 hours just because I’m on a roll. And then there’s weeks where it’s slower. And I don’t think this one-size-fits-all business mindset. A) I don’t know if it was ever the right solution, but especially not now. Like it’s just not. And I think as younger people enter the workforce, and they’ve grown up with the flexibility of the Internet, and they’ve grown up seeing entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial mindsets, whether it’s even like YouTube creators or whatever that they’ve grown up with, are questioning and saying, Well, why do I have to do that when I can do the same thing, but more effectively, and the work quality will be better? Because I’m working how I know to work most effectively. I think that’s pretty dang cool.
Amanda: That’s a kind of rebellion I like, and it’s something I’ve practiced in my own career. Because I’m very logical, I need things to make sense. I’m fine playing by your rules, but they have to make sense.
Casey: Just because this is the way we’ve done it. And it’s like, okay, but it’s not the 18th century anymore, Daylight Savings Time! I’m a little bitter, in case you couldn’t tell.
Amanda: I’ve always been this way. It reminds me of in high school, I had a conversation with one of my teachers about showing up to class and staying awake in it, because I worked full time in high school and sometimes I didn’t stay awake. And I remember this teacher was like, “Well, you can’t sleep in class.” And I asked him why. He said, “Because you can’t.” But there was no explanation beyond that. I said, “Well, what’s my grade in your class?” He said, “Well, you have an A.” I was like, “So what does it matter?” And so he just said, “Okay, well, can you at least sit in the back and try not to be so obvious about it?” But that was the thing. If the point of school is to learn and get good grades, and I’m doing that, while also working a full-time job that makes me money and allows me to eat and do other things, why does it matter?
A lot of people are just fed up with that old world model.
Casey: And speaking as a former teacher, too, like, go to sleep! For Pete’s sake, you know, go outside and learn, take a nap! I like that you call it a rebellion because that’s definitely what it felt like for me when I first did this. I was like, oh my gosh! I’m leaving my full-time job to be an actor! Oh, this is like a Lifetime movie but without the soundtrack! I was so excited, and I felt a little like, oh, I’m naughty, right? I think it’s just part of this trend of people being like, I don’t have to do things your way because it’s not working for me, and it’s not working for you, and it builds a lot of resentment. And I’m all for it. More and more people I know personally, whether it’s voice acting, whether they’re freelance writers, editors, artists, whatever, are kind of making this leap because I think a lot of people are just fed up with that old world model. Maybe they’ve seen their parents, grandparents go through it and sometimes it wasn’t fulfilling. And I think it’s great that we have the ability now to be like, uh-uh. I’m gonna do my own thing, which is always scary, but just speaking from personal experience, and you know this, too. It’s so worth it.
Amanda: I was just talking to a friend of mine. His son is 17, and the two of them were on the phone, they were driving back from Utah, and we were having this discussion because this kid is going to have to take care of me when I get old. So I’ve been bribing him since he was born. And he’s aware of this, but I buy him stuff every once in a while, I make sure that he knows that he has to take care of me when I get old. But we were having that conversation, because he’s 17. He’s about to graduate high school. Do you know what you want to do? And it’s always tricky when there’s a parent involved, because I think most parents still want to encourage their kids to go to college and follow that path. Well, my friend wasn’t on that path. And he’s just saying, “Look, you…” Right now, the kid wants to be a crane operator… “You don’t need to go to school for four years and spend all that money to be a crane operator. Go do it. Go join the union, where they’ll teach you, or go into the military.” He has all these ideas of what will work out better. I’m all for education, I always have been. But when I went back to school, it was 2015 I think, I didn’t learn a thing that I didn’t already know from having done this for so long.
We have this embargo on the idea of failure.
Casey: I was definitely raised, and I’m the same way you are where I’m like, education is super important. I’d get 700 degrees if I could, because I’m just a big nerd. But ultimately, it’s about what makes you happy. I know that sounds so Disney Princess, but the older I get, and the more I do this, and the more people I talk to, do what you want to do. Seriously. Sometimes you feel like you need permission from whether it’s your friends or your relatives or whatever. Cool, get that permission. That’s what I did. And then go for it. Because otherwise really, truly, I sound like mom now, you’re gonna think about it. That’s the only thing you’re going to think about. And you’re not going to know unless you try. And I think we also have this embargo on the idea of failure. You know, you can’t fail. It’s dangerous. The world’s going to end if you fail. I fail 47 times a minute. But I’m still going, right? And it’s… a big challenge for me was shifting from Oh my God, I failed once. I have to say 10 Hail Marys. Oh, no, what am I going to do to? To what can I learn from it? Let’s try this and see if it sticks. Oh, that didn’t work. Try this. That didn’t work. Oh, that did. That kind of freedom lets you explore and fail and be okay with it. No one’s gonna die, guys!
Amanda: You learn by doing. And I think it’s about talking to the right people, too. Like you said, you had a mentor of sorts that gave you permission. Because depending on who you ask, and depending on what you really want to hear… If you want to hear yes, I can do this, and you’re asking the right people, you’ll get supported. But, if you are talking to people who are negative, and secretly you’re scared to succeed so you’re going to find reasons not to try, you’re going to talk to the people who will give you that answer. So it can be whatever you want. But if you have any kind of support, and sometimes even if you don’t. I’ve had to do a lot of things on my own. And not to say that the people around me aren’t supportive, but I’m very much a do it myself type. I’m not good at asking people for help or advice. And sometimes when I do, I don’t like what they have to say, because they’re trying to put me into that little box of how you “should” do it. And that doesn’t work for me, so I tend to just figure things out on my own. But I am fortunate to have that self-confidence that says, look, I have succeeded at everything I’ve done. Maybe not at the very first try. The first time I picked up a guitar, I wasn’t playing “Stairway to Heaven,” or something more complicated than that, that was just the first thing that came to my head. But, with anything it’s practice. It’s the same being in business. You can do all the research, and learn all the things, and have an idea of what you need to do, but you’re not really going to know until you get in it and start doing it.
Casey: Exactly. And I mean, ultimately, it’s got to come from you. 100%. Having that support system and that community to rally around you is so critically important. And I wouldn’t have been able to do it without that support. But ultimately, I think it was about me believing in me and getting away from all those voices that told you, for one reason or another, you can’t do this. It’s not safe. Oh, you need to keep working for me because you’re never going to make it out there. Having supervisors or whatever tell you that. Ultimately, it’s about trusting yourself and being, you know, I’m a big girl, I can do this. I’m not. Like I’m perpetually five. But practicing having that, even if you don’t believe it. I kind of think of it as like parenting yourself in a way, where even if you’re doing something solo, and you don’t have that support, it’s knowing that, exactly, you’ve come this far. You can do this. You’re not pushing the nuke button. You’re not doing brain surgery, unless there’s any freelance brain surgeons out there. I don’t know.
Amanda: That’s who I would call if I needed brain surgery.
Part of the appeal of this entrepreneurial boom is it’s so much more community-minded.
Casey: Hey, do you have like five minutes? Just a quick question. Yeah, I’d like to speak with a permanent British accent. Yeah. And I think it’s, especially for women, that ability to say you can do this. You’re going to be fine. Ask for help when you need it, which is so hard to do. But that’s the other critical skill I’ve learned is when I’m stumped, you know, maybe I have a new piece of software, or the sound in my booth is off, or whatever, I’m not a tech person, right? So having a community of people to reach out to and be like, I don’t know what I’m doing. Help me. I think that’s also part of the appeal of this kind of entrepreneurial boom we’ve been seeing, is it’s so much more, in some ways, community-minded than you are this lone cog in a wheel. And then you go home, and you’re not part of any collective or anything like that. I think more and more people are seeing the attractiveness in having even if it’s just other entrepreneurs you can talk to bounce ideas off of, it’s energizing. It makes you feel like I’m not alone, and everybody’s making mistakes, and we’re all gonna screw up, but we’re doing it. I don’t know, it’s really fun. It’s cool.
Amanda: One of the nice things about social media is that there are communities for everything – communities or Facebook groups for introverted business owners, and whatever it is where you can find your people and find that right community. Maybe nobody in your specific circle, your family, maybe none of them relate to what you’re doing. But there are so many people out there. And that really helps. And I think, especially if you’re willing to do it, and the big thing with working for yourself is you have to be prepared to do the work. There is a lot of it. And I know sometimes people see oh, well, this person out here is doing this thing so I’m going to do that. But they’re the ones who want that cookie cutter mold, somebody that’s going to tell them okay, here are all the steps that you’re going to take. And if you do this, you’re going to make a million dollars. And there are a lot of people out there selling those steps that will “make you a million dollars,” so you have to be really careful about still using your brain and making sure that you’re still doing what’s right for you, and that it makes some kind of logical sense.
Casey: Exactly. Kind of on the flip side, there’s absolutely a tendency to romanticize it. Like I can just go take a three-hour ice cream break or whatever. Not that I’ve done that, twice, maybe, I don’t know. But it’s absolutely learn, you know. Yay! You’re on your own! I’m free! But now it’s you got to do the work. Nothing’s going to fall into your lap. It makes it so much easier when you do love what you’re doing, and when you have those empowering feelings of oh my gosh, I made the leap! I’m doing it, and it’s happening, and I’m not alone because I have all these different support groups out there.
Again, that wouldn’t be possible without the internet, without social media. Whether it’s me talking to my clients online, or talking to other voice actors, or talking to biz whizzes (biz whizzes?) like you, where I’m like, Amanda, I don’t know how to do the number thing. Can you help me? It just helps. It makes it feel less like you’re falling from a plane without a parachute and more like intentional hang gliding, I don’t know, whatever you call it. Strategic aim.
Make sure you’re ready to work and put your nose to the grindstone.
Amanda: At any point, have you looked back and thought I should have stayed at the job longer?
Casey: Never. I wish I would have left sooner. Never. And that’s the other thing where I was like, I’m gonna regret it. I’m gonna regret it. I’m gonna regret it. I’m such an overthinker. Not once. It’s been hard. It’s been, at times, exhausting and scary, because it’s kind of like I was used to following the mold that was set out for me. And now I’m building my own. But it’s not like I’m the first person in the history of mankind to do that, like businesses have to start somewhere. It made me feel better that it’s not unprecedented what I’m doing.
I don’t regret it for a second, I cannot believe, for real, that I wake up every morning and get to make noises in a box for a living. I had a session the other day where it was just like me getting punched for a game. And they’re like, “Alright, get punched real hard!” And I was like, for real? I just get to like, oh, oh, oh for an hour? It’s the best. And there’s going to be parts of it that you don’t like. Like I’m not a numbers person, and I’m so right-brained to a fault that sometimes I need help with like the more behind-the-scenes technical stuff. I don’t regret any of it at all. I would just encourage anybody be prepared and make sure you’re ready to work and put your nose to the grindstone. But just do it. Just do it, man. Just do it. Life’s short. Just do it. Nike! Are we going to get in copyright trouble?
Amanda: They’re not a sponsor yet. But let’s work on that.
Casey: Okay. Don’t worry.
What can you logically, realistically do today?
Amanda: I mentioned your many talents, some of the things that you do really well: voice acting, copywriting, marketing, social media management, art, cosplay, I’m sure I’m missing more. Do all of these interests keep you balanced? Or do you feel a little bit scattered because you want to do all of it?
Casey: I think it’s a weird mixture of both. There are times where the good news is I do so much that maybe if I’m burned out from recording in the booth, so then I hop over and do some of my copywriting things. And then when I’m burned out with that, I’ll hop over and do some art. So it keeps me really busy. And then, absolutely, there are other times where I’m like, I gotta do this, I gotta do this. The thing I’ve learned is I have to check myself because if I didn’t put the brakes on, I’d be like you have to paint the whole Sistine Chapel today. And if you don’t, you’ll die. Like that’s where my brain naturally wants to go. So this has also been a big process of me learning, like what you said, what can you logically, realistically do today, Casey? I am never bored, which is good. I’ve always got like a one-man song and dance show in some way going on over here.
Amanda: You did volunteer to recite the entirety of “Phantom of the Opera” for us if we want to.
Casey: You know I could! No worries. Everyone’s gonna be just oh my god, I can’t ever listen to this podcast. You guys know how it goes. Listen, listen, if you grew up when I did, and you went through your goth Evanescence phase, you know how it goes.
I can’t stop making stuff ever.
Amanda: Tell us more about your cosplay life. You refer to yourself as a shapeshifter, and I’ve seen evidence of it on Instagram. You can completely transform from a beautiful woman to a scruffy man. You went viral for your Babraham Lincoln costume a couple years ago, which is one of the best and most disturbing things I’ve ever seen.
Casey: If I can put anything on my grave. I want to put “it’s the best and most disturbing thing I’ve ever seen.” Thank God. I’ve always been a theatrical kid growing up. I think voice acting is one way to get my blrrllrlr out. I loved makeup from an early age. I love stage makeup, all the horror movie prosthetics. When I was growing up, I didn’t have access to any of those prosthetics, so I was like, I wonder if I could illusion paint on my face to make it look like I had prosthetics. And I would spend nights in the bathroom just slathering stuff on. My mom would walk in and she’d be like, are you painting Al Pacino on your face? And like, I’m just curious. We’ll see what happens. And it’s just, it’s another fun way to get the creativity out. I’ve been able to partner with some awesome charity organizations because of the cosplay stuff I do and do some great work with them. I can’t stop making stuff ever. Babraham Lincoln was my horrible way of indulging my love of history and just making people upset. So I’m glad it worked.
Amanda: I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better Halloween costume. I don’t know that I ever will.
Casey: I feel like I peaked, in general, in life. That was it. And it’s all downhill from here. But you know what, if that’s my legacy, proud of it.
Amanda: you do show up as Loki quite a bit.
Casey: I do! Yeah, I am a big Marvel fan. And I started trying out any new thing that comes along, like oh, let’s see if I can try that. And it wound up I do work with this organization here called Critical Care Comics. They do hospital visits for kids, as superheroes. So we’ve got Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Deadpool, you name it. Right now, we’re doing Zoom visits. But right before everything shut down, I was in costume as Loki at a local convention here, in ye old days when we could go places and touch things. And they approached me and were like, “Hey, wanna come volunteer with us?” And I’d heard of the stuff they did, and they just do great work. I’m so happy to be a part of what they do, too. And we all get to dress up and be nerdy together and it makes kids happy. And, as someone who grew up with chronic illness, who was in the hospital a lot, it’s also a nice way to be like, it’s okay to be a kid again. That’s my big thing, in case you couldn’t tell. I’m just like, be a kid. I’m not a real adult.
Amanda: Well, you’re still five years old.
Casey: I still… Mommy, is it okay, if I…? Yeah, I can’t. I’m 29. What are you talking about? No.
We get to a place when we’re adults where we almost tell ourselves, “I can’t have fun anymore.”
Amanda: In one of your bios, you call yourself a professional silly person, which I love. And you talk about still being a kid, but you’re also very much a mom. You’re the one who is looking out for everybody and you take care. You’re very caring and supportive. And you offer that, even some of your posts on social, you’re very vulnerable at times and saying, hey, this is hard. So yes, childlike, but also mom-like. So how does that dichotomy work out?
Casey: I think we get to a place when we’re adults, where we almost tell ourselves I can’t have fun anymore. I have to be serious. And that’s part of why it took me so long to get away from my corporate job. I was like, well, it’s not realistic. And I’m like, who says? People do this all the time. So I want to encourage people to just, like, let themselves play again and have fun. If you like cosplay, go for it. Doesn’t matter how old you are. If you’ve always wanted to try voice acting, go for it. If you’ve always wanted to write your novel, go for it. It’s never too late. And at the same time, I don’t know. I think I’m just that mom friend. I want everyone to be okay. And I’ve also learned, especially since doing this full-time, kind of the importance of community, and importance of taking care of each other. Especially this year, where it’s like, hey, everybody doing good? You had a hard time yesterday? Me too. We can get through this. It’s fine. Do you want to not work today and just lay on the couch and watch Netflix? That’s okay sometimes. But it will still love you.
One of the most important things I’ve learned is knowing when to take a break.
Amanda: Even though there’s, for whatever reason in this society, there’s this glorification of busyness, and the hustle, and you’re not doing enough if you’re not doing something productive with every second of every day. That’s a clear recipe for burnout, and that’s not good for anybody. It all comes back to that balance. You can work really hard when you need to, but you should also be able to eat ice cream for three hours if that’s what’s going to help you that day.
Casey: And I think that’s another huge thing that I personally have learned. And honestly, it’s probably one of the most important things I’ve learned since going full-time self-employed, is knowing when to take a break. Because I am like you, where I would just go go go go go go go and then crash and burn and then go go go go go go go and then crash and burn because of… I don’t know if it’s an American phenomenon, especially, but this cult of burnout. I was hospitalized three times last week because I worked so hard. And it’s like, that’s awful. And if I don’t stop myself, I fall into that too. But I’m very much I need to see it to believe it. And I have seen how taking a break helps me be more productive and more energetic and ready to go. You know, I like to help people and encourage people and have fun, and you can do it when you get some sleep. Being self-employed also doesn’t mean, oh my God, you’re going to be working 200 hours a week, forever and ever, and then you crash. No. A huge part of it is learning when to stop. And that’s another kind of freedom because you’re away from that 40 to 60 hour a week grindstone and you’re like, I need to rejuvenate. You gotta!
Amanda: You have to remind yourself why you wanted to go into business in the first place. Was it to get burned out? Because, for me, I wanted to work less and make more. And that’s what I do. And it’s great. So when I hear people bragging about, oh, I’ve worked so much, and I’m exhausted, and this and that, to me, I’m like, why do you want to do that?
Casey: What’s that accomplishing? I mean, I fell into that my whole life. This is probably the first time in my life where I haven’t fallen into that because I’m like, I can’t do anything or make any money at all if I’m exhausted. There’s no way. There’s no way. Take a break. Take a break when you can. And I’m the same way. My dad used to say this to me growing up, but it’s like, work smarter not harder. And it’s, again, another cliche, but I’m like, oh, now I know what that means. Okay. And there’s still going to be times when you’re going nonstop. But then it makes you appreciate the times where you can take a breather even more.
Amanda: It’s all that balance. In my world, it seems what always happens is all the jobs show up at once.
It’s just downtime.
Amanda: So it’s all at once or not at all. And I take the not at all times to do less. That’s usually when I finally have time to work on my personal projects. But there are also times when it’s like, okay, I just worked a lot for a lot of days, and I’m tired now. I have all these other things I want to do. But before I do that, I’m going to take today and I’m going to go hang out on the couch with my cat. And then I can decompress. I can be ready to then put my full effort. Because otherwise then I get into the office and I start trying to work on something but my brain’s not into it. I’m tired. I’m not feeling it. The motivation isn’t there, and I’m not doing anything good. I could spend that time taking my break, and then when I come back, it’s like, okay, I’m ready to go.
Casey: I think that’s an infinitely healthier way to work. Otherwise, you’re grinding your gears and nothing is happening. And I’ve totally noticed that with voiceover work where everything will happen all at once. It’s just an absolute eruption for several days. And then everyone goes quiet. And there’s the temptation there to be like, oh my gosh. Because with me, I’m such a zero to 60 thinker, it’s over. It’s over forever. I’ll never work in this town again. Oh my gosh. And then eventually they come back, and that’s the other thing. Everything’s cyclical. There’s going to be busy times and downtimes, and busy times and downtimes. So just being able to take advantage of that, I’m so much more productive when I do. I’m like, are you kidding me? I get to take like a five-hour nap and then work? This is great.
Amanda: If you give it three years, and that sounds like a long time, but it’s really not. After three years, you tend… and this is piece of advice my friend Angie gave me. I didn’t come up with this on my own. But after working with a lot of freelancers, and being one herself, and knowing a lot of them, it’s that three-year mark. By then you’ve figured out what that rhythm is. You know what your seasons are. And it’s not an exact science. But, for example, for me in January, I know it’s usually pretty slow. That first January, because I remember actually having coffee with Melissa, and she was drinking her coffee and I was drinking my “weird green tea,” as she calls it.
Casey: Your weird green tea!
Amanda: She was saying that she has another voice actor friend, and they would meet every January to remind each other that there will be work again. For voice actors, holiday season gets very busy. So it’s rush, rush, rush, and then things quiet down. People have spent their money. They’re not advertising just yet. So that difference can be a little bit scary. And for me, in production, that’s the same. January, people don’t have their budgets figured out yet, so there’s not a ton of work. And that first year it was like, well, am I ever gonna work again? Or was that eight months, that was my run, and now I’m done?
Casey: And I’m still figuring… I’m about a year and a half in, I think, for going full-time. I’m totally still feeling that and figuring it out. And I have to stop myself and be like, this isn’t the end of the world. Like, it’s Friday before a holiday weekend. Everyone’s exhausted and no one wants to do anything. That’s the other thing you start to realize is these folks on the other end, whether they’re producers or directors, they’re also just regular people. So if it’s Labor Day weekend, and they’ve gotten all their stuff done, they’re going to go home and crash just like you are. And that kind of takes a lot of the intimidation out of it for me. I’m still intimidated by everything, because that’s just the way my brain works, but realizing like, no, they want to go home and crash and watch Netflix, too. They’re going to come back. But it’s just downtime.
Clients are just people, too.
Amanda: I find that a lot of people, in the beginning, they have a hard time setting boundaries. They think they have to be available to their clients 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And if they don’t answer or do something right away, they’re going to lose that client and never work again. But it’s because they’re scared to talk to them about these are the hours, this is the expectation, what is it that you really need? Do you need this now? Or are you just sending it to me because that’s what you’re thinking about now, but really I could do this in a few days? You have to be able to talk to the people, because they are people and they’re, for the most part… there’s always going to be the ones out there who are pretty unreasonable. But the great thing about working for yourself is you get to fire those clients. You don’t have to work with them if it doesn’t work. Setting boundaries, and giving people the benefit of the doubt that they are humans and they will understand that you don’t want to work 24 hours a day, because they probably don’t.
Casey: I’m glad you brought that up. I struggled with that so bad. I still do. Because if I’m in the mindset, call me at 1am, okay, I’ll do whatever you want! Oh, you need the McDonald’s commercial at 1am? Everybody does, don’t they? But I had a couple weeks ago, where I had a family medical emergency, and I was supposed to get this thing in for the guy. I was still ahead of schedule, but I like to get it as quickly as possible, the voiceover. And I couldn’t, and I let him know, and I’m so apologetic. I’ll knock this much off of the price. I’m so sorry. Right? And he was like, “Dude. You’re fine. No worries. No need to do that. It’s totally cool.” He actually said “dude,” and I was like, oh, this is a human being and he gets it. Like, stuff happens. I’ve found that most people in the voiceover industry are really reasonable and they get it, especially on the producer side. There’s so many like, “Yeah, whatever man.” I don’t know if it’s because they’re in a dark room editing all day and they’re just vibing. It’s much more understanding, maybe because they’re coming from the perspective of they’re also self-employed freelance. They get it. They get it. People get it. I think people are, in some ways, more understanding than I would give them credit for. And I’m always surprised.
Amanda: That’s why I like to work with creatives, I feel like they get it more because most creatives, not to put everybody in the same box, but most of them aren’t in a box. I think about my sister-in-law, that she does her best work at night. She’s a writer, and she’s like you. She does 100 different things. She’s a writer and a singer and a video editor, and all sorts of fun stuff that she does. But when I go to visit them again, back when we could go do things like that, my brother and I would, you know, 10:00 or so we’re both heading off to bed, and that’s when she would get up and start writing. Because that’s the time that works for her. Some people have little chunks in different times of the day. I don’t know anybody who is at their best on a Monday through Friday from 8am to 5pm, with a one hour break in between.
Casey: That is just not realistic, and it’s part of this antiquated Victorian industrial system. I’ll go on and on and on and on about it, but I’m the same way. I think a lot of creatives are kind of night owls. And one explanation I’ve heard for it is because everyone else is asleep, so no one’s gonna bother you. And there’s something about the sun going down where you’re like, there’s no rules anymore. I can draw however long I want. I can do as many impressions as I want in my sound booth, whatever it is. And hey, if you work best, if you know you’re a night owl… That’s my struggle, too, is I’m definitely like sun goes down, it’s party time. But that’s not how everybody works, so it’s having to adapt. But if you know you do a lot of your best work at one in the morning, and that’s naturally how your body clock is, and it’s not going to hurt you, go for it, go for it. There’s no intrinsic thing that says you must wake up at 7:30am. I mean, it helps. But I’m also biased.
Amanda: I’m a morning person, so I am up early, and I start working early. And then by the end of the day, not as much.
Casey: You’re like, I’m done.
Retrain yourself to listen to you.
Amanda: But that’s the problem I have with a lot of those productivity hacks, and all the self-help out there that says if you wake up at 5am, that will solve all your problems. Because that doesn’t solve all your problems, especially if you can’t function for those two hours or you’re drinking eight cups of coffee just to function or to get by. That’s not the best use of two hours of your day, in my opinion.
Casey: Retrain yourself to listen to you. Listen to what your body responds to naturally. Listen to what work techniques and patterns and workflows work best for you. Try different ones. I’m a list person. Some people are like, don’t make me write a list ever again. A lot of this has been me reteaching myself to listen to myself. Like when I’m failing, I’m done. I can’t do any more work today. I really can’t. And if I try, it’s going to come out really crappy. Then letting myself stop. And I think a lot of our work culture has taught us to turn that off. Don’t listen to yourself. Just keep going. Just push it, push it, push it. There are times when you need to do that, and that’s fine. But just speaking from personal experience, I’ve been so much more productive, and so much happier, since I’ve allowed myself to be like I work best at this time. I like making lists. I know there’s no way I’m voicing anything before 7:30 in the morning because I sound like a man, and that’s not who they booked. And it’s kind of a process of rediscovering.
Amanda: We’re happy rebels.
Casey: Yeah. Look at how rebellious I am in my matching sweater set, mom.
Amanda: I think you’ve said quite a bit, but if you had one piece of advice for other creatives out there who want to take the leap into self-employment, what would that be?
Casey: Believe in yourself. Maybe it sounds cliché. You can do so much more than you think you can. You’ve gotten this far, especially this year. You’re doing great. Believe in yourself and reach out when you need help. Get rid of the idea that you have to pull yourself up by your bootstraps with absolutely everything and you’re totally on your own. That’s not how human beings work. Use your support system, your network, find one. You can do so much more than you think you can, a year-and-a-half ago Casey.
Amanda: Where can people find you out in the social media world?
Casey: So my username isn’t my regular name. It’s where all my art/cosplay/voiceover stuff is. It’s @muirin007 on absolutely everything. So that’s M-U-I-R-I-N-007, as in James Bond. That’s me on every social platform. If you want to hear me do voices, voiceover, weird makeup, scream about history, yell about my dog.
Amanda: You do that a lot.
Casey: I do that a lot. I get mad about something that happened 200 years ago a lot. So just be prepared, you know? Yeah.
Amanda: Thank you for making the time to talk with me today. It was fun.
Casey: You’re so welcome. And thank you for kind of giving me that initial push to do this. I wouldn’t be here without you guys. I really wouldn’t. So you’re awesome. You’re awesome.
Connect with Casey @muirin007