Taking The Plunge


I don’t think anything is scarier to a young parent than the day their child goes to school for the first time.  The idea of giving up this child that you’ve been taking care of 24 hrs a day 7 days a week for 3 or 4 years to strangers is just, well, unsettling.

I’ve never been the careful calculating type. The stitches all over my head, as well as my parents, can attest to how lacking in fear I was. This of course changes when you become a husband, then a father. You don’t fear so much for yourself as you do for those you might leave behind.

This is not to say that parents are Wusses, bringing a life into this world and nurturing and committing to it on such a primal level, through sickness and through health. You can’t really be called a coward and have that much responsibility on your shoulders.

A couple of weeks ago I took the plunge. No one expected it, except maybe my wife, we’ve been talking about how unhappy I’ve been. My friends were the ones that had the hardest time believing I did what I did.

But, you’re the level headed one! You’re the one we come to for the most practical and thought out advice. How could you take such a rash decision?

The truth is, I did it for my family.

 Life Changing Moments

In Islam there is a prayer called Istikhaara. It is a prayer that one says when a difficult decision is at hand. A Dilemma. A fork in the road of life.

Oh God which do I take? Is it this one or that, oh Allah make this decision the best decision for me in my life and faith.

After performing this prayer I felt a sense of calm, I had made the decision to stay at my full time job. In truth I feel that I had made the decision before I even started praying. I mention this because in the end, that was not my final decision.

I took the plunge and quit my job of 8.5 years. The scars of the long term unemployment I suffered in Toronto were still fresh in my memory. Back in Toronto I worked as a full time freelancer for a design placement agency. They hired me out to different companies that needed that extra hand for a few days, weeks, months, but without the commitment of a long term contract.

It suited me just fine, I would work when I needed to and travel when I had enough money. Then 9/11 happened and no one wanted to hire Arabs.

My story today is about going from a part-time voiceover artist. To a full time voiceoverist.

So after much thought and preparation I wrote the email giving my notice and sent it to my boss, went down to HR and filled out my resignation paper and suddenly felt 200 lbs lighter.


I think I’ve been dramatic enough so far, so I’ll switch to the more pragmatic aspects of this story so as not to bore you with my sensationalism.

So first off, less income
Pretty logical, if you no longer work at a place, they will no longer pay you. Its unfortunate but generally how the world works. This means less assured income and the introduction of anxiety between gigs.

Second, expanding your business becomes mandatory
The realization that you no longer have the luxury of coasting, because you don’t feel like doing more work, because you’re happy with your income, because you are “just not ready to commit full time”.

Third, Full time VO means a variable income
A freelancer cannot have a steady income, unless that person has a contract. If you have a contract with a company to do some steady vo work with them then you can lay back and maybe cover your expenses with that steady gig, which makes any other gig’s money a bonus. As a freelancer you will have rich months and lean months. You’ll have to set yourself a budget and you’ll need to stick to it.

Forth, More time improve your skills
Its do or die now buddy, gone are knowing enough to get by. If you don’t upgrade your skills then you’re going to downgrade your possibility to land new business, or bring back old customers.

A whole new world of worry

Ironically, even though I left my old job because of stress and high blood pressure inducing scenarios, I just introduced myself to a whole different set of worries, stresses and problems. When before if I messed up I might get a warning or a salary deduction. Now I could lose a client or money to feed my kids.

I remember I was once going through a linkedin voiceover group and read a post by a female VO artist who was in a panic because she had not gotten a job in a week. I was perplexed at this since at the time I had just gotten introduced to the wonderful world of online voiceover work and the frequency of how often I got jobs was closer to twice a month than once or more a week. I did not understand her panic then.

I totally get it now.

So I’ve gone out of my way to contact people in the media industry and send them my demo. Stalk my friends on Linkedin and ask them to introduce me to their friends in the media industry.

What the future May Bring

I don’t know what the future may bring, I might end up back in full time employment, I might enjoy the freedom of being a full time vo too much to give it up.

Who knows.

In the meantime, I’m taking the plunge.


    1. Hey Kim!

      Just trying to emulate talented predecessors like yourself, innovators who have paved the way for those like us, who blunder behind 🙂

  1. Best wishes to you, Mahmoud. May you find enough work to keep you busy and provide well for your family. Your essay reminds me of how much everyone in the craft of voice-over has in common. What you have commented on is exactly the same as if you were born in the USA!

    1. Thanks Dan!

      The Human condition is universal, we take risks, we hesitate, we pounce. We are all human and the experiences cannot but be similar. There is nothing new under the sun, yet we have to experience all these similar situations uniquely and individually.

      Thanks for your kind wishes and may we all stay busy and sustain our families with dignity and success.

  2. Mr. T,

    As we spoke about during our last email exchange, I have such respect for your bravery. It takes incredible guts to move half way around the world and immerse yourself into a totally new culture. And to do that more than once. So this risk should be a walk in the park. You have proven that you are more than a survivor – you are a successful survivor. And you know what they say history does.

    Be great,


    1. My Brother ‘o’ the trenches,

      I thank you for your kind words, I think you’re mistaking downright stupidity for bravery… still I appreciate the sentiment. I have faith that things will work out for the best, but that don’t mean that I ain’t both scared and excited of what’s to come.

      It always helps having badass friends like you around to keep the faith and maintain hope!

  3. Your site is wonderful and I show it with my computer projection on the wall screen at all my seminars. I tell all my students your site is a “MUST VISIT OFTEN” and draw their attention to your wonderful archives too.

    All best, my friend. Blessings.

    To find out where and when I’m teachng, consult my site and I welcome incoming emails from students or potential students too. btzol@aol.com

  4. Sometimes we have to jump from the security of the nest to remind ourselves we can fly!

    My favorite book for practical advice on the ups and downs of the freelance money situation is “The Money Book for Freelancers, Part-Timers, and the Self-Employed: The Only Personal Finance System for People with Not-So-Regular Jobs” by Kiernan and d’Agnese. They really get it, and their perspective is so helpful!

    May you enjoy success and happiness, Mahmoud.

    1. Hello Andi,

      Thanks for the heads up on that book. Although I don’t mind making mistakes myself, I am a firm believer of not re-inventing the wheel. So any insights that can help make my transition easier are welcome.

      As for jumping out of the nest. I guess this would be my 5th or 6th time to do that. Its just that this time I have a wife and kids to consider before I just up and fly. Whatever might come I think will be better than what I had before, I trust that God has something better planned for me, my job is to keep working and trying to do right.

      Always a pleasure hearing form you!

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