I recently spoke with entrepreneur Sean Saulsbury about his work for TOS as a reader and producer of audio articles, and his other endeavors.
Daniel Wahl: Thanks for taking time to chat with me, Sean.
Sean Saulsbury: My pleasure.
DW: To give our readers an idea of who the man is behind that golden voice, let me begin by asking about your business background. What kind of work did you do before getting involved with TOS?
SS: For about eight years I was co-owner and Managing Partner at Box Office Mojo, a popular movie Web site that reports theatrical box office results. I built the company, along with my business partner, Brandon Gray, into a publication that served nearly 2 million readers a month. I’ve always loved movies, technology, and business, so running my own company in this space was a great fit for me. We sold the company in July of 2008 to IMDb.com, however, and I left the company a year ago to pursue other interests, including doing voice over work for TOS.
DW: And we’re glad to have you working with us. What motivated you to get into voiceover work?
SS: I enjoy this kind of work because it gives me an outlet for performance without much overhead. I was in several plays in high school—and even had the lead in a few of them—and, because I was more of a “behind the scenes” guy at Box Office Mojo, I hadn’t had an outlet for performance for years. There are things I don’t like about acting—memorizing lines being the major one—but voiceover work is great because I get to perform without having to do tedious prep work, and I can do it from the comfort of my own home.
DW: What are some of the challenges involved?
SS: The biggest challenge for the TOS work is to find the “voice” of the piece I am reading. Each author has his own writing style and so I try to connect with that, put myself in his or her mindset as best I can in order to illustrate the theme of a given piece, for a performance perspective. Also, figuring out what the piece is about, in my own mind, while reading it, is a challenge. This can be different from the theme of an article, and I try to attach an emotional or motivational word to it. Some articles should be read more matter-of-fact, others very impassioned. Sometimes they’re skeptical of their subject matter, and sometimes they’re in love with their subject matter, and I find that and embrace it as best I can.
DW: Why did you choose to work specifically with TOS?
SS: I wanted to work with TOS because they create great content about current, culturally relevant issues from an Objectivist perspective, and I can pretty much guarantee that anything I read out of the journal will be interesting and thought-provoking. For me, performing isn’t an end in itself, and I really need content that I believe in to do a piece justice. It also allows me to “chew” and “digest” each piece in TOS a bit more than I used to. Since I have to perform it, I’m spending a lot more time with each article—there’s a stronger purpose for me to analyze what I’m reading—and that allows me to obtain a deeper understanding of the pieces in TOS as well. Plus, everyone is really easy and fun to work with. That makes doing this a real joy.
DW: What are some of your favorite readings so far, and why?
SS: Let me start with the most challenging, which would be Yaron Brook’s article, “The Morality of Moneylending.” Generally, the two things I least like to read are Shakespeare and the Bible. So imagine my surprise when I find I’m reading extensively from both of these—and in an Objectivist publication, no less! But I managed to get past that and, I think, do a decent job reading those parts of the article.
I’ve also enjoyed reading the chapters from Craig Biddle’s book, Loving Life, that have appeared in the past several editions of TOS. Craig has a writing style that syncs well with me, and I find it very enjoyable to follow his logic and express the core messages he’s trying to convey throughout his articles.
Because I enjoy reading anything related to business and the history of it, my favorite reading is probably an article on Standard Oil by Alex Epstein. That was a great read and fun to perform.
DW: What other projects are you involved with now that might be of interest to TOS readers?
SS: I maintain a personal blog where I write from time-to-time about whatever fancies me. But TOS readers will most likely be interested in the two audio podcasts I’m currently producing.
One is an interview show on small business called The Independent Entrepreneur, where I interview small business owners about creative vision, leadership, and making one’s way in the world of business.
The other is called The Movie Film Show, which is a movie review show covering current theatrical releases by the characters Mr. Movie and Mr. Film (I play the Mr. Movie character). The “Mr. Movie” character never says the word “film” and Mr. Film never says “movie”—unless they’re addressing each other of course. It’s a good mix of critical reviews and discussion, combined with a bit of humor and just plain fun.
DW: Thanks for your time today, Sean—and, as a fan of both shows, thanks for those too!
SS: Thank you.