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Beating the Odds

A Day at the Pig Farm

You never know where your career will take you.

For a young voice actor named Mel Blanc, the road led to a pig farm. After months of trying, he had been offered an opportunity at the Warner Brothers studio, and Blanc wanted to do make sure he didn’t fumble it.

It seems the studio was developing a cartoon character based on a pig. Blanc knew voices, but he didn’t know pigs. So he did his homework; he actually went to a pig farm to research the voice.

As a result, Blanc became a legend. He first was the voice of Porky Pig and then of other Warner characters, like Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and so many others. You can hear him tell the story in this clip with David Letterman, or read about it in his book, “That’s Not All Folks!

In the book, he tells of the teacher who tried to tear him down with the words, “You’ll never amount to anything. You’ll be a blank, just like your name.” He recalls the unearthly persistence that brought him back to the studio week after week, only to be rejected.

But the story of the pig farm tells coaches and athletes everything they need to know about success: You can choose to work as much or as little as you want.

Blanc probably could have landed the job without going to such an unappetizing destination. He could have faked it. But he did his homework. He exceeded expectations.

Every job involves some sort of homework. For coaches, it could be anything from “Why doesn’t this drill work?” to “How can I motivate this particular athlete?”

For athletes, it involves putting in the necessary hours of repetitions, or in having the courage to make the right changes.

Whether you’re a player or a coach, you have the same choice Blanc did. You can either fake it, or you can do your homework. You can choose how hard or how little you are going to work.

It’s that simple. Or, as they said at the end of Warner Brothers cartoons, “That’s all, folks!”


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