Changing the definition of retirement and finding a way back to his passion, one Bakersfield man has been a testament to the old saying that it’s never too late to do something you love.
After over 20 years of working for Verizon as a sales manager for government accounts in Central California, Peter Elieff retired but found his way back into a business he thought he left behind, tapping into his initial roots working in the voiceover business.
It all started for him as a child.
Born in Portland, Oregon, Elieff’s family moved to Bakersfield because his father was in charge of moving Sears to Valley Plaza. From there, he jumped from Bakersfield College to Fresno State to Berkeley, which led him to realize that traditional schooling wasn’t for him. He ultimately ended up attending the Ron Bailie School of Broadcast in San Francisco.
“I was in the radio business a long time ago, on the air, and worked at several stations here in Bakersfield and moved on to stations in San Jose and San Francisco and then came back here,” said Elieff.
His reasoning for coming back and ultimately leaving behind the radio business was his family.
Now retried, Elieff has been navigating his way around the modern age of voiceover work for the past two years.
“Things started to click,” he said. “It took a little while for me to get the hang of it – in terms of how to present myself, what kind of information I should put out to market myself – but it seemed to work after a while. The way these sites work, the more you do it, the more people respond. That’s kind of how it worked.”
Most voiceover work is done through a number of websites that require him to audition and put together demos. Some of those websites, like Fiverr, attract out-of-country clients. Elieff’s calm, soothing deep voice has been featured in 51 jobs in Canada, 415 in the United States, nine in Russia and 18 India to name a few.
The website tells Elieff he is at 20 percent world domination.
The work Elieff does is what is called “explainer videos.” Not only is there a market for it, it also provides a wide range of opportunity. The work he does ranges from educational to step-by-step explaining. However, Elieff feels like the skills he learned as a salesperson really helped him transition into voiceover work.
“The skills I learned as a salesperson – to listen to customers and understand what their needs are and asking question to make sure that I am clear on what the objectives are – helped me in this as well,” he said. “This is a very subjective area where they, the client, will have an idea in their head on what they’re looking for. I have learned to ask questions that will help me better understand what their needs are as clients. That’s worked out really well.”
After two years, Elieff feels ready to move on to the next step in voiceover work, which means getting an agent and taking up some classes to learn how to sound more relatable. He makes the correlation of voiceover work to acting because, in a sense, one needs to act when recording voiceovers. Being able to sound relatable is something that he thinks is a popular voiceover technique in this era.
As far as the stereotypes surrounding retirement, he hopes to challenge that.
“I retired but I never felt like I was going to sit on the couch and just watch TV,” Elieff said. “I don’t have hobbies necessarily. I think there are a lot of people like me out there. I like the challenge.
“I think there is a notion out there, though I think it’s changing, that you retire and that’s it. Is there a life after retirement? Yes. What is it? It pretty much what you feel like doing. It’s pretty much how you are as an individual. What you think is important, what you think you want to accomplish, and then going for it. How long can I do this? I don’t know, but it’s really not a consideration for me. I’ll do it as long as I feel like doing it.” ￼