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Liz Helgesen: Bringing Heaven to the Mundane

Liz Helgesen: The Well-Intentioned Voice

     Millions of people worldwide know the voice.  You can hear it on call waiting, your GPS, commercials, educational videos, and transit announcements.  It makes navigating through your day a little easier, kinder, gentler.  That warm, sincere voice belongs to Liz Helgesen, now the nation’s premier talent for global interactive voice media.   She has been speaking to us for twenty-five years.  In addition to this, members of the Service Space ecosystem will know her from the Weekly Wisdom Readings of the past six years.
   Liz’s life is about making things easier for others.  As a child, she was raised by a single mother, and being Jewish made her a minority where she lived.  Because she felt different, she always looked for ways to help.  She was the friend who offered support.  She worked in human resources and loved helping people find their strengths and fulfill their purpose.  Now as a voice over talent she reaches even more lives, and her sense of purpose is the same.  “I’m always thinking how can I help this person, whether its helping someone decide what detergent to buy or help them with their banking.  I want to be the partner in the car with you.  I want to help you find what you need.”  She does this by preparing each read she records with that intention.  Sound triggers human emotions, and her voice helps us to feel reassured.  We can believe that we will get to the right person, or that the instructions on the website will make sense.
      Some of the places you might hear Liz are on commercials for Sony, or on T-Mobile, your GPS, Brainy Baby Videos and so many more.  She had an encounter with herself once when calling to make a hotel reservation, and she heard her own voice on the voice menu system!  In 1996 when Atlanta, Georgia was preparing for the Olympics, a call went out for voice over talent to record for the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority.  She just knew she had to have that job.  She wanted to be the sure, engaging voice that guided foreign visitors through the city.  She got it, and you can still hear her voice coming over the intercom.
     Service Space was blessed with her talents when she discovered us while searching online for inspirational ringtones.  Seeing our need for someone to record inspirational readings, Liz volunteered.  She wanted to help people hear something differently.  And sometimes the power is in the syllables themselves.  She is deeply affected by the things she has to read.  Sometimes she needs to grapple with them to distil the best meaning and delivery for the words.  Sometimes afterwards a particular meaning impacts her day.  Even listeners’ comments are meaningful to her.  She frequently carries the texts around with her, sharing them with others who may find them particularly useful.  In this way the gift keeps going around.
     Reading with this depth of sensitivity is a natural extension of Liz’s personal journey.  A warm, wise counselor gave her the language she thinks and uses today that transformed her life while in the grip of an eating disorder.  During recovery she found spirituality.  While she was not brought up in a practicing Jewish household, she wanted her children to be raised in the religion.  She studied Kabbalah, the philosophy behind Jewish mysticism, with a rabbi.  “It matches the 12-steps, leads back to my soul, and deepens my faith in God.  I know less about God, but my faith is deeper.  I had to have faith that I didn’t always have.  But doing the internal inventory, looking at my character defects, identifying thoughts and making a different choice…making amends, living amends is transformative.”  She started to hear about Judaism in a new way.  There was so much joy in it!  Liz shared this quote with us by Rabbi M.M. Schneerson:

People imagine a place of Godliness as a place for seriousness, a solemn place, a place that fills you with trepidation. The fact is, where there is God, there is joy.  That is why our every moment is a moment to celebrate and fill with joy. Because at every moment we are fulfilling our mission of bringing Godliness into this world. Not just the obviously joyful matters, such as meditation, study, prayer and good deeds, but also regular, mundane activities and the ways we earn an income and go about life—all are ways by which we know Him and bring Him into our world. 

     So now, whenever you hear that velvety warm voice coming out of an electronic device, you can remember that there is a genuine, heart-felt intention for your wellbeing behind it.  Like the bell that brings us to mindfulness, so Liz’s words can do the same.

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