Andrea Shillington is known as the “Business Soul Architect” because she helps her entrepreneur and executive clients create heart-centered brands that align deeply with their passion and purpose. Andrea is a F500 branding strateist who shares how she now helps business owners undertand the emotional scaffolding we’ve built around us, and peeling it back create an authentic and magnetic brand.
Melinda Wittstock: Welcome to Wings Andrea.
Andrea Shillington: Thanks for having me here Melinda.
Melinda Wittstock: I am so excited to talk to anyone who calls themselves a business soul architect or rather your clients call you that. A business soul architect. That is so captivating. What does that actually mean?
Andrea Shillington: Yeah, well thank you. It was actually one of my clients that told me that, that’s what you do Andrea. I was like oh, really, I’m like that is what I do because what I do is I dive really deep into what someone is wanting to create and what their story is and where they see themselves going and what their own unique challenges are. I really sit in the space and hold the space to just really receive and listen to all of that but then I also have this 15 years of branding experience working with big fortune 500’s. So then what I do is I take that soul, that part and I help them to architect what the offers and what the naming and how the whole big brand should be.
My background was actually starting with the big corporations right? So that’s where everything kind of began from so I kind of seem to be able to have this bridge of being deeply soulful but then also being quite a business woman and like let’s go make some impact and make a difference as well. I think that’s why they call me a business soul architect is because I seem to hold both of those spaces.
Melinda Wittstock: I think that’s so important. It took me a while to figure this out honestly, in my serial entrepreneur career.
Andrea Shillington: Oh, me too.
Melinda Wittstock: Right?
Andrea Shillington: Me too.
Melinda Wittstock: The closer that you are and everyone pays lip service to this, but it’s like you don’t really know it till you know it which is, the beauty of really being in alignment. Creating something that is aligned with your heart and with your soul like why you were meant to be here in your earth suit, on this planet at this time. What was it that allowed you to find that purpose and passion yourself?
Andrea Shillington: I actually really struggled with this myself and I was so shameful that I struggled with it because when I went from being the big corporate branding person to oh, I really want to help these impact driven entrepreneurs but oh, they don’t have a lot of money and I had all these struggles and then I started going down my own spiritual path and path of personal development. Then I really had this moments of like … I remember I was sitting waiting for the bus eight years ago and I was like, I just wanna throw my business in the garbage. You know?
Melinda Wittstock: Right.
Andrea Shillington: I paid a lot of money to get everything set-up and everything and I poured my life savings into it, and sometimes I just wanted to throw it in the garbage and I think that just giving myself space to allow that and being in that place of surrender is actually what helped me to get really clear on well, why is this really important to me. I hadn’t really … Because everything I had built had come from my head in to that point and then I started really realizing well the reason why I do branding is because my inner critique story is don’t shine too bright.
When I was a young girl I was, all the girls in my elementary school were jealous and so they formed the “I hate Andrea club” and so I learned at a very young age, don’t shine too bright. If I shine too bright then people won’t like me so I have to just play small, or not play too big if I wanna belong. So of course the very thing that I ended up doing as a career is helping everybody else shine bright. So when I realized that I was like, oh, oh, this is what I’m suppose to do.
Melinda Wittstock: Wow, that resonates so deeply with me. I think, I wonder actually how many girls that happens to because when we really, really step into our potential and our greatness, we learn somehow that being ourselves is wrong just by what other people … It’s such a tragedy.
Andrea Shillington: Yep.
Melinda Wittstock: You think of how many, how many people, how many women in particular really do dim their light right at that moment. I think about that as a mom, and I think well how can I prevent that from happening …
Andrea Shillington: I can just imagine.
Melinda Wittstock: To my kids but it’s hard to know because they want to … It’s our natural inclination to wanna fit in.
Andrea Shillington: Yeah and I think that society right now just, I think that we’re starting to see a move away from it. Especially for women, where like you’re seeing plus size models on the runway now and we’re starting to see a bit of difference like sort of starting to see more of that uniqueness coming through so there is some of it but there is not enough of it. And I think that a women we need to, I think that there’s so much pressure on us to be the pretty girl, to be the nice girl, to be the good girl. And I think that that just going back to what we were talking about earlier it masks us from that authenticity. And when you’re creating a really great brand, it’s like stepping into the fact that what you love to hip hop dance and you’re a coach. Like let’s do that. Let’s rock that.
Melinda Wittstock: Right. Yeah, be more of you. It’s interesting. I remember my parents saying to me at some point when I was younger because I was very different. When you think about this, like taller than the other kids or my parents were the first to be divorced in the neighborhood or like whatever it was. And I had a weird name, I really wanted to really, like I wanted to be called like Susan or Kelly or Cindy or something, right? Instead of Melinda. And I have like all these things, right? That made me different and my parents said to me, and I recall this recently, you’ll be really grateful when you’re older, that you are different.
And it’s something that as a kid you don’t really hear. Right? But I think of all those wasted years, I remember I interviewed Natalie Ledwell not so long ago from mind movies and she called those years her beige years.
Andrea Shillington: That brilliant I love that.
Melinda Wittstock: Which is great because it’s so true, right? Because it’s you’re living a life of should’s. You’re doing all the things that you think you should do. Trying to fit in people pleasing and ultimately negating yourself. And your actual power. So much of authenticity for me is about stepping into your personal power.
Andrea Shillington: Absolutely. Absolutely. And as we’re talking here, what’s coming to me Melinda is, isn’t it amazing that we live in the time where we’re talking about branding and marketing and yet we’re talking about all these other deep, very important things and that there are podcasts like this available in this day and age because, 30 years ago people didn’t talk about this kind of stuff or even 10 years ago people weren’t really talking about this kind of stuff. So what a blessing it is that we get to live in a time with education, with this stuff available at our fingertips.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh my goodness.
Andrea Shillington: How powerful is that.
Melinda Wittstock: It is, it’s amazing. It really is. And I think people are a good deal more accepting. I’ve just noticed with women right now, all of a sudden so many women, particularly in their thirties and forties and fifties, are just saying kind of like F it. I’m just going to be myself and-
Andrea Shillington: I love that. I can’t wait for the wave of that to happen.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah but I really sense it happening, whether it was part of me too or just really finding our voices by just daring to say things that we had thought shameful or didn’t like about ourselves or experiences or whatever and just stepping into it and owning it, owning the good, the bad, all of it, and looking to alchemize the things that-
Andrea Shillington: I love that word. Alchemize yeah. Absolutely. And on Facebook for example, like just recently I had a bit of a hiatus away from posting on it and then I came back into it and I was like, I just noticed, wow, people are being more vulnerable, people are being more truthful and those kinds of posts used to be the rare thing and now they’re becoming the norm and I love that new norm of being more vulnerable of people saying, “Hey, I’m struggling with this right now.” I love that world of what really matters. When we get together and we talk to our friends, we don’t just tell the gloss, we have meaningful conversations about really what’s going on and I think that is how we connect with each other.
Melinda Wittstock: So it’s how we connect with each other as people for sure. It’s how we make friends. It’s like the glue of relationship, and when you extend that out or in business terms scale it, I guess as a CEO or a founder of a business. I’m seeing an interesting trend right now that CEOs and entrepreneurs who have a very authentic personal brand tend to do better in business.
Andrea Shillington: Yeah, absolutely. And I think that’s just going to continue to rise. I think that we have a rise in consciousness happening and so as we all rise in consciousness, consciousness is also rising. And so our ability to discern like is this person really talking authentically or not? When you listen to a Facebook video or when you see some glossy YouTube video, I think we’re starting to discern, yeah, this person’s real, they’re the real deal. Because of that rise in consciousness, we have that awareness as customers.
Melinda Wittstock: Yes.
Andrea Shillington: And so I think that’s creating this wave and helping us all to be more authentic, which is a great trend. I’m very happy with this trend.
Melinda Wittstock: I know it’s true. We even created an algorithm for it at my company Verifeed, we call it return on authenticity.
Andrea Shillington: I saw that, I was like: “I love that”. I want to know more about that.
Melinda Wittstock: Well, it was interesting because we could really see just from people’s social conversations, just like you were saying, that brands and businesses that spoke like real human beings and there was really no daylight between their walk and their talk, like they were in alignment. And connected with people on a personal level and actually had conversations on social media, which is what that platform is. It’s a conversation platform, not a content blasting platform. And so when they actually did that, they much, much better return, right? Like actually impacted their bottom line that, that authenticity actually had a measurable value. So that’s where it came from and I mean just from seeing what people were doing that was working in that way and not, and then reverse engineering it and bottling it up into a whole methodology in a way to measure it. So that’s essentially what it is, it’s your ROA Score.
Andrea Shillington: I love that. Thank you for doing that.
Melinda Wittstock: It was hard work.
Andrea Shillington: I bet it was. But thank you for bringing credibility to what we’re saying, right? Thank you for making that a measurable outcome for people to really see that this is actually going to help your bottom line. There is actually a tangible outcome to this.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, it’s interesting right now how so much is converging in sort of what was “woo” and science, intuition and data science kind of matches up to, “Oh, I have an intuition that authenticity is kind of a big thing.” Right? Okay. So now let’s data geek on it. I’m finding that there are really interesting opportunities, particularly for women in business to connect things that otherwise we wouldn’t ordinarily connect.
Andrea Shillington: So tell me more about that.
Melinda Wittstock: Well, I think that we’re more likely to connect the dots. We have much more of a pattern recognition type brain. It’s a variation of when you ask, when a husband asks his wife, “Honey, where are my socks?” And she’s got like a zillion things going on, right? She’s this and that. She’s got a work call, she’s got this. There’s something with the kids and this and this. There’s a million things going on and she knows exactly where they are. Right? We’re able to. It’s not really multitasking, it’s the ability to have a lot of balls in the air all at once, but it’s an and go from laser focusing on one to split second laser focusing on another, being able to connect concepts. I just think we’re at that.
Andrea Shillington: Yeah, I mean I think it’s just the neural pathways in our brain are just. There’s a lot more connections. Whereas I think Mark Gungor, I don’t know if you’re familiar with him, he’s like this Christian pastor and he does this really great bit on the difference between the man’s brain and the women’s brain and how that manifests in relationship, but like the man’s brain is more contained in boxes and the women’s brain is like everything is interconnected and so-
Melinda Wittstock: I think I saw this, is this the comedian?
Andrea Shillington: Yeah, he’s hilarious.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah I saw that it was really, really funny. And he was doing with our brains, right? All that.
Andrea Shillington: Yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: Absolutely. So we create different businesses. I mean our business models are different. I remember for years as a tech entrepreneur, VCs or different people saying, “Hey Melinda, can you just focus?” And I’d be like, “I am focused.”
Andrea Shillington: It’s just that I see all these dots connected.
Melinda Wittstock: Right?
Andrea Shillington: that I cannot see.
Melinda Wittstock: Exactly.
Andrea Shillington: Absolutely.
Melinda Wittstock: And it’s true. I think we just have a different approach. So when you come to helping your clients to see the connection between say their childhood or these moments in their lives, the thing that they’re vulnerable about or they want to keep secret that that could actually be the real gem, not only for their own lives but for their business. How do you take people on that journey?
Andrea Shillington: I love this question. I think it goes back to what you were saying earlier. I don’t remember your exact quote, but you’re talking about when you know something you just know. And so it’s my job to create the space for people to get into that space where they can have that, they can feel safe to have that awareness because it’s not something that I’m planting in their brains. It’s already something that’s there and I hold the space to help them get there. I know that you interviewed Jennifer Love for one more woman.
Melinda Wittstock: Yes.
Andrea Shillington: And I think she’s who referred you to work with me. So I helped her create her brand and she had one of those big Aha moments and she came to me and she was kind of, she describes it as a quote unquote, bumbling around with her purpose and we were in New York together and she was kind of like not wanting to tell me something and I could tell that the questions I was asking, like I was hitting up against something that she was like, “No, you have to like stay over on that side of the room Andrea, like, you can’t come over here.”
And I just held the space for her to go there. And that’s in that conversation when she got vulnerable and she talked about what had happened to her, which he now talks about on stage by the way, that was such a tender conversation before one more woman was created. But she talked about the challenges that she had as a woman entrepreneur, getting funding in the millions and the kinds of challenges that she was having as a woman. And those things became the very reason why she wanted to work with women and she was actually kind of resisting it. She knew she liked working with women, but there was a part of her that was like, “Well, it’s not just about the women.” And so when we really dove into that story for her, she was like, “Oh my God, you’re right, it is about this.”
But she had the awareness and I was there to hold the space for her to tap into that and to challenge her when she pushed back. But I believe that we all have that story. And as you said earlier, we know when we know it, we know when we hit that and we’ll have that. It’s kind of one of those things where you don’t need to run out and ask anybody because you just know. And that’s really what I help people do is figure that out. But I also noticed notice what happens for clients is, and I’d be curious to know if you also noticed this, but when you do tap into that power of authenticity, the ego also wants to come up and then distract us away from it and question us from it. And it’s like the ego does not want us to step into it as well. So I also noticed that happening for a lot of my clients when they have had that Aha moment.
Melinda Wittstock: Mm-hmm (affirmative) yeah, because our brain, all those limiting beliefs, all the stuff that we’ve had for years, millions of them are like, are you sure?
Andrea Shillington: It’s like a highway of those limiting beliefs, right? Like-
Melinda Wittstock: And especially when we’re tired-
Andrea Shillington: Four-way highway.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah and especially when we’re tired or stressed or whatever, we can easily be pulled out of that enlightenment. So before you stepped into this, you were working with a lot of massive brands, on the list of your fortune 500 words, I mean, you had folks like Astra Zeneca, seven star hotels, massive corporations. And I get the impression that they weren’t exactly soul centered.
Andrea Shillington: That was one of my early sort of, I don’t know what I’m doing with my life anymore because I was like, I love branding, but I was like, these guys, like they don’t even, it just wasn’t where my heart was at. So yeah, no, that wasn’t really where my heart was at, but what I’m noticing now is that corporate’s really changing, maybe not changing quite as easily and effortlessly as small businesses just starting up can because there’s obviously lots of systemic issues that they need to overcome, but back then, what it was eight years ago, it was a lot of emphasis just on the profit, and it was like they would do the branding to really just get the logo. It was disheartening. It was disheartening to not see them also take the … to take the depth of what they could do with a brand, if that makes sense and really operationalize the strategy, which I thought was really interesting because, at such a high level, those clients were paying us 500,000 to a million dollars. Why not take all the power you can get from that brand?
It was definitely very frustrating for me. Then, when I started kind of … I describe it as I had a soul-quake, and it was really a big, massive breakup with a boyfriend that just grounded me, when I was living at London in the time, and then I moved back to Vancouver, and it was just like, “What am I going to do with my life?” Then I started meeting all of these impact-driven entrepreneurs, and I was like, “Oh, thank God these people exist,” and I really wanted to help them create what I was trying to do for the Fortune 500s or what I was doing for the Fortune 500s, but to do it for these businesses that were doing sustainable businesses and socially-conscious businesses because I believe that those are the businesses we need to be our Fortune 500 businesses. I want them to be the multi-billion dollar industries.
I’m really looking forward to seeing that shift taking place, and it’s really starting … I think we’re really starting to see a shift take place there.
Melinda Wittstock: Absolutely. There was a really interesting conference. I’m trying to remember the name of it. It was … Oh, goodness. It was about marketing from the heart. Maybe it was Love-Based Business or something like that, selling from the standpoint of love rather than fear, which is really interested. Sorry. I’m just going to pick up there again because I can’t remember the name of the conference. I don’t want to embarrass myself, so [crosstalk 00:30:36 I’m just going to say this again.
What is so interesting is so much of sales and marketing is fear-based, everything from in an info product funnel, where you got …
Andrea Shillington: Oh, my God.
Melinda Wittstock: The countdown clock, which is such false-
Andrea Shillington: [crosstalk 00:30:57.
Melinda Wittstock: Scarcity or just really tugging on all our fear. It works, but how does one sell more from the opposite of that, which is love?
Andrea Shillington: That’s such a great question, Melinda, and I think it really comes back to who is your audience, because I think that, in this day and age, when you’re messaging to an audience that has an abundance mindset, they see that, and they’re like, “No. This is not what I want,” and it goes back to what we were talking about earlier around that discernment. Customers have this rapid … I believe that we have this rapidly evolving level of discernment. When they come to that sales page and then it’s very fear-based, I don’t think that we’re going to be seeing as much of people taking action on that type of messaging.
It might absolutely work for people who are in a fear mindset, but for people who come more from a place of love now, it doesn’t work on them anymore.
Melinda Wittstock: It doesn’t work on them.
Andrea Shillington: Absolutely. Exactly.
Melinda Wittstock: Could be at different phases. That’s curious, because almost instead of selling to people in terms of their budget or what stage they’re at in their business or whatever, it could be what stage they’re at in their consciousness.
Andrea Shillington: I think also to entrepreneurs, it’s when you know that your audience are consciously aware people, and then I think the other challenge is like you said before, it works, this fear-based approach. It works, and it works … There’s data on the fact that it works better. I think it works 80% better than coming from a place of abundance and love. The challenges is I think that what happens, too, is that entrepreneurs, they have that abundance mindset, they have that love approach and their clients do, but then when it comes to writing the copy, they go into the, “Oh, but I need to do … I need to do this kind of copy because I know this works, and I wanna sell the product.”
I really think there needs to be an invitation for all of us to step into a higher level of trusting coming from that place of love and writing that copy from a place of love, as well, and to up-level not only your business, but also the way that you’re putting energy out in the world and the kinds of the clients that you’re going to attract. I don’t want to attract clients that that’s what works on them.
Melinda Wittstock: I think more and more entrepreneurs just step into the world. I was actually a guest on another podcast earlier today, and I was asked what type of companies Verifeed works with, and I found myself saying, “We work with people who have a mission in the world. We don’t really want to help people with their transactions. We wanna help people with their transformation.”
Andrea Shillington: Absolutely. Absolutely. I think, though, I guess what I’m trying to say is even within that mission-oriented environment, there’s still fear of, “Well, is this going to work,” right?
Melinda Wittstock: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Andrea Shillington: It’s taking a stand for, “No, this is what … This is what I am committed to doing,” and I think that we’re leading the people who are those mission-based businesses. We need to take a stand. We need to stand in the strength of that, and like we’re seeing with so many other things evolving, I think it will continue to have that ripple effect.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh, gosh, yes, no. This is really, really true.
What’s next for you? You’ve got these great, new clients that they’re not necessarily the Fortune 500s. Maybe they are, but-
Andrea Shillington: They will be one day. [crosstalk 00:35:13
Melinda Wittstock: They will be one day. That’s the thing is because, actually, this is a really good point because, folks, I think companies that aren’t waking up to this probably won’t survive.
Andrea Shillington: I totally agree.
Melinda Wittstock: Because the Millenials and the folks younger than them, they don’t even buy from companies that don’t have a mission or don’t have a clean-
Andrea Shillington: Exactly.
Melinda Wittstock: Supply chain or aren’t evolved in some way, aren’t more conscious, and so more and more, the impetus is going to be on those companies, on those big, big companies to change, but it’s hard for them to change.
Andrea Shillington: I think if they don’t change, there’s going to be all these other great new companies coming up that have all of this impact stuff embedded in the core of their business that will create this new wave of what it means to be a Fortune 500 business, and that is my vision. That is what excites me about where the world is going, is that being the new trend, and I think it’s just a matter of time. I think that companies who don’t wake up to this and don’t start to pay attention to that, I think that we’re going to start to see them fading out, like we’ve already seen lots of big businesses starting to fade out.
Melinda Wittstock: As they fade out, to me, it seems like it’s an opportunity for women We’re all coming into our own as entrepreneurs and business leaders now. The very things that we fought or were told were weak are actually strengths in this new paradigm.
Andrea Shillington: Absolutely. I believe that women, we also hold a significant … As customers, we’re also very significantly … We hold a lot of the potential money because a lot of women are actually the ones who make decisions in the home, and they’re the ones with the buying power and so-
Melinda Wittstock: You know what it is? Between 40 and 60 women control 14 trillion dollars worth of spending. It’s actually the biggest addressable market.
Andrea Shillington: Absolutely. I think that we have that power, and all we need to do is activate it and ask for more from our companies, and I think that we start to see that already. You go into a grocery store, and you see those types of products available on the shelves now. I think the more we demand those types of things, the more that this is going to just start to become the norm. I really believe that, especially women entrepreneurs, we have such a powerful role to play because I think that, as you were saying before, we see all these connections. It’s just inherently in us because women are very community-oriented, we’re very relationship-oriented, we naturally care about not just the individual ourselves, but we care about our communities.
I believe that impact is just in our DNA. It’s in the way that we think. I think that we’re very well positioned to really help create that, to create that trend, and women, we see that there’s a lot more women entrepreneurs also coming into the market. Not only do we have a lot of power and innate ability, but there’s also a lot more of us coming in and becoming entrepreneurs, which I just think is an amazing trend.
Melinda Wittstock: It is. Oh, my goodness. Andrea, you’re doing such great work in the world. How can people find you and work with you?
Andrea Shillington: Well, we have lots of resources available over at brandsfortheheart.com. If you want to reach out and chat with us, we can have a conversation, just reach out on our contact form. We also have lots of resources available in our Resources section. We’ve got worksheets on how to name your company, how to build a design, how to do messaging. We’ve got all kinds of resources available for entrepreneurs, so head on over to brandsfortheheart.com.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh, wonderful. Well, thank you so much for putting on your wings and flying with us.
Andrea Shillington: Thank you for having me and thank you for creating this space.
Melinda Wittstock: Andrea, I just want to thank you so much for putting on your wings and flying with us today.
Andrea Shillington: Thank you for having me and for creating this incredible space and holding this conversation for us.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh, well, you’re welcome. I think it really is an example of being in alignment with a real kind of passion and purpose because I think when all of us really have these conversations and collaborate with each other and throw business to each other, invest in each other, mentor each other, all of that magic truly happens, and it’s so great to be having the conversation.
Andrea Shillington: Oh, it really is. It really is. Thank you.