Photography by Becca Lemire

When the Vice President of Faulhaber Communications hangs out for a glass of lemonade, you listen up. As a dynamic leader at the award-winning agency, Andrea Anders teaches us a thing or two about turning lemons into lemonade, the art of writing birthday cards, and the perfect temperature coffee.

Sit down, get comfy and dig into this good read with Andrea.

Tell us about a time that life handed you lemons. Did you make lemonade?

I’m an extremely positive person and most often make lemonade when overcoming adversity. While everyone has bad days and I’m far from perfect, I think energy is contagious which makes it especially important to bring your best every day.

I think the best example is six years ago when my then in his early 30s husband was diagnosed with advanced and unexpected cancer. In a moment, our charmed life turned upside down in a way we never could have prepared for. Though it was definitely hard in every way possible, in an instant there was a clear distinction between the important and unimportant in my life and I was able to appreciate so many things I had previously taken for granted. I’m fortunate to say that just last month his oncologist told us he was cured.

Describe your ideal work environment to get sh*t done.

Great question. It depends on the type of work or project. When it comes to ideation and inspiring creativity, I love open concept workspaces and collaboration. I love bringing in new people with unique perspectives from outside our industry to generate ideas that will drive the business results our clients are looking for. At the same time, I’m very chatty, extremely outgoing and a storyteller in every sense of the word. My parents tell me my first word was hi. Because I love learning about people, interacting and am generally known for having a lot of spirit, I get my smartest focused work done at my home office or a remote workspace like Make Lemonade!

How much of your success has come from taking risks versus playing it safe?

I take risks in every aspect of life. I believe you learn more from failure than anything else in life even though it’s tough every single time. Some lessons you even have to learn a few times before they stick.

When I started consulting for myself and then decided to join the FAULHABER team, it would have been much easier to just join another big shop funded by a parent company with unlimited resources but it didn’t feel like the right thing to do for so many reasons.

Since I made that choice, we’ve grown and scaled the business to include global brands and have continued to evolve our business offering to adapt to the changing landscape and let’s be honest, a pending recession. We recently added a Chinese market specialist to our team as related expertise is so important to our clients.

Photography by  Becca Lemire

Photography by Becca Lemire

How do you measure success in your career?

The longer I work in this industry, the more invested I become in building and nurturing the best possible team. I don’t have kids, though I do have a little champagne Burmese cat named Cleo, and in many ways, the people who work for me are like my kids. When I see them answer a tough question in a meeting with polish, deliver a customized recommendation to a client based on things I’ve taught them or hear an idea based on strategy-first thinking, that is the biggest measure of success.

Our industry has high turnover and it always will, which means I get a fair number of thank you cards. I keep all of them in a Jo Malone box in my desk and sometimes read them on a bad day. I tend to roll my eyes at inspirational quotes but believe that when Maya Angelou said “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel,” she commented on one of the most insightful and universal human truths. I think there aren’t enough leaders who remind themselves of this and apply it to their daily interactions. I try to. I think humility is too often overlooked in business.

You're 30 minutes away from walking into an important meeting. What do you do to get yourself in the right headspace?

In the case of a pitch our most common meeting type, usually three things. Lint roll some type of Chanel inspired suit or dress, often Pink Tartan, quickly re-scan the social media profiles of the people I’m meeting with to determine the best possible connection points and re-review relevant industry news of the day to ensure there’s nothing I could have missed that will inform the discussion. Then I try to make my team laugh with some kind of absurd anecdote or observation. If we’re relaxed and they see my confidence, we will always do the best we can do.

Remaining fresh and innovative in business can be hard. How do you stay creative and where do you look for inspiration?

It can be. I try to spend as much time as possible learning from different types of people and exposing myself to new perspectives and connecting unexpected dots. I spend a fair amount of time at Alo restaurants and every interaction I have with the team reminds me of the very best practices of polished client service. I also attend many conferences and art events as I believe good ideas can come from anyone, anywhere. I loved C2 Montreal last year and am looking forward to The Terroir Symposium this spring!

Give us the play-by-play of your typical morning routine.

I wake up very early because I seem to move at the speed of a turtle in the morning and have too much energy to stay asleep. I’ll usually review my emails, texts and social media messages from bed before I even put on glasses, then read the newsletters I subscribe to daily New York Times, Vogue.com, Toronto Life and The Globe and Mail to name a few, then write down the connections I need to make that day personally and professionally. I’m obsessed with birthday regards, keep in touch with people I value and have a reputation for being highly responsive. Then I shower and get ready for the day while sipping cold brew and almond milk I make. I don’t like hot coffee. The rare double espresso excluded.

What is something that you read, watch or listen to regularly?

I read everything. Like EVERYTHING. Food, wine and travel are my primary hobbies so I read every related newsletter and publication. I also love biographies and leadership books. Right now I’m reading the Marshmallow Test. It’s about the power of delayed gratification in work and life.

What impact are you making through your work?

This is a tough question that I think many communicators struggle with. Some days the answer feels like none. At FAULHABER, we create and communicate powerful brand stories to solve business problems. When we see that translate into the consumer behaviour our clients are looking for, we see the impact of our work. We also make a point of taking on pro-bono clients to support cultural events and charities. Right now we are working with the Canadian Opera Company to encourage more young people to become opera curious. Operanation is coming up on May 16th!  I find projects like that especially rewarding.

Photography by  Becca Lemire

Photography by Becca Lemire

“I believe you learn more from failure than anything else in life.”

What impact are you making through your work?

This is a tough question that I think many communicators struggle with. Some days the answer feels like none. At FAULHABER, we create and communicate powerful brand stories to solve business problems. When we see that translate into the consumer behaviour our clients are looking for, we see the impact of our work. We also make a point of taking on pro-bono clients to support cultural events and charities. Right now we are working with the Canadian Opera Company to encourage more young people to become opera curious. Operanation is coming up on May 16th!  I find projects like that especially rewarding.

Finding time for yourself can be difficult as an entrepreneur. Do you have a self-care routine and what does that look like?

To be honest, I’m terrible at self-care beyond taking the best possible supplements and being laser focused on my diet 90 per cent of the time.  I’m trying to sleep more, say no to things that are unimportant and create more white space in my life and calendar but it’s very, very hard in this industry. I’m also trying to put my phone down by 9pm but I wouldn’t say it’s working especially well.

What's next for you? Can you tell us a little bit about something exciting you're working on?

It’s a very exciting time at FAULHABER. We’re focused on growing and scaling the business in ways that makes sense to continue to solve business problems through effective communication. This includes growing our team of market specialists in Quebec and across the country, building our digital offering to ensure we’re telling the right stories for every screen and becoming leaders in experiential events. We’re also focused on encouraging our clients to look at proxy vs. vanity metrics to see the true value of our work. In many ways our industry is a sea of sameness but showing measurable return is one of our differentiators.