Sharing personal experiences of how anxiety made her literally speechless, inspire me founder, voice & success coach, Andrea Callanan reveals what she learnt from dark times in her entrepreneurial best-seller this week.
This year will be one to remember for 43 year old, Andrea, mum of two from Cardiff who today discovered she’d penned a best-seller, as a book she co-authored went straight in at number 1 on the Amazon best seller charts in; Business Consulting and Entrepreneurship alongside books by; Sir Richard Branson, Baroness Karren Brady, Sir Alan Sugar, Carrie Green and Jo Malone – it is also sitting as the number one hot new release just about every category.
Andrea, who has been named within the top 25 inspirational Welsh women and a small business Guardian Leader of the year, found herself in 30K debt, with a stunted career thanks to the fact that anxiety led her to lose her voice – which both her passion and her living relied on, as a singer and voice coach. She felt broken, physically and mentally at the age of 30 and ‘You are Meant for More’, tells of how she rebuilt her life, and her voice, and now supports female high achievers and entrepreneurs with their self-belief, voice and business growth as well as working with global organisations on developing their staff’s voices through creative corporate engagement.
Having grown up in Barry in the 1970’s and 1980’s, Andrea’s interest in music and the creative arts, which saw her performing from the age of 4, was her saviour. Teaching piano to young children when she was just 15 was her first entrepreneurial venture as her ambition kicked in early.
At this age she also won a scholarship for voice at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and studied Opera Singing for around seven years, performing in front of highly influential audiences, including the Royal Family several times as a teenager. This creative release, she now recognises, helped her through much of her angst as a young adult.
At 20 she had the opportunity of a lifetime – the chance of a record deal after a scout told her she “had an ‘interesting voice’ and should come and see him about releasing some music with him” but it seemed it was not to be – as she lost her voice a week later – for a year.
Devastated, she spent 6 months in speech therapy relearning how to speak and had to take a year out of university.
She said:“Can you believe this? What an opportunity and I lose my voice – go figure? My identity crashed. I had to completely redefine who I was. I could no longer rely on my persona as a singer to carry me through socially. Interesting things happen to a person when you’re forced to be quiet…. I learned a lot that year. Not least a huge amount about vocal health and how the voice works, but also, about fear and how that manifests in the body and stops sound production. I know now that fear makes us lose our voice, judgement makes us lose our voice and fear of judgement makes us lose our voice. Furthermore, I discovered how a person’s confidence plummets when you can’t ‘speak up’.”
Fast forward six years and Andrea, who now sits on the Business Wales Board for the Welsh Government and is the Chair for the Young Directors Forum in Wales, had graduated as a Bachelor of Music from Cardiff University, married and bought her first house. Working in middle management in a large blue-chip corporation and 6 months pregnant she was itching to make more of her passion. Making a new friend in the music industry through her antenatal classes, she saw this as a sign at a time when there were a handful of Welsh artists breaking into mainstream music success. Hearing a story about how a particular young breakthrough artist had to go to London for voice coaching because there wasn’t anyone who could help pop music or music industry singers in Wales got her thinking.
She said:“I had been teaching voice for around six years and I had developed the beginnings of my signature method. I adapted my traditional voice coaching technique for singers of other music styles. Without knowing it, I had formulated my crossover voice coaching method. I hadn’t realised how powerful this was until I started getting feedback from clients. They told me they had been to other teachers who couldn’t break through to them. People were finding their voice with me! I had found my niche. I left my job and relaunched myself as a Music Industry Voice Coach in 2001 following the birth of my son and I haven’t looked back since.”
In the book Andrea tells how, for a good decade, she was one of the main Music Industry Voice Coaches in Wales, teaching public speakers, Welsh chart-toppers, Broadway and West End performers, TV actors, comedians, dancers and actors. Britain’s got talent finalists, X-factor and ‘The Voice’ contestants and a huge number of “pleasure singers”, children, teenagers and groups.
She also launched a record label and managed a band. She explains that as her teaching progressed, she began to delve more into the reason why clients produced sound in the way they did and she found quicker results came by instilling confidence using positive mindset. As we learn how Andrea supported her clients with the book we also hear how her own personal circumstances challenged her own voice when her marriage fell apart and she found herself a single mum.
She said: “Suddenly my life came to a complete stop. My confidence shattered during this phase in my life. For a short time, I was very depressed. I became ill. I was emotionally broken, and for the second time in my life, I lost my voice.”
She continues: “A few major things happened for me during this period. I went to therapy which changed my life and I found a way through”.
Now founder and owner of the award-winning people development company inspire me, which specialises in providing proven emotional and financial return by working with mindset, behaviour, positive psychology and creativity (including singing!), alongside her coaching business working with high achieving female entrepreneurs, she travels the world, sharing her skills and passion and is a globally recognised vibrant motivational speaker, having shared the stage with the likes of Simon Sinek and Joel Brown.
Andrea is now passionate about sharing her story as part of her mission to help others appreciate that they can overcome adversity, and find their voice again, on many levels, alongside supporting other entrepreneurs who are looking for more. She said of her entrepreneurial spirit: “I am fiercely proud of where I come from but it took me a while to realise this as for a long time, as I never felt good enough when out there ‘in the big wide
world’ and this is something that would plague me for years. I now know that my mindset and self-worth work has opened me up for continued success, but in the early days I was cutting myself off from opportunities due to insecurities and doubt – which then manifested in cutting of my communication channel all together – my voice.”
“This was a very literal way that my fear and deep sown self-worth issues manifested but for many it is much subtler and can be hard to recognise. By sharing my story in this book I hope to make people question just how strong their voice is and if they are using it to their full advantage, as life is too short to be muted”.
On a mission to help others have their best year yet in 2019, Andrea shares key insights in the book, which include:-
- Get Intentional About What You Want – Be exquisite in your honesty about what’s working for you. This is important. Look at your life, career, business, relationships and health and get clear on what you really want. By this very act of recognising and acting on your intentions you will find your voice across a self-worth, confidence and a physical level.
- Start making a noise – If you are heading for change, start talking about it. Try your new thoughts and ideas out and vocalise to the world that you’re doing something different. This work is powerful. When you let people know you’re there, people take notice, they often engage more, and they take interest. If you only whisper, who’s going to hear you?
- Find confidence in your voice – By now we know that the term ‘voice’ can mean many different things. Your point of view is often described as your voice too! Having conviction in your opinion also changes your physical voice – it makes it stronger, more powerful, and as a result You’re likely to feel this way as a result. Explore this, play with it, have fun with it!
- Have someone in your corner – Whether this is a coach, a set of girlfriends or a partner that truly understands you, having someone who is with you, a network you feel safe in, helps you speak your true voice.