Andrea Sampson: Helping change makers become thought leaders



Andrea Sampson sees her life’s purpose in telling great stories and in doing so she is striving to do more.

“Recently I was working with an individual in Sao Paulo, Brazil. He is an expert in smart cities and the future of mobility. He has had an interesting and varied journey that got him to where he is and his story makes his work more understandable. His talk was very fact and data-heavy, yet he had this beautiful and incredible origin story. In one of our sessions, I re-told HIS story to him, a story of intrigue, of passion, of purpose and of success, I told it as a storyteller would tell it, not linearly but through the lens of his purpose, when I finished he was in tears. He had not heard his own story before, he had told it but not HEARD it as a STORY,” shares Andrea.

“Stories are carriers for ideas and by helping speakers find their stories, we are changing the world one idea at a time,” says Andrea Sampson, Partner, and Co-Founder, Talk Boutique.

The path to finding her true calling

Andrea began her career in the not-for-profit sector in the mid-90’s, a time when women were still seen only as support and not leadership material. “My ideas were often ignored however when presented by a male counterpart. I remember meeting after meeting my suggestion would be shot down, and within minutes, the guy beside me would make the same word for word suggestion, and everyone in the room would think it was an amazing idea,” reminisces Andrea. So she hustled her way up the gender-biased ecosystem. “I had to act like a man, there simply wasn’t a template for a successful female leader, but in doing so, I was seen as bold and brash and not suitable for leadership. It took going out on my own and leaving behind a steady paycheque in order for me to see my own worth as well as understand how I had been held back by the men in power,” says Andrea.

She got her start working in fundraising and event marketing with a solid underpinning of technology. Leaving the not-for-profit sector, she moved onto a role that was grounded in technology as an Account Manager at the country’s largest contract call center and her job was to understand the in-bound and out-bound telemarketing requirements of clients. Taking these requirements, Andrea worked directly with the software development team to create custom software. This was in the days before off the shelf database management software existed, everything was done custom with call scripts and reporting built directly into each client’s custom software. This was a training ground for what was to come. She shares, “After having my daughter, I knew I was done with the call center business and was recruited into the advertising agency world.” She arrived with a deep background indirect response and data-driven methods that made her unique in the agency world. 

Over the next 20 years, Andrea worked for some of the largest agencies in the world and worked on a number of high-end brands, from launching E*TRADE in the Canadian market, to working on BMW, Nissan, Lexus and many, many more. As she moved from ‘direct response advertising’, to ‘data and digital strategies’ to ‘brand and business strategy’; she progressed through several senior management positions to eventually hold Vice President and Managing Director roles. When reflecting upon her career and the success she has had, she says, “The only secret I have discovered [to success] is persistence and a clear vision of what you are creating. There is no substitute for just digging in and getting the job done.” 

Andrea’s passion for advertising waned as it became less about creative, more cutthroat and began to focus solely on profit; the thought of leaving the advertising world behind became simultaneously the most terrifying and the most gratifying of ideas. Around this time she began volunteering for TEDx Toronto. She says, “I had always loved the TED brand and being able to work on a TEDx event was an honour and a privilege. I volunteered and was volun-hired as a Speaker’s Coach, a new term and concept for me. I fell in love with the process, the outcome and profession.” It was through this random opportunity that she found her true calling – supporting those who are changing the world… the scientists, the academics, the technologists and the artists. Those who are doing things that address the world’s greatest challenges, yet they are so busy DOING the work, they aren’t able to communicate it to the rest of us.  She was hooked!

Andrea Sampson, Partner & Co-Founder, Talk Boutique

Creating Intelligent Conversations

A few years later, Andrea, along with her business partner, Nick Kindler, founded Talk Boutique in 2015. Using their proprietary “Idea to Impact” model, they help speakers, presenters and leaders create impact by communicating with clarity and engagement. Andrea explains, “Conversation has the power to change the world. Good conversation starts with an idea that is told through story to make it engaging and to stimulate meaningful conversation. When idea, story, and conversation are combined, it sparks interest, expands understanding and creates deep connections, leading to IMPACT. We use this model with our clients who come to us as Change Makers and we help them become Thought Leaders by ensuring their IDEAS create IMPACT.”

This model was inspired by the work Andrea did with TEDx and TED speakers and she truly believes that we need to shift the lens of our social narrative. With the world moving at an exponential pace, the work done by Talk Boutique is essential so that we can all get behind the solutions that are being created by our science, technology, academic and artistic communities. She says, “We are at the beginning of the 4th Industrial Revolution – the first IR that doesn’t directly industrialize humans. This will change every system, every structure and even what it means to be human and this new era will provide humanity with space and time to work on creating solutions by providing the support to get humans out of jobs that dehumanize.” Because of this, the concept of Talk Boutique as a Speaker’s Bureau that also provides Speaker Coaching services to leaders focused on science, technology, academia, and art was born. By using proven methodologies matured through experience with Talk Boutique helps to develop content and refine and hone performance skills to create clear, engaging and memorable talks; and, then they find stages from which to tell these messages.

“We work with those who are working in the field, those who are inventing the future and we help them to articulate their work using story narrative to engage and impact their audiences. Their stories must not only entertain but also inspire their listeners to take action, to become involved in the future and to see they have a role to play in creating a “possible” future for the generations to come.”

So early in their evolution, Talk Boutique partnered with several other passionate individuals including be part of the team that brought Singularity University to Canada. This project was initially an event, however, with the creation of SingularityU Canada, Talk Boutique became deeply linked and committed to creating a better future. 

Andrea holds the position of Head of Faculty and she identifies, recruits and trains all of their Canadian faculty, each who holds deep subject matter expertise and works within their field as a recognized expert, in a range of exponential technologies and impact-driven initiatives. Additionally, Talk Boutique is part of the Singularity University Global Certification Team and they are now working throughout the world to certify faculty and help them articulate their ideas and their work using Talk Boutique’s propriety ‘Talk Canvas’.

“We believe that by transforming change makers into thought leaders and securing impactful places to tell their stories, we create the intelligent conversations that can begin to change the world”.

Building a legacy

In doing so Andrea ultimately hopes Talk Boutique will make a difference, to do its part in bettering humanity— give power to the voices of visionaries to unlock their world-changing ideas— and create a meaningful, lasting and widespread societal change. “A more sustainable, kinder, more intelligent place for all humans,” says Andrea. “My endgame is to contribute to society in a meaningful way and to live comfortably and joyfully along the way.” Finally, as a female leader, she sees this opportunity to serve as a role model and be an inspiration for the next generation. “I hope my legacy is as a non-conformist woman, who successfully challenged the status quo, and created a path for other women to follow,” smiles Andrea.

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