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ABCs Of Transformation: Deconstruct Your Past, Build Your Leadership WithAndrea Johnson

No Woman Left Behind | Andrea Johnson | ABCs Of Transformation


Feeling stuck in a cycle of “shoulds” and societal expectations? This episode is your invitation to break free! Join Rosie Zilinskas as she interviews transformational leadership coach Andrea Johnson about the ABCs of our lives: Assumptions, Beliefs, and Conditioning. We explore how these deeply ingrained patterns shape our actions and self-worth. Andrea shares her inspiring personal journey of shedding limiting beliefs and embracing authenticity. Get ready to learn practical strategies for deconstructing your own ABCs, discover the power of core values, and unlock a leadership style that empowers both yourself and others. This episode is packed with actionable takeaways to help you build unshakeable self-confidence and embark on a path of personal transformation. It’s time to stop conforming and start leading – listen in and discover the leader within!

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ABCs Of Transformation: Deconstruct Your Past, Build Your Leadership With Andrea Johnson

In this episode, we are honored to welcome Andrea Johnson, who is a transformational leadership coach dedicated to enhancing the leadership landscape. She empowers executives and founders to lead with authenticity, conviction, and confidence so they make a positive impact on their lives, organizations, and communities. This is going to be a good conversation because Andrea is going to provide great insights on the ABCs as aspects of our lives. We’re also going to be talking a lot about core values and a couple of other juicy things. With that, stay tuned.

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Andrea, thank you so much for joining me in this episode. I am so happy to be talking to you. I know we’re going to be talking about a lot of things regarding women’s empowerment, and I know that you are a transformational leadership coach and you talk about the ABCs. Let’s start there.

ABCs Of Transformation

I am a transformational leadership coach and I’m excited to be here. I find that the more I talk about this kind of thing with other people, the more I learn. I think that part of transforming is this consistent daily work. One of the things that I came up against in my own life and my own work was that there were patterns and assumptions. I hate to use that word to start off with because we’re going to get into the ABCs, but there were patterns and there were things that I had accepted that I had taken on as my own. I had listened to people in authority in my life, in the government, or in society.

Growing up overseas, my culture was different than a lot of people but I realized at one point that all this what I would call cognitive dissonance against things, “How do I hold this intention with that? How does this make sense with that?” I had to start taking a really good, solid look at what I was assuming about the world and what my beliefs were because we all want to stand on beliefs. We all want to say, “But I believe this and I believe that,” and then realize too the whole conversation around how I’ve been conditioned to automatically think certain things or affiliate with certain groups or assimilate into certain things in certain ways.

I started calling those my ABCs, my Assumptions, my Beliefs, and my Conditioning. When I talk to people about them, I find that it resonates with people because, in our society, we talk about the things that we believe and the things that we value, but we don’t talk about how the things that we’ve learned from the time we could walk or talk or before have built up a certain way that we view the world, a certain way, that we do things, and a certain way that we’re going to believe things and then all of that kind of create assumptions that we have.

I got on to this interview with a contact lens that wasn’t working, and I assumed that you would be like, “Let’s go,” and you were very gracious and you said, “Go fix it.” That’s just my assumption based on this conditioning that I have that I need to show up and I need to be ready. That’s a very small, practical example. I think when we don’t understand what our own ABCs are and we’re not willing to look at them, we will be in consistent conflict with ourselves or with others, and none of us like that.

Yes, absolutely. First of all, I love that you called it ABCs because it’s like the beginning but this conversation is going to be so good especially for women in the corporate space because I know several people who have been in jobs for a very long time. They are assuming that they can’t get a better job. They’re assuming that if they get another job, they’re going to have to start all over again and it’s not going to be as good. They have to prove themselves all over. However, my thought process is, “But you don’t know.” You’re just assuming that. You don’t know if you could get a better job. Yes, there’s always a chance that it could be a little bit worse situation than where you are, but you create that so you can make it better. You can make changes.

So some of the beliefs are also that women can’t speak up for themselves or the whole thing of little girls are to be seen and not heard. That’s an assumption or a belief that has come back. As a matter of fact, I was talking to my mom and my mom has Alzheimer’s. I’m trying to draw things out from her when she was young. She told me that her mother, my grandmother was never allowed to wear pants. I was like, “By whom?” “By her husband.” I’m like, “Oh my goodness gracious.” She was not allowed to wear pants her entire life. Her husband did not allow her to wear pants.

No Woman Left Behind | Andrea Johnson | ABCs Of Transformation
ABCs Of Transformation: Anytime we’re not willing to ask why about something is the first red flag that there’s some conditioning underlying an assumption or a belief.


There’s a whole lot to go there, but that’s two generations ago. Now, I’m thinking to myself. I’m like, “There’s no way in heck that would happen now in the United States,” at least I hope not but that conditioning comes back and that’s so hard. With your assumptions and your beliefs, you at least have a little bit of control because you can see the other person’s perspective. I have a daughter. She often tells me, “No, Mom,” about X, Y, or Z and she educates me. She helps me educate myself but the conditioning is so ingrained in us. If someone says they’re shy or they’re an introvert. Is that them or is that the conditioning? What experience do you have with that conditioning piece?

I come from a very conservative background. I grew up overseas. My parents were missionaries. My husband is a pastor. My dad was a pastor. I come from an evangelical background where they have very specific ideas and assumptions about women. I did not always accept that. I don’t fit that mold. I’m not a quiet person. I’m not going to keep my opinions to myself. I’m learning as I age. There’s a certain time to speak and a certain time not to speak but I bumped up against that a lot. I was told that over and over. “Not everybody wants to hear your opinion, Andrea. You don’t always have to insert yourself into every situation. You’re so bossy.”

I’m like, “I’m just a leader.” As I’ve aged, I’ve learned that there are things about me that were showing up when I was a small child that are wired into me. That’s how I am made and there’s nothing wrong with it. Now, do I need to be aware of what’s going on around me and how I can best show up in a way that is gracious to myself and others? Yeah, but that takes wisdom, time, age, and lots of good mentoring or coaching. What I have come to understand is that anytime we’re not willing to ask why about something, is the first red flag that there’s some conditioning underlying an assumption or a belief that we don’t realize is there.

We’re talking to corporate women, and I did this for years. I was in higher education, but it’s similar. I was in schools of medicine and administrative operations management. I would have women who would say to me, “I don’t have a degree so I can’t even go for that job.” Now granted, I understand there are reasons for all of that, but I’m a rule breaker. I’m like, “Who says?” “It says it right there.” I’m like, “You have to ask.”

The consistent, “I can’t do that or I can’t do that,” and then the statistics show that women will look for a job and if they don’t feel 100% qualified, they won’t apply. Whereas a man will apply at 65% qualified. I don’t know what was different about me, but I was always willing to say, “I could do that job.” I would apply for them and they’d say like, “Do you know Excel?” I’m like, “I know exactly what Excel is.” “Have I ever used it?” “No,” but I didn’t tell them that because I figured between now and the next interview, I could go do a tutorial on Excel.

There was something in me that always said, “You’ve got to ask why.” I use the term terminally curious for myself. Also, I try to teach. When I say I want to help other women change the culture by thinking critically, creating imaginatively, and leading effectively, it’s that thinking critically part that I’m working on with women. I tell them, “You’ve got to be willing to ask why. Why is it that I think I can’t do this? Why is it that I think that I have to be quiet in a corporate situation?” It’s because the work of going backward and looking at the conditioning is hard work.

It’s like underwater welding kind of hard work because you got to go down. If you do the iceberg model, it’s all the stuff that’s way below the surface. You might need a therapist or a coach. For sure, you need other supportive women in your life. Reading this is a great place to start but you need to know that as soon as you start poking around down there, you’re not the only one that’s going to feel the uncomfortableness. Everybody’s going to feel it.

The other women in your life, the women that are not willing to confront it, the other women in your job that are like, “You’re rocking the boat, you’re going to make it hard for all of us.” It’s like, “Yes, let’s make it hard so that they have to do something.” A great example is women’s sports. My husband is a University of South Carolina graduate. If we’re recording this right after the University of South Carolina women’s team, the most undefeated team has won the Women’s National Championship, and women’s sports are now bringing in. That game alone brought in more viewership and more money than any male sport in the last many years or something. It’s surpassed the NBA and all that stuff.

The women’s sports don’t get any money for being in the tournament. These kinds of things that we’ve just accepted for so many years, be willing to say, “At least, I got this far. I want to go this far.” Also, some of it is courage that we need to have but in order to have that courage, we need to know who we are. We need to be confident in who we are. That’s why I do core values work but we also need to be willing to link arms with each other.

When I first started my original podcast, it was all about “We go farther together.” It’s all about unconventional leadership. You do not need to be a white male with blonde hair, and blue eyes 6’3” tall with an MBA. You don’t need that. Coming through the pandemic, challenged a lot of our assumptions. It challenged a lot of our conditioning. Now, here we are on the other side and I don’t want us to lose that.

How Our Upbringing Impacts Confidence

The critical thinking piece struck me a lot because one of the things that I have learned about throughout research, the teachings, and the learnings that I’ve done is that girls’ confidence peaks at age nine. I was at Rockford University and I sat on a panel. It’s because I talked about the confidence piece as well, one of the Rockford University staff came up to me and she’s like, “Tell me more about that confidence with the girls peaking at age nine.” She asked me because she’s like, “I have a young daughter.” I’m curious about your parents and how they were with you because in this day and age, we moms more than anything, more than dads, we try to do so much for our kids.

As young women, young girls are growing up, they don’t have that critical thinking component. I was guilty of this. As my daughter is growing up, we’re solving all their problems. This woman that I was talking to said, “You’re right. Last night my daughter who was right around that age was cold. She’s like, Mom, bring me a blanket. I’m cold,” and the blanket’s like right there. She’s like, “Grab your own blanket.”

The recommendation that I told her is not to solve her problems for her. Let her try to figure out her problems and ask her, “What do you think you could do?” You said that you were a rule breaker. You have been challenging the status quo since the time that you were young. How were your parents with you? Did they say, “Andrea, figure it out?” I think a lot of this has to do with the type of upbringing that you have. If your parents either coddled you or didn’t do. Also, here’s a gimmick. My parents didn’t know anything about what I was doing. They were in their own little world and they let me figure it out. Let’s talk a little bit about that.

I am a Gen-Xer. I am at the very top of the Gen-Xers. My parents were young. My mom was 23 when she had me. I was born in the 60s. My parents are right at the end of the war generation. They were very much like, “This is what children do therefore you will do this.” There was a 10, 15, or almost 20-year period of time in my life where it was a consistent whittling away and that was what they knew to do. On one hand, it was a whittling away of all the pieces that didn’t fit into the mold but on the other hand, because we grew up overseas, there was a lot of autonomy. It was a little bit of a both, but there was a lot of duality that I didn’t quite understand.

My mother was extremely strong and extremely smart, but she put my dad through school. It took her 14 universities and 30 years to finish cum laude at the university. She graduated through the military system, but she managed a townhome project for our mission. She was a volunteer level GS-13 for the military in the Red Cross. All of these things that she did, yet she still managed to stay within that mold of this is what a Southern Baptist woman needs to do.

My dad on the other hand is very much like, “This is how you do things and therefore you go do it.” You didn’t do it my way. It was, “This is just how you do it, and otherwise, you’re on your own.” For me, there were ways in which all of that non-con consistency didn’t work. I didn’t handle it well. I have a history of bulimia and depression. I put myself in the hospital at twenty and because of that, I’ve learned so much.

Now, as a coach, I look back and say, “We all have what we have when we have it. We know what we know when we know it.” My parents did the best they could. They loved me desperately. I was their oldest. My sister was easy when she came along but as far as a rule breaker, I wasn’t so much a rule breaker as my top core value is being able to think for myself. It’s the autonomy of thought. When you tell me to do something, I’m always asking the question, why? They are like, “Just do what I tell you.”

For me, the confidence piece was rough because there was so much, and it wasn’t because of anything that they did poorly. I was in a situation that had a lot of upheaval. I was in Seoul, Korea growing up. It wasn’t always restful. There were some things that went on politically that were difficult but as I grew and as I watched my mother age, I learned a lot more from her. We lost her in 2017 to breast cancer after many years but I watched her die well in that she spent those last years that she had making sure and she kept saying, “Did I say I’m sorry enough? Did I fix this enough? Did I tell you how proud I am of you?”

As an adult, I can see what her intent was all along. We had some hard conversations. I’m like, “You said this to me and I can’t let go of it. It’s ingrained in my soul.” She’s like, “I’m so sorry.” What that did for me though was it helped me to see because we lost her seven years ago. At 50, I said, “I don’t want to hit the finish line and go, ‘I have to fix everything now here at the finish line.’” I want to start back here. Also, because at the time, I had an 8-year-old son. I don’t have a daughter, but I have a son who I want to be able to grow up in a world where he understands the value of women and he understands how to treat women.

I challenge him. I’m not the mother who said, “You can pick the blanket up. It’s right there.” I look at him and say, “Are your arms broken? As far as I know, your body hurts less than mine. You can walk upstairs and get whatever you need.” Yes, I think that ability to teach and to grow is very important as parents.

‘That ability to teach and to grow our kids is very important as parents.’ – Andrea Johnson Click To Tweet

I employ that in my parenting. We finally put him on the bus as a freshman in high school and it’s like, “This has been the best thing ever,” because it’s teaching him. Some people are like, “You waited that long.” “Yeah.” My son is adopted. We waited fourteen years to have a son so taking him to school was a pleasure until it wasn’t. I think that was a long answer for you, but all of our interactions matter. As an encouragement piece, all of our interactions matter.

It doesn’t matter if you’re starting now or last week. They always say things like, “Ten years ago was the best time to start this. When’s the second best time? Now,” or whatever it is. I think that when you’re willing to be taught by your daughter, when we’re willing to be taught by those younger than us, a lot of this is generational. If we’re willing to learn from other generations, there’s plenty that the people younger than us can teach us. If we’re not willing to learn there, then that’s problem number one.

‘If we're willing to learn from other generations, there's plenty that the people younger can teach us.’ – Andrea Johnson Click To Tweet

Deconstructing The ABCs

We know we have these assumptions, beliefs, and conditioning. The very first thing is becoming aware of it and questioning yourself, but you can help deconstruct some of that. What are some things that you do? If someone is reading and they know that they’re struggling with something and they can become aware enough that they know it’s one of these assumptions, beliefs, or conditioning, how can they start deconstructing one?

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Quickly though, I’d like to say that assumptions are things that we can be made aware of easily by other people or by something bumping up against them. Those are fueled and created. It’s a little bit like if you plant a sunflower seed, what’s going to come up as a sunflower? Whatever is up there, you know something below is feeding that but our beliefs are things that are 100% changeable. I think that’s a piece that people need to hear.

We can be talking about political or religious beliefs, or we can also be talking about beliefs about ourselves or about our abilities. All beliefs are 100% changeable. Conditioning is something that has taken a long time to get there and just like the Titanic, you may not see it, but it also will not be turned around that fast. Know those things going in and you can start paying attention to the things that bother you. If you’re in a situation where you are the only one who thinks that way or whatever is kind of on the opposite side of what you think or believe, that’s a good place to start.

The thing to remember too, though, is that looking at something on the opposite side of whatever your belief is. I come again from a religious background. Looking at things on the opposite religious side or the opposite political side in this day and age, there’s a lot there. That’s a place to start but you need to understand that it’s a bit like a lighthouse and every single window that you look in has a different viewpoint. Perspectives are not one side or the other. Perspectives are 360 degrees.

For you and I to be looking at one object in the middle of a room from windows on opposite sides, we’re going to see that object in the middle but I’m also going to see things that are underneath your window that you can’t see. You’re going to see the things underneath my window that I can’t see. It doesn’t mean that I need to use the trash can that you see underneath my window, but it’s probably good to know that it’s there if I need to throw something away.

Being willing to listen to other people, I started following people on social media that I don’t agree with but I also would say this. I also don’t follow people on social media who are on the fringes of any of it. I try to stay within the realm of normal especially when you first start. It can be dysregulating. It can be scary. It can send you into a panic attack. It can give you a crisis of belief.

As a critical thinker, I am a natural deconstructionist, and I was taught that deconstruction is not good because we have these beliefs and they’re supposed to be there. I think part of that is being willing to ask why, ask what, and maybe even ask, “Who taught me this? Where did this come from?” Those questions that we learned in English, the who, what, when, where, and why are great questions for anything and I think those are very simple ways to start.

Just to clarify. Deconstruction is not necessarily good or bad. It depends on the person, what they’re trying to do, what their goals are, and what their accomplishments are. If you’re trying to change the conditioning, I think that’s where the deconstruction comes into place where you have to ask all those questions like, who, what, when, or what.”

The concept of deconstruction can be used in positive ways and can be used in negative ways. The way I use it is to pick something apart. It’s like you pull all the spaghetti noodles out, lay them in a straight line, and say, “What have I got here? Do I need this?” It’s like cleaning out your house. You are pulling it all out and saying, “Do I need these things? Can they go to Goodwill? Can they go in the trash, re-gift them, or have they served their purpose?” That’s, to me, more of what a deconstruction would be. If you’re doing it for demolishing, that’s very different. We’re not talking about demolishing. We’re talking about understanding and being willing to look at what’s really in there.

Core Values

That’s a good process for anybody who is trying to figure out, “Why can’t I apply for a job? Why am I not getting promoted? Why is it that I am always the last to be selected,” or anything like that? However, any kind of situation that you’re trying to do in the corporate space, and you’re not getting to where you’re trying to go, there’s that deconstructing that you can do. Is it you that’s holding you back or is it the environment that’s holding you back? Those are all great questions. I know we talked a little bit about core values, but when it comes to core values, I think more and more people are understanding what core values are how would you explain a core value to somebody that’s never heard of a core value?

I’m a stickler for core values, and I define them as inside you. I define them as principles and priorities that help you navigate the ups and downs of life, the crises, and the joys of life while keeping your own authority and authenticity intact. There’s a lot of talk about values out there, and businesses may have core values, but that’s more of a mission and a vision. A core value to me for a person, what I talk about is your compass. It’s the things that define you. They’re your non-negotiables. For me, it’s this freedom, autonomy of thought, belonging, and authenticity.

I think that it’s important to remember that they’re reciprocal. I want to belong, but I want you to belong. I want to think for myself, but I want you to think for yourself. These are never one-way core values and it’s easy to see what they are and then figure out how you can show up better in those areas because when you talk about deciding whether or not it’s you or your environment, it could very well be that your environment happens to be dishonoring all of your core values. Also, that’s a good indication that “I might need to be out of this environment,” but if it’s you, then you can say, “How can I honor my core values inside this environment?” For me, it’s more that definition. I’m not outside you. It’s inside you and it’s what makes you tick.

No Woman Left Behind | Andrea Johnson | ABCs Of Transformation
ABCs Of Transformation: When you talk about deciding whether or not it’s you or your environment, it could very well be that your environment happens to be dishonoring all of your core values.


Some of my core values are to always learn and to pay it forward. Paying it forward is big for me because that’s part of the reason why I do all the work that I do. I do a lot of volunteer work. I donate my time a lot and that’s because I want other people to be aware of the power that they hold within themselves, within their knowledge, and their skills to move their careers forward.


Now, along with the core values, we also talked about influence. I wanted to talk about influence because I’m a certified high-performance coach, and one of the pillars that we talk about is influence. I want to get your opinion on this. Some of the reactions that I’ve had from my clients are like, “Influence feels icky and it feels yucky because you’re trying to manipulate.” I’m like, “You’re not trying to steal or rob or anything like that. You’re trying to show your position.”

You are not necessarily convincing the other person to make them do something they don’t want to do but you’re trying to get that synergy. As you said, you want to be heard, you want the other person to be heard. The other thing is influence. People are like, “I can’t influence others.” You may or may not, but you can influence yourself. One person was like, I never thought that I could influence myself.” I’m curious what your perspective is on influence.

I’m a Maxwell Leadership-trained speaker, trainer, coach, and DISC consultant but my very first coach was straight out of Brendon Burchard’s high performance coaching. I am very familiar and his High-Performance Habits were pivotal in helping me grow. However, the word that I would use that so many people hear when they hear the word influence is coerced. We are not looking to coerce anybody but if you’re leading anyone. John Maxwell uses it and says it this way. “Leadership is influence, plain and simple.”

I think if we look at it from a different perspective, I’m a word girl. I love defining words. If you followed me in social media, for a year and a half I had a word of the day because I think it’s important for us. That’s part of the critical thinking to know what words mean and how we’re using them. Another word we could use for influence would be impact. Do you want to make an impact? How are you making an impact in your family, in your church, in your community, or in your school?

I work with people and take them from what I would call disempowered, where they’re acting within the assumptions and the beliefs that they’ve accepted because they develop a clear understanding of who they were themselves. That’s a frustrating place to be and this is what I hear people talking to you. When they say, “I can’t apply for that job,” or, “I can’t influence anybody else.” They feel stifled. They feel unsupported. I help move them into what I call magnetic or impactful leadership.

It’s the process of deconstructing a little bit and moving away from imitating someone else’s principles and priorities and defining your own so that you have sustainable impact and leadership. It’s the same thing. We influence ourselves. The first person we lead is ourselves. If we can’t lead the person in the mirror, we have no business leading anybody else. It doesn’t mean we have to be the most perfect person or the most disciplined person, but it means that we have the authority to act in accordance with our core values and who we are.

We get to enjoy and be empowered by our work. We have the confidence to set and honor our boundaries, and we can facilitate change. How many women that you talk to want to facilitate change somehow? That’s influence. Facilitating change is all influence and all of that leaves us feeling fulfilled and understood. That’s my perspective on it.

Transformational Leadership Coach

I love that magnetic word. I think that was pivotal for me there. I want to shift a little bit to talk about you and your story. How did you become a transformational leadership coach? I know that you were raised abroad and you moved around a lot. How did you get to where you are now when it comes to your journey?

I love telling my story because I hope other people hear in it encouragement that number one, it’s never too late. Number two, it doesn’t matter what you’ve been through or how perfect you’ve been because that was my story. I was a strong-willed child, but I did manage to fit myself into that mold. I worked hard to stay there. It put me in the hospital. Even when I got married, I was trying to be the perfect pastor’s wife, the perfect everything and you can’t do that. That is not sustainable. It doesn’t work. I realized that I didn’t mind being a career woman and that I didn’t necessarily need to be a stay-at-home mom.

Even after we adopted my son, we moved to Charlottesville, Virginia. My husband became a freelance writer and a stay-at-home dad so that I could work at the University of Virginia. Those kinds of things built my confidence a little bit but I realized as I rose up through the ranks and took on more and more responsibility that I don’t like managing people. I do that. Managing is about maintaining the status quo. I’m not interested in the status quo. The status quo to me is the enemy but that’s just me as a person.

I would sit down with people for their goals because at one point I managed over 25 people. I sat down to talk about their goals, and they would bring their job description and they say, “I want to do this part of my job description and this part of my job description.” I’m like, “No. That’s not what we’re talking about here. How do you want to grow? Is there anything that you want to do differently that you can help the department with? Where do you see yourself in ten years?” “I hope I can retire in ten years.” It’s like, “No. I can’t do this.”

As I said, when I lost my mother, that was the piece that said, “I have to do something different.” A friend and colleague whom I had known since I was seventeen introduced me to John Maxwell. At first, I wasn’t sure, but then I was like, “This could be something I could do.” The more I realized looking back on my work, people would just show up in my office, professors, department chair, researchers, and nurses. Former employees would show up in my office.

It’s a hard thing to talk about, but it was very affirming for me. She showed up in the middle of a panic attack and sat down. I had someone in my office and I said, “I think we’re done here. Shut the door.” She said, “You’re my safe place.” What a compliment. I didn’t know what to do with it at the moment but as I learned and got deeper into understanding leadership and understanding myself, the more I realized, “This is something I want to do for a living.”

When you’re in business for yourself, we change the way we talk about things. We change the name of what we do. I’ve finally landed on that transformational leadership because of the moving from disempowered to magnetic. I called myself a woman’s empowerment coach. I’ve called myself a leadership coach, but I love watching the transformation. I had a Marco Polo from somebody who says she wants to work with me. She said, “I have to change from where I am and I have to go there.” I’m like, “Yes, now we’re talking.”

If you are looking for a way to completely change from where you are to where you want to be, I left my job at 55. Pivoting at 55 is a little scary but I left. What’s funny is when I went on LinkedIn and put in my last day at the University of Virginia, I realized I’d spent that exact same amount of time at Johns Hopkins. It’s two amazing institutions but I looked at my husband and I said, “Evidently, I can only spend ten and a half years at this.” That’s my max.

Now, I am fulfilled in what I do because I am honoring my core values. I’m operating within my strengths. I’m operating in an environment that allows me to be who I am. I’m learning too. Here’s the really cool thing. Those people that I thought were trying to put me in a box wanted me to be happy. This process of becoming this is bringing me to a place of understanding.

My family never wanted me to be a certain way. They just wanted me to be happy. They didn’t know any other way to do it than to be, to tell me to do it the way they were doing it. When I look back on that and I say, “I want to give my son or your daughter, or all the women reading the confidence to be themselves,” that’s what’s important. That’s how I became a transformational leadership coach.

No Woman Left Behind | Andrea Johnson | ABCs Of Transformation
ABCs Of Transformation: My family never really wanted me to be a certain way. They just wanted me to be happy and they didn’t know any other way to do it.


One of the things that I’ve also been talking to people about is Jamie Kern Lima, who is the founder of IT Cosmetics. She just released a book and it’s called Worthy. It’s a fantastic resource but the way she explains self-worth and self-confidence is that self-worth is the foundation of the house, which is in the ground and self-confidence is the house on top of that foundation. I think that’s key.

I’ve been giving this example of if someone gives you criticism or you’re in a situation where you feel judged or something wrong, it’s almost like someone throws a rock through the window and then you have to go and you have to patch the window. You have to fix it. It’s the same thing with you. You might get hurt because of those things that I mentioned, but you have to continually do the work. You’re always having to fix things on a house, update them, and fix them. Things break.

I know. Mine was built in 1970.

It’s the same thing with you. As a person, we need to continue to grow, be curious, and understand things. Challenge the status quo but the biggest thing for me is asking why. Why is it like that? Why can’t I do that? Sometimes I find myself, “I can’t do that.” It’s a thought that I have in my head. I’m like, “Why can’t I do that?” I find myself going, “Wait a minute. I’m the one that’s imposing that on myself.” I love everything that you have shared with us, Andrea. Is there maybe one takeaway action item that someone who’s reading, if there was one thing from our conversation that you would recommend for them to do, what would that one thing be?

Action Item

If you’re willing, dig down and understand your core values because that’s going to push you into your ABCs. It’s going to show you where you’ve been conditioned. I use the house as a boundary example. It’s going to, it’s going to show you where you’ve allowed people to come walk in your house without knocking on the door.

It’s going to show you where you’ve allowed an environment to shape you rather than you shaping your environment. To me, that’s the most important work. You can do that on your own or you can do that with help. The fastest way to figure them out is to look at what angers you and what brings you joy. That’s a great place to start.

‘The fastest way to figure out your core values is to look at what really angers you and what really brings you joy.’ – Andrea Johnson Click To Tweet

Andrea, thank you so much for this conversation. I love the ABCs. That’s such a key part of someone’s personal development. One of the things that I would recommend people to do is to start journaling. Start writing your thoughts and feelings about the assumptions, beliefs, and conditioning that you have. Start there. If you can’t figure it out from there, seek help. Talk to somebody, get a coach, get a mentor, or anything like that. With that, thank you very much, Andrea, for all of your time. I appreciate it.

Thank you. It’s been my pleasure.

I hope that you enjoyed my conversation with Andrea. My major takeaway is knowing about our ABCs. Andrea says that it’s the Assumptions, the Beliefs, and the Conditioning that we’re brought up. We need to understand what our ABCs are in order for us to be able to develop our personal growth and understanding. We also discussed the importance of core values, which is knowing your core values will help you uncover unearth the ABCs of your life as well.

Finally, we talked quite a bit about influence, self-worth, and self-confidence. There are so many people that struggle with that self-worth and self-confidence. I talked about Jamie Kern Lima, who has a fantastic book out called Worthy. If you’re struggling with self-confidence, I highly encourage you to get the Jamie Kern Lima book called Worthy. Andrea’s tip is to dig deep to understand what your core values are as a starting point for uncovering your ABCs, which again are your Assumptions, Beliefs, and Conditioning.

She very graciously leaves us with a core values exercise. Also, do not forget if you are stuck in your career and you’re not sure if you’re promotion-ready or not, go ahead and complete the Promotion Readiness Checklist. Also, please check out the Unlock the Leader Within Membership. We are building a community of women supporting women, and we are going to be working on empowering corporate women to advance their careers with confidence. With that, remember to be brave, be bold, and take action.


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About Andrea Johnson

No Woman Left Behind | Andrea Johnson | ABCs Of TransformationAndrea Johnson empowers executives and founders to lead with authenticity, conviction and confidence so they can make a positive impact on their lives, organizations and communities. Uncovering and understanding the significance of her Core Values became the key to the process that allows her clients to become Impactful Leaders. Her passion is equipping female leaders to define a new culture by trusting their own ability to think critically, create imaginatively and lead effectively.