Last week I had the pleasure to speak to Life Story Project Co-Host Andrea Syrtash. Born in Canada, Andrea is a relationship expert and on-air personality. Her easy going personality, her intelligence, and outlook on life was a breath of fresh air that left me with a greater appreciation for life and the path that I am on.
Andrea has contributed to over a dozen relationship-advice books and is the editor of How to Survive the Real World and How to Survive Your In-Laws. She is the author of He’s Just Not Your Type (And That’s a Good Thing) and Cheat On Your Husband (With Your Husband).
**The last book makes me think of the movie Little Fockers…could it be?**
Syrtash is an advice columnist and contributor to numerous lifestyle sites including OPRAH.com, MSN and Yahoo!, and she frequently appears on shows as a guest expert. A graduate of The Coaches Training Institute, Syrtash has worked with clients as a relationship coach since 2004.
After a relationship fail in my life that morning, Andrea and I finally connected.
Tell me a little about your life?
Andrea: I have lived in New York for 7 years. This is my high season with Valentine’s Day coming up. I am spokesperson on MSN for a Valentine’s Day campaign. I also do a lot of media in New York City. Dating, relationships, marriage is my specialty.
I haven’t lived in Toronto since 2000 but my family is in Toronto. During the taping of Life Story Project, I rediscovered the city. Toronto has really changed in the last few years.
How did you choose this field of work?
Andrea: I always knew that I was interested in journalism. I went to Ryerson and studied Television. I love connecting with people and hearing their stories. Relationships always came organically for me.
My first assignment was in California in 2003. I was hired to interview 300 singles on how to survive dating. I was a learning experience because I discovered that people had the same complaints and the same needs and wants.
After that, I attended that Coaches Training Institute to train to be a relationship coach. When I interviewed people during that assignment, I didn’t feel that I had the tools to help them.
I also worked on an NBC television show called ‘I’m Dating’.
Wow that’s a lot of bravery to move from Canada and head to the US to pursue a dream.
Andrea: It didn’t feel like a challenge. I felt that I had to put myself out there. If you’re living authentically, it’s not a challenge. I enjoying teaching people how to be vulnerable in love, to help make a connection or look at things differently.
In fact, it’s much more challenging to be someone you’re not. I worked in many jobs where I felt that I wasn’t living authentically and that was much harder.
Which story on Life Story Project resonated with you the most?
Andrea: Earlier in the season, there was a story about a mother whose son tripped over her exercise machine. She said initially that her gut told her not to set the machine where she did and to move it. This story resonated with me. Oprah has stated many times to listen to your gut. This woman is living through so much guilt because she didn’t listen to her gut.
What viewers don’t realize is that what you see on television is a only a small portion of a much longer interview.
There was another woman who lost her husband to cancer. She spoke in great detail about her love story and losing her husband. She still refers to her husband as her greatest love. She talked about how they told each other often how much they loved each other and never took each other for granted. When he was diagnosed, they kept living like they did in the past. They often used the term ” I Love you oodles.” to express their deep love for one another. His last words to her was “oodles”. Her story resonated with me because life is a gift.
Do you think Life Story Project is true representation of Oprah Winfrey’s vision.
Andrea: Yes, the people on our couch could have been on the Oprah Winfrey Show. We have also experienced authentic marketing. The word of mouth marketing through the OWN Ambassadors have generated a lot of hype.
Is it true that the first interaction that you have with guests on Life Story Project is on the couch? There is absolutely no sneak peek into their lives?
Andrea: The producers did not want us to engage prior to taping. Every story was very raw. The show could really be shot live because everything happened in real time.
Aren’t the OWN Ambassadors amazing souls? I have been on social media a long time and never have I met a more connected group.
The OWN Ambassadors are much more connected than the average group. They are an incredibly thoughtful group. I trust the viewers of Life Story Project because they get it. I also find it amazing that the US OWN Ambassadors are tweeting along with the Canadian OWN Ambassdors when the show is on even though they don’t have access to the show.
Will you be travelling outside Toronto during the last episodes?
The last 4 shows will be filmed in Toronto
Who is your Idol?
Oprah Winfrey is my idol for sure. She has persevered through her career as a heavy set black person from the South. The odds were against her. I am amazed at what she created and the connection that she created.
I don’t know if you watched Super Soul Sunday a few weeks ago featuring Elie Wiesel, a holocaust survivor whose whole family was murdered. His experience was so traumatic, the odds were against him, but he came out of the experience with so much wisdom and passion. My father is a holocaust survivor so his story is very close to home. I could only hope to be an inspiration like that.
In the spirit of Oprah Winfrey, what was your greatest Ah-Ha Moment?
I have to Ah-ha moments. The first was one was the time where I decided to swap the word ‘should’ for the word ‘want’. Once I did that, I realized that I was making life decisions based on other people’s values. I said to myself “I’m not going to should all over myself anymore!” When we replace the word ‘should’ with the word ‘want’, it is at the time where we start living authentically.
The other ah-ha moment was the time I was at a book expo in 2005. I was doing a book signing and got into this amazing conversation with a fan. He said “I don’t know what it is about you but I’ve shared so much more with you than anybody else. You should be in sales!” I instantly knew that I should be, in the business sense, connecting with people. This is my path.
You and Dale are such great listeners on Life Story Project. I can tell that you are truly looking into the souls of your guests. This is a unique trait that few have. How are your listening skills in your downtime?
I’m extroverted. I’m not always doing all of the listening. When someone reaches out and needs me, I believe I am good listener. I relate to being on the couch like being on an airplane and making a connection. While on the couch, everything would slip away and I was in a bubble with that person.
What’s your favorite thing to do in NYC
Walk. I love to seeing so many interesting people and different sites. I live in Brooklyn, so I have to walk across the bridge to get to the city. Often I will stop, look and think “WOW, I really I live here!” New York City is the city of dreams and risk takers.
My blog’s philosophy is that Life is a Blog, the ability to share our life experiences online through writing. What is your life philosophy?
Live authentically in life and in love. It is the core of who I am and who I want to help people to be. I often get labelled a “Dating Expert”, but it is much deeper than that.