Transcript 106 – Leila Viss on Navigating Through a Personal Crisis

Transcript: 106 – Leila Viss on Navigating Through a Personal Crisis

Transcript for 106 – Leila Viss on Navigating Through a Personal Crisis

[00:00:00] Andrea: Hey, it’s Andrea with Music Studio Startup, the podcast about the business of teaching music. Learn from the startup stories of music teachers who are doing incredible things with their studios. Be inspired by creating musicians who are branching out and thriving as entrepreneurs. Be empowered by the insights of experts who will help you grow your own studio.

Let’s get started.

Today’s podcast hits on one of the harder aspects of being a music studio owner and one of the harder aspects of life in general, navigating through a personal crisis. In a time of crisis, your world is turned upside down. You might be facing uncertainty, confusion, grief, pain, or a whole host of other emotions, but the rest of the world is still turning.

And as business owners taking time away to figure things out may not be as simple as calling your admin and trusting them to take care of all the logistics. Today, my guest shares the story of the crisis that hit her family a few years ago and how she journeyed through the first hours, days, weeks, and months that followed both personally and professionally.

Here’s my conversation with Leila. Hi Leila. Welcome to the podcast. Thank you so much for being here today. Can you introduce yourself and tell us about your studio?

[00:01:27] Leila Viss: Thank you first, Andrea, for having me here. It’s been a long time in coming, so I’m thrilled to be a guest here. I have about 25 piano students here in Centennial, Colorado, and my student who lives the furthest away is from Sydney, Australia.

So thanks to a pandemic. I am now a hybrid studio and can teach online or in person. And pretty much at the drop of a dime I can switch over. So it’s, I guess that would be a silver lining of a pandemic. And I’ve been teaching for, uh, it’s been a long time, probably just about as old as you are, Andrea. I don’t like to say that, but yes, I’ve been teaching for over 30 years, probably 35 years, and it’s been a pleasure.

I, I guess I like it. I think I’ll stick with it.

[00:02:14] Andrea: Sounds like a good plan. Was that Australia student, were they originally in person and moved to Australia, or have you picked them up since?

[00:02:21] Leila Viss: No. I just picked them up since then. So that was kind of an interesting thing, you know, it wasn’t really planning on that and it happened. It is an amazing thing that your piano studio can open its doors globally,

[00:02:34] Andrea: Uhhuh . Now, I have to ask more questions about this because this is my job, but , was it a referral or were you, did they just come across your website?

[00:02:41] Leila Viss: You know, it was because I presented in a TENARA conference. And a teacher who is also a piano teacher contacted me and wanted me to teach her daughter, because she thought that I would maybe get along with her a little bit better than she does. So I know it Just kind of happened.

[00:02:59] Andrea: Yeah. All right. That’s not what you’d expect from talking to an audience of music teachers, but I never know where you’ll get those students.

[00:03:05] Leila Viss: I guess that’s, you know, one of the morals of the stories is, you know, even these podcasts, what impact is it going to have? You just never know and so you just keep doing them.

[00:03:13] Andrea: Mm-hmm. . Okay. So you’ve been teaching for quite a while. You’ve got a studio that’s running smoothly there. You’ve been blogging one of the early bloggers. When did you start blogging?

[00:03:24] Leila Viss: I started back in I think 2012, and then what kind of got me on the map was my book, The iPad Piano Studio:The Key to Unlocking the Power of Apps.

So it was all about using the iPad. It, it really did revolutionize my teaching because before then I would have students come for 30 minutes with me on the bench, and then they would stay for another 30 minutes and do something off bench and usually on a computer. Where, you know, I’d stick in the floppy disc. Remember those? Maybe not. And then it was a CD rom. Yes, CD rom. And then now the iPad came along and then, you know, with a tap of a finger, you could open up an app. And so it really was a game changer for me. So I wrote that book, self-published it, and then it ended up getting picked up by Alfred Music.

So that was a really cool thing. Very unexpected. So that got my blog up and running and got me kind of on the map as someone who likes to talk about technology. And then it really turns out that I really like to talk about creativity. And then that’s when I founded 88 Creative Keys with Bradley Sowash. That’s a whole nother thing.

 I won’t go down that rabbit hole for right now, but yet we did, I did that with him for six years where we had workshops and webinars all about getting creative beyond the page. So I would say I’m kind of equally into the technology and into the creativity.

[00:04:42] Andrea: Yeah. And all of those are their own separate podcast episodes, so I’m sure this won’t be our last time talking but today we’re taking it to kinda a more serious note because you personally experienced kind of a pretty significant change in your life a few years back, and you’re going to tell us that story and talk about what that meant for you as a person and a studio owner and how you navigate through all that.

Can you take us back? Can you start the story for us?

[00:05:08] Leila Viss: Yeah, it’s, um, man, I even thinking about that day, just it really tight tightens my chest and it was a horrific phone call that we received from the West Palm Beach Police Department telling us that our son Carter had been in an accident. And right away your heart drops, but you just don’t know how far it’s going to drop .

Then we called the hospital and the nurse said, well, how much do you know? So then our stomach dropped a little bit further because we figured it was not going to be not going to be good news. And indeed it wasn’t. He had lost, our 27 year old, he was 26 at the time, our 26 year old was struck by a boat and he lost his right arm.

And when we talked to the nurses and finally the surgeon who had operated on him, they were very uncertain about his legs, but they had saved his legs. So we boarded a plane Thanksgiving night of 2019, not knowing if he was going to have his legs. We just didn’t know what was going to happen. And so that was a dark day, and for two months it was a very, very dark time because we just didn’t know what that meant.

But in the meantime, I got that phone call. And , this is one of the things when you’re asking about your business, you know, every time something happened, my husband had the flexibility of, okay, well, you know, I, I can take time off or whatever. He’s got vacation days. And this was the very first time where I thought, my life is going to stop.

I’m not going to teach. And I was at the University of Denver. I was a piano prep program coordinator there. I’m not doing that. I just quit everything. And it was just such, such a weird feeling because as an entrepreneur, you know that’s your life. When you stop working, you stop earning money. But it was very clear to me that everything had to stop.

So I let all my piano students know and said, I don’t know when I’m going to come back, and I hope you’ll stick around, but I completely understand if you don’t. And I left it very wide open. I didn’t make any promises. And what was remarkable was that so many of them stuck around. A couple of them didn’t, and I couldn’t blame them.

And I, I think one was just such a favorite piano student, she brought energy to me every time she came in the door. And when she said, oh, you know, we’re going to find somebody else that, I just remember that day just crashing to the bottom like, this is what is going to happen. You know, like it just really hit me hard.

It wasn’t just a son in the hospital, but it was like all of life fell apart. So it was, yeah, it was a difficult time and I don’t think that student will ever know the impact that she had by giving me that news. But as life would have it, Carter, our son, has just really come around and it was just a ton of courage for him to pull through what he did.

And thankfully his doctors decided that he was young enough that they wanted to save his legs, and for a long time it was a big victory if he could move his toes back and forth. And, and now he’s walking, he’s running, he’s swimming, he’s diving, he’s doing all the things that he did pretty much before, except with one hand instead of two, and including piano.

And I, I remember I have a get inspired episode on my site at and it’s all about grit. And it shows videos of different people who have overcome certain things, and one of them is a one-handed pianist. Now I cannot tell you his name, but now Carter is watching him and saying, mom, I want to play that piece. Can you get me the sheet music? So it’s, it is really strange how life comes around back in circles.

[00:09:02] Andrea: Wow. Yeah. Thank you for sharing that. I’m sure that’s horrible day to relive in your memory as you look back and yeah, we just celebrate so much. Every improvement that Carter has experienced. Oh, thank you. I was following from, you know, your emails and things like that. The thing that always struck me through every single one of them was you didn’t hide the depth of it, the experience or the scariness of it. But you always shared hope through it. And I, I was so impressed by that.

[00:09:34] Leila Viss: Well, thank you. I I, I cannot be anything but transparent people just know that like, you are only going to get me, I can try and pretend, but it’s just not going to happen. And I think that’s what I’ve discovered about myself is like I have to talk about it. And if I talk about it and be honest, I can get through it. And actually I’m writing a book right now and a lot of that has, thankfully, is because I was writing from about day two after the accident. Every day in a Caring Bridge.

And so that has helped me keep track of so many things that occurred during this time. And there’s so many stories, Andrea, oh, there’s just, and so that’s when I’m trying to collate is get all those stories in. Becauseit is really fascinating how things came together for Carter. I’m glad you found hope in what I said. I was telling my friend I really didn’t dare to hope for a long time. It, it was really hard to hope and I still have a hard time with that word. I do have complete and boundless empathy for people who have been through pain and I, I think until you’ve been to that dark side, you, you really can’t know.

You can start to know, but you really can’t. But there’s a couple things that I always try and stay away from now is I never say at least, because people will say, well, at least he’s lefthanded. Like, that’s not even going to make mm-hmm. Don’t do that because that’s not going to make me feel any better. You know, it’s not going to bring his arm back.

So I am very sensitive to all of that. So that is definitely one thing that I’ve learned through this long journey.

[00:11:03] Andrea: Hope is risky, isn’t it?

[00:11:05] Leila Viss: It is, it is. I know. And, and yet that is the one thing that we can have, you know, a lot of things will fall through, but there is always that hope and, and I hear it in so many other people. I, I know I am not the only one who has gone through horrible things, and we all have, because of a, a global pandemic and then all the racial things that have gone on, you know, it’s, it’s going to be around forever. But living through it and walking through, you come out differently on the other side and hope looks a little different.

[00:11:38] Andrea: So it’s Thanksgiving day, you’re flying down to Florida from Colorado. I, I’m assuming you probably didn’t have lessons Thanksgiving. Maybe the Friday was off too, so you had a little bit of time. What, what’s going through your head with regards to your students? When did you even think of them the first time after getting the news?

[00:11:58] Leila Viss: I, I remember sitting down that afternoon because yes, we, I had taken the week of Thanksgiving off, so they were all coming back on Monday and at University of Denver, they were already out. They’re on a quarterly system, so I didn’t have to go back to campus, but I was teaching individual lessons during that time, so I had to act fast and I got on the email, sent out word to my students and to the graduate students, all that kind of stuff.

And my husband had to think fast too because he was looking for flights and found some. And we had made the decision that he would not return, he wouldn’t make a return flight, but because of my church job and it was Christmas coming up and like I had things to play. I would return in two weeks and show up for Christmas stuff and get my affairs in order. And then come back later in December. So that was a quick decision and a very hard one because it was really hard to leave once I got there. But I’m glad I did because it did help me get my affairs in order because I had to.

[00:13:05] Andrea: So leave to come back home, correct?

[00:13:07] Leila Viss: Yes. So I was in Florida for two weeks, then came back for two weeks here in Colorado and then went again. And luckily, it’s just so serendipitous that Matthew Klein stepped in as my substitute at University of Denver who had run a similar program over at SMU years ago, and he was good friends with Chi Watan, who I was working with. So it just so happened that he wanted to be in Denver, and so that all worked out.

And then I came back finally in January. At the end of January, I decided, okay, well I’m going to come back. We don’t both need to be there. Chuck, my husband, would be the main caregiver for Carter when he was getting released from the hospital. So I was going to, you know, come back to my studio and get it up and running.

Neither of us, we lived in a bubble. We had no idea that there was this germ, this bug in China, and we kind of had heard something about it, but we had no idea. And then, By March, I was teaching everything online, so it was just a quick switch from one thing to the next.

[00:14:10] Andrea: So had you actually come back permanently?

[00:14:11] Leila Viss: Yes. I had come back to Colorado permanently and I was going to stay there and then return during spring break in March. And then, The Covid lockdown hit, and so I didn’t go anywhere and left my husband there with Carter.

[00:14:28] Andrea: Okay. And then you emailed your students and did you know like right away in that first email to them, were you saying, I don’t know when I’m returning? Did you have that clarity already?

[00:14:37] Leila Viss: Yes. The second day, I would say my studio, yes, I knew that I would shut that down for a while. I just didn’t know how long, but in my mind, I had a couple of months. But I didn’t really dare, you know, it was just one of these hope things like, well, what do I hope for? You know, like, I don’t know.

But the, it was very clear to me that I had to stop the University of Denver position, and that was the second day that we were in Florida. There’s a lot of overwhelming details involved in that, and I just knew that I could not do that, and I couldn’t do it in Florida. You know? I had to be on the ground here in Denver.

Actually, it was somewhat of a relief because it was one of those jobs that I took knowing that, you know what? This is going to take you out of your comfort zone. You’re going to have to drive to work. You know, there’s so many things that like I wasn’t sure about, but how do you say no to an opportunity? And I guess I figured out what it takes to say no to an opportunity it takes a family member being in dire condition to say, Nope, that’s enough.

[00:15:42] Andrea: So that’s an obvious note. Okay. How about, I’m sure you had people, I mean, you’re connected to a studio community and a church community. You have lots of people who are concerned, want to help. How did you manage that?

[00:15:56] Leila Viss: I had so many emails and so many messages, and we started this caring bridge, and then so many people left comments and I finally had to release myself from trying to feel like I had to address each one of them. And that would be my advice to anyone who has to go through this, is that people are showing their love, but do not feel obligated to show it back. You just can’t, like I was empty. I was, there was nothing left of me to give back to anyone, but I so appreciated it and I think that was my way of showing my appreciation by keeping up the caring bridge that we had.

And it was overwhelming how wonderful everyone was. And my church position, they said, you know, after I played for Christmas, the Christmas season, they said, you know what? Just go. Your job is here. We’ve got your paycheck coming in, and they were unbelievably generous.

[00:16:55] Andrea: Focusing on the caring bridge, keeping your communication through there and not, Yeah, releasing yourself through that obligation. A sense of wanting to respond and…

[00:17:03] Leila Viss: Yeah, so I guess that’s a lesson for anyone who is walking alongside someone who is going through a dark place is don’t expect them to be able to give back. Eventually that will come, but it. You’re flattened to your core. Like you just have nothing left. You really don’t. But I did find that when I was blogging about it, so many people reached out to me and said, thank you for saying these things. And you know, so I was reaching people just not exactly, you know, it’s not, it wasn’t a thank you note, you know, but it was letting them in on what it’s like to be in a position like this.

[00:17:43] Andrea: How are you managing, I mean, so you’re a mom and your son is in the hospital? And you’ve got that, and I’m sure you’re concerned for him and his wellbeing, and then there’s your wellbeing. And again, having followed through your blog posts and things like that, that really felt like journals, that’s what they felt like. They felt very, um, personal. How were you processing things? What did you do to keep yourself not completely in the dark? I mean, sane. Yeah.

[00:18:09] Leila Viss: Um, I would, uh, I, I, let me tell you, I don’t like uncertainty. And a lot of times there was just a lot of uncertainty. And when you’re in a hospital, you’re a number. You wait. I am not a good person when those things happen, and I’ve learned that about myself, like, okay, not so pretty. But then I’m thinking, okay, I got to cut myself a little slack because you’re a mom in a really bad position. So I don’t think I did too bad, but I did get flustered. Let’s see, I, my husband and I, first of all, could not listen to any music for a long time, and both of us love to listen to music.

We run, we walk, we listen to music. That’s just what you do. So then we finally could, but I could only listen to music that had no words, and I had recently discovered Ola Yalo, who’s a Norwegian composer, and I loved his music. And so there’s this one tune called Still that I just listened to every time. Every time I went on a walk, I just would listen to that and we would walk alongside the ocean. I mean, we were, this part of Florida is the most beautiful part of the world that you could ever imagine. So we always called it Pain and Paradise. It was so weird. Here we were, um, in this hospital and then we would go out close to the ocean and it’s just the most amazing turquoise. I, I can’t even call it a color, but you know, the water, the colors were so beautiful. So it was just this weird place to be. But it somehow gave us both comfort too, and then listening to music, and then we could start listening to music with actual words. And what was really strange though is that we ended up living in Carter’s condo for about a month.

We had to find a new one for him because it was a second floor condo, and we knew he could not himself walk up those stairs and he would be in a wheelchair. So there’s just no way he could stay there. So we had to go look for a new condo, but in the meantime, we stayed in his, which was kind of like a bachelor pad.

So I was like, okay, but great. But we did it. But he had recently purchased a new digital piano with my help. And oh man, I would walk past that thing all the time and just think, Nope, can’t play it. If he can’t play it, I’m not going to play it. And then finally I sat down. Finally I sat down. I don’t know what made me, but I started fiddling around and I was working on a Brahms Rhapsody, so I was trying to, what could I remember of that?

And then I started creating, just listening, because I listened to music so much. I’m like, oh, I liked that part of that piece. And eventually that turned into a piece that I call Angel 94, which is basically tells the story of Carter’s diving debacle with his friend Andy. Which is so strange too, because that’s not what I would imagine come out when you listen to it.

It starts up pretty upbeat and you know, it’s, it’s not this mother mourning, but that’s what music does. It gives your emotions a place to land. And finally that piano, you know, I let myself get back to it and it was probably one of the best things that I could have done. So I would say that music, listening to music and making music was definitely therapeutic. And if I wasn’t doing that, I was writing and I’m, you know, like I said, I’m writing a book, so I wordsmithing, finding the best way to put something I, I think that is my therapy.

[00:21:32] Andrea: How did you decide you were ready to come back to teaching? Were there benchmarks you had met in your own head or something that were like, uh, I think I can do this now. Or did you start before you felt ready?

[00:21:44] Leila Viss: I’m not sure about that. I, I have to think about that just a little bit. But I wanted normality again, which I don’t even like the word new normal, but I, I wanted to go back to what I knew because we were, you know, we were staying in a foreign place. We weren’t at home. So if I’m at home, then I might as well be doing what I’ve always done.

And I did feel obligation to my students. I wanted to see them again. I didn’t want to lose them. So, yes, I think, you know, this profession that you and I are in this teaching. It’s more than a profession. It’s a lot of people could probably quit their job. Okay, I’ll find something else. You don’t do that with a studio unless you really don’t like what you do. But I really liked what I do and I loved my students. You know, I felt that calling to be back with them.

[00:22:32] Andrea: And then how did you make that transition back?

[00:22:35] Leila Viss: You know, I think I am pretty good at compartmentalizing things that happened early on when I had three boys and I just had to commute down the stairs and turn on the hi Miss Leila and be all happy, where I just had three boys, like, okay, you guys sit down and you, you know,

So I got very good at like, okay, put that away, and now I’m this. And so I think I had the skills to do that when my students came in. I did not want them to see me oh, poor me. And, you know, I wanted them to see me I’m strong. I’m okay. How are you? Let’s move forward. And you know, I, I was happy if they wanted to ask me questions.

I think they were a little young. It, it’s a horrible story that I really wouldn’t want my young children to hear because it’s kind of like the, it’s like, you mean there’s this little monster, this thing called covid that can make us feel trapped at home. Like it’s, it’s really scary for little kids and you don’t want to.

I want them to ride a boat and be in the ocean and not worry that something’s going to happen. So I just, I felt like I, my duty was a little bit to protect them too. The parents knew what was going on, obviously, and so I let them kind of decide how much they would tell of what happened with Ms. Leila.

[00:23:49] Andrea: And then did you come back full time immediately or like full studio, or did you ease into it?.

[00:23:54] Leila Viss: Yeah, I did. And I, you know, I kind of figured, well, okay, I’m starting in February and then in March I’ll go back. And then that didn’t happen, so, so then I just, right. Yeah. So I just kept going. And it was hard because I knew that my husband was trying to work. In fact, he had to get permission to work remotely. He got special permission to work remotely in February.

[00:24:16] Andrea: That’s so vintage.

[00:24:18] Leila Viss: So vintage, and then yes, it all came, uh, yeah. Work from home. But he was trying to manage both and that was hard. And to this day it’s been hard on him because it, he was his main caregiver and when Carter got released from the hospital, he was still in a wheelchair and could not walk.

And so it was a lot of care. So I, there was always this part of me that just felt, okay, I’m not, not helping, but I was also here keeping the house up and running. My youngest son, Levi, was here living with me. He had just graduated from college looking for a new job. His girlfriend was just here. She was going to look for a new job. And then we all started living together thanks to Covid and working from home. So it, you know, I had them with me, so that helped a lot .

[00:25:01] Andrea: As you look back on all those months and now some couple years past then, what are your big takeaways? What have you carried forward from that?

[00:25:10] Leila Viss: The very first thing is that I have an angst meter, which means that if something gives me any kind of tight chest or whatever I would call it, most people would call that anxiety. I got to stop that. That’s not good. Don’t do that. And so I, that’s how I make all my choices. Am I going to do this? Will I be okay with it? Yes. And if it’s, I feel any kind of angst, I say no. And it’s interesting how when I tell other people, Like, oh, okay. So it’s really like your own personal barometer, and I just really lowered my barometer. It was much higher before then, and I would say yes to a lot of things. And leading back to the Idiot Creative Keys workshops here in Denver, I was hosting them. I was finding the venue. Bradley would fly in, he’d live with us while we were doing all of this, and it was a lot of work on his end as well. It was very clear to me that I am no longer a hostess with the mostess.

I don’t want to do that. That was so clear. And we had just finished our last one, and I had kind of said that already, like, we’re done, I’m done. And then after the accident it was even more clear, no, no, no, no, no, that’s not what I want to do anymore. So it does give you clarity when you have to go through something like that.

So that’s probably what I’ve learned the most. And I’ve also learned courage comes in different forms. It’s not always going to, it’s not a choice. Someone said to me, it was a student’s mom. She was in Africa, I think it was, and she was living there and then couldn’t get back home when she learned that her mother had died. And the community surrounded her and they were empathizing with her, but they, because they have so much sorrow in their village where she was, they usually don’t say, oh, I’m sorry. They say, take courage instead. That has always stuck with me. That is my mantra. Take courage. And it’s not, you know, choose. It’s like, take it, hold on and let’s go. You know.

[00:27:16] Andrea: I like that. For a listener who’s maybe supporting someone who’s going through crisis right now, and I know crisis is experienced differently by every person. So what was helpful to you in that time?

[00:27:28] Leila Viss: Words like that. Things like, I can’t imagine what you’re going through. Not so much. At least I think I said that one. So there are just things you don’t want to. One of the things that I learned, because I had a hard time praying, I had a hard time praying, and I’m from a very conservative religious background, which is all okay, but there’s been some interesting revelations through this all, and I don’t like to say I’m praying for you, but I do like to say I’m holding space for you because I do believe that that is true.

And I appreciate that phrase and I heard that, and I will always remember that one as well. I think the other thing is, listen, I liked people who let me talk and the minute people wanted to jump in and share their story, that was okay, but it’s like, can I just take my turn? Can I have my turn? So if, if anything, use words when you have to, when you’re walking alongside, let them talk. So those are some of the the main things that I’ve noticed that I’ve learned as well when I walk along. Someone else struggling.

[00:28:36] Andrea: Thank you. And if you were offering encouragement to someone else going through crisis right now, what encouragement do you have for them?

[00:28:44] Leila Viss: I heard this podcast and I cannot tell you the name of the person who said it, but. I mentioned this to my son Carter. He’s going to be giving a speech. He’s giving more and more speeches and then playing piano at the end, and it’s, it’s, it’s quite a powerful combination. I think one of the things that stuck out to me from the podcast that I listened to, that I, I told to Carter is that showing your scars, you know, every morning you wake up and you’re scarred. So show them. And he, he has no choice. He has to show his. . But I think what that does is it kind of opens the door for others to show theirs as well, and to be real and to be honest. And it’s okay if you’re not happy, and I don’t even like the word happy, even though we can be happy, that’s not really my goal for my life, even though it is fun to be happy, but I think it’s okay to be, I like the word bittersweet.

You can live with both and you can be okay when you’re down and you can be okay when you’re up. But be yourself.

[00:29:45] Andrea: And how is Carter doing today? ,

[00:29:48] Leila Viss: he’s doing well. Uh, he has a girlfriend who we absolutely adore, so we’re hoping he doesn’t mess anything up. no pressure. But yeah, no. And uh, actually, what’s really, what’s really exciting, which, okay, because I am being a teacher, and I’m not going because my schedule is not going to fit alongside this big event, but he has been honored with the Distinguished Alumni Award at his university, Palm Beach Atlantic. And so he’s doing a speech, their homecoming speech, and they’re doing a big breakfast forum and, um, it’s a really cool honor and it’s really cool how they sent him the letter and really recognized what he’s went through and what he’s done and what he’s done with the boat driver and how they’re trying to change policies with dive flags. So it’s a really neat honor and I’m going to miss it because guess what? I’m a piano teacher and I’m a church organist and I got to stay here, but my husband’s going and some of the other family is going to, so that’s good.

[00:30:46] Andrea: Okay. And we should share all the links to everything that Carter’s involved in, because he’s in like a lot of advocacy things for boater/diver safety things. And so yeah, we’ll include all that. I mean, I’m not surprised that he would do that given who he came from.

 As we wrap up, I’ve got some questions I ask everyone. So first, is there a book or resource that has had a strong impact on you as an entrepreneur, as someone going through this situation? Any book you’ve got to recommend?.

[00:31:10] Leila Viss: So as an entrepreneur, the one that was life changing for me was by Philip Johnston, the Dynamic Studio.

I was really going back and forth, do I really want to be a piano teacher? Cause you know, like the hours are not very fun. Three o’clock to seven o’clock, like that’s the be with you hour. And then like, how am I going to like pick up the kids and all that kind of stuff. And it turns out that my husband and I, we team parented.

He would work early, come home, take care of the kids. So it all worked out. But his book made me realize that, you know what, this could be a fun job. If you make it fun, if you make it exciting for you, this will be a good career. And once I took that mentality, I had fun. It completely changed. It really was a, a huge mind shift. And I think about it and I don’t, I wish I would’ve remembered the day and the time because it was pretty important. And then one book that I picked up right before the accident was Kate Bowler’s everything Happens and then for a Reason is crossed. And I listen to her podcast, I adore her. She was struck with pancreatic cancer at age 30 something with a two year old and a Duke professor of theology.

So like her life just went bananas. And one of the things she never liked people to say to her was, everything happens for a reason. And that is very true to me as well. But now once, you know, one of Carter says this all the time, this happened for a reason. And I, I do believe that if that is what is important to him, then yes, I, I, honey, I totally support you on that, but I don’t necessarily believe that as a mom. But anyway, she’s a powerful writer and I highly recommend listening to her podcast as well.

[00:32:59] Andrea: Okay, great. Recommendations. Thank you. And what’s a goal? What’s something you’re working towards right now?

[00:33:04] Leila Viss: I’m trying to work smarter and not harder. I would like to be Andrea Miller, who has her life together and has and you know, I’m finally getting there. But it takes a long time. I, and I probably should be teaching less, doing more of what I really like to do, and that would be composing and writing courses and helping people get creative. But I’m still trying to do it all. So I want to narrow my scope more and more. So yes, my goal would be to work smarter and not harder.

[00:33:38] Andrea: I’d say we’re in the same plates trying to do that . So you’re already out . And where can listeners get in touch with you?

[00:33:47] Leila Viss: Well, I have a website,, and that pretty much has everything that if you’re looking for it, it’s going to be there. I have a podcast called Key Ideas, and you’ll find links to that as well. And then I’ve got resources there. It’s kind of a one stop shop. If you’re interested in piano lessons and live out in Australia, you can sign up for them there, but yeah, it’s a website that pretty much carries everything that I’m doing right now. So that’s a good place. And then I’m on Instagram and Facebook.

[00:34:16] Andrea: We’ll include all those links. And thank you so much for being here. Thank you for sharing stuff that’s not necessarily fun to share. And I, I know it’s going to be an encouragement to someone else. Like you said, we don’t, we don’t plan for crisis. We don’t want crisis, but someone , someone will, will be hearing this and receive a lot of encouragement from it, and so I so appreciate your willingness to talk about it.

[00:34:42] Leila Viss: Well, thank you for having me, Andrea, and thank you for asking it. It, I think a lot of people shy away from it because it’s painful and I would rather talk about it than not talk about it because I know plenty of other people who have been through it, or I’m sorry, but most likely you will be through it yourself. In some manner, and so not that you ever are prepared for it, but being sensitive to what could happen and what does happen. I think it’s okay.

[00:35:10] Andrea: Thank you for going first.

[00:35:12] Leila Viss: Thank you, Andrea.

[00:35:20] Andrea: I’m so thankful for Leila and Carter too, for their willingness to share the story of Carter’s accident and from Leila’s perspective how she managed her studio and personal wellbeing through everything. It felt really odd, almost wrong to have Leila relive this horrible time, and then to ask such mundane questions about studio management.

But I guess that’s kind of the nature of a crisis. There can be deep, deep emotional upheaval and uncertainty and pain, and then it’s punctuated by managing the incredibly mundane details of daily life, like buying plane tickets or emailing piano students. Whether you’re in the thick of something right now or something comes up down the road, I hope this episode offers a nugget of encouragement on the journey. To quote Leila, take courage, my friend.

All the resources mentioned in this episode can be found at That’s all for today. Thanks for listening. I’ll be back next week.

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