For more than 35 years, playing piano has not only been her passion, it’s been her livelihood. Since graduating Juilliard, Lisa Spector has taught piano at the university level, owned a music school in her community, toured internationally, won 1st prizes in national piano competitions, advanced to finals in international competitions, performed to arenas of 18,000 in China and recorded music for pet anxiety that gained national and international press.
A traumatic accident in June of 2017 shattered her right hand, and she was told by a medical professional that she’d never play piano again. She didn’t listen. After the first two of four surgeries for seven complicated fractures, she dove into music for left hand only. It wasn’t easy, emotionally or physically. It took at least half a year before those notes turned into music. It gradually became easier when she realized it only appeared music came from my hands. She really make music with her heart.
Little by little, she was able to add her right hand to her left, and at the start of 2020, after four surgeries and close to 200 occupational hand therapy sessions, she was finally able to play and perform music for two hands.
Check out more interviews with entrepreneurs here.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO GET FEATURED?
All interviews are 100% FREE OF CHARGE
Table of Contents
Thank you for joining us today. Please introduce yourself to our readers. They want to know you, some of the background story to bring some context to your interview.
Lisa Spector: I’ve been playing piano professionally ever since I graduated from Juilliard in 1983. A traumatic accident in June of 2017 shattered my right hand, and I was told by a medical professional that I’d never play the piano again. I didn’t listen. After the first two of four surgeries for seven complicated fractures, I dove into music for my left hand only. It wasn’t easy, emotionally or physically. It took at least half a year before those notes turned into music. It gradually became easier when I realized it only appeared music came from my hands. I make music with my heart.
Little by little, I was able to add my right hand to my left, and at the start of 2020, after four surgeries and close to 200 occupational hand therapy sessions, I was finally able to play and perform music for two hands. I inspire musicians to play on, and creatives to never give up on their dreams.
My new motto (that I didn’t learn at Juilliard)… Screw Perfect. Just Make Music!
You are a successful entrepreneur, so we’d like your viewpoint, do you believe entrepreneurs are born or made? Explain.
Lisa Spector: Entrepreneurs are made. You learn to be an entrepreneur. You have to learn from your mistakes, and know that they are all lessons. All entrepreneurs don’t succeed at everything they try. But, all successful entrepreneurs know how to turn those “failures” into learning opportunities, and even blessings, You have to learn to do things messy at first and know that “Done is better than perfect.”
If you were asked to describe yourself as an entrepreneur in a few words, what would you say?
Lisa Spector: Resilient, passionate, opportunist. Everything is an opportunity, even what at the time may seem like a failure.
Tell us about what your company does and how did it change over the years?
Lisa Spector: I have two companies. Everything is under the umbrella of Lisa Spector Pianopreneur because everything I do uses my musical talents to create businesses.
In 2003, I first had the idea to combine my love with dogs with my musical talents and create music for pet anxiety. When Through a Dog’s Ear launched in 2008, we have a golden 4-minute feature on the CBS Early Show. That first album (CDs in those days) lead to 16 albums for dogs and cats and many national and international press appearances. When I left, my piano playing was being heard in over 1,500 shelters worldwide, helping increase adoption rates. To me, that’s better than Carnegie Hall.
I sold my interest in that company in 2018 to my co-founder. When my non-compete recently ended, I launched My Zen Pet. Using my musical talents, once again, to improve the lives of our beloved pets. I launched the first podcast with music for pets in April of this year.
Meanwhile, my online music courses and memberships are growing into an online platform called The Music Conservatory, where I help musicians reignite their music dream. I have a passion and talent for helping pianists play with ease while helping them learn twice as much in half the time. I do this with my Piano Ninja Tricks, which include a mental mindset.
Thank you for all that. Now for the main focus of this interview. With close to 11.000 new businesses registered daily in the US, what must an entrepreneur assume when starting a business?
Lisa Spector: Don’t expect, or even want, an overnight success. You aren’t even ready for it when you start. Get into the mindset of your ideal customer. Don’t assume you know their pain points. Do the research and find out what they’re talking about behind the scenes. Use their language so they can see themselves in your offerings. Be patient, and stay focused on your passion. Always remember yours why! Why did you want to start this business? How can it change the lives of others?
Did you make any wrong assumptions before starting a business that you ended up paying dearly for?
Lisa Spector: I assumed my business partner knew what he was doing in the business because he was older and had more experience. It took me years to believe in myself and what I was learning and trust my own decisions. That cost me a lot in the long run, but it was a lesson well worth learning.
If you could go back in time to when you first started your business, what advice would you give yourself and why? Explain.
Lisa Spector: Don’t do this alone. Collaborate with professionals in your field. Don’t look at them as competition, look at them as opportunities to expand your network and reach more people with your mission.
What is the worst advice you received regarding running a business and what lesson would you like others to learn from your experience?
Lisa Spector: Wait until things are perfect to show anyone your work. By far the worst advice ever! You can only get better by doing this messy at first and then improving and getting better.
In your opinion, how has COVID-19 changed what entrepreneurs should assume before starting a business? What hasn’t changed?
Lisa Spector: There is no such thing as certainty. You have to be able to shift on a dime. Covid gave us all the opportunity to get creative about ways to do business. Everything has changed!
What is a common myth about entrepreneurship that aspiring entrepreneurs and would-be business owners believe in? What advice would you give them?
Lisa Spector: When you work for yourself, you have lots of freedom with your time. You have to be structured with your time. Yes, you’re your boss. Make sure you’re working for a boss you like.
What traits, qualities, and assumptions do you believe are most important to have before starting a business?
Lisa Spector: Resilience, belief, never-give-up attitude.
How can aspiring leaders prepare themselves for the future challenges of entrepreneurship? Are there any books, websites, or even movies to learn from?
Lisa Spector: While it’s not a business book, The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks is a must-read for all entrepreneurs.
You have shared quite a bit of your wisdom and our readers thank you for your generosity but would also love to know: If you could choose any job other than being an entrepreneur, what would it be?
Lisa Spector: There isn’t any other. Seriously!
Thank you so much for your time, I believe I speak for all of our readers when I say that this has been incredibly insightful. We do have one more question: If you could add anyone to Mount Rushmore, but not a politician, who would it be; why?
Lisa Spector: I’d add my mother because her belief in me has brought me where I am, and I’m forever grateful.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Lisa Spector for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Lisa Spector or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin
Disclaimer: The ValiantCEO Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.