We had the good fortune of connecting with Marlys Woods and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Marlys, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Both my parents were in sales – they either owned their own business or worked for a company where you basically ran your own business, so it felt natural for me to start my own as well, and I liked the lifestyle that accompanied that. I loved the idea of creating my own schedule. I also knew with my personality that I could not do a desk job. I needed constant change to keep my attention. I needed what my business coach calls flexible structure.
As I grew in my field and saw the lack of music therapists working in addiction, my heart for a business grew even more. So many of us have such a strong connection to music which ties to our emotions, and it is essential to have a music therapist in settings like addiction and mental health to teach people how to actively and effectively use music in their healing journeys.
What should our readers know about your business?
I started my business as an independent contractor searching for sites to hire me. In the beginning I was lucky – I didn’t have to do much marketing since a music therapist was leaving a bunch of sites and these sites already knew what music therapy was and wanted it. But as my passion for this community started to grow, I learned that I needed marketing materials, a website, and to become a full business to make the impact I wanted. So I started working with a business coach, and with her help I created my business. I learned what to look for and how to hire. I learned how to present myself at conferences and how to create and give my ‘elevator pitch.’ I learned how my own story and experiences with music played into connection with others as well. I learned to budget and send invoices and create financial projections for the future. The learning curve was steep because as many of you probably experienced as well, in college we’re taught the skill, not the business. Rather than hiding from my insecurities and shortcomings, I learned to face them. I overcame these challenges and growing pains with a great business coach, my own therapy, learning from my clients and colleagues, and reading lots of books on personal development and business building.
While the business building aspect was challenging and working with clients in an addiction setting can be challenging, the reward is well worth it to me. As many of my clients have said, music can be a literal lifesaver. What many people don’t realize is that music can also cause harm to healing if it is not used correctly, and one of the things I am most proud of is my commitment to growing awareness about the powerful healing potential of music within the addiction and mental health worlds while also training music therapists to learn how to work within this population. Most music therapists are not trained specifically to work with such high functioning clients, but let me tell you, when they have the knowledge it can be magic! I am so passionate about serving others in these two ways. Something unique to my work is the training I’ve created that teaches others how to use music in an addiction setting. I’m very proud to have music therapists, therapists, and treatment center staff using what they’ve learned in my training within their own work.
The lessons I’ve learned throughout my career *or* along the way are the same ones I teach my clients! The ability to identify, express, and communicate your emotions, struggles, and needs can bring your dreams to life. If I can identify what I am going through, find the words or creative way to express it, and then communicate it to the right person, I can find a solution to my problem as long as I implement the right skills. It is as simple as that.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Funny you ask… We are creating a special little itinerary of Colorado for our family and friends who come to our wedding in August! I won’t give that all away here because some will be reading this, but I can name some places and close things that I like to check out. I enjoy Boulder and Golden, Colorado for their views and hikes; for downtown eateries, I like Ace, Postinos, Colorado Campfire, Hopdoddy, Bluepan Pizza, The Grind, Root Down and Linger, Pho Bay in Georgetown, and Tommyknockers in Idaho Springs. For those with dietary restrictions, I suggest Just Be Kitchen in LoHI; for fun drinks I like Happy Camper, and for rooftop bars we enjoy The Meridian and The Woods. I would also recommend the National Science Museum, Botanical Gardens, walking around some of the different major city parks, the 16th street mall, Union station, and a walk around RiNo for the graffiti art.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I have a few people and organizations that I would like to dedicate this shoutout to:
My parents, family, and fiancé – for their continued support and ideas for my business
My business coach Kristina Driskill – for organizing my ideas and helping them come to life as well as encouraging me to know my worth and set my boundaries
Fellow music therapist Kristin Sjoberg, who I met at my internship 9 years ago – we have continued to support each other as our music therapy careers went different ways (she works at Rehabilitative Rhythms, which is one of the nominations I made)
Al-anon and my sponsor in al-anon for helping me learn more about the 12 steps and diving deeper into knowing myself, which has helped me in interacting with those in addiction and mental health treatment
Linkedin: Marlys Woods (marlys-woods-65bb92b8/)