We had the good fortune of connecting with Cynthia Giles and Valencia Giles and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Cynthia Giles and Valencia Giles, do you have some perspective or insight you can share with us on the question of when someone should give up versus when they should keep going?
Cynthia Giles: When I was 20 years old, I wanted to give up because of my internal struggle with severe depression. I was in emotional pain because of broken relationships and it felt like I would never get past it. Even though I am a creative person, depression made all of my hobbies less enjoyable. I almost let my personal challenges stop me from growing as a poet. I was tempted to give up, but creativity became the therapeutic healing tool I needed to process difficult emotions. So, I kept writing and eventually designed projects for my future business. Over 10 years later, I think of business like a baseball field. After you knock the ball towards the field, you still have to go through a necessary step by step process to score a home run. I believe this analogy relates to life and leadership. All great things we accomplish require a process and just because we haven’t reached the “base” we desire quite yet, doesn’t mean we’ll never reach our destination. As long as we’re showing up to life ready to win, the ball will always be thrown in our direction. If we’re in the game, we have to keep going. It’s not about how many strikes we get; it’s about our willingness to step up to the plate.
Valencia Giles: After 11 years of owning my music school, I wanted to give up most when the pandemic occurred and everything was shut down. With tears streaming down my eyes, I sat on my bed thinking, “I can’t do this!” My husband put his arms around me gently and said, “you don’t have to.” We will do this together. I realized then that quitting was not an option. I believe we must recalibrate, get a fresh point of reference. By making a choice to keep the school open, we were making an impact on people musically and economically. Students were using music to encourage themselves during a time of isolation from family and friends. Having a food drive for our community and supporting orphans and foster families continued. I realized that my business was helping teachers put food on the table for their families, and so much more. Reality hit for me, and I realized it wasn’t an option to quit. To me, quitting is such a negative word. I rather shift, recalibrate, change directions and move forward.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Cynthia Giles: I am a professional spoken word artist and public speaker. I am often booked to speak or share poetry at conferences, the radio, virtually (social media), churches, special events, and more. I look forward to emceeing and sharing poetry at the Fox Theatre this year. I also train and coach people of all ages in public speaking, stage presence, professional writing, creativity, and general counseling for personal growth. Whether I am performing a poem or mentoring someone new through my coaching program, the process I went through to become the person I am today was never easy. I think one of the most significant challenges I’ve faced is the challenge of never feeling “good enough.” Battling imposter syndrome and inadequacy is a constant struggle for me. Over time, I’ve learned that my weaknesses have the power to inspire hope in others. As I choose to be transparent with my life story, the people I counsel every day are empowered to be courageous again! Whether through sharing poetry or mentoring others, one encouraging word at the right moment can change the trajectory of someone’s life! It is my mission to empower the voice of others and see people become the person they are meant to be. I want to see people whole, happy, and healed! Why? I know what it’s like to feel discouraged, but I also know what it feels like to persevere and overcome. The journey towards your purpose becoming a reality is so worth it!
Valencia Giles: I have studied music most of my life. I started playing piano at the age of 6 and flute in middle school. I graduated with honors as a double major in music. But, I hit a wall after graduation and left the music education field for the computer science world. Eventually, as a stay at home mom, I found my way back to music and taught lessons in my home. I only had a few students back then. Over 11 years later, I opened Lawrenceville-Suwanee School of Music. I have 2 schools with over 800 students (ages 3 through adults). We were awarded National Music School of the year 2020-21 and are the most awarded music school in Gwinnett County. Our core value is love and great musicianship is our goal. We really want to inspire, motivate, and cultivate confidence in students of all ages so they can perform at their highest level. We go beyond just teaching music lessons. We teach life lessons to our students. My story is simply a reflection of my life struggle of low confidence as a child. Today, I have so much conviction for kids to never struggle with poor self esteem like I did. I’ve poured my heart into my business because I want children to know how loved and valuable they are. That’s why I’m so excited about the release of my upcoming short film that will give you a more in-depth look at my story. Rachel Bullard did the videography and editing of the film and it was directed by my daughter Cynthia Giles. I’m so proud of her. Her gift for storytelling really inspired me throughout the process. Although my daughter and I have different gifts, both of us have a purpose to fulfill. Now that we work together, our diverse talents complement one another and our purpose is magnified.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Cynthia Giles: I love Boulder Creek in Downtown Lawrenceville. If you want to support some local restaurants or coffee shops that offer great service, Downtown Lawrenceville is a great place to visit.
Valencia Giles: I love nature, the outdoors, and sitting by the ocean. It’s where I reflect the most and spend time with God. I think Lake Lanier is a great area to visit. It’s relaxing and peaceful. I also love the Georgia Aquarium.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Cynthia Giles: I want to thank my family, friends, and mentors! Valencia Giles: I want to thank God, my husband, my entire family, the LSSM team, and my mentor!
Instagram: @cynthias_inspirations or @lsschoolofmusic
Carnegie Hall Photos: Rachel Bullard