Marie Forleo introduction


I'm Marie

You have gifts to share with the world and my job is to help you get them out there.

read more


In this episode of MarieTV, we do have some adult language. So if you do have little ones around, grab your headphones now.

Marie Forleo: Hey, it’s Marie Forleo, and welcome to another episode of MarieTV and the Marie Forleo Podcast. So, look, if you are tired of being on the hamster wheel of life and chasing one goal after the other after the other after the other and never feeling satisfied, you are going to love today’s episode. 

Sheri Riley is a wife, mother, daughter, entrepreneur, empowerment speaker, high-performance life coach, and award-winning author who has figured out how to make it simple. Today, she’s going to empower us with her principles of exponential living, which are a guide on how to stop spending 100% of your time on 10% of who you are. 

Sheri, thank you so much for making time today, it’s so great to have you on the show.

Sheri Riley: Oh gosh, I’m so excited to be here. You know I love having, when you have your conversations, your Marie Forleo TV and Podcast, I just love your interview style. So, to be here talking to you today, I’m excited. 

Marie Forleo: Thank you. And as I shared in the opening, Exponential Living, you know, you and I have been going back and forth a little bit in DMs, and I just love your book, it’s fantastic, I’m really excited to get into everything. I was telling you, we have our annual company two-week summer break, and so your book was the book that was with me on the beach, and I’m just underlining, I’m like, “Oh my gosh, this is going to be such a great conversation” because everything you’re talking about in “Exponential Living: Stop Spending 100% of Your Time on 10% of Who yYou Are,” is ideal for the season and the stage of my business and life, and we can kind of unpack that a little bit. But I want to dive into your story. Can you take us back and share a little bit about how you got here? You were this power broker in the music industry, you have such rich layers of experience that got us here and I want people to hear your story. 

Sheri Riley: Well, I’m going to tell the thumbnail version of it because it’s so much. It started when I was about 14, 15. But I’m from a small town, I’m a small-town girl, I had these big dreams of working in the entertainment industry, and to be honest, people thought I was crazy because here I was, 14, 15, I’m going to date myself, so this was pre-Google, pre-cellphones, pre-computer, pre-internet. Yeah, and so, when I was talking about the music industry and I was going to live in Atlanta, I’d never been to Atlanta, and the music industry was in New York and Los Angeles, so literally I sounded like I was going to build hotels on Mars, like that’s how realistic it was.

But after a whole lot of nos, a whole lot of working, for about 10 years, I ended up as the Head of Marketing at LaFace Records, where I was doing the marketing for Toni Braxton, TLC, Usher, The Olympic Album, OutKast, I mean some of the most phenomenal artists of the ’90s and still to this day. I loved the people I worked with, I loved what I was doing, high six-figure income, mid-20s, bought my mother a home by the age of 27. I mean this was my dream. And I was miserable. I was absolutely miserable. 

My hair was falling out. And I thought that it was just I needed to do more, so work harder, Sheri, connect with more people, buy something different, go on another trip. And I literally crashed and burned. Like. people ask me, “How did you lead LaFace?” I crashed and burned. Well, what I discovered is that I was spending 100% of my time on 10% of who I was, but expecting 100% of my fulfillment, and so I had this amazing career, but I didn’t have a good life. 

Marie Forleo: And what…like did you start hearing the whispers, you know, like something’s a little off, and then did the whispers start to turn into an audible voice, and then it starts to turn into a bit of an internal yell, until your body is just like, “No more”? Was, can you can you peel back a little bit about that internal experience of feeling you go in that direction of going, “I’m miserable, I need to stop”?

Sheri Riley: Yeah, you know what? I thought it was, I didn’t hear the whisper, even though now, looking back, it had been a loud scream the whole time, but I didn’t hear it. But what it was is I felt like I needed to work harder, I needed to learn more, “Oh I just haven’t reached the goal. You need to be vice president. When you become vice president … Oh you need a bigger expense account. Oh when your artist wins Grammy of the Year …” Oh so, I felt this thing, but I thought that it was the drive pushing me to do more, instead of understanding what was really crying out in my spirit and my soul was the need for peace. Like I needed to understand that it wasn’t about getting more, doing more, becoming more, but it was genuinely about having that place of peace right where I was, with what I had, and then understanding that was what my desire was, not more, but to appreciate what I had and really understand I needed more peace, not more things. 

Marie Forleo: Mmm and did you, when you finally stepped away, like that first resigning, giving your notice, letting your friends and people know, can you walk us through what that was like, from an internal perspective? What were you saying? What were you thinking? What were you feeling? 

Sheri Riley: I felt amazing, everyone around me thought I was crazy. My dad thought I’d had a nervous breakdown because, literally, Marie, I resigned on June 5th, closed on my house on June 6th, my last day was June 19th, and I moved into my house June 19th. Who does that? Like my dad was like, “You’ve had a nervous breakdown.” And, on top of it, I was telling everyone, “All I want to do is sit in my yard and play in the dirt. I just want to plant things.” 

Marie Forleo: Yes.

Sheri Riley: Everyone was like, “She’s lost it.” But, for me, it was the first time that I genuinely felt the peace, that small voice you were talking about, it was the first time I really felt it. And what I realized later was working in the music industry, working at LaFace was only one of my dreams. And so the truth is: if I hadn’t crashed and burned, I would have honestly stayed at that company years longer than I was supposed to, because that was only one of my dreams, I also wanted to be an entrepreneur. So, the crash and burn was really the gateway for me transitioning to the next phase, and I felt that peace in me, but I wasn’t clear about it until much later.

Marie Forleo: Isn’t it so fascinating that sometimes some of our biggest moments of pain and grief and disappointment lead to our biggest breakthroughs? And like in that moment, they’re painful, and there’s tears and there’s doubt and there’s fear, and all of these consistent things that we human beings go through, and then, on the other side, we’re like, “Whoa, that could have been the greatest gift of my life.” 

Sheri Riley: But it’s what you said, it’s that still small voice that’s always kinda there, going, “This is right. This feels good,” but we fight it, but it really is that small voice that’s affirming you, “This is it,” it doesn’t, because everyone was telling me I’m crazy, everyone was telling me, “Sheri, how could you leave? The music industry is great. What are you doing?” My father, who was the most solid voice in my in my life, was like, “I don’t know what you’re doing, I don’t understand this entrepreneur thing.” 

But, underneath all of that, again, there was this peace of, “This is exactly what you need.” And every time I’ve had like a broken place in my life, and I’ve had some tremendous breaking places in my life, just how will I ever recover? But there has always been that still voice, that silent, calm peace somewhere in me that says, “You know what? If you can fight for your peace, you will get the power to make it through this, and you’re going to have something better on the other side.”

Marie Forleo: I love that you’re mentioning that small voice, too, because my mom, when I was little, taught me that that voice was God, that was my direct line. And she was raised Catholic, and so she rebelled a little bit against formal church, but she’s very, very, very spiritual, so she kind of passed that down to me, she’s like, “Whenever you hear that small voice, Marie, that is God talking directly to you, and you got to listen.” You got to listen because it’s not going to make sense to the outside world, but, inside, it’s always guiding you on your path.

And what I’m hearing you say, Sheri, is that voice, it sounds like when you begin embracing this notion of exponential living, and we’re going to dive deeper into prioritizing peace, which, again, I read this from you and it so, it made my heart burst open, and I’m like, “Sheri, yes, thank you.” But when you start doing that, that voice, in my experience, becomes even more clear, and you get to trust it, especially because, again, it will lead you to places that you couldn’t have anticipated and that, often, the rest of the world, because of our society’s definition of “success,” it just, it’s very, very different. I feel like that voice leads us to be our most courageous, creative selves.

Sheri Riley: You know you just said all three words, right? Peace, clarity, and courage. 

Marie Forleo: Oh I didn’t know that. I love it.

Sheri Riley: You literally, but it really is, I mean when I tell you, peace, clarity, and courage, that is the essence of exponential living. But I’m going to share with you, here’s the thing: for like now, so many of my colleagues, so many people go, “Oh my God, Sheri, the message, the message is everything,” but for the 12 years that I was on the journey of writing this book and the 12 years of transitioning out of LaFace, when I was talking about peace and clarity and courage, people were like, “Okay, that’s crazy, no one wants to hear that. Like unless you’re talking to me about how I’m going to make more money or how I’m going to get that next promotion, like what you’re saying is crazy.” 

Because everyone equated this peace to kumbaya, I got to go sit in the corner, I need to be rocking and finding crystals, you know, instead of understanding that, no, this is where our true power is because this is where that still small voice begins to get louder and louder, where we get the clarity, where we get the courage, but, more important, where we really get to define what’s most important to us.

So, for years, I was this anomaly, like, “Here she comes again, talking about peace instead of a Birkin bag,” but watching that transition of now how important it is for people to understand that peace doesn’t remove the desire for material things, it doesn’t minimize the impact that you can have in your career, it doesn’t take away the power that you possess in relationships. It literally becomes the anchor so that you can really fully enjoy all of those things that you work so hard for. 

Marie Forleo: Yes. And that, I’ll tell you, that has been something that I’m continuously unpacking for myself. I have this deep, deep, deep work ethic that came from my own family, as you know, just a lot of scarcity, a lot of fear, not having a lot, so you just work to produce, and I love one of the things about getting older is just the perspective, right, to be like, “Well, what the hell am I working my ass off for, 24/7, and I’m not enjoying any of the fruits of my labor or just the the experience of being alive?” I want to go back to a little bit earlier around Usher because my sense when I was reading your book was that small voice was telling you then, you know, when Usher, and please correct me if I’m getting the details wrong, you know, the potential for you guys to work more closely together was there, and you were like, “You know what? No.”

Sheri Riley: I wouldn’t do it. Yeah. And he did not understand it.

Marie Forleo: Tell us that story.

Sheri Riley: Yeah so when it was time for me to resign, I knew, up until that point, it had really been me, him, and his mom really leading the charge, the label. He was growing, he was 15, 16, 17, teenager, there were some struggles, everyone knew he was talented beyond measure, but what do we do with this? Like what do we do with this 40-year-old charisma in this 17-year-old mindset and body? And so him and I just really formed this brother/sister bond. But when I resigned, I knew he was 21, he was 22. I’d seen so many artists during that phase just really lose themselves and then lose their career.

And so, Marie, what I would say to him all the time is, “I’m more concerned with you, the man, than you, the brand.” And that was my heart, that was my heart for him. And so you know, I told him I wouldn’t work with him, and he was offended, he was like, “It doesn’t make sense.” Honestly, for about 10 years, he came with many opportunities to run his foundation, and I would always say no.

But about 10 years later, he hit a place in his life that, honestly, it was a make-or-break moment in his life, and that’s where he finally got it because he knew I could be the person that he could come to, I had no vested interest, and he could always just be himself, he never had to be anything other than him. And it was a critical place in his life, personally. So, 10 years later, he was like, “My God, like I get it now.” But how many people walk away from that level of success or access, from a professional standpoint, especially as an entrepreneur, I mean, Marie, come on.

Marie Forleo: Yes.

Sheri Riley: That’s the kind of client you launch a company with, right?

Marie Forleo: Completely. 

Sheri Riley: But you know here we are, I have two children, he has his, we’ve got these relationships, we are forever bonded. So, the greater gain was my heart for him as a man versus him as a brand because I knew he would be successful, which, duh right? But I made those kind of choices multiple times in my career and in my personal life because I’ve always felt like if I could do the right thing the right way, I’m always going to win. I’m always going to win, yeah.

Marie Forleo: That’s why, again, so much in your book, I was just like, “I think Sheri and I are meant to be friends,” because there have been a lot of things in my entrepreneurial journey, stuff that I can’t even really talk about, but like where I’ve said no to big things for that same exact reason, something in my heart was like, “No.” Like even though, on paper, everyone would be like, “You got to do this. This is the “supposed” next level,” or “How could you say no to so-and-so?” And I’m like, you know that faith inside of trusting my heart and just trusting that I can make hard calls, and it’s not always about, you know, what you can gain in the short-term, it’s about the long-term and trusting that heart. 

And so I appreciate you sharing that story with us because it’s important, it’s important in this day and age, and there’s so many entrepreneurs that watch our show that, you know, those “opportunities” come across your desk, and if you’re not solid and strong in yourself and your faith, you’re going to say yes to things and then wind up, usually, looking in the rearview mirror, going, “I should have listened to that small voice. I should have listened.”

Sheri Riley: Yes. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Marie Forleo: That’s right. So let’s talk about, I want to talk about peace a little bit more. I know we dove in for a moment, but you shared in the book, “Balance isn’t the answer,” and “Pursuing peace is not about work-life balance.” Can you walk us through that distinction? Because I think it’s important. Like you said, this isn’t, what you’re prescribing is not like, “Hey, we’re going to sit kumbaya or meditate all day and not have any problems and just be like, “I’m just so peaceful.”” No, that’s not what you’re talking about.

Sheri Riley: No. And in the first 60 pages, I’m like, “Balance is a myth. Balance is a myth. I don’t believe in balance,” because the reality is balance says if I’m sitting here having this amazing conversation with you and my daughter needs me to come pick her up at school, I could go do both. But I can’t. And so balance makes me feel guilty because it means life has to do like this, and that’s not reality. What I, what I totally subscribe to is full-life integration. And full-life integration allows you to, one, give yourself permission to get help, right, so it’s like what’s the village I need? So if I’m here with you, who are the people that I’ve put in my village that, if I need to go get my daughter, they can pick her up? 

And when you think about balance, you’re always like, “How do I make the scale work?” But when you think about full-life integration, it’s like, “What are the pieces I need in my life to make it work?” And that’s the big difference between balance and integration. And then when you add peace to that, it really is about, is not about making everything work perfectly. Like, the biggest issue people have with peace is that means everything is going to be fine, like I’m going to get to a place in my life where the boat is never going to rock, there’s never going to be another problem, like life is smooth. And that’s a lie. That doesn’t exist.

And so when I was writing my book, a good friend of mine, I asked her, you know, “For a year, will you commit to, once a month, I mean once a week, coming on a call with me and being my vision partner? Just really help me flesh through this concept?” And so one of our calls, I said to her, you know, “The core of this message is peace,” and she lives in New York, so she was like, “Sheri, there’s no such thing as peace.” Like, she was like, “You can’t get in a yellow cab anymore and it just be quiet and calm, like now there’s advertisements playing. Like, there’s no such thing as peace.” So, she’s like, “I love everything, but take peace out.” 

And I respected her, but I’m like, “That’s the core.” And so what I began to share with her, in my favorite book, it talks about how, you know, Jesus is in the boat and he’s asleep, and the disciples are like in the boat with him and it’s this crazy storm and the winds are going every place and the boat is rocking and everything, and the disciples are like, “Oh my God, he’s asleep. Does he not realize we’re going to die? He’s asleep, the winds are going crazy, we’re rocking.” And they literally wake him up and he just says, “Peace, be still.” 

And what I take from that is peace is always available to us, we have to choose it. So, it’s not about the weather, the water and everything being calm, it’s about you understanding the power you have when life is out of balance, when things are going crazy, when you feel like you’re overwhelmed and out of control, and that can be good and bad. And so when we really lock into the core of everything is peace, then that’s when we’re able to truly walk and own our greatness instead of trying to prove our greatness.

Marie Forleo: Please, yes and yes and yes, Sheri. That proving, we got to let that go. And, again, I’m raising my hand to that. I think I spent so much, again, this is why … I kind of, I really enjoy getting older because the perspective and the wisdom, and I just remember that feeling in my early 20s of like so desperate to prove, so desperate to to prove and achieve and to like, “I fit in and I can do this,” and all that stuff, and I’m like “it’s exhausting.” 

Sheri Riley: Yeah. Exhausting. Yes.

Marie Forleo: Let’s talk about ownership because that’s another, it’s like one of my favorite words, and just taking ownership of all of your choices. Can you tell us how ownership relates to exponential living? 

Sheri Riley: Yes. So ownership is very big, it’s in the very first principle. Exponential living is literally nine principles that if, when we live these nine principles, that’s when we get the peace, the clarity, and the courage. And so the first principle is living your power, and the second key to that is ownership, like what are you focused on? Like what are you focused on? And the reality is, is we’re so busy with this massive to-do list, oh my God, I want to I want to just take the to-do list in, especially, in every woman’s life and just rip it up and throw it up like confetti. Oh my God.

But the thing is is that it’s not about the habit of just throwing everything on our to-do list, it’s really about what’s most important. So, back when I was trying to write this book, literally, so you’ll appreciate this as an author, it took me seven years to write the book proposal. Not the book. The book proposal, as you know, is pretty much a glorified outline, it’s a very thorough outline, so seven years to write a book proposal. In December 2014, I literally took everything off of my to-do list and I took ownership of what was most important. I wanted to lose 25 pounds because I needed to do some things with my health, I decided to increase my speaking engagements because that’s how I wanted to generate revenue, and I was going to secure my publishing deal. Those three things.

If what was on my to-do list didn’t directly or indirectly impact those three things, I took it off. That was the second week of December 2014. Now, remember, seven years to try to do a book proposal. Four weeks later, January 7th, 2015, I sent my book proposal to my agent, they called me within 15 minutes and said, “Oh my God, Sheri, you found your voice.” Four weeks later, in February, I had four major publishers wanting to purchase my book proposal. 

Marie Forleo: Come on.

Sheri Riley: Right?

Marie Forleo: Come on.

Sheri Riley: Because I took ownership, I took ownership of what was most important, I got rid of all the … Let me tell you, the biggest thing when you take ownership is when you start to recognize when opportunities are actually distractions. 

Marie Forleo: Yes. 

Sheri Riley: Right? Yeah because most everything on my to-do list was a distraction. And then once I secured the book deal, then what do you do? You go get the next most important thing, and then you add that to your top three. So, in that ownership, it allows you to get focused, it allows you to understand where your real value is, and then it goes back to that stop trying to prove you’re worthy and just know you’re worthy. But it gets rid of the distraction. Like it’s so…here’s the big one: it’s so easy to say no when you’re clear on what you’re taking ownership of. People go, “I don’t know how to say no,” you know how to say no, you’re just not clear on what to say no to. 

Marie Forleo: Yes, Sheri. Oh my goodness. So, one of the things I live my life by, and I’ve been doing that in this season especially, like this year, 2020, my goodness, right? All the things. But one of my little mantras that helps me keep my head and my heart straight is simplify to amplify. So the less like, you know…remember, you were talking about you wanted to sit in the soil and just look at your plants and stuff?

Sheri Riley: Yes.

Marie Forleo: For me, the gardening analogy, if you prune something, if you prune this beautiful bush or tree or plant back, it looks like, oh my gosh, you’re taking everything away. No, the energy is getting focused, right? Just like what you were saying, and so what is left becomes so beautiful and strong and rich and robust. So it’s that…when I read that you slashed your to-do list by 80%, I was like, “Yes, Sheri, yes. Simply to amplify.” And the result, my goodness, it feels good. 

I just want to underscore what you said because it’s so right-on, it’s so wise, around, you know, it’s not that you don’t know how to say no; it’s like when you know what’s important, it’s a lot easier to say no to what’s not. And that discernment and that courage to say, “This is, these are the three things that are the most important to me at this stage and this season of my life,” and then you can say bye-bye to everything else, with love.

Sheri Riley: With love. But it increases our productivity. Like we’re so concerned about having this massive to-do list, and then we’re so concerned, when I check everything off, then I can give myself a pat on the back. But were you productive? Or were you just busy? Did you just burn yourself out, but you didn’t get anything done? Did you move the needle an inch, or did you go a mile? And so when we get more concerned with productivity instead of busy, and I talk about that in the book. And from the Midwest, right, it’s all about work ethic. But we work for the sake of working. Like we work for the sake of working, versus what is it all about? We’re supposed to put ourself in a position where we can enjoy the fruit of our labor, but we’re just always laboring, we’re just always working. 

Marie Forleo: Yes. And you know, I think, also, too, because you and I are of the same era, where we remember, right, before social, we remember before these things were like everywhere. I was talking to Josh about this, I’m like, “I’m kind of done with this thing,” I’m legitimately done with it. There’s so much more to life outside of these screens and outside of social. And it’s like, It’s, again, another underpinning for your book, it’s like you don’t have to spend all of your time focused on that career and trying to get that approval and that appreciation and that recognition and that significance from a place where it’s never going to come from, not in a fulfilling way.

Sheri Riley: Ever. Can I, I’m going to tell you something real quickly to that point about social media, and I’m so proud of my daughter. She came to me and my husband two days ago, and she had this laundry list of items, it was probably about 25 things, and at the top of it, it said, “What I do instead of my phone.” And she sat down with us, and she said “guys”, you know she’s virtual learning at this time, and so she said, “Mom and dad, I don’t want to be on my phone. I don’t want to just…and it’s a habit, I just pick it up.” 

So, she came up with a list of like 30 things that she can do instead of getting on her phone. So she’s like, “I can paint, I can read, I can work on my room.” And so, proactively, she, at 13, is like, “I’m over it. Like I’m over this phone. Like there’s so many other things that I want to do.” And I mean it was little things like, she said, “I want to sit quietly and just enjoy the moment.” I was like, “Yes.” Secretly, I’m like, “Yes.” You know.

Marie Forleo: And I love that she came to that on her own. Right? Like she on her own.

Sheri Riley: Yeah.  Yes. Even, I say, with our age group, we’re over this thing. Right?

Marie Forleo: Yes.

Sheri Riley: But I think the younger generation is saying, “Give me something else.” Like she had to sit down and figure out something else, and and that’s why, even with Exponential Living, because when I was writing it, my agents were like, “People are going to have to be 50+ to really get your book. Okay, maybe 45.” But every meeting we went to with publishers, as you know, you’ll have the the editor and the marketing person in the meeting right, all the marketing people were under 30, and every last one of them was like, “You got to get this book. You need this book. You need this book. Like I want this book for me.” 

But it’s because they want options. Like even the younger generation is like, “Give me something else other than this phone. I want to be able to experience being able to talk to people outside of a DM and a text,” or being able to go and walk around the garden and just look at the beauty of the flowers, but we have to be intentional like my daughter, and we got to really sit down and ask ourselves, “What does make me happy?” Do you know how many people, Marie, don’t even ask that question? Like they’re just on the gerbil wheel. Like, what makes me happy? What do I really enjoy?  Yeah.

Marie Forleo: I, I’ve like…this entire 2020 experience for me, just the pause and the disruption, like the the feeling like it’s like an enormous global record scratch, right, it’s just like everything that we all thought we were doing, and myself included. What’s been, so, you know, there’s so much pain and there’s so much suffering and there’s so much hardship, and we all feel that, and simultaneously holding onto looking at things from a new lens and saying you know, for me, identifying all the places where I’ve been on the hamster wheel, you know what I mean, where I was doing things just because that’s the way we’ve always done it. 

And you know I’m a I’m a creative woman, I’m I like producing things, I like making a difference in the world, and I think one of the greatest gifts of this year, and again, I just love that we’re connecting and I love you and I love your philosophy and I love this book, was like this was such a beautiful highlight and underscore to like, “Hey, Marie, maybe it’s time that you prioritize peace.” And I’ve been doing that actively, and I just want to thank you because, again, I feel like I have Sheri in my ear now. And it’s like, the times when, you know, 2020, I call it, like it’s surprise box every day, like you just never know, right. 

Sheri Riley: Yes, every day. 

Marie Forleo: Every day is a new surprise box and, oftentimes, it’s like it’s maybe not a pleasant surprise that comes through. But this notion of prioritizing peace has made such a difference to me because, as you were saying before, I’m like, oh no matter what’s happening on the outside, I get to center myself and decide how I want to show up in response to whatever the surprise box of the day is. 

Sheri Riley: That’s it. 

Marie Forleo: And to come from that place of peace, it’s made a real difference to me, it’s made a humongous difference to me, even in my business thinking, too. Like am I saying yes to something, like I have something I have to say no to in a little bit, that I said yes to pre-COVID, pre-whatever, and I’m like does continuing to go in that direction feel peaceful? And I was like, “Hell no. That is a big hell no,” so it needs to get a a compassionate and loving no-thank-you at this moment. 

Sheri Riley: Yeah. And no is a complete sentence.

Marie Forleo: That’s right.

Sheri Riley: A complete sentence. And you know the power with peace is, and that’s why exponential living is peace, clarity, and courage, because when you get that peace, just like you in this decision, peace automatically, it is a guarantee, peace automatically gives this clarity. And when you put peace and clarity together, oh my God, you have the courage to do anything. So, you have the peace about the decision, you have the clarity around the decision, and now you have the courage, you’re like, “No, mmm mmm can’t do it. Nope. Nope. I’m good.” 

Marie Forleo: Yep. Like freedom, Sheri, is my highest value, and that, I see it, it works so beautifully together because when I’m at peace with my decisions, I feel free, and I feel a sense of energy and a sense of aliveness and that sense of fulfillment that, you know, as wonderful as it is to achieve things and create things, just can’t come from anything else. 

Sheri Riley: Exactly. That’s it. I tell my clients all the time that money and fame and access and success and achievement in your career, even the love of a good woman or a good man or amazing children, will never give you peace. It will never give you peace. And so we pursue those things because we feel like if we get the money that we’ll have some financial security; or if we get the relationship and the love, we’ll have some social/emotional security; or the career or the title, then we’ll have the status and it’ll give us the security, and so if we get that security, then we’ll have peace, and we can go … 

The worst thing that can happen to a person is to achieve everything they’ve ever desired and realize that it won’t give them peace, and that’s where the destructive and self-sabotaging begins. That’s where the imposter syndrome lives. That’s where we get to that place where we go, “I’m just going to tear up everything,” I’m going to you know “mid-life crisis”. But it’s because we work so hard to achieve something, thinking that it’s going to give us peace, when peace was available to us through the entire journey, we just had to pursue it, own it, and choose it. And that’s what I want to give the world. Marie, I want to give that to the world. 

Marie Forleo: I’m mic-dropping you on the Zoom, that was like five in a row. And that’s what you are giving the world, through through who you are and your spirit and your work. You know there’s another thing in the book, you talk about having the servant’s heart and a giving spirit. “And the specific five areas,” you share, “when woven together help us create a rhythm of service.” I think you know, dance and music is huge in my life, it’s it’s my roots. You have God, self, family, career, community, and the world. And I love that you wrote, “When you serve God and yourself first, it fills up your cup, so you actually have something to give others.” Tell me, how is that showing up for you these days? What’s that looking like, again, amid all of this uncertainty and and so much change that we’re all experiencing?

Sheri Riley: It has been that root, that core, for me. Because there’s been so much devastation, I’ve lost someone so very close to me, so very close.

Marie Forleo: I’m so sorry. 

Sheri Riley: Thank you. Just, you know. And you feel the heaviness of just everything that’s going on in the world. But there’s also this amazing commitment of service and giving, right, with everything that’s going on socially, everything that’s going on scientifically, our schools, just everything. And and so in this place and space, people have a heart to serve, but there’s also the limitations that we’re under, that’s why we’re here on Zoom right, there’s all of these limitations that we’re dealing with. And so what comes out of that is we realize that there’s many answers, but there’s not just one answer. Right? There’s many answers, but there’s not just one.

And so when you get in that place with God and you allow yourself to get filled with you and what is most important to you, then it gives you the clarity to be able to say, “Okay, now I may be able to serve through protesting, or I may be able to serve through making phone calls. I may be able to serve because there’s I’m an entrepreneur, there’s a friend who’s working, so maybe her child, I need to help her pick up her child because I have more flexibility.” 

You know and it doesn’t have to be the big, grand, “I’ve got to donate a million dollars to a cause or I have to lead the charge,” it just means how can you show up in the smallest ways that make the biggest impact? And when you get that clarity with God, when you get that integration with yourself, then you’re able to have that kind of love and presence with your family, because what happens is we spend our time at work or in the community, and our family is last on the list. They come in that third, and your family gives you that fulfillment, that pleasure, that laughter, that joy. Then, you’re able to go out into the world, whether it’s in your community, whether it’s at work. And so those five elements are so key.

But the anchor to all of it is, if you can imagine, in my hand, this is a saucer, and there’s a cup, right, and so in that cup is what we’re supposed to serve from. Well, the challenge is the cup is empty. And so when we serve from an empty cup, we’re filled with resentment, “How dare they call me again. Don’t they know I have this challenge? What about me? What about me?” Because your cup is empty, so your desire is to serve, but the cup is empty, so then you’re serving with resentment. But when we get in that place with God, when we get in that place with ourselves, then our cup is filled. 

And then what happens, if you can imagine like water in the cup, and it’s pouring over the cup, and then it’s pouring over the saucer, then we’re able to serve from our overflow. So, here’s where our family, our community, our work environment, they’re supposed to receive from our overflow, but what happens is we never fill our cup first. And so when we fill that cup, when we fill the cup for ourselves and people then can be served from our overflow, then that’s when we’re able to just keep flowing and keep flowing. 

But that empty cup, and I say this to women all the time, especially women, is we have to begin to serve from our power and not from our brokenness. Service is not about being a martyr, service is not about making sure that you’re absolutely depleted, and now you’re supposed to pick yourself up just to function because you’ve given everything away. Service is supposed to be from that overflow, service is supposed to be from not your brokenness, but from where your power lies. 

So I’m so glad you brought that up because that’s such an important piece because especially now, with everything that’s going on, we have to empower ourselves to serve or we’re going to burn out. And where we are right now, we are needed for the long haul. This is not a short run. Yeah.

Marie Forleo: That’s right. No that’s been. I think, in my own experience, continuing to try and pay attention to having compassion for me and for everyone, knowing how challenging everyone’s unique experiences are right now, and sometimes you don’t know what’s happening in their families and you don’t know what’s happening on the frontlines for them, you know having everyone in the same house, the schedules, not a lot of childcare, you know there’s just so many layers of pain and frustration and turmoil that people can be going through. And I think it’s so vital for us to extend extra compassion for ourselves and other people, that extra understanding, that extra layer of love and empathy to know that people are trying their best, they’re trying their best right now, and you’re trying your best. And it’s like, just take in that moment. 

I’d love to wrap on the power of having faith in God’s plan because, again, I feel like that fits into this moment. So many folks, and human beings in general, we’re so desirous of, “Well, what’s going to happen? You know what’s the next couple of months? Or what’s the plan? How is this going to turn out?” And I think all of us are very intimate with the fact right now that we don’t know, that uncertainty.

Sheri Riley: Yeah. Massive uncertainty. 

Marie Forleo: Massive uncertainty. And this is really the place where we get to, I think, flex those faith muscles. So, I would just love to hear you tell us about, and I want to share something that you wrote because I highlighted it and wrote it down, “Once we surrender to God’s plan for our lives, we find peace in the overflow and joy in the abundance of being overwhelmed. God never gives you a dream that matches your budget. He’s not checking your bank account, he’s checking your faith,” all your words. So, tell us about embracing the fact that, you know what? We are not the COOs of the universe. 

Sheri Riley: Oh my gosh. The eighth principle is the courage to be faithful, and it’s about healing, because the only way you can truly experience exponential living is to genuinely have that massive faith. And faith in God, that’s one, but also faith in the process, and being able to understand that it’s not going to always go as we had planned; like if anything goes the way you had planned, then you just literally missed the whole boat because it’s never … I would say you literally were only on step two of a 10-point plan, right? 

And, again, my favorite book says, “I know the plans for your life, plans to prosper you, to give you hope in a future.” And so when we are able to really understand that the end of the story is not right now, like we’re still in the midst of the story, but the key to that, Marie, is being present in the moment. Like one of the biggest challenges we have is we think that our presence is enough, our presence is enough, but it’s not. We have to be present. And so when you’re present in every moment, what that allows you to do is be empowered so that the, basically the drive you have to accomplish something else won’t rob you of the joy of what you’ve already achieved. 

Never let the drive for what you want to accomplish rob you of the joy of what you’ve already achieved. And so that’s that faith, that being present right now. But what happens is we’re so concerned, “Well, if I don’t do this and I don’t do that, and if I don’t do this, and I don’t, but if this is going to happen? Well, this means this,” or “If it’s not happening right now,” microwave society, “if it’s not happening right now, then it’s not going to happen tomorrow.” 

And I learned this, I didn’t learn it because of some philosophical breakthrough, like, “I’ve got all the answers,” I learned it in my most broken place in life, and that was trying to write this book. I literally lost everything, I mean I lost everything. And in this whole process, it was like, “But I got to keep writing. Well, write what? Like what are you going to write?” 

But what I realized is if I could just be honest and authentic about this journey of what this looks like, and I just kept believing in faith, that if I could just hold on to my passion for people to understand the value of peace and clarity and courage, if I could just hold on in the midst of my own brokenness and be authentic and true, if I could just be present in every moment, knowing that the power I have is in this present moment, that was going to give me the ability to be vulnerable enough, vulnerable enough to trust the process. 

So, when we have the faith to trust the process, that empowers us to understand that I have another opportunity to get up tomorrow and keep going. Cause the thing is, a lot of people say to me, “But, Sheri, you say that because you’ve got this and you’re doing this and you’re doing that.” Yeah, but I wrote those words when I had nothing. I wrote those words when I was broke and broken. I wrote those words and I experienced this from a place of absolute lack in the natural – personally, emotionally, spiritually, financially.” 

And so that’s why the passion of this can work for you, too, because I’m my first and most important client, like all I’m doing is sharing what has worked for me, and hopefully, prayerfully, when you apply it, it will continue to work for you, too. And that’s the power of faith is that every day, if I can just stay present, and if I can be present, it’ll give me the joy I need, and that joy is my strength to keep going. 

Marie Forleo: Boom. You just said it, did it, underlined it, highlighted it, sparkled it, bedazzled it, and maybe confettied it right there. Sheri, you are just a gift. Before…is there anything else that you want to leave us with today? By the way, everyone, obviously she’s dropping a lot of wisdom, if you don’t have this, you need to get Exponential Living. Sheri, it’s just a gift. But let me hand the mic back to you, my love. 

Sheri Riley: You know, I just want to say that, for me, and in that book, the drive for me was I didn’t want a transaction, meaning I didn’t want people to pick the book up, read it and put it on the shelf, like I genuinely wanted transformation, I wanted people to highlight it and rabbit-ear, and the greatest gift is when people come to me and say, “Oh my God, you know your book is sitting on my nightstand, right? It’s it’s there.” Because these principles are literally a lifestyle, these principles are genuinely rooted in the reality that peace is the new success. Peace is the new success. 

And when we get to that place where we are pursuing peace, choosing clarity, and living courageously, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish. There’s nothing we can’t accomplish, there’s no mountain we can’t climb, there’s no brokenness we can’t heal, there is nothing we can’t accomplish. But, more importantly, it empowers us to own our greatness and own our value. And that, that is the greatest gift that I think any of us and what we do, Marie, that we can give to people is that owning your value, owning your greatness empowers you to be able to take this journey called life and win at every level, because it is going to be a battle. It is a battle. 

So, thank you. I love you and the conversations you have, I just love the way you bring out the best in everyone you talk to, so thank you. 

Marie Forleo: Oh thank you, Sheri. You are such a gift to this world and I want to thank you for your work, and again, I’m going to keep choosing and prioritizing peace, and I’m just going to hear your your voice in my ear when I do it, and I’m excited to … we got some music talk to have, too, we’ll have that on Instagram. 

Sheri Riley: Yes.

Marie Forleo: Taking it back to our favorite, our favorite time. You are lovely. For everyone, you have to get Sheri’s book. And Sheri, if they want to come check you out online, where’s the best place that they can come find you? 

Sheri Riley: Yes, I would love to connect on Instagram, which is Sheri Riley, S-H-E-R-I R-I-L-E-Y. And, also, I would love for you to join my Exponential Living Community at 

Marie Forleo: Beautiful, my love. Thank you so much. 

Sheri Riley: Thank you. 

Marie Forleo: And, now, Sheri and I would love to hear from you. I’m really curious, are you into this as much as I am? Prioritizing your peace, or if there were other insights or ah-has from this episode, I want to hear about it in the comments. Now, as always, the best conversations happen over at, so head on over there and leave a comment now. And if you’re not already, please subscribe to our email list and become an MF insider, I get to love you up each and every week in your inbox. Now, until next time, stay on your game and keep going for your dreams because the world really does need that very special gift that only you have. Thank you so much for tuning into MarieTV and the Marie Forleo Podcast, and I will catch you next time. 

Hey, you having trouble bringing your dreams to life? Well guess what. The problem isn’t you. It’s not that you’re not hardworking or intelligent or deserving. It’s that you haven’t yet installed the one key belief that will change it all: Everything is Figureoutable. It’s my new book and you can order it now at

You may also like...