Trapped in my Success
- [Sheri] So I am literally my favorite Journey song. I'm just a small-town girl living in this big, lonely world who literally chose to not stop believing, to not stop believing. I grew up in a small town in Kentucky of about 25,000 people when I was growing up, very small town in Kentucky. As you can see, I used to go fishing as...yeah. Very small town in Kentucky. But around 15 years old, I knew that I wanted to be in the music industry. And I'm going to date myself, I'm going to date myself, okay? This was before iPhones, this was before Google, this was before personal computers, this was before we had this proliferation of information. The only thing my family knew about the music industry was
Soul Train, right? That's it. That's all we knew. So, I had this idea, I wanted to work in the music industry, which for us, didn't exist. We didn't know anything about it. So as I'm talking about it in this small town in Kentucky as a 15-year-old, literally, I sounded like I was going to...
build hotels on Mars. That's how realistic it was. But I had this dream, I had this dream at 15. And so I went off to college and I knew I wanted to be in the industry, I knew I wanted to work in this entertainment industry that I knew nothing about. And so I just started researching and researching and doing more research. And literally for five years, every week, I would go to...this they call the...back there in Kentucky was a place where you could go and there was a typewriter, right? My kids don't even know what typewriters are. But I would have to literally type every cover letter and every resume. And I'd send 15 to 20 of those a week because we didn't have computers so you're not copying and pasting like you do now. So I'd type 15 cover letters, 15 to 20 resumes. And I'd mail those off just asking any music executive, any entertainment executive to give me a 15-minute informational interview. And then I would call them. Again, we did not have cell phones. How many people remember the phone that used to be on the wall that had the long cord, right, that had a thing attached to it? Let me tell you what's so funny, is, now when I speak because there's a lot of younger people in the room, I have to describe what it looks like, right? So we had this phone, and it was long-distance. I have to explain long-distance, right? So I had these calling cards. And I'd have to... you call the code, then you call the number, then you put in your passcode to make the call. And I'd have to do 15 to 20 of those a week with my follow-up, with the phone on the wall at the end of the hall in my dorm room. And I did that for about four and a half, five years. And no one ever took my call. No one ever took my...well, wait a minute, there was two people. There was two people who took my call. Remember, I just wanted a 15-minute informational interview. Well, they took 10 minutes to explain to me that I need to stop calling them because I live in Kentucky and I'm never going to get in the music industry, so please stop calling. So, I wanted a 15-minute interview, they gave me 10 minutes of why I needed to stop calling. Two people. But I kept going, and I kept going, I kept going. I knew I had this desire. I knew I had this dream. I knew I wanted to be in this industry. I literally went to...they wouldn't take my calls. I went to the local radio station and asked them, will they let me intern? They wouldn't even let me volunteer. I couldn't even give my time away. But I worked around that, I started my own radio program on campus, anything I could do to get to this dream. Anything I could do to get to this dream. Fast-forward eight years, and I finally got in the entertainment industry. I finally got in. I started with an artist that was out of Cleveland, a major R&B producer and singer. And I got my shot. I got into the industry. And then later, LaFace Records, which is the home of superstars that we know, like Toni Braxton, TLC, OutKast, I got to go there and start working there. And while I was there, I started working with this young 15-year-old, this young 15-year-old. And I started doing the marketing for him. And we had this amazing experience, he was this young, unknown artist that we all now know, he is the global superstar, Usher. And I started working with him at a time when his voice was changing, and he had acne. And so there wasn't a lot going on with him as an artist. He was struggling. But we knew that he was a superstar. So, for the next couple of years, me, him, and his mom led the charge to break him as an artist. Now, right when he was about to release his breakout record, I knew it was time for me to resign and start my own business. I knew that time had come, but I also knew that this was going to be a really hard conversation to have with this teenager because up until this point, so many artists, and so many executives had turned their backs on him. So I'm sharing with him that I'm going to have to resign, and I'm going to have to leave, and I'm going to start my own business. And he is excited. He's like, "Yes, yes, Sheri. Now, now, you can work with me exclusively," right? And I'm just like, "I can't work with you. I can't work with you. I can't work with you." How many of you have had to make a decision that you knew was going to cost you money, opportunity, and career advancement? Yeah, yeah. But I also knew that I had to make this decision. Now, most people thought I was crazy. I'm passing up hundreds of thousands, at this point, millions of dollars, right, to work with Usher. And when I say, "Some people thought I was crazy," I mean me. I mean me. But I knew this was the right decision. And this decision allowed him and I to form a bond of a brother and a sister. But more importantly, it allowed me to get crystal clear on what my purpose is, to be here with you guys, to serve as an empowerment speaker, life strategist, and author. See, every month in
O magazine, that great and wise philosopher, Oprah, right, Oprah. Every month, she shares what she knows for sure. And what I know for sure is that there are going to be moments in our lives that we're going to have to determine what are you going to give up to go up? What are you going to give up to go up? What are you going to surrender? What are you going to celebrate and what are you going to have victory in? What are you going to give up to go up? Now, here I am, guys. Remember the journey, and I'm only giving you guys a thumbnail. Think about the journey I just shared with you on how much it took to get to this LaFace Records, to get to this amazing job. This is a career that I thought about, prayed on, worked for for over 10 years now. I'm literally working with groundbreaking, industry-changing artists. I am working with some of the most brilliant executives. Oh my God, they're still, 25 years later, making impact in this world. I'm literally making six figures as a mid 20-year-old. I bought my mom a home by the age of 27. I'm traveling the world. I'm doing everything I've ever wanted to do. And I was miserable. I was absolutely miserable. I was miserable because of what Reese Witherspoon says. I literally had spent so much time building this career, creating this career, thinking about this career, hoping for this career, working for this career, that I didn't spend any time on me. And I realized that I was spending 100% of my time on 10% of who I was. Now, I didn't put it in those words at the time, that came a little later, and I'll share that. But this amazing career had narrowed my life down to this small 10% of who I was. But I was expecting 100% of my fulfillment. Can anybody else relate to that? Can anybody else relate to what you...yeah. Share with me. Where's the microphone? Can we grab the microphones? Share with me. Where in your life have you experienced this? And tell me your name. - [Yoni] My name is Yoni Mayeri. And I worked for a company in the photographic industry for three years. And at the time, I thought...I won't name them, but that that was the best thing I could be doing. And after about 18 months, I was very empty from the experience. I was like you, making lots of money, traveling all over the place. People in my field thought I was doing an amazing thing and gave me a lot of opportunity but it was not really what I needed to be doing. So, I was very unfulfilled. - Yes, yes. I would love... So anyone else want to share? Thank you, Yoni. We're going to come back to that. Anyone else want to share in the back? And please know, I do volunteer people because I've read all of your stories. So I know, I know your stories. So one more person, share with us. One of you who've experienced having that...been in that 10% of who you are. And knew that there was more, knew that there was more. One more person. Who has the microphone back there? Yes, right here. Please tell me your name. - [Janessa] My name is Janessa. - Hi, Janessa. - Hi. I was... I had ended up in a role that where I was working many, many hours a week. And I realized, as my children were very, very young, that I was only seeing them one hour a day. And it was one of those things where I was trying to make sure to provide the life for them but I wasn't providing the mom for them. So I stepped away from that role and took a severe pay cut to be able to see my children. And when I did that, it was great but it didn't fulfill me. And so, I've since moved from that role into one that allows me much more freedom and flexibility, and to see my kids, which is great. But I'm still trying to figure out if...well, now that I know there's no balance. I'm looking forward to the rest of today. - And I'm so glad you said that because you talked about the bridge. You went...that first transition was the bridge to even have the courage to go, "Okay, this is not it. This still isn't all the way it." But that first step is what led you to the third. And the key is peace. We're going to keep going through it. - Sounds good. - Yes. Thank you, guys, for sharing. And, Janessa, right? Yes. So, you mentioned that bridge. And that's what I experienced with when I resigned from LaFace and I started my company, but I always felt like it was this bridge, you know how you went from one job and...but then it was still...and that's how I felt. I felt like this company was something I always wanted to do but it was just that bridge. And I was...I had this gnawing at me this whole time. But I remember I was...I will share something with you guys really quickly. I was sitting it out...one of my clients...I start...when I resigned, I started a company, Glue. And with that company, we did consulting and still in the entertainment and sport space. And one of my clients was a young lady who used to be one of my mentees. She was an intern with me at LaFace. And now, she was one of my clients so I knew her, I knew her well, very energetic, whole lot of energy, big personality. And so I was in her office and we're having our meeting. She's now my client, but I could tell something was off. I could just tell something was off. And so I just asked her. I was like, "What's going on with you?" Sometimes you need someone to just ask that question, it's like, the balloon, the hot air. And it just started flooding out. And she was just like, "I don't know. This is my..." She had her dream job. She had everything she wanted and she just didn't know. I was like, "Oh, this sounds familiar." And so I asked her because I knew her. I said, "Okay, well, I know you've always loved to sing in the choir, when's the last time you...are you in your church choir?" And she's like, "No." I was like, "Well, you've always grown up with dogs, you have a dog, right?" And she's like, "No." We lived in Atlanta, she lived in Nashville. Quick drive. I said, "Okay, I know you and your family are so very close. When was the last time you was at home?" And she was like, "I don't know." She's like, "Wow, I don't...I can't even remember the last time I was home." And I was like, "So how are you going to find 100% of your fulfillment in just 10% of who you are? You're spending 100% of your time on 10% of who you are." And literally, that was the first time I ever said it. And right in that moment, I knew, I knew that's the thing that I was supposed to be answering the question to. I knew, I knew that no matter...even though I had these amazing clients with this company that I had, I had this amazing company, all of these great things. But that question that I asked her, that question that I asked you guys a few minutes ago, that idea of spending 100% of your time on 10% of who you are, finally gave me what had been going on with me when I was at LaFace. It was like this...the heavens opened up and it was like, "Okay. But what does that mean? What does that mean?" And I started on this journey of, "Wow, I've been broke, and I've been broken, I've been up, I've been down, I've been happy, I've been sad. What does this mean?" And so I literally realized for the first time about that paradigm shift, that it wasn't a new way to work, I didn't need anything else to do. I needed a paradigm shift. And so I started living this journey of answering the question. And in the foreword of my book, Usher says this, that I've lived every word and I started talking to people about this journey. And what was amazing is, I had my friends, my colleagues who were still doing these great jobs, they were still making a half a million dollars a year, and they were still having these amazing families. And I had friends that were starting companies, but they were all calling me, going, "Okay, now, Sheri, don't tell anybody I'm calling you. But, what are you doing?! What are you doing? We're having the same struggles but there's something different." And I started just sharing with them the things that I was doing. See, this never started as a platform for me or a book. It literally started with me just trying to survive. And then my friends started calling me. And one of my friends, I literally just started talking to her about what I was doing. And then she started doing it. And then another friend, and she started doing it. And then what came out of it is this whole idea of exponential living.