Overcoming the Odds: Forbes Riley

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Photographer John Zambrana

Forbes Riley is a thriver; she is clearly not just a survivor.  Behind the million-dollar smile and billion dollar sales record is a woman who has achieved professional success despite having immense challenges in her life. The bold business woman, has sold over a million SpinGyms and created Forbes Factor Live events; she is an author and distinguished motivational speaker who embraces her femininity and also her strengths as she is stepping up for women everywhere, using her story to be a role model for others. 

How did you create your mission despite the many challenges? One of the things that changed my life was public speaking. As soon as I started telling my stories, I realized that it only matters if there is a point of affect [listeners].  I started pulling out the life lessons of what had happened to me. I have gone through massive tragedy. I have gone through murder, a mass shooting, and my dad being in a hospital for three years. I have gone through personal heartbreak. I started to realize the best thing that you can do is imagine that life happens for you, not to you. It’s my job to find the reason. Take everything that has happened and make it fuel for your fire. You get to stop and say how do I get that to work for me or how can you help to serve others by sharing your story? I have this phrase I use: “Don’t let your pain go wasted.”

Biggest life event that had an impact on you?  I have been through some personal tragedies that I wouldn’t wish on anybody. I had the honor of raising a little boy from South Central when I first moved here. I spent 12 years of my life teaching and hanging out with Dexter every weekend and every vacation. He was best man at my wedding. I loved my boy so much. Right after I gave birth to my twins, Dexter was walking from his haircut to church on a Sunday morning. A gang banger just walked up behind my boy and shot him 10 times in the back and left for him for dead. Then on October 1st, in Las Vegas, I was in the news. I was right there in Mandalay Bay during the shooting. We heard pop pop pop, and the guy on the left was killing the people at the concert on our right. All of it’s on my iPhone. I was Facebooking live through  the entire night, and I ended up on “Good Morning Britain” arguing about gun control with Piers Morgan. I ended up on CBS News and all of these other places. I was in the middle of this.  I’m a broadcaster and I felt an obligation because I was there and I had the ability to tell the world about it. At that moment I had this thought: is this part of what I’m on this planet to do? Because right now we have a huge issue. The issue one is about being a girl. I often speak on stage in front of all, with all men panelists, are all men speakers. I’m not quite sure where they are. There’s a shortage of women in this country. 

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What do you recommend for other women who have gifts that they want to use and stories to share but don’t know how? You need a coach. Ask yourself two questions:  What do I want? Why do I want it? Then, give yourself permission. I created all of this with hard work, dedication and perseverance. It was not easy. Don’t let anybody tell you it is easy.”

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