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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Oprah Did It And So Can You!

“There’s no scarcity of opportunity to make a living at what you love.

There is only a scarcity of resolve to make it happen.”

- Wayne Dyer

Here's an article I found online about Oprah Winfrey. Oprah is an exceptional person because she stands out from the norm. She has deliberately CHOSEN to rise above her challenges and she keeps choosing with her determination to accomplish what she wants in her life. Oprah is really no different from anyone else, except that she believes and follows through with her goals and dreams. And so therefore she is living them...just like we can be!

Against All Odds - The Story Of Oprah Winfrey
by Pradip Ranjan Sinha

When the going gets tough, the tougher gets going. Are great leaders and entrepreneurs born the way they turn out to be or do they become what they are in the process of time? Going by the story of Oprah Winfrey the second option seems to be the obvious answer. In fact, a look at some of the successful entrepreneurs in the history reveals that success has often been commensurate with the hardships a particular leader faced during his/her formative years. Richard Branson, Dhirubhai Ambani, Karsanbhai Patel, Steve Case, Sandy Weill, Bill Gates, to name a few, have all achieved unprecedented success not just by mere fluke but by their hard work, dedication, determination and an attitude of standing against all odds.

So it is proved that not all the great leaders and entrepreneurs are born; they can be developed so, by setting goals and making transformation from within and moving with the changing needs and demands of the time. Oprah Winfrey is a classic example of how a person, despite of all types of odds, has made a mark for herself in this male-dominated world.

A look into her life reveals how she deals with her fame and fortune in her good as well as bad times, and how she realized her childhood dreams one after another.

She has climbed the heights with good foresight, achieving one goal after another. Oprah, who started her career as a simple TV anchor, went on to become the hostess of a popular TV show named after her (the Oprah Winfrey show), to an actress, to a businesswomen to a producer and finally becoming the "the queen of the soul" of millions all over the world, crossing international, racial, and demographical barriers.

How many people have got the show, which they host named after them? Not many. She was criticized for being too tough with her employees. And the biggest criticism came when she expressed her views on the show of April 16, 1996, which was about the mad cow disease. But for great leaders and entrepreneurs, ups and downs are the part and parcel of life. They never get demotivated, and if they go down, they always come back with a bang.

And Oprah did exactly the same thus proving all her critics wrong and their arguments baseless. She is unarguably the queen of the souls.

Oprah started her life with insurmountable troubles from her childhood. Her parents got divorced when she was very young. She was first sent to her grandmother, then to her mother and finally to her father. She was sexually assaulted by her very own cousins and uncles, which she even revealed in public. Not many would do that, which just reflects her determined approach towards life. But all this misfortunes could not stop her from thinking that life can be a better one than this. This is the key attitude most entrepreneurs have in them, the attitude to think that there is always a scope for improving things. Oprah had this habit of reading books and doing social activities from her early days. She knew from the beginning that life was always full of obstacles but loaded with opportunities. Her own life reflects this She has personally transformed herself from a kid to a teenager to a woman and now to the souls of over 26 million viewers all over the world. It speaks volumes of her will power and determination to succeed against all odds.

The number 26 million is so big that others can easily get envy of her popularity. It's a delight to watch Oprah on her show. She just says with her heart, and she thrills the audience with her warmth and charismatic personality. She always believes in change. It is one of the vital features of the great entrepreneurs that they keep on changing with time. As change is the essence of life and is inevitable, you cannot ignore it. Despite her impoverished and troubled childhood, she became familiar with millions of viewers all over the world. This is just incredible.

She joined her first broadcasting job as a part- time radio announcer at age 17, an age when most of the people concentrate on their studies thinking about their future. She moved on further to do some reporting and anchoring job here and there. In the year 1984, she joined the WLS-TV Chicago, a TV talk show, which later became her identity as the show time was increased from 30 minutes to one hour and the show was renamed as the Oprah Winfrey show, because of the growing popularity of Oprah among the millions who watched her, especially among the women belonging to the age group of 30-50 years.

It took no time for the show to go national and become the number one talk-show of the country. What made all this quick success possible? It was not a miracle, but it was simply because of Oprah's sweet, friendly and energetic conversational tone which was added by her sheer hard work and her innovative style of handling the talk-show. She also tried her luck of becoming an actress by playing a role in a Steven Spielberg film. Not only was she nominated for the prestigious Oscar and Golden globe awards for the best actress category, she even got accolades from many critics. She even went a step forward in establishing the Harpo Productions Inc, and by doing that she also became only the third women in the US history to own a movie production studio, which in itself is a matter of pride. Later, she also became the first ever women in history of television to own and produce her own talk-show by acquiring the ownership and production rights of the "Oprah Winfrey show" from American Broadcasting Corporation. All these do reflect her skills, versatility and her passion towards her work.

Leaders need to change themselves and their style, depending on the situation and the market trends. She also changed according to the time by changing the focus of her talk- show after a decade of nonstop success from dysfunctional families and their problems to a positive show _ that inspires people to rise above and achieve their dreams. This change promised to help change lives for the better, and that too being the motto of her entire life to have a better place to live in. It was a huge success. She went on expanding her business into various fields such as publishing, music, film, health and fitness and education.

Oprah even ousted names like Steven Spielberg, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michel Jackson and other huge celebrities from the Forbes list of `Highest Paid Entertainers'. She got immense success for her O magazine, which was considered a reflection of her life. But as the old saying goes, "old is gold". This applies for Oprah also, as despite her success in different fields, her `Oprah Winfrey show' still continues to be the number one talk-show on television, being aired in 107 countries and being the number one show for a record 16 continuous years. It simply speaks of Oprah's huge popularity and fan following all over the world crossing all boundaries and barriers. The key factor, which played a major role in her popularity, is her ability to empathize and communicate intimately with her audience and her strong will power in sharing her personal life experiences on the talk show, which many would consider uncomfortable.

She was equally determined in doing something for the society, especially for bringing down child abuse. It is her continuous efforts that had led the president of USA to pass the `Oprah bill', a law made for the child protection against any sort of societal abuse (The national child protection act). How many have made such an impact to the society? She has also contributed millions of dollars to charities and higher education institutes but without seeking any media attention.

Like the two sides of a coin, a person's life has also got both the positive and negative sides. It applies in the case Oprah Winfrey also. Like Jack Welch, Steve Jobs and many other leading business leaders, Oprah too has been criticized on many counts; foremost among the criticisms is her way of enforcing strict rules on her employees and giving them a tough time. Her employees complained of not getting any special attention from her whenever their project got recognition or won ratings or awards. She was more interested in completing the project.

She was also criticized for her statement that she would never eat a hamburger again in her life. Some cattle producers blamed her statement saying that it was the reason for the drastic collapse of the sales of their products, and some even filed a suit against her.

When the going gets tough, the tough gets going. She was proved to be innocent of the mad cow disease case, as the court clearly stated that whatever she had said were her personal views, i.e., her statements were not illicit and one could not consider her the reason behind the collapse in their product's demand. Talking about the employees of Oprah, you cannot have the guarantee, that they would not have said anything harsh of her work culture, if Oprah would have praised them while making it to the awards and ratings, and not when they have completed the project. Some people have the habit of sensing dissatisfaction irrespective of what they have. They keep on stinking for this or that. Oprah did what she was doing from the very beginning of her career. Entrepreneurship taught us to accomplish the goal and not the awards or ratings and recognition. She feels that awards and recognition will come to an individual once he/she achieves his/her goal. She did exactly that by praising at the time of completion of the project, thus matching with the norms of entrepreneurs, which matter the most.

According to the entrepreneurship center at Miami University, Ohio, the definition of entrepreneurship is: Entrepreneurship is the process of identifying, developing and bringing a vision to life. The vision may be innovative idea, an opportunity, or simply a better way to do something. The end result of this process is the creation of a new venture, formed under conditions of risk and considerable uncertainty.

The awards she received and the recognition she gained as an idol in the minds of millions of people, itself speak of her hard work, popularity and success. One of the important characteristics of entrepreneurs is their consistency with which they perform things. And her record reveals her consistency in being among the top three positions while talking of favorite TV personalities from 1993 to 2001. No one can ever get closer to her unique feat. Her talk-show has been the number one show for 16 long years and this clarifies and further proves her popularity. The love her audiences have for her further clarifies that she is the most trusted woman in the history of television. She was ahead of her time and set an identity for herself, which will be an inspiration for the upcoming young women. It is not just that whatever she achieved was based on fluke; she had worked hard for whatever she is today. Her empathy, courage, gut feeling, honesty towards her work and of course the love of people have made her one of the most beloved and memorable women in America. It's a delight to read, think about and watch her. The way she dealt with her success, wealth and fame by not allowing them to distract her attention from her goal is a sign of great mental maturity and humbleness. Her show is a delight to watch. One should at least watch her show once and he/she will sure become a fan of her from that very moment; such strong is the character of Oprah Winfrey. Undoubtedly and unarguably, she walked through the fire and instead of letting the fire overtake her she forged the fire within herself. The numerous rewards and honors won by Oprah Winfrey and her work are ample proofs of her entrepreneurial excellence. Clearly, Oprah has developed into a successful entrepreneur. She will always remain as the `queen of the souls'.

Lessons one should learn from the life of Oprah Winfrey.

1. "One becomes what one believes-"There is always a chance of betterment in life, i.e., there is always a scope for improvement.
2. Entrepreneurs are not born, rather they are made.
3. Successful entrepreneurs build a team, an organization, and a company and then learn to lead and work with others.
4. Change is inevitable and one should keep on changing with time as change is the only constant and pure thing in the Universe.
5. It doesn't matter who you are, where you come from. There's always a possibility to triumph.
6. One should listen to his/her feelings /instincts, i.e., be ones self.
7. There is nothing like luck in this world. Luck is simply preparation meeting opportunity.
8. You have to have the courage to go sometimes against the crowd.
9. Never loose your focus of your life, i.e., not to become complacent.
10. One should have the gut feeling to take quick decisions.

21 Suggestions For Success
by H. Jackson Brown Jr.
  1. Marry the right person. This one decision will determine 90% of your happiness or misery.
  2. Work at something you enjoy and that's worthy of your time and talent.
  3. Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.
  4. Become the most positive and enthusiastic person you know.
  5. Be forgiving of yourself and others.
  6. Be generous.
  7. Have a grateful heart.
  8. Persistence, persistence, persistence.
  9. Discipline yourself to save money on even the most modest salary.
  10. Treat everyone you meet like you want to be treated.
  11. Commit yourself to constant improvement.
  12. Commit yourself to quality.
  13. Understand that happiness is not based on possessions, power or prestige, but on relationships with people you love and respect.
  14. Be loyal.
  15. Be honest.
  16. Be a self-starter.
  17. Be decisive even if it means you'll sometimes be wrong.
  18. Stop blaming others. Take responsibility for every area of your life.
  19. Be bold and courageous. When you look back on your life, you'll regret the things you didn't do more than the ones you did.
  20. Take good care of those you love.

What is it that YOU have always wanted to do and aren't doing?
What would it take to start moving closer to having your dreams become reality?
It CAN be as easy as taking the first step and then another.You'll be that much closer to having the life you love and feel good moving towards your goals.
Life is what we make may as well make it something you enjoy!

Today I appreciate my life and the way I choose to live it.
I appreciate the freedom I have.I appreciate happy enthusiastic people that inspire me.

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