Oprah Winfrey's success formula - Bare your soul without fear
As one of the most powerful women in the world, who also happens to be one of its few African American origin billionaires, Oprah Winfrey has been ranked as being a spiritual leader without religion, and is considered to be one of the most influential individuals alive. Considering the continued success of Brand Oprah, along with its ancillary businesses, it is easy to see why a person would seek to trust her opinion and follow her path. From building and salvaging people’s credibility [notably Michael Jackson, James Frey and Lance Armstrong, whom she interviewed while all three were knee-deep in controversy], to raising millions of dollars via her self-titled show, to having her own Bill in Parliament which deals with child molesters; Oprah has done it all. There is no sphere of activity which does not have her unique stamp on it. How a little girl from Kosciusko, Mississippi, became a strong, universally-loved influencer, is both inspiring and astounding. Oprah’s influence lies in a very basic fact; her credibility levels are sky high and remain unchallenged even today. From the very first episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show which was telecast in 1986, one can see why Oprah became a television favorite so quickly. She does not dress to kill, she is not drowning in layers of makeup, and she is not boring audiences with dull, drab, and done-to-death topics. Instead, she makes an endearing figure in her sometimes unflattering outfits, and humanizes herself without fear, in front of an audience which is immediately touched by this woman who cries, laughs and rages with them in equal measure. Her questions are not boring either, she has a natural curiosity and ability to engage with her guests, and this has often resulted in some historic moments on the show. She is credited with starting what is known as “couch confession culture”, and her chosen topics of discussion and healthy methods of tackling issues have earned her many a title. Oprah studied communication at Texas University, but it is believed that she possessed the gift of the gab and resilience beyond her tender years while she was still a child. Interestingly, her superior oratory skills won her a full scholarship to University, testimony once again, to her bright future after a rather troubled childhood. Oprah’s success is derived from her ability to personalize stories and make them seem close to the heart and real. In a 1986 episode on Childhood Sexual Abuse, Oprah shocked audiences by candidly and emotionally speaking about her own experiences. With tears in her eyes and a shaky, but strong voice, and a montage of childhood photographs playing behind her, she recounts the horror she endured at the hands of some male family members. The camera pans to capture audience reactions, and sure enough, most of the audience has broken down too. Some come forward and speak about what they endured, and out of this, a movement is born, called “Oprah’s Child Predator Watch List”; a list which helps capture 2 wanted child molesters within a mere 48 hours of the release of their photographs via the show. Later, Oprah takes her personal campaign against sexual abuse further by inviting celebrities who are also survivors of abuse, notably, Maya Angelou and Tyler Perry; prior to the conclusion of her show she is able to bring together 200 male survivors who speak about their experiences without hiding their identities. Her influence extends much beyond the show and its loyal audience, however. It is said that her personal preference for President Barrack Obama resulted in him getting an additional 1 million votes. Her promotion of various books via her book club has made celebrities out of previously-unknown authors, and her personal endorsement of people and their projects have resulted in them becoming household names in their own right. Nate Berkus, a previously unknown fashion designer, is one such individual who won hearts with his disarming smile and ease of manner as he renovated and redecorated people’s homes. Dr.Phil McGraw, motivational speaker, became a known face on the show as he helped Oprah counsel patients with various psycho-social ailments, and now has his own show via her network. Bob Green, her fitness trainer, has been featured on the show numerous times, and apart from addressing Oprah’s own never ending battle with weight gain, has co-authored books with her on fitness and healthy living. With her various contributions to charitable causes, which are said to exceed $400 million, and her continued support for “living your best life” via her website, television network, radio show and other media, Oprah is a living example of being yourself, and not putting on a false mask. Her biggest success mantra involves being true to ones roots, honest to a fault, and capable of expressing emotion, all of which are appreciated by audiences who realize that they are watching a human being. In some ways she has attained success by being a participant and guest on her own show; she has drawn parallels between issues and her connection with them. Regardless of the minor controversies surrounding her influence and use of it, Oprah Winfrey is undoubtedly one of the world’s biggest change makers. Her personal net worth of $2.8 billion [as per Forbes 03/13] makes her one of the world’s richest women, and she is highly regarded by celebrities and the general public alike. She is a rare example of how brains have been appreciated more than superficial beauty, and continues to awe and inspire people with her positive and constructive plans to educate and empower the world.