When I sat down to write an article about people, I knew that I wanted it to be about someone who exudes positivity and passion. I wanted to write about someone who has succeeded in extraordinary ways in both life and business.
Then, it dawned on me—the perfect subject— one whom I only know a little about, but enough to know that this person is truly extraordinary. Though I have never met or spoken to this Chicagoan, I somehow feel like I know her.
If you haven’t already guessed whom I’m talking about, she’s retiring from a historic 27-year career…
It’s Oprah Winfrey!
Oprah’s story is truly amazing. She was born into poverty and experienced an extremely difficult, heartbreaking adolescence. Against the odds, she followed her passions. In high school, she landed her first media job (a radio gig), and by age 19 was an anchor of the local evening news. Her unique, emotionally-cathartic take on talk shows made her a perfect fit for daytime TV, and after boosting a third-rated local Chicago talk show to first place on the charts, she launched her own production company and started her own show. It was… successful.
Oprah became a millionaire at age 32, was the world’s first black woman billionaire and, even more impressively, Oprah's Angel Network charity has raised more than $80 million. Her book club and various segments have boosted many people and products to stardom, leading Time magazine to call Oprah the most influential woman in the world. In fact, her list of accomplishments is so extensive, there isn’t even room in this article for all of them. Read more here…
So how did she do it? What was her secret? Oprah succeeded due to hard work, mental strength, honesty and, most importantly, passion. Oprah’s passion created a larger than life character. Whether tears were flowing or her audience was bouncing with joy, she was always herself, and always passionate about her guests, her audience, literature, philanthropy, women’s rights and issues much larger than traditional daytime TV shows.
Her passion was always on display, and Oprah was always Oprah.
An article in the USA Today strikes a great point:
“… She always gave the impression that what you were seeing was the real person, that the show had to change because she was changing, not the other way around. And if, over the years, she has become grand in a way that has cost her some fans — well, there's a good chance that she lost fewer fans by being who she is than she would have if she had tried to hide it.”
People watched her show because, over those 27 years, Oprah formed a remarkable bond with her audience. They read what she read and watched what she watched. I believe that Oprah the brand/person is the most incredible mass media product ever, and it’s all because of her unrelenting passion to succeed, and her passion to be herself.
Her success is inspiring. Her story is incredible. She truly is a rare commodity, a person so full of passion that even the most difficult circumstances cannot derail her. Thank you Oprah, I’m glad I got to get to know you a little better while writing this article.