Oprah Winfrey’s Secret to Success

Oprah Winfrey here answers the question, “What’s the secret of your success?”, in a talk given at the Stanford Graduate School of Business’ View From the Top speaker series.


My life is fueled by my being, and the being fuels the doing. So I come from a centered place. I come from a focused place. I come from compassion and it’s just my nature. I come from a willingness to understand and to be understood, and I come from wanting to connect. I mean the secret of that show for 25 years is that people could see themselves in me all over the world. They could see themselves in me.

And even as I became a more and more financially successful, which was a big surprise to me, is that… what I realized is through the whole process, because I’m grounded in my own self, that although I could have more shoes, my feet stayed on the ground (although I was wearing better shoes). So I can keep my feet on the ground even though I could get more shoes and I can understand, I could understand that it really was because I was grounded.

I was doing, and continue to this day to do the consciousness work. I work at staying awake, and being awakened is just another word for spirituality. Spirituality throws people off and they think you mean religion.

When I was hiring people for my company looking for president, when people come in I ‘d say, “Tell me what is your spiritual practice?” And literally it’d throw people off. “Well I’m not religious.” I didn’t ask about your religion. I ask you what is your spiritual practice. What do you do to take care of yourself. What do you do to keep yourself centered.

So to answer your question, everything is fueled that comes from me really wanting to be a better person on earth. And this is what I know to be true, the reason why the show worked
is because I understood that that audience, my viewers, the people who watch this every day and would come and get tickets and they would come from all over the world just to be there with their aunts and their mothers and they come with their cousins, maybe a few men. I had such regard for that.

I just had a conversation with John Mackey who runs Whole Foods and has written his fabulous book you should get it called, “Conscious Capitalism” and he’s talking about how the investment in the stakeholders, the people who you are serving, that connection between the people who you’re trying to serve and sell to, is equally as important as the people who you’re buying from, equally as important as the people who are supporting you financially,
as your stockholders if you are a public company.

So I always understood that there really was no difference between me and the audience. At times I might have had better shoes but at the core of what really matters is that we’re the same. You know I know that because all others are seeking the same thing. You’re here at this fabulous school and will go out into the world, and each pursue based upon what you believe your talents are, what your skills are, maybe your gifts are. But you’re seeking the same thing. Everybody wants to fulfill the highest truest expression of yourself as a human being. That’s what you’re looking for–the highest, truest expression of yourself as a human being.

And because I understand that, understand that if you work in a bakery and that’s where you want to be, and that may be what you’ve always wanted to do is to bake–pies for people or bake cakes for people–then that’s for you and there’s no difference between you and me, except that that’s your platform, that’s your show every day.

So my understanding on that has allowed me to reach everyone and there’s no way that you wouldn’t because that’s that’s what I truly feel.


Kelsey says:

These things I know to be true

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