100 Most Influential Women in Advertising

Oprah in Her Own Words: What I Know For Sure About Building a Network

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Oprah Winfrey


I have always kept a journal. A lot has changed in my life since I was 16 and living in Nashville with my dad. But whether it is the five things I'm grateful for on any given day, or emotional chronicles of heartbreaks and triumphs we all experience in our lives, those journals year after year memorialize my own hopes, dreams and aha moments again and again.

In 1992, I wrote in my journal that one day I would create a television network, as I always felt my show was just the beginning of what the future could hold for me. It amazes me still that those words are written in my handwriting long before it seemed even in the ballpark of possibility.

OWN is now a reality. I knew building a network would bring challenges, but I didn't expect the level of grace that it would bring into my life. My proudest days are spent having conversations with spiritual leaders for "Super Soul Sunday" or Skyping with viewers from Kansas to Moscow during our "Lifeclass" simulcasts. These personal connections are often so profound that they literally excite my soul. Having this new platform -- OWN -- has allowed us to do an even deeper dive with the work I most want to do. And there is no question that as we build this network I've learned to appreciate the lessons that come with that privilege.

What I know for sure is ...
Alignment is the first step in getting anything to work. Find what it is you are meant to do and what you are deeply passionate about, and allow that to flow through you. Don't resist or fight it. You know you are in your sweet spot when whatever you're doing gives you energy instead of depleting it. My daily talk show for 25 years was like breathing for me, but it became time for me to get out of the studio and continue in a different way. This next chapter has allowed me to travel all over the world. I am meeting fascinating people and having conversations within a space that is authentic to them.

My intention has always been to bring little pieces of light into the lives of others. With OWN, we now have a platform that can do that seven days a week on a 24-hour cable channel. It takes time. It takes patience. I see every challenge as an opportunity, and mistakes are OK. Don't be defeated by mistakes. Learn from them. What would life be without taking a risk? Stay the course and don't be influenced by outside forces.

When we launched OWN, the expectations were beyond what any one person was capable of accomplishing overnight. We are in our infancy, only 18 months in, and seeing good progress and momentum. We are looking ahead and doing what we know feels right.

The best is yet to come. I wrote that in my journal in 1986 when the show first started and again in 2010 when I decided to end it. And I still believe it's true. Life gets better if you keep moving forward.

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