corporate america

Need To Know Business Lessons From Oprah Winfrey

Need To Know Business Lessons From Oprah Winfrey

By Ryan Velez

Perhaps the biggest question to wonder about Oprah Winfrey is what she can’t do, from her work as a talk show host, media owner, magazine runner, and actress,  just to name a few. When you realize that Oprah’s fortune and empire are very much self-made, it becomes even more inspiring. A recent Celebrity Net Worth article puts Oprah’s story and success into focus, profiling lessons that you can apply both to your career and life.

The classic adage that patience is a virtue holds true in business. When you see things like the recent Snapchat IPO that netted Evan Spiegel and Reggie Brown a massive payday, you need to realize that the concept for Snapchat was created in 2011 and launched in 2012. It wouldn’t become the talk of the tech world until three years later, and that level of success wasn’t guaranteed.

The same lesson applies to Oprah, in particular, the OWN Network. In theory, it should have been an easy layup for Oprah in this stage of her career, with every brand resource someone would want on a new business venture—the name, the money, the investors, and the interest. However, even with these and all her past successes, it would also be three years to get the foundation of OWN together. So yes, sometimes you may want to keep an eye out for red flags that your venture may not work out that well. However, don’t be surprised if it takes time for you to reach the parameters that you have set up.

Another lesson to learn in the skill of self-promotion. If you are an introvert, it’s likely that this is one of the facets of business you have come to fear the most. However, it is often necessary, for two major reasons. One is that you want to try to keep your name and brand on people’s tongues, as you never know when an opportunity may strike. By self-promoting, you also shape and forge your brand image in the eyes of those that are following you. The virtues of a solid brand could be an entire article in and of itself.

The third lesson is working on your deal making. Perhaps you may be a bit risk-averse, but don’t forget that a proper deal can be huge for your business. In Oprah’s case, by negotiating for ownership of the Oprah Winfrey show as well as a stake in the show’s distributor, she managed to become a billionaire. When Weight Watchers wanted her to become a spokesperson, she bet on herself and bought stock in the company. Dealmaking is essential not just for your business’s health, but personal health as well.


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