OWNing Your Success - Five Lessons from Oprah Winfrey

Photo credit: O, The Oprah Magazine

Photo credit: O, The Oprah Magazine


When we think of Oprah Winfrey, we tend to think of her successful media empire, which includes her long-running and award-winning talk show, inspiring movies and Broadway shows, and her eponymous magazine. She's a legend for all entrepreneurs, but especially for women and minorities. 

But in 2011, when she launched her TV network, OWN, it was a notorious dud. It was the first time since her meteoric rise to fame that Oprah didn't seem to have the golden touch. She admittedly wanted to quit. Maybe you're in that same boat right now after launching your own business, church, or meaningful enterprise. Before you quit, here are five things you should know about "OWNing" your success, the first in our series on women-owned startups. 


On launching the OWN Network, Oprah Winfrey confessed to major regrets.

“Had I known that it was this difficult, I might have done something else," she said. "I didn't think it was going to be easy, but if I knew then what I know now, I might have made different choices.”

Why she didn't quit. 

“I'm a very driven person,” she said. “I believe that I am here to fulfill a calling. That because I am a female who is African American, who has been so blessed in the world, there's never going to be a time to quit. I will die in the midst of doing what I love to do. And that is using my voice and using my life to try to inspire other people to live the best of theirs.”

What makes a true leader. 

"Because that’s what true leadership is – to be able to put whatever you’re doing, whether it’s your cupcake company or a network –in a position that it can sustain itself without you having to be the prominent force every day," says Oprah. "You want to create an opportunity for other people. I love being behind the scenes and creating opportunities for other people to shine." 

How she found her audience:

After a failed start, OWN has found its way as a personality-driven network steered by Winfrey’s taste – and her desire to cater to her core audience of black viewers, particularly black women. Having spent three decades as an “audience whisperer,” someone capable of cultivating a dedicated viewership by evolving with fans and paying special attention to what they like most – She is the viewer. And that’s why she’s as successful as she is. 

Does she still have regrets?

"Not deep ones," says Oprah. "I learned so much about myself, about sticking with it, and not giving up. I learned so much about putting your ego aside and leaving the room for other opportunities and other people’s insights. For that reason, I 'wouldn’t take nothing' for the journey."


Read more about Oprah's OWN story by clicking the links below: