With her final TV show this week, Oprah Winfrey is taking up a new challenge: developing a cable network. What is the success rate for highly accomplished leaders when they move on to "second acts"? What are the usual pitfalls? And while we're at it, what has been the secret to Oprah's success as a business leader and shaper of public opinion?
Oprah has a great story. She rose from poverty in rural Mississippi to become a talk-show host with a global audience—and then went on to become a media tycoon with a booming film and production company, a thriving publishing arm, a successful satellite radio channel, a cable television network and a net worth of $2.7 billion. And every step of her journey is the kind of inspiring "only in America" story that people love to hear.
She also makes other people successful, sometimes extremely successful. She is responsible for creating hundreds of best-selling authors, for turning budding entrepreneurs into outrageously profitable business people, and for launching the careers of favorite guests like Rachael Ray, Dr. Oz and Dr. Phil.
Another secret to her success is that she delights her customer. Oprah often asks for input from her audience into her content, showing them that she wants and values their opinions. She notoriously shows her appreciation with gifts. “Oprah’s Big Give” is a dedicated show in which she gives her favorite things to the entire studio audience. When she announced she’d be moving to the new network, Oprah said: “I want you all to know that my relationship with you is one that I hold very dear. Your trust in me, the sharing of your precious time every day with me has brought me the greatest joy I have ever known.”
Finally, she lives her values. Oprah's message to “live your best life”—is not just a motto, it’s also reflected in her optimism, global philanthropy and personal generosity.
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Carol Goman | May 13, 2011 11:45 AM