Of all of the famous women who are an inspiration to millions worldwide, Oprah Winfrey is one of the women who immediately comes to mind.
For me, Oprah has always been someone who inspires me to go for my goals and go for them the correct way.
The successful billionaire’s good decisions, hard work, and personality got her to her successful life today, and every entrepreneur can learn from her.
Going From Rags to Riches
We’ve all heard the phrase “from rags to riches.” It’s an idiom that appeared in the 19th century and a common theme in fairytales, such as “Cinderella.”
In the story, the beautiful Cinderella is forced to sleep in the attic and work from morning to night for her wicked stepmother and stepsisters until the day a handsome prince rescues her.
The phrase refers to individuals who start poor and end up rich. However, in the 21st-century, the phrase often means more than that.
Not only do such individuals end up rich, but it’s also their hard work or unique talents that got them wealthy and not just as a matter of luck.
Many famous American celebrities went from rags to riches. For example, Sylvester Stallone, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jay-Z, J.K. Rowling, Sarah Jessica Parker, Tyler Perry, and Oprah Winfrey.
Oprah grew up poor in a small town.
However, her hard work, personality, and unique gifts have brought her to be one of the world’s richest women and the wealthiest African American in the 20th century.
Today, Oprah is worth over two billion dollars. In America, there were788 billionaires by the end of 2019. So Oprah Winfrey is part of a unique group.
Who is Oprah Winfrey?
Billionaire Oprah Winfrey was born in Kosciusko, MS, on January 29, 1954, to an unwed teenage mother, and her grandmother raised her until the age of six.
After living with her grandmother, Oprah lived in a Milwaukee boardinghouse with her mother and half-sister.
Oprah was not only raised in poverty, but she also endured childhood sexual abuse by male relatives as well as friends of her mother.
As a teenager, to get away from such abuse and away from her present living conditions, Oprah moved to Tennessee to live with her father.
In 1971, she attended Tennessee State University and worked in radio and television broadcasting in Nashville.
She worked hard in Nashville, and her hard work and talents got her a job in Baltimore, Maryland hosting the TV talk show “People Are Talking.”
Later, she was hired in Chicago to host “A.M. Chicago.” At the time, Phil Donahue, a popular talk show host, was extremely popular and had a lot of viewers.
Donahue was considered Oprah’s competitor. Soon, however, she passed Donahue in viewers and became number one in the ratings.
In 1986, when Oprah was 32, “The Oprah Winfrey Show” debuted. With the show’s launch, she became the first black female host of a nationally syndicated daily talk show.
The enormously popular show ran from September 8, 1986, to May 25, 2011. The show didn’t end due to low ratings; it ended because Oprah decided to move on to other things, much to her fans’ disappointment.
In 2003, she became the first American female black billionaire. In 2011, after ending her talk show, Oprah started her TV network called the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN.)
Since the massive success of her talk show, Oprah has acted in films, such as “The Color Purple,” started Oprah’s Book Club, created “O” magazine, co-founded Oxygen Media, encouraged women with weight loss, bought a 10 percent stake in Weight Watchers, authored books, given to numerous charities, and more.
Oprah Winfrey has been in a relationship with Stedman Graham since the 1980s. TV host Gayle King is one of her best friends.
10 Lessons Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Oprah Winfrey
With someone as rich, successful, and influential as Oprah Winfrey, everyone, entrepreneur or not, could learn from her.
Here are ten lessons from the highly successful billionaire that I’m sure you’ll enjoy learning as much as I did.
1. Leaders Must Possess Empathy
Oprah says that you can’t be a leader if you don’t have the characteristic of empathy. Being empathetic means that you’re sensitive to the needs of others.
If you don’t care about other’s thoughts and feelings, how can you inspire them to follow and learn from you?
Wouldn’t you be nothing more than a dictator if you failed to possess empathy? Wouldn’t it be hard to build a successful business if your employees felt you didn’t care about them?
2. Avoid Negative People
The one thing I noticed about Oprah is she’s always positive. I don’t ever remember seeing her angry and non-inspirational.
Therefore, this is one of Oprah’s tips that I am continually reminding myself to do – avoid negative people.
In fact, Oprah says if negative people surround you, study the energy you’re creating. Are you attracting negative people to you, and why?
How can you change that energy? Also, Oprah believes that you should never let anyone mistreat you and negative people are capable of mistreating you.
3. Get Rid of Fear
Oprah believes you should fight fear with courage. Have the courage to do what you want or what you know will be right for you and resist the fear of not doing it.
For example, if you know you need to make 25 cold calls to improve your business, but you hate cold calling because you fear rejection, Oprah would say to fight the fear and make those calls.
After all, if you don’t make the calls, you’re not contributing to moving your business forward.
However, if you make the calls, you may get a bite or two, contributing to moving your business forward.
4. Show Racist People Your Excellence
It’s no surprise that Oprah, as a black woman, has faced prejudice on her road to the top. Today, issues of racism and inequality have received particular focus.
However, Oprah became famous on TV in the 20th-century in a world dominated by white males.
The road was not easy, but Oprah never let being black stop her. She showed those who doubted her how hardworking, smart, and exceptional she was.
According to Oprah, “Excellence is the best deterrent to racism or sexism.”
5. Don’t Be Afraid to Fail
I notice about very successful people that somewhere along the way they failed, but they were not afraid to fail.
In other words, they didn’t let failure stop them. Indeed Oprah believes that failure is just a stepping stone to success and that it isn’t really a failure but just a lesson on the way to reaching your goals.
Let’s look at one of Oprah’s biggest failures. It was her 1998 movie “Beloved.”
The film was anticipated to be a huge success, but the day after its opening, it was a colossal failure, in other words – a box office bomb.
In fact, it was made for $80 million but earned only $22.9 million at the box office. Oprah was devastated.
To get over the failure and embarrassment, she focused on all the things she had to be grateful for in her life.
It also taught her to not put all her eggs into the notion of box office success. She brushed herself off and moved on.
6. Always Follow Your Gut
If there’s one thing I’ve learned to do in my life, it’s to follow my gut. Oprah would be proud because this is another one of her lessons.
Following your gut means paying attention to your instincts. Oprah believes that your instincts are where “true wisdom” resides.
For Oprah, her choice to retire from “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” a successful decision, was based on a gut feeling.
When I used to not follow my gut, 99 percent of the time, it was a mistake. Trusting your instincts as an entrepreneur will help you make the right business decisions along the way.
7. Luck Is Not Arbitrary or by Chance for Successful People
It’s probably an insult to call a successful woman like Oprah “lucky.” Oprah believes that she’s been lucky in her life, but she also worked hard and made the right choices.
That means that she was prepared when opportunities presented themselves.
For example, if I want to be a bestselling author, I should be writing regularly to hone my skills.
If a top publisher agrees to accept my outline, my writing regularly has prepared me for writing a book the publisher would hopefully be proud of. I can’t expect to gain an audience with lousy writing.
8. Do What You Love
How can you expect to be a successful entrepreneur if you are trying to succeed at something you hate? Oprah Winfrey believes it’s easier to achieve when you are doing what you love.
She says that you know you’re on the road to success if you would do the job you’re doing even if you weren’t paid for it.
She thinks that if you’re doing what you love, you’ll do a better job at it. Plus, you’ll have more energy than doing something you hate.
There’s nothing worse than working every day at a job you hate, and chances are such a job is not suited for you or your life’s goal.
An entrepreneur who loves his or her work has a better chance of building a successful business.
9. Adopt Personal Responsibility
Another of Oprah’s lessons is the characteristic of personal responsibility. Personal responsibility means that you are responsible for your life and no one else.
Oprah doesn’t believe in living a life where things happen to you, and you just react. Bad things happen to good people.
However, from an early age, even growing up poor and abused, she knew that she was responsible for herself and had to work hard to live a better life.
How do you choose to live your life? Are you in control of your life, or have you given that control to others? Do you feel sorry for yourself, or are you a fighter like Oprah?
10. Live in Joy
As reported at the Miami Herald, chronic stress is linked to the six leading causes of death – heart disease, accidents, cancer, cirrhosis of the liver, problems with the lungs, and suicide.
Entrepreneurs who are battling stress put their health and even their lives at risk and as such the future of the businesses they develop.
In a Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, 45 percent of entrepreneurs said they were stressed.
How healthy is an entrepreneur who doesn’t have time to sit back and relax every once in a while?
It’s one thing to work hard on the road to success, complete with all of the ups and downs along the way, but how long can relaxation and joy be ignored?
Oprah Winfrey thinks that we should all “live free of regret” and fill our lives with “joy, fun, and laughter.” You can’t do that if you’re always moving and continuously filled with stress.
These ten lessons entrepreneurs can learn from Oprah Winfrey are good for business and good for life.
It’s never too late to make the right decisions and move forward with our dreams.
Paying attention to Oprah’s advice can help get us there in a healthy way paved with fewer obstacles than otherwise.