Oprah owns her error while sharing the five biggest mistakes she made when launching the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) and what she could have done differently. Oprah and error in the same sentence sound like an oxymoron. It’s almost blasphemous to make a statement like that about the great and mighty Oprah Winfrey.
Oprah is a very busy woman and she’s made it quite clear that of all of her mistakes, not having kids was not one of them. Ms. Winfrey is one of the richest women on the planet; she is the first female, self-made, African-American billionaire. She owns and runs several business ventures such as: OWN, The Oprah “O” Magazine and Harpo Production Company.
Oprah is the woman the world has come to know with the definite “Midas” touch. As one of the most influential women of our time everything she touches becomes gold. If Oprah validates a product phone lines and computer servers instantly start to crash as people rush to order whatever she supports. As Oprah goes so does the world; just ask Dr. Phil or Iyanla.
With a resume like Oprah’s one would have expected when she launched OWN ratings would have instantly flew through the roof. What Oprah revealed during an interview with CBS anchor Charlie Rose and her best friend Gayle King, was the exact opposite. She actually owned and exposed a weakness in her armor.
As opposed to just griping about a low point in her super successful career Oprah took the time to be transparent enough to own her error and give the world hope in knowing that even the most successful business moguls have seasons when the pressures of life get them down. Oprah says that believing your own hype can cause people to act out of emotion rather than correct timing.
Oprah shared five things she wishes she had done differently when launching her OWN network:
- Oprah launched her network before she was personally ready: Oprah said she started her network because she felt that the pressure was on her to make it happen. She’s not one to run from risk; instead she gained her wealthy status because she wasn’t afraid of taking chances and making quick decisions. Oprah said that she wishes she had taken a break after ending her talk show before starting another massive venture such as OWN. Personally, she just wasn’t ready.
- Oprah fell prey to the headlines: Oprah said she felt like a loser when she allowed herself to succumb to the tabloids by reading their headlines about her. Oprah knows that everyone has an opinion and that she has always been scrutinized but in times past she didn’t engage in the “press” because she was centered on purpose. As long as she remained focused on her goals outside words couldn’t permeate her peace.
- Oprah didn’t know when to walk away: There’s a big different between quitting and making a strategic exit. It’s important to know when to cut your losses and say good-bye. Knowing when to walk away is the difference between a nightmare and a good investment. Oprah said if she knew at that time what she now knows, she may not have said walked away when she did.
- Oprah had a problem delegating: Oprah’s team will confirm that she is definitely a hands-on leader. Oprah loves to be front and center when projects are brewing. This method worked for her talk show environment but it served as a hindrance when growing her network. Oprah said when she started OWN she had to learn to delegate. Her old way wouldn’t work with the new position so she had to learn fall back and empower others to perform while holding them accountable.
- Oprah was used to constant multi-tasking: When Oprah went out on a limb several years ago to launch her O Magazine many readers felt it was a smorgasbord of information but lacked continuity. After a few tweaks it formed into a well-rounded read that millions looked forward to every month. Her experience with creating a network was quite similar. Winfrey soon learned that she would need to stream line her network to better serve her audiences. For the first time in Oprah’s history of ownership she had to issue layoffs. Running a network meant building a brand over time. This forced Oprah to scale back and allow time for the building process. Once she hired seasoned network executives those collaborations were able to right the ship and eventually salvage the venture.
If more people learned the power of transparency it would afford many others the opportunity to learn from them. We live in a society that loves hiding blemishes and spends a lot of time and money on public relation cover ups. What young people need today is to witness an authentic representation of life. No one is perfect and everyone has a story they aren’t proud of; the problem many have is their lack of transparency and authenticity.
Oprah, just like many others, have made some mistakes in life and business; one thing she did right was take the time to publicly share the error of her ways so that others might learn from them.
You may not be launching your own network but principles are simply laws; and when understood properly they will work across the board. Hats off to Oprah for owning her error and taking the time to share the five biggest mistakes she made when launching her network and what she could have done differently.
By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)