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5 Lessons To Learn From The Most Influential Woman In The World: Oprah Winfrey

“The reason I've been able to be so financially successful is my focus has never, ever for one minute been money.” This is what the twentieth century’s richest African American, Oprah Winfrey, says.

Winfrey is one of the most successful entrepreneurs of all time, she’s known for her multi award winning show ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’ (1986-2011). And, she is the twentieth century’s richest African American with a net worth of 3.1 billion dollars. By most accounts, she’s the greatest philanthropist in American history and the most influential woman in the world.

She overcame poverty, parental neglect, sexual abuse, and racism to become one of the richest and most powerful women entrepreneurs in the entertainment and media industry. Through the absolute power of her personality and by simply being herself, she reinvented the talk show and still reigns as the undisputed champ of daytime television.

In 1984 she got her dream job: hosting a show called ‘AM Chicago’. In no time, ‘AM Chicago’ was one of the most-viewed TV shows. Renamed in September 1985 as ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’, the program started to broadcast on a national level. It won dozens of Emmys, was seen by an estimated 30 million viewers a week in the United States and was broadcast internationally in 111 countries; it was aired for 25 seasons before going off the air in 2011.

"I don't think of myself as a poor, deprived ghetto girl who made good. I think of myself as somebody who from an early age knew she was responsible for herself-and I had to make good."

There are many inspiring lessons entrepreneurs can learn from Oprah Winfrey’s remarkable journey from a “poor, deprived ghetto girl” to the self-made billionaire. Here are some:

   1) Be Yourself

“I had no idea that being your authentic self could make me as rich as I’ve become. If I had, I’d have done it a lot earlier.”

Oprah Winfrey is Oprah Winfrey because she had always been herself; she never wore masks or faked her personality – even in front of the cameras.

Many people might think that they can’t do something because of their look, their personality, or their voice, so they try to be something they’re not. This is where things start to go wrong. Be proud to be yourself and people will begin to recognize you for who you actually are, and that’s how you start to make a proper name for yourself. Just Be Yourself.

   2) Trust Your Gut Instinct

“Your gut is your inner compass. Whenever you have to consult with other people for an answer, you’re headed in the wrong direction.”

Oprah Winfrey has said that she always trusted her gut instinct with any of the major changes in her life, including all decisions related to her TV show. Trusting her gut has helped her stay away from trouble in her personal and professional life, she claims. “I know for sure whenever your gut is out of kilter, trouble awaits,” she wrote in O Magazine.

Some of Oprah’s greatest moments of success can be attributed to her listening to her instincts. So, learn from her and pay close attention to your instinct whenever you’re faced with a considerable business decision.

   3) Help Others

“The surest way to bring goodness to yourself is to make it your intention to do good for somebody else.”

Despite Oprah’s own charity network (Oprah’s Angel Network), she has also given more of her own money to philanthropic causes than any other performer in America did - estimated at $303 million in 2007.

Even though there are too many businesses that are only in it for themselves and are not really interested in helping others or satisfying any needs, Oprah set out to help others as well as build a profitable business for herself. She’s known for giving back to the community, which is one of her secrets that led to success.

   4) Surround Yourself With Good Company

“Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.”

Surround yourself with people who will not only challenge your ideas but can also be a support system when you need them. They could be your friends, employees, business partners, or your spouse. These people are an important equation when determining your success.

The more rich and successful you are, the more important it is for you to have true friends. Oprah knows this well: “Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.”

   5) It’s okay to fall. Learn to Get Up Stronger.

“Go ahead. Fall down. The world looks different from the ground.”

What most people think of as a failure, Winfrey considers as a new perspective, a new lesson, and another stepping stone to her destination. This is the advice she has for those afraid to fail: “Do the one thing you think you cannot do. Fail at it. Try again. Do better the second time. The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire. This is your moment. Own it.”

Failure is still an experience, and it should be thought of as getting closer to your dreams in the long run, instead of having to start from scratch.

Winfrey’s past is full of struggle – she grew up poor, was sexually abused as a child, and had a son at the age of 14 who died in infancy – but she credits these events for giving her more capacity to relate to the pain of others. Yet, her long journey is full of priceless lessons that should help almost everyone to be as successful as her.

“The big secret in life is that there’s no big secret. Whatever your aim, you will get there if you’re willing to work.”

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