Success Leaves Clues: The Life of Oprah Winfrey

by on December 1st, 2010
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If you study the life of successful people, you’ll quickly discover that some had a very rocky road to success. One example that comes to mind is Oprah Winfrey. Born to a single teenage mom in poverty-stricken Mississippi, Oprah spent most of her childhood years in an inner city neighborhood in Milwaukee. Oprah’s grandmother made her dresses out of potato sacks, and she was constantly teased by her classmates. She was raped at age nine, and pregnant at age 14, with a son who died in infancy.

Her luck began to change when she was sent to live with Vernon Winfrey, the man who claimed to be her father. At the tender age of 19, Oprah was offered a co-anchoring position with the local evening news. Her ability to deliver spontaneous ad-libs, drew attention from the daytime talk show arena, and she was eventually able to form her own production company, which was syndicated internationally.

Reading Oprah’s story, you would never have guessed that she would become one of the richest women in the world, and at one time, the only African-American woman to become a billionaire. She is a regular on the Forbes 400 list of the richest Americans.

It would have been understandable, given Oprah’s background, to not rise above her circumstances, and lay the blame on a tragic childhood, and low self-esteem, but Oprah kept moving forward. From an award-winning talk show, Oprah went on to forming her own production company, Harpo Productions, as well as the Oprah Winfrey Network. She also has the very successful O Magazine.

We can learn a lot from Oprah Winfrey that can be applied to operating a successful business. There are times when the economy flip-flops and your customers dwindle, or an irate customer wants a refund and threatens to spread the word about your poor customer service, that it is tempting to throw in the towel, and re-enter the traditional work force.

You’ll never create a good income by giving up. Oprah Winfrey didn’t let circumstances keep her down, and neither should we. Problems are part of the learning process when you have your own business, and each time you solve a problem, your self-confidence grows, and the next problem is a little easier to solve.

Don’t be afraid to put your own spin on your business. While others may think your ideas are over the top, your ability to uniquely express yourself will help you stand out from the competition.


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