Yup, like millions of other women around the world, I have followed Oprah Winfrey as my guide for inspiration and motivation to pursue and live my best life. In my 20-year entrepreneurial journey, I have held up Oprah as an example of how to achieve my highest objectives regardless of the challenges along the way. She has also served as a role model for how to give back and contribute my time and talents to improve my community.
Like most of her admirers, over the years I gleaned this inspiration mostly from watching her TV shows and video interviews, and reading her magazine. Recently, however, I had the fortune of getting an up-close-and- personal introduction to Ms. Winfrey while attending an exclusive inspirational talk she gave to our private, non-profit university headquartered in San Diego, for which I sit on the board of trustees.
I must say, she was more gracious than I could have ever imagined. As well as smaller – she just shed 40 pounds from her participation in Weight Watchers. The focus of her talk was to “Live Your Best Life” and “How to live your life for the Greater Good.” With that theme I expected her presentation to be about personal development, but I was surprised and delighted that she shared several secret pieces of business wisdom that helped her build the number one TV show for more than 25 years and a billion dollar empire.
In this four-part series, I want to share seven highlights from her presentation that are beneficial pearls of wisdom for business owners. These key insights will help anyone – and especially minority women – on their journey to succeed in business.
Here’s the first insight for today:
- Build a connection with your audience and get direct customer feedback
After every show, Oprah spoke with her studio audience to build a connection and understand their needs. This allowed her to master the client development process commonly called “Lean Startup Methodology,” which uses iterative testing to find the best ways to serve customers. This is a MUST DO for building a successful business, brand, and franchise.
Most people know that the Oprah Winfrey Show was on the air for more than 25 years. There are very few shows that have held on for so long. Usually, they no longer relate to their current audience. The closest shows that have lasted that length of time have been late-night talk shows like Johnny Carson and David Letterman.
Oprah shared that every day for several years she would record two shows a day with a live studio audience of some 300 attendees. She shared the process she used for producing each show, vetting guests and stories, and hiring key talented team members. She determined earlier on that the key to success was to relate to her audience and to determine the best ways for doing so. She came to realize that she faced the same life challenges and life experiences as her show attendees; and she was willing to be vulnerable enough to share her personal issues and challenges with the audience.
A key process she used: After each show she would allocate time for a post-show conversation with her audience to learn what they liked, wanted, and needed from her show or, more importantly, in their lives. She also learned what they didn’t like. She used regular communication with her audience to develop the programming for the show. This is how she was able to stay current with her audience and expand into other areas like books, magazines, conferences, products, and much more to help address the needs of her market.
There’s more to come. Next up: How to manage money and learn from every experience – good and bad.