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Think Like Spotlight: Oprah Winfrey

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Think Like contains a wealth of knowledge and tips passed down for world-renowned entrepreneurs to readers like you and me. All of the businessmen and women featured in the book followed their own path to success. It stands to reason that they all have a unique story to tell. Each month, I break down a small bit of the entrepreneurial history of one Think Like entrepreneur here on this blog. This month, we’re looking at Oprah Winfrey!

Claim To Fame: The Oprah Winfrey Show, Oxygen Network, Harpo Productions

Entrepreneurial Highlights

Oprah was born in an extremely impoverished area in rural Mississippi and raised in inner-city Milwaukee, Wisconsin. While her early years were riddled with struggle and strife, Oprah came into her own during high school. She began working in the communications and media industry before she graduated, and very quickly made an impression on everyone she came into contact with. She was setting and breaking records by the age of 17.

Winfrey would go on to work her way up the ranks in the media/communications field, capturing the attention of her viewers. Her first entrepreneurial ventures, Harpo Productions, Inc. and The Oprah Winfrey Show, would stem from this success. The widely popular show debuted in September of 1986 and aired for 25 seasons. Although the show was originally typecast as a tabloid talk show, Oprah soon put her own personal brand on every episode. She pioneered a new form of “public confessional” interview known as Oprahfication. The tv hostess moved to own and produce her own show via Harpo Productions in 1988.

Harpo Productions, Inc. contributed to various media and production projects over the next ten years both in and out of the film industry. In 1996, Winfrey launched a book club that changed the literary sales landscape for many unknown authors. 1998 saw her join forces with Geraldine Laybourne and others to establish Oxygen– a women’s cable television network. She debuted her own magazine, O: The Oprah Magazine, in 2000, helped produce a Broadway rendition of The Color Purple in 2005, and started The Oprah Winfrey Network with Discovery Communications in 2011.

Today, Oprah Winfrey is consistently referred to as one of the most powerful women in the world. She influences consumers everywhere whenever she makes an endorsement— a phenomena known as the “Oprah Effect.” And, she’s received countless honorable titles including but not limited to:

  • One of the 100 people who most influenced the 20th century – TIME (2004-2011),
  • One of the most influential people – TIME (2004-2011),
  • Most influential woman of the previous quarter century – USA TODAY (2007),
  • Most influential black person of the previous quarter century – USA TODAY (2007), and
  • Most powerful celebrity – FORBES (2005, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2013).

To learn more about Oprah Winfrey and her success mindset, pick up a copy of Think Like.