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Fast Company’s November 2015 issue shared with its readers the “secrets of the most productive people.”  Oprah Winfrey graced the cover, and expressed her productivity secrets throughout an interview with J.J. McCorvey on how she resuscitated her once struggling OWN network.

The start of the article tells how McCorvey was caught off guard when Oprah asked, “So, what’s your intention here with me?”  Even though I’m amazed a journalist interviewing Oprah was surprised by such a basic question, it was a pointed way to begin the article because it sets the tone for Oprah’s feedback.  Knowing your intention and what you specifically desire to accomplish are central themes of this blog, so as you can imagine, this article resonated with me.

The tone of the article was very complimentary of Oprah and indicated that she is a highly empathetic person.  This has helped Oprah to deeply connect with the people she interviews and helps her to dig deeply into the issues being discussed.  Having this type of connection with others has led Oprah down a spiritual and philosophical path.  She seeks to help others to help themselves. To accomplish this across her many projects, she maintains the following four qualities.

  1. Stay present and aware of your intentions – It’s important to know what you want to get out of the tasks you are doing and the conversations you are having.  Oprah considers this one of her biggest productivity secrets and says, “I have learned that your full-on attention for any activity you choose to experience comes with a level of intensity and truth.”  In regards to multi-tasking, she states, “That’s a joke for me.  When I try to do that, I don’t do anything well.”
  2. Set a mission – Be purpose driven and communicate this purpose clearly and frequently so that your team understands your position and supports it. McCorvey explains that, “Words like mission are common when you talk to Winfrey’s most trusted executives…”  At OWN, Oprah is considered more than a boss.  She is also the heart and soul of the organization and her team recognizes her as having a powerful mission.
  3. Build a trustworthy team – Have a team and/or support structure of people you can rely on.  Nobody can do it all, so let others contribute to your goals.  As Oprah puts it, “I try to surround myself with people who really know what they’re doing and give them the freedom to do it.”
  4. Be flexible – Listen to your consumers and deliver what they want while staying true to your mission.  For Oprah this meant including shows and sitcoms that did not closely adhere to her self-help and spiritual vision.  She never includes shows that conflict with her mission, but she recognizes that people don’t want self-help all the time.  She now includes several popular soap operas and sitcoms within in her lineup.

I admire Oprah’s accomplishments and her desire to bring spirituality into her work place and into the homes of many cable viewers.  She inspires others and she is motivated by her own journey.  Oprah says, “I have been privileged  to live this exquisitely inspired life.  Daily it continues to astound me that I’ve come from where I come from, and I am where I am.  I feel that my role here on earth is to inspire people, and to get them to look at themselves.  My genuine wish is to do better and be better to everybody.  That’s not just some kind of talk for me. That’s who I am.”

This powerful statement encapsulates gratitude, belief in a purpose and a personal desire to improve.  I love it!  I have not been a follower of Oprah nor I have seen much of what OWN has to offer, but I plan to pay attention to both going forward.

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