Save to Pocket
Inspiration

Oprah Winfrey’s 9 best pieces of career advice

When Oprah Winfrey speaks, she can command a room to listen. Many of us were reminded of her oratory powers when she received the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement at the Golden Globes on Sunday night.

The media mogul, actress, philanthropist, and self-made billionaire brought the audience to their feet in a rousing speech recounting her career as an interviewer and TV talk show host, and how that intersected with the black men and women who have come before her and the women she believes will come after her.

Winfrey has had a lifetime to build her wisdom. As a daytime talk show host, Winfrey became a pioneer in making a career out of giving confessional advice.

Here’s a roundup of her best career lessons.

On gratitude

“You radiate and generate more goodness for yourself when you’re aware of all you have and not focusing on your have-nots,” Winfrey said when explaining why she kept a nightly gratitude journal for a decade straight while building her television network.

On failure

“There is a supreme moment of destiny calling on your life. Your job is to feel that, to hear that, to know that. And sometimes when you’re not listening, you get taken off track. You get in the wrong marriage, the wrong relationship, you take the wrong job, but it’s all leading to the same path. There are no wrong paths,” Winfrey told Stanford Graduate School of Business students about the one piece of career advice she wanted to leave with them.

On getting older

“We live in a youth-obsessed culture that is constantly trying to tell us that if we are not young, and we’re not glowing, and we’re not ‘hot,’ that we don’t matter….I refuse to let a system or a culture or a distorted view of reality tell me that I don’t matter,” Winfrey told her magazine readers in 2011. “I know for sure that only by owning who and what you are can you step into the fullness of life. Every year should teach you something valuable; whether you get the lesson is up to you. Every year brings you closer to expressing your whole and healed self.”

On how to achieve balance

“I can eat anything I want; I just can’t eat it at the same time,” Winfrey told People in January about her history of dieting. “Which is the entire philosophy of life: You can have it all. You just can’t have it all at the same time.”

On identifying toxic relationships

“When someone talks to you about other people, know that they’re talking about you behind your back, too,” Winfrey answered after her Golden Globes acceptance speech when asked about the best career advice she had learned.

On how to relax

“I always give myself Sundays as a spiritual base of renewal —a day when I do absolutely nothing. I sit in my jammies or take a walk, and I allow myself time to BE —capital B-E— with myself. When I don’t, I absolutely become stressed, irritable, anxiety-prone, and not the person I want to be in the world,” Winfrey explained to her magazine readers on what she does to relax

On the power of saying ‘no’

“If a person turns against you because you say ‘no’ to them, you recognize that that wasn’t real love anyway. True love, true friendship, true support comes from people who want you to tell your own truth. They don’t want things given to them that don’t come from a pure place,” Winfrey told Dear Sugars podcast in an episode where she explained how she could say “no” to musician Stevie Wonder.

On self-empowerment

“The truth is, I try not to let other people define for me whether I have power or don’t,” Winfrey said at a 2013 Essence Black Women in Hollywood luncheon. “I ended the show, and then there were a whole bunch of people who said, ‘Oh, you don’t have power anymore.’ But the truth is, I know who I am, and the thing about power for me is that it’s connected to a source that’s obviously greater than myself. Any time you can connect to the source and understand that that’s where all of your energy, your creativity, your joy and your triumph come from, I consider that to be authentic power.”

On what she would tell her younger self

“Seven-year-old Oprah…I was so sad. All of my real love came from my teachers,” Winfrey, who grew up in extreme poverty and was the victim of abuse, said when asked by reporters on what she would tell her younger self. “I would say this to anyone in this room: You have no idea the power of noticing another human being and what it feels like when somebody knows that they have been seen by you. It is the greatest offering you can give.”

More from Ladders