11 June 2013 1 Comment

Oprah Winfrey @ Harvard 2013: What technology and New Media professionals can learn

Author: yinkaolaito

Yinka Olaito is happy,excited and passionate Communications & Media specialist, Trainer and speaker. Yinka Olaito helps Profits and Non-profits with effective communication and positioning for premium service delivery and returns. Yinka Olaito also has special interest in Development Communication and has consulted for noted UN Agencies. Yinka Olaito is the CCO of Michael Sage Consulting(Communication/digital media), African Child Education Right Initiatives(NGO) and Content Director, Africa Development Talk( online Platform for discussion on Policy, Governance, development across Africa) and Africa Foundation for Young Media Professionals


Oprah Winfrey has remained an enigma. She has been a star for over twenty five years and she had remained there. With over thirtyOprah Winfrey,Oprah Winfrey,Harvard University,Harvard Commencement Speech 2013, New Media and Causes,Technology and Media Development, Television, Technology and Vision five thousand interviews and more, success seems good. But as she maintained in Harvard University Commencement Speech 2013, one needs to get to a level where one will have to recalculate and re assess what being successful really means.

Oprah Winfrey began her speech by saying she was there to be an inspiration to anyone who had ever felt inferior, disadvantaged and screwed by life. Really the speech achieved this at the end. I encourage you also read text of JK Rowling 2008 Commencement speech also. Now coming to Oprah Winfrey, She emphasized knowing what you want to do early as she started her television career at 19.

Nothing like failure:  from time to time, we will always stumble. But a consistent recourse to inner strength will help revitalize the energy to go on. Oprah emphasized, after a year of starting her venture ‘Oprah Winfrey Network-OWN, many frontline media declared her venture as failure and major flop. For failure, one must have a personal ‘mojo’ to handle it.  A place of personal ‘mojo’ for Oprah is either in the shower or a bag of oriel(?). It is with this she used to re examine the whole issue. She said while in the shower, an old rhythm came which helped her a lot.  We will fail but we cannot afford to allow failure to destroy the future. Remember, troubles do not last always. Get back now. New media may not be bringing you enough money but stay on if that is where your heart is. What you need to know also is that if you constantly push the limit, you will meet failure on your path.

Start anyhow: Oprah confessed when she was starting she did not have enough clarity of purpose of her television show. Despite this, she hit the road and her vision became clearer. Do not wait until you have everything. Make sure your platform and effort bring light into certain path of life.

Keep asking question: Your life, effort should never be static. The good handle to this is to keep asking questions. Right question anyway. Right question will help our inner light to pop open. When this happens we must ensure we keep figuring out the nest right move to make.

Learn from everything: Oprah turning point was a small girl who in 1994 raised a thousand dollar by herself for a cause. This little act turned Oprah’s inner light. This led to the creation of ‘Angel Network’. She had raised Three Million Dollars to send a girl from each state in the US to college; she had built 55 Schools etc. What we can also learn is that a single platform may not be enough to do what we want to do. There are several advocacies that may not fit in to what we are doing. Nothing stops you from creating a new platform for such advocacy to spring up. Aside from this, it is appropriate to always ask yourself the purpose of your being: to make money, influence lives etc.

This generation has a lot of opportunities: She started in analogue age. But this new generation can reach millions in hours. Do not abuse this huge opportunity.

Authenticity and honesty: One other lesson we can learn from Oprah’s Harvard 2013 Commencement speech is high demand for authenticity and honesty. The environments we work in require a high level of authenticity and honesty.  

Please note that everyone needs validation: Everyone, from high, mighty and the lowly carry with them a level of self esteem issue. They want validation. Empathy is therefore essential to excel. No matter the level of argument or misunderstanding, be sure you are using your work to validate them especially when they are doing it right. A major take away here also is that even though we live in the age of technology, we must never abandon face to face meeting with people. This is especially so when we have disagreement with anyone. Also always remember to be you as that helps you much that to fit in into another person’s shoe/tongue.

Does this sound familiar or you know something Oprah forgot?

One Response to “Oprah Winfrey @ Harvard 2013: What technology and New Media professionals can learn”

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