How did Oprah Winfrey manifest all her success?

Seb Grynko
12 min readSep 18, 2020

Beginning of the story

Oprah Winfrey was and still is, one of the most influential women in the world. She was the host of the Oprah Winfrey Show for 25 years, which was the highest-rated show of its kind.

Her fortune is estimated at 2.7 billion USD, which made her the richest African American woman of the 20th century.

She also starred in movies like The Color Purple, which got her a nomination at the Academy Awards for best supporting actress.

She’s also famous for being this larger than life, inspiring character, and philanthropist. She lent her name for many causes, especially those in favor of empowering young women.

Oprah Winfrey was born in the rural town of Kosciusko, Mississippi, on January 29, 1954. After a troubled adolescence in a small farming town, where she was sexually abused by a number of male relatives, and friends of her mother, Oprah moved to Nashville to live with her father.

In 1971, she began working in radio and television broadcasting, in Nashville.

In 1976, Oprah moved to Baltimore, Maryland, where she hosted the TV chat show “People are talking”. The show became a hit and Oprah stayed with it for eight years, after which she was recruited by a Chicago TV station to host her own morning show.

She won over the competition. After several months and 100.000 more viewers than Phil Donahue. Oprah’s open, warm-hearted personal style won over the audience. The show went from last in the ratings to first.

In 1986, the famous Oprah Winfrey show was born as a nationally syndicated program that ran for 25 years. In the first year alone, the show grossed 125 million dollars. The show was placed on 120 channels. She later gained ownership of the show from ABC, making her more money.

In 1994, as talk shows became increasingly trashy and exploitative. Winfrey decided to keep her show free of tabloid topics, which made ratings fall at first.

The respect she earned from her audience after that, led to an upsurge in popularity.

In 2004, the syndicated show was seen on nearly 212 U.S stations and in more than 100 countries worldwide. Other ventures on TV have helped her sustain and grow her audience throughout the years.

Oprah’s Book Club

Oprah Winfrey’s book club contributed immensely to the publishing world. The program propelled many unknown authors to the top of the bestseller list and gave pleasure-reading a new kind of popular prominence.

Oprah’s Favorite Things

An annual segment that appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show. In this segment, which airs during the Thanksgiving week and was inspired by the song “My favorite things” from the “The Sound of Music”.

Oprah shared products with her audience that she felt were noteworthy or that would make a great gift. In addition, the members of the audience would receive items for free.

Oprah Winfrey found her purpose and inspired people through her show over many years. Oprah Winfrey said that we should be full of ourselves, which does not mean we should be arrogant. It means that we should be our fullest authentic self.

Be full of yourself

When you are being full of yourself, you are being full of YOU, your AUTHENTIC YOU, YOUR IDEAL YOU. That’s so important.

That’s why Tony Robbins said that 80% of success is an inside job and that’s why his mentor Jim Rohn said that you have to work harder on yourself than on your job.

You might think it’s crazy. I know I did at first but it is completely true. The more you deal with your consciousness and see what blocks your light. The more you will let go and the easier and effortless your work and life will be.

Oprah said that you need to be still to have clarity. Preparation meets opportunity as she would also say. When you have stillness, your mind has more energy because the clouds of thoughts, cravings and movements of your mind are not there to stunt the joy and the peace.

That energy is happiness. That energy is peace. When your mind is still and at peace. That’s when you can enter the flow state. That’s when ideas, solutions can come because the subconscious mind is much more powerful than our thinking.

Thinking is conscious, our subconscious mind is connected to a much higher power. Call it Infinite Intelligence, call it God, labels don’t matter much. What matters is that you let go of your need to control and your need to know now and have it all right now.

Just let go and allow yourself to f*** up

Your only job is to, as much as possible, as often as possible, let go of everything preventing/blocking that stillness. For that, you need to allow yourself to be imperfect. Part of Oprah Winfrey’s success is due to the fact that people were able to relate to her.

They could see her as a friend even though she was a worldwide megastar. In one of her interviews, she mentioned that she had made a mistake mispronouncing the name of a country. At first, she felt bad about it. She thought about it and realized that nothing was wrong with her mistakes. Mistakes make us more authentic.

Everybody loves people who are natural. And being natural means making mistakes and owning them. Allowing yourself to be imperfect. Be fearless. Oprah Winfrey had to overcome a lot of things in her life to get to where she was. For that she needed courage.

Do not let fear overcome you

As Jim Carrey would say, fear will play a role in our life but we get to choose how much of a role fear has in our lives. Life is not about eliminating fear altogether. Fear is acting in spite of fear. Ralph Waldo Emerson said that when we do the thing we fear, fear leaves us.

Kamal Ravikant said that oftentimes the greatest things are waiting for you on the other side of fear. Sean Combs, aka P. Diddy, said that we can’t be fearless without a little bit of fear. Therefore, we should be thankful for fear because it serves as a signpost on our journey.

Fear manifests itself in your body when it has been given too much power. Generally speaking, fear is this “ball” you feel in your stomach. Sometimes your fear is more of general fear, something that no direct action can relieve, at least not right now.

When fear has reached that level, you need to let go of it, by facing it. Let it come to the surface and peel off the layers one by one. That’s a concept from the book Letting Go by David Hawkins.

You have to let the fears come up and see if they are justified. Soon you will see that a lot of the fears that will come up are complete nonsense. As Jim Carrey said, there is a difference between a dog barking at you in your imagination and a dog that is really barking at you.

I read a study once that showed that up to 98% of our fears are unjustified. When you start facing those fears and realizing that most of them are BS, letting go will come automatically. Now, what about that 2%. That 2% is justified, which means there is some ground below this fear. That fear might actually come true. What then?

Remove the unjustified fears and find solutions for the justified ones

The stoic has a practice called negative visualization, which consists of imagining the worst-case scenario. Once you have done that, you have to pragmatically see what solutions you would have to apply if that fear would come to pass.

In one of his ted talks, Tim Ferris goes into more detail on that stoic practice. His practice is more specifically targeted for people who are at a crossroads in their life and need to make a big decision.

Nevertheless, the essence of that practice is more important than the mechanics of it. Take a piece of paper. Write down that 2% fear in one column.

In the second column, write the worst-case scenario. In the third column write down what exactly you could/would do if that fear were to come true.

In the fourth column, write down how you would benefit if you were to have even a little success from making that decision you feared. In the fifth column, write down what will happen if you were not to make this decision.

Use fear as a fuel

Tony Robbins has something similar in his teachings. He said that in order to change you need to build a great incentive in your mind and/or build an imagined alternative that is so horrible that you have no other choice but to push yourself into taking the right course of action.

Jordan Peterson also has a similar practice, where he would ask his students to write down the ideal life they would want to have in 5 years and the things they would have to do to make that vision come to life.

He would also make his students write down what would happen in five years if they were not to do the things they are supposed to do. As you can imagine, that picture is not a beautiful one. Those practices are similar and differ a little bit technically speaking but the essence is the same.

It’s all about lighting a fire below your ass and trying not to get burned, by doing whatever you need to do to move forward.

Learn to forgive to succeed

One thing Oprah Winfrey talks about as a key to success is forgiveness. She told a journalist in an interview that she had forgiven those who had abused her. For a lot of people, who have lived this kind of trauma, it is hard to even start to fathom forgiving those who have perpetrated violence against them.

You have to understand that when you forgive, it is first and foremost for yourself. That anger and guilt are a burden you are unnecessary putting on yourself. You have to let go of this load in order to move through life in a lighter fashion.

You don’t have to forgive the people directly but you need to let go in your heart. Tyler Perry is one of Oprah’s Winfrey’s best friends, he’s a very successful Hollywood producer. He is the most accomplished African American producer in Hollywood.

He was abused physically by his father as a kid. His father had no love for him and made it clear to Tyler. Jim Carrey has a saying: “Beware of the unloved”. I read somewhere that one of the greatest things that can happen to you is to be your parent’s favorite child.

When we are young, love is so important for our growth. Studies have shown that a lack of love as a toddler can stunt our physical growth and cause problems in the future. Tyler Perry carried that anger for so many years.

After his father passed away. He went to his grave and cursed him with all the anger he could muster. One day shortly after that, he finally decided that it was time to forgive and let go. He said that this was one of the best decisions he had ever made in his life and a MAJOR KEY to his success.

He said that after this, he started having more and more success. You have to understand that according to David Hawkins feelings like anger and guilt are the lowest on the vibration chart.

Once you let go of those lower vibrations, you automatically reach a higher level of vibration closer to love, peace, and acceptance, especially if that anger was strong. I remember a story of two soldiers who were captured by the enemy and put in a POW camp for a significant amount of time.

During that time, they were beaten and tortured. After the war, they were released. Decades later, these soldiers, now much older, met again. One of them had let go of the past, he asked his old friend if he had forgiven the enemy after all these years.

His friends answered with a resounding no. He said he could never forgive what they had done to them. The first friend after so many years had forgiven those who had behaved in such a horrendous way towards them.

The other friend did not forgive and was living with that anger. This man was still in prison. Please remember that to err is human but to forgive is divine. It will take time but you can, little by little, forgive those who have wronged you and feel your heart getting lighter and lighter.

Energy and persistence conquer all things

Benjamin Franklin

Persistence is key. Oprah Winfrey did not have it easy but ever since she was a kid the only thing she had was a vision and faith. She was tested many times in her personal life and her professional life. As I mentioned just now, she was abused as a teen.

Even as a professional, nothing was handed to her on a platter. She did not fit the role of a radio host well. She was awkward and made many mistakes along the way.

Faith kept her going. Ernest Holmes said that faith is developed through persistence. Napoleon Hill said that persistence leads to success and Earl Nightingale said that faith is persistence because if you had no faith, you would not persist.

When she was around 30 years of age. Oprah read the book the Color Purple. She became obsessed with it, so much so that she would gift it to everybody she could. One day, she heard that Steven Spielberg and Quincy Jones were about to make an adaptation for the screen.

Oprah Winfrey wanted nothing else but to be a part of that movie. She started telling everybody that she would be a part of that movie. Shortly after, she got a call from a casting agency. She was cast for a part in a movie called Moon Song.

She asked the agent if he was sure that it was for Moon Song and not for The Color Purple. She told him, she had been praying for the latter. He told her that it was a casting for Moon Song.

She still went to the casting and it was, in fact, for the Color Purple. She was reading for the movie she dreamed about. Not only that, but she was also reading for the part of Sofia which is a major role in the story.

Sofia is also married to Harpo which is Oprah spelled backward. She thought that this is a big sign that she would be in that movie. Months later, she had yet to hear anything from the casting agency, so she called them. She told the agent that she had not heard anything yet.

He told her: “I call you. You don’t call me. Why are you calling me?” He added that they had real actresses that had auditioned for that part and Alfre Woodard had just left his office. He also told Oprah that contrary to her, Alfre was a real actress with experience.

She hung up the phone and knew she was not going to have the part. She felt terrible. She started asking God why he had done this to her. She thought it was because she was fat, so she decided to go to a fat farm in Wisconsin.


One day as she was running around a track on a cold, rainy day. She started praying. She told God; she could not understand why he had done this to her. She told God that she wanted to be in a space where he could be thankful for the opportunity but she could not.

Not right now. It was too hard. She pleaded with God to help her let it go. She started singing: “I surrender all. I surrender all, all to thy my blessed savior. I surrender all” That song spontaneously came to her.

At first, she could not surrender but she kept on sing and praying and singing and praying more and also crying more and more. Up to the point when she could feel herself letting it go.

She told herself that she was going to be all right. At first, she thought to herself that she was going to be all right, but she would not want to see the movie. She kept praying because she wanted to feel ok to see Alfre Woodard in the movie and be happy about it and bless her in the role she had yearned for.

At the moment, she said to herself that she would be ok watching another actress in the movie. All of sudden someone came up to her and said that there was a call for her. She got to the phone and started talking. Steven Spielberg was on the line with her. He called to her to give her the role she had prayed for. Her prayers had been answered.