There was a time in my life when every other sentence started with, "Oprah says..." or "According to Oprah..."
Like millions of people I was inspired and captivated by the Queen of All Media. Now that the final show is upon us, here is what Oprah taught me and how she can use the lessons I learned to carry on her legacy on her new television network, OWN.
Oprah taught me...
...to love reading again: When Oprah introduced her book club in 1996, I went straight to the bookstore to pick up a copy of Jacquelyn Mitchard's The Deep End of the Ocean. At the time, my goal was to read every selection of Oprah's Book Club. I fell way short, sigh. However, I loved that I was able to embrace my bookworm sensibilities again. The impact on the book industry was far greater. Oprah hinted to USA Today that the book club may live on: "I'm going to try to develop a show for books and authors."
OWN it: Oprah's interview with Harry Potter series author J.K. Rowling, which aired Oct. 1, was one of the best shows of the final season and in her own words one of the "most fascinating" interviews. Yet, not one of the Potter books made it on Oprah's book list. Why not take the book club forward for the younger set and provide popular selections with interviews from authors such as Stephanie Meyer (Twilight series) or Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games) or even Jeff Kinney (Diary of a Wimpy Kid)? And even though an interview with the late Stieg Larsson would be impossible a bio-doc (narrated by Oprah, of course) on the author may suffice for fans of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
...to listen to good advice: Oprah's a master of finding engaging experts to show you how to put your best foot forward. I loved the relationship advice from John Gray, the medical know-how of Dr. Oz, the tell-it-like-it-is Dr. Phil and the gritty financial tips from Suze Orman.
OWN it: I loved the Live Your Best Life "workshop" shows. I remember taking my pen and pad out, plopping in front of the TV and jotting down the entire lesson plan. I even tried to buy a ticket for the tour to no avail -- it sold out too quickly. The new network should tap into the self-improvement frenzy and provide workshops from notable and new experts for fans to continue living their best lives. And I would love to have an In Treatment-type show with Dr. Phil. Can you imagine what advice he could give to Arnold or Charlie or Lindsay?
...to give to those in need: We all dreamed of being lucky enough to snag the golden ticket of Oprah shows: "Favorite Things." But true Oprah fans realize the glory of Oprah giving was not in the receiving but in the giving. One of my favorite "gotcha" Oprah moments was when Oprah told a then unknown Charice Pempengco that she would be singing on stage with her idol Celine Dion.
OWN it: I may be one of the few who thought Oprah's reality game show Big Give was a great idea that should have caught on. However, I think the big downfall for the show was that it made giving a competitive sport instead of altruism. Instead of a competition, Oprah should just give back to deserving folks who already give back to the community such as the recent reveal of her all-time favorite guest Tererai Trent. Oprah was so moved by Tererai's story that she is donating $1.5 million to rebuild the primary school in her village. Now, that's a big give. Why not have a show that could be Oprah's personal prize patrol in which Oprah tells the story of a deserving person or persons, then surprises them with a great gift? The audience would learn how to give back and Oprah can get her give fix -- a win-win.
...to be thankful for what you have: Above all else, Oprah taught me how to be grateful for every moment. Some days are harder than others, but this lesson has stayed with me through my failures, my mother's death, my miscarriage, etc. I'm thankful for my mistakes because then I would never know about success. I'm thankful for death because it makes me appreciate life. I'm thankful for pain because I would never know the joy of my baby's laughter.
OWN it: The best thing about OWN right now is the "Behind the Scenes" look of the Oprah shows. Oprah should go back to the vault and give commentary on past shows a la DVD extras. She could invite guests back to talk about how they really felt when Oprah grilled them (I'm talking to you James Frey). Another Oprah-esque touch could be to scroll "thank yous" from viewers at the bottom of the screen from facebook, twitter, the Oprah web site etc. Viewers could let Oprah know what they are grateful for.
My post would be, simply: "Thanks Oprah"