What Oprah Knows for Sure About Looking Ahead
When we started, there were so few of us, we could all fit in a single office. (And I was the one doing the lunch runs to Taco Bell.) By the show's end, in 2011, there were nearly 500 full-time employees.
More than 200 of those employees stayed on to produce new shows for OWN—Oprah Prime, Lifeclass, Iyanla: Fix My Life, Master Class, Super Soul Sunday. But as I came to learn, producing the number one syndicated talk show and building and sustaining a cable network are truly different enterprises that call for different business models.
Saying farewell was sobering, emotional and hard. It was also necessary. We had the greatest run in television history, but it was time to be realistic about going forward. About growing forward.
Almost half the Harponians had been at the company for more than ten years. Thirty-one had been there for more than 20. Many became full-fledged adults during those years, marrying, having children, in some cases divorcing and marrying again. Going through the passages of life. I remember Halloween parties with kids running through the halls trick-or-treating; those kids now have kids of their own.
Every person who was part of the company is now part of the great legacy that will forever be Harpo Studios. Long after the building is gone, the work that happened there will matter—to every viewer who ever felt inspired or more informed, who decided to think differently, who made a change, took charge of her life, decided to do better or be better. Anybody moved in any way by what came from the hands and hearts of the people who worked there—that is the Harpo legacy.
In Los Angeles I've taken up the challenge, along with my core team of Sheri Salata and Erik Logan, to create a new space to evolve in: a state-of-the-art building on the lot where Marilyn Monroe filmed Some Like It Hot and Natalie Wood shot West Side Story.
As you enter the lot, you're greeted with a huge billboard that sums up where we are right now as a growing network—and what I know for sure about life in general: LOOK AHEAD IN A NEW DIRECTION.
Every farewell offers an opportunity for a new hello. It doesn't matter if you're in Chicago, Los Angeles or anywhere in between. When one road ends, it's time to look ahead in a new direction. And know that as far as your eye can see, the universe can see even farther. That is where we're headed.