I was thrilled to cover Oprah and her inspirational mega-star team October 20 for O You!, an interactive day of seminars and workshops that brought the O Magazine to life in an energizing, enlightening and inspiring event.
Over 6,000 people attended this day of expert speeches and beauty product giveaways. I felt like the major theme of the “Live Your Best Life” day was to “Be present.” This message seemed to be the overarching message from the expert panel including Oprah herself; mental health professional, daytime talk-show host and best-selling author, Dr. Phil; financial expert and Emmy Award-winning television host Suze Orman; Editor-at-large Gayle King; best-selling author and life coach Martha Beck; and author and talk show host Iyanla Vanzant. Most speakers shared their own personal journey and their own unique hardships and struggles, and how working hard and staying focused can allow you to achieve your dreams no matter where you come from and what your circumstances. Other enjoyable seminars I attended included management expert Peter Walsh and sex and relationship educator and therapist Dr. Laura Berman.
Since I came away with so much wisdom from this event, this article attempts to summarize the best tidbits.
Personal finance expert of the USA, and one of the top motivational speakers, Suze Orman, started with, “people first, then money, then things.” She said, “truth creates money. Lies destroy it.” Suze Orman’s story of how she was a waitress making $400 a month until she was 30 years old and how she couldn’t speak or read growing up in the poor south side of Chicago was one of the most inspirational stories I heard that day. “Everyone knew I was stupid. My mother sold Avon on the side. My dad was sick almost his whole life. How did I do it? I did it with self-effort.” Later, she goes on to say, “when you lose something, you want to find it again,” – when speaking of losing $50,000 given to her as a waitress and lost due to a crooked broker and how she obtained the money back many years later.
She reflects, “stop thinking when things go wrong. Say thank you for the gift and just keep walking.” Other important tips she shared about women is that women need to stop multi-tasking or thinking they have to be perfect. “Be where you are when you are there. Just be present there. That path will lead you to where you want to be although you may not know where you want to go.”
Other quotes she shared that I enjoyed are:
“God permits U-turns. It is better to do what is right, than what is easy.”
“I admit that I was wrong. Mistakes and losses give us more of who we are meant to be. You will be stronger when you get through all of this; you’ll be your own shining star.”
“Women fake orgasms. Men fake finances.”
“Fear is an emotion. It is the #1 obstacle to wealth. People are afraid to say YES to themselves and NO to someone else. Women give too much and take too little. Say yes to yourself and no to others. Debt is bondage. You have no financial freedom.”
Suze Orman revealed the earrings she had on are the same ones she has worn for the last 20 years and the shoes she had on she admitted she has had since 1998. She has used the same bag for years. The most expensive ring on her finger is about $150 and the stylish jackets you always see her in, she said cost her around $100 each.
My favorite quote of the whole day is from Orman: “Get as much pleasure from saving as you do from spending.”
She states, “what are you going to do to save yourself? Be powerful over your own money. That is the best thing you can do.”
Suze Orman’s Best Advice:
1) Live below your means, but within your needs.
2) Don’t buy things just to buy. Before you purchase anything. Ask yourself – Is this a want or a need?
3) Think it, Say it, Do it. Your thoughts become your destiny. May every thought you think be etched in the sky. Think great thoughts! Is it kind, true, and necessary? What you think, you will eventually say, what you say will become your actions, and your actions will become your habits.
4) Be careful with the words you use. They have the power to create or destroy.
5) May every wish you wish another be greatness.
The second motivational speaker, Martha Beck, has three degrees from Harvard and I had never heard of her before the event. Her talk about manifesting your best life moved me to tears several times as she described her journey for happiness in life and happiness in her career and how it all seemed to entwine and unfold over the years. Beck, who seemed to have a little nervous energy or what she explains is daily anxiety, describes how people don’t like the unknown. She spoke of how calm is needed and how visualization meditation has helped her over the years. She shared how her anxiety never gets less even after 20 years of meditation and how we need to get rid of our armor. “What would you do if you had no fear? You are safe. There is more than enough for you – enough money, time, and love. If you knew these things, what would you do differently? Lay your armor down. Armor limits your consciousness. When your armor is off, the only piece of you that endures is LOVE, love of Life, bucketfuls of love tossed into the sea of love. Everything you have ever wanted will show up.”
Martha spoke of how you need to follow your inner compass. “Do what you would want if you had no fear. Nothing can ever take you from the life you were meant to live. Take a leap of faith every day. This is an ever changing wild new world of micro-entrepreneurialism and you could be something different in two years, as she mentions how the different the world is just the last five years.“ She informed us of what the new best workforce archetype is – design, story, sympathy, empathy, play, meaning.
She had vivid dreams for 20 years of a horse ranch she wanted to own, that has recently become a reality. Martha describes her journey of teaching business classes, making money to pay the bills, and then leaving her career because it didn’t feel good anymore and people were willing to pay her to talk after class, so one day she woke up and learned she was a life coach.
She shared how her son has Down’s syndrome (whom I later read she carried to term) and, while in London on the way to the Tower of London, he was explaining something that happened there hundreds of years ago in great detail. Then, while have coffee at a cafe afterwards, a fox came out of nowhere on the streets of London and came up to their table and looked her son right in the eye, and then scurried away unharmed. Her son said, “I know that fox.”
Her incredibly moving talk about animals, shamans, healers and medicine people and going back to the old days brought up emotions in me I didn’t know I had as she told us about two occasions where animals were called and they came where they had never come before. On her ranch in California she was told that whales and dolphins had not been seen there for many years and she decided to summon them one night with her friends and, sure enough, the next day it is a record in history. Hundreds of whales and dolphins are outside her ranch in the California. The same thing occurs again where she was told the wolves have not come to her ranch in many years. She calls them (somehow) with her friends and, sure enough, they are there the next day. “We need to resurrect the magic of the ancient people….. Become present. Do magic. Pay attention to your dog. Hold your baby…”
One of my favorite Martha Beck suggestions:
How do you get your self-esteem? Do things you can not do.
Do what’s frightening for you. Do it every day. One day, you’ll have self-esteem. Act your way into the feeling.
Dr. Phil’s message was very similar to Suze Orman’s speech, in regards to learning to say “No” because he said you can not give away what you don’t have. If you are burned out, you are cheating your family. Put yourself first on the list, he cautions. Before his dad died, his father said to him that he recognized the pivotal moments when he looked back at his life – those things that stuck out – and wished he really recognized them when they were happening. When you are about to die, you have the gift of vision and the pivotal events stick out big and bright. “See the moment and be present,” Dr. Phil reminds us.
Other useful advice Dr. Phil shared is that kids are always watching, so be a good role model. Reflect: What is the impact of the decisions you are making. He states “93 percent of communications are the way you carry yourself – non-verbal.” Another quote I love is, “Passion bonds people, and you should give your kids passion. Your kids and you must have goals.”
Dr. Phil goes on to share seven habits of highly successful people, which I read similar ideas once in a Malcolm Gladwell book. I think these tips are good for us all to remember.
Dr. Phil’s Clues for Achieving Success:
1. People who are successful are able to see and define success in their mind. They have a clear definition of what success looks like. They can “name it to claim it.”
2. They have a strategy for success, a timeline. A dream becomes a goal with a timeline. Successful people work for what they want. They work every day. They have a plan.
3. Universe rewards action. Successful people take action towards a known outcome. Behave your way to success. They keep at it until they get what they want. (Dr. Phil’s son wrote a book and interviewed kids that were doing drugs and the kids he interviewed that were not doing drugs said because it was not consistent with what they want and it didn’t help them to achieve their goals.)
4. Winners are willing to take risks.
5. Successful people deal with the truth. They are never in denial. They admit issues, deal with reality, work with the problem whether it be alcohol or a crummy marriage.
6. They build a nucleus of people who share their goal that believe in them and want them to do well.
7. Successful people have passion. It lives in their heart. They are excited, driven and they bond heart to heart.
Peter Walsh, the organizational expert, has written his third book called It’s All Too Much and shares ideas on his website for de-cluttering your life. He says you must have a vision for each space in your home. Each object should be looked at: Why is it in my home? “Organization and happiness” are not accidents. “Your bedroom should be your sanctuary, a haven, that the kids are not allowed in, in order for you to have a healthy relationship.” Another message he expressed with fervor is that you must have a clear vision of the life you want. Give time to what you believe is important. Nobody else will.
I have always found sex expert Dr. Laura Berman very interesting and love her ideas.
My favorite Berman tips of the day were:
1) Give three genuine expressions of appreciation a day to your partner
2) Two times a week for 30 minutes total you should be kissing and cuddling with your partner. It is a huge libido enhancer. Women almost always feel they want more kissing. It fires the sexual response in women. You should be having sex once or twice a week, the bare minimum, she shares.
3) Make room for sensual energy to build. When pressure is off, couples do the best as she shares how she has counseled numerous couples and told them they are not allowed to have sex, only kiss for a week. She says, sure enough, almost every time the couple comes back in with a sly smile because they broke the rule. She explains sometimes they need to have the pressure taken off.
4) Don’t be fooled. Maintaining a healthy relationship is constant work. You have to nurture it and bring it back to the center from time to time.
5) Teach your children that sex is a gift, not only the first time, but every time. It is about who deserves that gift.
Oprah started with one of my favorite quotes by Joseph Conrad – “The privilege of a lifetime is to be who you are.” She shares how she was obsessed with Diana Ross at a young age and wanted to be just like her, but realized that she could be a really good me. “People waste time wanting a life that’s not their own. Want your own life.” Another important message from Oprah was no matter what your profession, serve someone other than yourself and your life will change. Later, she expressed to the cheering audience how it is important to create a vision from where you are now in life (perhaps a vision of something better) and sometimes you have to do what you have to do, so you can do what you want to do. Another saying that stood out to me:
“It is easier to get friends to ride the double lined limo with you, and harder to get a friend to flag down your bus.” – Oprah
In the end, there she was – Oprah, so close, as we left the Convention Center with our new gorgeous bags filled with goodies – Oprah Winfrey waving goodbye to us a few feet above us like a Shakespearean play as we all hollered and cheered and let her know what a great day we had.