“The only decisions that get me in trouble are ego decisions.” In 2007, Oxygen was sold to NBC Universal for $925 million.
In the middle of the OWN negotiations in 2007, Oprah again found herself distracted. This time it was the well-publicized sexual abuse charges at her Leadership Academy. She believed that incident, too, was a result of mistakes she made. “My responsibility is to create the kind of leadership that doesn’t allow that kind of thing to happen,” she says. “I asked God, is this happening because I shouldn’t have a network? What is this here to teach me?”
“And the lesson for me was that I spent a lot of time building that school from the outside in,” she explains. “I spent five years fighting with the South African government. I picked every single fabric, every basket. I picked the girls. And the lesson was you should have started from the inside and worked your way out. So what is more important than the structure is the infrastructure. If you can do that with this network, then you will be successful.”
Winfrey strongly believes that intuition is a guiding force. “That is truly the way my life works. I believe it works that way for everybody, but you have to allow yourself to be in the space where you are carried by the flow of life and not pushing upstream,” she maintains. “When you are in the flow, all things come as they should, all the time. I believe you can move into the stratosphere. I believe there is no ceiling.”
TAKING HER BUSINESS TO THE NEXT LEVEL
Housed in several buildings in the heart of Chicago, which employees informally refer to as the campus, Harpo Inc.’s vertically integrated operation pulsates with energy. All the means of production for its various units — several studios for television, radio, and online productions; set design facilities; the new television development group; and the executive offices — are within its employees’ reach.
Aside from the diverse group of businesses within the Harpo organization, Winfrey has successfully leveraged several lucrative partnerships. In 2000, after being romanced by several major publishing houses, she chose to partner with Hearst to launch O, The Oprah Magazine, which continues to produce unprecedented newsstand and subscriber success. “One out of three readers who bought it on the newsstand subscribed to the magazine, which believe me, in the magazine business is unheard of,” asserts Cathie Black, president of Hearst Magazines. This joint venture, with circulation at 2.4 million and more than 16 million readers, represents one of Hearst’s three most profitable magazines, along with Cosmopolitan and Good Housekeeping. Launched with $50.9 million, O grossed $311.3 million in revenues in 2007 according to Publishers Information Bureau.
When the satellite radio company XM approached Winfrey about an alliance, it served a heavily male, gadget-oriented audience. Says Nate Davis, XM’s president and CEO, “We wanted to reach out to a mass market, especially women, people who listened to more than just sports.” In February 2006, XM signed Oprah to