We have all watched Oprah Winfrey’s Golden Globe moving acceptance speech; and I wouldn’t doubt that you have replayed it and watched it several times over. But I would bet my entire salary that you didn’t catch these 5 powerful career lessons that can be found in Mama O’s moment.
They are so good that I don’t want you to miss them, so I pulled together this quick list for you. Keep reading…and it just might make you go watch her speech again to see what I’m talking about:
1. Storytelling is everything!
When I provide interview coaching, I always tell my clients that storytelling is the secret sauce for nailing an interview. Oprah had us captured from the moment she opened her mouth as she recalled Sidney Poitier’s Golden Globe win from over four decades ago. It’s because her story was so well crafted and painted such a vivid picture.
Most people tell a story, but a great story shows you instead of telling you. Here’s what I mean…If Mama O were to just TELL her story, it might sound like this:
“Sidney Poitier won Best Actor at the Academy Awards when I was a little girl, and that moment really inspired me. I will never forget it.”
Eh. Doesn’t move you, right? Now read this quote from Oprah’s speech where she so clearly paints this memory for us:
“In 1964 I was a little girl sitting on the linoleum floor of my mother’s house in Milwaukee, watching Anne Bancroft present the Oscar for Best Actor at the 36th Academy Awards. She opened the envelope and said five words that literally made history, “The winner is Sidney Poitier.” Up to the stage came the most elegant man I had ever seen, I remember his tie was white, of course his skin was black and I had never seen a black man being celebrated like that. And I have tried many, many, many times to explain what a moment like that means to a little girl, a kid watching from the cheap seats…”
See the difference? She had you at hello, right? Can’t you see her sitting there on that linoleum floor, wide-eyed and looking up at the television screen? That’s the difference that storytelling makes.
When you are explaining to an employer the value that you offer, SHOW them with your words. Answer your interview questions with well thought out stories about your experience and background. Fill it with color and details. Explain the who, what, why, and how. Describe the organizational landscape, walk them through any steps or processes, share the results and outcomes.
I hate a good story, said no one ever.
Storytelling makes all the difference. Try it!
2. Preparation gives you the glow!
Mama O was snatched, wasn’t she? From her hair to her makeup and her waistline in that dress! She was glowing and glistening and glittering and sprinkling all kinds of #BlackGirlMagic on stage. She was simply beautiful – and her presence commanded your attention. But as we discussed above in #1, her words did too. When she opened her mouth to speak, her voice, her story, her cadence, her confidence, all demanded that you listen. This is the result of preparation.
The most successful professionals are always prepared, and therefore perceived as always being polished and poised.
Oprah’s speech was planned, written and rehearsed. One way to take your interviewing skills to the next level is to make also plan, write and rehearse your answers to interview questions in advance.
3. Sponsorship gets you a seat at the table
Rewind that video! Did you catch when Oprah said:
“It is an honor, it is a privilege to share the evening with all of them, and also with the incredible men and women who’ve inspired me, who’ve challenged me, who’ve sustained me and made my journey to this stage possible. Dennis Swanson took a chance on me for AM Chicago, Quincy Jones who saw me on the show and said to Steven Spielberg ‘Yes, she IS Sophia in the Color Purple.’”
Oprah had sponsors y’all! If you don’t know what a sponsor is, go read blog on The Secret Weapon For Every Woman’s Career, because you need one. Everybody needs a sponsor. Even Oprah!
Sponsors are NOT mentors. Sponsors are the people who have the platform, the network and the ability to catapult your career from one level to the next. They are the people who believe in you enough to make sure you are invited to places and seen in spaces where you otherwise may not have had a foot in the door.
In Mama O’s case…she says that her sponsors (Dennis Swanson, Quincy Jones) helped her get to the Golden Globe stage! Do not underestimate what a sponsor can do for your career. Get you one.
4. No one gets to the top alone
You might think Oprah’s mention of Gayle and Stedman was just a regular shout-out, but it wasn’t. No one gets to the top alone, and Oprah has continued to stress over the years how much her support network is had her back.
Oprah’s inner circle is small yet solid. Think about the relationships you’ve built in your career. Who are the people that have continued to have your back through your career high’s and low’s? If you’re going this journey alone, then this is the perfect time to set a goal to build a strong network. If you were able to think of a few tried and true people, then they are likely your support network. If you haven’t thanked them lately, now is a good time.
5. The world needs your leadership
Again, you might have missed this one, so let’s dive right in to what Oprah said and then I’ll explain:
“In my career, what I’ve always tried my best to do…is to say something!”
“A new day is on the horizon! And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in the room tonight and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say ‘me too’.”
I was transparent with you in my last post about how I’ve let fear hold me back in my career. But we are called to be fearless, we are called to be confident, we are called to be leaders. This quote from Oprah is more than just a heads up that #MeToo is changing our future – it’s a nod to the leaders who are taking us there. Without bold, brave people who aren’t afraid to say something and lead, then we will never see change or progress.
What has been holding you back in your career?
Are you the leader you could be?
How many people will miss out if you don’t step up to your call to be a leader? There is somebody out there waiting on you.
Rise up and start getting ready for a new day in your career. I know you can do it!