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"Becoming Oprah" mind matters
October 15, 2002
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I asked a friend for the job equivalent to being a rabbi, only without the religion.

She suggested being Oprah.

Thus begins the long and uncertain path that is to be my life, for I have accepted this goal. Not literally, of course. I donít really want to be Oprah. But the sensation that I must become something greater and influential, spontaneous and politely opinionated, helpful and well-meaning, is a feeling thatís nagged at me since my earliest beginnings as a Generation X underachiever.

Hereís the problem. If I mean it, if I truly intend to redirect my career such that I evolve into an Oprah-like person, I need to figure out how to get there. Letís start with what Iíve got to work with.

For starters, Iím a teacher and public speaker. Thatís influential, right? I stand in front of people, usually adults, and I get to talk about whatever I want. Usually I talk about trade subjects, but teaching is a way to discover new things. I donít believe in learning and then teaching; I want to do them both at the same time. When I write a presentation, Iím figuring it out as I go. For example, I recently proposed a lecture about the delivery of personalized information, like getting restaurant suggestions on your wireless device based on where youíre standing at the time. I think this is cool, so Iím going to talk about it. Thatís what Oprah does: she reads a nifty book and poof! thereís a new bestseller on the rack.

I like celebrity, too. If I could be a household name, sure, Iíd do it. Iím already well known in the indexing industry. Then again, whoís ever heard of indexing? Only about 0.00000001 percent of the worldís population. Short of starring in a Spielberg movie, how can I improve my odds? I need a larger audience: radio, television, Internet! I could write things and publish them regularly on the Web, like cartoonists and newspaper columnists. After a few years, perhaps Iíll generate a loyal following.

Now I need material, and what material could be more interesting than the stuff of life? It works for Jerry Seinfeld, it works for Jerry Springer. Even Albert Einstein is more famous for his haircut and religious comments than his science. So as long as I stick to the ordinary and make it sound cool, Iím golden, right? And whatís more ordinary than watching Oprah on a weekday afternoon?

Finally, like Oprah, I want to make the world a better place. Iíve got the tools, and the drive. So it begins, today, with these pedestrian paragraphs. I have lots of stuff I want to talk about, and the time to do it. If I can write every day for the three years it takes to develop a fan club, gee whiz, Iím like Oprah! Or maybe not. But thereís only one way to find out. I hope you enjoy the ride as much I will. For both our sakes.

By the way, Iíve decided to name my magazine S.

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Copyright 2002 Seth Maislin


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