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Is Susie Winfrey better than Oprah Winfrey?

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oprah-winfrey-400a06011Oprah Winfrey gave a speech to the class of 2007 at Howard University in Washington, DC. The following is a part of her speech.

So here are a few things I want you to know that I know for sure. Don’t be afraid. All you have to know is who you are. Because there is no such thing as failure. There is no such thing as failure.

What other people label or might try to call failure, I have learned is just God’s way of pointing you in a new direction.

Your calling isn’t something that somebody can tell you about. It’s what you feel. It’s a part of your life force. It is the thing that gives you juice. The things that are you supposed to do. And nobody can tell you what that is. You know it inside yourself.

You know, I come from good stock. Dr. Swygert was mentioning my grandmother who had a dream for me. And her dream was not a big dream. Her dream was that one day I could grow up — she used to say, I want you to grow up and get yourself some good white folks, because my grandmother was a maid and she worked for white folks her whole life.

And her idea of having a big dream was to have white folks who at least treated her with some dignity, who showed her a little bit respect. And she used to say, I want you to — I hope you get some good white folks that are kind to you. And I regret that she didn’t live past 1963 to see that I did grow up and get some really good white folks working for me.

I spent eight years in Baltimore. I knew in those years in Baltimore that I was unhappy being a television news reporter. But the voice of my father, who thought he knew what I was supposed to do was in my head. He said don’t you give up that job, girl. You’re never going to make $25,000 in one year. That’s my father’s dream for me. But God could dream a bigger dream than you can dream for yourself. And so I tried to live in the space of God’s dream. And the television executives told me when I was in Baltimore that I was just — it was too much. I was too big, and I was too black.

They told me that I was too engaged, that I was too emotional, I was too — too much for the news and so they put me on a talk show one day just to run out my contract. And that was the beginning of my story. So I say, even when things are difficult, be grateful. Honor your calling; don’t worry about how successful you will be. Don’t worry about it. Focus on how significant you can be in service and the success will take care of itself. And always take a stand for yourself. Your values, you are defined by what you stand for. Your integrity is not for sale.

From the very beginning of my career in Baltimore, and I walked in the room and all of the men in the room said to me you need to change your name, because nobody is going to remember your name. You need to change your name and I said what do you want me to change it to? They said we think Susie is a good name. Susie is a friendly name. Susie is a name that people will remember. People can relate to Susie. I said I think I’m going to keep my name if people remember it or not. It is my name. You have to be willing to stand up for what you believe in. If I — if I could count the number of times I have been asked to compromise and sell out myself for one reason or another, I would be a billionaire 10 times over. My integrity is not for sale and neither is yours.

What did you learn from her speech? What message did you get out of this?

Giovanna Garcia

Imperfect Action is better than No Action

Other related post by Giovanna

Stay Hungry! Stay Foolish! - Steve Jobs

To read Oprah’s full commencement speech go to CNN Transcripts. (Some scrolling required)

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23 Comments

[...] about Steve Jobs as of February 18, 2009 Is Susie Winfrey better than Oprah Winfrey? - imperfectaction.com 02/18/2009 [ oprah-winfrey-400a06011]Oprah Winfrey gave a speech to the class [...]

Arswino says: 18 February 2009 - 1:18 am

Oprah is a good example of a person who struggle for her life. She failed many times, but she could always raise again when she fell.
Thanks for sharing, Giovanna.

Hilary says: 18 February 2009 - 4:05 am

Be true to yourself .. is what I picked up .. it’s the only way. Thanks Gio .. for letting us have Oprah’s story .. who’s Susie?? - Hilary: Be Positive Be Happy

Daphne says: 18 February 2009 - 4:55 am

Wow, I knew Oprah had a hard time but I didn’t know the details until now. Thanks Giovanna - another informative and inspirational post!

Jay says: 18 February 2009 - 8:51 am

Sometimes I question some of Oprah’s decisions, but you look at where she came from it is impossible not to be impressed. Most of the people who read this post knew half Oprah’s strife, yet we have not acheived a thenth of her success. Great Story- thanks Giovanna!

J.D. Meier says: 18 February 2009 - 9:26 am

A pattern that I see in most successful people is they impress themselves first. They follow their dreams and don’t compromise on what they want. They find a way. While some ride a wave, others make one.

The other key pattern I see is that success is incredibly unpredictable. It’s about giving your best where you have your best to give and getting up to bat as much as you can. While knocking the ball out of the park is great, enjoy everything along the way.

Henie says: 18 February 2009 - 10:57 am

Thank you for this, Giovanna! I so appreciate your way of enriching us with facts along with your wisdom! :~)

“Listen to the work that has been placed in your heart and do it well!” ~Henie~

Alik Levin | PracticeThis.com says: 18 February 2009 - 12:22 pm

“My integrity is not for sale and neither is yours”
‘nuf said.
I recently sacrificed a serious biz opportunity in sake of personal integrity.
I feel fantastic, I know i’d hate myself the other way around.
My spiritual reservoir is not leaking… ;) keeps my personal power high.

Giovanna Garcia says: 18 February 2009 - 1:55 pm

Hi Arswino

Oprah is a wonder role model for many people around the world. I enjoyed learning and writing this post.
Thank you for your comment and your support.

Giovanna Garcia
Imperfect Action is better than No Action

Giovanna Garcia says: 18 February 2009 - 1:55 pm

Hi Hilary

Susie is the name the people in Baltimore told Oprah to change her name to. They said Susie is a better name… Thank goodness Oprah didn’t change her name.
Thanks for your comment and sharing your thoughts with us.
Giovanna Garcia
Imperfect Action is better than No Action

Giovanna Garcia says: 18 February 2009 - 1:55 pm

Hi Daphne

You are so welcome. I enjoy doing my work, and it makes me smile when I have a wonderful support system with kind people like you.
Thanks for being here.
Giovanna Garcia
Imperfect Action is better than No Action

Giovanna Garcia says: 18 February 2009 - 1:55 pm

Hi J.D.

I love the way you put it. “Impress yourselves first, and don’t compromise!” There are much true and wisdom in there.
Thanks for your comment and sharing your wisdom with us.
Giovanna Garcia
Imperfect Action is better than No Action

Giovanna Garcia says: 18 February 2009 - 1:56 pm

Hi Henie
I love your quote “Listen to the work that has been placed in your heart and do it well!” Yes, I will do so.
Thank you for your comment and the value you have added into this post.
Giovanna Garcia
Imperfect Action is better than No Action

Giovanna Garcia says: 18 February 2009 - 1:56 pm

Hi Alik

That is great, way to go to for standing up for what you believe in. I feel like I sit up taller just from you sharing your story with me.
Thank you for that.
Giovanna Garcia
Imperfect Action is better than No Action

Grace says: 18 February 2009 - 1:58 pm

Hey, Giovanna! :)

I’m not sure how you found my blog, but I’m so glad you did and left a comment so that I could trace it back here! In the few minutes I’ve looked around here, I can tell this is someplace I’ll want to return!

Your post is so relevant. We live in a culture that is always (ALWAYS) and methodically trying to strip us of our individuality and integrity by having us sell off little pieces of ourselves here and there. Thanks for the great reminder to stay true to our own Voice.

Nicholas Powiull says: 18 February 2009 - 6:36 pm

I could explain to you the message I got from this, but Kirk Nugent explains exactly how I feel: Pursue Your Passion by Kirk Nugent

Giovanna Garcia says: 18 February 2009 - 9:12 pm

Hi Grace

I am glad we meet up with each other. Thank you for the kind words about my work.
We have to protect our integrity, it is not for sale.
Thanks for your comment and joining in the convarsation with us.
Giovanna Garcia
Imperfect Action is better than No Action

Giovanna Garcia says: 18 February 2009 - 9:14 pm

Hi Nicholas

Thanks for your comment, and I am going to have to read the book :-) and I look forward to it.
Thank you,
Giovanna Garcia
Imperfect Action is better than No Action

Craig Garcia says: 13 March 2009 - 7:08 am

Great Post Giovanna, thanks for sharing this story! Oprah is an amazing woman

Giovanna Garcia says: 13 March 2009 - 11:18 am

Hi Craig

Oprah is a great role model for all of us.
Thank you for your comment and sharing your thoughts.
Giovanna Garcia
Imperfect Action is better than No Action

Self Awareness Around The Web says: 20 March 2009 - 6:01 am

[...] Is Susie Winfrey Better Than Oprah Winfrey? - Giovanna highlights a part of the commencement speech Oprah gave at Howard University in 2007 and asks us to reflect on it. [...]

[...] Is Susie Winfrey better than Oprah Winfrey? You are the magic that makes it all happen. [...]

Dino says: 20 November 2013 - 9:18 am

Oprah is a wicked Racist !

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