Oprah Winfrey shares some deep and unique insights about her own career and what truly matters.
(jazz music) - Talking about Belief, it's pretty clear how important this theme of connection, belief, spirituality is. The same theme you pick up with a show like Super Soul Sunday. - Yeah. - And could you talk a little bit about what that show means to you and historically, you oversaw arguably one of the most successful television shows, franchises in the history of the media, and you know the business, you know ratings matter and historically this kind of programming was not something that a traditional television executive would say, "Yeah, we gotta air this stuff." But it's so clear how important it is to you.
- Well, this is how it happened. I read Seat of the Soul in 1989. It changed the way I saw the world. It changed the way I operated my own life. The principle, I said to you earlier, of intention, whoa, I just went, I get that because I used to be a real big people pleaser and couldn't figure out what it was that caused people to always to come back and were always using me and why I always felt like a doormat. It's 'cause my intention was to please.
So when your intention is to please-- - [Jeff] It's like giving your power away. - You're giving you power away. So, I now don't do anything without thinking about what is the real reason, what is my intention. Because I do know the law says that intention is at one with cause and effect. So you are not going to be able to create the cause without the intention and that the intention is what's going to fuel the effect. So what's going to actually show up is what you consciously and subconsciously intended.
So, I think long and hard before I do something because I know that's the way the law works. It's not woo-woo new age stuff, it's physics. - You know it also helps explain, I'm always struck by your conviction and I think that's one of the reasons you're able to have the impact that you do because you believe so strongly in the things that you're talking about and that thread of intention that you described earlier, that ride down in the elevator. - Yeah. - What I was visualizing was, when you get in touch with that, it becomes so powerful and it guides you-- - [Oprah] Yeah.
- Through decisions. It guides you through the way you do things. I can never, as I was starting to think about interviewing Oprah, which is pretty daunting, I realized I could never recall you ever looking at notes ever when you did an interview. And I think that may tie back to this understanding of intention because you have such clear intent of what it is that you're trying to do. - Yeah, and one of the intentions is to listen. And let whatever that person is saying take me to whatever the next question is going to be.
So, I've had note and oh my gosh, the producers would be so upset if you're not using the notes because we're trying to cut this to a certain thing. I do better without notes because then I'm just, I'm guided by instinct and what I'm hearing because I want to fully hear you. One of the great, great, great, great, great lessons... Did I say great? - That's a lot of great. I can't wait to hear what it is. - No, you know what I'm going to say. I would say the greatest lesson I learned from the show all those years was that every single human being is looking for the same thing.
And how did I know that? Because I interviewed the father who killed his twins and at the end of the interview, behind bars he says to me, "How did I do? "Was that OK?" When I finished interviewing George Bush he said, "That OK?" - Everyone wants to be heard and recognized. - Everybody-- - [Jeff] Everyone. - Everybody. I don't care who it is or what they've done. Beyonce at the end of her you know, Beyonceness, hands me the mic and say, "Was that OK?" - [Jeff] "How was it?" - Yeah, "How was it?" - That's so fundamental to human nature.
- It's fundamental and this is what I learned from that. I paid attention. I would say one of my greatest assets, greatest gifts is that I not just pay attention in an interview, I pay attention to my life. I pay attention to my life because I know-- - [Jeff] You're listening to your life. - I'm listening to my life all the time, all the time. So, I learned from that show that oh, every single person saying that, I think that's what everybody I looking for. So, whether it's the person at the dry cleaners, this is when I used to pick up my dry cleaning on a Saturday.
The person at the dry cleaners is looking to be validated. To say, wow, you really wrapped that beautiful. That is so-- - [Jeff] Of course. - Everybody is looking for the, everybody. Every argument you have, the real reason for the argument is you are not hearing me. - [Jeff] That's right. It's not about your shoes on the floor or leaving your socks on the ground, it's about, "Did you hear me?" And did what I say mean anything to you? So when I got that, it changed the way I listened.
It changed the way I heard things and I think it's one of the most powerful things you can let someone know is that I hear you. I may not do what you want me to do, but I hear you. I do hear you. And the way you let them know, you mirror back to them what they've said. I hear you. You want me to do this, this, this and this. I hear that's what you want, but I'm not able to do that and this is why. So just being heard levels the playing field and eliminates a lot of tension and a lot of, you don't know me, you didn't understand me, you didn't get, you didn't all that.
Eh, try that with Lizette. I'm not kidding. (laughing) - So how does that translate? One of the things that I've kind of marveled at is, you had this extraordinary platform with the television show and then you clearly recognized directionally where the trends were headed and the importance of social media. And almost from a standing start you've embraced social media and you've now established platforms through all of the major services, millions upon millions of followers.
How does this notion of being heard translate into social media when you have so many people commenting and there's almost this cacophony of voices? And you've figured it out. I mean, anyone who follows you in any of those channels understands you seem to be as facile with that as you are with television. - I am because you know what? Even when people are, you know, I'm on Facebook every day and we've been doing like little Belief stories. Now what really astounds me actually is that people can find a way to argue about grace.
You know, so I'm just doing little things. Like I said, I believe that grace is an extension of gratitude and the more grateful you are, the more grace shows up. I wouldn't imagine that somebody could find something to argue-- - [Jeff] To debate with that. - To debate with that, but they do. So when people are debating and when people are in disagreement and people want to say, "Well, you better name what it is Oprah. "What are you talking about?" I say, "Peace unto you. "I hear what you're saying. "I know you want me to think exactly the way you think." But that's what this is about. This is about all of us being able to share our ideas and, you know, God bless you with that and I do the little (clapping) prayer emoji and good luck with your struggle sir.
In the beginning, when I first started tweeting and somebody says something that's really nasty to you, you want to explain to them and you want to defend you position. I have learned that, you know, over the, just comes I guess with grace and maturity that you have to accept people and meet them exactly where they are. And the thing about belief, I feel about belief the same way I feel about Super Soul Sunday. I didn't fully answer that question. I created Super Soul Sunday because that's why I want to do television.
I want to talk to thought leaders, people who have learned from their life experiences, who have the wisdom to hare that can open the heart space. That's what I wanted to do. That's what I really wanted to do in broadcast television. But when I started after Gary Zukav... I put Gary Zukav on, I think, in 1990. The producers at the time were like, (stuttering) we don't even know what to do with this.
How do you? So I did my first show with Gary Zukav with him doing the little graphic explaining what the soul was. Can you imagine on broadcast television? - No, I can't. - At four in the afternoon trying to talk about what is the soul. Well, it is those show with Gary, with Caroline Myss, with Marianne Williamson over the years and many other people. But the first was with Gary that kept me in the seat, that kept me in the chair.
I lived for those shows. Those were the shows where I can alive and I'd be, "Oh my God, today I get to talk about--" And we'd started a thing called I think in the mid-90s, remember your spirit. I was in the middle of a show with Caroline Myss talking about her book, I can't remember the name of it. Mind, Body, Spirit. And she was talking to the audience and I could see that the audience was just like fading. So I stopped the show, stopped taping.
I said, "Hey audience, hey, hey, hey, "hey, hey, hey, come back. "What's wrong? "What's wrong everybody?" And a woman stood up and said, "We don't know what you're talking about. "We don't know what you're talking about." I go, "What do you mean?" I said, "We're talking about mind, body, spirit." And she goes, "Well." I said, "You know you have a mind, right? "You have a body right? "And you have a spirit." She said, "No. "I don't know, I don't know what do you mean? "Are you talking about John the Baptist? "Are you talking Jesus Christ? "What are you talking about?" "No," I said, "I'm talking about you." So then I realized, oh wow, people don't even have the language.
It's like your soul. It's kind of like your soul kind of thing, you know? You've got a soul, right? So, having to-- Then, then the producer's like, "See, we told you. "Nobody knows what this even is." So, I was just like dumbfounded by wow, you're walking around and you don't even know that there's a part of you that's bigger than your body. That's bigger than your personality, that is. So it became my goal. It became my goal to get people to see that.
And it was my number one goal to have Gary Zukav, who didn't know who I was when I called him. He asked, he said, "Can you say that again?" "Op-rah" He said, "Can you spell it?" "O-P-R-A-H," I said. "And so I read your book and I have some questions." And had him on the show and he didn't even, he didn't own a television. He did not own a television.
But it was my number one goal to have that book become number one on the New York Times Bestseller's List. That was my goal. - [Jeff] And? - And it did. - [Jeff] That happened? - Again and again and again and again. But I specifically want that to happen. I wanted it to be number one because I wanted it to replace M. Scott Peck's book, "The Road Less Traveled" because for years, I saw that book as number one. I saw that as sort of the guiding force for people who were considered themselves spiritual and I thought, if I could get that book to do that then that means enough people would have read it that I would have reached my own idea of critical mass.
So I can have discussions about it. - Enough fluency. Enough aggregate fluency-- - Thank you, that's the word I'm looking for. Aggregate fluency. I'm looking for aggregate fluency. So if I can get enough people to read it, then I can do shows and talk about it and people will know what I'm talking about. - [Jeff] Which further elevates this subject. - That's right. - Because you're bringing more people into the dialogue. - Yeah. That's exactly. But that was intentional. That was-- - Is that one of the reasons you ask on Super Soul Sunday, one of the recurring questions is, "How do you define the soul?" - Yeah.
Because at least people know what that is. They know what that is. And all of the various definitions give you, "Ah, yes." Because nobody's answer's wrong. Nobody's wrong. It just give you an expanded view of what that is. You know, my favorite definition, I always ask, "What is God?" too, and my favorite answer came from Caroline Myss. Her book was called "Anatomy of Spirit." That's what it was. "Anatomy of Spirit." And people were like, "What is the spirit? "What is he talking about?" And her definition is, God is law.
And when she said it I just went, "Oooo, yeah, yeah, God is law." Because all of the laws that rule the universe that's what it is. That's what God is. Every single law that you can define and those that are not defined, that's what it is. And there is a purpose and meaning behind it all. There's obviously a mystery that we have not yet unfolded for ourselves and I don't think you do in this lifetime get it all, but you get enough.
You do get enough. There's a story we tell of the Aboriginal grandfather, who is teaching his grandson the song line, the song line of their tribe and then the story of Mendel in Hungary having his bar mitzvah. I put those two stories together because of the fathers. The thread that you see between the Aboriginal and the Hungarian is love and that love is as powerful and as strong and is as a binding thread as anything we have in the world.
So my who idea behind Belief is even when the Pope said this. Remember when the Pope was standing in the balcony after he spoke and he said, "Pray for me. "And even if you don't believe in prayer, "send me good wishes." (sighing) I thought, I love you Pope! I feel the same way about this series. Even if you don't believe in prayer, you don't have a name for a deity. You don't believe there is a deity. You don't believe.
You certainly believe in the power of love. And throughout the series, you see how love shows itself in ways that mirror the best of who we are.
In the first segment, Oprah discusses her start in television, the guiding force behind her show, and how her current work is all about connection, spirituality, and the earth. In the second, Oprah talks about the power of belief and intention, and how to determine what "you ultimately want to do" and the joy of "getting it." In the final segment, Oprah talks about SuperSoul Sunday and how we are all looking for validation.