Oprah Winfrey Harvard Commencement Top 5 Quotes

Oprah Winfrey Harvard Commencement Speech Takeaways

1. “It doesn’t matter how far you might rise. At some point, you are bound to stumble. If you’re constantly pushing yourself higher and higher, the law of averages predicts that you will at some point fall. And when you do, I want you to remember this: There is no such thing as failure. Failure is just life trying to move us in another direction. Now, when you’re down there in the hole, it looks like failure. When that moment comes, it’s okay to feel bad for a little while. Give yourself time to mourn what you think you may have lost. But then, here’s the key: Learn from every mistake, because every experience, particularly your mistakes, are there to teach you and force you into being more who you are.”

2. “The Oprah Winfrey Show was number one in our spot for 21 years, and I have to tell you, I became pretty comfortable with that level of success. But a couple of years ago, I decided, as you will at some point, that it was time to recalculate, find new territory, and break new ground. So I ended the show and launched OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network. One year later, after launching OWN, nearly every media outlet had proclaimed that my new venture was a flop … I can still remember the day I opened up USA Today and read the headline, ‘Oprah: Not Quite Standing On Her OWN’ … It really was the worst period in my professional life. I was stressed and I was frustrated, and quite frankly, I was embarrassed … Then the words came to me, ‘trouble don’t last always,’ from an old hymn. This too shall pass. And I thought, I am going to turn this thing around and I will be better for it. And I am here to tell you that I have turned that network around.”

3. “Your class will be armed with more tools of influence and empowerment than any other generation in history. I did it in an analog world. I was blessed with a platform that, at its height, reached nearly 20 million viewers a day. Now, here in a world of Youtube and Facebook and Twitter and Tumblr, you can reach billions in just seconds. You’re the generation that rejected predictions about your detachment and disengagement by showing up to vote in record numbers in 2008. And the pundits said you’d be too disappointed and too dejected to repeat that same kind of turnout in the 2012 election, and you proved them wrong by showing up in even greater numbers. That’s who you are.”

4. “The single most important lesson I learned in 25 years talking every single day to people, was that there’s a common denominator in our human experience. The common denominator I found in every single interview is we want to be validated. We want to be understood. I’ve done over 35,000 interviews in my career. And as soon as that camera shuts off, and inevitably in their own way, everyone asks this question: ‘Was that okay?’ I heard it from President Bush, I heard it from President Obama, I’ve heard it from heroes and from housewives, I’ve heard it from victims and perpetrators of crimes. I even heard it from Beyonce in all her Beyonce-ness … They all want to know: ‘Was that okay? Did you hear me? Did you see me? Did what I said mean anything to you?’”

5. “You will find true success and happiness if you have only one goal. There really is only one, and that is this: To fulfill the highest, most truthful expression of yourself as a human being. You want to max out your humanity by using your energy to lift yourself up, your family, and the people around you. Theologian Howard Thurman said it best. He said, ‘Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.’”

Hear hear full speech:

“Oprah Winfrey, who has used her success as a talk show host and media entrepreneur to promote education, civic engagement, and charitable works, addresses graduates at Harvard’s 362nd Commencement on May 30, 2013 at Tercentenary Theatre.”

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