How Oprah’s System of “Radical Focus” Can Make you Insanely Productive and Successful
The tricks Oprah uses to run her multi-billion dollar empire that you can start using today.
How on earth does Oprah Winfrey do it?
To keep her 3 billion-dollar empire running smoothly, she juggles running her TV network OWN, her media production studio Harpo, and O, The Oprah Magazine. Not one to rest on her laurels, she’s also managed to squeeze in an Oscar nomination (The Color Purple), run an insanely popular book club, and make huge headway philanthropically at the same time.
I could keep going, but I think you get the point: Oprah is pretty darn busy.
Although she is indeed a wonder-woman, there aren’t any superpowers involved in this crazy productivity. Whether you’re running your own empire or just starting a business, Oprah’s methods can offer some simple ways to stay productive and on track to success.
Here are some of the ways she does it (and you can too):
Give each project complete undivided attention
Multitasking might be a way of life for many busy entrepreneurs, but not for Oprah. Despite having the world on her shoulders, she prefers to accomplish each task and project one at a time, giving them her complete and undivided attention.
“I have learned that your full-on attention for any activity you choose to experience comes with a level of intensity and truth. It’s about living a present life, moment to moment … That whole thing about multitasking? That’s a joke for me. When I try to do that, I don’t do anything well.”
In this 2015 interview with Oprah, writer J.J McCorvey dubs her bull’s eye approach to work “radical focus.” It goes against traditional advice that packing in as much work into single moment is better, that time is money, and so on. But for Oprah, taking things one at a time is the key to producing the cutting edge, high quality content that she’s famous for. If focus and productivity is an area of life you wish to improve on, zeroing in on singular tasks might just be your golden ticket too.
Grow and let go
It might surprise you to learn that Oprah lives 2 hours away from her office and frequently works at home. That’s because instead of trying to oversee her whole empire, she found success by doing the exact opposite.
“I try to surround myself with people who really know what they’re doing, and give them the freedom to do it,” she said.
This may seem mind-numbingly obvious, but it’s still an incredibly pertinent point in the resource-strapped world of entrepreneurship.
Successful people make a daily habit of only working on the things they do best — their Genius Zone — and passing the torch to their team for the rest.
I took this to a new level by allowing everyone to be a leader instead of trying to lead them, and I haven’t looked back since. So let your team take control — even if it’s just by a little bit — the results and relationships you build will amaze you.
Stay true to the important things
With so much going on daily, it’s easy for anyone to get stretched thin and stray from what made them successful initially.
It even happened to Oprah. After ending her namesake talk show, her OWN network was initially considered a rare failure because of its struggle to retain viewership and find a niche.
Rather than focusing on what would spike viewership, Oprah went back to her roots. Discovery president and CEO David Zaslav, who created OWN with Winfrey, said,
“If we made choices based on ratings, I know that we could be a top-10 network and make a lot more money, but the choices Oprah’s making are purpose-driven.”
Oprah knew her loyal fan base wouldn’t be swayed by what was trending at the time, even if it resulted in some short-term popularity. In the end, it paid off — by putting her ear to the ground and staying true to her core values, Oprah saw her show go on to break records and achieve the highest quarterly prime rank in network history.
You can do something similar by reviewing your core values before taking on something new. At my firm, we even have a core question that’s built into our DNA: “would this financial advice be good enough for my Mom?” Sure, following our mission results in some lost profits, but it also ensures long-term success (not to mention it’s the whole reason for us existing).
That’s not to say your mission can’t change over time. But you should keep a focus on long-term success and vision, even if it means sacrificing some short-term gains.
Don’t forget “me time”
After seeing Oprah’s insane success, it’s tempting to question whether she’s a robot. After all, that amount of success has to be achieved by working 24/7 right?
Actually, she attributes much of her success to spending time thinking about nothing and relaxing. Oprah Winfrey meditates twice a day for 20 minutes, because she finds that meditation grounds her and gives her an optimistic outlook.
“I walk[ed] away feeling fuller than when I’d come in. Full of hope, a sense of contentment, and deep joy,” she said after meditating for the first time. “Knowing for sure that even in the daily craziness that bombards us from every direction, there is — still — the constancy of stillness.”
Even if you don’t want to meditate, you should try to incorporate Oprah’s mindset. Take a few minutes during the day to reflect on the great things you’re doing, and recalibrate your sense of joy.
Successful people always find “me time” to refresh and rejuvenate, no matter how busy they are. I do this by walking to work, and you can find a way to incorporate it in your schedule too.
You might not have your own network tomorrow, but if you start trusting people, focusing on what really matters, and prioritizing yourself, you can also gain “radical focus” and accomplish more than you ever thought was possible.
What do you incorporate into your life to stay focused and successful? I want to hear from you!