Oprah Winfrey is a talk show legend who hosted her successful self-titled “The Oprah Winfrey Show” from 1986-2011. Her goal with the show was to address issues that affected people in a big way. From that moment on,
Oprah is co-founder of Oxygen, Harpo Productions, a film and video companyand launched OWN (The Oprah Winfrey Network).
Immediately amassed value in excess of $3.5 billionit must take a lot of organization and foresight to keep its ventures running smoothly.
Here are 10 strict rules Oprah’s staff must follow to be part of her team.
1. Sign a watertight confidentiality agreement.
Oprah likes to keep her private life private. People who work for her know details about the life of the mega-tycoon that the general public would never know.
To keep her biggest secrets confidential, Oprah has one of the best publicity and legal teams in the company. Not surprisingly, while most NDAs are for a limited time, its staff must sign lifetime agreements.
In 2000, Oprah defended the restrictive employee gag order, saying, “I need to function in an environment where I feel I can trust my employees.”
2. Security is the top priority. Only the best need applies.
Oprah takes her studio’s security seriously. She knows very well that anyone can become a victim of a criminal with malicious intent. Her security must be the best of the best.
For that reason, the media magnate has a highly qualified security team to her disposal. But you can’t just be someone off the street. Oprah was once hired Michael Jay White to her security team before becoming the first black actor to play a superhero in the movie “Spawn.”
White is trained in Taekwondo, Kyokushin, Jujutsu and numerous other martial arts. He is well qualified to put the brakes on anyone who comes before Oprah.
3. Leave the gum at home.
In 2018, Reese Witherspoon revealed that she chewed gum in front of Oprah on the set of “A Wrinkle in Time”, which made her furious.
Oprah later confirmed during an interview with Steven Colbert that she can’t stand being around people who chew gum. If you work for Oprah, make sure you never get caught with a mouthful of Double Mint.
4. Don’t misbehave or she will come after you.
Oprah is big on taking responsibility when things go wrong. When she heard about the alleged abuse at the girls’ school she had opened in Africashe apologized and begged for forgiveness from the parents of the abused children.
Not only did Oprah take responsibility, the school’s principal, Tiny Virginia Makopo, was accused of kissing and caressing girls at the school. Oprah supported the young ladies throughout the process from her ex-employee.
Ultimately, the woman was acquitted of the crimes and Oprah released a statement saying, “I will forever be proud of the nine girls who testified with the courage and conviction to be heard.”
After the ex-employee was acquitted, the school’s former principal, Nomvuyo Mzamane, filed a libel suit against Winfrey alleging she took no action against Makopo. That case was later settled out of court.
5. Be willing to share.
Oprah is known for remembering her staff’s names and taking a genuine interest in their lives. Many have shared that when it comes to listening when people speak, she is top notch.
She is eager to know what is going on in the lives of the people who work for her and does what she can to help in their personal lives.
6. You cannot accept gifts from Oprah fans.
As with any influential person, fans will come to Oprah’s studios with gifts or cards in hand, hoping to give them to her.
But Oprah has a strict policy against accepting gifts from the public. In an internal list of rules for her showshe made it crystal clear that it is impossible to accept anything on her behalf.
7. You must be able to handle controversy.
Oprah is no stranger to scandal. The MeToo movement has unearthed several women who were victims of famed producer Harvey Weinstein. Oprah was accused of “hanging out” with the disgraced filmmaker, igniting a firestorm.
Despite her decision not to give him a platform to defend against the indefensible, Oprah was wrongly accused to help Weinstein abuse women. As an employee you have to be able to tolerate a scandal here or there and remain loyal.
8. Be prepared to be part of a lawsuit.
When you’re a public figure as big as Oprah, you can expect people to sue you for legitimate reasons or get their hands on a piece of your mass fortune.
Oprah is no stranger to lawsuits. From trademark infringement to battle for its infamous NDAsthere have been a lot of legal issues to deal with. It is quite possible that you as an employee will be called to testify.
9. You need to think outside the box.
No doubt we’ve talked a lot about Oprah’s philanthropic endeavors, but her giving mindset doesn’t end there. Oprah requires her employees to develop a holistic view of the world, putting aside any preconceived notions.
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In 2013 Oprah awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama. Part of the reason was her commitment to diversity and inclusion. She encourages her employees to interact and socialize with people from different backgrounds.
10. You must put your job before motherhood.
When Oprah launched the OWN Network, the first show she premiered was “Season 25: Oprah Behind the Scenes.” In that episodeshe asked women who worked for her to tell candidly about their experiences.
A large portion of the women with children in the audience, made up of Oprah staff, talked about the sacrifices they had made for the show’s success.
They spoke about the challenges they faced as working moms and one of them said, “I had to be okay with making sacrifices for work. I hope I can inspire that passion in my kids.”
Oprah thanked them for working long hours and sacrificing their personal lives, but made it clear that it was necessary and normal. If you have kids, you probably need a strong support system if Oprah decides to hire you.
NyRee Ausler is a writer from Seattle, Washington, and the author of seven books. She covers lifestyle and entertainment and news, as well as navigating the workplace and social issues.