Oprah Winfrey is a talk show legend who hosted the eponymous hit “The Oprah Winfrey Show” from 1986-2011. Her aim for the show was to address issues that affected people on a large scale. since then,
Oprah co-founded Oxygen and Harpo Productions, a film and video company, and launched OWN (The Oprah Winfrey Network).
With a cumulative value of over $3.5 billion, it must have taken a lot of organization and foresight to keep its projects running smoothly.
Here are 10 strict rules that Oprah’s employees must follow to be part of her team.
1. Sign a closed court non-disclosure agreement.
Oprah likes to keep her private life private. The people who work for her are privy to details of Cyclops’ life that the general public will never know.
To keep her closest secrets a secret, Oprah has one of the best publicity and legal teams in the business. Not surprisingly, while most nondisclosure agreements are for a limited time, her staff must sign lifetime agreements.
In 2000, Oprah defended the staff restrictive gag order, saying, “I have to work in an environment where I feel I can trust my employees.”
2. Security is a top priority. Only the best need apply.
Oprah takes her studio’s security very seriously. She is well aware that anyone can be a victim of a criminal with bad intentions. Its security has to be the best ever.
For this reason, the media mogul keeps a highly qualified security team at its disposal. But you can’t just be someone off the streets. Oprah once hired Michael Jai White for her security team before he became the first black actor to play a superhero in “Spawn.”
White is trained in Taekwondo, Kyokushin, Jujutsu and many other martial arts. He’s well qualified to beat the brakes out of anyone who comes to Oprah.
3. Leave the gum at home.
In 2018, Reese Witherspoon revealed that she was chewing gum in front of Oprah on the set of A Wrinkle in Time, which got her angry.
Oprah later confirmed during an interview with Stephen Colbert that she can’t stand being around people who chew gum. If you work on Oprah, make sure you never get caught taking a mouthful of Double Mint.
4. Don’t misbehave or it will come to you.
Oprah is great at taking responsibility when things go wrong. When she discovered the alleged abuse at the girl’s school she opened in Africa, she apologized and begged forgiveness from the parents of the abused children.
Not only was Oprah held responsible, but the school’s principal, Tiny Virginia Makobo, was also accused of attempting to kiss and fondle girls at the school. Oprah supported the young women all the way through her former employee’s trial.
In the end, 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 courage and conviction to be heard.”
After the former employee was acquitted, the school’s former principal, Nomphio Mazamani, filed a defamation lawsuit against Winfrey alleging that she failed to take action against Makobo. This case was later settled out of court.
5. Be prepared to share.
Oprah is known for remembering the names of her employees and taking a genuine interest in their lives. Many have shared that when it comes to listening when people are speaking, she is top notch.
She loves knowing what is going on in the lives of the people who work for her and does what she can to help with their personal lives.
6. You cannot accept gifts from Oprah fans.
As with any influencer, fans will show up at Oprah’s studios with gifts or cards in hand, hoping to give it to her.
But Oprah has a strict policy against accepting gifts from the public. In her program’s list of internal rules, she made it very clear that accepting anything on her behalf was out of the question.
7. You need to be able to handle controversy.
Oprah is no stranger to scandal. The MeToo movement has exposed several women victims of famous producer Harvey Weinstein. Oprah was accused of “hanging out” with the disgraced director, which sparked a firestorm.
Despite her decision not to give him a platform to defend himself against the indefensible, Oprah has been wrongfully accused of aiding Weinstein in assaulting women. As an employee, you should be able to put up with a scandal here or there and remain loyal.
8. Be prepared to be part of the lawsuit.
When you’re a big public figure like Oprah, you can expect people to sue you for legitimate reasons or to get a cut of your collective wealth.
Oprah is no stranger to lawsuits. From trademark violations to battles over their infamous non-disclosure agreements, there were plenty of legal issues to deal with. As an employee, it is entirely possible for you to be called to testify.
9. You have to think outside the box.
No doubt we’ve talked a lot about Oprah’s philanthropic efforts, but her giving mentality doesn’t end there. Oprah asks her employees to develop a holistic view of the world, while setting aside any biases they may have.
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In 2013, Oprah was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama. Part of the reason was her dedication to diversity and inclusion. It encourages its employees to engage and interact with people from different backgrounds.
10. You have to put your job before motherhood.
When Oprah launched the OWN Network, her first show was Season 25: Oprah Behind the Scenes. In that episode, she asked the women who work with her to talk openly about their experiences.
A large portion of the women with children in the audience, from Oprah’s cast, spoke of the sacrifices they made for the success of the show.
They talked about the challenges they faced as working mothers, and one was quoted as saying, “I had to be OK with making sacrifices for the sake of work. I hope to inspire this passion in my children.”
Oprah thanked them for working the long hours and sacrificing their personal lives, but explained that it was necessary and par for the course. If you have kids, you’ll likely need a strong support system if Oprah decides to hire you.
Neri Osler is a writer from Seattle, Washington, and the author of seven books. They cover lifestyle, entertainment, and news, as well as workplace mobility and social issues.
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