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What We Can Learn from Oprah’s 101 Mistakes

Who would have thought that Oprah Winfrey, of all people, was not yet ready for primetime? And yet, that’s exactly the mistake she says she made — along with supposedly 100 others — in prematurely launching the OWN network with Discovery 15 months ago.

Oprah told CBS This Morning that her launch of the network was “like having the wedding when you know you are not ready and you are walking down the aisle, and you are saying, ‘I don’t know…maybe we should have postponed it.'” At the time of OWN’s launch, Oprah was still wrapping up her duties at the “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” which ended in May, 2011.  

Despite pleading with her 9 million Twitter followers to watch OWN, Oprah’s network has attracted only around 136,000 per day, placing her fourth among women’s networks. Recently, Oprah had to lay off 30 staffers and give Rosie O’Donnell the axe. Oprah has said she is prepared to roll out a new strategy. 

So what can we learn from the sudden stumbles of a woman who had a remarkable 25-year career winning streak? 

Failure isn’t permanent. Learn from Failure. 

According to William Sahlman, Harvard Business School professor of Entrepreneurial Management, “failure is an essential part of entrepreneurial action.” And furthermore, a distinguishing characteristic of the U.S. culture and economy is that “failure is not permanent.” According to Sahlman, “when you’re part of a failed venture as long as you didn’t lie, cheat or steal you will not be kicked out of the game.” In fact, you’re now experienced. 

Watch the video here:

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Follow Daniel Honan on Twitter @Daniel Honan


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