Final post: My visit with Oprah!

I’ve loved your insightful and enthusiastic responses about wisdom you’ve gained from Oprah and Dr. Brene Brown.  Aren’t they something?!  (Today is Part 3 of 3 on my visit to Oprah’s. If you missed 1 and 2, just click here.)

Today I want to introduce you to the amazing woman and powerful force behind Oprah, give you a feel for the atmosphere inside Oprah’s Harpo studios, and answer questions you sent me.


Before I do, a little background…

In my years of coaching women, it was very common for women to tell me that her dream was to become Oprah (or at least be on Oprah’s Show!)

Oprah — the ultimate life coach — called on us to think bigger and live our best lives. She role-modeled it was possible no matter our background, limitations or circumstances to become a billionaire, use our talents for good, and contribute abundantly to the world.

In Oprah’s 25th and final season in 2011, her work was documented in its own television show — Oprah Behind-The-Scenes.  In it, her hard-working Executive Producer Sheri Salata calmly, clearly and lovingly led Oprah and the team day-after-day no matter the obstacle or enormity of a problem.

What amazed me is the shift that occurred after that show began airing.  Instead of women telling me they wanted to become Oprah, they started to tell me they wanted to become Sheri Salata!

Take a peek here at one of the powerful scenes with Sheri and Oprah during the last season of Oprah.

Today Sheri is the president of Oprah Winfrey Network and Harpo Productions.

Even though I’d been introduced to Sheri years ago, Rob and I met her at a seminar in Cancun last spring – and got to know her better.  And fell in love!

So it was a great joy to be able to see her in her Harpo office and watch her in action last week.  She is the very epitome of what a powerful, feminine leader is.

Jodi Salata, Sheri Salata and Debbie Phillips behind the scenes at HARPO
Sheri Salata with her sister-in-law Jodi and me!

As a leader, Sheri distinguishes herself with her strength, clarity, and kindness. She is a model of how an enlightened leader operates. Something both women and men can learn from in today’s world.

To be inside Harpo studios, the physical surroundings are beautiful and the atmosphere for a bustling production company is surprisingly tranquil.  It feels like a sanctuary. (Perhaps it has something to do with the Harpo team being taught to meditate.)

What also struck me walking the halls of Harpo was how each and every employee was unfailingly kind and attentive.  From the gentlemen overseeing parking in the garage, to the young woman standing outside the women’s restroom, asking how we were enjoying the taping to Sheri Salata herself who gently, calmly nurtures and directs the team at Harpo.

And now, here are a few questions you’ve sent me this week:

What is Oprah really like – is there an Oprah on camera and an Oprah in reality?

Nope!  She seemed the same both on and off camera. And she was so similar to the Oprah I met 27 years ago! What you see is who she is. She’s very authentic, driven and funny.

Does the press agent that arranged your first meeting with Oprah 27 years ago still work for her?

Sadly, no.  Stedman told me the young man died shortly after her talk show launched.  One of the reasons I agreed to set up the meeting between the Governor and Oprah, unknown at the time, was because the press agent was so kindly determined and insistent that we wouldn’t want to miss meeting this rising star. (He was right!) I’ve never met anyone working for Oprah who wasn’t the epitome of professional.

Did you meet her dogs?

No dogs in the office with her last week. 🙁 But years ago I did meet Sophie and Solomon, her black and blonde Cocker Spaniels.

Did she talk about how her support of President Obama either was or wasn’t reflected in her role with The Butler?

She didn’t.  What I noticed though was his presence in the building. His 2004 campaign poster hangs prominently in the hallway and one of her “streets” in the office is named Obama Way.


Does she still not carry a mobile device?

In fact, she was wandering around her office with her iPad in hand. (See photo above!)

I hope you have enjoyed learning a little about the behind-the-scenes at Harpo studios with Oprah, Brene Brown and Sheri Salata.

What these women have achieved is so inspiring.  After my time with them, I set some new goals for myself.

I plan to create an office that feels like a sanctuary. I want to live my life with as much vulnerability as Brene Brown. I want to the kind of leader that Sheri Salata is. And I want to keep on keepin’ on as Oprah has!

How about you?  Feel free to comment below so we can cheer you on!

Want to meet Oprah's #2? Head on over to to meet our favorite Woman on Fire- Sheri Salata