Garrison Wynn
Speaker, Consultant, Author

Garrison Wynn

Founder of Wynn Solutions, this keynote speaker is a former stand-up comedian and author of "The Real Truth About Success


Not the girl next door

Q: How hard is it to stay grounded when you've had as much success as Oprah? Kitty Kelley's new biography discusses her charitable giving and her big-time indulgences. Should anyone begrudge her $500 mink eyelashes or $365,000 Bentley? And why do we love reading about the foibles of the rich and famous?

We expect celebrities who can really relate to the masses to be just like us, which is completely ludicrous because the fact that they can generate such mass appeal is what makes them definably not like us!

Oprah rose from poverty and abuse to somehow become an educated journalist and Oscar-nominated actress. She then went on to get housewives and the jobless glued to their TV sets as she revealed her personal problems on the air and created a media empire. So let's be clear about something: She is absolutely nothing like you (no offense) or anyone you know.

We like to write about people on TV or in positions of influence as being humble, ego free and just like the girl next door. Does the girl next door to you have her own magazine with her picture on the cover of every issue? Oprah is the only human to ever own her own magazine and grace her own cover every month.

My point is that big egos and large contributions to mankind go hand in hand. Maintaining a consistent level of humility when you get a standing ovation for just showing up is damn near impossible. It can be done, but by very few, and usually in connection with a drug charge.

The truth is that we love success and cheer people on until they reach such greatness that no one else can compete. Then we want to tear them down and insult their character when we can't find anything tangibly wrong with them.

If in business we get too successful, they say it's a monopoly that seems to break laws that did not exist until that level of success was achieved. We like to say "Be all you can be" -- and then when you exceed all expectations, we say "It's not fair! You have so much when others are drinking beer in a trailer park." (No offense to drunken, trailer-park people everywhere; if it were not for you, Jerry Springer would be just another regular guy.)

Given the intense public scrutiny she knows she'll have to face, I say Oprah gets to drive down the street in a car worth more than most houses, batting her $500 eyelashes and saying, "I'm just like you."

By Garrison Wynn  |  April 21, 2010; 1:06 PM ET  | Category:  Oprah's success , The lush life Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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I read the question posed and the comments made, and the most striking of all are the people who think Oprah Winfrey is generous. People that obviously like her, and people that obviously do not, say she it is so.

How is it generous to give what you do not need? Once you spend millions of dollars on your own birthday, give expensive jewelry to your celebrity friends to garner their affection, you are left with buying mink eyelashes. There is only so much a person can lavish upon herself, before giving something away. It is sad commentary about a person that she has such need for self indulgence as to engage in this kind of self absorbed consumption.

Before calling Oprah generous, we should all be mindful of the gospel about the old woman in the temple that is criticized for giving only pennies. It is pointed out she gave out of her needs, and those who belittled her gave of what they did not want.

I am glad Oprah makes large charitable contributions, even if it seems it is never done without the goal of burnishing her own celebrity status. May the money she gives do good for the all world. But, please, do not call her generous. What she gives as compared to what she has is a pittance compared to what millions of people do every day of the year.

Posted by: kermit5 | April 26, 2010 3:34 PM
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I fault Ms. Winfrey for nothing. Bentley dealerships and purveyors of false eyelashes also have to put food on their table, no?

Posted by: terpfan2000 | April 26, 2010 11:36 AM
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The real truth about success is simple but hardly politically correct: some people are smart, and some people are not. Smart people who want money can get money. Stupid people who want money can't get it; and if by some fluke they do get it they can't keep it or make it grow--notice any great family fortunes based on lottery winnings? The phrase is "make money", not "get somebody else's money." A system is fair when it leaves everybody alone to make it and keep it as best they can. Oprah's success does not diminish me in any way; what she has she got on her own, and what I have I got on my own. Go thou and do likewise.

Posted by: KevinOrlinJohnson | April 26, 2010 5:42 AM
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Too much attention is given to Oprah regarding her politics, friends, weight, habits, etc,. Who cares, she is successful at what she does, and she can spend her money as she wants, she earned her money herself. Americans, have a penchant for celebrity, they need to get a life of their own and see celebrities for what they are, people with strengths and weaknesses, people who are wonderful and have great faults. Get a life people!

Posted by: Listening2 | April 25, 2010 12:41 PM
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I don't begrduge Oprah for her success and neither do I look upon her as a hero for giving her money. Oprah is worth over a billion dollars. That is alot of money. So when she gives out millions, I don't look at this as her giving all that she has got to the poor or unfortunate. Instead, my heros are the single moms taking care of their children and making sure that they get an education on their meager, paltry salaries (which are sometimes earned by taking 2 jobs). Or the foster parents who take care of kids without asking for anything in return. These are the people you hardly hear about. Oprah may work hard but so do they but unfortunately they don't earn millions a year like she does.

In this soceity we look at her as a success. I wonder if any thing such as god's blessing had anything to do with it. After all I seen kids in India working all day in unhealthy trash earning less than a couple of dollars a day. Do those kids works less hard then Oprah? The sad thing is that these kids were born into poverty and will die in poverty. I slowly see Amercia becoming another India where you have the ultra rich and the ultra poor and no one in between.

Posted by: fumango1 | April 25, 2010 11:23 AM
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It's people like cmecyclist who are destroying this country. She should give away all her money?? Excess wealth?? "Oprah and her ilk need to redistribute the wealth more fairly" she does. It's called employment of others. She gives more than we make, maybe she should stop working so hard so she wont be so rich. Who will that hurt? The people who benefit from her giving. Please move to France or Mars.

Posted by: DCTT | April 25, 2010 10:54 AM
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Stop this "she works hard for her success." Yeah she does but so do a lot of people who labor at menial jobs.

It's a matter of fairness. Oprah and her ilk need to redistribute the wealth more fairly. Getting 500 dollar eye lashes is simple greed when it could feed a hungry family for a month.

Excess wealth is pure and simple selfishness when there are people who could use that for basic needs.

Posted by: cmecyclist | April 25, 2010 8:00 AM
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That's right! When you check out at any grocery store there countless magazines with famous people on the cover. Americans are infatuated with fame, money and notoriety. I think most people wish hey had it, but would be quite surprised at the downsides that come along with it. The "Begrudgement" of someone famous is seated in the ignorant belief that it is a charmed life full of champagne, money and adoration. Being in that position is extremely difficult for some people and actually destroys many. we shouldn't feed our own shortcomings off of the coattails of people that have worked as hard as someone like Oprah.

Posted by: Rabbitsmoker | April 22, 2010 6:59 PM
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