I apologize for being light on the blogging this past month.
I have been very focused on the new Oddpodz Web site, which is scheduled to relaunch in just a few weeks. And I’ve been working on a new, green brand for a global industrial company, plus playing tennis and a good bit of travel; some for work, some for play, but all fun!
A few years ago I saw that movie with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson called “The Bucket List.” I thought the movie had a weak script and was overhyped by good trailers, but I liked being reminded of the value of having bucket lists. And making sure, I knock off as many as possible things while I can.
I don’t have cancer, I’m not old by most standards, and I have not seen a bus running me over in my crystal ball. But I do believe that life is not a dress rehearsal and there is no guarantee for tomorrow.
I operate my life in a goal-achieving and list-driven fashion. For me, it helps keep my eye on the rewards and experiences I want and it also feels good to cross something off and say “I did that.”
My bucket list is ambitious. It includes meeting some people I admire, like Richard Branson and Steve Jobs; owning a share in a professional sports team, watching “Oprah” from the studio audience; and spending quality, fun time with my Mom, who is 74. There is a lot more to the list, but that’s for another blog post.
I look at my bucket list monthly. And I take decisive action to make things happen.
My mom had never been to Chicago and wanted to go, and both of us had never been to “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” This seemed like a doable bucket list adventure. So I mentally went through my network of pals to figure out how to get tickets. Bingo! One of my very good friends came through. FYI, without a connection for tickets, anyone can go to the show’s site, and sign up for the lottery. I know this works because many of the people I met at the show got their tickets this way.
Chicago is a great city, especially in the fall. (The items and companies that I’m raving about have not paid me. I do recommend them based on my excellent experience.)
Our trip was not long, but it was quality. As a card-carrying, independent, modern girl, I highly recommend this method when traveling with all relatives.
We arrived Tuesday morning and Mike from Diva Limousine Company, greeted us at the airport in a black town car. How cool was this? The Branding Diva® picked up in a Divamobile.
I loved all of the branded details and experience this company delivered. The car had a discreet, elegant emblem that said DIVA. The driver was garbed in all black and sported a small lapel pin that also said DIVA. And the chilled beverages were all packaged in black and silver DIVA bottles.
He transported us to the James Hotel. This boutique property is located in heart of all the action and is a very hip spot. The staff was incredible, friendly, and helpful. The environment was eco meets chic and the chocolate-laced popcorn with cayenne pepper at the bar was to die for.
We fueled up for the day at Quartino, an excellent, urban Italian restaurant and wine bar a few blocks from the hotel.
From there, since we didn’t have a lot of time, we elected to take the 90-minute Chicago River and Lake architecture boat cruise, to see the city. This was fun, informative, and gave our weary feet a nice rest.
Next was Millennium Park. This is a fascinating tribute to the ambitious plans for Chicago in the 21st Century. As an award-winning center for music, architecture, landscape design, and the arts, it is a modern-day, worth-seeing landmark.
The day was capped off with a 4-star food experience at Sepia. Sepia is an old printer’s shop turned new American organic and local fare dining hot spot.
We finished the day with comedy at Second City. Second City is another Chicago landmark worth checking out. This theatre launched the careers of such comic greats as John Belushi, Mike Myers, Bill Murray, and Gilda Radner. It is inexpensive and 90 minutes of multi-generational laughs. Take your mom; you’ll understand what I mean.
Wednesday was Oprah day.
We needed to be there at 10:30am for the second show, which started after 1:00pm. In advance of the show, all guests received an email with rules; what to wear, what not to wear, and no gifts for Oprah or her staff, etc. All to ensure a non-dramatic, art directed, uninterrupted, wonderful show experience.
We arrived at 10:30 and joined a line of other dedicated Oprah fans. A coffee cart was outside serving free beverages. We could feel an instant camaraderie with 300 strangers; 290 women and 10 brave men.
At 11:00am a kind staffer allowed about 50 guests to enter the security zone. There, we and other guests were stripped of any potential weapons or distractions like cell phones, pagers, reading material, and even notepads. I’m sure from years of experience, the Harpo production team can anticipate myriad ways in which a guest might misbehave with uncontrolled, unpredictable objects. Our handbags were returned, so we could enter the show without missing an important fashion accessory; there was just nothing in the bag. All our belongings were checked in, and returned to us after the show.
From there, we were escorted to the holding room. Within the hour, this space was filled with our 300 new friends. We signed a release, stating general legal stuff and that should our sweet faces appear on the show or in some promotion, we would not receive a talent check from Ms O. Our pen was returned.
The next two hours were a challenge to me. I’m not a big fan of small talk and I do get a little restless without something to read or do. This holding area had a couple of large screen monitors showing old shows. However, there was no sound, or I couldn’t hear it above the roar of 300 excited fans.
At about 1:00pm, the show time countdown began. The cattle—I mean audience members—were moved to the studio. Any rule breakers wearing white or beige were shown a nosebleed seat. OK, there aren’t really nosebleed seats, but it’s not the front row.
The studio was “meat-locker freezing”. I remember this feeling whenever I’ve been a guest on TV shows. I’m not sure why this is. Maybe to prevent people from sleeping or to keep everyone’s makeup from melting off and prevent sweaty foreheads. Who knows; it was cold.
Next, the top producer entered the room with mic in hand. She welcomed everyone, restated a few rules of behavior and conducted a soft due diligence on the crowd. My bet is she was attempting to root out any crazy people who showed up for their 15 minutes of fame and might have warranted removal or arrest. This seemed to last about 30 minutes. The producer also enlightened the audience to the day’s topic and guests. The day we were there the subject was rebounding from tragedy and how your destiny is what you make of it.
The producer left, music and intro started, and Ms. O entered. She was barefoot, holding some very hot fashionista shoes, and was sporting jeans and a bright sweater. She found her place on the infamous couch and a hair and make-up person followed her, touched up her coif and powered down the shine, then it was show time! As Oprah got positioned, she small talked with the audience on some of the benefits of her life; someone else dresses her and fixes her hair. “Got to love that,” she laughed.
The show’s content was inspiring. It featured the daughter and husband of the Florida couple who were brutally slain in their home. The victims, Byrd and Melanie Billings, had adopted 12 special needs children, several of whom were home at the time of the crime. The story was very sad, but their grown daughter and her husband were moving forward and keeping their promise to her parents, “should anything ever happen, we will take care of the family.”
The other segments were equally compelling. A young couple badly burned in a plane crash described how they chose not to feel like victims, but to live every day to the fullest, grateful for what they have; their lives and family. And the closing story was about a man who happened to sit next to a young girl on a flight en route to her next foster home. The timid young girl shared how she felt; no one really loved her and she had no real family. After that encounter, and getting home to his family, the man tracked the young women down and he and his family later adopted her. He and his wife were empty nesters and that one plane ride changed their lives as well as the young girl who sat next to him.
My blog today is not hard on business tips. But if your personal life is not on track, if you are not taking care of your bucket list, your business is probably impacted.
As I close, here’s what I learned from my trip to see Oprah.
o No matter how bad your past is (abuse, growing up poor, having a different skin color, being rejected) it has no affect on your destiny unless you still live in the past. Choose your story to live.
o No dreams are too big. Not in our country. If you believe, you can achieve.
o Spend time with your parents, whether you have had, or have challenges with them. Do it now, Or you may miss your chance.
o With all relatives and friends, focus on what you appreciate in them and not what you don’t.
o Treat yourself well. If you enjoy travel and first class adventures, do it. If you like roughing it in the woods, go there. Don’t think about what you want, make it happen.
o Being a force of good is powerful. Oprah has certainly earned her marks in this area. She inspires, teaches, and has a voice. If Ms. O can do it, so can all of us in our own way.
Enjoy your week. My next blog will be about my fire walk in the rain with Tony Robbins.
About the author: Karen Post, a.k.a. The Branding Diva® is an international authority on branding, marketing, and entrepreneurial matters. She has been featured as a business expert in print publications; on TV, radio, and on Web channels. Karen authored the best-selling book Brain Tattoos Creating Unique Brands That Stick in your Customers’ Minds and she is co-founder and CEO of Oddpodz.com.