8 Lessons Learned From Auntie Oprah’s USC Speech! (Yes I Was There!)

I knew something was up when an email went out that our commencement went from a non-ticketed event to a ticketed event. Major Also, it had moved to the Shrine Auditorium and we needed to claim our maximum tickets…I gave a double . I’m like “what USC Annenberg got cookin’ for us?” And then my phone lit up the color purple when the notification came to my phone. MY FAIRY GODMOTHER OPRAH WINFREY WOULD BE THE KEYNOTE SPEAKER FOR ANNENBERG CLASS OF 2018😩😩😩!! I thought…”WHAT IS LIFE?!! FIGHT ON!” 😩😩😩

 Fast forward to over a week later and I am still getting my entire life! I play her conversati…err…speech every morning getting ready for work. The ability Oprah has to connect to us where it doesn’t even feel like a speech, but a conversation is the reason she will forever be Queen. For the ones who have adult ADD or want the Cliff’s notes of Oprah’s poignant, much needed speech…look no further…I got you covered with the eight lessons learned! 

Lesson #1 Be the Truth

In a world where social media surrounds us like water surrounds fish, Oprah urged us as current and future communication professionals to be vigilant in seeking the truth. “The internet and social media is being used to erode trust in our institutions…interfere in elections and wreak havoc on our infrastructure,” she proclaimed. One click spreads fake news stories causing hysteria, an innocent Google search allows advertisers a window to bombard us and our phones have distracted us so much we have walked into traffic.  The solution is to push back with the truth, the only true way to strike down deceit and calm the hysteria. You have to combat the false narratives with real information and solid facts to set the record straight. Your job is to continue to keep the left, right, and center in check by confronting your own bias and reporting only the truth. This will build credibility and protect us from corruption.

Lesson #2 The Darker it is…the Brighter Your Light Can Shine

“You can use your gifts to illuminate darkness in the world. Our time is to rise in this moment, how bad things are, how terrible people are meeting hysteria with hysteria and it gets worse. We aren’t supposed to get locked in. See through it and transcend it. That is how you overcome trolling, meanness, divisiveness, injustices, and hatred. Use the moment to encourage and push you into the rising life.” -Oprah

Lesson #3 No New Lessons in Life

There are no lessons to learn, but relearn the old ones over and over again.

Lesson #4 Pick a Problem…Any Problem and Do Something About It.

The world has enough problems, it needs more problem solvers. Oprah named many problems we face that needs a solution: gun violence, climate change, systemic racism, economic inequality, and media bias were just a few.  Even if the problem is too daunting, do something “because that something means everything to someone.” -Oprah

Lesson #5 Declare War on Your Biggest Enemies

Whether it is procrastination, self-doubt, fear, etc. that lurks in the corners of your mind, it is time to declare war. Oprah focused on the enemy “cynicism” in her speech. We must make sure we do not succumb to our enemies because according to Auntie O it will “cloud our clarity, compromise our integrity, lower our standards, lose our empathy and shatter our faith.” What is your biggest enemy? It is time to declare war on it!

Lesson #6 You Build a Legacy Not from One Thing But Everything

Your story is still being written and you don’t get to decide what your legacy will be because it involves every life you touch.

Lesson #7 When They Go Low, We Take it to the Polls

Vote. Vote. Vote! People died for our right to vote and it really does matter. More than ever now is the time to get civically engaged. Pay attention to the people who claim to represent you, do they truly align with your core beliefs? If not, your vote has the power to make the change for better.

Lesson #8 Put Your Honor Where Your Mouth Is

This was my favorite lesson from Queen O. Keep your word! If you said you are going to do it, do it! Show up do the work, get your hands dirty.

As an added bonus, here are a set of golden rules to live by according to Auntie Oprah:

Eat a good breakfast

Pay your bills on time


Make your bed

Aim high

Say thank you to people and mean it

Ask for help

Put your phone away at the dinner table

 What you tweet, post, or share on social media can be used in the interview you do today or tomorrow…or 20 years from now

Be nice to kids and elders

Be nice to animals

Know it is better to be interested than interesting

Invest in a quality mattress (your back will thank you later)

Don’t cheap out on your shoes

If you are fighting with someone you love, life is short even on our longest days

Dont confuse what is legal with what is moral

In life you are principled or not…do the right thing

Do not equate money and fame with accomplishment and character

Your job is not always going to fulfill you…days you might just be bored

Job is not who you are, just what you do along the way

Become so skilled, vigilant, and flat out fantastic your talent cannot be dismissed

Stop comparing yourself to other people 


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