STARS & STRIPES
HEARTLAND INVESTMENT COMPANIES
We all have that one friend, colleague, or mentor in our lives who inspires us to push ourselves. Maybe it’s your brother, or your best friend, or your old boss. For me, it’s Oprah Winfrey. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t know Oprah personally. But she’s been motivating and inspiring me from afar since I first got into the real estate business. Because International Women’s Day is this month, I thought it was only appropriate to give Oprah a shoutout for being the incredible entrepreneurial role model she is. Anyone who has ever started their own business knows the first few years are rough. Real estate is a tough business on a good day, but when you’re just starting out, there are so many roadblocks and challenges thrown at you that you inevitably start to wonder if you’ve made the right decision. At least, that’s the way it was for me! I had a lot of “What the hell was I thinking?” moments getting Heartland off the ground. Luckily, that was around the same time Oprah really came onto my radar screen. On more than one occasion when I was having a moment, I flipped open a magazine or turned on the TV and saw Oprah. Being reminded of her story always galvanized me, and I thought, “If Oprah could do all of that with the whole world against her, I can get this little real estate investment company off the ground.” If you’re not familiar with Oprah’s story, it goes like this: In 1954, Oprah was born on a farm in Kosciusko, Mississippi. Her parents weren’t married, and they left her with her grandmother. Starting at age 9, she was sexually abused and ended up a rebellious teen bouncing back and forth between households. Eventually she turned things around, got a college scholarship, and at age 19, she was hired as a news anchor at CBS. A few years later, after some corporate reshuffling, she ended up the anchor on A.M. Chicago, a show at the very bottom of the ratings barrel. But that didn’t stop Oprah! She revamped A.M. Chicago, and a year later it was renamed the Oprah Winfrey Show. The rest — founding her production company, starting the most powerful book club in America, and more — is history. According to Forbes, today Oprah is worth $2.6 billion. HOW OPRAH’S ENTREPRENEURIAL RISE INSPIRED ME TO WORK HARDER ‘IF OPRAH CAN DO IT, YOU CAN, TOO’
To do all of this is an amazing accomplishment in itself, but to do it as an African American woman in the 1980s, with all of the barriers that entails, is nothing short of incredible. Despite setback after setback and roadblock after roadblock, Oprah kept striving to achieve all her dreams. How many people do you know — men or women, black or white — who could overcome that much adversity? I don’t know many! That’s why Oprah is so inspiring to me. Knowing she’s been through 100 times the amount of crap I’ve been through and came out stronger made it easier to buckle down and keep going. If she could succeed back then, there’s no reason a white guy like me can’t succeed today. If I can raise my daughters to be as strong-willed, independent, and determined as Oprah, I’ll die a happy dad. The No. 1 thing I’ve tried to teach my girls is life is going to punch them in the face when they try to achieve things, and they shouldn’t let that stop them. I’ve also encouraged them to have goals and aspirations that really push them out of their comfort zones. I’m not going to tell them what those goals should be — whatever they want to do with their lives, I say God bless them and go for it — but I hope they won’t be afraid to push the envelope, take their dreams to the next level, and be uncomfortable. Ultimately, those “What the hell was I thinking?” moments are worth the discomfort. And as historian Laurel Ulrich put it: “Well-behaved women seldom make history.”
Happy International Women’s Day, everyone! If you have daughters, go give them a high-five for me.
Published by The Newsletter Pro • www.TheNewsletterPro.comdaringarman.com
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