The rule was absolute: "Do not bring me an idea that I cannot find my thread of truth in." unless I can find the thread of truth so I can sit in the seat and ask the question with the intention of accomplishing something bigger than the interview.
It affected the show in ways both big and small.
"That's why I stopped cooking [segments]," says Winfrey. "Because I couldn't pretend to like the food.
Before reading the book, "We had a famous cooking contest on and somebody won a million dollars, and I don't know how they did," says Winfrey. "The truth is when I tasted it, my face said everything.
"So that was the end of cooking," she says.
Other changes were profound.
Winfrey recalls the first time she used the principle of intention for a show. Her guest was a mother whose 16-year-old daughter had been murdered by her boyfriend. Winfrey went into the green room before taping and asked the mother why she agreed to come on the show.
The woman told Winfrey that she wanted people to know that her daughter's life was bigger than her death. That she had been a good student, a cheerleader, popular, not just a victim. Everyone wanted to talk to the mother about how her daughter died, and why she didn't know about the domestic violence. The mother wanted people to know that her daughter was loved and she had a life that was bigger than her murder.
According to Winfrey, "I said, 'Good. I can do that. … And here's my intention: I want everybody to hear your daughter's story to be able to see their friend, to see themselves, and to know that to remain silent can be a killer.'
"That's the first show I won an Emmy for," says Winfrey.
"The reason ['The Oprah Winfrey Show' was] No. 1 for 25 solid years is because we intended to be."
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