Winfrey described one day when she had a doctor's appointment which made her short on time and did not allow her to do her meet-and-greet with guests in between the usual two tapings of her show.
To her surprise, skipping the autographs gave her a boost of energy she did not expect.
"I realized, 'Wow, that's a lot of energy I'm giving out in between shows,'" Winfrey recalled.
"All those years, for 10 years, I had done the autographs because I thought that's what you had to do, because that's what people wanted," she said. "But I never asked, 'What do I want?' I had never said, 'But what do I really want?' I hated it."
Winfrey said that signing all of those autographs felt "vapid" and "meaningless," even thinking to herself about her guests, "By the time you get home you won't even have that piece of paper."
That's when she realized the answer to her life-changing question: "What I really want is to connect."
"What I've found over the years in the multi-thousands of interviews I've done [is] that most people cannot answer that question," she said.
From that point and on, Oprah worked on getting to know her audience by speaking with them every day after her show instead of signing autographs.
"Most people don't know this, but my favorite time of the show was usually after the show," Winfrey said, describing the 30 to 60 minutes she would spend with the audience.
Speaking with her audience, Winfrey said, allowed her to view them as a "compass" that would become a tenet for her iconic self-discovery discussions she would later be known for as a talk show host.