I know…either you love the “O” or you are sick and tired of her. What am I? I’m the former. I watched her shows sporadically over the last twenty five years, but in her last year I was absolutely hooked. Is she a genuine teacher? A skilled marketer? A cult leader? Regardless of what your opinion is, I don’t think you can argue that Oprah has built success on a consistent platform: that is to make each of us live a better, more fulfilled life. I am all for that, especially since I’m currently on that journey to try and find this “utopia”. And many of her lessons have helped me along the way.
Oprah’s Lifeclass in Toronto seemed like an utterly incredible idea – really?? I managed to get four tickets for the afternoon show – it didn’t matter who else was joining her, I just wanted to be in the presence of the Queen and hear the words of wisdom come from her live, not from my TV. So Monday, April 16 could not have come soon enough. Until then, I kept my excitement under wraps and purposely avoided all lifeclass shows so that I could be surprised. Day of though, you could not avoid news coverage of the crowds gathering outside of the Metro Convention Centre. Apparently fans started arriving at 4 am for the 9 am morning show. By 7:30 am, the queue wrapped all the way around to the CN Tower. I actually met someone tonight who was second in line for the 4 pm show and she got there just before 9 am…before the morning show even started. Wow, that is a long day! I knew I couldn’t last that long; I arrived at 1:30 pm and started my wait in front of the North Building doors. The line started to finally move just after 4 pm, quite a bit behind schedule. By that time we actually got inside the hall, it appeared half full already. Honestly it was a bit of pandemonium inside, with 8,500 of us trying to secure a seat. But we sure all looked pretty in our bright colours! And yes, there were a few men there too.
Once most of us were all seated, it was like clockwork. Brett Wilson (Dragon’s Den) opened the show, encouraging us to continue to “plant the seeds of marketing & entrepreneurship”. That’s all I remember from his speech. He was an unexpected guest!
Then he introduced comedian and actress, Jessica Holmes (Royal Canadian Air Farce) as our MC for the day. She did a quick stand-up bit, with an hilarious imitation of Celine Dion. She was bang on, and boy…Jessica can sing!
Then it was time for each guest speaker to have the floor to themselves, prior to the live show. First up was world renown spiritualist, Deepak Chopra. I have certainly heard of him, but have never followed his teachings. He is extremely abstract and as much as I tried to keep my attention and absorb the wisdom, let’s just say I got lost after he said “hello”. This person’s tweet says it all for me: “so far, so confused. Deepak Chopra has used the words stardust, Jesus Christ, atoms, imagination, homeostasis.” But my main takeaway was: no matter what the challenge is, S.T.O.P. : S – stop, T – take three breaths, O – observe, P – proceed.
Next up was inspirational author, Ivanla Vanzant. I had seen coverage of her falling out with Oprah, her slippage into bankruptcy, the reunion between her and Oprah. Her teachings or style have never resonated with me…but boy was I blown away by her first session. She engaged the crowd by entering the room at the back, while energetic dance music was pumping in the background. This definitely got the crowd going (unfortunately she didn’t walk by our section). She was very charming and funny on stage; humble enough to pick fun at herself too. Sorry no photo; I enjoyed her talk too much! My main takeaways? 1) Affirm your vision – “I am…”, 2) Clarify your vision & never judge this clarity against the response of others (do it for you), 3) Know how to achieve your vision. Lastly, be still and listen…for the instructions instead of begging and pleading for direction. Be still…and listen.
Then came life catalyst Tony Robbins. Initially I didn’t think he was going to be my cup of tea, recalling cheesy infomercials from years ago and a rah-rah-in-your-face approach. But man, he can get you pumped and energized – he had us all on our feet at one point. His talk was the most structured, in that he had a very short simple chart to back his main points. But I loved it…so much so that I forgot to take a picture. Thanks to my friend for taking the shot above! My main takeaways? 1) Build a proven & effective strategy, 2) Change your story so that you stop justifying why you haven’t achieved your strategy, and 3) Be aware of your state, and re-frame so that you can achieve. His secret to an effective relationship? Do what you were doing in the beginning, and keep doing it!
Last came Bishop T. D. Jakes. I have never heard of him and was extremely worried he would be very preachy. Certainly he was included to impart a religious perspective? Unfortunately during this portion, I was very distracted by another attendee who needed medical attention (she kept saying loudly “I am feeling sick. May the lord have mercy on me.” like a broken record). She refused to speak to a fellow attendee who was a doctor, but the paramedics came and took her away. I hope she is OK, I digress…his main messages? He actually had some goodies, and some weird ones too – thanks to Twitter, I was able to capture the gaps in my notes. Good: 1) Maximize your life and reserve your energy for your highest and best use, 2) Stop giving your power away to other people, 3) Don’t expect others to give you what you should be giving yourself. Weird: Be pregnant with ideas…if you are feeling pain, then the baby is coming!
That wrapped up the first portion of the Lifeclass tour…and thus is the end of the first part of my blog. Overall, this first portion was excellent, and completely worth the ticket price. I am still absorbing all of the words of wisdom but I have tried to capture what I thought were the most thought provoking “nuggets” from each guest speaker – ones that resonated with me the most.
I will continue the re-cap of the event in a second post – in the mean time, for those of you who attended and feel that I have missed out on some other key learnings, please add them to the comments! I’d love to hear your perspective…