Mentor In My Head

Happy Birthday, Mama O! Ten of Oprah's Most Empowering Quotes

Today not only marks the return of the best shows on television, (#TGIT baby!) but it also the birthday day of one of the greatest media moguls of our time, and the most epic Mentor-In-My-Head ever. It's Oprah Winfrey, y'all. 


I could write several blog posts on the history that this woman has made, her numerous (and lucrative) business ventures, how she has always SLAYED on the cover of her magazine, or even her acting skills -- but today I'm solely going to focus on the words of encouragement that she has given the world ten times over.

Check out my 10 favorite Oprah quotes, and join me in wishing the Queen of Talk a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

1. "Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another steppingstone to greatness." 

2. "What God intended for you goes far beyond anything you can imagine." 

3. "I am a woman in process. I'm just trying like everybody else. I try to take every conflict, every experience, and learn from it. Life is never dull."

4. "You get in life what you have the courage to ask for." 

5. "Surround yourself with people who are only going to lift you higher."

6. "Follow your instincts. That's where true wisdom manifests itself."

7. "I don't think you ever stop giving. I really don't. I think it's an on-going process. And it's not just about being able to write a check. It's being able to touch somebody's life." 

8."Learn from every mistake because every experience, encounter and particularly mistakes are there to teach you and force you into being more of who you are." 

9."Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down." 

10."The key is not to worry about being successful, but to instead work toward being significant - and the success will naturally follow."

3 Things I've Learned From Mentor-In-My-Head Danyel Smith

I'm super excited to spotlight the first "Mentor in My Head" for 2015! She's not only a well-renowned journalist that has written for publications such as of SPIN, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Rolling Stone, The Root and TIME; but she is also an iconic leader that has served as editor for Billboard Magazine, editor-in-chief of VIBE magazine, and continues to change the landscape of journalism as we know it. (She has also interviewed all of your favorites in the process.) She and her husband, the G.O.A.T. of hip-hop journalism Elliott Wilson, have founded HRDCVR, a book-shaped magazine that looks to serve the 'new everybody' -- a multi-culture demographic that is not currently being served by mainstream media. Her creativity, authenticity and fervor for change inspire me daily, and her iconic piece 1994 piece Dreaming America for SPIN Magazine empowers me 20+ years later. Meet Danyel Smith.


Danyel has a way with words that not only evokes emotion, but challenges you to evaluate your surroundings, and how you can change them for the better. In watching her presentation on HRDCVR as a part of the John S. Knight School Fellowships at Stanford University, I couldn't help but admire how sincere, honest and transparent she was about what she believes will 'change the soul of journalism.' She tactfully demands your attention, leads with intention, and is the epitome of a BOSS.

Here are  three lessons that Danyel has taught me:

1. Embrace the evolution of your careerNot only does she bring her experience as a seasoned journalist to life with HRDCVR, but she's sharing her expertise and creativity with future journalists as well. Danyel is currently a professor at Syracuse University (my beloved alma mater) in New York City, teaching a course on Race, Gender and the Media. One of my favorite classes while I was at 'Cuse, I'm positive that Danyel does an awesome job in bringing a modern flare to this course, and empowering her students to think differently about the way the media impacts our lives.

2. Failure is not an option.  From watching a number of her interviews and reading her extensive body of work, I can tell that without a doubt Danyel believes in herself,  her dreams, and the power of speaking her truth. Yes, there may be roadblocks, detours and bumps, but you can't give up on your dreams...EVER. I admire Danyel's strength, her willingness to persist until she succeeds, and her openness in sharing the journey to reaching her goals.

3. See the beauty in everything around you. If you follow Danyel and/or HRDCVR on Instagram, you'll often see amazing shots of murals, images and skylines from across the country with the hashtag #HoodsDeepWorldWide. To me, this not only shows that she's very in tune with the world around her, but that she appreciates the power of imagery -- no matter how intricate or simplistic it may be -- and the story that lies behind it. To me, this is a vital part of storytelling; igniting the imagination to work more purposefully and intuitively. I'm very excited to see the final product of HRDCVR.

Danyel, I want to thank you for being a constant inspiration to myself, and millions of other millennials that aspire to be change agents in the world of journalism. Your ingenuity, leadership and focus to incite change are the blueprint -- and I appreciate the awesome and necessary work that you do.

You can follow Danyel on Instagram and Twitter at @danamo, and of course learn more about HRDCVR by visiting their website. Don't forget to subscribe to the HRDLIST too!

Have a great weekend,