How Oprah Winfrey helped me become an entrepreneur, long before we met.

For the average female entrepreneur with an idea and a dream, often sitting in an isolated environment trying to work out how to make it happen, someone like Oprah Winfrey seems a world away, but remains very important.

Starting out as a talk show host in Baltimore on People are Talking, then moving to 25 seasons of The Oprah Winfrey Show and now owning her TV Network OWN, Oprah has touched billions of lives and inspired women all over the world to try something and achieve more.

I remember watching The Oprah Winfrey Show in high school whenever I was home sick or on holidays. I so looked forward to it. I loved the way she could relate to anyone, and how she brought important issues into our lounge rooms and dinner table conversations, that were often otherwise too taboo to mention.

When I gathered a group of amazing women together this past weekend to break from the norm and go out for a bit of fun, we had no idea our night would end with meeting this woman we’ve been so inspired by, but who was so out of our reach. Until now.

It was no surprise that when my friend Deva Jacobsen and I introduced ourselves to Oprah and welcomed her to our town, she graciously held our hands and thanked us, remarking that she felt very welcome and was so grateful. She was so normal, which is not one of the first words you would use to describe Oprah Winfrey, but it was true. It’s something I’ve always admired about her.

I can only compare her presence to one other that I’ve known, and that was my beautiful mother, Rhonda. Warm and safe, positive and compassionate. And boy did she have the softest hands I have ever felt. My friend Deva described them as feeling like soft butter, and I couldn't agree more.

My time chatting with Oprah was limited, and I had wanted to tell her what sort of an impact she has on women entrepreneurs like myself all around the world. I felt like giving her a big high five, and reassuring her that her efforts have not been wasted; that we women have been listening and are being brave, even in the face of great difficulties, especially our own inner fears. I wanted to let her know we started to believe in ourselves at a young age when we’d see her on the television, and that the seed was planted long ago for us to achieve great things now in our lives.

It has been amazing to create and launch my start up company Marketing Mate in New Zealand. This country is so supportive of women creating their own businesses, being innovative and solving problems to improve our way of life and reduce human suffering. New Zealand was after all the first self-governing country in the world to sign a new Electoral Act into law which gave all women the right to vote in parliamentary elections, way back in 1893. It is a positive and nurturing environment for women and I have been so lucky to be a part of it.

The passion behind Marketing Mate is to help others to plan better marketing for their business or philanthropic pursuit. Better marketing means greater success in what you’re doing, and less wasted time and money. This can only have positive flow on effects to many.

Those days at home watching The Oprah Winfrey Show when I was just a teenager have so much to do with what I've now created.

So Oprah, I do hope you get to read this blog one day and know just how important you are to me and so many women entrepreneurs around the world. I hope you remember meeting me and my friends that incredible Friday night in little ol’ Wanaka, hilariously dressed in our rockstar outfits after having enjoyed a fun karaoke session, at the cocktail bar Gin and Raspberry.

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Wanaka local 'rockstar' mums karaoke night turns into chance meeting with Oprah Winfrey.

New Zealand women entrepreneurs or those wanting to take the leap, have a look at The NZ Women’s Entrepreneur Network founded by the wonderful Rachel Lewis on Facebook and join an incredible community of women in the same boat, supporting each other and collaborating on exciting projects.

Australian women entrepreneurs or those wanting to take the leap, look at B.Kindred founded by the very talented and passionate Penny Locaso for endless information, advice and opportunities to live your dreams in a supported way.

Women from elsewhere around the world, there is likely one or many groups of women coming together to support one another and collaborate on projects in your town, you just need to track them down and join them, or start one yourself!

Kim Knight
Founder, Marketing Mate