How I Got on the Oprah Show

DBA Goal Setting

& How I Got on the Oprah Show


Hello, friends! Thank you for visiting my website and reading this post. I’m excited to announce that my new book, Communication Secrets for Success is now available on! It has been over twenty years in the making and I’m so happy to share it with you.

I wanted to write a book that offers the most important lessons I’ve learned about communication and relationships in over two decades of work as a university lecturer and consultant. One of the subjects I’m most passionate about is goal setting, whether it be reaching for our own dreams or coaching others to do it successfully. My simple but powerful goal-setting method is the DBA approach.

DBA Goal Setting

Here are 3 simple steps to achieving any goal:

  1. Decide exactly what you want.
  2. Believe it’s possible.
  3. Act to make it happen.

I considered many personal experiences to share with you, such as finding my wonderful husband-to-be twenty-seven years ago, getting to travel the world with expenses paid by my clients, maintaining a healthy weight, or moving into the house of my dreams. But I wanted something to prove that even your most challenging goals are within reach.

So, here’s a true story about how I tested DBA with an against-all-odds goal: being on the Oprah Winfrey show in its final season.

The Oprah Show on My Bucket List

*Please be sure to watch the video of me on the Oprah show at the end!

It all started long ago when I was asked to create a bucket list in a goal-setting workshop. I promptly tucked it away in a folder and forgot all about it. Many years later, the list was unearthed during one of my rare but manic organizing frenzies. I was pleased to see that I had actually accomplished a few of the smaller items.

Then I spotted a goal that sent chills down my spine because it was now near impossible to achieve. “I will be on the Oprah Winfrey show.” This was just after Oprah had announced that she was calling it quits after 25 years. I had a number of writing projects underway but was far from being a person of interest for Oprah. My first thought was that there was no way I could achieve this bucket list item. Then I decided that I had nothing to lose by giving it a shot, just for fun.

I started by entering my name for any opportunity to get tickets to the Oprah show. Every entry felt like a mini audition. I had to explain why I wanted to attend each particular show, writing lengthy and often highly personal essays to prove that I genuinely cared about the topic I was vying with countless others to get tickets for. I spent months dedicating a few hours a week to the effort.

One evening my cell phone rang and I almost didn’t answer because the area code was unfamiliar. When the caller announced that she was an Oprah show producer, my heart rate soared and I jumped up and down in my living room. She said something about how the producers liked what I had written about how profoundly I was impacted by the book Women, Food, and God by Geneen Roth. I put a lot of time into that entry because the book was a game changer for me, shedding new and liberating light on my lifelong struggles with weight and body image issues. To my delight, I was invited to attend the taping of Oprah’s interview with Geneen, along with one guest of my choice.

I’ll spare you the endless details of arranging flights and lodging, getting coverage for the classes I teach at California State University, Northridge, making childcare arrangements, etc. Suffice it to say that leaving my insanely full life in Los Angeles for a mid-week trip to Chicago was no small task. Still, I was ecstatic and had this strange premonition that somehow I would be on the show, not just in the audience. The icing on the cake was that my mom was able to go with me, which allowed us to share the mother-daughter bonding experience of a lifetime.

About a week before the show, I received an email saying that a handful of the 300 audience members would end up on camera posing questions to Oprah and Geneen. Our questions were to be emailed immediately and selections would be announced the day of the taping. Trusting that this was a sign that I still had a chance to actually be on the show, I spent hours going over my highlighted sections of the book, trying to formulate questions I thought had a shot at being selected. My husband and kids must have thought I had lost my marbles.

Our first night in Chicago was a blast. We ate delicious food and sang along to the live music in a fun underground nightclub. We made sure to get to bed early though, to ensure full alertness and energy for the big day. Doing your hair and makeup for what could either be just hanging out with 300 fellow Oprah fans or being viewed by millions of people all over the world messes with your mind a bit, I must admit. But I did my best, thankful that my mom was there to keep me grounded.

After waiting for hours in line outside the famed Harpo studios, we finally made it inside where someone announced that we were to write out any questions we might want to ask during the show. It felt like a kick in the gut. What about the questions I labored over endlessly and emailed? I berated myself for not having a copy of the questions with me. I did my best to recall what I had written and with trembling hands, turned in my new questions.

A few more hours later, after being provided with a surprisingly tasty boxed lunch, we were told that the names of those who had been chosen to ask their questions on the show would be called to go in early for instructions. After what seemed like an endless list of names was called and there was a long pause, I figured it was over and let out a huge sigh of relief, telling myself I could just relax and enjoy the experience more this way. But then the speaker started reading more names. I kid you not… the very last name called was mine.

It turned out that the question they wanted me to ask was one of the ones I had originally emailed rather than any of those I wrote that day. Not only did I get to ask my question, but Oprah actually responded herself and gave me one of her beautiful lectures about loving myself, with her eyes locked on mine for almost the entire minute or so. Having watched and loved her show for all of its 25 years, to say this was a surreal moment is quite the understatement. After the show aired, it was great fun to have so many people, including some I hadn’t seen or spoken to in decades contact me to ask, “Was that you on the Oprah show?!”

So, I ask you, what do you think the odds are that one could decide, in the last season of a show viewed by millions every day, to figure out a way to be on the show? And more importantly, what are you capable of achieving if you decide to go for it? Ready to finally meet the love of your life? To let go of the extra weight that compromises your health and energy levels? Maybe double your income? I know you can do it. But do you believe you can? And will you take the actions necessary to make it a reality? I’d love to hear from you about how it goes.

Finally… please take just 3 more minutes to watch my moment with Oprah on YouTube:






Book Excerpt: Romantic Relationships – Meeting Your Own Needs



One of the most helpful books my husband and I have read about relationships is Why Mars and Venus Collide: Improving Relationships by Understanding How Men and Women Cope Differently with Stress by John Gray. Gray is well known for his Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus books, a few of which I’ve also read. While I wouldn’t want to overgeneralize the ways males and females interact in opposite-sex couples, many of Gray’s observations ring true in my own relationship. Also, I would prefer to offer suggestions for couples that are applicable to same-sex marriages and long-term relationships rather than focus only on male-female coupling. But my favorite part of the book is definitely relevant in any romantic relationship.

Gray offers the metaphor of a fuel tank in a car, claiming that we should be able to fill our own tanks to about 90% and then a partner can provide that last 10% to top us off. What fills the tank? You have to answer that for yourself, but some possibilities are healthy self-esteem, great friendships and family connections, enjoyable work (paid or not), interests, activities, exercise, and a general contentment with life. Think about it. Wouldn’t you want a partner who seems somewhat together and grounded with or without you?

We’ve all seen (and many of us have experienced) a partnership in which one person seems to need more than the other could possibly provide. I believe that when a partner is too needy — emotionally or otherwise — it’s not likely that the relationship will be healthy and mutually beneficial. I think it would be worthwhile for each of us to consider what percentage of our tank we’re able to fill on our own. Is it 90% for you? Or are you only at 40% or 50%? If your tank is low, it’s time to work on filling it yourself because when you expect too much from a partner, he or she is likely to cave under the pressure of your unrealistic expectations.

*This excerpt is from Communication Secrets for Success, which will be released this summer. Each chapter offers suggestions for effective communication with important people and in significant contexts in your life. I’ve included my five top tips and one bonus fun tip in every chapter. Chapter 2 is called “Communicating With Your Romantic Partner.” The tip I’ve shared here is tip number four. Thanks for reading!



Lead Simply: A Life-Changing Philosophy

Lead Simply: A Life-Changing Philosophy

For Everyone From CEO to Student Leader to Mom and Dad

You are not going to believe what I did. It’s pretty crazy. I spent $300.00 on a three-minute video. And I’m going to tell you why it was worth every penny.

I’ve been a communication consultant and university lecturer for over twenty years. I’m passionate about my work and my hunger for new tools to share with my clients and students is insatiable. When I came across the “Lead Simply” model, I knew I was onto something special.

There’s a video, workbooks, and other fun resources to go along with the program. Let me give you a brief introduction to the three core principles and share how it can change your life, regardless of who you want to influence, teach, or mentor.

MODEL the behavior you want to see.

CONNECT with the people (employees, mentees, kids, etc.) you lead.

INVOLVE them as much as possible.

I’ll use three concrete scenarios based on real situations I’ve observed over the years: a CEO, a university student leader, and a parent.

First let me ask you some tough questions about the kinds of things you’re going to need to STOP doing if you want to embrace the Lead Simply philosophy…


CEO: Do you tout the values of respect and innovative thinking in your organization yet chew people out publicly when they disagree with you?

Student Leader: Do you tell your mentees how important it is to be responsible and mature even though they saw you acting… um… not that way at the fraternity party last Friday night?

Mom or Dad: Do you spank your kids then tell them it’s wrong to hit their siblings and friends and that they should “use their words” instead?


CEO: Do your people see you as too busy, too unapproachable, or too critical to talk to, even if they have a brilliant idea or important concern?

Student Leader: Do you join every committee and attend every social event at the expense of your mentees who could gain so much from the everyday mentoring moments that arise when you’re studying together at the library or grabbing lunch on campus?

Mom or Dad: Do you profess your love for your children when you’re at work, volunteering, connecting with colleagues and friends… yet don’t spend much actual time with them or aren’t fully present when you’re together?


CEO: Do you think you’re the only one smart enough to grow the business and make important decisions? Do you ask for input because you know you’re supposed to and then respond dismissively to people’s ideas?

Student Leader: When you’re organizing a philanthropy event for the third year in a row, do you take on most of the work and give simple tasks to the freshmen, even though they’re brimming with new ideas and eager to make a real difference?

Mom or Dad: Are you burned out and resentful because you do it all or do you make learning to cook, clean, and take care of the home a fun family activity?

If you can relate to any of the above scenarios, it’s time to integrate the Lead Simply model into your life! Here are my top recommendations for what to START doing:


Whatever you want to teach or influence others to do, demonstrate it yourself. Be the best at it that you possibly can. Work hard to do it consistently, without exception. If you slip up, own up to your mistake and apologize.


Make time for the important people in your life. Ask how things are going. Ask what you could help with. Plan a lunch date, a museum visit, or a hike. When you have that sinking feelings that too much time has passed since you checked in on your struggling direct report, your sorority little sister, or your son, act now to connect.


When you’re about to take on a task, think first about who could benefit from helping you, who you could ask about how to do it better, and how you could free up some of your own time and energy by delegating part of it.

Here’s the Lead Simply video (not for training use, only as a sample) with a brief message from Sam Parker, who created the program:

Here’s the website page with information about Lead Simply training resources:

* I am in no way connected to this company, I just love their products!

Please come back to read a new Communication Secret Sundays post every week!