November 23, 2009
Posted: 07:07 PM ET
Editor's note: Personal finance expert, Suze Orman, is a frequent guest on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and writes a regular column for “O” magazine. We asked her to answer “5 Questions” about Oprah’s announcement on ending her popular talk show in 2011.
Programming note: Suze Orman will be one of Larry’s guests tonight, along with Oprah’s friend, Gayle King, and Oprah’s 4th grade teacher, Mary Alice Duncan, to talk about how Oprah is doing after her big announcement last week. Tune in at 9pm ET / 6pm PT to hear what they have to say!
LKL Blog: Tell me about your first experience meeting Oprah?
Suze Orman: It was at the start of 1998. I could not have been more nervous if I tried. Oh my god I was going to meet Oprah Winfrey and be on the Oprah Winfrey Show. I was like a little kid with nervousness, excitement and butterflies overtaking every part of my mind and body. This particular show was to be about a woman by the name of Lorna Wendt who was gong through a divorce with her husband Gary Wendt, who was CEO of GE Capital at the time. She wanted half of their joint estate in the divorce settlement, totaling about 50 million dollars for her, but was slated to get only 10 million dollars. She was not pleased with that amount and was voicing her opinion about it nationally. Obviously my segment was about divorce and the ramifications and emotional stress that one goes through in regards to money.
The producer in charge of my segment, Katie Davis, called me on the stage to take my place and get ready for the segment I was there to do. As I was brought on to the stage, Oprah came over and stood right there next to me. Obviously Oprah could feel and see how nervous I was; and before I knew it she reached out and held my hand in hers.
There I was, shaking and sweating all over Oprah Winfrey’s hand. All I could think was oh my God, I can’t sweat in Oprah’s hand like this. So I very gently removed my sweaty little palm from hers. As soon as I did that she looked at me and grabbed my hand back again this time holding it with a far firmer grasp. She held my clammy little hand in hers till she was ready to sit down and start our segment. There was not much time left in the show, maybe three minutes in total, but enough for Oprah to ask me a question that went something like this: “What is the key to life?” Okay now! As I sat there thinking, “Hey that was not a question I was told she was going to ask now what am I going to do,” I thought for a second and without missing a beat, I found myself saying something like this: “When you can be as happy in your sadness as you are in your happiness, then you know the key to life.”
With that Oprah looked at me and said, “We are gong to have to do an entire hour show on you.” She said goodbye to everyone and then she got up and was gone. I sat there all by myself in shock as I kept saying, “Did I just hear Oprah say she was gong to do an entire show with me?” Did that really just happen? Sure enough March of 1998 we did our first hour show together and the rest is history.
LKL Blog: Were you surprised by her announcement?
Suze Orman: NO! Oprah told everyone about one year ago that she would be doing the OWN network. I remember I was there doing a show the day she announced it. She was so excited, so proud, so happy. Obviously she felt that it is the right time and the right place to make that announcement of a year ago a reality. The Oprah Winfrey show was a great, great ride for the whole world for the past 23, 24 years – but the ride is not over. We still have 18 months of what probably will be the best Oprah shows ever. After that, do I think that she will bring her magic to the OWN network? You bet I do. Who knows what form that will take, but that is the excitement of magic - no one knows how it happens but the results are always mystical.
LKL Blog: What do you think she should do next?
Suze Orman: Whatever her heart desires.
LKL Blog: Do you have any financial advice for Oprah as she moves on from her show?
Suze Orman: Don’t spend it all in one place - unless she wants to, of course.
LKL Blog: What is your financial advice for everyone this upcoming holiday season?
Suze Orman: If you do not have an 8-month emergency fund in place, are totally out of credit card debt and funding your retirement plan to the max – then the truth is the best gift you can give yourself and others is the gift of honesty. Only give a gift when it is not a burden to you and to those that you give it to. Remember if you give someone a gift, they will most likely feel they have to give you one as well. Chances are you both cannot afford it. Just tell people right now so there are no false expectations. If there was ever a year to break the habit of giving when you do not have the money to give, this is the year. Everyone will understand and appreciate it.
You can see more financial advice from Suze Orman at her website: www.suzeorman.com.
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