Those seven words will change my life.
Seven years ago, a pastor told me I would write a book for women that would shake the world. Seven months ago, I was struggling to get the book done. Seven days ago I gave that book to Oprah.
There’s something about the number seven!
Since 2007, I’ve given you front row tickets to my success. I’ve plastered my brand and my journey on social networking since its inception—since it was just an idea, I brought you with me. I’m an overly private man, but sacrificed obscurity because I understand the power of influence. I’m vocal about my wins because I want you to win. I want you to see yourself in me and believe that if I did it, you can do it, too…but better. I’ve been honest about my failures so you can understand that losing an inning doesn’t mean the game is over.
My journey has been judged and joked about. It’s been applauded and admired. None of which matters, because my journey isn’t my own. I published my first book as a 27-year-old black man. I knew I was an anomaly in my industry, but more importantly, I knew I was opening a heavy door. It wasn’t easy, but I showed you it could be done. I showed you what hard work gets you. I showed you how to become a bestseller twice over and an award-winner. I showed you how to tour the world for four years off of one book. I showed you how to get paid for your passion…handsomely. Just last month, I showed you how to build a partnership with a relevant corporate brand and create unique consumer opportunities. I showed you how to do that while traveling eight cities in four weeks. I showed you how to sell-out crowds without selling out. I showed you how to bounce back and stand the test of time. I drained myself so that you might be full. I showed you my sacrifices. I showed you my sweat. And I showed you my soul. Did you think I wouldn’t show you that picture of Oprah holding my book so soon again since I already posted it on Instagram? I’m allowed to post it every day for a year straight and I deserve like 7,000 likes each post!
Last weekend at the 45th NAACP Image Awards, I gave my book to Oprah Winfrey. This isn’t the first brush I’ve had with the “Queen of Media.” OWN Network courted me for almost two years in hopes of developing programming with the BEREOLAESQUE brand. All the communication was via email and one failed Skype session. It never came to pass, but it was only the second inning…there were seven innings more to go! Seven days ago with my book in hand, I walked right up to Ms. Winfrey, passing her security by. To my astonishment, they acknowledged me with familiarity and moved everyone else out of the way. In a rush of excitement, I uncharacteristically interrupted her preexisting conversation with someone who appeared to be a blur to me. If they’re reading this, I’m sorry! But I was watching Oprah in HD. Only this time she was looking back at me. She had elegance in her eyes. Her spirit was warm and her mood welcoming. With every bit of cool in me, I placed my book in her lap. I didn’t let go. My palm rested on her thigh as I cupped my copy and released it in her hands. “Wow! Thank you!,” she uttered in surprise. Our eyes locked and I saw family. She looked like family. I’ve seen that face before. Not because of the obvious, but because she didn’t seem distant anymore. She wasn’t unreachable. She reminded me of my mom when I would run up to her to tell her about my day, or my auntie who’d give me that, “I know you’re up to something so tell me about it” look. So I told her about it:
“I wrote this book just for you.”
She carefully ran her left hand over its matte finished cover while gripping it tightly in her right hand. I knew she was a reader for real. She analyzed the cover for what felt like days, but was a few extended moments. She didn’t hand the book off to a manager. She turned the cover around and explored the literature some more. She reminded me of a curious child picking up what would become her new favorite read of the month. I was pleased. It felt right. As I walked away, she was still examining the book as if nothing else mattered for that moment. Her moment. My moment. Our moment.
Did you really think I’d post that photo of Oprah clinging to my book one time and move on? You must be crazy. I gave my book to Oprah.
And I pray she reads it…
“A person’s gifts clears his way and gives him access to the great.” –Proverbs 18:16
– Enitan Bereola, II
Bereola is the author of the new best-selling book, “GENTLEWOMAN: Etiquette for a Lady, from a Gentleman” and the award-winning/best-seller, “BEREOLAESQUE: The Contemporary Gentleman & Etiquette book for the Urban Sophisticate.” He’s the go-to ghostwriter, columnist, public speaker and etiquette impresario for our generation. Visit: Bereolaesque.com, Twitter & Facebook for more info. Follow him on Instagram @bereolaesque.