You Don’t Need to Be Oprah to Build Your Legacy

By definition legacy is “a gift, something handed down from a predecessor.” Our life and what we do here during our time on earth is our legacy. That legacy is the body of life and work that we pass on that ultimately perpetuates us and leaves our imprint behind.

Oprah shared her legacy from the 25 years of her television show. During her last one May 25, 2011, she talked about:

  • finding her calling
  • her platform
  • her power to change her reality
  • listening to the whispers
  • validation
  • positive energy
  • daily gratitude

Oprah Winfrey

It got me thinking that each one of us has a legacy that we are responsible for. It is what we want to be known for and remembered by. It is a universal human need we all have!  We all need and want . . .

  • to be seen
  • to be heard
  • to be valued

Oprah earned that validation over time and that’s why we validate her. Each one of us, no matter our position or status, has to earn validation.

In his recent book Enchantment, Guy Kawasaki talks about the three pillars of enchanting brands: likability, trustworthiness and quality. He cites the  likability of Virgin or Richard Branson, the trustworthiness of Zappos and the quality product that’s Apple.

Three things have been foundational and the cornerstone of building  my  legacy:

1) Being laser clear on my purpose as a person: educator, motivator and catalyst. I love to learn, help others learn and connect people and things.

2) Being consistent, authentic and open in communicating that purpose  to others with a sense of curiosity, adventure, energy, positivity and enthusiasm.

3) Building trustworthiness, quality and value to others because I care deeply about them and I want them to know that.

My friend Tory Johnson, who has done an amazing job building her legacy and brand over the past 12 years, graciously gave me some praise which is on the front cover of my new book: “Deborah Shane cares deeply. Get her on your side.” That meant a lot to me.

If this is part of my personal and professional brand legacy, then I am very happy. You don’t need to be Oprah to build your legacy. Just be you every day.

How are you building your personal and professional legacy?


Deborah Shane Deborah Shane has been recognized as a Top 100 Small Business Champion and Top 50 SMB Influencer (Dunn and Bradstreet 2015). She is a career transition author, personal branding and social media specialist. Deborah's book "Career Transition: Make the Shift" is available through all major book sellers.

12 Reactions
  1. I feel it’s important that you not go around “trying” to gain validation. Be the best you can be. Be yourself. If that isn’t enough, then you’re probably measuring your validation by the wrong people.

  2. Thanks a lot for this , Deborah.

    Sometimes, it’s about our “inner” legacy. That’s the one that’s the most important.

    And, if we’re true to ourselves, and we’re trying to always do what’s right, who knows;

    It could become more of an outer-legacy… that could really impact things.

    The Franchise King®

  3. Robert, I agree “trying too hard” is not authentic, but being yourself will always resonate with someone. Thanks for your comment.

  4. Joel, love that, “inner legacy”! So true, that’s the thing we take with us, how we feel about who we are and what we do and it will ultimately become one. Thanks for your comment.

  5. I think in order to leave a lasting, and genuine legacy, you have to be passionate about something. Oprah was passionate about helping people, and it showed. She didn’t do it for the fame; the fame came naturally. We should all work on being genuinely passionate.

  6. Briana, No doubt passion is a powerful magnet and something that will always be a driver for our motivation. I also say that I am doing what I’m supposed to be doing. Although times can be challenging, the daily little victories add up!Thanks for stopping by.

  7. Cynthia Marshall

    Thank you Deborah for that inspiring post. A friend of mine once described the clarity your talking about as “A Tuning Fork for the Soul” I loved that because once you have that clarity on what you’re supposed to be doing, the rest comes much more easily!

  8. Cynthia, love that and what a powerful idea! When we are truly in tune with ourselves and living in balance we can be and give our best. Our work cannot find it’s “sweet spot” unless we find it personally. Thanks for your comment!

  9. I love it and feel so strongly we become our own Oprah! Beautiful piece, Deborah.

  10. Debbie, Indeed we can and do. Act our way in. Great to hear from you!

  11. Wendy Taylor-Hill

    Oprah has taught us all a great deal about building your own brand and creating your own legacy. I have learned alot of lessons from many other entrepreneurs as well as Oprah.

    She inspired me to launch my own online magazine, which teaches and shares information about Entrepreneurship.

    Thank you for your post!

  12. Wendy,there are so many great examples of inspired entrepreneurs now! It’s one of the most challenging undertakings one can commit to, but the rewards are BIG. We have to make sure we’re the right person for the job and we don’t romanticize it. Thanks for your comment. All the best..