My (near) Oprah Winfrey Show Appearance

093136-oprah-winfrey It was a lazy Saturday afternoon with friends. Our second annual Lord of the Rings Marathon was underway. As Frodo and Sam continued their epic journey through Middle Earth, Ian’s cell phone rang.

He jumped up and then left the room to take the call.

A moment later he returned and daringly pressed pause on the DVD player (you don’t press pause when you’re watching a 12 hour trilogy without getting some serious slack from the peanut gallery). Ian’s awe struck look kept our heckling to a dull grumble; we knew his bold action must come with good reason.

“That was Karen,” he announced. “She said she just received an email, from what appears to be a producer at the Oprah Winfrey Show. They’re trying to get in contact with Sean.”

(Karen registered oneweekjob.com so her email address was listed as the website administrator)

At this moment we’re thinking it must be a practical joke, something to chuckle at, quickly disregard and then rejoin the Fellowship.

“Karen seems to think it’s legit,” he added. “The producer’s email address is @harpo.com (Oprah’s company), and she googled the producer’s name and IMDb says she’s the real deal.”

Oprah Winfrey changes lives. In moments, books become bestsellers, previously unknown individuals become household names, illusive ideals become national movements… My mind raced at the possibility, the opportunity, and how an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show could change my life.

I nervously got off the couch. “I guess I should give her a call.”

When I spoke with the producer she told me that they were interested in having me on the show the following Friday.

For the next few days I was back and forth with the producers at the show - they asked me further questions about the One-Week Job project, what I'd learned, and how I’d fit within the particular segment. The segment was about CEO’s who went undercover within their own company; trying an entry-level position to give them a new perspective. Basically, how putting ourselves in another person’s shoes can make us a better person.

I did this 52 times in one year. I assure you the experience is humbling.

Upon request from the producers, Ian and I sent the latest cut of the documentary. Random House sent an advance copy of the book. And the producers prepared for my segment as if it was a go.

There was only one holdup before I’d pack my bags and hop on a plane to Chicago. Although they loved the one-week job project and felt it was a great fit for the show, they weren’t sure if they’d have enough time to include it.

Being on Pacific Time, every morning I woke up early so as to not miss a call from the producers who were two hours ahead at the Chicago studio. The team at Random House scurried to see if they'd be able to push up the publication date to coincide with the potential air date of the show. My lack of a cell phone kept me at home near the telephone - ready to hop on a plane at a moments notice. The producers continued to prepare for my segment while I anxiously awaited the call.

I checked in on Wednesday. They said that a decision had not been made but they were currently writing the transcripts and would know soon…

And, as the title of this blog post suggests, the show was a no go. Unfortunately there wasn’t enough time to include another segment.

So, how do I feel?

Relief It’s Oprah. The show is seen by an estimated 23 million viewers each week in the US, and is broadcast internationally in 107 countries. Needless to say I was a bit nervous.

Disappointment An appearance would have helped get the word out about the project and kick-start the launch of our upcoming One-Week Job Program (more to come in the next few weeks).

Grateful, Humbled, Honored… They loved the project. I’m grateful that they saw the merit in it. I’m now on their radar, so hopefully it will work out for a future episode.

It’s going to be a fun year - I hope you continue to join in the conversation and help spread the word!