As a result of studying Oprah Winfrey for a year and writing my book
, I have given a lot of thought about what qualifies certain "gurus" and powerful public figures to give anyone advice. Especially if their area of expertise can't be quantified by certifications and degrees. At first, I was bugged by this. There were several experts brought on Oprah's stage to teach us style, party planning, and positive thinking. Even Suzanne Somers (yes, Chrissy Snow from Three's Company
) visited Oprah's stage to give women advice about hormone replacement therapy. Sometimes I would grumble and wonder, "Who made you a guru and why should I trust you?" If an expert's specialty is organization
, let's say, perhaps they've come by their skills through trial and error and not by earning a Master's Degree in Orderliness and a Bachelor's in Efficiency. As my yearlong experiment wore on, I became less resistant. Here's why — I don't think we should follow anyone's advice without asking lots of questions and doing our own research. We need to take responsibility for our choices and hold ourselves accountable. Oprah's stamp of approval isn't enough.
So, as long as these self-proclaimed experts aren't hurting anyone, does it really matter if they aren't authorized in some concrete or academically approved manner? And if there are people who believe their lives to be improved by Oprah's advice, who am I to judge? I believe the message and its result are more important than the messenger.