Few people are as globally recognized as Oprah Winfrey. In fact, she is one of those people who are instantly recognized by her first name alone. Many people know the famous side of Oprah. Her role as not only a talk show host, but producer, actress, author and media business woman. She was not only the wealthiest African American of the 20th century, but once the world’s only black billionaire. These items alone can inspire people to action. A “If she can do it, so can we.” sort of cheer. We are going to break down how many different people Oprah inspired and close with learning something very important about ourselves.

Many of us know the successful Oprah Winfrey, but how many of us know what she overcame to get there? I want to take just a little time to share some of the struggles she faced, how it can inspire us, and what it can teach us about our own story. Oprah was born on January 29th 1954 in rural Mississippi. This was not only a time of great challenge in our country for people of color, but that was amplified in the deep south. Her unwed, teenage mother soon moved north and left her in the care of her grandmother. This proves people can overcome societal prejudice and lack of the influence of a biological parent to become successful.

Oprah’s grandmother, Hattie Mae, was extremely poor. So poor, that at a young age, Oprah had to wear old potato sacks as clothing. Many of us find it hard to picture the fashionable Ms. Winfrey dressed in a potato sack, but that is how she began. The other children mocked her for her clothes. Her grandmother was also a strict disciplinarian, often whipping young Oprah. She was also told there was no room inside the house for her to sleep. She made her bed on an outside enclosed porch. This is proof that you can overcome extreme poverty, and being ostracized at a young age and still make a great life for yourself.

At the age of 6, her grandmother became ill and she was sent to live with her mother in Milwaukee. Her mother worked as a maid and did not have the energy to raise young Oprah. At the age of 8 she was sent to live with her father in Tennessee. Her third home in her very young life. While she was there she was sexually abused by family members, as well as a family friend. Things got so bad, she ran away from home at the age of 13. At the age of 14, she became pregnant. Her son was born prematurely and died only a few days later. This means that moving around from state to state and parent to parent does not prevent you from realizing your full potential. Suffering a terrible childhood trauma like sexual abuse by a family member does not make you less than. Oprah later used that to let others know she had suffered the same fate they had and was able to overcome. Not only having a child at a young age, but then having that child pass away could be enough to break anybody. Oprah is proof that you can draw strength from a challenge like that.

By the age of 17, Oprah was in a far better place. Not only winning the Miss Black Tennessee beauty pageant, but landing a job at a local black radio station doing the news part-time. Considering what she had come from, this would be a success for most people. Ms. Winfrey was not done, however. She also won an oratory contest. This secured a full scholarship to Tennessee State University. She went on to study communications.

After television work in both Baltimore and Tennessee, Oprah found herself in Chicago. There are many good stories I am leaving out for the sake of brevity, I would invite you to investigate these on your own. Given a spot on a sinking ship of a show called AM Chicago, her passion and performance turned it into the station’s number 1 and flagship program. Soon, it was renamed The Oprah Winfrey Show and syndicated nationally, continuing her meteoric rise to fame. There is a story I would like to mention here as well. When the show was syndicated, Oprah rightfully received substantial financial compensation. Her staff, which was largely female, did not. Upon discovering this, Oprah went into the offices of management and demanded her staff receive the benefits of the financial windfall as well. Using her voice to be a voice for others.

Imagine being a young woman raised in the racist atmosphere of the times. Being brought up in terrible poverty. Moving at the young age of six to a mother who had no desire, or energy to raise you, and starting a new life. Only to have to move again a few years later to a father you have not known to this point in an entirely different state. Once there, suffering sexual abuse at the hands of those who are supposed to protect you. Running away from home at the age of 13, only to become pregnant and eventually lose a child only a year later. At the age of 14, Oprah had experienced many conditions that would cause the average person to give up.

Despite all that she had faced in the first decade and a half of her life, today she is hugely successful. She not only had the highest ranked talk show for 25 years, but has her own network, her own XM radio station, her own magazine, has built a school for under-privileged girls in South Africa, and even received an Academy Award nomination for her role in the movie A Color Purple. That means she gives hope to not only African Americans and women, but to those facing discrimination, those raised in poverty, those suffering sexual abuse, and even those who have lost a child. As impressive of a list as this is, there is one more group that Oprah inspires that I feel touches the people who read Secret2anamazinglife.

When Oprah was covering the news, she would often be overcome with emotion at the stories she was reporting on. This caused her to do such things as break into tears when reporting about a family who had lost their home in a fire. As you can imagine, the powers that be did not find this a redeeming quality. She was informed this ‘character flaw’ made her unfit to be a reporter and so she was relegated to doing a talk show. I think we can all agree she made the most of that opportunity. What this shows me is that when someone tells you that your gift is a character flaw, you can use that gift to serve and help others in a very meaningful way. It also shows us that being empathetic to others and their suffering is a gift that is greatly needed in the world today.

Lastly, I want to bring to your attention what this all means for our own life. We all have stories. We all have faced challenges. Most of us, not to the degree that Ms. Winfrey has. Some of us have faced even worse. I highlight a few of these cases in my book Living the Dream. Oprah shows us that we do not have to remain victims to what has happened to us, but we can overcome life’s challenges and use them to serve others. The greater the challenges we face, the more challenges we face, the better we are set up to inspire and serve others. Think about your own life and what you have faced. How could you use that to serve others? With that thought in mind, I would love to leave you with this great quote from Martin Luther King Jr.


Sometimes you never realize how much you learn from your childhood until much later. Take for example this torture device disguised as a game for children. If you have never had this game, let me enlighten you as to its finer points. You would have objects of different shapes, as you see in the yellow things above. You pushed down the blue game board and started the timer. This also began a loud ticking noise as the seconds wound down. The object of the game was to get all of the pieces in their proper place before the timer ran out. If you didn’t? then the game board would pop up, sending all of the pieces flying in a million directions.

As you can imagine, this was great for the nerves of a young person. As the time grew nearer, you frantically raced to put all the pieces in their place. The closer the game came to tossing all of your pieces in the air, the more nervous and frantic you became. Here is what I learned. The more frantic you became, the less likely you were to be able to rationally think about where the game pieces should go. In fact, the calmer you were, the more likely you were to complete the task before the board popped up. Remaining calm in a high-pressure situation is hard to do for people ages 5 and up. This lesson was taught with another cruel torture device from my childhood and maybe yours.

This is another device that turned children into shaking, nervous, nerve-fried versions of themselves. It was cleverly disguised as a game as well. It was called operation. The basics of this game were that you had to use a wired metal probe to carefully remove objects from this anatomically-challenged individual, without touching the sides of the cavity. If you were unable to do this successfully, you would hear a loud buzz and his nose would light up. Try keeping a steady hand while doing that. Once again, the calmer you were when attempting your operation the more likely you were to be successful. Considering the vast amount of coffee I currently consume, this may not be the game for me at this stage of my life.

What both of these games taught me, was the calmer you approach a situation, the more likely you are to be successful. Think of what you are like when facing a high-pressure situation. Are you scrabbling around to “put all your pieces back in the game board” or are you calmly focused on completing the task in the allotted time? When facing a situation with little room for error, are you shaking as you try to “complete your operation” or are you staying calm and focused? These games can serve as a good reminder of both.

As a bonus, Perfection also reminds us of something else. The time is ticking away for all of us. Unlike the game, we cannot see how much time is left. What is guaranteed is that it is less than when you started reading this sentence. Soon, the timer will stop and send all of our pieces flying. Some of us will take this information and run around like mad trying to do as much with the short time we are here. I had the unusual occurrence of having this happen with my open-heart surgery, which I chronicle in my book The Beat Goes On. I discovered that it is best to proceed with a calm sense of urgency to complete as many meaningful tasks as you can in life. These should include telling the people you care most about how much you love them and leaving a legacy for those to come after you. I would love to know what childhood games taught you lessons and what they were.


Here is one of the secrets to an amazing life. This may seem like an obvious conclusion, and for the most part it is. Here is the tricky bit, try remembering it in an emotionally charged situation. Reacting, as easy as it is to do, makes you a slave to outside circumstances. They control your emotional state, they control you. This is true whether that is a rude driver or a flat tire. Mindful acting, as difficult as it can be, puts you back in control.

Would you like to control your life, or would you like others to? Again, that sounds like a foolish question, but one that could serve you when you are tempted to react. Here is another thing that reacting to outside circumstances steals from you, in addition to control, it steals a feeling of security. If your emotional state is determined by things outside of your control, you will never be certain how you will feel. Can you imagine trying to plan anything not knowing what kind of mood you will be in? This can be demonstrated at work the day before you leave for vacation. Nothing seems to bother you. Boss upset? It is alright old chap. Project you were working on fell apart? That is a problem for another day. You walk through life unfazed! What if I told you that you could go through life this way? It is true. Unless you are my boss reading this, in which case I do need to go on more vacations to demonstrate.

Gaining control over your emotional state not only provides you a feeling of security, it also helps add a great deal of inner peace. Knowing that you are not going to let outside circumstances influence your emotional well-being gives us a sense of calm and inner peace that those who react will never have. I have been on both sides, trust me on this one. You decide how you want to feel. Look at outside obstacles for what they are, challenges to test and strengthen your resolve. With each test, you will gain greater control over your emotions and gain a greater sense of inner peace and security. Try it this weekend!


Taking time to just enjoy the company of good friends is something that friends our soul. After work, stress and negativity fill our week and days, we need time with someone who lifts our spirits.

It is essential to not only have these people in our lives, but to spend time with them and appreciate them. Another great thing we can do is to be this kind of friend for others. Be someone who is a breath of fresh air to everyone they encounter. It is a gift that is priceless. Make time with people like that this weekend.


Every so often, I search myself on Google. This is not some exercise in vanity, or to serve my ego. As an author, I like to make sure that the information and links are correct. Go ahead and Google “Neil Panosian” yourself. You will discover many new and fun ways to connect with this author.

In doing so last night, I learned something that taught me 2 very important things. They came one right after another. I learned that an interview that I had done was picked up by a local Fox News affiliate in New York. That means I was able to reach and hopefully inspire people in a new region. I was keenly unaware this even happened.

That is where the second lesson came to mind. This one was even more important. It made me realize the parallel between this interview and life in general. All too often, we feel we are not having the impact, or doing as much good, as we would like to. Much like this interview, the good we do can often travel farther than we ever realize.

Unfortunately, there is no Google to see how much we have impacted the lives of others. What this story does remind us of, is that we may never know how far our influence may reach. Let’s make sure it is a good one and know that we make more of a difference than we can ever know.



It is the weekend and we deserve to relax. However, we also deserve to live a life where our dreams are accomplished. One way to make this happen is to realize that what we do is based on what we find important. Perhaps you are thinking that after working all week, you need your rest this weekend. Maybe your weekend is filled with plans with family and friends? Then getting up early could be the answer for reaching your goals. I can hear the responses now. “Get up early?” “On the weekend?” Most people say they are not morning people. If spending an hour a day could help you write that book you have always wanted to do, would you do it? What about starting that new business you dreamed of? If it is important to you, waking up early is not that difficult. If I were to tell you that you could have 5 million dollars if you met me at a coffee shop at 6am, where would you be at 5:59? Why? Because 5 million dollars would change your life.

What works even better is if you do take the weekends off. Schedule your hour first thing in the morning. That way everyone is still sleeping. You can make yourself a nice cup of coffee and focus on your goals. You might think it would not be worth it to wake up a whole hour before you actually have to. Let me give you some numbers. If you work one hour a day on your dreams and goals. If you only do it during the week and take the weekends off, how much time is that? That would be 260 extra hours a year. That is 32 and a half 8 hour days, or over 4 and a half working weeks dedicated to achieving whatever goal you are pursuing. How much further do you think you could get with that extra time?

I usually write for an hour after work as I already wake up at 4am. That still gives me the time we mentioned. In addition to the 55 hours I work at my day job, I have managed to write 2 books in the last year. I have also delivered blogs for the last 330 days straight. All from an hour a day. Try dedicating a focused hour of your day, only 5 days a week to your goals and see what happens. Do this for a month straight and see how much you can accomplish. You will be amazed!


It is Friday. Wouldn’t it be nice to just be able to relax a little after a week of work? That is exactly what this post is not only about, but advising! The quote from Nathaniel Hawthorne above says it best. When you chase happiness, it always remains just beyond your grasp. Do you know why that is? It is because happiness is an inside job! When you chase happiness is some thing, or every someone, there are many times when you will end up disappointed. You are putting the key to your happiness in their pocket. Sometimes, they are too busy to take that key out of there pocket.

When you sit down in a calm and focused manner, happiness, much like the butterfly, will find you. This is shown in pictures of one on my mom’s shoulder and in the hair of my beautiful lady. The key is being calm and focused. What should you be focused on? What you can be happy about in the moment. It is easiest to try this on a good, or even neutral day. Another way of looking at this, is what you could be grateful or thankful for. Try this right now. You could feel joy that you have access to the internet on which to read this. The internet not only allows you to read this inspiring blog, but material on every other subject you choose. Think about this. You have access to more information that even the greatest leaders in the world had only 50 years ago. You can be grateful you have health, to whatever degree you do.

This works great to give ourselves a lift to brighten our day. This works good when things are going well, or even neutral, as we mentioned earlier. It can work even better when we are having a tough day. If you have practice doing this on the good days, which I cannot urge enough to do, then it will make it easier when times are tough. Just had a tough day at work? Be grateful you have a job. Furnace went out at home? You have a place to live. You got a flat tire? Well, you get the idea. Every bad situation could always be worse. Even losing someone we love, which to me is probably the worst situation to have happen, leaves us grateful for having love for that person while they were in our life. Many people live a life devoid of any real connection. It may be clichรฉ, but it is indeed better to have lost in love, than never to have loved at all.

Begin today to make a habit of sitting down and noticing what you can be happy for in your life. It only takes roughly 5 minutes of your time, but can transform your whole day. Not to mention, it puts control of your personal joy and inner peace right where in belongs – with you! I would love to hear what practices you have for developing a feeling of joy and gratitude and what you are thankful and happy for today.


Yes, it’s Monday. That doesn’t mean all doom and gloom. What is to say that some of the best things of our life will not happen today? Some unexpected good news or fortune? Don’t fall into the trap of assuming it will not be a good day just because it is Monday!

People win the lottery on Monday. You could fall in love on a Monday. You could finally get that promotion you deserve. Your spouse, family or friends could surprise you with something fun. Maybe you could surprise them? Make Monday great for someone else.

Let us take back Monday! Let us make it the day to start a week of joy! Start by declaring the thought in the picture above and then go out and make it happen! Share your good Monday thoughts with us on the comments below ๐Ÿ˜€


Before we get to the title of this post, let me give you the backstory. Life for a motivational author/blog writer/pod cast host is a 24/7 job. I cannot even go to the movies without my brain looking for what I can use to teach and inspire. This post, is another one of those examples.

The other morning, Margie and I found ourselves with some unexpected, and rare, free time. We both agreed going out for breakfast with each other would be fun. It is an activity we love. Something about sitting across the table from that adorable face early in the morning really makes me happy. We chose one of our favorite places, First Watch, to go eat. If you have one in your town, I suggest giving it a try. The have amazing choices and leave a pot of coffee on your table. Good stuff.

As we walked in, we were greeted with the smell of breakfast. You know what I am talking about. The smell of eggs frying, bacon sizzling and toast…well…toasting. As we sat down they gave us a menu of the specials. Some sounded really delicious and just like something Margie would enjoy. She looked at me and said, “I am getting the breakfast tacos. They make me happy.” As long as she is happy, I am happy. I began to think about how much breakfast with her makes me happy. In addition, the smell of toast. Just fills my mind with thoughts of fun breakfasts we have shared. The place is decorated fun and reminds us a little of vacation.

Then I thought again what Margie had said about the tacos and it hit me! An inspirational thought, not a taco. People spend years searching high and low for the secret of happiness and all they had to do is order some tacos. I can hear a large percentage of you nodding and shouting in agreement. More than delicious flavor, the tacos gave me, and now you, a great secret to adding more joy to our lives. Margie loves those tacos, so she looks forward to ordering them. We go to this place perhaps once a month. She knows that she can look forward to this delicious breakfast that adds joy to her life.

The secret that came to me will work even for those rare and strange souls who do not like tacos. The secret is this – find those little things that add joy to your life. That could be the smell of toast, like it was for me. It can be a walk in nature like it is for my mother. It can be a plate of delicious breakfast tacos like it is for the love of my life. Then, schedule those things into your life. Not too often where they become mundane, but often enough you can look forward to them. They work even better if you include some friends. Margarita night with the girls? Fishing trip with the guys? Even a trip to your favorite local breakfast place for some breakfast tacos with the love of your life. Give yourself that little joy to look forward too. It will make the rest of your life a lot easier to take.


One of the best ways to develop your character is to treat people in ways that reflect it. If you want to be someone who is considered generous, make sure to be giving to others. This can be in many ways such as your time, your energy or your understanding. If you want to be someone known for their compassion, treat people not as they deserve, but better than they deserve. Try to understand why someone acts out of pain and frustration rather than just looking at their actions. All of these can be tricky, but remember how you act is a reflection of who you are.

One of the most important things to remember in life is that we cannot control what happens to us, but we have complete control to how we react. That is where our power is. If we are just a slave to our emotions, we give that power up. If that is where you find yourself currently, you can regain that power. It takes effort and practice, but it is worth it. Not allowing circumstances to determine our emotional state is one of the secrets to an amazing life. Just keep in mind that we should treat people how we are, not how they are or because of what they can get us. How do your actions and the way you treat people reflect who you are?