Oprah and Charlie Rose Are in Permanent Beta

Oprah Winfrey recently left network television (where she was dominant) to launch her own cable network, OWN.

Charlie Rose recently joined the set of CBS This Morning, a very different show (at a very different hour!) than his main evening program that he continues to do with great success.

Both are enormously successful media brands who, late in life, have taken career risks. Oprah could have retired into philanthropy or just kept on dominating network television with one show. Charlie could have just kept with his show, or retired into a lucrative speaking career.

Instead, they pursue new opportunities in adjacent industry niches to keep growing, to keep pushing the boundaries of their medium, to keep testing the limits of where they can have influence. If it doesn’t work out, both are putting themselves at risk for being called one-trick ponies, or past their prime, or something along those lines.

How many titans of industry in their 60’s and 70’s could honestly say they’re actively trying new things?

Regardless of how their experiments play out, I respect Oprah and Charlie Rose greatly for pushing the envelope during a stage of their career when most expect them to ride quietly into the sunset…

5 comments on “Oprah and Charlie Rose Are in Permanent Beta
  • There was an article last week about the “nevertiree” — basically this concept of people who never truly “retire,” but instead pursue new career avenues (sometimes full-time, others part-time), even as they enter their 70s and 80s, and beyond…they used Warren Buffett has such an example. Someone who has been at core a titan of finance and entrepreneur, but has had many different “lives” in his career.

    Of course, your point is well taken…people can reimagine themselves professionally, regardless of age, career lifecycle stage, or profession. (Herminia Ibarra writes so eloquently of this — great case studies of folks who embraced the “permanent beta” mentality.) If you accept that you are constantly becoming — which we all are — it does mean that you should always be reimagining. Right?

  • Whether on an individual or company level, it’s more essential than ever to stretch. Period. Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google don’t just “do more of the same.” The Age of the Platform requires a different mind-set–and that starts with individuals.

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