The Counter Offer a la Oprah

Yesterday on Oprah, (I’ll probably never use that opening line again…) the guest was Iyanla Vanzant,  a woman who had been a one of Oprah’s regular guests 11 years ago.

Like Dr Phil and Suze Orman, Oprah was planning for Iyanla to spin off her own show.  Eventually.  Oprah felt that her production company was not mature enough to handle that kind of expansion yet but it was definitely in the long term plan.

Iyanla was making such a splash the she was noticed by the competition and got invited to dinner by none other than Barbara Walters.  It went quite well and Barbara’s people offered to develop a show for her.

But she said no.  No way.  She was doing the Oprah thing and very happy.

Then she got to thinking “why not now?”  Things were going so well.  Maybe she should capitalize on it while she was hot.

So she called a meeting with Oprah and her producer to tell Oprah that she was ready for her own show.  Now.  She shared that she had been approached by another company to do that very thing.

Oprah was quite taken aback, as any manager would be.  She decided that if that was her wish, she was not going to stand in her way.  Oprah’s lawyer called Iyanla the next to tell her that she was free to pursue other options and that they wished her well.

Oprah thought that they were doing her a favour by releasing her from her Oprah-induced obligations.

Here’s the problem:

  • She had the meeting with Oprah after fasting for seven days.
  • She did not actually have an offer from the other company.
  • She loved her current role.

None of these factors were part of the discussion.  Her manager only heard “I’ve been approached by someone else and I want to progress right now.”

If she had been more clear, less forceful or perhaps, eaten a sandwich before the meeting, things might have been different.

So be careful when you think it’s time for a change.  Phrase carefully and consider how what you say will sound to your manager.  Once it’s out there, you can never take it back.  And just because Oprah forgives, does not mean your manager will.

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