Oprah: Learn from mistakes

Oprah Winfrey receives an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Harvard University during commencement ceremonies in Cambridge, Mass., Thursday, May 30, 2013. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Elise Amendola

The invitation from Harvard University caught Oprah Winfrey at a low point. Her new TV network was struggling when Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust called last year to ask her to address 2013 graduates.

The request came “in the very moment when I had stopped succeeding,” Winfrey recalled. She headed for a long shower to think (“It was either that or a bag of Oreos,” she joked) and emerged resolved to change her story by the time her speech rolled around.

A year later, Winfrey said, her Oprah Winfrey Network has found its footing and her approach to facing setbacks had been validated.

“I want you to remember this: There is no such thing as failure,” Winfrey told graduates Thursday. “Failure is just life trying to move us in another direction.”

Winfrey spoke during the afternoon session of Harvard’s 362nd commencement before a packed Harvard Yard. The media mogul and former talk-show host urged graduates to break through divisions and spoke of a lesson she learned from doing thousands of interviews. Every person ... asks the same thing when the interview is over: “Was that OK?”

People want to be validated and know that they’re being understood, Winfrey said.