Here's what the fan-favorite and home design king has to say about what he's learned and what he's looking forward to next!
Looking back, it's hard to believe that I first stepped foot on the Oprah stage nearly eight years ago. Tuesday, 66 appearances and 127 makeovers later, I'm stepping off her stage for the last time as I prepare to launch my own new daytime show this September. I've learned a lot over the years while hanging around the halls of Oprah's Harpo Studios, and I've managed to tuck away a few notes, ranging from the obvious to the just plain honest, that I'll be taking with me to The Nate Berkus Show (in syndication on Sept. 13).
First, it's important to speak your truth – whatever it is, just say it. It seems simple, right? But I've seen time and again that it isn't always easy. We hold back our true feelings and beliefs, whether it's from a sense of being polite or fear of hurting someone's feelings. But what I have seen on The Oprah Winfrey Show is that no one benefits from holding back and keeping things bottled up inside. So I pride myself on speaking my mind and not being afraid to give honest feedback. I think we'd all be better off if we did more of that in each of our lives.
The second thing I've learned is that there's nothing like the power of TV to connect. Sure, those 127 makeovers all had big visual "wow" moments, but it was the story of each of the homeowners that resonated with all of us. From Princess Fannie, who had lost everything in New Orleans, to 11-year-old Aaron Ware, whose family started their own cookie company to help him cope with the tragic loss of his twin brother Eric, a makeover may be temporary, but human connections are everlasting. And I saw the audience reach out and embrace the people they met in each episode.
They reached out to me, too, after seeing shows I had done, and especially after I survived the tsunami. And it's the stories of those people that I will always carry with me.
One of the biggest lessons I've learned during my time on Oprah is that everyone wants to be heard. We all want to have our humanity acknowledged – to have others see us for who we truly are. We all want to know that we are valued, we are heard, we are understood. The best thing you can ever do is sit across from someone and utter two little words: "Tell me." Of course, Oprah does this all the time on her show and it's what makes her the absolute best at what she does. She understands that allowing someone the space to say what they have to say could impart a new life lesson, or impact lives around the world.
Finally, every day, try and discover something that informs you, inspires you or makes your life better ... better yet, try and find something that does all three. You will enrich your life immeasurably if you approach it with a sense of wonder and discovery, and always challenge yourself to try new things.
As for me, I'll be taking my own advice and trying some new things of my own this summer. I wish I could say I was leaving for an exotic summer vacation, but the truth is that I'll be spending my June, July and August moving to New York and preparing for the launch of my show this fall. There are employees to hire, sets to build, scripts to write and so much work to do. But I know that, after eight years sitting next to Oprah, I've learned from the best and I'm so excited to share what I've learned with all of you. My hope is that I can help everyone love the life they live. Don't we all deserve that?