Kaua‘i Couple Interviewed by Oprah Winfrey at Sheraton Poipu
It didn’t take long for a private interview with Davene and Mark Januszewski, to become all the buzz in sunny Poipu. Evidently, Winfrey had consented to fly to Kauai to interview the Lawai couple under the condition that the interview would be private.
When I first learned of that condition I assumed it was Oprah who wanted it to be private but it turns out that was just one of the many surprises this reporter discovered. Both Mark and his wife Davene, who Mark always refers to as “The Fabulous Davene“, were not interested in fanfare and wanted Ms. Winfrey to enjoy our island without the trappings that celebrities have to endure.
“We both think this is the greatest place on the planet and that is saying something because there’s a lot of great places on the planet,” Davene shared. “It’s really nice when someone comes here and has a chance to connect with this astonishing creation. We love seeing Kauai through the eyes of people who take the time to embrace this magical island.”
Sometimes reporters just get lucky and this was my lucky day for a number of reasons. Januszewski asked me if I could do him a small favor and keep the meeting private by enlisting the help of a few more of the hotel staff. Turns out my cousin works at the Sheraton and that was no problem.
“Great!” Mark said. “If you can do this for us you it would by my pleasure to have sit in on the interview.”
“Thanks for coming to Kauai, Oprah. I hope you’ll be staying for a few days and get to our favorite spots, Kokee and Polihale.”
“Is it always this beautiful here? It is absolutely amazing.” Winfrey commented.
They were sitting around a glass topped wicker table inside a white tented make-shift cabana right near the big breaks. The ocean was glistening a little more that usual. Looked like diamonds dancing on the water.
“Yeah, it’s always magnificent here but God’s really showing off today. Maybe in honor of your presence.” Davene said with a smile.
“Well you keep saying my presence here, so nice of me to come…… but let’s be honest you refused to come to Chicago and told my staff if I wanted to interview you two about the Master Key System and the thousands of scholarships you give away, I’d have to come here,” Oprah said with a laugh and a wry eye.
“That’s not 100% true Oprah. It’s not about refusing to go to Chicago. You just can’t get Mark off this island. Hell, I can’t even got him to Seattle to see the Red Sox when they play there. See, the family all lives in a compound, kinda like families of the 1960s. He just loves playing, eating and relaxing with the family…so do I. How do you like that coffee? It’s grown right here, just a few miles from here. ”
“I love this coffee but what I’d really love is to talk about this Master Key System. You know you’re not very popular with a lot of the motivational speakers out there. And you’ve taken a pretty hard run at one of my favorite books, “The Secret”. So why don’t we start there. Why are some speakers and writers unhappy with what you guys are doing?”
“I have no idea.”
Lots of laughter breaks out. I’m a little curious myself….while I was able to do some research on Mark and Davene prior to the interview, this was news to me.
“Let me take that one Oprah,” said Davene, “It’s because we are offering a method that kinds debunks all the motivational and mystical mainstream stuff. People want to feel good and a couple of hours of CDs or cute quotes will do it but only for a short time. It’s kinda like a warm bath Oprah.”
“Well, it feels good when you get in it but sooner or later you are sitting in a puddle of cold, dirty water.”
“Don’t you think that’s a little harsh?” Winfrey asked.
“Let me jump in here Davene. The truth is change takes work and a lot of people want to make a change but they don’t want to do the work. When you couple that with the microwave mentality that is out there it becomes pretty easy to sell stuff to people who are desperate for change by telling them you have a magic pill or two day seminar. But that’s just part of the resentment. The bigger part is that we are very clear that we want them to be self directed, not looking at us as ‘the way’ but understanding once they find their power, they don’t us or anyone else telling them ‘how to think’. The reality, our reality, is that most self promoters are, well, self promoters. The design of is as old as dirt. Get people to believe you know they way to the promise land, get them in a room for a few hours or a few days…..BAM! Upsell, upsell, upsell…for years! They are adroit at building ‘dependency’ instead of helping them learn how to become self directed.”
Mark paused for a moment, got erect in his chair and declared, “This is really important. Thoreau said, ‘Most people live lives of quiet desperation.’ People are longing for change but they don’t know how. This makes them a passionate but irrational lot. Desperation makes all of us irrational until we see it for what it really is. I know, I was one of them, living in quite desperation, sick, bankrupt and scared. So a lot of these gurus tell them a $3000 weekend away or a couple of sets of $700 CDs will turn the trick. Let you ask you this Oprah. If you really wanted to make a change what do you think would be easier for you to buy a couple of CD and a book or to commit to an hour a day for 26 weeks?”
“I see your point. I see it, actually I’ve seen it on my show for 20 years, people want that instant fix.”
“Exactly.” Davene said.
“Well, if most people are going to choose the shorter version how do you explain the incredible popularity and momentum that you Master Key Mastermind Alliance has gained?”
“Actually that’s the easiest question I’ve heard in 5 years. We based it on Emerson’s Law of Compensation. In a nutshell Emerson’s Law is ‘give more get more.’ So we gave the course away to about 150 people who were willing to dedicate 1 hour a day for 6 months. We did this when we first moved to Kauai. It seemed appropriate, an appropriate gift of thanks for the privilege of living in this extraordinary place.”
“Yeah,” Davene continued. We gave everything we had and they gave an hour a day for 26 weeks. And we both got more.”
“Well, we wanted to follow our passion so we gave it away and got more passion. They gave time, an hour a day and so they got more time.”
“How did they get more time by giving an hour a day?”
Laugher from the couple. I mean gales of laughter, really.
“How is that possible?” Oprah’s face was now configured in that great puzzled look she gets.
More chuckling. “Their values change and they stopped needing distractions to feel alive, vital. We begin to experience life first hand instead of vicariously through others. Our thirst and hunger for the amazing adventure of life rises and our dependency of other people’s ideas for what makes life ‘normal’ vanishes.” Mark said.
“I’m not getting it.” Winfrey said. Neither was I. “Could you be more specific?”
“He means we don’t come home and sit in front of the TV or a computer,” Davene chirped. “We don’t need entertainment as a steady diet to feel alive and to simultaneously forget.”
“Yep. We gave it away and that original 2010 Master Key Experience helped us refine the material for a new medium. We had previously taught it live and we wanted to transition it into a new medium so we could use the internet and reach a worldwide audience,” said Januszewski
“So you gave this away?” Oprah repeated. Baffled, she’s baffled. She looked stunning in a white linen suit but she looked more stunned at the fact they had given this course away to launch it.
“That was our first transition to the web with the material. Mark taught it to me, then we taught it in living rooms to people.” The Fabulous Davene pauses….looks out at the ocean, her eyes tearing up a little bit. She composes herself. “So we learned how to deliver it, you know, softwares, videos, workbooks. And, in 2013, we knew we had the core if it nailed but wanted to refine it. So we gave it away, again, to over 300 people.”
“I did not know this….so tell me again….you gave it away?”
“Yep.” Said Davene. “We actually paid many members that joined us in transitioning our material to the internet and helped us perfect the delivery, over $50,000.00 each”
“Wait a minute.” Oprah’s looking shell shocked at this point. “You paid them over $50,000.00 each?”
Neither the elegant aroma of the shrimp scampi that had just arrived on white plates, the brilliant sky nor the ocean crashing together as it does right on that point in Poipu could rival the shock in Winfrey’s face.
“Yep, we told the members if they would accept the gift of the course, actually, we like to call it ‘the experience’ ….. and help us convert it with feedback and that it launched successfully worldwide we’d give them 33% of the sales and throw another 7% in to have a celebration every year here on Kauai for any and all Master Key Mastermind Alliance members.”
“And how many memberships has that led to?” Winfrey wanted to know.
“A little over 15,000 have made a 1-2 hour commitment daily for 6 months and learned how to control their mind.” Januszewski said.
“Wait a minute here mister,” Oprah says looking down at her notes, “I don’t recall any price on this course. One of the biggest reasons I was willing to come here is that you give this away. Does my staff have that wrong?” Tiny bit perplexed.
“Well, yeah, we give scholarships.”
“But not full, that’s how the money comes in?”
“No, full scholarships, for everyone, world-wide.”
“OK, now I’m lost. How are you paying people to help you run this, paying former members and not charging anyone? No offense but this sounds a little…..um……”
“Fishy?” Januszewski interrupts.
Mark and Davene smile at each other. A wonderful pregnant pause follows. Heck, I am wondering this too.
“Well Oprah, the genius over here,” Davene says laughing and rolling her eyes towards Mark indicating he’s anything but a genius, “says in 2013, ‘hey, let’s put Emerson’s Law and the Master Key Experience to the ultimate test. Let’s see how they feel about paying it forward….deciding to endow the next session.”
Silence. Deafening silence. Seemed like 5 minutes.
“You mean like that movie Helen Hunt and Spacy did a few years back?”
“Yes…..but what is really important to both The Fabulous Davene and myself is that every member knows that we are not the power, we don’t want people to be ‘led’ to this idea….we want them to see themselves, if they chose, as making a decision for the right reasons, not our cause or our hope.”
“And why is that so important?”
“It’s really important Oprah that you understand unlike the gurus out there we are not telling people ‘how to think’ or what to do’ The entire staff works their butts off to not influence them. After all, the best influence in self discovery is, of course, no influence at all. We are showing them a method so that they can think for themselves and wire new thoughts together…..and as far as the ‘paying it forward’ thing, it is most important that they understand they are not paying us or honoring us but doing someone they don’t know a favor if they ‘feel’ it is the right thing for them to do. Those are the thoughts we hope they will wire together. That it is simply a choice, their choice and does not affect the current session.”
“What’s fire together?”
“Thoughts that fire together tend to wire together.” Both Januszewski and Davene in unison while laughing.
“What does that mean?” Winfrey asked.
The rest of the interview will be aired on July 6th nationally and I’ve agreed not to share the rest of the interview until it airs.
I will tell you that once The Fabulous Davene explained a little bit about the how the mind really works and Januszewski drew a diagram on the back of a place mat to illustrate her point that both Oprah and I pulled out our credit cards and joined the next Master Key MasterMind Alliance course.
“You’re not getting it,” Mark said in a loud but kind way. “All we need is your email, you’ll get notified…..you watch 3 videos and decided to take a scholarship or not.”
I couldn’t help myself and blurted out, “so you are not selling this at all?”
I expected laugher….Mark got real quiet and still. First time….and Davene looked down, eyes filling with tears…..in a very soft voice she managed to say, “No, we don’t sell it, people can’t buy it. That session in 2013 altered the destiny of thousands of lives….they made the decision, with their actions to pay it forward…..so no one, ever, anywhere, who wants this Master Key Experience can’t have it regardless of what’s on their credit card or in their bank account.”
“How do you know, I mean how can you trust it will continue this way?”
“People are wonderful and we know it will roll on because once people fully experience the incredible potential within themselves, the immense power they wield, they want others to experience it too.”
As it turns out I would discover that Mark and Davene’s first visit to Kauai was at this very hotel. That explained why they wanted the interview there and not at their four house compound in Lawai. Januszewski, during the interview pulled out a picture of the couple standing in the exact spot that the interview was being conducted at from their first visit.
Oprah thought it was not only sweet but a pretty amazing coincidence. The ‘Fab’ smirked and said, “You ain’t seen nothing. Would you like to have your mind blown Oprah?”
Mark pulled a picture out of his wallet that was dated April 25th, 2018. It was a picture of Oprah interviewing Mark and Davene on this exact same spot. “That is the power of the Master Key System and creating a new reality,” Davene laughed while both Winfrey and I stood there opened-mouthed and flabbergasted.
“Goals for the future?”
“We’re hiking 11 miles tomorrow to the Kalaua ridge, you should come.” Neither look their age, obviously both in tremendous physical condition.
“Tough hike?” Winfrey asked.
Januszewski and Davene instantly said ‘no’ while I said ‘yes.’ Everyone giggled as much of the conversation I am not reporting yet was about perspective.
She says she can.
“Tell you what, tonight is the dinner for the Master Key folks that you agreed to come to. You take a 30 minute Q&A and we’ll put off our 11 mile hike till Sunday. Come on down to the compound tomorrow and we’ll hike in the canyon. We can take bikes all the way down. It will blow you away. You can get escape from all this hotel food and break bread with the family, nice home cooked meal. You can come too,” he indicated to me. “No reporting stuff, but you’re welcome.”
“Don’t tell me you have a picture of that too.”
“I’ve had a picture of a multi-generational family in my mind and heart for decades.”
Somehow, maybe it was the look in Januszewski’s eyes, his voice, not sure, but something made both of us know this was his treasure, his joy. It was his bliss. And it was magnetically compelling.
Strangely, it was silent.
“Italian OK? A little on the spicy side?” Mark did not wait for an answer. “Good then, it’s settled. Oprah you can bring the bread and Dennis you can bring some fruit. They’ll be about 10 of us. The kids do a great job and it’s a great spot to watch the sun go down. We did have a picture of that one on our wall for 7 years, nice little pink place. You’ll love it.”
I was going, I wanted to see this family they both described as their personal Kauai inside their souls. Oprah looked a little taken aback.
“Look, you’ll have a great time, hiking, biking and I know you’ll be so relaxed. See, you won’t have to worry about being Oprah because there’s no TV on, ever. They won’t even know you.”