Al Roker in new book: Embrace the power of ‘ yes’
Longtime “Today” host shares some inspiring career and life lessons.
“Life is about something much bigger than a plan,” Al Roker writes in the introduction of his latest book, “You Look So Much Better in Person,” which hit shelves Tuesday. h And no one knows that better than Roker himself. The weather and feature anchor of “Today” and co- host of the 3rd Hour of the “Today” show operates without a strict plan, leaving himself open to opportunity – a move that has resulted in some of his fondest memories and greatest feats. In his new book, Roker offers nuggets of advice dubbed “Altruisms,” alongside shared narratives from Roker’s career.
“I have been forecasting the weather for forty years and I can’t necessarily predict tomorrow’s weather with 100% accuracy,” he writes in the introduction. “How the hell will I know what I’ll be doing in five years?”
Plans, Roker points out, are rigid, can go awry and don’t leave room for fun, exploration or adventure. In fact, he suggests that if you have a five- year plan, you should take a “match” to it.
“You Look So Much Better in Person” came into existence the same way many of Roker’s accolades have: He said yes to something unplanned. After speaking at a National Association of Black Journalists conference, his publisher approached him and asked whether he would be interested in writing a book with tidbits about his career and lessons learned. Eventually, he warmed to the idea.
“If nothing else, it’d be nice to have a collection of stories about my career before I really hit old age, because I’m forgetting more and more,” he tells USA TODAY.
But the result is more than a gathering of memories: The book serves as guidance for people at different points on their own career paths. The “Altruisms” provide both a lesson and a smile, and the power of “yes” in addition to the power of “no” is evident throughout.
“I think the two most powerful words, no matter what language, are ‘ yes’ and ‘ no,’ in whatever your language’s equivalent is,” Roker says. “‘ Yes’ gives you the opportunity, especially in your profession, to do things you might not have planned.”
Roker uses his own career path as an example. He never had a desire to become a weatherman and didn’t relish the idea of being on television.
“I literally had no interest in being on television,” he says. “When I looked in the mirror when I was a sophomore in college, and staring back at me was a chunky, balding, glasses- wearing Black kid, I didn’t look back ... and go, ‘ Hey, you should be on TV, you’re that good- looking.’ ”
But he gave it a shot and it certainly panned out. Other moments of triumph emerged in the same way, including when he made his Broadway debut in “Waitress,” something else he never expected to do.
“On the other hand, the power of ‘ no’ is that if you say ‘ no’ to the
things that are not important to you, it gives you more time to say ‘ yes': yes to your family, yes to your friends, yes to the things you what to do at work,” Roker explains. “I want people to come away with the power of those two words.”
But considering each opportunity, even those you wouldn't normally think of is worth it.
One Altruism that is particularly salient is the focus of the book's final chapter: “Build Your Own A- Team.”
No one gets through life alone and no one becomes successful alone. Roker certainly hasn't, he notes, pointing out the many moments in which his loved ones, colleagues and mentors supported him.
“I think you've got to find a team,” Roker says. “You've got to find a group of people that will help you, whether ( they are) friends, family, co- workers – those are the people who are going to help you achieve your greatest achievements.”
Al Roker’s long and varied career is an example of not sticking to a plan, he says.
Al Roker on Oct. 29, 2019.