Al Roker says to throw away your 5-year plan in new book You Look So Much Better in Person
If you have a five-year plan for your life right now, Al Roker says throw it away immediately in his new book You Look So Much Better in Person: True Stories of Absurdity and Success.
The famous Today show weatherman spoke to EW and expanded on some of the life lessons he's learned throughout his 40-year career, as well as a few fascinating tales from his experience working at NBC's famed 30 Rock, where bumping into Billy Crystal, Dana Carvey, and Tom Brokaw was just a typical day at the office.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: In your book, you're asking people with 5-year plans to rip them up! Why?
AL ROKER: There was no pandemic when I was writing this book. And if there's one takeaway that I want people — especially younger folks — to have from this pandemic is that sometimes plans have to be thrown out the window. We need to be more agile. I tell my kids all the time to be ready to grab opportunities and to accept that you are going to fail from time to time. It's only through a series of failures that we learn, then tweak, and then comes success which is much sweeter because you had to work for it. It's all about being open to opportunities, because sometimes as you are looking down at your plans a great opportunity could be passing you by.
You've seen a lot of people who work and have worked at NBC during your tenure come through the famed commissary. Who did you see and what were they doing?
Today we have a brand new, state-of-the-art commissary that is absolutely gorgeous. The old commissary was on the seventh floor that had baby poop yellow-colored walls with crappy linoleum tables and none of that mattered. You could see just about anyone there. I saw Tom Brokaw getting lunch there, and folks from Saturday Night Live like Dana Carvey and Jon Lovett working on scripts. I remember seeing Billy Crystal there and he'd say, "Hey, Al!" I remember the first time he did that thinking, "Oh my God. That's Billy Crystal and he knows who I am." Being in that commissary was where I realized that I was at NBC. I am working at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. A kid from Queens — I am here.
Even somebody like Johnny Carson used to joke about the NBC commissary. He would say it's the only place you can still eat dirt... cheap. And while we're away during the pandemic, it's one of the things I miss the most. There's just something really special about that building — this Art Deco temple — where we broadcast out of. Even the floors are a work of art. I never get tired of walking in there.
You often reflect on young Al Roker throughout the book. What would he think of you today?
I think he would be really surprised! If he had known then what he knows now, he would've asked a few more people out for dates instead of staying in the basement making cartoons. It's one of those things where you don't know where you're going to go and any one decision can change the course of your life. That's why I like the power of yes, which is the idea that if someone offers you something to do, if it's not illegal, try it out! You never know where it's going to lead. I had no plans to be on TV, but my department chairman at school thought I could do weekend weather at the local television station in Syracuse, N.Y. If I had said no, I don't know where I'd be today.
You Look So Much Better in Person is available to purchase now.
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