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Positive Thinker: Al Roker, Today Show Weatherman, Journalist, Author

The Emmy-winning broadcaster shares his favorite inspiring quote, the best advice he’s ever received and the hardest thing he’s ever done.

Today show hot Al Roker
Credit: Todd Plitt
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The best advice you’ve ever gotten
It was from Willard Scott. The first thing he said was, “Always be yourself. People can do whatever they want, but they can’t take that from you. Everybody wants to be somebody else; just be you.”

And the other one was, “Never give up your day job.” People always have these side hustles, and that’s great, but remember where you really make your money and where you find the most joy. Willard was the king of the side hustle long before anybody used that term. He had a birthday farm. He did freelance work. But the whole time, he was either the weatherman for WRC or the weatherman at the Today show. He still did all these other things, but he never forgot that the Today show was the main gig.

The hardest thing you’ve ever done
The hardest thing was watching my kids go off to college and/or their professional lives. When you’re used to being responsible for them and then they have to go out there and be responsible for themselves, you know they’re going to make mistakes and there are going to be issues. You want to fix everything, but you can’t do that. That’s really hard.

Your real-life hero
My wife, Deborah. She has raised three kids. She’s had a demanding career. She’s got a difficult husband. (Ha!) She does it with grace and humor and a firm hand on the tiller. If it wasn’t for her, medical stuff aside, after this last medical issue that I’ve had, I don’t think I’d be here. I think between her and our daughter Leila, they really quarterbacked all that, especially Deborah. She was really kind of the liaison between all these medical folks and my care.

What you do for your spiritual well-being
I journal every day. I write down what I was grateful for that day. Sometimes it might just be a great meal. Sometimes it might be a friend stopping by. But I always like to remember, to try to end on a positive note.

Go-to place to pray or meditate
We have a house in upstate New York, and it’s by a lake. I either like walking on the lake, depending on the weather, or if it’s warm out, I like kayaking out on the lake and getting out to the middle of it and just sitting. Especially when I’m lucky enough to be out there during the week—nobody’s out with their pontoon boats or anything. It’s quiet, and you just kind of sit there.

Favorite inspirational quote
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”–Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Occupation you would pursue if not your current one
I think it would be to become an animator. When I was a kid, my dream was to be an animator for Walt Disney, which was kind of the ultimate goal. I love the idea of being able to create your own world, create characters, breathe life into them and have people kind of fall in love with them. And you can express any emotion with a drawing that imitates life.

Early riser or night owl?
Not necessarily by choice, but I’ve always been an early riser, even before I did this job. I like early rising. It’s funny, especially on the weekends, I get up a couple of hours later, but I’m still up before everybody. And depending on the season, I either light a fire and sit in front of the fireplace and have a cup of coffee, or sit on the back porch and just look out at the trees.

Favorite comfort food

Song at the top of your playlist
Elton John, “Philadelphia Freedom.” My all-time favorite song.

A surprising detail about you
I’m extremely shy.

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