An interview with Al Roker about why we should avoid long-term career plans, why he decided to move to New York to pursue his career, how he landed his first job, manages multiple side hustles, and his best career advice.
Welcome to the 93rd episode of 5 Questions with Dan Schawbel. As your host, my goal is to curate the best advice from the world’s smartest and most interesting people by asking them just 5 questions.
This episodes guest:
My guest today is the co-anchor of NBC’s The Today Show, Al Roker. Born in Queens, New York, Al wanted to be a cartoonist growing up until he went to college. During college, he worked as a weather anchor at WTVH in Syracuse, New York, while also DJ’ing at the campus radio station. Upon graduation, he took weather casting positions at both WTTG in D.C. and WKYC in Cleveland. In late 1983, Al returned to New York City to work at WNBC-TV before becoming a national weather forecaster at NBC’s The Today Show, eventually becoming a co-anchor beginning in 2012. Over his career, he’s hosted programs on Food Network, MSNBC, and The Weather Channel. His other achievements include losing 100 pounds, running a marathon, having the Guinness World Record for reporting for 34-hours straight, and being part of the Broadway musical Waitress. I spoke to Al about his weight loss in 2013 and today I talk to him again about his new book “You Look So Much Better in Person” for this podcast episode.
The 5 questions I ask in this episode:
- You start your book saying that you never had a career plan. Why should people avoid crafting longer-term career plans and what should they do instead?
- You mention that you respected WTVH anchor Ron Curtis’s decision to stay in Syracuse with his family instead of move to New York City for a more prestigious position. Even though you respected that Ron prioritized his family over his career, you eventually decided to make the move that he didn’t. What motivated you to make such a major career change knowing that you would be leaving important relationships behind?
- I can relate to your persistence getting your first job, but unlike you, I would have given up before a restraining order was issued. To get my first job it took 8 month’s meeting 15 people for 3 different positions at the same company. While many people apply to multiple companies, why do you think to have a singular focus was key to landing your first job?
- You say that the secret ingredient to your career has been being open to new opportunities and while you have a full-time job, you also have 7 side hustles. I own a research company with 4 side hustles. How do you balance all of your gigs and know what to prioritize each day?
- What is your best piece of career advice?
Follow Al’s journey: