Hoda Kotb was out for a jog earlier this week when she spotted an old boss who took a chance on her more than 20 years ago — and helped launch the career she has today.
It was an unexpected moment that brought her to tears, she told co-host Jenna Bush Hager Tuesday on TODAY with Hoda & Jenna. Hoda said she was running in New York City's Central Park on Monday when she spotted a man walking his dog and recognized his face — even with his mask on — right away.
"It was Neal Shapiro, the guy who had hired me at 'Dateline' when, I will tell you right now, I was not good enough," Hoda said. "I really did not have the qualifications. I wasn't as good as any of the correspondents. And for some reason, that guy, Neal Shapiro, took a risk."
Seeing him reminded her just how far she has come, Hoda explained.
"There he stood in the park, and I thought to myself, probably 20-plus years after he hired me, I get to do this job," she added. "And I looked at him and I literally started crying."
Shapiro is a former president of NBC News and is now the president and CEO of WNET.
Hoda said they talked about meeting for lunch soon, and she told him that she's written about him in her journal.
The moment was also a powerful reminder that we never know who will have a lasting impact on our lives.
"I thought, you never know who's going to change your life or give you a shot when you don't know if you're ready," she said. "But he did. I couldn't believe he was there. I was so happy because New York is so weirdly big. And sometimes the weirdest things happen. The boss who hired me 20-plus years ago, who took a chance on a kid from local news who was just average, and probably anyone else would have said, 'Come back to us in, like, five years.' But he said, 'Let me give this kid a shot.'"