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Al shares wisdom in new book from over 40 years on TV: 'Always say yes. Don't say no'

The TODAY weather anchor’s new book is full of his favorite “Al-truisms.”
/ Source: TODAY

Al Roker has gathered plenty of wisdom over his more than 40 years in television, and the beloved TODAY weather anchor is sharing what he’s learned about weathering the storm of life in his new book, “You Look So Much Better in Person: True Stories of Absurdity and Success.”

Al shared a few of his favorite "Al-truisms" from the book on TODAY this morning, including one wise piece of advice: “Unless you’re literally the sun, work does not revolve around you.”

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“Work hard, do your work, and that’s why it’s called work,” he told co-hosts Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie. “A lot of these younger folks, they want the ping pong tables, the foosball, the free snacks, the beer on tap … no! It’s work.”

“You Look So Much Better in Person: True Stories of Absurdity and Success" by Al Roker

Another "Al-truism" he lives by? “Always say yes. Don’t say no.”

He says he learned this lesson in a big way when he almost turned down an invitation to appear in the Broadway show “Waitress.”

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“I was going to say no, and my daughter Leila went with me to see the show and she said, ‘Dad, how do you say no to Broadway?’ And I thought, ‘Well, but I can’t sing,’ and she says, ‘You’ll talk on pitch. You’ll be fine.’”

So he said yes, and ended up doing two runs as “Joe” in the Tony-nominated musical in 2018 and 2019.

“I’m so glad I didn’t miss that opportunity,” he said.

Al also stopped by TODAY with Hoda & Jenna to share the touching story behind another "Al-truism" in the book: “No assumptions. Assumptions are not your friend.”

“You’re not owed anything. You’re not expected to be given everything; you’ve got to work at it,” he said. “I assumed that I would not work on television. I wanted to work in television. When I looked in the mirror, I saw this balding, chunky black kid wearing these thick, Coke-bottle glasses. I didn’t see another voice going … ‘Hey, yeah, you should be on TV.’”

However, his college professor urged him to try for the job.

“He said, ‘Hey, I think you can do this. So I assumed, ‘Yes, I guess I can do it,’” Al said. “I refused to assume that I couldn’t. So to me, you can’t just go by assumptions.”

One of his "Al-truisms" requires a bit more explanation: “Don’t be a goober smoocher.”

“Well, it means that you like going to these upscale, hoity-toity parties,” he explained. “My thing is, I don’t like going to them … what people don’t realize is, I’m very shy. I’m a shy person, so I don’t like going to big events. But if you do have to go to a big event and it’s one of those tuxedo, fancy things, always look for the best hors d’oeuvres. If they’ve got pigs in a blanket or big thick slices of bacon, then you stay.”

Al also explained the story behind the title of his new book.

“Every day when we would go out to the plaza and say hi to the folks, somebody every day would say, ‘Oh my gosh, you look so much better in person!’” he said. “I know they don’t mean to be insulting, but the fact is, I make my living on TV. So that’s really not so much of a compliment!”

He also answered a few questions from fans, including one question about the person he would most like to cook a meal for, past or present. Al said he would have liked to have cooked shrimp and grits for the late Congressman John Lewis, who passed away earlier this month.

Hoda also shared a touching anecdote about Al, revealing that he always sings in the morning while preparing to go on air. When she asked him once what inspired him to sing, Al replied, “My dad drove a city bus, and I get to come to 30 Rock every day.”

That sense of gratitude has served him well throughout his career, including throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

“I think we all have so much to be grateful for, especially during this pandemic, we’ve had the privilege and the opportunity to work from home,” Al said. “But the folks who have kept this economy going, the bus drivers, the transit works, the sanitation workers, the frontline health workers, the folks who stock the grocery shelves, those are the ones that have allowed us to do this. So I am beyond grateful for what I have been able to do and continue to do during this pandemic.”