Throw Away Your Script

While away last week I re-blogged some old items and thus re-read my old posts, including this post inspired by Hoda Kotb. It has some great advice for not being afraid to ask for what you want and the risks of being too prepared. But what I like about Hoda’s story is that is it really about letting yourself be both serious and silly. That is part of what I do in this blog.

Early on when I was just thinking of 40:20 Vision as a book, someone suggested I broke it up into separate books: 40:20 Vision on career and then 40:20 Vision on relationships, etc. But it didn’t make sense to me. If I’m interviewing women on what they know now that they wish they knew in their 20s….it just doesn’t divide up that neatly. There is cross-over.

I get some feedback now that maybe it’s confusing to have a serious post on career one day and a “silly” post on dating woes the next. One day you’ll read about finances… the next how to experience life through travel. But that is reality. Everyday we process all parts of our lives. None of us are all serious or all silly all of the time. Most 40-somethings wish they hadn’t taken themselves so seriously in their twenties.

Plus, sometimes we want our serious with a little fun on the side. The news today is a perfect example of that. We have the fake news with Jon Stewart or the politicians doing comedy. That brings us back to Hoda – she learned this lesson thanks to of all people, Kathie Lee Gifford.

Hoda wasn’t always as comfortable showing both the serious and silly sides of herself. Her book, Hoda: How I Survived War Zones, Bad Hair, Cancer, and Kathie Lee. chronicles her bout with cancer and how it changed her perspective on life. Amongst other things, it gave her the confidence to go after the Today show job even though it was not her usual gig. An award-winning war reporter and Dateline correspondent, she wanted to host the fourth hour of Today, a looser, fun format that definitely borders on silly with chardonnay and SNL-like skits that get spoofed by SNL. May not seem like such a scary gig except that she had to have the courage to show a side of herself she had never shown to her bosses much less the whole world.

She went on to clearly ask for the job, make her case and get it. But not without some resistance.  In navigating between her old self, the play by the rules, getting it right, solid reporter self, and the new fun Today show side she compromised…and came out “safe”. The producers told her she was boring at first.

Having worked in news for so long, Hoda was used to working with scripts. One day they did the show outside and she had to rely on index cards. The show was a little flat. Finally Kathie Lee said to her live on air, ”Would you just get rid of those damn cards? Just toss them.”  Hoda says about the moment, “I almost tossed my cookies instead. I refused at first, white knuckling by paper security blankets. But finally, I did it. Actually the show went more smoothly. Kathie Lee taught me how to just let it all hang out.”

The lesson crossed over into her Dateline interviews as well. She learned that sometimes the unexpected turns an interview can take if you “just go with it” a little bit are much more fun than sticking to the prepared questions and controlling where it goes.

The lesson beyond the first post, which was about not being afraid to ask for a job or what you want in life, is slightly different today. It’s about not being afraid to let it all hang out sometimes. Be yourself. Don’t be too tied to a life script of how you are supposed to act at work or with your parents or your friends. It will surprise you. It’s often the side that you used to think you should hide that you start to celebrate and leverage to your advantage.


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