Hoda Kotb is proof that life often gets greater, later.
“I am 58 years old and this is the best decade of my life,” the “TODAY” co-anchor told Know Your Value founder and “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski on Thursday. “Every single good thing that has happened to me, happened after 50. And if you would have told the 15- or 16-year-old me, ‘Just hang in there. After 50, you’re going to get everything you dreamt of,’ I would have been so bummed out ... But at this age, in this moment, I have the family that was too big to even dream for.”
Kotb made her remarks at a luncheon in New York City honoring women who made this year’s “50 Over 50” list. The list, created by Forbes and Know Your Value, celebrates women who have found success later in life and are shattering age and gender norms. Kotb was one of this year’s recipients.
It was in her 50s that Kotb has arguably had her most success and impact. Not only did she become the co-anchor “TODAY,” she also became a mother when she adopted her two daughters Haley and Hope.
Kotb also spoke to Brzezinski about the importance of saying your hopes and dreams out loud. She noted that when she was younger, she was often afraid to vocalize what she wanted, because if it didn’t happen, she would be wrong.
“I discovered at this stage in my life is the magic of most things is to say them out loud, even if it’s just to yourself in the bathroom mirror quietly. Because if you say it, you put it into the universe,” said Kotb.
She gave the example of vocalizing to a close friend that she wanted to have children. Kotb, who had recently been through breast cancer and a divorce, thought she had missed the window to become a mother.
“My friend, she said, ‘Well, we never wanted to have kids’ …And for the very first time, I said ‘Well, actually I did’… I don’t like to say things I can’t have. But all of a sudden…from speaking the words out loud, all I could see were women my age adopting kids…Instead of saying ‘It can’t be me,’ I just started thinking ‘Well, why not me?’ And then things happening. I just had to say it out loud.”
Kotb said that after getting sick with cancer, she also found a “strange confidence” to say what she wanted. That included asking the head of NBCUniversal that she wanted to co-anchor the fourth hour of “TODAY.”
Brzezinski and Kotb (who landed her first job in journalism after 27 rejections) noted that women shouldn’t fear being told “no.”
“I had a few of those moments where it didn’t work out. And that’s OK too,” said Brzezinski “...Go in there, perform and nail it. And you know what? It might not happen. That’s called move on and try again.”
Brzezinski, who also has two daughters, noted that early in her career she often felt rushed to find success. The “Morning Joe” co-host wished she knew she had a longer runway.
“I think about this [50 Over 50] list, and I think about my girls, our girls that we are bringing up….I want them to know they have a very long time to take their time, do small things….I rushed…It was harder than it needed to be.”
Brzezinski closed the conversation by asking Kotb what her goals are for the next 10 years of her life. The “TODAY” co-host said that aside from opening a girls’ summer camp and women’s empowerment facility Kotb – who recently broke up with her fiancé – is open to finding love again.
“There’s room for a man in my life…I can weirdly, actually picture it,” said Kotb. “My sister said to me, because I had broken up with the man I was with, who is a great guy. But my sister said, ‘Aren’t you scared of being by yourself’? And I said, “I know this sounds crazy…I’m not going to be by myself. I wouldn’t be afraid if I was, but I can actually weirdly see it…When that time is ready, it will happen.”