Spotlight On: Willie Geist
The Morning Joe host on early (way early) mornings and more.
You’re on at 5:30 a.m. What’s your morning routine?
I open my eyes and waste no time considering other career opportunities that don’t involve a 3:30 a.m. alarm. I start tapping away on the Blackberry and then it’s a shower and dressing in the dark, literally. It’s always a crapshoot as to what I’ll walk out of the apartment wearing.
What’s the upside of a 3:30 a.m. wake-up call?
The good news is that I’m home earlier than most people. While other dads are riding the train home or stuck in traffic, I’m around for dinner, baths, books and bedtime with my two little kids. I’m really lucky that way.
You married your high school sweetheart…
I met my wife in Mr. Kaplan’s 6th grade homeroom class at George Washington Middle School in Ridgewood, New Jersey. I’ve known her since we were 11. We dated in high school and college and I proposed to her back in that 6th grade classroom.
Tell us about your next book.
It’s a spoof I wrote with my friend Boyd McDonnell of the get-rich-quick books that have plagued our society in recent years. It’s called Loaded! and it makes a wonderful Mother’s Day gift. Or Father’s Day — whichever one is in May.
Who is your mentor?
It sounds corny, but it really is my dad, Bill Geist, a CBS correspondent and one of the great writers and storytellers of our time. And despite their long criminal records and poor table manners, Joe Scarborough, Brian Williams and Matt Lauer have been great role models and influences here at NBC.
What’s life like as a public figure?
Let’s not mistake my battle in the public eye with that of, say, Brad Pitt. We’ve both dated Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Aniston, and Angelina Jolie and that’s where the similarity ends. It’s nice to have people on the street or in a restaurant tell you that you somehow impacted their day. But I always remind myself that there are approximately 308 million people in this country who have no idea who I am. Plus, you’re never going to please everyone. I let it all roll off my back simply by recording the IP address of every critic and hiring a team of goons to rough them up, one by one, as I deliver guilty verdicts in my own personal court of vigilante justice.
Where do you and your Morning Joe cohosts, Joe and Mika, go after work?
Our “after work” time begins at 9 a.m., so it’s not as glamorous as one might hope. Breakfast at the Rock Center Café along the skating rink or in our building at 30 Rock. We love P.J. Clarke’s, so you might find us there for lunch. Dinners actually are great on this schedule because you can have any table in the city at 5:30 pm. You know the reservation people at the hot restaurants who throw out the “I have 5:30 or midnight” line to scare you away? They’re always stunned when I say, “Why, yes: 5:30 is perfect.”
What’s the best way to get a person talking?
Finding out what a person is interested in is a good place to start. It sounds like a cliché, but the old “Where are you from?” question is still one of the quickest ways to open a connection. Find something in common and let the good times roll. If that doesn’t work, enhanced interrogation techniques usually get people talking in short order.