Michael Strahan is the hardest working man on television. Yup, I said it. The retired 15-year NFL veteran turned host of Live! with Kelly and Michael, who moonlights as a sports commentator on Fox NFL Sunday, is keeping extremely busy these days. Last month, the seven-time pro bowler and two-time Super Bowl champion with the New York Giants released the best-selling Wake Up Happy: The Dream Big, Win Big Guide to Transforming Your Life.
The book shares Strahan’s personal stories on how he stays motivated; readers can learn how to do the same to attain their own goals. His anecdotes draw from wisdom he’s gained from friends, experts, athletes and his dad, and breaks it all down into 18 “Strahan’s Rules”—a mix of mental discipline, positive thinking and a sense of play. “I help people find what it is that makes them happy, and that they can pursue whatever it is to help them reach their fullest potential,” Strahan told EBONY.com.
An army brat by way of Houston, Texas, Strahan has a wide array of personal experiences to draw from. The Emmy winner and owner of his own clothing line recently caught up with EBONY.com to share what makes him tick.
EBONY: In Wake Up Happy, you discuss the secret to success not being luck but what you do every day. You are literally on TV just about every day! What do you do every day to stay rested?
Michael Strahan: I do my best to get a full night’s sleep every night. As you can imagine, sometimes it’s difficult, but it’s very important for me to take care of my body. I learned pretty early on that in order to put my best foot forward, the proper amount of rest is crucial. Good Morning America and Live! with Kelly and Michael shoot in the morning, so I try to lay low in the afternoons and evenings and hang out with friends and family. I have Fox NFL Sunday on Sundays, so Saturday is my real recovery day.
EBONY: Many players have found the ability to transition from the field/court to network television, but not like you. Do you think you changed public perception by going Live! with Kelly and Michael?
MS: I don’t know if I changed public perception through my transition from the NFL to Live! with Kelly and Michael, but I would hope the public and athletes alike know that there is a life after your athletic career. Just because you’re playing days are over, that doesn’t mean your life is over.
I actually co-executive produced a documentary called State of Play: Happiness about life after football. We followed Tiki Barber, Wayne Chrebet, and Brett Favre and shared their stories. If there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout all of life’s ups and downs, it’s that it goes on! It’s up to you to figure out the next step and transition to whatever will make you happiest.
EBONY: You’re a retired NFL player and now a member of the press. What do you think you’ve learned about current players that you didn’t know before?
MS: I don’t know if there is anything new that I’ve learned. But I will say that today’s player uses the press with much more awareness. If they have a message or story, they know how and when to share it. They are more concerned with their, for lack of a better word, brand than I ever was.
EBONY: To follow up on that question, how has your opinion of the press changed now that you are a member of the press?
MS: Sometimes you don’t want to talk to the press. I know that because I used to feel that way. (laughter) But now I do understand that the press does have a job to do. I try to be the journalist I wanted to talk to when I was a player. I try to be responsible in whatever I’m presenting without any agenda other than to represent the story honestly and unbiasedly. In order to do that, I’ve learned it’s important to be a good listener. I listen to understand before I listen to respond. Then the conversation that ensues is more natural and organic. I use this skill in all of the interviews I conduct, whether they are sports, entertainment or news related.
EBONY: When I look at you, I see an all-American superhero. How do you think your childhood in Germany shaped you to be so well received by all races?
MS: I have really great parents. They raised me to believe in being a good person and doing good things. They made me feel like anything was possible if I worked hard. Growing up, my dad always told me, “ ‘when’ not ‘if’.” It was never if something happens, always when something happens. They also taught me to look at the person as an individual regardless of race or anything else. There are good people and bad people and race has nothing has to do with that because it’s about the individual.
EBONY: If someone did not know who the heck Michael Strahan was, what would you say to them to convince them to buy Wake Up Happy?
MS: My book is full of moments. Moments of triumph, moments of defeat, moments of doubt, moments of confidence, moments of love, moments of break-ups. Wake Up Happy encompasses the ups and downs of my life. I hope in sharing some of the tidbits, I help people find what it is that makes them happy and that they pursue whatever it is to help them reach their fullest potential.
I’m proud of all that I have achieved in life because nothing was ever handed to me. I worked hard to be where I am today and I hope that people reading feel inspired and motivated to do the same in their own lives. I think it’s a fun and entertaining read about keeping your joy throughout all of life’s moments, the good and the bad.
Brandon Robinson is a sports and entertainment writer and TV personality. Follow him on Twitter @SCOOPB and visit ScoopB.com.