Hoda Kotb stresses authenticity: 'People want to know the real you'

The Today co-host discussed the importance of authenticity through the context of sharing her story about fighting breast cancer at PRWeek's 2015 conference in New York.

NEW YORK: Hoda Kotb made the decision to share the news of her breast-cancer diagnosis because she believed it would help people. But when she initially discovered she was carrying the disease in 2007, the Today co-host and Dateline NBC correspondent wasn’t so vocal.

At the PRWeek Conference in New York on Wednesday, Kotb explained that it was a nosy plane passenger she was seated next to that encouraged her to open up about her cancer and changed the way she thought about sharing her story.

After practically forcing the information out of Kotb, the passenger told her not to "hog" her journey.

"Think of how many people you could have helped on the plane ride home," he told her. "You could put your stuff deep in your pockets and take it to your grave or you could help somebody."

Kotb recalled that the passenger's words were inspiring. She also realized that, being a TV show host, she had a major platform through which to tell her story and she should take advantage of it.

"I realized this is one of the times I [should use my platform] to do something," she said.

As a public figure, she noted that authenticity is likable because "people want to know the real you; they don’t want the robot form of you that never makes a mistake."

People connect more deeply when the subject matter is sensitive, she explained.

Kotb added that while "transparency is important…and certain things can be helpful," she still keeps most of her personal information private.

"If you tell a friend a story and then tell someone at work and keep telling the story again and again, it gets so worn out and tired that it doesn’t have any more meaning to you," she said. "Sometimes I feel that way about personal things."

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