How To

George Stroumboulopoulos on how to prepare for the biggest job of your life

The new host of Hockey Night in Canada on honing your craft and listening to your critics

Hockey Night in Canada host George Strouboulopoulos with a microphone, wearing hockey gloves

“People ask what I’ll wear on Hockey Night in Canada. Honestly? You dress the venue. Once the puck drops, no one cares.” (Naomi Harris)

Over the past 20 years, he’s graduated from radio to TV, from MuchMusic to the CBC, from The Hour to George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight. He has held his own in interviews with Hillary Clinton, Brian Mulroney and Jackie Chan. On Oct. 11, he’ll step into his biggest promotion yet: the new host of Hockey Night in Canada. Want to be ready when opportunity knocks? Follow Strombo’s lead.

1. Hire your harshest critics

“If you’ve been on the air long enough, people aren’t as honest as they ought to be. I have to surround myself with the opposite of ‘yes’ people, folks who aren’t afraid to just hammer me for everything I do. Hire people who make your path clearer, not easier.”

2. Beg for feedback

“Coming from radio, I’m used to airchecks. You sit with your boss and press play on your tape, and they stop every time you talk to tear you apart. Sometimes they say, ‘nice break,’ but mostly you pray they don’t stop the tape. I used to slip my tapes under my boss’s door. I wanted the airchecks. I wanted them to make me better.”

3. Be authentic

“You trust your team, but you’ve got to trust yourself. Or you’re inauthentic. You’ll know it first. Everyone else will know it second. By the time they notice, you’re too far gone.”

4. When in doubt, ask Bob

“You can’t be good unless you’re stopping to fill up your brain. You gotta unplug. I was riding my bike through Minnesota a few weeks ago, listening to Bob Dylan, and there’s that line, ‘You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.’ I realized that’s a pretty important lesson for a sports broadcaster.”