Martha Stewart Living Radio: The Radio Blog

Life Lessons from the Fonz

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Photo Courtesy: Henry Winkler


Best known for his role as the Fonz on the hit sitcom "Happy Days," Henry Winkler's career didn't stop when there was no more rocking and rolling at Arnold's. Today, he is an Emmy-nominated actor who has added director, producer, and author to his resume. While his life turned out very different from that of the jukebox-banging bad-boy he once portrayed, Winkler, who is involved in a number of charities, shares the same heart of gold as that character. 

Winkler stopped by "Making a Living" with Maggie Mistal to discuss his latest book, "I've Never Met an Idiot on the River: Reflections on Family, Photography, and Fly Fishing." Out just in time for Father's Day, Winkler's book is a collection of funny stories and observations on "not just fishing, but also life, love, and the importance of family." While life has been good for Winkler, it has not been perfect. "If there's one thing I regret in life, it's that it took me so long to say yes to something I thought I couldn't do," he told Maggie. And what is it that the Fonz said no to?  Fly fishing! Winkler is now an avid riverman. He said it took him about 30 minutes to learn how to fly fish, and now he has the rest of his life to perfect it. So the next time someone invites you along to try their hobby, give it a shot ... it might become your new passion! 

Here are some of the other great life lessons Winkler shared with Maggie: 

  • Listen to your intuition and your instincts: "You put a fly in the water and let it land so a fish will take it based on your instincts." There is no method to placing it in the right spot. You place it based on how you feel when you get on the river. And in your career, Winkler says, "listen to your own stomach. Every time I didn't listen to my stomach, I was hit in the mouth with a 2x4 by fate ... I tried to talk myself into something and had no one to blame but myself for getting fired from a job I didn't think was right for me in the first place."
  • Tenacity and gratitude: According to Winkler, "tenacity helps you get where you want to go … gratitude doesn't allow you to be angry along the journey."
  • Take a vacation: It wasn't until his wife, Stacey, made him take a vacation that Winkler realized how important it is to take some time off. When you take a vacation, "you have a better perspective of what's going on at the office, you will recharge, and everything will be as you left it when you come home."

Work hard. Trust yourself. But most importantly, take a vacation and enjoy some happy days! 

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