It’s a busy week for Elle Duncan. Her Thursday started early as a fill-in co-host (with Kevin Negandhi) for ESPN’s Get Up and it ended as she and Negandhi co-hosted ESPN Radio’s live coverage of the NFL Draft. She’s back for both roles on Friday and then anchoring draft coverage again Saturday.
We caught up with Duncan for this week’s Friday Five…
Who is your biggest mentor?
I’ve had different mentors at different phases of my life, but if I had one overarching one, it would be my parents. They taught me the value of hard work. They fostered my love of sports. They helped foster my love of entertainment. They helped me become the best version of myself. They believed in me, supported me, took me to task, taught me not to quit on things. They’re still people that I reach out daily for counsel — whether that’s work related, life related, raising children related. So I would say my parents are the ones who left the most indelible mark on me.
What’s your top pet peeve?
I hate when people are late. I am such a stickler for time. My parents were both raised by military fathers. Military time is a real thing in my house: Early is on time. On time is late. Late is a no-no!
It’s funny, because I’m married now to a man who, when we first started dating, he was hippy-ish – Time is relative … Everything will happen in the way that it should — and I’m like, “Let’s get there!” So in my old age, especially with two children, I’ve tried to come to terms with things that you can sort of be late for and things you must be on time for. I don’t let the small things sweat me as much as I used to. But it still gets under my skin when someone is late.
What’s your favorite book?
I love this book called, There Is a River. It’s about a man named Edgar Cayce, who is a real man from the Kansas City area who was, in the traditional sense, uneducated, poor. You would say sort of simple-minded or dumb. But he found a way to tap into his subconscious. And when he did, he was able to help his community by diagnosing medical issues and conditions for people in his dreams. And I know it sounds wacky, but it’s a true story. There’s actually a dream center that was built around his story that’s in Missouri. And it’s such a remarkable story, coming from humble beginnings and humble means and tapping into something that makes you more than you ever thought you could be. All he ever wanted to be was a small-town preacher and he ended up changing the idea of the subconscous. I think it’s a really cool book and an interestiing study of the untapped potential in each one of us.
If you could have dinner with any three people in history, who would they be?
My grandfather. He’s a Tuskegee airman. He died before I was born, and I’d love to form an opinion of him. Everyone tells me what he was like. I’ve read a lot about him, I’ve met people who knew him well – he was quite famous in Denver, Colorado – but I don’t know him, and I’d love the chance to pick his brain and ask him questions and find out what motivated him to fight for a country that at times was not kind to his people. So I’d love to have dinner with him.
I would probably want to have a conversation with Dave Letterman. I think he’s seen quite a bit, experienced quite a lot, and sort of deemed in the entertainment realm as this guy who’s a master interviewer. I would just want to pick his brain in terms of how he gets the best out of people – how he makes them feel comfortable before he interviews them, the pre-interview process.
And lastly, Dave Chappelle, because I think he’s the funniest dude on planet Earth. I think he went through this existential crisis in many ways, and I would just love to talk to him about what prompted him to leave everything behind and seek something different, and what it was like coming back into the fold. The genesis of being Dave Chappelle and how different comedy was back then compared to what it is now. That would probably make for an interesting conversation, right?
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your younger self?
Be more in the present. When I was young, I very much mistook contentment with complacency. I thought that if you were happy with where you were, if you were happy with some of the goals you had achieved and you didn’t have plans for more, then it somehow meant that you weren’t ambitious enough, and you didn’t have enough drive or focus. And I think that for many years I didn’t see the forest through the trees. It was always about next step, next step, next step. I wouldn’t change many of those things because it landed me at ESPN, but I would just tell myself to relax. Look around, smell the roses, enjoy the moments as they come, because they will come. Everything you hope to achive will happen for you, but there were so many things that you missed because you were so concerned about looking ahead. So stop and look around a little bit.
Check out all of our Friday Five features — including Troy Aikman, Adam Schefter, Andrea Kremer and more — in the Friday Five archive.