We talked with Arianna Huffington on What’s Her Story with Sam and Amy. We walked through Arianna’s incredible career and life – and left with amazing tips! Arianna is the founder of The Huffington Post, the founder and CEO of Thrive Global, and the author of 15 books, including Thrive and The Sleep Revolution.
Tell us about your epiphany around self-care.
I was two years into building The Huffington Post, the divorced mother of two teenage girls, and totally thinking I could power through anything. Then, I collapsed. I hit my head on the desk on the way down and broke my cheekbone. In a way, this was an incredible gift. It actually made it possible for me to really delve into burnout as a global epidemic and how it was impacting hundreds of millions of people around the world. I started covering all of these topics at The Huffington Post. Finally, I decided to leave in 2016 to launch Thrive Global to help people move from awareness into action.
How is your life different today than before you collapsed?
You know, it’s kind of amazing. I feel that I’m much more effective and productive because I am. I start my day 90% of the time really recharged. At Thrive, we encourage people to take 60 second resets during the day. There is science that tells us it takes 60 to 90 seconds to course correct from stress. The problem is that stress is cumulative. So if we have 60 second resets and let go of the cortisol hormone from our bodies, we can end our day without feeling exhausted and wound up.
Career transitions can be challenging. How did you move from The Huffington Post to launching Thrive Global?
As I mentioned, I was focused on covering issues of self-care and the stress pandemic. In fact, something like 50% of our traffic was coming from these topics rather than policies. I still felt like it was not enough. I had a lot of people saying to me, I know I need to get more sleep or I know I need to change my mental habits. But how do I do it? So that required building a company that could provide a behavior change product. By 2016, I felt so passionate that this what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
You talk a lot about the importance of sleep.
For me, sleep is foundational. I’ve written a whole book about it! I make a point of getting the sleep I need, which is eight hours. The biggest point is that we need to avoid chronic sleep deprivation. I think that for so much of my life, I was literally exhausted and getting through the day like a zombie. I also thought that way of life is normal, which it is not. Now when I look back, I can trace every mistake back to exhaustion. For example, hiring is enormously important as an entrepreneur. I made hiring mistakes from exhaustion. Now I have a rule that I never interview when I’m tired. When you’re tired, you miss the red flags.
Other than sleep, how do you focus on your own health?
I believe the best way to live your life is by looking to teachings from the latest science and ancient wisdom. In living this way, I am productive and joyful and healthy. I turned 70 in July and I know how truly the way we live our lives can dramatically affect our health. We are dealing with a skyrocketing increase in chronic diseases, diabetes, hypertension, and obesity. The truth is that 75% of these diseases are behavior based. This is why both Thrive and I are passionate about cracking the huge challenge of behavior change.
Speaking of behavior change, there are also societal behaviors. One thing we still struggle with at a cultural level is strong women. You are one! Do you care about being liked?
I don’t think that people set out to be disliked. But I always say that if you want to do things that have an impact, you’re going to ruffle feathers. Not everyone is going to agree with you, and it will be a problem if you’re not comfortable with that. One of the things that has changed as I’ve gotten older is that I am not looking over my shoulder for approval. That is liberating in the end.
Please tune into What’s Her Story with Sam and Amy on iHeart or wherever you listen to podcasts for the full conversation! We talked more about parenting, politics, and life.