Women Empowerment: Arianna Huffington
As a mother, “third metric” to success and sleep revolution activist, co-founder of The Huffington Post, founder and CEO of Thrive Global, author of 15 books, and nationally syndicated columnist, what is Arianna Huffington’s take on women empowerment?
Besides just empowering women through her business success story and fearless ambitious drive, a number of Arianna’s books, public messages, and her current business venture, Thrive Global, focus directly on women empowerment. Overcome fear, change the workplace structure to end burnout and promote healthy living, redefine success beyond money and power to make room for well-being (the “third metric” to success – turn off your smartphone!), listen to your intuition, and get enough sleep – these are Arianna’s guidelines for increased productivity for men and women alike, but in particular, according to Arianna, these things can help women find their own voice to empower themselves and others.
So how did Arianna go from media guru at The Huffington Post to healthy living and wellness activist and women empowerment advocate?
Born in Greece, Arianna moved to England at age 16, graduated from Cambridge University with an M.A. in economics, began a career in writing and moved to New York in 1980. In 1985, she met her now ex-husband Michael Huffington with whom she has two daughters Isabella and Christina. The couple divorced in 1997 after Michael disclosed he was bisexual, a fact that, according to him, Arianna was aware of and ok with when they wed. Arianna was a conservative before becoming a liberal in the late ’90s and in 2003 she ran for governor of California as an independent candidate, but lost to Arnold Schwarzenegger.
In 2005, Arianna co-founded The Huffington Post, a news and blog site that began as a liberal version of the conservative online juggernaut, the Drudge Report, but quickly became one of the most popular sites on the internet, the 154th most popular during its heyday to be exact!
Then on the morning of April 6, 2007, Arianna collapsed from exhaustion. She fell to the floor in her home office, hitting her face on her desk and breaking her cheekbone. Medical tests found nothing that could explain the incident and Arianna realized that her lifestyle, which at the time was filled with 18-hour workdays, seven days a week, was responsible for destroying her health. After selling The Huffington Post to AOL in 2011 for over $300 million (and reportedly pocketing at least $21 mil!) and inspired by her realization that physical and mental wellness are crucial to success, in 2014 Arianna released her bestseller book Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder.
Following AOL’s acquisition of The Huffington Post and despite her new-found passion for promoting the “third metric” for success, Arianna became the president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group. But two years later, after a rumored difficulty in alignment of opinions with the head of AOL, Arianna left this role to develop her new startup and spread her beliefs surrounding healthy living and its affect on productivity. In 2016 she founded Thrive Global, a platform dedicated to changing the way we work and live by ending the collective delusion that burnout is the price we must pay for success.
Thrive is particularly attuned to women empowerment, Arianna explains the importance of this change to women in an interview by Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO and fellow supporter of women empowerment, “We have to remember that the culture still prevailing in many workplaces women are trying to make their way into was created by men, and is dominated by the antiquated notion that burnout is a sign of dedication and commitment. This culture is certainly harmful to men too, but it’s women who suffer the most from it—both because women process stress differently and because even when women succeed at work, they’re still doing the lion’s share of the work at home, too. So women have to both lean in and lead the way in changing how our workplaces are structured.”
She goes on to explain, “So part of leaning in means not trying to outdo men chasing a flawed notion of success. There’s a French expression I love, “reculer pour mieux sauter,” which, loosely translated, means leaning back in order to jump higher. That’s what cats do. And by leaning back, we become much more effective at leaning in. That means acknowledging the value of caring for our human capital — including getting enough sleep. It also means, as they tell us on airplanes, putting your own oxygen mask on first — taking care of yourself to create the space to listen to your own wisdom and intuition. Not because you are selfish, but because that is how you are going to be at your best and most effective. You shouldn’t have to lose yourself to advance yourself.”
In 2016, Arianna released another instant bestseller book, The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at A Time. Arianna writes about the science, history and mystery of sleep and the importance of getting enough in order to stay healthy and be your most productive self.
The book’s site describes, “In today’s fast-paced, always-connected, perpetually-harried and sleep-deprived world, our need for a good night’s sleep is more important – and elusive — than ever. The Sleep Revolution both sounds the alarm on our worldwide sleep crisis and provides a detailed road map to the great sleep awakening that can help transform our lives, our communities, and our world.”
In particular, women are at the center of the sleep crisis, with work, home and family obligations sleep often takes the back burner. Lack of sleep is often a badge of honor of sorts, but overtime this lifestyle cannot be sustained! If you want to be your best self and help change the world you must get enough sleep! But how can you fit it all in? Arianna helps unravel this issue in the book, but one particular piece of advice that she explores is the importance of taking the time to wind down before bed in order to make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep longer. For anyone who has kids (or remembers reading about how to help them sleep) this is a key component, and according to Arianna one we should never have ceased with age!
So how does Arianna unwind? “I love the idea of rekindling the romance with sleep,” she says. She welcomes sleep by turning off her devices and putting them to bed outside her room, taking a hot bath, dressing in real dedicated pajamas (no gym clothes) and bringing only real physical books that have nothing to do with work to bed. She also takes the time to write down three things she is thankful for that day, because according to her ending each day with positive thoughts makes for better sleep, fewer anxious dreams or midnight awakenings.
In addition to promoting women empowerment through the concept of healthy living and its effects on productivity, Arianna also wrote a book called On Becoming Fearless…. in Love, Work, and Life in 2006 after observing her teenage daughters beginning to experience some of the same fears she had one been burdened with, how attractive am I? do people like me? do I dare speak up?! The book highlights stories of moments when women exhibited extraordinary strength, courage, and resilience to overcome fear. It also outlines steps to conquer fear and shows us how to feel comfortable in our own skin in order to get what we want in love and at work, and to change the world.
An empowering woman, empowering others, Arianna has been named to Time Magazine’s list of the worlds’ 100 most influential people and the Forbes Most Powerful Women list.
Words of Wisdom for Women Empowerment by Arianna Huffington:
“But you have to do what you dream of doing even while you’re afraid.”
“We need to accept that we won’t always make the right decisions, that we’ll screw up royally sometimes – understanding that failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success.”
“The fastest way to break the cycle of perfectionism and become a fearless mother is to give up the idea of doing it perfectly – indeed to embrace uncertainty and imperfection.”
“The more we refuse to buy into our inner critics – and our external ones too – the easier it will get to have confidence in our choices, and to feel comfortable with who we are – as women and as mothers.”
“Fearlessness is not the absence of fear. It’s the mastery of fear. It’s about getting up one more time than we fall down.”
Thank you, Arianna Huffington, for all that you do for women empowerment!
With love, KOKET
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