It’s not every day that the arm of Forbes’ 52nd most powerful woman in the world is draped around your shoulder. But on Friday, dear readers, this happened to me! Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of the Pulitzer-Prize winning Huffington Post, came to town and swept Auckland off its feet with her charm, humour and savvy business insights, plus a tip on emails which I’ve included below. Auckland did its very best to try to sweep her back with something resembling a mini-hurricane, to which she dismissed with a chuckle “I lived in England. This is nothing. Really. Stop apologising for the weather!”. The audience breathed a collective sigh of relief.
After spending a week speed-reading her latest book Thrive, I knew she was full of wise words about success and wellbeing. But this isn’t your usual ‘work-life balance’ drill. Her moment of truth was waking to find herself on the floor in a pool of her own blood – and Arianna realised the relentless pace of stress, sleep deprivation and burnout must stop. From that moment on, she focused on what she calls the ‘Third Metric’. Success is not defined by only money and power, but also by a third metric – wellbeing. Described as the third leg of her stool, by simply taking care of ourselves through sleep, digital detox, mindfulness and exercise we become more productive, and ultimately more successful. “Our eulogies have nothing to do with our resumes” she reminded us.
Sleep, sleep, sleep.
Arianna is a massive advocate of getting 8 hours of sleep. The game of chicken being played in offices around the world as to who can get by on the least amount of sleep is unsustainable and quite simply, ridiculous. Being sleep deprived has been glamourised: “It’s like rewarding employees for coming to work drunk!” she exclaimed. To put an end to this nonsense, in the Huffington Post newsroom she installed nap rooms for employees to use if they are tired or need some rest. Initially viewed with skepticism by the journalists, they now have had to add an extra room due to popularity.
Huffington Post also has an email policy setting the expectation that employees do not need to respond to email outside of working hours. And they are not alone. Volkswagen automatically turns email off on company-provided smartphones between 7pm and 6am. Aetna implemented many of these wellbeing initiatives measured a 7% reduction on healthcare costs and 69 min per/week increase in productivity – a palpable impact on the bottom line.
Here’s a great email tip Arianna shared:
Arianna is an ardent proponent of Digital Detox – disconnecting from your smartphone, emails and devices for a full day each week. Although many in the room squirmed uncomfortably at this thought, it’s a concept that should be adopted in some fashion by all of us. How many times have we as parents told our children their screen time is over – as we ourselves scroll through our newsfeeds and notifications? Modelling the technology behaviour we are advocating is one of the conundrums of modern parenting.
When asked about what advice she would give to young women starting a career, her answer was refreshing:
Arianna is very frank and open in her book Thrive – it’s not a fluffy read. She shares some deeply personal experiences including the topics of her stillborn son, her mother’s death and her daughter’s drug addiction. These heartfelt stories illustrate the challenges she has had to overcome in her journey from a very humble beginning in Greece, to the successful media mogul she is today. Her book is backed up by 55 pages of footnotes citing examples of organisations adopting a Thrive approach and research she did in preparation for the book.
To watch a full replay of Arianna’s address, visit the Stuff.co.nz website here.
PS: My heart did have a little flutter when I discovered the photo we quickly shot at work, then tweeted to Arianna to welcome her to NZ – was then retweeted to her 1.6m Twitter followers and also reposted (by her) onto her own Instagram account.
A post shared by Arianna Huffington (@ariannahuff) on
@simonemccallum Thank you for sharing Thrive with your readers, dear Simone!
— Arianna Huffington (@ariannahuff) September 15, 2014
Header image credit Anthem PR