Arianna Huffington in the house
The “Third Metric,” media guru Arianna Huffington’s initiative for measuring success devoid of stress and burnout, captured the early-morning attention of execs attending NJPAC’s most recent Business Partners Roundtable.
Being visibly well-rested and vocally engaged was a good thing that morning, because the crowd that filled the Chase Room beginning at 8am for Huffington’s keynote speech heard a lot about sleep deprivation and exhaustion: two conditions that she identifies as agents to impaired decision-making. The Chair, President and Editor-in-Chief of Huffington Post Media Group, Huffington is known as a tireless author-journalist, social activist, news commentator, guardian of the online Huffington Post, cultural thought leader, and sometimes actress – who makes her bedroom a device-free zone so she can turn off the noise and read hard-copy books in peace.
New Jersey philanthropist and NJPAC Founding Chair Raymond G. Chambers, the U.N. Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Malaria, warmly welcomed his longtime friend to the podium. Huffington, in turn, called Chambers “one of my absolute heroes.” “He’s always thinking big and never settling for the small idea,” she added, referring to their collaborative work on a number of projects of national magnitude, such as the Presidents’ Summit for America’s Future.
Huffington addressed several media megatrends that are leading people to tap into the Zeitgeist. She pointed to the shift from presentation of the news to participation and the “unstoppable” rise of social engagement. The three-W qualities –well-being, wisdom and wonder – were targeted as pillars to building better relationships in and outside the corporate world. The act of giving with compassion was perhaps the important component of her more humane definition of success.
“Third Metric” brainstorming began at a women’s conference Huffington presented in June and the conversation moved to a page of that title on The Huffington Post. Feature stories on the Pulitzer-winning blog’s “Third Metric” range from tips on how to unplug from tech to learning to laugh at yourself and beginners’ meditation. The HuffPo is now “talking about go-givers instead of go-getters,” she said.
Huffington described the growth of the Internet as dramatic and “out of the adolescent stage” as users search for comprehension rather than data. Tapping into deeper self-wisdom is aided by meditation, yoga or just stillness, she added, pointing to the increasing number of companies offering “mindfulness” programs.
“When we look around at our world, we see that something is not working,” she said, diagnosing task-switching, or multitasking, as unproductive. “We see an enormous amount of very successful people who are so stressed, so burned out, that their health is affected, their relationships are affected.”
Citing her late mother as her greatest influence, Huffington said she learned the marvels of “not missing the moments” of everyday life and the evils of addictive behavior, like checking emails while speaking to children. “We’ve missed our capacity to wonder, to really celebrate life,” she noted.
“If we include the ‘Third Metric,’ I think something amazing happens. We move from living a life full of struggle to one full of grace. There will always be problems but we deal with them differently.”
The self-described “big sleep evangelist” said that in 2007 she fainted on her desk from exhaustion and took four stitches to the eye. She recalled that incident when asked to speak at a Smith College commencement.
“I told the Smith graduates that the best advice I could give them was to ‘sleep’ their way to the top, literally.”
Nov. 16, 2013