I'm a huge fan of Arriana Huffington. So, when I heard that she would be speaking at this year's Marketo Marketing Nation Summit, I took the opportunity to tune in and listen to her.
Her talk was informative and inspiring. She clearly didn't dissappoint.
Here were a few key points that I think are worth noting:
- Arianna discusses her new book "Thrive" and shows how the concepts in her book are critical to creativity and success.
- How after 2 years, the Huffington Post decided to disrupt itself and why that made all the difference.
- The key of the growth of Huffington Posts growth has been the realization that people don't just want to consume news, they want to express themselves in the news.
- Why Arriana considers sleep as critical to creativity, and why creativity is the key to innovation and why stress is the killer of all creativity.
- Why the future of news isn't "if it bleads, it leads" but that good, positive news needs a place in everyday conversation.
- Why you don't need to reply to every email, especially on the weekends or off office hours.
The video below is great. Check it out.
Arianna Huffington Video Transcript
Arianna Huffington: We needed to engage our readers and our viewers. So from day one, they have been posed to as a combination of a journalistic enterprise and a platform. Now of course we have 850 journalists, reporters, editors all around the world. We want to Pulitzer as part of these conventional deep dive investigative efforts, but we are also a platform that invites people all around the world to express their views, their opinions, tell their stories. It's not free for all so that you can maintain a certain quality, but we have tens of thousands of bloggers and there is no hierarchy except quality. So the President of France maybe blogging, Francois Hollande which he did and be next to a homeless teenager who had something really interesting to say which also happened. And the Harvard admissions office happened to read the homeless teenager's blog and offered him a place at Harvard and he's now in his third year at Harvard.
And this for me is the magic of an open platform. And in fact, I want to invite all of you to blog on the Huffington Post. And if you have your own blog or you write on Facebook or you write on LinkedIn, it doesn't matter because what we also discovered and that's how we disrupted the industry is that ubiquity is the new exclusivity. So we don't mind if you cross path it everywhere. We just also want it on the Huffington Post because our promise to our readers is that we will bring you the best on the web, whether we produce it, our bloggers write it or our editors link to it. All you want to know is that it's all there about 1,500 to 2,000 stories a day. But I feel that in a way the most important way that we manage 10 years later to remain the number one news site and the number one social publisher on Facebook is because we kept disrupting ourselves. We never said this is the Huffington Post. We can now just do maintenance.
So very quickly, in fact two years after our launch, we disrupted ourselves by moving from being a primarily news and politics site to being an everything site, to having sections on media, business and entertainment and increasingly more and more lifestyle. We will talk about that in a minute.
And we recognized that the key was that self-expression had become the new entertainment. People didn't want just to consume news, they wanted to tell their own stories and will.i.am kind of put it best. He said, "We went from sitting on a couch consuming news to galloping on a horse sharing news." And that's an incredible transformation in the media industry.
Also from the beginning, we had a playful attitude even when things were serious. And when we launched our splash, the classic half post slash, we wanted to train our editors to make it fun. One of my favorite splashes was when Dominique Strauss-Kahn, head of the IMF was arrested in New York. Our slash was, "OMG IMF." When the Pope joined Facebook, our splash was, "Poke the Pope."
So we managed to create a sense of drama which it's incredible important for you marketers. So readers wanted to come and see our splash again and again because it changes many, many times a day. But it's like our bold statement saying, "This is what we believe is the most important story right now. Come back in an hour it may have changed." And that was really our first phase.
Our second phase as I mentioned had to do with moving beyond news and politics and earning our readers' trust as Craig Newmark says, "Trust is a new black." There's nothing more important in your business or in our business. And then the third phase was really recognizing that the world was changing and more and more people were communicating by sharing the news. So we started a new motto which was, "Social is the new front page." We love mottos at the Huffington Post and in fact, our first motto when we launched was a little self-deprecating because the New York Times says, "Delivering news and opinions since the 19th century" and our opening motto was, "Delivering news and opinions since May 9th, 2005."
Then we moved on to the Internet Newspaper. And now that we are on many platforms in many media, our new motto is, "Inform and Inspire, Entertain and Empower." And that's really the third phase when we recognized that people become your most loyal readers, or customers in your case when you add value to their lives, when you move from being nice to have, to must have, from being useful to becoming indispensable. And we did that by covering whatever people were preoccupied with. One morning for example, Nora Ephron who was at the time our editor at large, came to me and said, "We must launch a divorce section." Because she said marriage comes and goes but divorce is forever. And we launched the divorce section that has become one of our most popular sections partly because it focuses so much on co-parenting which is of course for anybody who is divorced with children here like I am, one of the most infuriating parts about divorce is that you're never really divorced when you have children.
And then six months later, we launched the wedding section showing that we're not a cynical bunch. And then we launched the teen section and a college section, and then a Huffpost 50 sections, which all have been booming, and a parent section. And gradually we began to address every issue that our readers were dealing with. So when they ask me, "What is the Huffington Post demo?" I said, "Humanity of any age." We want people to start blogging on the Huffington Post from the age of 13 with their parents' permission and then continue writing on the Huffington Post as we have into their 90s. Okay, I'm almost done with my 10 minutes of disruption.
Are you ready to move into the inspiration part? It's an unlikely entry point into inspiration because it starts with my collapse eight years ago from burnout, sleep deprivation and exhaustion. And I literally collapsed in my office, hit my head on my way down, broke my cheek bone and ended up with four stitches on top of my eye. And as I came to in my own pool of blood, I had to ask myself the question, "Is this what success looks like?" Because while by conventional definitions of success, I was successful, by any sane definition of success, can we all agree that if you come to in a pool of blood and nobody has shot you, you are not successful?
And as I started going round from doctor to doctor to find out what was really wrong with me. Did I have a heart problem? Did I have a brain tumor? Why did I collapse? The diagnosis finally was basically you have civilization's disease, burnout. And there's nothing we can do for you. You got to do it for yourself.
And then as I looked around, I recognized that burnout was indeed universal almost for anybody like all of you here, in stressful jobs, in demanding jobs. And yet as this was taking a bigger and bigger toll on our lives and our health and our productivity fortunately, modern science was validating ancient wisdom that in fact sleep, meditation, renewal, poses were not counterproductive. I can't see you anymore. I hope that the lights can come up. But instead they were performance enhancement tools. And that's really the amazing perfect storm that we are in right now, recognizing that we've all been paying a very heavy price by the collective delusion that burnout is the only way to succeed.
So I started asking these big questions that Greek philosophers used to ask, "Is this what a good life is?" and indeed, what is a good life? Because we've shrunken the definition of success down to these two metrics of money and power, status, etc.
And my thesis in life in thrive in fact, we need the third metric, which is like the third leg of the stool because if you are sitting on a two legged tool, sooner or later you're going to fall off. And more and more people are falling off. More and more people are suffering from high blood pressure, diabetes, heart diseases because of stress, 75% of our health care costs are because of stress related preventable diseases. And one of the problems is this is the way men, although none of the enlightened men present here, but this is the way other men have designed the work place. And that's why we women need to change it, right girls? And then men are going to be incredibly grateful to us because right now for example, they are walking around wearing their sleep deprivation like a badge of honor.
I had dinner recently with a guy who bragged, I had only slept for four hours the night before, he said and I thought to myself, I didn't say it but I thought to myself, "You know what, if you had slept five, this dinner would have been a lot more interesting."
So the four pillars of this third metric are well being, wisdom, wonder and giving. And each of these in the book has steps associated with it. A total of 12 steps to help us move from knowing what is good for us to actually doing it. And indeed I just completed an e-course with Oprah and her team. I was in Chicago yesterday presenting it at the upfront that help people, go from agreeing with me to actually implementing these small microscopic changes to thrive and not just survive and succeed in their lives. And every week, we have six weeks, two steps that we are working on each week, and every week a guest teacher.
And the first guess teacher I chose for week one is very unexpected, but I will explain why and it's Kobe Bryant. So you are going to love it. Kobe Bryant, teaching you about sleep and meditation. And the reason I chose Kobe Bryant is because we need to end the delusion that sleep and meditation are California, new agey flaky things. And we need to end the delusion that sleep and meditation are for people chilling under a mango tree, not for people who want to be winners and people who want to succeed. Kobe explains that when he's had enough sleep and when he's meditated, he's better on the court. Isn't what we all would want to do? We want to be better in what we are doing. And recognizing that these things actually help us rather than hinder us is a huge culture shift. It's actually a huge cultural disruption if we can move and blend inspiration and disruption.
Since after all you are marketers, let me market the course. You can go to oprah.com/thrive and get a special offer just because you're here. How is that for a seamless marketing effort? So right now, if you think of it, we are taking better care of our smartphones than we take care of ourselves. Everybody here knows approximately how much battery remains on your smartphone, and if the battery is below 13%, you begin to get anxious and you look around for a recharging shrine, lest anything will happen to your precious smartphone. But if you had asked me the morning of my collapse, "How are you Arianna Huffington?" I would have said "Fine." That's how disconnected I was from how I really was. In the same way, your phone is fine right down to 1% and then you collapse.
So what I want to do with Thrive, is help us all listen to the warning sounds, see the warning signs before we hit the wall. People say that we only grow through pain. Can we change that? Can we grow through other people's pain? Why do you need to have your own collapse? Why can't you learn from mine? Related to that is the fact that we are becoming almost afraid of silence and of being alone. That's how addicted we're becoming to our devices. The University of Virginia and Harvard just released a study about an experiment they did. They put people alone in a room, and they told them that you have a choice of being alone without devices, TV anything for 15 minutes or getting electric shock, and 67% of men chose electric shock. Among women, the superior sex, 25% choice electric shock. But clearly we got to change that.
Moving on to wisdom. We are recognizing that the more connected we are to our own inner wisdom, inner intuition, the better decisions we make. Bill Clinton is quoted in the book saying, "The most important mistakes I made, I made when I was tired." Now, he did not specify what mistakes. But I can certainly say that the most important hiring mistakes I made, I made when I was tired. When I just wanted to cross this thing off my to-do list and therefore I wasn't really aware of all the red flags. And I'm sure if you look back at your life, you can all think of similar situations.
The third metric is wonder. We miss out on the small ordinary beauties of life, on the mysteries of life because we are constantly so busy multi-tasking. And now, modern science and the book has 55 pages of scientific end notes to convince the most stubborn skeptic of the truth of these things. Because modern science is now showing us that multi-tasking actually does not exist. It's task switching and it's the most stressful thing you can do. I don't see any of you on your devices but if anybody is on their device right now, you are not listening to me which is fine but just the choice we make. Like after Huffington Post, we have ended bringing devices into meetings because people sit at meetings and do their emails and text and the meetings don't go anywhere. My leadership meeting has gone from an hour to half an hour. It's become unbelievably productive and we've given everybody beautiful leather bound books where they can take notes.
We also have opened two nap rooms and people can have a nap in the afternoon if they are tired instead of having a fourth cup of coffee or a third cinnamon bun. You know what, at first there was skepticism and eye rolling but now they are perpetually full. And in fact, the other day I was going by one of them and I saw two people coming out of it and I thought to myself, whatever it takes to recharge you. Just please don't tell HR. But probably the best thing we've done at Huff Post is to tell other than our meditation and yoga and breathing classes, and healthy free snacks everywhere but the best thing that people really value is to let them know that after work, they're not expected to be on email, that if there's something urgent we will call you or text you. But people need predictable time off. They need to be able to be with their children and their friends and their loved ones without feeling that they have to be on their smartphones in case their boss or somebody at work or a client gets in touch with them. You are all in a client centered business. We are in a 24/7 media business.
The only way to deal with that problem is create teams. Yes, somebody has to be available all the time. Somebody is available all the time at Huff Post but it's not the same person who's available all the time because that doesn't work. And as we are launching in many countries across the world, we are learning from what each country is doing. And every country is working on these things. Actually, one of the pioneering countries in terms of what businesses are doing is Germany which is not exactly a country renowned for its new agey inefficiency and laziness.
So one quick thing about multitasking, I live in New York, I live in Soho. If you walk the streets of New York, you hardly see anybody just walking. People are either on their phones or worse texting while walking and that's how I used to be. Now that I just walk, I suddenly notice things. I was walking with a friend by my apartment the other day and I said to her, "This building is amazing, it's so beautiful. When did it go up?" And she said, "1890." So what else are we missing?
The fourth pillar of the third metric is giving. We now see how giving is a shortcut to happiness and I have a whole section about how do we become not just go-getters but go-givers and what this does to us. It starts with very small things. It starts with making personal connections with people that otherwise we will take for granted, the barista in the coffee shop, the cleaning crew in our office or our hotel. So this is truly an amazing time to be alive. You're reimagining marketing, we're reimagining journalism by just launching a new global editorial initiative that we are calling "What is Working" where we are asking all our journalists across the world, across our 13 countries to report not just the crises, the beheadings, the rapes, the problems which obviously we'll continue covering relentlessly, but also to report on what is working, the solutions, the innovations, the examples of compassion.
Because the New York Times says all the news that's fit to print but that's not what anyone of us in the media are doing. We are doing all the bad news that's fit to print or to post, and as a result we don't give a full picture of the world to our readers and our viewers. You know how they say in journalism schools and in news rooms, "If it bleeds, it leads." We want to change that. And actually these are the stories that people want to share. And the second thing that we say a lot is copycat crimes. There's a school shooting, we cover it endlessly, there are 10 more school shootings.
We want to create copycat solutions. Read a story on the Huffington Post today that I'm really proud of where we do a real in-depth piece, not just a feel good piece about two amazing young people who left Yale, one of them was the Editor in Chief of the Yale Daily News, the other was Managing Editor. They fell in love, they could have had any job in the world, they actually went to Washington first. One was a speech rater for Joe Biden, the other for Eric Holder. But then, they decided to create this amazing project called the "Future Project" and raise money to put what they call "Dream directors," in at risk public schools that helps students get in touch with their dreams, so they don't lose hope. Read it because that's the kind of story we need to tell in a robust way to show what can be done and to help scale and hopefully replicate something good.
So as we are reimagining marketing, reimagining journalism, let's also altogether reimagine our lives so that we can move away from this collective delusion that burnout is the only way to succeed, and recognize that we can have incredibly productive lives, but live them with less stress, less breathlessness, less franticness and anxiety and more strength, more creativity, more joy, more empathy, more gratitude and yes, more sleep. Thank you.
Phil: Arianna Huffington, I will talk a few minutes, I'm fresh off my nap back in the green room. I hoped you enjoyed it. I heard a laugh or two that woke me up along the way.
Arianna Huffington: That's okay, you are forgiven. If you were napping, everything is excused.
Phil: I like that idea. Nap rooms in Marketo I don't know where my facilities people are but let's do it.
Arianna Huffington: Great.
Phil: I love the way you wove this all together, right? Disruption and innovation and maybe you see that connection that I'm going to be playing with and we're playing with here today. But I want to talk a little more about this notion of being tired and burned out because one of the things I hear a lot from my own team as we have been doing Marketo for these years and things as, "Wow, this is hard every day to keep coming back even if we are sleeping, even if we are meditating or giving." Do you think humans have a limit to disruption? How long they can live in that zone even if they're taking care of themselves or do you think you can disrupt for another 10 years?
Arianna Huffington: I don't think we have a limit if we really take care of ourselves. You know what they say on airplanes put your own oxygen masks first?" We don't really do that. Very few people do that because there's that illusion, you know how software is advertised as having 99.9% up time? Well, human brings were not designed that way and this is not a bag, it's a feature. And yet we try to live that way. So I think we have a way to go when people say, "Are they getting enough sleep?" I just want you to know that the science is incontrovertible, there are 2,500 sleep centers in America at the moment. That's why sleep deprivation is being really studied seriously and they're finding that 99.9% of people need eight hours sleep. One percent are what they call short sleepers, I mean not 1%, 1% of 1%.
I don't know how many people here are getting eight hour sleep. I bet very few, right? So when you say getting enough sleep, very few people do. We recommend in the book and in the course that you start with getting 30 minutes more at night. You're not going to go from five hours to eight. But gradually, the person you become when you're fully recharged is the person you love to be. That's what happened to me. I can't stand now my old self. I can't stand myself who was always tired, walking through my day like a zombie and I promise you that's not where creativity comes from. Why do you think the best ideas come in the shower? Because we are disconnected from our devices, we are not multi-tasking, although I'm terrified that the new Apple Watch will soon be waterproof and that will be the end of it.
Phil: That's for sure. One of the things you talked about is, I'm fascinated by the work place and the changing work place here in the valley where there're people putting in bars and who knows what. What are those things you talked about if you were talking to me or one of my colleagues, leaders here? You first, is it no devices? Is it literally sleep? We can do them all.
Arianna Huffington: First of all, that's a great question, we have to start somewhere. I think it depends on your culture. You know your culture, each company has a different culture but I think the first bucket, the low hanging fruit that practically everybody is doing is some form of physical exercise like a gym, in our case, anybody who requests a standing desk, gets it. Another thing, Marketo people need to be asking for and walking meetings and all these things, physical activity.
The second bucket is reducing mental stress and that has to do with encouraging meditation, also nap rooms, yoga, whatever, giving people a menu to choose whatever they want. The third thing is policies like email policy. Or let me tell you another thing that Daimler started in Germany and we are now incorporating at at the Huffington Post, it is [inaudible 00:31:19] called vacation. And I send you an email while you were on vacation, there will be candle light in a minute and you can all go to sleep. I have arranged it.
Phil: She..that's right.
Arianna Huffington: I sent you an email. I will probably get an out of office saying, "Phil is out of office" right? Five minutes later I'm very like to get an email from you because we are all addicted. The minute we get an email we feel we have to respond. So what Daimler did is I sent you an email and their employees can opt-in, so I receive an email that says "Phil is on vacation. He will be gone for two weeks, if it's urgent, contact Sarah. If it's not, email him again in two weeks" And that email is deleted. Are you scared?
Phil: I like that. I like that a lot.
Arianna Huffington: It's amazing. The truth is they are finding out that only 25% of people will email because things tend to be handled, delegated, handled by others and you can have a fully recharging vacation. Phil, you know that in your business, in my business, what we value more than anything is creativity, right? These are the people who want to attract, the people who want to retain. Well, nothing kills creativity more than stress.
Phil: Good thoughts. It's coming Marketo, I hope everybody else does too. Let's turn to the market that you've built your amazing with. Marketo was actually a company that started the same quarter that the iPhone was introduced and Twitter was founded, so we are a company of era that has just been seen. . . weeks don't go by without a disruptive change, right? There's Instagram or there's Snapchat, whatever different things pop up in the world. And these things all affect the people in these room's lives because these are new ways to engage with our customers. I'm just curious where you are in the disruption, innovation and change and what is next for the Huffington Post? What excites you about technology and the next thing in the world?
Arianna Huffington: So for our next 10 years, the ways we see, first of all, we've tapped into something in the zeitgeist. As marketers, nothing is more powerful, right? When a marketing campaign taps into the zeitgeist, you have the wind on your back. So I think there are two things that are in the zeitgeist and if your campaigns tap into these and if you partner with the Huffington Post especially you will be unstoppable.
The first thing is around wellness. Every brand now wants to be in the wellness business, even brands that are directly undermining wellness, want to be in the wellness business. This is it. It's in the zeitgeist. So whenever you can present a message in a way that adds value to the customer's life by improving their wellness, reducing their stress or whatever it is that you are working on, it's just incredibly effective. That's what happened to us and a lot of brands are partnering with us around that.
The other thing is what I mentioned around what is working, solutions. Every brand has a cause. So we have a lot of what we call sections which are entirely sponsored by brands around their cause, like Johnson and Johnson. Their cause is global maternal health. They've just renewed for the fifth year their campaign where we have a dedicated section and because Huff Post is also a platform, all the people they are helping around the world can blog, they can send videos and it's all the entire section which looks like a Huff Post vertical is around that. Goldman Sachs, what is working around their support of small business and female entrepreneurs. I think that's where the world is going. These two are a huge part of the zeitgeist and of course mobile. Not just mobile first, we say at Huff Post mobile is the new desktop. More and more people consume everything on mobile and global.
When AOL bought the Huffington Post four years ago, we were just in the US, now we are in 13 countries including Japan, Korea, the Maghreb countries, launching in Australia next month and then the Arab world. When they bought Huff Post, we were at 30 million unique visitors a year. We are now at 214 million and 50% of it is coming outside the US. So global of course is increasingly where brands need to be because that's where the growth is.
Phil: That's phenomenal. So we have just a couple of minutes left but I have something that I wanted to discuss. Maybe it's very personal to me but I hope it resonates with some other people around building Marketo. I came out here and introduced that I was going to be talking about whole new kinds of marketers and we are reaching in my company whole new kinds of people. I'm just curious what the experience was at the Huffington Post when you went from news and politics to this much broader platform? Was that a conscious decision? Was it a risk reward? What was going on in your mind as you decided to go for it and turn this into the platform? What were you thinking and how did you assess that?
Arianna Huffington: What we felt is that somebody who was interested in politics and news is also interested in a lot of other things. They may be a parent, they may be about to get married or divorced and we wanted to be there for them. So it was more like offering our readers a complete service both as we are saying now informing them but also empowering them, inspiring them and entertaining them. So I think what also marketers try to do, sort of a complete service rather than just catering to one aspect of their needs.
Phil: That's cool, well, I'm inspired. Thank you for being here with us today. Good luck on the book. Good luck on the whole third pillar, I think it's really cool. It resonates with me, it literally speaks to things that I think we need to do and not just read about and I come out of this with that energy, literally.
Arianna Huffington: Well, that's fantastic because I want you to write about this.
Phil: Let me tweet right now, yeah.
Arianna Huffington: I want you to write about introducing nap rooms to Marketo right guys? He has witnesses.
Phil: Sure, yeah. Arianna Huffington: And also I mentioned earlier that I want everybody to write, so to make it super easy for you to bypass the growing Huffington Post bureaucracy, I'm going to give you my email and you can send it directly to me, Arianna Huffington@huffingtonpost.com. If you found the company you get the good email address, right? And if you follow me on Instagram, Facebook, whatever, any social media, you will get so many inspirational quotes every day that you are going to be able to live a fully disrupted and inspiring life. And let me leave you with one of my favorite inspirational quotes that I have laminated in my wallet, and this is by Roomie who said, "Live life as though everything is rigged in your favor." So no matter what happens, you don't know what's behind it or what doors are opening because of something that seems like a challenge or an obstacle. So thank you.
Phil: Live life like everything is rigged in your favor. Thank you. I don't know where my CFO Fred Ball is but he's freaking out right now I can promise you that. He's probably texting somebody, "Phil wants nap rooms right now we're going to have them" I don't know, it seems like a very good. . .