President and Editor-in-Chief of the Huffington Post Media Group Arianna Huffington has written 13 books and been named to TIME magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people twice. How? All because a man wouldn’t marry her when she was 30.
“I wanted children, and he wanted cats,” she joked to a packed room of 8,000 at the Massachusetts Conference for Women.
Huffington delivered a keynote speech focused on three key components: our personal lives, our professional lives and how we can combine the two, doing anything with less stress.
One way we can reduce stress is by redefining what success is—an ability Huffington claims women have the power to do. Success used to mean working around the clock and driving ourselves into the ground “all to get to the top of some ladder.” Huffington quoted Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s commencement speech at Harvard Business School, when she said:
[Careers are] not a ladder; they’re a jungle gym. … Look for opportunities, look for growth, look for impact, look for mission. Move sideways, move down, move on, move off.
Huffington said it herself, “Every day in every life consists of things that are going well, and things that are going badly.” Our days depend on which side of the coin we focus on, yet as Huffington posed, “If we have the power to imagine whatever we want, why don’t we imagine the best? Why don’t we create our own fantasies?”
Growing up, Huffington admitted she was lucky to have a mother who made her believe failure was a stepping stone to success. “When you succeed, people forget about all the times you failed along the way,” she said, reminding the crowd those ignored failures can help put life into perspective.
In one of her most recent posts, “How to Sleep Your Way to the Top—Literally,” Huffington talks about a time her life was jolted into perspective—when she passed out from exhaustion, woke up bloodied, broke her cheekbone and was forced to get five stitches under her eyebrow. From that moment, she realized the ultimate key to stress reduction was that five-letter word called “sleep.”
“If we don’t learn to disconnect from technology and really connect with ourselves, we will become fried,” Huffington said. And with more sleep, comes more wisdom. To Huffington, what we are lacking today “are not smart leaders, what we are lacking is wisdom.”
Prior to arriving at the Conference, Huffington stopped by MassChallenge (pictured above), which she admitted to in her keynote speech, calling the startup accelerator’s team “a great group of young people.” Moving forward, Huffington notes we need more of what MassChallenge is doing.
“We’re all recognizing it’s not enough to wait for Washington or state capitals to make a difference,” she said. “We need to make a change ourselves.” And if enough of us make a change, we can combat the world’s crises.
“Now is the time to use our skills for innovation and creativity,” Huffington urged, concluding we can move forward and make a difference “with more gratitude, with more joy, with more balance in our lives and, yes, more sleep.”