The Collin County Business Alliance (CCBA) celebrated their 6th anniversary with a luncheon held on Friday, Dec. 1 that featured keynote speaker Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington post, as well as founder and CEO of Thrive Global and an international best-selling author who has penned 15 books, including her most recent publications “Thrive” and “The Sleep Revolution.”
Many know Huffington from The Huffington Post, a news and blog site that was launched in May 2005 and has been ranked as one of the top 50 most frequented websites by TIME magazine. Huffington served as co-founder and editor-in-chief of the publication before launching consumer and corporate productivity and heath platform Thrive Global in August 2016. After a fall from sleep deprivation left her with a broken cheekbone in 2007, Huffington has devoted her time to promoting well-being and redefining the metrics of success.
Huffington has been named in TIME magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people and Forbes Most Powerful Women in Media and Entertainment. She appeared at the meeting on Friday to discuss the new media, politics, the economy and lessons she learned on her road to success, sitting down with CCBA Chairman and Capital One Financial Services President Sanjiv Yajnik.
At the luncheon, Huffington said money and power — commonly labeled by others to be the metrics of success — were “incredibly shriveled definitions of success.” Instead, she offered a third metric of success: well-being. Her book redefines the four metrics of success to include well-being, wisdom, wonder and giving.
“The least happy people are the most narcissistic,” said Huffington, who stated that a shortcut to happiness is helping others.
Huffington also spoke on the current social-political climate and how technological advancements have altered and affected the spread of news and media.
She discussed teachable moments in hyper growth companies she is a part of, such as Uber, stating that it is no longer acceptable to miss the importance of culture while striving for growth.
“Companies can no longer hide behind expensive billboards and ads, because in the world of social media, everything becomes public one way or another,” she said.
In the current world, Huffington said, people have found their voices. They no longer need to have publications pick up their stories in order to be heard. Instead, people can turn to social media and blog online. This phenomenon of modern technology prevents negativity and abuse from remaining buried for long.
“A lot of what is happening now is about more personal things,” said Huffington. “A lot of things that have remained in darkness, kind of buried, are coming out to the light… things can’t remain in the shadows anymore. It’s kind of an amazing time.”
Circling back to the finding of her book, Huffington stressed the importance of sleep, self-care and recharging in order to live a happy, healthy and successful life. Huffington stated that the most important point to take away from her talk was that people need to pick a time of the night to turn off their smart phones and lay them down to charge —outside of the bedroom.
“Data overwhelmingly shows the difference that’s going to make on your health (and) cognitive importance,” said Huffington, stressing this point to the audience. She said that disconnecting from one’s day is a vital step necessary for the brain that one must take before sleep. This “sacred time” needs to be carved out each day so that we can help break our smart phone addictions.
Huffington and Thrive Global are currently developing an app to help people achieve the goal of breaking their technology addictions so that they can instead focus on real world connections. The app will have a “Thrive-Mode” that will, as Huffington put it, “turn a smart phone into a dumb phone.” The setting, which cannot be overrode, will prevent users from accessing apps such as social media or e-mail during family time or leisure time. It also will give users a mirror of their social media usage, so they can learn how much of their time they truly devote to their phones. If users wish to cut down on screen time, the app will send them reminders when they have been using apps for long periods of time.
Huffington said that people tend to take pride in living hectic, workaholic lives that devotes little time to leisure. It is her goal that people will instead start bragging about how they are not plugged in all the time, but are actually out living their lives.
Another point that Huffington touched on was women in the workplace, for she said that studies show females are at a huge disadvantage when it comes to burnout due to work. She attributed the higher rates of stress, heart disease and poor health in businesswomen to be due to two main factors. The first factor is that many women are still saddled with responsibilities at home. The second is due to biological factors.
“Women internalize stress differently,” said Huffington. “Women in high stress jobs (have) much more chance of sickness.” She added that issues for women are also exacerbated by a “subconscious bias of sexes” that comes out in men and leads to “bad behavior.” At some point, for many businesswomen, stress in the workplace becomes too high and many women just leave their positions, never to return full time.
“If you go to an office and they have room for a ping-pong table, but they don’t have room for a woman who just gave birth to pump milk, there’s a problem,” said Huffington.
She teared up at one point when discussing how she admired a businesswoman who stood up for herself and politely told her boss that an aspect of her work environment was not how she performed at her best.
Huffington, who is an outspoken advocate of establishing healthy work environments that promote happy workers, said it takes guts to stand up for oneself and advocate for one’s well-being.
Also honored at the luncheon was Charlotte Jones Anderson, EVP and chief brand officer of the Dallas Cowboys, who received the CCBA Leadership Award, though she was unable to attend the event in person.
Formed in 2011, the CCBA is comprised of business leaders who believe that people must take action now in order to shape the vibrant community, or future success is put at risk. By acting as a catalyst to address key issues such as water, education and transportation today, the CCBA works to ensure that the already successful Collin County has an even brighter future.