Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post, engaged with students and media members at a brief talk and Q-and-A session a few hours before her keynote speech at the 2015 Simon Benson awards on Oct. 29.
Huffington addressed the importance of meditating to reduce stress and getting enough sleep each night, a goal she said students and businesspeople frequently lack.
“Contrary to our cultural assumptions, these things are not for people who want to chill out under a mango tree,” Huffington said. “You know, they are for people who want to be really effective and get stuff done without unnecessary exhaustion.”
Stressful work environments and the current cultural paradigm of constant work are not effective, according to Huffington. Health problems suffered by business executives—such as Oscar Munoz, CEO of United Continental, who was recently hospitalized after a heart attack— are indicative of this, she said.
“This world of work was designed by men and it’s not working,” Huffington said. “It’s not working for women, it’s not working for men and it’s not working for polar bears.”
Huffington also commented on digital media, technology and Thrive, her new book. She said many people in the 21st century suffer from addiction to social media technology. Paradoxically, she added that technology can be used to solve the very problems that it creates.
“At the end of Thrive, I have an appendix for my favorite meditation apps,” Huffington said. “I have an appendix of my favorite apps that can help us disconnect from technology—like there’s an app called Antisocial that puts everything on your social media, all of your notifications, on hold.”
Huffington also addressed the lack of coverage of positive news stories around the world in major publications, which she said paints an incomplete and overly negative portrayal of the world.
“So much of journalism, for those of you who are communications majors, is based on the principle, ‘If it bleeds, it leads,'” Huffington said. “We’re a little bit like vultures—we go where crises, plagues, wars are.”
Marissa Miller, a communications major at PSU, said she found Huffington’s talk compelling.
“I thought that she had a lot of really good information,” Miller said. “[S]he is a lot more approachable than I thought she would be and she’s really genuine, which I guess is attributed to her success.”
Huffington’s talk gave Miller a new perspective of what a successful woman looks like, she said.
“It makes a lot of sense—her business model—after hearing her speak and hearing how genuine and uplifting she is about things,” Miller said.
Huffington’s idea that the cultural idealization of success and money has worked to the detriment of people’s capacity to be fully human resonated with Miller.
“It was really enlightening,” Miller said. “And something that I have kind of had this sneaking suspicion about for a long time, but have never put so eloquently. So it was really exciting to hear that…from someone who is so reputable.”