#ASTD2014 Presentation: Keynote: Arianna Huffington – Redefining Success

Arianna Huffington
Arianna Huffington. (2014, May 12). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 18:20, May 24, 2014, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Arianna_Huffington&oldid=608274577

My ASTD-ICE 2014 day began with a keynote presentation by Arianna Huffington. Huffington is a syndicated columnist who has written 14 books. As a business and communication leader, I was curious what she would bring to the conference. For this presentation, she shared the essence of her book – Thrive. Basically, she provided guidance on how to be better leaders by taking better care of ourselves.

She began by piggybacking off of Tony Bingham’s comments regarding change. Huffington noted that change is constantly occurring with increased speed; with technology, you are always on. Society has defined success as increased money and power. Huffington wants to introduce thrive as a third measure of success. She spoke about how she arrived at the decision that there needs to be this third measure of success. She spoke about an accident she had due to exhaustion, and realized there was more to life than money and power.

Three elements of Thrive

Huffington spoke about four elements necessary to achieve the third measure of success – Thrive. These elements are well-being, wisdom, wonder, and giving.  Here is what she had to say about each.


As Huffington outlined the first element – well-being, she noted that when we take care of ourselves, we will be much more effective. We will be better to handle change and will be better able to see new opportunities. She shared her observation that sports teams recognize the importance of well-being among their athletes, and businesses are starting to address the well-being of their employees.

She stressed that sleep is essential. Take time to ensure you are properly rested. Huffington instituted a nap room in her organization and allow employees to check into the room two times per day. She asked when did it become the norm to always remain tired. We need to reconnect with ourselves. She added that Bill Clinton noted that biggest mistakes were when he was tired. Huffington admitted to the same issue.

Huffington also spoke passionately about finding quiet time during the day. Find five minutes of meditation time where you can quiet the nagging voice in your head. She pointed out that there is no thing such as multitasking. Task switching is stressful and should be avoided. She stressed that we need to have silent periods in our day to help with creativity.

When it is time to go home, it is time to go home. People are not effective when tired.


The second element that Huffington spoke about is Wisdom. Wisdom is different from intelligence. Wisdom warns of dangers. We have to be in tune to warning signs that we or our organization is in danger. As she advocated, we need to take time to disconnect so that we can reflect. She stressed that we should set time each day when we turn off all devices. Additionally, we also need to remove them from sight so we are not tempted by the distractions.

She also recommended starting the day with what you want to achieve, not what the world wants you to do. Many of us are tempted to tackle the world’s problems. Put on own oxygen mask first!

oxygen mask


While I am not really sure how my notes tie into this element, I will nonetheless share my notes. To begin with, Huffington pointed out multitasking is an obstacle to creativity. We need to take time to shut off distractions and focus on one task at a time. At work, I have made it a practice to do this. I set aside blocks of time when I turn off email and the Internet, and devote energy to only one task.

Huffington shared that companies are introducing stress reduction activities. For example, VW gave company phones employees phone that turn off at 6 pm and come on at 7 am. Aetna has also implemented health wellness initiatives. If we are not healthy, then disease takes advantage of us.

Live life as though everything is rigged in your favor. Huffington recommended not holding a grudge. Forgive yourself, and forgive the judgments of others. Also give up projects that you will not be pursuing. You can complete a project by dropping it.


Finally, Huffington shared that giving is a shortcut to happiness. She noted that the news business often focuses on the negative, and it can be a drain on your spirit. As a result, she created the Good News Section of the Huffington Post. This section lets her and her team focus on the positive in life. She has also created a hashtag #howIThrive, where you can share your stories of how you thrive.

She also encouraged us to make personal connections with those around us. See everyone as a human being.

Burnout is not the way to success. ~Arianna Huffington

I personally enjoyed this presentation. It was certainly a great way to start the day. Arianna Huffington has an enjoyable sense of humor and the message certainly resonated with me. I am now looking forward to learning more by reading her book.