An influential voice in the Silicon Valley and founder of one of the largest media houses in the world, Arianna Huffington, in an exclusive chat with YourStory, talks about the need to alter our perception of success and why fighting the sleep deprivation war is the need of the hour.
A deep and husky voice asks me over the phone from California: “How many hours do you sleep?” Thinking back, I put the number at five, maybe six hours, followed by an overdose during the weekends.
“This is exactly what we want to change. We want to change the delusion that burnout is necessary for success,”
says Arianna Huffington passionately. “A human body needs seven to nine hours of sleep. Try getting seven hours of sleep and see how much more productive you will be.”
For a couple of days now, the idea of having a phone conversation with Arianna seemed surreal. Different questions and thoughts kept cropping up. What could be said differently about her that hasn’t been written about? Would she possibly talk about Uber?
Letting go & starting again
After stepping down from her role at The Huffington Post in 2016, Arianna started Thrive Global, a corporate and consumer well-being and productivity platform.
Thrive Global is all set for a big launch in India, today.
It has been a long journey for Arianna. She started The Huffington Post in 2005, and it went on to become one of the world’s top politically liberal news and opinion websites. In 2011, when AOL acquired The Huffington Post for $315 million, Arianna continued as President and Editor-in-Chief of The Huffington Post Media Group.
Since then she’s authored several books, has run as an independent candidate in the 2003 recall election of the California Governor, is on the Uber board and is a regular at the World Economic Forum at Davos.
But little did Arianna know that 12 years down the line she would be doing something completely different.
In August 2016, she decided to step down from her role at The Huffington Post to devote her time to Thrive Global that would provide training, seminars, and “e-courses” on “neuroscience, psychology, productivity, sports, and sleep.”
How did she do what everyone finds so tough: Letting go of one thing to start something else from scratch?
Genius, as they say, isn’t just knowing when to start but also knowing when to stop.
A wake-up call
Though the wellness startup was launched last year, it had been on Arianna’s mind for a while. Since 2007 in fact, when her body gave her an extremely loud wake-up call.
It had been two years since Arianna had started Huffington Post. She was working seven days a week for 18 hours a day.
In her book, Sleep Revolution, she writes about her collapse from sheer exhaustion and the nail-biting moments at the hospitals running CT scans to realise the dire consequences of exhaustion. From then on it was a journey towards transforming her life and the way she viewed work and success.
Arianna says, “I made a lot of changes to my life. I started taking sleep much more seriously and making it a priority. I began meditating more often and began to be much more deliberate about building in time through the day to recharge. This was several years before Thrive Global, but learning about the science showing the connection between well-being and performance became the basis for my decision to found Thrive.”