As the veritable queen of new media, Arianna Huffington hardly needs an introduction. The journalist, author, politico, and founder of the Huffington Post has become a household name since launching her eponymous online news outlet nearly a decade ago. Today, she is busy presiding over the ever-expanding Huffington Post Media Group (13 international editions and counting) and promoting her latest book, Thrive. In anticipation of her March 25 appearance at Manhattanville College’s Castle Conversations speaker series, Huffington chatted with us about everything from the changing media landscape to the need for sleep to why she gave up high heels.
Q: The Huffington Post is 10 years old now, a Pulitzer Prize winner, and one of the most popular websites in the world. Did you ever imagine that level of success?
A: We all have big dreams, but you never quite know what will happen. For me, the biggest dream was to create a hybrid: to be a combination of a journalistic enterprise and a platform where people could come and express themselves through blogging.
Q: Where do you see the site going in the next 10 years?
A: We have a redesign launching in May to coincide with our 10th anniversary. We’re doing so much with all our [global] editions, and we want to make sure it is very clear for our readers. We also want to make the site very accessible via mobile, where more and more of our growth is coming from; and we are looking to be 50/50 text and video. More and more people are consuming news and information now on video.
Q: How do you stay ahead of the curve?
A: For us, innovation has always been essential. And I’m a journalist geek; I love every aspect—from working on long-form pieces with our editors to thinking of how to take issues like mindfulness and help give to our readers the life they want, not just a life they settle for.
Q: Your latest book, Thrive, focuses on redefining success with a “third metric” around well-being. Why are you so passionate about this topic?
A: I came to this through a very personal journey; I collapsed from exhaustion, broke my cheekbone, and needed four stitches in my right eye. So many of us feel we can only succeed if we work around the clock and basically burn out. So I wanted to shift the conversation.
Q: So what do we have to do to “thrive,” in your definition?
A: I have 12 steps to thriving, which range from simple things like getting 30 minutes more sleep each night, to not charging our phones by our beds. Technology can be a great friend, or it can become a real enemy depending on how we use it.
Q: Your Twitter bio includes “sleep evangelist” and “flat-shoe advocate.” What’s that all about?
A: Modern science is now validating ancient wisdom about the importance of sleep, and how it makes us healthier, more productive, and more creative. As for shoes, I and too many other women have been suffering in high heels for years. I’ve given them up.