Our Fairygodboss of the Week doesn’t need an introduction, but we’ll give her one anyway! Arianna Huffington is best known for founding one of the world’s most popular websites — the Huffington Post. After successfully running it for 12 years and writing multiple books, she left to pursue her goal of eliminating burnout and workplace stress. With her new start-up, Thrive Global, Huffington is doing exactly that.
Fairygodboss of the Week: Arianna Huffington
Founder and CEO, Thrive Global
New York, NY
FGB: Tell us about your career. How did you get to where you are now?
AH: My first job was a commission to write my first book, “The Female Woman,” while I was still in college at Cambridge in the U.K. After that, there were many more books — on various topics ranging from Picasso to Maria Callas to the American political system — along with countless magazine pieces and essays. In 2005, I founded the Huffington Post, which I ran for nearly 12 years before founding Thrive Global in 2016.
FGB: What is an accomplishment that you are proud of?
AH: That would be a tie: raising my two daughters.
FGB: What is a challenge that you've faced and overcome?
AH: My biggest challenge was getting out from under the collective delusion that burnout is the necessary price we have to pay for success. For much of my adult life I accepted that — as many people still do. But in 2007, I had a serious wakeup call — I fainted from exhaustion and broke my cheekbone. So the second part of the challenge was making changes to the way I was living and working. I learned about the connection between well-being and productivity — and wrote two books, “Thrive” and “The Sleep Revolution” — on the topic. That also then led to founding Thrive Global.
FGB: What is the #1 career tip you'd like to share with other women who want to have successful careers like you?
FGB: Why do you love where you work?
AH: I love how at Thrive Global we’re living our mission, and how our office is a reflection of our values. We’re trying to be a sustainable start-up. So we have a nap and meditation room – which includes a nap pod and is completely device free. We bring in masseuses from Zeel regularly (which is very popular — the signup sheet is literally full within seconds), and we encourage people to take time off and let others know any time they’re feeling overwhelmed. And if there are special occasions or emergencies when late-night or weekend work is required, we encourage people to come in late the next day or take an extra day off. So I love the process of putting our principles into action. We want to change the way people live and work and we’re starting with ourselves.
FGB: Who is YOUR Fairygodboss? Why?
AH: My two daughters — they’re the only people whose calls and texts have to be taken, and whom I’ll drop anything for. And now that they’re adults, they love giving me advice and ordering me around (which is so much more fun than when it was reversed!).
FGB: What do you do when you’re not working?
AH: I like to read, have dinner with friends, and go to the theater with my sister and daughters.
FGB: If you could have dinner with one famous person — dead or alive — who would it be?
AH: I'd love to have dinner with my mom again. She was an entirely self-taught philosopher and my best dinner conversations ever were at our kitchen table.
FGB: What is your karaoke song?
AH: Something by Emmylou Harris or Lyle Lovett (just make sure the volume on the vocals is down!).
FGB: What is your favorite movie?
AH: Anything by my old friend Nora Ephron — it’s a joy to hear her voice again, even through movie characters.
FGB: What book would you take with you on a desert island?
AH: “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius.
FGB: What is your shopping vice?
AH: Bedding and sleepwear that I look forward to getting into each night.
FGB: What would you buy if you won the lottery?
AH: A bigger office for Thrive Global — we just moved and we’re almost bursting at the seams again!
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