Arianna Huffington says time to relax is key to success

She made a fortune by burning the candles at both ends while she built a media empire but Arianna Huffington's advice for the next generation of business leaders is to make sure to stop and smell the roses.

CEO and author of Thrive says it's important not to burn the candle at both ends

Arianna Huffington interview

8 years ago
Duration 9:51
Amanda Lang talks to the founder of the Huffington Post

She made a fortune by burning the candles at both ends while she built a media empire but Arianna Huffington's advice for the next generation of business leaders is to make sure to stop and smell the roses.

That was one of the main takeaways of a wide-ranging interview the media CEO did with the CBC's Amanda Lang recently, which is set to air on Thursday's episode of The Exchange with Amanda Lang.

"When you put it all on the scale no question I would have done it all differently," she said in the interview. "The biggest entrenched belief is that burnout is an essential price of success."

Huffington says she now takes time to ensure that she unplugs from her busy work schedule for at least a small portion of every day. Whether it's meditation, yoga — or something as simple as a walking meeting — she says she finds the time every morning to do something physical.

"Once I started doing these things they became like a magnet," she says, "because I felt so much better. I don't just mean that in a superficial way, but in a profound way I felt that I felt so much more effective I felt that my decisions were better as a business leader."

Huffington is the founder and CEO of HuffingtonPost, the fast-growing news aggregating website that generates almost 120 million unique hits a month across its many international websites, including HuffingtonPost Canada.

She's also an author, and spoke with Lang on a promotional tour for her new book Thrive.

Huffington says there's ample evidence that unplugging from a hectic pace isn't just good for individuals, it's good for businesses too. She cites a policy at financial titan Boston Consulting Group that forbids employees from billing too many hours consecutively because of the correlation between unbroken workloads and errors in the work. 

And insurance company Aetna found a seven per cent reduction in health care costs and $62 million a week in savings to be had from implementing some simple stress relieving policies.

Her company also practices what she preaches. The company recently made designated nap rooms for employees to take breaks in, even if they're on the clock. "At first there was a lot of eye rolling. But now they are perpetually full,' she said.

"We are a 24/7 media company like a lot of businesses that have to operate 24/7," Huffington said "but it doesn't have to be the same people that are on 24/7."

As head of a digital news empire that's a major player in the mobile space, it's surprising to hear that Arianna Huffington thinks it's very important to people not to sleep next to their smartphones — ether unplug them, or recharge them outside the bedroom, she advises.

"If we charge our phones by our beds we are going to be tempted if we wake up in the middle of the night for whatever reason to look at our data. And when we look at incoming emails and texts we are allowing our day life to intrude into our night life , the time when we are recharging and our sleep is not as deep and recharging as it needs to be."


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