Name: Arianna Huffington
Profession: Chair, President and Editor-in-Chief of the Huffington Post Media Group
Motto: “Don’t miss the moment.” This was one of my mother’s favorite sayings, which embodied the philosophy of her life.
Currently reading: I’m re-reading a wonderful book called “Being with Dying: Cultivating Compassion and Fearlessness in the Presence of Death,” by Joan Halifax. Halifax is a Zen Buddhist priest, anthropologist and hospice worker. She writes that the very American notion of the “good death,” one that often means a “life-denying, antiseptic, drugged up, tube entangled, institutionalized” final stage, denies us valuable lessons about life. She found that being up close with death and giving care “enjoins us to be still, let go, listen, and be open to the unknown.”
Following on Twitter: I love following HuffPost’s reporters on Twitter. Sam Stein, Carolyn Gregoire, Jason Linkins, Jaweed Kaleem, among many others. Stephen Fry. And Padmasree Warrior, the CTO of Cisco. She meditates every night, vows to get seven hours of sleep each night and spends her Saturdays doing a digital detox.
Hobby: Walking. When I was living in Los Angeles, I discovered that I came up with many of my best ideas while I was hiking. And whenever I could, I would schedule hikes instead of sit-down meetings, with both my friends and HuffPost editors. Silicon Valley executive Nilofer Merchant calls this the “walk the talk” method, and now that I live in New York, I continue to practice it.
Favorite city to visit: I’m lucky that my favorite city to visit is also the city I live in, New York. It’s endlessly fascinating and I keep discovering new places, new restaurants, new theaters, new little hidden streets to explore.
Recent travels: My most recent faraway trip was to Australia, both in Sydney and Melbourne, where I was meeting with potential partners for HuffPost Australia (with plans to launch in the Australian autumn, i.e. our US spring). It's impossible not to remark on the vastness of the country. Australia ranks 6th in the world in size, but 56th in population. It's a continent and a country and an island. It's got vast empty stretches where you can feel very alone, and yet is also an extremely urban country, with nearly 90 percent of the population living in an urban center. As one mordantly funny bit of Australian wisdom warns tourists, “If you leave the urban areas, carry several litres of water with you at all times, or you will die.”
Tech must-have: I’m a huge proponent of disconnecting from our devices in order to better connect with ourselves, but I do love my iPhone with my Typo keyboard that brings me the best of iPhone technology and the ability to type fast on a BlackBerry-style keyboard. It makes me feel as though I’m typing on my old BlackBerry.
Recent accomplishment: The launch of The Huffington Post in Greece. When we began our international expansion more than three years ago, I knew that one day, HuffPost’s own Odyssey — to borrow from one of my compatriots — would lead us to Greece. And I couldn’t be happier that that day has come.
Inspiration to launch huff/post50: Our country has a very schizophrenic relationship with aging. On the one hand, we are a culture that is obsessed with youth and staying young. At the same time, thanks to advances in science, health, and medicine, Boomers are living longer and staying more active than ever before. We launched Huff/Post50, guided by our editor-at-large Rita Wilson, to question the conventional wisdom that life post-50 is about winding down, and spotlight other Boomers who embrace the idea of taking on new challenges and reinventing themselves, regardless of their age. It offers the latest news and information on the issues that matter most to men and women 50+, including health, relationships, politics, retirement planning, spirituality, humor, culture, philanthropy, and facing illness and death. And we have created a robust community for conversation and engagement on all these topics.
Commitment to world peace: I’m on the boards of several organizations, including the Committee to Protect Journalists. I’m also supporting Ignite Good, a nonprofit that highlights and supports Millennial changemakers who are trying to make a difference through service.
Positive aspect of aging: Wisdom. Years ago I visited the monastery of Tharri on the island of Rhodes with my children. There, as in all of Greece, abbots are addressed by everyone as “Geronda,” which means “old man.” Abbesses are called “Gerondissa.” These are terms of endearment and respect in Greece. The idea of honoring old age, indeed identifying it with wisdom and closeness to God, is in startling contrast to the way we treat aging in America. The geronda at the Tharri monastery was not even old—he was probably in his late fifties. But “old man” and “old woman” are titles bestowed on older people because of the respect they inspire. What you would tell your teenage self: For far too long, too many of us have been operating under the collective delusion that burning out is the necessary price for accomplishment and success. Recent scientific findings make it clear that this couldn’t be less true. Not only is there no tradeoff between living a well-rounded life and high performance, performance is actually improved when our lives include time for renewal, wisdom, wonder and giving. If I could, I would go back and tell my teenage self, “Arianna, your performance will actually improve if you can commit to not only working hard, but also unplugging, recharging and renewing yourself. ”