Busi­ness

Money and power aren’t ev­ery­thing, says a burnt-out Ari­anna Huff­in­g­ton. Ruby War­ring­ton asks the me­dia mogul about her cam­paign to start the third women’s rev­o­lu­tion, and speaks to some of those caught up in it

Friday - - Society Living Leisure -

Me­dia mogul Ari­anna Huff­in­g­ton on striv­ing for a work/life bal­ance and superpreneurs.

Fri­day lunchtime in Man­hat­tan, and the gi­gan­tic, open-plan ex­panse of Ari­anna Huff­in­g­ton’s SoHo loft is buzzing with ac­tiv­ity. The author and me­dia mogul is in the kitchen be­ing pho­tographed, Oprah­style, for the cover of her own mag­a­zine, The Huff­in­g­ton (a weekly dis­til­la­tion of on­line news site The Huff­in­g­ton Post, which launched for iPad last year), while a pair of J Crew-clad as­sis­tants field calls and fire off emails as they look on from the wings. Be­hind me a woman in over­alls is metic­u­lously polishing a set of faux ro­coco chairs. The gen­eral vibe isWarhol’s Fac­tory meets Gossip Girl.

“They’re for the con­fer­ence,” says Huff­in­g­ton, glid­ing over to in­tro­duce her­self and ges­tur­ing at the newly var­nished chairs. She is sur­pris­ingly stat­uesque, her Win­tour-blonde hair blow-dried into a per­fect, shim­mer­ing wave. “It’s ridicu­lous, I only just moved in, but al­ready I am putting my fur­ni­ture in stor­age,” she says, her Athens ac­cent as thick and creamy as hon­eyed Greek yo­gurt.

At the time of our meet­ing she was pre­par­ing for the June 6 event she called The ThirdMet­ric: Redefin­ing Suc­cess BeyondMoney and Power. A think tank of sorts, the sum­mit brought to­gether ex­perts in the fields of lead­er­ship, well­ness and self-de­vel­op­ment to dis­cuss the fact that the way we work isn’t work­ing, and that the time has come for women in power to do some­thing about it. Why women? “At the mo­ment we are still com­pet­ing on men’s terms, which means work­ing as hard as we can un­til we burn out,” says Huff­in­g­ton.

We set­tle on a pink velvet sofa as she swiftly un­packs her agenda, “Cor­po­rate suc­cess is mea­sured on two things – money and power. But it’s time for a third met­ric, one founded on well-be­ing, wis­dom and our de­sire and abil­ity to give back.” Th­ese are top­ics that are cur­rently mush­room­ing over our news feeds and which The Huff­in­g­ton Post ex­pounds on daily un­der the rubric ‘Less stress, more liv­ing’.”

She reels off some statis­tics: “Women in stress­ful jobs have a nearly 40 per cent in­creased risk of heart dis­ease and a 60 per cent in­creased risk of di­a­betes. The fact is, we’re used to men hav­ing heart at­tacks in their fifties, but it shouldn’t be hap­pen­ing to any­one.”

She has also spo­ken in re­sponse to Face­book ex­ec­u­tive Sh­eryl Sand­berg’s book Lean­ing Back To Lean In. “We need to ask our­selves, what is the na­ture of the world women are lean­ing into?”

Women help­ing women has be­come a big theme re­cently. Think for ex­am­ple of play­wright and ac­tivist Eve Ensler’s V-Day cam­paign to stop vi­o­lence against women and girls, or fash­ion de­signer Tory Burch’s men­tor­ing foun­da­tion, which aims to em­power women eco­nom­i­cally. Huff­in­g­ton also co-host­sWomen: In­spi­ra­tion & En­ter­prise (WIE) sym­posiums, which aim to pro­vide a plat­form for women lead­ers to in­spire and em­power the next gen­er­a­tion.

Huff­in­g­ton makes a fit­ting fig­ure­head for the move­ment. She turns 63 in July, mak­ing her old enough, as she puts it, “to have suf­fered more than enough lessons to learn from”.

Best known for her on­line pub­lish­ing jug­ger­naut, her ca­reer has also been po­lit­i­cally charged. She even ran for gover­nor of Cal­i­for­nia against Arnold Sch­warzeneg­ger in 2003.

But de­spite the thrust­ing me­dia per­sona, in the flesh she ex­udes a nur­tur­ing, al­most ma­ter­nal fem­i­nin­ity.

Is it pos­si­ble to stress less?

The idea for the con­fer­ence came from a con­ver­sa­tion with a friend, Mika Brzezin­ski, an MSNBC morn­ing news pre­sen­ter, whose new book, Ob­sessed, de­tails her bat­tles with an eat­ing dis­or­der, and who has joined in our chat. Al­though blonde and beau­ti­ful, Brzezin­ski’s work­ing life of 3.30am alarm calls and early shifts is etched in her face. “I con­fided to Ari­anna that I had been on sleep med­i­ca­tion for I don’t know how long,” she says. “She looked at me and just said, ‘No’.”

Huff­in­g­ton later de­scribes it as an in­ter­ven­tion, and says the pair were soon tread­ing that fa­mil­iar ter­ri­tory: “Was there

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