Chang­ing the cor­po­rate cul­ture

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busi­ness a way to have less stress so we could ac­tu­ally en­joy what we were do­ing?” Be­fore she has to leave, Brzezin­ski chips in again, “Lots of doors have opened for women; we’ve come a long way, but if we’re not go­ing to en­joy the ride, what does it all mean?”

This sen­ti­ment is at the crux of an is­sue Huff­in­g­ton thinks is “very much in the zeit­geist”, and she tells me it feels “tribal” to open up her home to fur­ther the de­bate. “Let’s get be­hind the fa­cade of a suc­cess­ful life, the mag­a­zine ideal of hav­ing it all to­gether – the job, the kids and hus­band – and ask what price are we re­ally pay­ing, and what are we leav­ing unat­tended?”

Brzezin­ski was pre­par­ing to share her war sto­ries, along with women such as Pad­mas­ree War­rior, the chief tech­nol­ogy and strat­egy of­fi­cer of Cisco sys­tems, who writes haiku po­etry to man­age her stress. Panel top­ics in­cluded well­ness and the bot­tom line, hu­man cap­i­tal and men who “get it” (there are, of course, some).

Since Huff­in­g­ton passed out from ex­haus­tion in 2007, break­ing her cheek­bone, she has been evan­gel­i­cal about women “sleep­ing their way to the top”, or rather, not sleep­ing. The sleep de­bate has been a gate­way is­sue in what Huff­in­g­ton is call­ing the third women’s rev­o­lu­tion: “First we had the suf­fragettes, then women’s lib and the bat­tle for equal­ity in the work­place, which, by the way, is far from won. But now the third rev­o­lu­tion must be­gin.”

She says her mother taught her how to med­i­tate when she was just 13. “She was ahead of her time, and was ini­ti­ated by ma­har­ishi Ma­hesh Yogi [who de­vel­oped the Tran­scen­den­tal Med­i­ta­tion tech­nique] in Athens in the 1960s. She had my sis­ter and me ini­ti­ated, too. I’ve med­i­tated ever since. Of course there have been times I’ve thought I’m too busy – I’ve also re­alised those are the times I need it most.” So how else do the ideals she is cam­paign­ing for man­i­fest in her life? Her con­ver­sa­tion is dot­ted with “in­au­gu­ra­tion” this and “Dalai Lama” that, and her sched­ule in the pre­vi­ous two weeks alone took her to Tokyo and Dubai. “I do yoga or Pi­lates four times a week, and I have my ex­er­cise bike, which I do while I watch TV. My bed­room is a de­vice-free zone. I’ve also learnt to can­cel things when it gets too much, al­though the ideal would be to not book them in the first place.”

She says she never eats air­line food (“Eat­ing junk af­fects your body and mind”), but ad­mits, “I’m still prac­tis­ing th­ese things.”

What about within her cor­po­ra­tion? “I might send emails at 11pm on a Satur­day night, but my em­ploy­ees know that’s my choice, and I’m not ex­pect­ing them to re­spond right away,” she says.

She of­fers her staff free yoga, med­i­ta­tion lessons and healthy snacks, and fa­mously in­stalled nap pods in The Huff­in­g­ton Post’s New York of­fices. De­vices are banned from the weekly lead­er­ship meet­ing. “That’s where we kick off by ex­press­ing our ten­sion points that week, which may or may not be work re­lated.”

She points out that about 25 per cent of Amer­ica’s large cor­po­ra­tions now have some kind of stress-re­duc­tion pro­gramme. But is this of­ten a to­ken ges­ture?

“What re­ally needs to change is the cul­ture that sup­ports cor­po­rate life, a cul­ture that puts a pre­mium on ‘win­ning’, what­ever the cost. We even need to change the lan­guage. Why, when we suc­ceed, are we ‘killing it’?”

One of her as­sis­tants pipes up, “Erm, I’ve heard Ari­anna use, ‘We’re re­ally rock­ing it.’’’

A cou­ple of days af­ter we meet, the same girl for­wards me a copy of the speech her boss gave to the grad­u­at­ing class of the right-on, women-only Smith Col­lege in Mas­sachusetts (no­table alumni in­clude Nancy Rea­gan and Sylvia Plath) that week­end. Speak­ing to the CEOs, opin­ion lead­ers and pol­icy mak­ers of the

to help her staff re­duce stress by of­fer­ing free yoga lessons and even in­stalling nap pads in the of­fice

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