AOL CEO and Greenwich resident Tim Armstrong joined Arianna Huffington, author and president/editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, for an interactive discussion at the Greenwich Junior League's annual membership meeting, which was held at Greenwich Library's Cole Auditorium Wednesday evening.
Armstrong interviewed Huffington during the hour-long presentation on topics, including the future of the Internet and the media industry, politics, healthcare, work-life balance and women's issues, which were all centered around the theme of leadership.
Having just returned from The World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, Huffington told attendees how glad she was to see that mindful leadership was a large part of the agenda.
"[There was a lot of discussion on] how to become an effective leader without burning out and how to tap into your deepest wisdom because we have an enormous amount of leaders in the world with high IQs that are making a lot of bad decisions, so something is wrong with this picture," she said. "And it's becoming increasingly obvious that what is wrong with this picture is that leaders that are not operating at their best—that they would be able to make better, wiser decisions if they weren't constantly operating from their inbox[es]."
Huffington added that leaders need to "focus on the big, game-changing" ideas instead of "dealing with little crises."
Armstrong and Huffington reminisced about the day almost two years ago when the two signed the deal that would allow AOL to acquire the Huffington Post during the Super Bowl.
Huffington reflected on how the partnership has strengthened her company's brand, particularly with the recent launch of HuffPost Live.
"Huffington Post is like my third child. I don't know if it's a boy or a girl, but I really love it a lot and I'm very committed," she said. "And to see it being showered with resources to able to grow it exponentially, it's like seeing your child grow beyond your wildest dreams."
Health and Wellness: The Current Megatrend
When asked what current megatrends are effecting consumers the most, Huffington pointed to the country's "dysfunctional" healthcare system, which she said is causing consumers to look more carefully at their healthcare plans and seek out technology to help track and improve their overall wellness.
While at the 2013 International CES in Las Vegas, Huffington said she saw many gadgets related to health, including musical toothbrushes that warn you if you didn't brush well enough and a "healthy" fork that will alert you when you're eating too quickly.
"The only fork technology I need is one that will take the prongs away when I eat too much," Armstrong joked.
Huffington said that even large companies, such as Coca-Cola and Unilever, are looking to move into the health and wellness niche. She noted that HuffPo’s new GPS for the Soul app fits into this category and gives users a guide for "finding a place of peace" to counteract life's daily stresses.
Climbing the Corporate Jungle Gym
Attendees were particularly interested in Huffington's view of the evolving role of women in the workplace and work-life balance. Some quoted or referenced her best-selling book "On Becoming Fearless...in Love, Work and Life" during the Q&A session.
Huffington said that it's best for working women to look at their careers as "climbing the corporate jungle gym" instead of climbing the corporate ladder.
"I think when you see it as a ladder, you think of climbing and you become breathless," she said. "You're just exhausted by the effort. And I'm really interested in redefining success so it doesn't lead to a heart attack in your 50s."
Huffington said that despite her busy schedule, she regularly practices yoga and Pilates, and gets enough sleep each night—a lifestyle change she made after fainting from exhaustion four-and-a-half years ago and breaking her cheekbone. Calling herself an "evangelist" of sleep, Huffington told attendees that two nap rooms are available at HuffPo's offices.
"I always say to her, 'I hope that's what's going in there,'" Armstrong joked.
Huffington said that women need to deal with "obnoxious roommates" living their heads that prevent them from moving forward in their careers.
"I had to deal with it—that voice that is never satisfied with what you do," she said. "You're not pretty enough, smart enough. We need to stop judging ourselves because it can become paralyzing. We need to take a seat at the table."
Armstrong added that it's important for both women and men to find mentors in their workplace to "foster a sense of team spirit" and build more confidence.
[Editor's Note: Patch and the Huffington Post Media Group are both owned by AOL.]