If you’ve spent any time surfing the web, then you’ve come across an article or two from The Huffington Post. Behind the Pulitzer Prize winning site is Arianna Huffington: entrepreneur, syndicated columnist and author of 14 books to date. She launched HuffPost in 2005: part online daily newspaper and part Internet salon, showcasing the opinion of dozens of bloggers, including political and cultural commentary. Multiple celebrity writers and friends of Huffington have contributed, including Warren Beatty, John Cusack, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Once ridiculed and criticized, the site rapidly became one of the most widely read, linked and cited media brands on the Internet, and won the aforementioned Pulitzer Prize for national reporting in 2012.
It was Huffington’s mother who taught her to never accept limits in life. She made sure to let her daughter know that she could do anything and if she failed, she wouldn’t be any less loved. This granted Huffington the will to make her dream of going to Cambridge University a reality. Everyone mocked the idea, on account of the fact that she barely knew English. Originally from Greece, she moved to England when she was 16. Her mother assured her that if she didn’t get in, it would be no big deal. Huffington started studying the language and once the acceptance letter came, she paid tuition by borrowing from her brothers, selling jewelry and then eventually the family carpets. All this paid off when she became president of the Cambridge Union, the famous debating society at the school, among other successes. She served on several boards including the Center for Public Integrity and the Committee to Protect Journalists.
It was after the ’04 presidential race, in a meeting about the role of media in the election, that Huffington first spoke with Ken Lerer (who would later become cofounder of HuffPost), about creating a platform that was a combination of 24/7 news and a collective blog, the first of its kind. The site then launched the following May.
In 2011, The Huffington Post was sold to AOL for $315 million USD, and Huffington was made President and Editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post Media Group. Constantly on lists of “Most Influential” or “Most Powerful”, Huffington often rubs elbows with Hollywood’s elite, international business leaders, and the political higherups. She has massive influence as a media mogul.
However, her supercharged life of working 18-hour days to build the Huffington Post took a toll on her. In 2007, Huffington was working at home when she stood up to go get a sweater. She passed out as soon as she got up and woke up in a pool of her own blood with a broken cheekbone and cut over her eye. The doctors arrived at one conclusion after weeks of testing: exhaustion. Ever since the incident, Huffington has made her health a priority, calling it a “wake-up call” and getting a full eight hours of sleep every night.
In August 2016, she stepped down from her responsibilities at the HuffPost to focus on her new start-up, Thrive Global, a health and wellness-focused brand. She is now devoted to ending workplace stress and promoting corporate wellness, with the mantra that well-being and productivity work in tandem. Increase the former and you increase the latter. The company offers workshops, e-courses, and wellness technology apps, among other things. The website features wellness information and content on topics like stress reduction and meditation. This is Huffington’s niche now.
Arianna Huffington has always kept her sights high and her vision clear. According to a Vanity Fair article on Huffington, Lerer recounts that, “Arianna’s an advocate for her point of view… She doesn’t like the status quo, whatever the status quo may be at the moment, and when the dust settles, it’s time to make the dust fly again.”
Helen Jacob | Staff Writer