People 14 November 2017
It's been a year since Arianna Huffington departed her position as CEO of The Huffington Post, and began her new platform, Thrive Global. Since then, Thrive has championed an approach to the media industry the likes of which had yet to be seen, encouraging a detachment, rather than a dependency on your phone.
In Thrive, she has created a go-to hub for health and wellness in an age of stress, burnout and overstimulation. Having collapsed ten years ago because of the above, she has since devoted her time to spreading the word of wellbeing in the working world.
From workplace sleep rooms, to downtime sans mobile devices, Huffington has lead the charge for a life separate from work, separate from your phone, and away from social media.
"Not being able to set boundaries, on social media, or games like Candy Crush, is a major threat to our humanity and to our mental health."
Huffington's desire to separate from the social spheres will culminate in the launch of the Thrive app, launching next month, that will actively ensure you have time away from Instagram and the hoards of people emailing/texting you. "It helps you manage your attention," she says. "It allows you to put your phone in 'Thrive' mode whenever you're doing something that matters to you, like having dinner with your family, doing deep work, sleeping." If you text someone in "Thrive" mode you will receive a text back to say they're busy and and away from their phone.
Huffington's plans to affect change and implant the necessity of sleep and wellbeing span far beyond the reach of technology, however. Thrive's latest launch sees them propelling 20 experts and entrepreneurs similarly minded, directional, and focused solely on improving the lives of themselves and others through movement, nutrition, sleep and mindfulness. Huffington, Schweitzer, Sadira Furlow of PepsiCo North America Nutrition and Candice Morgan of Pinterest selected the honorees. They represent Thrive's interests by "prioritizing reducing stress and eliminating burnout in their lives," and will fall under the website's role models category.
At the aptly titled "Fuel List" launch, Huffington was joined by the winners at Pinterest HQ here in New York for a night of celebration, yoga and sleep(y) talk.
(L-R) Art Smith, Arianna Huffington, Stacey Griffiths, Nastia Lukin, Candice Kumai, Jessamyn Stanley, Ellie Krieger
From sleep doctors to yoga instructors, to the founder of Soulcycle, the calibre of people on stage was something to behold. Upon introduction, it was clear Huffington not only held her Fuel Listers in the highest regard, but that she was fully confident that they would be able to carry her message and positively impact Thrive readers and everyone else in the room.
But how were they chosen? “Impact was a big one," says Callie Schweitzer, Chief Content Officer at Thrive. "Making sure these people were helping others change the way they work and live. We just really wanted to put the spotlight on people who weren't well known, but were really changing the game in their field."
Huffington hopes that the direction of the Fuel Listers will impress the fact that "well being and performance are closely aligned.“
"We look at how world-class athletes prioritize their well being because it directly affects their performance. If you look at Nastia Liukin, five-time Olympic gold medalist, she says their are no shortcuts to success. It takes patience, passion and persistence," she continues.
At the event, winners Nastia Liukin, Candice Kumai, and Jessamyn Stanley took to the stage to speak about their work and the turning points that lead them to where they are now. In a similar vein to Huffington's collapse that lead to her re-evaluation of life and time, each of these women took one event on board in order to change both their lives and the lives of others. Now, as part of the The Fuel List, their reach will extend to the Thrive users around the world, and Huffington hopes that because of their background and expertise, their influence will be able to affect big changes in the way millennials view exercising, nutrition and wellness.
"Our work is to end the collective delusion that burnout is key to success. So for us, a huge part in changing this belief is naming and putting forward these new role models who are people that are living this way already, the enlightened - people that are already living and thriving." -Callie Schweitzer
It speaks to the success of Thrive, that in the year its been live, their reach has grown to 20M users, and that is due, in no small part to initiations like this list, and to Huffington's experience in the media industry, and trends that are popular with her millennial readers.
The Fuel Listers
In order to connect with them nowadays, Thrive takes a multi-platform approach, something that wasn't the case when she started The Huffington Post back 2005. "When I launched Huff Post in 2005, it was all about bringing people to Huff Post," she remarks. "And something that's accelerated this shift, is that we are in the attention economy. We are competing for users attention, and at Thrive we are prioritizing helping people navigate where they put their attention better."
As they look to next year, both Huffington and Schweitzer agree Thrive will be heavily concentrated on video following the success of their latest video series Turning Point that focused on millennial women who did a big career pivot. "Optimizing for all platforms is essential," says Huffington. "Video is a big priority for us, for the rest of the year and 2018."
"The focus now is on cross-platform, multiple platforms. We have about 20M users across all the platforms and we always optimize for all of them. The days of just expecting everyone to come to your site are long over." -Arianna Huffington
With mounds of evidence building that social media and the time we spend on our phone becoming detrimental to our success, Huffington and Schweitzer's content is very much focused on upward directionality, tackling the problem head on rather than after an incident has occurred. "We are seeing such a direct connection between mental health problems - depression, anxiety etc. - and people losing themselves mindlessly in social media," says Huffington. Enabling this is the promotion of people like the Fuel Listers, that engage in-person and through novels, cookbooks, mindfulness. It serves to remind that while Thrive may be a business and Huffington an entrepreneur, she is also a woman steadfast in her resolution to positively impact the lives of those that arrive on her site looking for an outlet or guide through which they can affect self-change.
Fuel List photos courtesy of Gary He. This years winners are: Angel Kyodo Williams, author; Brené Brown, author; Dr. Ellen Langer, author; Leo Babauta, author; Khajak Keledjian, Founder, Inscape; Jessamyn Stanley, yoga teacher; Stacey Griffith, Founder, SoulCycle; Gideon Akande, fitness trainer; Joanne Encarnacion, blogger; Nastia Liukin, Olympic gold medallist; Art Smith, chef; Candice Kumai, chef; Ellie Krieger, chef; McKel Hill, nutritionist; Wendy Lopez and Jessica Jones, bloggers; Dr. Wendy Troxel, professor; Dr. Michael Breus, "The Sleep Doctor; Dr. Michael Grandner, academic; Dr. Els van der Helm, entrepreneur; Dr. Matt Walker, professor.
Women in the workplace have always experienced a certain degree of discrimination from male colleagues, and according to new studies, it appears that it is becoming even more difficult for women to get acclimated to modern day work environments, in wake of the #MeToo Movement.
In a recent study conducted by LeanIn.org, in partnership with SurveyMonkey, 60% of male managers confessed to feeling uncomfortable engaging in social situations with women in and outside of the workplace. This includes interactions such as mentorships, meetings, and basic work activities. This statistic comes as a shocking 32% rise from 2018.
What appears the be the crux of the matter is that men are afraid of being accused of sexual harassment. While it is impossible to discredit this fear as incidents of wrongful accusations have taken place, the extent to which it has burgeoned is unacceptable. The #MeToo movement was never a movement against men, but an empowering opportunity for women to speak up about their experiences as victims of sexual harassment. Not only were women supporting one another in sharing to the public that these incidents do occur, and are often swept under the rug, but offered men insight into behaviors and conversations that are typically deemed unwelcomed and unwarranted.
Restricting interaction with women in the workplace is not a solution, but a mere attempt at deflecting from the core issue. Resorting to isolation and exclusion relays the message that if men can't treat women how they want, then they rather not deal with them at all. Educating both men and women on what behaviors are unacceptable while also creating a work environment where men and women are held accountable for their actions would be the ideal scenario. However, the impact of denying women opportunities of mentorship and productive one-on-one meetings hinders growth within their careers and professional networks.
Women, particularly women of color, have always had far fewer opportunities for mentorship which makes it impossible to achieve growth within their careers without them. If women are given limited opportunities to network in and outside of a work environment, then men must limit those opportunities amongst each other, as well. At the most basic level, men should be approaching female colleagues as they would approach their male colleagues. Striving to achieve gender equality within the workplace is essential towards creating a safer environment.
While restricted communication and interaction may diminish the possibility of men being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment, it creates a hostile
environment that perpetuates women-shaming and victim-blaming. Creating distance between men and women only prompts women to believe that male colleagues who avoid them will look away from or entirely discredit sexual harassment they experience from other men in the workplace. This creates an unsafe working environment for both parties where the problem at hand is not solved, but overlooked.
According to LeanIn's study, only 85% of women said they feel safe on the job, a 5% drop from 2018. In the report, Jillesa Gebhardt wrote, "Media coverage that is intended to hold aggressors accountable also seems to create a sense of threat, and people don't seem to feel like aggressors are held accountable." Unfortunately, only 16% of workers believed that harassers holding high positions are held accountable for their actions which inevitably puts victims in difficult, and quite possibly dangerous, situations. 50% of workers also believe that there are more repercussions for the victims than harassers when speaking up.
In a research poll conducted by Edison Research in 2018, 30% of women agreed that their employers did not handle harassment situations properly while 53% percent of men agreed that they did. Often times, male harassers hold a significant amount of power within their careers that gives them a sense of security and freedom to go forward with sexual misconduct. This can be seen in cases such as that of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and R. Kelly. Men in power seemingly have little to no fear that they will face punishment for their actions.
Source-Alex Brandon, AP
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook executive and founder of LeanIn.org., believes that in order for there to be positive changes within work environments, more women should be in higher positions. In an interview with CNBC's Julia Boorstin, Sandberg stated, "you know where the least sexual harassment is? Organizations that have more women in senior leadership roles. And so, we need to mentor women, we need to sponsor women, we need to have one-on-one conversations with them that get them promoted." Fortunately, the number of women in leadership positions are slowly increasing which means the prospect of gender equality and safer work environments are looking up.
Despite these concerning statistics, Sandberg does not believe that movements such as the Times Up and Me Too movements, have been responsible for the hardship women have been experiencing in the workplace. "I don't believe they've had negative implications. I believe they're overwhelmingly positive. Because half of women have been sexually harassed. But the thing is it is not enough. It is really important not to harass anyone. But that's pretty basic. We also need to not be ignored," she stated. While men may be feeling uncomfortable, putting an unrealistic amount of distance between themselves and female coworkers is more harmful to all parties than it is beneficial. Men cannot avoid working with women and vice versa. Creating such a hostile environment is also detrimental to any business as productivity and communication will significantly decrease.
The fear or being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment is a legitimate fear that deserves recognition and understanding. However, restricting interactions with women in the workplace is not a sensible solution as it can have negatively impact a woman's career. Companies are in need of proper training and resources to help both men and women understand what is appropriate workplace behavior. Refraining from physical interactions, commenting on physical appearance, making lewd or sexist jokes and inquiring about personal information are also beneficial steps towards respecting your colleagues' personal space. There is still much work to be done in order to create safe work environments, but with more and more women speaking up and taking on higher positions, women can feel safer and hopefully have less contributions to make to the #MeToo movement.