I am still on a high from meeting a true pioneer and leader in her field, Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post. This woman is the real deal. When you talk to her, you can FEEL her energy. She gives you direct eye contact (which I love), a firm handshake and lets you know she hears you. Arianna is open, and oozes creativity. It is palpable.
When I got word I was granted an interview with Arianna, I was excited. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that entrepreneurship is very near and dear to my heart, so to be able to chat about all things life and business (and to pick her brain), was quite thrilling.
Without further ado, some life and business wisdom from Arianna Huffington...
On launching any new venture with The Huffington Post
AH: We don't cut corners on anything. Not our people, not on a launch. We will delay a launch to get it perfect. We have no problem delaying things until they're right. The idea is to get something great the first time.
On being an entrepreneur
AH: Being an entrepreneur means being able to fail and be discouraged and keep going. There will always be obstacles along the way, but that is expected. Staying power and perseverance are the true keys to success.
On the next business idea she would launch
AH: Something related to stress reduction and well-being. I believe that is where the future is headed and will be a big trend.
On the importance of human connection in a world surrounded by technology
AH: The more we are surrounded by technology, the more we value human life. Face-to-face is crucial to stay connected. I am very connected to the people I work with, and to people in general. Computers don't replace face-to-face connection. I still very much value and cherish human connection.
On her latest venture, the app called "GPS for the Soul" that is in the beta-testing phase
AH: I am thrilled to announce our latest project. "GPS For The Soul," is a new free HuffPost app (for Blackberry and iPhone users) to detect your stress level throughout the day. I kept thinking, I'd love to create an app that detects your stress level so that we don't end up with heart disease, stroke and other health conditions caused by stress. The app is designed to detect stress and then it gets customized to make you course correct.
It is the nature of the beast to get anxious or stressed. The key is how to tap into the things that help us de-stress and find peace and joy. We all need a "GPS for the Soul" to help us find our bearings when we lose them. How the app works is the camera detects your stress level through the blood flow in your thumb. If the app detects you are stressed, it gives you bio feedback exercises on the spot to reduce your stress -- yoga exercises, meditation, music, pictures, poetry, prayer, etc -- all customized for you. We hope to launch it in the next two months.
On her other latest venture, her partnership with Oprah Winfrey and OWN TV
AH: At HuffPost, we just announced a partnership with Oprah and The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) around content and engagement. It's very exciting. The Huffington Post Oprah section will contain a mix of articles, blogs and interactive content that will connect with the audience on an emotional and spiritual level. The site will provide practical advice and resources encouraging people to discover their best selves and to lead happy, fulfilling lives by taking steps to attain their goals.
On the importance of sleep
AH: People do not realize the importance and value of sleep in their lives. Sleep is fuel for joy and creativity. We all need enough. Sleep is one of your most important tools.
On the whole Facebook IPO craze
AH: Facebook's IPO is a moment for celebration. Just think, one little idea to a multi- billion dollar evaluation. It's a very American phenomenon. Sheryl Sandberg is also an amazing addition to that team.
On Huffington Post then and now
AH: I am Greek and Greeks love to talk. We love conversation. Conversations have been a part of my entire life -- conversations in the kitchen, on the street, everywhere. When I started, conversations were moving online, so my vision was to move the conversation online too. Today, we have 500 editors at the Huffington Post and we just won our first Pulitzer. A milestone indeed.
The one piece of advice she would give to someone starting up in the digital world today
AH: Find out what the world needs, no matter how small, and provide it. Find a niche that hasn't yet been exploited. Once you figure out what that is, go do it!
So there you have it. What I have learned from interviewing entrepreneurs from around the globe -- from Richard Branson to Craigslist founder Craig Newmark to Liz Lange, and many more -- is that creativity and the ability to generate ideas is in their blood. It's in their veins. They never stop creating. They're not happy with the status quo. Their brains rarely shut off and they don't rest easily. Entrepreneurs see the invisible, and they make that invisible come to life. They pave the way. They aim to serve and make a difference.
And for this, I'm inspired to learn more. To do better. To up my game. To be an agent of change.
Follow Erica Diamond on Twitter: www.twitter.com/EricaDiamond