Touted as one of the most successful women in history by many, Arianna Huffington refers to herself as a “very frugal Greek peasant girl” who in May 2005 started the Huffington Post, an American news website and blog recently bought by AOL that now has spread its footprint throughout the U.K., Canada, Quebec, and France with plans to expand to nearly a dozen more countries including Germany and Brazil in the near future.
Today at Startup 2012, sponsored by the Business Insider which took place in New York City, I had the chance to hear Arianna speak about what the acquisition means to her company overall, why she feels there are not more woman entrepreneurs out there , and her thoughts on the most important elements for a successful business.
With a 24/7 streaming network about to make its debut, the merger of the Post and AOL has been extremely successful due to lots of attention and dedication from both sides. Completely rebuilding its management team and growing from 250 to 500 people, the main reason Huffington wanted this acquisition was to gain access to resources that were needed for the company to expand much faster than what was possible before AOL came into play. AOL’s resources enabled the Huffington Post to invest in all things at once and since the deal, it has seen video views grow by over 60 percent, enabling it to capitalize on momentum, and keep innovating beyond money to take advantage of the moment.
Additionally, by bringing in new talent with a new person from NBC as well as someone from relatively new media site Spotify, this merger combined the best of old and new. Right now, the Post is working hard to introduce a new technology algorithm coined “Julia” to power everyone to express themselves more simply. “We are at time in history when people want to talk about what they are feeling, bear witness to everything going on around them, and just have fun,” Huffington added.
It’s not a secret most startups don’t succeed and a major reason we aren’t seeing more women entrepreneurs is due to the internal factor of women being forced to deal with their own conscious roommate in their head that identifies them by their successes and failures. However, according to Huffington, women need to redefine success and look at it more in terms of fulfillment.
For example when restructuring with AOL, the media kept asking is Arianna trying to gain more power? This was the completely wrong question to ask because how do you truly define power, Huffington questioned—is it when you are working on something you are passionate about or if your portfolio is bigger than someone else’s?
Further, as stress and sleep deprivation are continuing to spiral out of control, the Post will be unveiling an app named GPS for the Soul which enables people to look on their phone to receive answers to how stressed they actually are including factors such as their breath rate and blood pressure. The application then personalizes each user’s experience to make them less stressed by showing them things they enjoy that will calm them down including landscaping pictures, music and poems which will help them to become much more centered. Huffington said, “We need to recapture joy in everything we are doing.”
As far as plans for the future, the company is about to launch a magazine app for iPad named Huffington Period, which will hopefully encourage people to take a break and enjoy looking at beautiful designs, videos, comments, and pictures. There are about 16,000 original stories added each day, both bloggers and reporters.
When concluding her session, Huffington highlighted three keys to success. The first thing is to be very clear of your individual DNA and what is most important to you as a human being. “A Greek philosopher once said give me a place to stand and I can move the world,” she said.
Second, never be afraid to fail. Huffington commented, “A lot people make mistakes, but always make sure they are new and different mistakes. I look at the way children handle being disappointed; they cry, get upset, and then get over it and don’t remember why they were upset in the first place. For me that’s a dream as there will continue to be failures and disappointments even after succeeding.”
Third, don’t listen to what people are saying about you. “Never internalize the negative instead say next and move on as there is constant movement in life. See where opportunities are and double down on them and focus. There is something amazing about being single minded,” Huffington concluded.
Although much easier said than done, I would be willing to bet many people out there will be sure to take advice from a woman whose site garners around one million average comments each month from visitors.
TechZone360 Web Editor
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