The Jack Of All Trades Behind Huffington Post: Arianna Huffington
Do you believe that good things can result from bad events and that everything happens for a reason?
Arianna Huffington was a skeptic too - until life put her to the test and she had to change everything to make her mark. Building the first digital Pulitzer-winning media enterprise wasn't easy - especially when you consider English wasn't her first language!
But that didn't stop Arianna from accomplishing what she had imagined for herself - being a successful, independent woman in a world where most women don't stand that chance.
Read the entire story here:
Arianna, The Tenacious Child
Seeing Arianna's face all over the media and in newspapers, you'd assume she's been part of this world her entire life. That's why so many people were surprised when they found out that Arianna was originally from Greece, far away from New York, the place where she created her empire.
Arianna was born in Athens in 1950 in a family of creative thinkers. Her father was a management consultant and a journalist, while her sister was a speaker and an author. From a very young age, it was clear that Arianna was bound to follow the path of her closest kin, and her mom was her greatest supporter, so it was only a matter of time.
One particular night, Arianna saw a picture of Cambridge University and in a moment of inspiration, said she'd attend it one day. Everyone around her had a huge laugh about it, but not her mother. She had only one thing to say about her daughter's desire - 'let's see how we're going to make that happen!'
They must have done something right because, at the age of 16, Arianna left her home and moved to the United Kingdom to study economics at Cambridge University. Her goal wasn't easy to reach, especially because she spoke very little English.
However, learning a new language was just one piece of the puzzle that would open a lot of doors for Arianna later on. So, in her unique excelling fashion, she did more than earning a master's degree - she became the first foreign-born student to become the president of the popular debate society within Cambridge University.
Arianna loved to share her opinion on relevant topics, especially related to politics and as it turned out, that would define a part of her career later in life.
The Making Of Arianna Huffington
Arianna drew her motivation from several 'heroes' on her path to becoming a successful writer. She always wanted to write, back to her college days, but she hadn't fully expressed that until she met one of these heroes - Bernard Levin, once considered to be 'the most famous journalist of his time.'
They met in 1971 after Arianna appeared on Face The Music, BBC's classical music quiz. The two of them quickly bonded and developed a relationship that would inspire the young cosmopolitan to work even harder on her writing skills. The influence was such that Arianna has never stopped writing books - ever since her time with Bernard.
But nothing lasts forever, so as a result of differing desires in life, they split up in 1980.
How did Arianna react?
At the age of 30, she took the trip across the ocean and moved to the Big Apple!
The next decade would be the one that would make all the differences in Arianna's life. Arianna dedicated herself to her writing and in 1981, she published her first biography - "Maria Callas – The Woman Behind the Legend". In 1989, she published another biography about the life of Pablo Picasso - "Picasso: Creator and Destroyer".
In the meantime, she met Michael Huffington, a Republican politician and in 1986, they got married. Huffington had an incredible impact on Arianna's entry into the political world as one of the conservatives. The two of them have two daughters together, but the marriage didn't work out. Although they divorced in 1997, Arianna and Michael managed to stay friends long afterward.
Between 1993 and 1995, Michael was part of the Republican House of Representatives and his next goal was to run for Senate, a campaign that was largely supported by Arianna.
Her love for politics only grew from there and even though she started as a Conservative, over the years she developed a more leftist mindset and practices. All of this resulted in her running for Governor of California against Arnold Schwarzenegger, but she withdrew from her campaign.
Nevertheless, this political move taught her one important lesson - the power of the media. This lesson would ultimately bring her closer to creating the Huffington Post.
The Birth Of Huffington Post
The idea for creating a news aggregator came to Arianna around the time she ran for governor. She was no stranger to new political initiatives, and to achieve her goal she took some inspiration from The Drudge Report, dedicated to sharing right-leaning news.
Arianna had her a site previously too - resignation.com. It had only one goal - the resignation of President Bill Clinton. However, she felt like the world was missing a website where more left-leaning news would be shared - and she wanted to create it.
Arianna developed her new concept along with Kenneth Lerer, a popular businessman and media executive. It wouldn't just be an aggregator for news but would also be used as a blogging platform. On May 9, 2005, Huffington Post was officially born, with headquarters set in New York. The two of them got major help from Andrew Breitbart, an exceptional journalist, as well as Jonah Peretti, a successful entrepreneur.
The initial idea for the website was for celebrities to share their more liberal thoughts on important topics. John Cusack, Larry David, Diane Keaton, Nora Ephron, and Alec Baldwin were just some of the names that contributed to the popularity of the site by sharing their thoughts. Yet soon enough, more and more unpaid bloggers wanted to contribute, just to have their own little space in the online world.
Huffington was the first editor-in-chief of the website who managed to attract so many new online readers to the site, that the number of comments on blog posts reached a million in the first months!
The Life-Changing Fall
It didn't take too long for Huffington to reach Internet fame. The traffic was enormous and more and more topics were added to attract new audiences. The main profit was coming from advertisements on the site, one small detail that would prove to be a disaster later on.
In 2006, the first investment money arrived from SoftBank Capital and Greycroft - $5 million in total from Series A round!
Things were going well for Arianna until April 6, 2007. That night, Arianna fell and hit her head as a result of excessive stress and burnout, permanently injuring her jaw.
Waking up in a pile of her own blood was a wake-up call, as she has claimed in many interviews following the incident. Inevitably, she needed to make some changes in her lifestyle, but it wasn't enough - she also made some groundbreaking changes in the company's culture, prioritizing balance between life and work for every employee, including herself.
A New Life
She became an advocate for this lifestyle, writing two books on the topic later in life - "Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder" (2014) and "The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time" (2016).
However, things with Huffington Post weren't as good as in the beginning. The digital age was coming and their profits were too low to maintain such a profile, so Arianna started searching for a buyer.
She found Tim Armstrong, the chief executive of AOL, and in March 2011, the two of them shook hands over a $315 million agreement, in which Arianna was chosen to remain at her seat as editor-in-chief at Huffington Post. Alongside her current role, she also gained some power in some of the existing AOL properties like TechCrunch, Moviefone, Engadget, etc.
This deal turned out to be one of the best for Huffington's future - it secured the position of the site, and with David Wood's 2012 Pulitzer win, Huffington Post gained a reputation as one of the most credible online news sources.
After AOL was acquired by Verizon Communication in 2015 for $4.4 billion, it became clear to Arianna that her job in Huffington Post was more than done. She resigned from the company and launched Thrive Global in 2016, a company that offers science-based solutions to people dealing with stress or burnouts.
Regardless of her current career development, Arianna achieved her main goal - giving everyone's right to speak up their mind about topics that matter!