Transcript: Arianna Huffington on We Are Drowning in Data and Starved for Wisdom

And looking back, of course, it is none of the above, but that’s what the obnoxious roommate does. And it kind of basically tears you apart. And I’ve had so many experiences like that, where all my energy would be absorbed in listening to that voice. And that’s why I’ve spent a lot of time in my life trying to evict the obnoxious roommate from my head. And I’m doing a pretty good job now but it took many, many years. And it changes your life when you don’t have to waste your energy dealing with that voice but you can actually go on with your life and recognize that sometimes things are not going to go well. And sometimes you’re not going to perform at your best and that’s part of life.

Interviewer: It’s funny you say that because I read somewhere that you appear to be in your own person from a very young age. Would you mind sharing the story about your fifth birthday party?

Arianna Huffington: Yes, I always love to read. I love to lose myself in books. And so from my fifth birthday party, my mother had invited my best friends. And I told them they had to go home because they were interrupting my reading.

Interviewer: Yeah, well this is clearly a passion. And although you’ve written 15 books to date now across a wide variety of topics, it seems to be politics that’s kind of captured your attention the most. What is it that drew you to the political sphere, especially in the discussion and commentary side?

Arianna Huffington: So, it was politics and as the Dean mentioned, the Third World America book was very much sort of my deep concern about what was happening in the country and how we are not paying sufficient attention. And that remains a very deep concern of mine. But, I now feel increasingly that the thing that we are most starved for in our political lives as well as the rest of our lives is wisdom. And I feel that we’re kind of drowning in data and starved for wisdom. And so my passion now is, how can we connect with that part of ourselves, that is the wisest part of ourselves? And whether we are politicians or business leaders or media leaders, there are huge problems in front of us. And if we don’t connect to that part, we are going to be operating and making decisions from the surface. And as a result, missing the opportunity to really come up with big solutions. And I was fascinated by how leaders that we admire throughout history have done that in the past. Like one of my favorite stories that I’ve included in my new book, is about FDR.

In 1940, when there was all this pressure on him to enter the war. But the American public was completely opposed to it, so he didn’t literally, he didn’t know what to do. And what he did would never have happened today. He took 10 days off and went on a naval ship around the Caribbean. And Eleanor would send him letters saying things, I’m so happy to think of you sleeping and refueling. And his aids afterwards have written how he truly refueled and in the process of refueling, he came up with what was a political masterpiece of a solution: The Lend-Lease program that allowed America to enter the war at the time when otherwise public opinion would have been completely opposed to it. And I feel we all need to do that. And we need to validate people who do that as opposed to judging politicians who go on vacation or who play golf, or who do anything to refuel and therefore ideally come up with the solutions that are really at the heart of leadership.

Interviewer: It’s interesting because some may say that the reason that it doesn’t happen is because of this 24/7 media commentary. And increasingly it’s thought in some circles that media is increasingly shaping politics as opposed to just reporting of it. So, how do you think through and try and control that with your curation and editorial prowess?

Arianna Huffington: So you mean it’s our fault, right?

Interviewer: I was trying to be diplomatic. Some may say. Certainly not myself but some.

Arianna Huffington: So I think first of all, we are not going to avoid the 24/7 nature of media and the internet. This is whether you, even if you never go on the Huffington Post, or the New York Times site, or any site, you have your Facebook and Instagram and endless social media. So that’s going to be the nature of our lives going forward. So that’s why it’s even more imperative that we learn to set our own boundaries. And that we need to stop giving in to FOMO, the fear of missing out.

Interviewer: We don’t know if that is here totally.

Arianna Huffington: Because in the end what we’re missing out on is our life. And that is something which will require a major culture shift. I mean we can do it individually and a lot of people are doing it. And ironically there is now more and more technology that paradoxically is helping us deal with technology. But in the end, it will require some support from the culture, whether it’s culture at school, at college, and the workplaces where we are and our families. So I feel that we are in the process now of a major culture shift, and we’re in the middle of this transition. And like any other transition, a lot of different types of behavior are valued and are exhibited, all at the same time. And whether you’re optimistic or pessimistic depends on what you focus on.

Interviewer: So this Fourth Revolution has been a big topic at Davos amongst many of the world leaders. And you ran for governor of California once but haven’t returned to politics directly yourself. What caused you to run then and why not since and would you like to bring about the fourth resolution?