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

Interviewer: So I hope all my professors are listening because I often email them saying terribly sorry it’s late, I overslept in the night, leave the classes at 3:30, and I was like I was having a nap, you know? Now I can just forward them and tell them I was decreasing my study.

Arianna Huffington: You’re increasing your performance.

Interviewer: Exactly, exactly.

Arianna Huffington: In fact, this afternoon —

Interviewer: Yeah.

Arianna Huffington: In conversation here at Stanford, if you have woken up from your nap, you can come.

Interviewer: I set the alarms specifically.

Arianna Huffington: With Ingrid Iguodala, the MVP from the Golden State Warriors, and the conversation is being introduced by Emmanuel Mignot, Head of your Stanford Sleep Center. And he’s going to talk about how sleep changed his game. And he has tracked it, he has all the data. And he, in fact, Instagrammed himself holding his MVP while sleeping. Because he feels he only got that because, his game so dramatically improved when he started getting enough sleep. And I love pointing to athletes, because all they care about winning. So, those in business school who only care about winning, I hope there’s nobody here like that, but let’s say, that’s all you care about, succeeding, winning.

Interviewer: And lose weight.

Arianna Huffington: Getting to the top.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Arianna Huffington: Sleep is a performance enhancement tool.

Interviewer: Yeah. Well clearly I’ve been dozing a bit on stage because we haven’t got that many minutes left, but we’ll turn to the audience for some questions. And there will be two microphones roaming with Kara there at the back to start.

Great, we’ll start with a question from Twitter. What do you think is the future for online content creation?

Arianna Huffington: Well, the future is incredibly bright. I think what’s happening now is that we are all content creators. It’s not just publishers who are content creators, anybody can be a content creator whether you’re a student and entrepreneur or a brand. In fact, brands increasingly now have entire departments that are about content creation and we were talking earlier backstage about native advertising. For us at the Huffington Post, native advertising has become a major source of monetization. And what we are finding is that we have a separate department, separate from editorial. But informed by the same beliefs and standards that creates contents for brands. We, for example, made a very profitable deal with Sleep Number, which is a mattress company with embedded technology. And we have a dedicated section, it is transparently labeled as a sponsored section. But again, as we were discussing backstage, that doesn’t stop people from wanting to consume the content, provided the content is good, credible, and well produced.

Question-and-answer session

Audience: Hi, Arianna. Thanks so much for joining us. There is an article out today in the New York Times playing on the growing wealth disparity in this country that also says that the richest people in the United States far outlive the poorest people. This is not necessarily new but that gap is widening. Part of the reason for this is stress and unhealthy living habits. And so I wonder what you’re doing as you’re promoting this message of wellness, including sleep, that there are a lot of people who can’t partake in, and that’s not accessible to them. So how do we make sure that we’re not just continuing to grow this divide where those of us in this room get to be healthy and happy and wealthy and there are a lot of people who don’t experience those benefits?

Arianna Huffington: That’s a great question and, in fact, I tried to cover this in the book. And two weeks ago, we held a clinic in Harlem. We took over a church and invited people from the community to come in. And we had a group of doctors, Dr. Oz actually filmed it and it was an entire hour on his show last week, to talk about their health and their sleep specifically. And what is fascinating is that the delusions that we talked about, that permeated the top, have actually permeated also the bottom socio-economic class and unfortunately with even worse information being given to them. Like I talked to multiple people. Most of them significantly overweight and a lot of them suffering from diabetes. And we’re talking about people in their 30s and 40s. And most of them told me the same story. I have two jobs, I have three jobs, I sleep for four hours a night. And I really blame myself everyday because I’m exhausted. And they thought that if they were a Wall Street high flyer, they wouldn’t be exhausted. So that’s how they had interpreted our delusion.