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

Arianna Huffington: What are you doing when you graduate?

Interviewer: Working on this.

Arianna Huffington: These are brilliant ideas. I love the equivalent of the giving pledge, let’s talk about that afterwards. I think this is really a fantastic idea because really, we are talking about the need for a culture shift, and there are pioneers who are leading the way, and removing some of the stigma. When, for example, Satya Nadella, when he became the CEO of Microsoft, told Business Insider that he sleeps for eight hours, and could not be an effective CEO if he did not, that was pretty revolutionary. Because in the past, and when I say in the past, I mean a year ago, before he said it, even if a CEO was sleeping eight hours, he would never admit it. Because the whole idea was the Jon Bon Jovi song that I’ll sleep when I’m dead, or you lose you snooze, you snooze you lose, or congratulating people for working 24/7, which now sleep scientists will tell you is the cognitive equivalent of coming to work drunk. But that has been the prevalent culture.

And now, I mean, actually, last week, too late to include it in the book, was a real tipping point. And that was a McKinsey study that they extracted part of the Harvard Business Review, I don’t know why they didn’t do it for you.

Interviewer: We were busy sleeping.

Arianna Huffington: A mistake, a clear mistake, which the title first of all, when you saw the title, you would have thought it was from The Onion. The title was The Proven Link Between Effective Leadership and Sleep. And it was co-written by the McKinsey Chief Global Learning Officer and a woman who was identified as McKinsey’s sleep specialist. The idea that McKinsey has a sleep specialist, to teach you not how to do without sleep, but to teach you the importance of sleep, shows that we are in an amazing Zeitgeist moment. And once I stop kind of pinching myself, I celebrated the fact that this had happened and reached out of course to the people who wrote it to have them write about it on The Huffington Post, which they’re doing. And incidentally, the sleep specialist has now been hired by Facebook to give these workshops at Facebook.

So this is all an amazing new phenomenon and what I love about this piece, which I highly recommend, is that they walk you through what happens to the prefrontal cortex, which is where the leadership functions, that’s what they call the executive functioning is housed. And how incredibly degraded they are when you are sleep deprived. And then I was co-hosting Squawk Box on Tuesday and I asked Mark Bertolini one of the good things about co-hosting, that you can invite people that you want to bring these messages to the financial community. And I invited Mark Bertolini, the CEO of Aetna because I wanted him to talk about the new initiative he started at Aetna, the third largest health insurance company, which is he asked his employees to track their sleep with the Fitbit and anyone who gets at least seven hours a night gets $25 for each night. And that’s kind of again an amazing statement, by the CEO of a health insurance company. And then he has Duke tracking the results. And they are finding a 7% reduction in healthcare costs in all the wellness programs they have and a 62-minute a week improvement in productivity. So it really helps dispel all these illusions that in order to be productive you have to cut down on sleep.

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.

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By Pangambam S

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