Last Wednesday, Arianna Huffington spoke candidly to fans and students during the launch of the event series called Castle Conversations that took place in the O’Byrne Chapel in Manhattanville College. The main topics discussed by her were the paradigm shift of the journalism profession and how to define success, beyond money and power. The last portion of the event was a Q&A session with WNYC Radio’s Leonard Lopate.
Huffington described with detail the paradigm shift that is still ongoing in the journalism sphere. “People want to participate and make their own stories, the way news are produced and consumed has changed.” According to her, people don’t want to just read about the news, they want to write about them. Huffington went as far as inviting everyone in the conference to send her his or her writing.
￼The subject of wellness was described in detail as she spoke about how sleep depravation has become an epidemic and about how people take better care of their smartphone than they take care of themselves. “75% of our healthcare costs are connected to preventable stress related conditions” said Huffington. This last fact was live tweeted during the event in @MVTouchstone, generating 42 retweets and 32 favorites, which goes to demonstrate how much this statement resonated with audiences everywhere.
We asked Mville students about their motivations to be at the event. “I get my news from the Huffington Post and she’s greek” said Nicoleta Pennacchia ’17 “She is one of the most influential people in the world. She is an example to any entrepreneur” said Juan Carlos Mejia ’15. “I am a Huffington Post contributing blogger. I hope to meet her” Nasir Fleming ’18.
I very much enjoyed the event. More than anything I enjoyed Arianna’s focus on healthy living and encouraging her employees to take naps throughout the day in specially designated locations dubbed ‘Nap rooms.’ I also like the fact that as a news source, she is looking to move away from showing the bad side of human nature. She also wants to share the positive side of news.
The event itself was well organized. It ran as smooth as a swiss watch. The hall were the event took place was exquisitely decorated and the seats were placed in such a manner that they allowed everyone attending the event a clear view of the stage. Information was easily accessible due to how well staffed the event was.
I was particularly impressed with the level of sophistication employed for the tickets. The school actually had ticket scanners which allowed them to easily know who actually attended the event.
I loved the fact that Manhattanville has taken steps to be more proactive with the community. Overall the event was well executed. However, I couldnt help but notice that a good part of the audience had trouble listening to Ariana. At the end of the event I had the pleasure to chat with Betty from the class of ’68 which alluded to how difficult it was to listen. Specially since she uses hearing aids.
However, as in everything in life there is room for improvement. Another aspect that can be improved is student seating. The location of the seats reserved for students were all the way at the end. The school should never forget that students come first. Whenever such a re-known guest comes to school, we must always place students at the front (at least symbolically), even if its only a handful. For example, at the event we had a student that actually blogs for her site (Huffington Post) which would have benefited from more exposure to Arianna. All in all I was pleasantly surprised by the organization and the execution. I hope the next goes over more smoothly.
Overall the lesson from Arianna Huffington to us was to cultivate our own individually and wellness. As an influential entrepreneur I was surprised to hear her version of a well-balanced life, she encouraged everyone to take care of themselves.
In fact, I did more research and found out that she attend the school founded by writer and artist Rabindranath Tagore, http://mvilletouchstone.com/2015/03/17/1789/ Calcutta’s Visva-Bharati University. It is likely that her current point of view in life came from the teachings she received in this institution. I was really impressed to see an entrepreneur have an innovative and balanced point of view of what success means. To better understand Tagore’s teachings there is an exhibition on his work and his disciples work in our Berger Art Gallery.
I will be honest I did not know Arianna Huffington but I knew the Huffington post very well. I was impressed with their marketing segmentation (Huffington post women, Huffington post Arts and culture, etc) and their reach (Huffington post India, Huffington post Spain, etc). The content of the stories moved me and it is today one of my favorite publications. To me it was a privilege to stand before the entrepreneur that had such an important role in the development of this innovative news platform.