In this issue, Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington talks to Grazia about the Obamas, how not to fear failure… and the importance of ‘uni tasking’. Here, writer Elizabeth Day reveals what went on behind the scenes when she met one of the most powerful women in media.
I met Arianna on an extremely wet day in May in the middle of Battersea Park in London, an interview to mark this month’s first anniversary of Huffington Post UK. She was there to give the keynote address to a group of digital marketeers and on my way to meet her, I stupidly left my umbrella on the train. Note to self: definitely not a good look turning up to meet one of the most influential – not to mention groomed – women in media looking like a drowned rat.
In person, Arianna was just as immaculately put together as I'd expected – a neat tailored jacket, nude heels and a huge smile. We bonded over our height – I said how nice it was to interview a tall woman for a change (I'm 5'11 and most celebrities are teeny-tiny; Arianna by contrast is 5'10).
As I’d hoped, Arianna was totally charming. The organisers had set up a series of 'pods' – essentially inflatable igloos – where we had our chat. Although Arianna listened to my questions politely and answered expansively, I could tell that her mind was on about 800 other things at the same time. Not surprising given she’s the founder of Huffington Post, has amassed a multimillion pound fortune and has a contacts book that would put all of us to shame.
About half-way through our allotted time, I noticed the pod was looking a bit shaky. In fact, the walls seemed to be collapsing in on us and it didn't take too long to realise that the entire structure was rapidly deflating. Apparently there'd been a power cut and the air-pumps had stopped working. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Arianna seemed relatively unruffled by the fact that she'd almost been smothered by an enormous balloon.
Arianna Huffington and her youngest daughter, Isabelle
Shortly after that that she checked the time on her Blackberry and realised she needed to be at her daughter's 21st birthday dinner in the centre of town. But ever the consummate professional, we carried on our interview over the phone. It’s official – Arianna Huffington is unstoppable.
Read the full interview in this week’s Grazia, on sale now, and check out our Getting To Know Arianna 10 questions below:
Who have you been closest to in your life?
My daughters Christina and Isabella; my sister Agapi; and my mother, who gave me unconditional love and unconventional wisdom. Together, they make up what I call my fearlessness tribe: the group of people who are always there for each other, whether we succeed or fail.
What is your earliest memory?
It's a vague, pleasant, comforting memory: the smell of clover, honey, cinnamon, orange and brandy wafting from the kitchen of my childhood house in Athens. My mother believed that if you didn't eat something every twenty minutes, something terrible would happen to you.
What's your biggest fear?
My greatest fear is inextricably related to my greatest hope. My hope is that Americans will summon their can-do spirit to put our nation back on track to restore the crumbling American Dream. My fear is that we will not.
Arianna Huffington on the FROW
Piling up all my work on a Sunday morning and staying in bed, making calls and answering emails. It's the perfect combination of productivity and relaxation.
What are you best at?
I'm a pretty tireless evangelist for the causes I believe in - for getting more sleep, for wearing flat shoes, and for unplugging from our
devices in order to better connect with ourselves.
What do you value in a partner?
Empathy, humor, and fearlessness