Lesson from Arianna Huffington: Be Fearless

How did a Greek teenager who left home to study at Cambridge at the age of 16 become one of the leading media moguls in the world? And how has she left such a lasting mark in both media and politics in the U.S. and abroad? Read on and learn.

Arianna Huffington (née Arianna Stassinopoulos) was born in 1950 in Athens. At an early age (and DO note her fearlessness, throughout her history thus far, in setting out on her own course) she set off to attend England’s Cambridge University where she proved her metal, became the third woman, as well as the first foreign president of the Cambridge Union.

From a very young age she was media savvy and appeared on television and radio in the U.K., and later in the states, where she was eventually to find her home ground. She had a knack for forming close business friendships and by the age of 30 had already published two books (thus far she has published thirteen books) and was a recognized commentator for the BBC. She was personable, intelligent, interested, and knew how to parlay her talents into a variety of diverse jobs and projects.

In 1980 Arianna Stassinopoulos moved to New York where she began to find her own footing, writing several more books on topics from Maria Callas to Pablo Picasso. She later met and married Michael Huffington who had an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. senate in 1994. This did not stop Arianna Huffington. She, again, with incredible forward thinking, and chameleon-like skill, re-vamped her image into the voice of the Republican right. Her genius was in this concept: she was not afraid to milk the idea of the “controversial.” She knew that the public wanted honest debate, as well as glamour, humour, and decisive opinions. Huffington possessed all of these traits and knew how to market them.

The list of politically forward-thinking programs in which Arianna Huffington has been involved in the U.S., U.K., and internationally, is so extensive that it would require its own article; to name a few: BBC Radio 4’s Any Questions?, BBC’s Late Night at the Mill, Comedy Central’s, Strange Bedfellows, Politically Incorrect (for which she and her co-writers were nominated for an Emmy) U.S. National Public Radios’ Left, Right and Center, and NPR’s Both Sides Now. One must almost ask when Huffington sleeps, and how she re-invents her drive almost yearly with such energy? She has become such a cultural icon that she is often spoofed on shows as renowned as Saturday Night Live.

What is most notable about Arianna Huffington is her incredible curiosity, her ability to connect with people on all fronts (as well as to consternate them, she is not afraid of controversy!): from conservative Republicans to Democratic liberals, comedians, musicians, politicians, artists, and the general public at large. It is this adaptability that has propelled her through such a diverse life of experience, and has lead her to author and co-found the Huffington Post Media Group, which she designed as a platform for discussing ideas, both big and small, accepted and controversial. She asks the public to continually reconsider their opinions, to learn and to grow. And perhaps she is the right woman to posit these ideas as they are the reason why she has achieved such success; they represent her ability to re-invent herself, her world view, and her remarkable business ethos and success, continually.

The Huffington Post recently won its first Pulitzer, has been launched in several different countries, in several different languages, and was sold, in 2011, to AOL. Huffington has now started a new magazine for iPads. At 63 she still displays the “take no holds barred” attitude of the 16 year old girl who made history at Cambridge University.

In a 2008 speech by Huffington discussing the U.S. electoral debate and the release of her book ‘The Right is Wrong,’ she says: “Write, talk, blog.” She explains that there are so many outlets other than mainstream media. She consistently invites people to look at the platforms presented in different ways, in all forms of media. She encourages people to discuss, communicate and, most of all, to think. These are not only abilities that she represents, but also that she has seen the public are hungry to engage in. And in this way she has not only made a literal fortune in business but she is helping the public to change the way we think about media and its importance in our modern world.

One interesting point of fact which will surface again and again in discussing successful women entrepreneurs: they recognize and embrace the assets with which they were born. This seems such an easy conclusion that it doesn’t need to be mentioned? For example, we wouldn’t overlook the commodities we own on the commodities market or else we would lose money. So, obviously, you say, it would be foolish to overlook, or even throw away an asset (a talent or a gift that comes naturally)? Wrong. People do it every day, especially when working their way up in the business world — most notably women — who feel the need to hide their rare qualities and even their intelligence in order to conform to the business status quo.

So, let’s take a look at Arianna Huffington. Some of the striking attributes that stand out when discussing her are: her willingness to engage all parties (she is a communicator), hear fearlessness in addressing, as well as creating, controversy, her incredible mind for humour (as well as her ability to use that humour in all aspects of her career and business life) and, finally, her ability to be “feminine” and yet tough, which, research points out is often a problem for women in the business world. Women feel that, because they must compete in a male-dominated business world, they must emulate men and hide their femininity.

Arianna Huffington proves, as do so many other women entrepreneurs, that this is an egregious fallacy: eloquence, expression, wit, and (dare we wax poetic and say) the tigress embracing what she’s born with, fearlessly, are qualities that must be expressed more in the business world – especially by women, as they are often gifts, that Arianna Huffington proves, come naturally to women if they are embraced and expressed. So I would invite readers to go check out Arianna Huffington on the Internet giving one of her spell-binding speeches. She proves all of these points ten-fold: she is a tigress, re-invented.

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