SAN JOSE, CALIF.––HuffPost founder Arianna Huffington makes no secret of the fact that she loves Manolo Blahnik kitten-heeled shoes. Not too high, not too low. Just right.
“I like very short heels and Jimmy Chu doesn’t make them,” she told a conference of female bloggers who gathered in Silicon Valley Saturday to bond over being true to themselves and their blogs. “They don’t make comfortable shoes. They are made by men who hate women.”
That’s right. Fuck Jimmy Choo and his uncomfortable shoes. (Although don’t tell Arianna’s Third Metric Live “boobs are touching” buddy Mika Brzezinksi, who loves her some Choo.)
Gales of laughter swept through the ballroom. Snaps to Arianna, who keynoted the breakfast session and had the women lapping up her every drop of wisdom. It’s not even a stretch to say that Arianna may well be the Dalai Lama of female blogger conference speakers. Everywhere I went — the restroom, the hallways, workshop rooms — women gushed about Arianna.
“Arianna was so funny!” a woman cooed about her after her talk.
Other rave reviews: “She was awesome!” and “She was frickin’ amazing!”
If they hated her talk, you would’ve known. These ladies are not afraid to say, blog or tweet their guts out about how they feel. And in the past, some of these women could be downright vicious when it comes to BlogHer Convention female keynote speakers. You read that right: BlogHer.
But Arianna? No exaggeration. They WORSHIP the ground she walks on in those kitten heels.
Pointedly, they marveled over the long line of women outside the ballroom waiting to sign Arianna’s book, Thrive. Women will be women. They also snarked that it was even longer than the one for Sheryl Sandberg‘s Lean In last year.
The most interesting thing about an interview with Arianna was her behavior toward the interviewer. Meet Guy Kawasaki, author and chief evangelist of Canva, who made fun of Arianna’s controlling personality. “Last time I interviewed her for a Google Hangout I noticed whatever I asked she just said whatever she wanted to say,” he said at the start. “Should I just shut up?”
Um, yes. But first, a little buttering up.
Guy: “This is Arianna’s great new book Thrive and I carry it wherever I go.”
“Even in bed, I hope,” she quipped.
Guy (laughing): “That’s a little TMI.”
Arianna soon had the room by their uteruses. The women were inhaling her every word.
So how does Arianna handle email? She eliminates the niceties, calling the “how are you’s” totally unnecessary.
“First of all, let me give me out my email address,” she said. “Ubiquity is the new exclusivity. Here’s the thing…if you founded the company you get the good email address. Very short answers. I don’t do email an hour before I go to sleep. I take my devices and gently take them out of my bedroom.”
She talks a lot about digital detox and living in the moment. “How about God?” she asked. “He took the seventh day off.” Guy quickly asked, “But how many followers does God have?” Arianna replied, “More than all of us combined.”
Another staple theme you’ll hear from her these days: “Stop glamorizing being busy.” Latching on to the womens’ hearts, she said, “Many of us have forgotten that there is a self to reconnect with. We all have a place of wisdom and peace… that’s what sleep, meditation, prayer, fly fishing [are for]… all of these things that require your full attention are essential to reconnect.”
Using herself as a poor example, she said, “There is a building near my apartment it’s so beautiful. I said [to a friend], when did it go up? She said 1890.”
Soon came the ever important question: How does Arianna thrive?
She explained what she has many times, which is that she collapsed seven years ago: “If you wake up in a pool of blood and no one has shot you, by any sane definition of success, you are not successful.”
Nowadays she says she thrives by getting enough Zzzz’s. “Last night I got 8 hours of sleep,” she said. “I’m not perfect. I’m a work in progress, but 90 percent of the time I get 8 hours of sleep.
Arianna dotted her interview with clichés, which Guy called her on repeatedly. “You are just a quote machine! Do you think in 140 characters?” he probed at one point.
“Remember, we need to put our own oxygen masks first as they tell us on an airport,” said Arianna, blatantly ignoring his cracks. “So what I say is what I told the graduating class at Smith. I told them that my best advice to them is to sleep their way to the top. Honestly, when I look back at my younger self, the advice I’d give myself is stop worrying and get more sleep.”
Looking out at the women in the audience, she said she loved them, and declared, “I’m hoping that we can actually learn from each other’s wake up calls so we don’t have our own. Why should you have yours when you can learn from mine?”
By the way, Arianna’s favorite quote of the moment comes from Rumi: “Live life as though everything was rigged in your favor.”
With that, hundreds of females audibly exhaled.
But wait, she had one more.
“You should leave me the last word, don’t you think?” she told Guy, who just made her choose between a litany of pairs of things, which she called a “very male” thing of him to do.
He had no choice but to acquiesce.
“What I’ve discovered is that what makes it very hard is the world keeps sending us constant singles, how we can get ahead, how we can climb fast, how we can put our lives on hard,” she said. A quote from Ian Thomas. This is what I repeat to myself when the world is closing in: Everyday the world will grab you by the hand and tell you this is important…and you must take your hand back and put it on your heart and say no, this is important.”
The room went ahh. But really, she had them at hello.