On Thursday, Mika Brzezinski and I hosted the first-ever Huffington Post women's conference, "The Third Metric: Redefining Success Beyond Money and Power," in my home. Ironically, the final piece of furniture, after months of remodeling and furnishing the place, actually arrived on Tuesday morning, just as the movers were coming to take all the furniture away and put it on the truck, where it went to live in furniture purgatory until the end of the conference. But Mika and I really wanted to have a very different kind of conference, which, as befits our topic, could be personal, intimate and a little tribal, and not be held in some impersonal hotel ballroom.
The intimacy makes sense because, after all, the whole idea of this conference sprang from an intimate conversation that Mika and I had during a break on "Morning Joe" -- yes, that's where the real action happens. So there we were chatting during the break and I asked Mika how she was feeling. Even though we were in commercial, she put her hand over her microphone and said, "I'm having real problems sleeping." My maternal protective self immediately took over, and I very sternly took her hand, and looked her in the eye, and said, "Mika, we have to talk." And so we did. It was the beginning of our friendship, and since then Mika has been like a little sister to me, whether over breakfast or lunch or stolen moments on a "Morning Joe" commercial break, we haven't stopped talking -- sharing details about our lives, our children, our relationships and our work, which, of course, are all part of the same conversation.
exhaustion and broke my cheekbone. That's how to learn it the hard way. And since then, I've become obsessed with helping others learn it in an easier way. Also since then, I've been highly sensitized to how many people around me, at all levels of their professions, are running on empty -- burned out, sleep-deprived and making terrible decisions. Not from lack of IQ or intelligence or education, but from lack of clear-headedness, perspective, judgment -- or, in other words, lack of wisdom.
Because right now, our two-part definition of success as being made up just of money and power isn't working. Basically, success the way we've defined it -- as driving ourselves into the ground, and in some cases even into the grave -- is no longer sustainable.
I also want to emphasize why we called it a women's conference. It's because of the fact that the current definition of success, based on burnout and exhaustion as badges of honor, was created by men. And if it's going to change, it's going to be women who will have to lead the way.(
At the back of the programs we handed out, we featured bits of wisdom from the participants, including one from Anand Giridharadas, who wrote in the Times that this whole debate is not just about having it all, juggling work and motherhood, and leaning in -- it's about all of us. ((
"Does it makes sense for the rest of us to be governed, to have our money managed, to be educated by people as single-minded, obsessive, fierce, hurried and self-serving as the brainy elite" at the top? (
"In a period of historic public distrust of this nation's institutions and leaders, could the horrendous lifestyles that are a requirement for admission be a contributing factor?" (
I hope that this conversation will continue to grow until we've changed the way we define success, for women and for men.
(Arianna Huffington is president and editor-in-chief of Huffington Post Media Group. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.)