Interview: Arianna Huffington and Nastia Liukin on self-care in your 20s

 

Few people represent the concept of working hard to succeed like the O.G. boss, Arianna Huffington. She revolutionized the digital space as a media pioneer, and has become an incredibly well-respected author and businesswoman, offering inspiration to women everywhere working to succeed on their own terms.

Understanding the extent of Arianna’s success can be daunting to even the most ambitious of 20somethings. How are we supposed to accomplish everything we’re dreaming of and still have time to, you know, eat and sleep?

That’s what makes Arianna’s new venture, Thrive Global, groundbreaking…and even more essential. We’re taught from such a young age to achieve our goals by whatever means necessary, often sacrificing our physical and mental health along the way. Arianna is changing that. 

 

20something: For our readers who are unfamiliar, what is Thrive Global and why did you decide to launch it?

Arianna Huffington: It goes back to 2007, when I collapsed from exhaustion. After that I became more and more passionate about the connection between well-being and productivity and why the myth that burnout is necessary for success is still hanging on. That led me to write my two books, Thrive and The Sleep RevolutionAnd as I went around the world speaking about them, and the issues of stress and burnout, I saw how deeply people want to change their lives.

So I wanted to go beyond just speaking out and raising awareness – I felt the need to turn this passion into something real and tangible that would begin to help people really change their daily lives. And so I founded Thrive Global.

 

With a goal to “end the collective delusion that burnout is the price we must pay for success” in mind, Thrive Global introduced The Fuel List, in collaboration with Quaker, an initiative bringing forth role models who are rethinking how we fuel our bodies, from nutrition to mindfulness to rest.

20something was lucky to attend the incredible event honoring these role models who are driving the conversation around health at Pinterest HQ in NYC.

 

What motivated you to launch The Fuel List?

AH: Thrive Global’s mission is to end the stress and burnout epidemic. To do that, we need a culture shift in how we think about well-being and productivity. And to accelerate that culture shift we need to highlight new role models who are showing how you can succeed without burning out. And that’s what the Fuel List is. Amplifying their [the honorees’] voices and celebrating their achievements is a way of inspiring others to realize they can make changes in how they fuel their own lives.

How does The Fuel List differ from other role model awards in the digital space?

AH: I love the range of the four fields we’re covering. Refueling is about more than just food and nutrition, so our 20 honorees also represent the fields of mindfulness, sleep and movement – which are ways we fuel ourselves. We don’t check our humanity when we go to the office – we all bring our whole selves to work. And as the science shows, every aspect of our well-being is interconnected. If you’re not sleeping, that will affect your diet. If you’re not moving, that will affect your sleep. So all parts of our well-being need to be nurtured at the same time. And the breadth of the Fuel List honorees reflects that.

Also, so many business and success awards are about celebrating a limited version of success. What’s key about the Fuel List honorees isn’t just that they’re successful, but about how they’re successful and about how they’re defining success. They’re all great role models of a more meaningful and sustainable notion of what it means to be successful and thrive.

 

What is a tidbit you’ve gleaned from one of the role model honorees you hadn’t known or thought about before?

AH: I love Jessamyn Stanley’s emphasis on focusing on how yoga makes you feel rather than how it makes you look. This is especially important in the age of social media. She’s such a great role model in bringing the benefits of yoga and movement to a wider audience.

 

Arianna also shared more about her inspiration and personal self-care routine that we can all stand to learn from. 

 

When you think of “wonder woman” who is the first person who comes to mind?

AH: My mother, who was my role model for fearlessness and living in the present.

 

Do you fear entrepreneurial, multitasking 20somethings could be on the road to burnout if we don’t start a larger conversation around health & well-being?

AH: Absolutely. And that’s what Thrive Global is all about – accelerating that conversation. Technology is amplifying our stress and burnout epidemic, and Millennials and the generation after them are the first generations to grow up in the connected age. But I have to say, in the year since Thrive Global launched, I’ve found that it’s young people who truly get it. Yes, they’re more adept than any other generation with screens and devices, but they’re also feeling the stress more than any other generation.

They’re driven to change the workplace culture we’re leaving them. They’re into science and data and so they’re really taking in the new science that shows that multitasking doesn’t work and that well-being is directly connected to productivity. So I’m really inspired and optimistic about how young people are going to change our world.

 

What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed, and what’s the last thing you do before getting back in?

AH: The first thing I do is definitely not reach for my phone, as tempting as that is for all of us. Instead, when I wake up I take a few minutes to breathe deeply, be grateful, and set my intention for the day. It really stays with you all day.

The last thing is usually reading of some kind – a real book and not on a screen emitting blue light, which interferes with sleep, and also a book not related to work. Sometimes, if I can’t sleep, I’ll meditate, which is a great way to ease into sleep.

 

What’s one book that changed your outlook on life?

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. I like to read a passage every night, and I recommend it to everybody.

 

What’s your advice for motivated 20somethings who want to balance career with self-care?

AH: Realize that you don’t have to burn yourself out to succeed. And part of that realization means getting rid of the idea of balance. Work and life, well-being and productivity, are not on opposite sides — so they don’t need to be balanced. They’re on the same side, and they rise together. Increase one and you increase the other, which is what the science clearly shows. This is an important truth to realize especially at the beginning of your career.

 

What’s one thing you could go back in time to tell 20something Arianna?

AH: I’d tell my younger self to not buy into the delusion that the necessary price to become successful is burnout and exhaustion. I’d tell my younger self that, in fact, she’d be more successful and more happy and more fulfilled – and more productive — if she committed to unplugging and recharging. And then I might add something about certain hairstyles that might look dated later on. The bigger question, of course, is if she’d listen – I’m guessing no!

 

You likely know of one of the incredible honorees from the 2008 Olympics. Since retiring from gymnastics “at the ripe age of 22,” she playfully joked on stage, Nastia Liukin has initiated the conversation around movement, empowerment and the value in failure (whether in front of one person, or 20,000…) from a particularly unique perspective.

We caught up with Nastia to understand a little bit more about her own self-care routine. 

Thrive Global

 

20something: What are your morning and nighttime routines?

Nastia Lukin: Everyday is very different for me, but when I’m home I wake up around 5:30/6am. My fiancé and I love having a bulletproof coffee to start our day. We then like to spend a little time reading and setting intentions for the day. Then we catch up on emails, social media etc. We both try to get in a morning workout, whether it’s at our home gym or going to a workout class like Soul Cycle, Orange Theory, or CorePower Yoga. Then we get our day started!

At night we have a ritual of leaving our phones in our bathroom or kitchen… anywhere except our nightstands. We find it important to really truly unplug from work, social media, etc before going to sleep!

 

Where or who do you look to for motivation?

NL: My parents and my fiancé. My parents moved to the United States from Russia when I was just 2 years old, without speaking any English, no money, a baby, and a dream… a dream to open up their own gymnastics school one day and coach their own athletes to becoming World & Olympic Champions (never imagining it would be their own daughter!). Today, my Dad is the head coach of the US National Women’s Gymnastics Team. Thinking back over 20 years ago and to now see successful they have become truly inspires me everyday.

My fiancé played hockey for most of his life, and to see him transition into the business world (which, let me tell you first-hand how difficult a transition from sports to the real world is!) has truly inspired me. He works so hard every single day, not only with work but also working to be a better person every day motivates me to do the same.

 

Twitter

 

What is your favorite book?

NL: The Secret! I read it right before the 2008 Olympic Games, and it was truly life changing. I truly believe in the law of attraction, which i think really helped me win that gold medal at the Olympics… (of course with a combination of hard work and a great performance)

 

What is your advice to 20somethings looking to lead a happy, well-balanced life?

NL: You have to be happy on your own before someone else can make you even happier! I realized you shouldn’t rely on a boyfriend or friend to make you happy all the time. Find your own happiness first! Your job and career are important to your happiness too, so make sure you do something you have a passion for and love so much it will never feel like work.

 

Ok, time for some rapid fire questions for both Arianna & Nastia.

Coffee or Tea?

AH: Coffee.

NL: Hmm depends time of day! Bulletproof Coffee first, tea rest of day if I need a boost!

 

Morning or Night?

AH: Morning.

NL: Morning.

 

NYC or LA?

AH: Both! Ideally it would LA in the winter and NY the rest of the year, though I’m a full-time New Yorker now, snow boots and all.

NL: LA.

 

Yoga or Cardio?

AH: Yoga.

NL: Hot Yoga!

 

Text or Email?

AH: Text.

NL: Text

 

Fall or Spring?

AH: Fall, especially in New York. In LA it’s hard to tell the difference.

NL: Fall.

 

Book or Kindle?

AH: Book.

NL: Book.

 

Beach or Mountains?

AH: I’m from Greece, where we have both, so choosing makes me feel like I’m turning my back on my homeland….but if you insist: beach.

NL: Beach.

 

Facebook or Instagram?

AH: The Thrive Journal! But if I have to choose, Instagram.

NL: Instagram.

 

Salty or Sweet?

AH: Both, at least in the form of the trendy but delicious salted caramel ice cream.

NL: Salty.

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