Arianna Huffington at 2017 iProspect Client Summit in New Orleans

What I Learned from Arianna Huffington

This past January, I resolved to take a break from social media. It wasn’t some profound statement, but simply a realization that I was spending entirely too much time wrapped-up in what others were doing.

The first few days were awkward and humbling. I was annoyed by how often I picked up my phone to fill the minutes, only to realize that without social media apps, there was nothing for me to look at. A few days later, I found my social media fast to be extremely freeing. I also felt noticeably less anxious. Could it be that my own phone was making me anxious?

This was an interesting and complicated discovery for me. I enjoy my work at iProspect very much, but we are after all, a leading, global digital marketing agency. It is my job to help clients reach people online, so surely advocating for people to spend less time on their phones is counterproductive, right?

As I wrestled with social media moderation in the months that followed, I was excited to learn that Arianna Huffington was speaking at the iProspect Client Summit this year. I’m a big fan of Arianna’s and was not surprised when I found her speech to be hilarious, relatable and applicable to both my personal life and professional career.

Arianna said, “The phone has become more powerful than you.” This really hit home with me. Over the past few months, I’ve noticed that I feel much more in control without my phone by my side at every second. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything, and I’m much happier. My conversations with family are stronger and more substantive, instead of beginning with, “hey, did you see XYZ?”

Arianna’s speech resonated with me in part because I was already implementing pieces of her recommendations and reaping the benefits. So, when Arianna started talking about sleep I really perked up: “It’s the person who has the self-discipline, and the confidence, and the perspective to unplug and recharge, to not remain tethered to their email inboxes at all hours, to make time in their lives for downtime, for imagination, and for wonder – this is the person who should be admired, emulated, and promoted in the workplace.”

I believe this full-heartedly. My team members who get sleep and take care of themselves are thriving. The ones who are burned out, struggle.  

It’s not about who is working the hardest and putting in the most hours, but about who is working the smartest.  Part of working smart is having a clear, non-anxious mind.

As a digital marketer, finding this balance is hard. Our world is constantly changing. We could go on vacation and come back to a completely new process or technology that changes how we work.

Here are five key things marketing professionals can do to thrive without falling behind

1.   “Rest. Win. Repeat.”

Too often we praise those who are connected 24/7, tethered to their inbox.  We need to encourage time to imagine, to create, and to sleep. That requires disconnecting. Doing so will make us, and therefore our output, better. The work will be there in the morning and we’ll approach it better. The toll lack of sleep takes on our bodies and minds is astounding. Seriously, read about it.

2.    Reevaluate the definition of success.

It’s not just about money, and it’s not just about power. Money and power alone make us unbalanced and overwhelmed. Arianna suggests adding well being, wisdom, wonder and giving to our definition of success. Doing so will allow us to thrive in all areas of life.

3.    “Become obsessed with augmented humanity instead of augmented reality.”

Marketers are not alone in this challenge. All consumers crave real connections. We have an obligation to get creative because likes and re-tweets are nothing without an emotional connection. We need to become innovators in commanding valuable attention. We know that technology is here to stay, so we must find ways to use technology to add value instead of overwhelm. Our goal should be to create lasting relationships - a priceless commodity in today’s economy that moves brands from being useful to being indispensable.

4.    Embrace real downtime.  

We are losing the capacity to be alone, to sit with our thoughts, and to allow ourselves to be bored. We constantly have a device on us that’s winning our attention. Think about it - when was the last time you sat by yourself, without your phone or computer, and allowed yourself to think through a challenge? It is during the downtime that we use our brains creatively. Our brains need this time if we’re going to be our best during the day.

5.    Stop multitasking. Be present.

Despite popular belief, multitasking doesn’t make us more efficient, it makes us more stressed out. Our brains only process one thing at a time. Instead of emailing during a meeting, be present and focus on the task at hand. Achieve the objectives of the meeting, and then move on to the next task.

My biggest takeaway from Arianna is this – if we want to be our best, and we want to stay ahead, we must allow ourselves to be removed and unplugged.