Photo: Michael Seto, Business Insider
Huffington was interviewed at Business Insider’s Startup 2012 conference in New York City in May about what she has done with her empire. She also had some intriguing advice for other entrepreneurs—especially women—who are out there trying to make it in the world.
The Huffington Post launched in 2005 and it was constantly criticised in its first few years of existence. It did a lot of news aggregation, and that wasn’t a commonly accepted practice by a lot of traditional publications. Not only that, but people criticised the quality of the work being done there and its political skew.
“Don’t be defined by the press,” Huffington said at the conference. “The Huffington Post on day one was defined as an unsurvivable failure in one of the reviews.”
Despite the scrutiny, Huffington and her crew pressed on, and the company was sold to AOL for $315 million in 2011. A year later, The Huffington Post became the first ever American online-only publication to win a Pulitzer Prize.
Change Your Perspective
According to Huffington, women have issues with success and power because they have the definition of power all wrong. She said that in the current business landscape, people think of power as the amount of control you have over other people, and then that level gets compared with others.
“Is my portfolio bigger than your portfolio? That’s a very male way of looking at things,” she said. “And we women—whether we are entrepreneurs or in any other field of life—we need to change it.”
Huffington isn’t blaming the startup culture for this, though, referring to the debate that has raged over the past few years about venture capitalists and angel investors being biased against women entrepreneurs. Instead, it’s a problem that women need to look at and confront internally.
“We women are a little more risk-averse,” Huffington said. “And we have a bigger problem with failure. Beyond whatever external factors there are, such as whether VCs really prefer men to women, I haven’t found that.”
Lose the “Obnoxious Roommate”
There is an “obnoxious roommate” living in your head, and it constantly puts you down, Huffington said. “It doesn’t want you to fail because you’re scared of becoming permanently identified with your successes or failures.”
Huffington added that it’s simple to say that people need to just try again after a big failure, but that is easier said than done. “When you fail, you feel terrible about it and you need to find some way to move on from that.”
Huffington’s suggestion for dealing with failure is to see it through a child’s eyes. “I look at the way children handle disappointment, whatever the disappointment is,” Huffington said. “They cry. They get upset. And then they get over it. And then it’s really over. They don’t remember why they were upset. So for me that’s really the dream, to be like a child.”
Huffington also shared what made her and her publication so incredibly successful. She boiled it down to one big thing: DNA.
“Make your life about something that can make a difference in the world. Put the spotlight on what is working,” said Huffington. “My Greek compatriot, the old philosopher Archimedes, said ‘Give me a place to stand, and I can move the world.'”
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