When Arianna Huffington is looking for inspiration, she goes to sleep. "There are many, many great ideas locked inside of us," she says. "We just need to close our eyes to see them." So there are three nap rooms in the offices of the Huffington Post Media Group, the mashup created after AOL acquired HuffPo for $315 million in February. Huffington is in charge of everything editorial, including nearly 1,300 staffers who write and report (and nap) for AOL's ailing but resource-rich sites. One of those resources is, of course, Huffington herself—and her network of A-listers, from Twitter cofounder Biz Stone, advising HPMG on "social impact," to Newark Mayor Cory Booker, whose partnering with AOL's localnews site, Patch, has raised an eyebrow or two. This has all the makings of a good story, and that may be just the thing for Huffington, who believes in "the power of using narrative to connect with people."
Was there a book that changed how you see?
"I devoured Peter Guber's recent book, Tell to Win: Connect, Persuade and Triumph with the Hidden Power of Story. Aside from the joy I took in Peter's storytelling gifts, I felt he crystallized the way we approach stories at The Huffington Post Media Group. He writes about the magic that arises when you take relatively soulless information like poll data, facts, and figures and channel them into a story with a purpose—in the process putting flesh and blood on the data. So I guess it didn't so much change me as provide an eloquent affirmation of the power of using narrative to connect with people. If we're going to solve the big problems in this country, we're going to need a common framework that must be built on empathy. And using narrative and telling stories are incredible ways to create that empathy."
Watch Huffington's keynote address from ad:tech 2011.
I heard Twitter's Adam Bain say that the key to monetization is humor, huge deals, and humanity. If focusing on humanity is good for the bottom line, that is a huge deal 'a-ha moment.'