I don't know about you, but when I have the opportunity to meet someone who is a mentor-from-afar (aka hero) and she turns out to be in person even more wonderful than you imagined, it's powerful. I had that opportunity yesterday when I listened to Arianna Huffington tell her story. She made an appearance at a brown bag luncheon to benefit the Venice Family Clinic. To get things started, an amazing woman came forward and told her story about how the clinic had been there for her family when they lost everything due to a child's illness. Her story brought the crowd to tears, including Huffington who onsite announced to the crowd she'd decided to feature the woman's story of reinvention on a new section of the HuffPost called Breakover. That was cool. Spontaneous. Creative. Loving. After making that announcement, Huffington - who was introduced by her sister/best friend, Agapi - wowed the crowd with her newfound mission to get folks sleeping more. After collapsing at her desk from exhaustion, she has become a sleep advocate and she's taking time to inspire others to do the same. She's created NapQuest rooms at her new AOL offices (named after the company's Mapquest) for her editorial team. She's accustomed to using her wisdom and life experiences to help change the world.
Huffington spent the majority of her talk reflecting on the positive consequences of rejection (she moved to New York because of a break-up with a man in London), the power inherent in giving back, the creativity explosion happening at this moment due to the connection and engagement the internet provides and using her own life as an example of how anything is possible if you keep the spirit of life in your heart.
Can you tell I left the luncheon inspired? I'm still smiling. Use your gifts, she told us. Because Huffington is an eloquent writer and believer in the power of women entrepreneurs, because she tells her story - the good and the bad - from the heart as a way to inspire others, she is one of my heroes.
"Use your gifts," she told us. Oh, and, "Don't sleep with a device next to your bed. A good old fashioned alarm clock is much healthier."