Salesforce CEO and Arianna Huffington on managing stress in a pandemic

Arianna's 'What I've Learned' series focuses on leadership tactics

Salesforce CEO and Arianna Huffington on managing stress in a pandemic

It’s taken a global pandemic for us all to realise the importance of personal wellbeing. The past year has been a rollercoaster of emotions – dealing with lockdowns, restrictions, and isolation on a global scale. And while it’s been undeniably difficult – it’s also led to moments of self-realisation.

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Salesforce founder and CEO Marc Benioff recently spoke with Arianna Huffington, founder of Thrive, on the necessity of self-preservation. During the interview hosted by Huffington, Benioff revealed lessons he’s personally learned from the pandemic – specifically in in regards to mental wellbeing.

“If the pandemic has taught us anything, it's that the past is gone,” he told Arianna. “We're creating this new future and the future will probably include parts of the past, but there's many things that we've learned in our digital reality that we're going to keep, and we're reshaping. And as I move forward into the future, and as we all get vaccinated and as we get back into a more normal society or a new normal society, I will take some of these lessons with me and I will recreate myself again. Look, I realize I'm not the same person I was 22 years ago. But I am here right now. So, I just realize, okay, what can I do right now? How do I come together right now in this moment as a leader? And meditation helps me to answer that key question.”

Posted as part of Arianna’s "What I've Learned" series, the pair debate the best ways to manage stress in today’s hectic world. Quoting Socrates, Arianna posits that an unexamined life really isn’t worth living – and asks Benioff the biggest lesson he’s learned over the past year.

His answer? Well, it’s the overwhelming benefits of meditation.

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“You know, Arianna that in the beginner's mind, we have every possibility, but in the expert's mind, there's few,” he told Arianna. “I'm cultivating a beginner's mind. And that's become a huge part of my meditation practice every morning to try to wake up, refresh myself, to reconnect, to rejuvenate, to re-excite, re-energize. But I think we know that even beyond meditation, we have to do all the other things in our life to keep mental health, you know? Yes. It's about spiritual life, but it's also... I, I need to work out too. And I also need to spend time with my family and I need to work by the way.

“All of those things are important. And when I do all of those things, I feel pretty good every day. And when I'm all of a sudden forgetting to do one of those things, I'm not. So that's what I've really learned. And I want to thank you because you have taught me so many of those things, how to bring all of those parts of myself together.”

Thrive Global is a leading behavior change technology company helping individuals, corporations and communities improve their well-being and performance through our behavior change platform, storytelling and corporate services. Thrive was founded by Arianna Huffington and launched in 2016 with the mission of changing the way we work and live by ending the collective delusion that burnout is the price we must pay for success. We offer companies and individuals sustainable, science-based solutions to enhance both mental and physical well-being and performance, purpose and our relationship with technology.

In an exclusive interview with HRD, Arianna reaffirmed her personal commitment to having mental health as a core component of business strategy.

“Taking care of your employees is now essential for the business,” she explained. “Essential for leaders. There’s a new urgency to the work HR leaders are doing, because unless firms make a concerted effort to inspire and uplift their struggling staff, we're going to have a mental health crisis on our hands.”

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