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Why We Need New Role Models

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  • From left: David Kirkpatrick, Kristin Lemkau, and Arianna Huffington

Speaker

Arianna Huffington
Founder and CEO, Thrive Global

Kristin Lemkau
Chief Marketing Officer, JPMorgan Chase

Moderator

David Kirkpatrick
Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Techonomy


Session Description: Humane thinking about how we feel and relate to each other matters just as much in business as in life. How can leaders help organizations integrate well-being into the search for business performance?

Below is an excerpt of the panel at Techonomy Health. The full transcript can be found here for download.

David Kirkpatrick: Please join me on stage, Kristin and Arianna.

We’ve had so many conversations already today that set you guys up so perfectly. I mean, this issue of the larger reasons why there’s a health crisis. It’s not a healthcare crisis, it’s a health crisis. Esther Dyson was talking about it. So many people. Rob Andrews from the Health Transformation Alliance is talking about it. So, in a second I want you to talk what were you doing, but I want to first introduce you. And I’ll start with Arianna because I’ve known you a while. You are really a pretty amazing person.

[APPLAUSE]

Kirkpatrick: It’s funny. It’s not just that you started HuffPo and you wrote a book about Picasso, but I keep running across things you did even 25–30 years ago that I didn’t even know about.

Arianna Huffington: That’s because I’m 3,000 years old.

[LAUGHTER]

Kirkpatrick: No, but you wrote—I have this weird thing with literary magazines and you have essays that I found that are so incredible from a long time ago, when you had a totally different last name and everything.

[LAUGHTER]

Kirkpatrick: And anyway, I just really think it’s fascinating what you’re doing and I want you to tell us about it. But I am just happy you were able to join us. Kristin is the CMO of JPMorgan Chase, which is not a member of the Healthcare Transformation Alliance. But, I don’t know if you heard a little bit of Rob earlier. I think you probably have reasons to consider that. I don’t know if that’s not your area at the bank. But, do you call it a bank? What do you call it?

Kristin Lemkau: It is a bank.

 Kirkpatrick: Okay.

Lemkau: Indeed. Proudly!

Kirkpatrick: It’s a sprawling, 150,000-employee—

Lemkau: —240,000, but yes.

Kirkpatrick: Why did I have that wrong? It’s a lot of people. So, quickly, why are you up here with Arianna and what are you—just start talking about what you’re doing and why it’s pertinent to a conversation on healthcare and, to some degree, the role of technology in healthcare.

Lemkau: Sure. So, I think it goes to the 240,000 employees that we have. And when you think about health and the cost of healthcare, as the two previous speakers had spoken about, I think the first revolution was fitness. Everybody got that. And then the second was nutrition and cafeterias at work started getting more healthy and executive dining rooms started getting healthy. And sleep, I think, is the last one that people are understanding is actually a relevant part of that equation. The third metric, I think, as Arianna speaks about it.

So, JPMorgan Chase was one of Thrive Global’s first clients, proudly. Because, I think, we understand that fitness and nutrition are only part of it and we are not in an industry that’s well-known for cultivating sleep and mental wellness as something that’s important. I think our CEO is a huge believer in it. He’s a cancer survivor and he understands the importance of sleep in his own regimen. And so, Thrive was really the first platform, and Arianna’s a great spokesperson for this, that had the data to prove it.

Kirkpatrick: And Thrive is a whole new approach to health, really. So, what is Thrive Global?

Huffington: So, Thrive Global is the company I launched on November 30th and, as you just heard, JPMorgan was a launch partner, together with Accenture. And Thrive Global is really two main things. One, is the corporate part. We go into corporations, whether it’s big multinationals like JPMorgan or small companies that are growing fast, like Airbnb, and we help them create the kind of culture that demonstrates through data that when employees take care of themselves, it’s better for the bottom line. So, we are basing everything on the latest science and the connection between well-being and performance.

So, the differentiator is that this is not the Yoga Journal. This is not like a feel-good benefit for employees. This has to be driven not just by HR, but by the C-suite, as happened at JP, thanks to you, Kristin. Because the recognition that when employees are not taking care of themselves, everything is affected. First of all, their productivity. Absolutely, unequivocal data that we have been living under the delusion that in order to succeed, you have to burn out. Right? We were all brought up like that. I famously collapsed 10 years ago because I believed that. And since the first industrial revolution, we’ve been thinking that human beings should be treated like machines and the goal with machines is to minimize downtime. But the human operating system is not a machine. So, downtime is not a bug of the system, it’s a feature.

We bring in the latest data and then we bring in the new role models. And that is essential. Because people don’t just learn through data, they learn through stories. That’s where the media platform of Thrive Global comes in. And the media platform focuses on these two things. Think of it like the Huffington Post, only about one thing. If the Huffington Post is about everything, from Trump firing James Comey, to Beyoncé’s twins, to everything in between, we are only about one thing, which is how do we change the way we work and live to improve health, well-being, and productivity. And so, role models are key.

The day we launched, for example, we had a piece from Jeff Bezos saying, “Why my getting eight hours of sleep is good for Amazon shareholders.” Making the connection between sleep, leadership, and decision-making. We had a piece by Kristin where she talked about taking the challenge that we launched at JPMorgan, which actually, I think, was pretty revolutionary. We announced it onstage at JPMorgan with their general counsel, who is the only woman general counsel of a major bank, and with a video that Kristin was the force behind, that invited all the 240,000 employees to take one of these four challenges.

Now, imagine a bank launching a video like that to everybody that asks them for 28 days to work on their sleep, unplugging from technology—which we find is a major source of mental health problems, lack of sleep, etcetera—gratitude, and/or mindfulness. I thought this was amazing and Kristin had an incredible piece where she talked about how she was picking two of the challenges, sleep and unplugging from technology—

Lemkau: They’re related.

Huffington: She set her goals. The two are very related. And Kristin, you should talk about it. But it was amazing and we had such a great response, including from ABC Evening News and, “Could you connect us with her?” They couldn’t believe that JPMorgan was advising their employees to sleep!

[LAUGHTER]

Huffington: You know, this is like the boiler room of burnouts. So, that’s kind of the culture shift that we’re helping accelerate.

Lemkau: It was amazing. When we first talked about, “Okay, how are we going to launch this? If we just talk about sleep and gratitude, we are going to sound like the Yoga Journal. So, we had to make it competitive because it’s a bank. And we had to make it sort of open-source, user-generated. So, we had—the video kicked it off. And we honestly didn’t know how it was going to go. We thought, “Okay, well, a few of us are going to try this and maybe people will think it’s hokey.” And we were surprised at how much it took off. And people were really starving for it and all of a sudden it became okay to talk about how you struggle with sleep and struggle with unplugging from technology. And we took the Thrive/HuffPo content model and had people blog about it. So, it became more of a community support thing that seemed to work really well for our culture and people loved it.

 

 

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