Two big of the biggest names in media gave informative presentations on the IDDBA center stage.
Martha Stewart, founder of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, shared her personal experiences of “celebrating the good from the earth,” including her recent project of developing a 150-acre farm in Bedford, New York, where she grows many unique varieties of produce such as seven kinds of wild strawberries.
Many of her unique experiences with farming show up on the food pages of Martha Steward Living, her enormously successful print magazine and online site where millions of viewers go to learn about the latest trends in culinary treasures.
“It has been an extraordinary experience rebuilding this beautiful garden,” she says. “I use my garden as a living laboratory and inspiration for my magazine.”
Heirloom seeds are one of the hottest trends going today in the food business, and Stewart also shared insights from her new book, One Pot, which features recipes that can be made with many flavorful ingredients that can be added to one pot on the stove. “Simple recipes like that do get a tremendous amount of attention today,” she says.
Another who embraced the virtues of simplicity was Arianna Huffington, chairman of the Huffington Post Media Group, who discussed tactics to thrive in our “brave new world” of 24/7 electronic media consumption. She shared her own personal comeback story after collapsing from burnout eight years ago.
Technology, she says, “has become deliberately addictive. We are always in a state of breathlessness like we are taking a final exam. But when we put technology in its place, and become masters of technology, and not the slave, then we can be truly valuable.” She discussed the importance of eight hours of sleep to the productivity of employees and the need for electronic devices to be turned on and turned off. Nap rooms and meditation classes are part of the new norm at Huffington Post.
Meetings at the Huffington Post are now “device free,” and her organization has implemented a no-email policy for workers during their vacation time. An out-of-office assistant electronically informs the sender that the person they are trying to contact is on vacation and that another person (specified in the email) can be reached for immediate help. The message also prompts the sender to please email the person again once they have returned from vacation. Then the email message automatically deletes itself. “Everybody needs predictable time off,” Huffington says. “Yes, somebody has to be on all the time, it’s just not going to be the same person.”
“We need to re-invent the workplace because the current situation is not working,” she says.
Huffington prescribes a dose of a well-being, wisdom, wonder and giving for excelling in this new age. “If we’re lucky we have 30,000 days to play the game of life. When we become present in the moment, that’s when we become really happy.”