Twitter photos of Arianna Huffington, Salman Khan, and John Legend from Marketing Nation Summit

She said: “By any sane definition of success, if you come to in your own pool of blood, you are not successful.”

Arianna Huffington was describing the moment when it all came crashing down on her. Literally. She keeled over in her office and broke her cheek bone.  She was exhausted, “And the scary thing was, if you had asked me earlier that morning how I was doing, I would have said, ‘Fine.”

I was listening to the woman who rocked my first profession, journalism, as she spoke to practitioners of my current profession, marketing communication. She was preaching to the perfect choir. When it comes to people who work themselves into dizzying tizzies, marketers are my vote for the most likely to nose dive into their leftover pizza.

Phil Fernandez, the Marketo CEO who hosted this week’s Marketing Nation conference, is a case in point. The guy seems genuine about his commitment to life balance, but something tells me his housekeeper  — either the one here in the Bay Area or the one at his Hawaii house — can tell some stories about what passes for balance in the Fernandez household.

To his credit, Phil has a lofty vision for our profession: We are ascendant, the ones who listen to the customer, who help build individual relationships that ultimately create long-term value for our companies.

And for all that superhuman effort, we need to get more sleep.

She said: “The person you become when you’re fully charged is the person you really want to be.”

Huffington was selling her new book, Thrive, a word and a concept I am totally down with. Sleep, meditation, presence, and giving are the ingredients of the new life she is building for herself and preaching to others. They have meditation / nap rooms at HuffPo and they ban devices from meetings, which have become shorter and more productive.

He said: “Schedule your creative time.”

John Legend did PowerPoints and spreadsheets as a consultant for the Boston Consulting Group before he made it has a pop / soul singer. The work of an artist is not so different from ours, he told the Marketing Nation.

When it is time for him to write, he books time with a producer and sound engineer, creating mutual accountability for the results of the creative process. “I scrap a lot of ideas that don’t make it. I’ll write 80 songs for an album that will have 12 songs on it.

“And I make myself open to inspiration.” Sometimes the inspiration walks right up and hugs him: His wife inspired his devout love song, All Of Me. Other times, inspiration comes from engagement with the world around him. He announced this week a movement called Free America, which seeks to end mass incarceration.

“Justice is love in public,” he said.

He said: “You have to start with delusional optimism.”

Frame grab from the Khan Academy websiteSalman Khan started out by helping his cousin Nadia learn some math concepts, posting lessons on YouTube. Then his dream got really big. When he incorporated his non-profit Khan Academy, the purpose he typed into the IRS form was: Free world class education for anyone anywhere. “Pretty delusional for a guy doing videos in his walk-in closet,” he told the Marketing Nation on Wednesday.

He courted financial ruin before his self-paced, instant feedback, build-on-the-basics education system caught the eye of Bill Gates, who was using the system to teach his kids. The Khan Academy is now worldwide in many different languages, insisting that it remain freely available to all.

Khan and his team talk about the secret sauce that cannot be lost as they take their program to a global scale.

“The one thing I go back to is that I loved the people I was doing this for,” he said

 

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