CNBC Transcript: Arianna Huffington, Founder & CEO, Thrive Global

Below is the transcript of a CNBC Exclusive interview with Arianna Huffington, Founder & CEO, Thrive Global. The interview was first broadcast on CNBC's Squawk Box Asia on 11 February 2019.

All references must be sourced to a "CNBC Interview'.

Interviewed by CNBC's Hadley Gamble

Hadley Gamble (HG): So you're just outside of Dubai in the desert. A CEO Forum gathered together policymakers as well as CEOs what were some of your key takeaways from that.

Arianna Huffington (AH): So first of all I love the format. That we had on these sessions, concurrent sessions were like 10, 12 people in one room, Addressed one big problem and actually you and I were in the same one - how can we solve healthcare. And it was fascinating because the main take away was that we need to go upstream. It's too late to solve it. After we have, all that we're seeing now, is an explosion of chronic diseases. That are preventable and lifestyle based, like diabetes, obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure.

HG: We have to get ahead of it.

AH: We have to get ahead of it. And then. And the important thing to realize that human behavior can change, it's not easy, but as we were discussing if you give people the right information the right knowledge and then what we do at thrive is these people micro steps to take every day to be able to improve every aspect of their lives they want to work on - whether it's their physical state or their mental state, because they too are so interconnected.
So I'm really excited by some of their takeaways. The other session that I was in your idea that was about the workforce of the future. How do we deal with the fact that artificial intelligence, machine learning are going to cause huge disruptions. Some of the predictions say as many as half jobs are going to be eliminated. So why do we need to do to prepare the workforce for that? And my point of view is that we need to prepare them by teaching not just hard skills but soft skills soft skills like resilience, if people are not resilient they can't deal with change.

HG: And that feeds into mental health

AH: And that feeds into mental health, absolutely. Because if you can't cope with the accelerating rate of change you're more likely to be anxious or depressed. And also a lot of the new jobs of the future are going to be caregiving jobs. So we need to teach people empathy. How do we know that caring part of being human and so in all the work we do with corporations we bring all these science based behavior change micro steps into our work and I'm really excited to be working here in the region with SAP and we have added a whole thrive programme on top of their success factor offering. And it has a really impact on performance and Hadley, that's the key. Corporations need to see the return on investment. They're not going to do these things to be nice, they have to see how it impacts employee performance productivity engagement how it impacts activation. And ultimately their bottom line.

HG: When you take a step back and look at all of the - global issues that we are facing today- when it comes to inequality when it comes to climate change all of the things that weigh on us as people we're seeing so much pushback in countries like France for example. So many of these protests 13 weeks of them in fact a lot of people very angry with the government they don't know which way to turn. What do you see as the greatest challenge in the near term for humanity?

AH: I think. We need to be much clearer. How about the facts? That people not having a hard time coping with the incredible disruptions in their lives. The fact that many countries including the United States you know their quality of life of their middle class is stagnant. That young people are burdened with college debt, student debt that they don't know where their new jobs are going to be coming from, plus I think what's exasperating everything is that the more addicted we are to social media, games the more disconnected from our own wisdom our peace our own strength. So we are dealing with huge changes all at once and as it's often happened throughout history. People have a hard time coping with that and amount of accelerated change.

HG: And it's also about leadership isn't it.

AH: Oh absolutely. Leadership is key. As we heard yesterday. Very much about giving hope to people. And then also preparing them for the future, that's why life skills and teaching resilience. And empathy has to be part of a school curriculum. We have to prepare people from a younger age. STEM is important, teaching them how to code is important. But if they don't know how to deal with a change of life, no matter how many job skills you teach them they're going to feel defeated by the future.

HG: Are you worried that that's how young Americans feel particularly with Donald Trump as president.

AH: But I'm optimistic because we know how to fix the problem and we'll just need to prioritize the solutions at every level and a lot of them. Can be done and by corporations I mean one of the great things at Davos this year was that the Edelman trust barometer show that people now trust business more than they trust governments and media. Sorry, Hadley. But I found that really good news because businesses have an opportunity to do well by doing good, and that's kind of both benefit them directly but also benefit the whole country.

HG: And it's also about monetizing these projects isn't it. Which is what we were doing out in the desert, saying these are really great ideas but can we put money behind them.

AH: Absolutely monetizing them and seeing the profit opportunities I mean everything we are doing is completely monetizable, we work with corporations that want to improve their culture and see they impact on the bottom line. And in the areas of momentum and the areas of productivity and performance there is no contradiction there's no tradeoff. Between taking care of your human capital which after all is the most important capital you have and improving your bottom line.

HG: Arianna Huffington thank you so much for joining CNBC.

END

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