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IdeaCraft: Arianna Huffington Visits Etsy HQ

Feb 21, 2013

by Aleksa Brown handmade and vintage goods

On a recent Wednesday in the Etsy Labs, CEO Chad Dickerson asked media mogul Arianna Huffington about leadership. It wasn’t a private conversation over the phone or behind closed doors, but rather an open, candid chat not unlike a talkshow before an audience of Etsy employees.

The conversation with Arianna, which later morphed into a Q&A, was the first in a new internal series at Etsy called IdeaCraft. The series was created to tackle big ideas, learn from the best, and “bring in provocative and interesting people for freewheeling conversations about things that matter,” as Chad put it. “In the course of my own career, I’ve been lucky to meet and sometimes work with many great leaders. I’ve learned so much from listening to and talking with these leaders, and I want to bring the spirit of those conversations to everyone here at Etsy.”

Jeremy Perez-Cruz

So what did Arianna, who has written 13 books and co-founded The Huffington Post, have to say about leadership? Essentially, that it’s about taking care of yourself: getting a full night’s rest, eating healthy, and taking time for renewal.

“When people are burnt out, sleep deprived, exhausted, they make bad decisions – they are not connected with their own wisdom. After all, leadership is about judgment. It’s about being able to see the iceberg before it hits the Titanic.”

Jeremy Perez-Cruz

Etsy Admin Morgan asks Arianna a question.

Arianna discussed the strength that exists in vulnerability, and dove into what it means to be fearless – a topic she has devoted an entire book to exploring.

“I described fearlessness not as the absence of fear but as not letting our fears get in the way of what we want to do,” she explains. “Because fear is a human emotion that we all have, and fearlessness is really a muscle that we cultivate so that when fears come up we don’t have to listen to them; we don’t have to make them the final word.”

And while the energy in the room was buzzing with inspiration from the very beginning (how could it not be when she prefaced the talk by saying, “I love Etsy. The idea of people making things, becoming part of the community online — not just making a living but making a life — all of those things are incredibly important to me.”), the sparks of creativity grew into a full-fledged fire by the end, largely due to her openness. She sprinkled her professional advice with personal anecdotes about her daughters, her writing, and that time she ran for governor of California against The Terminator himself.

Eric Beug

Perhaps the most memorable piece of advice, and the one that profoundly applies not just to us Admin, but to the entirety of the Etsy community, was about spreading your message. She says: share your story! Don’t think of your writing like “English lit.” Liberate yourself. Write down your dreams. Start a conversation.

“I feel that the more personal we make our contributions, the more people will want to share them, and the more emotional resonance they will have,” she said. What’s your story?


  • Aristocrafts

    Aristocrafts from Aristocrafts said 7 years ago

    I love what Arianna said about leadership! It's so motivational and inspiring! I couldn't have received a better motto/advice/gift :)! for today, it fits my day like a glove! Thank you for sharing this experience with us!

  • TrashAndTrinkets

    Gypsy Trading Company from TrashAndTrinkets said 7 years ago

    That is nice, I guess. But a video of the "talk" would be more so. It's one thing to hear that something was interesting, another to experience it.

  • buffalogirls

    Ludmilla from buffalogirls said 7 years ago

    Seems like Ms. Arianna Huffington has a broad scope interest. Crafts, politics, great .... keep the handmade alive and REAL!

  • PouchStyle

    Eleith from PouchStyle said 7 years ago

    I have always admired Arianna, her fearless attitude, her forward thinking and how she has evolved over the years into the person she is today. Thank you Arianna!

  • dahliasoleil

    Paulette from dahliasoleil said 7 years ago

    Best quote ever “When people are burnt out, sleep deprived, exhausted, they make bad decisions – they are not connected with their own wisdom. After all, leadership is about judgment. It’s about being able to see the iceberg before it hits the Titanic.” So true.I now force myself to go to bed on time and get a full night's sleep.The orders and business issues have to wait til the next day.Being burnt out is not healthy for your body or your business.Been there ... trying not to do it again.

  • ElainaLouiseStudios

    Lisa Steiner from ElainaLouiseStudios said 7 years ago

    Sounds like a great talk. I love to see all these little windows into the life of the Etsy site crafters.

  • vinylclockwork

    Scott from vinylclockwork said 7 years ago

    Keep doing your thing Etsy

  • filecutter

    Joyce and Tony from filecutter said 7 years ago

    Would be nice to see the interview, comments and ideas but a special thank you for allowing us to be part of your Etsy operations world in this brief forms writing.

  • lilbabybumble

    Dee from LittleBabyBumblebee said 7 years ago

    Best quite from Arianna .... “I love Etsy. The idea of people making things, becoming part of the community online — not just making a living but making a life — all of those things are incredibly important to me.” This is so important! This is making a life for so many people. It has made a life for me to help conquer cancer, move to a better place for my husband and son, build a business that brings beautiful memories for families, and so much more. The spirit of Etsy is making things with our hands, our love, and supporting other artisans as well. We need to keep the handmade spirit alive!

  • stellardesigns1

    Geraldine del Pozo from StellarDesigns1 said 7 years ago

    Arianna is a great role model for women particularly and everyone in general. She keeps trying new things and doesn't let what looks like defeat pull her off track. It's just another step in the direction she is heading. She is a very inspiring person. Kudos to Mr. Dickerson for inviting her to speak with Etsy staff. Quality people!

  • PippiHepburn

    Lisa Best from PippiHepburn said 7 years ago

    What a great piece. Thank you, Etsy for getting Arianna. She is always interesting and open. A lovely woman. Happy she told us to just tell our stories. I am going to open up more and write my About Page and do more posts on the web. Thank you, Lisa

  • RenataandJonathan

    Renata and Jonathan from RenataandJonathan said 7 years ago

    Thank you for sharing !

  • FavreBijoux

    Mimi from FavreBijoux said 7 years ago

    Very cool to see that Ariana Huffington is an Etsy fan. Thanks for sharing this.

  • BrooklynLoveDesigns

    Megan C from AlaskaBagCompany said 7 years ago

    lovely, thank you for sharing!

  • VelvetRevived

    VelvetRevived from VelvetRevived said 7 years ago

    It's empowering to know a growing number of influential people are following Etsy and showing interest in the impact that individuals can have not only on their own worlds, but the economy in general.

  • SeptemberHouse

    Corinne from SeptemberHouse said 7 years ago

    Wish we could listen in on that AMAZING conversation but thanks for the overview :D

  • modflo

    modflo from modflo said 7 years ago

    "fearlessness is really a muscle that we cultivate so that when fears come up we don’t have to listen to them; we don’t have to make them the final word.” i love this!

  • BackyardBrand

    Jim McLean from BackyardBrand said 7 years ago

    Swagger is nothing but fear of weakness acted out and is not strength. We must weave strands of anger and compassion together to fight fear.

  • chilisugar

    Aja from chilisugarcookie said 7 years ago

    I also would love it if they uploaded a video of this inspirational talk. ^_^

  • OhFaro

    Faro from OhFaro said 7 years ago

    I love Arianna Huffington and read the Huffington Post every single day. She is filled with great insight on many topics and always seems the know just want to say, to spark conversation. I enjoy watching, hearing and reading her commentary. It must have been an awesome experience spending time with her and talking. Well done etsy.

  • patspottery

    Pat Parker from PatsPottery said 7 years ago

    LOVE this!! Now how can I tell my story? Thinking, you made me think♥

  • auntjanecan

    Jane Priser from JanePriserArts said 7 years ago

    I love The Huffington Post and think that Arianna Huufington is wonderful.

  • silverlily786

    Fatema from SilverLilyJewelry said 7 years ago

    A great point brought up by the talented Arianna Huffington.Fear.

  • daisysgemgarden

    daisysgemgarden from daisysgemgarden said 7 years ago

    Would have loved to have been there!

  • LookBackVintage

    LookBackVintage from LookBackVintage said 7 years ago

    I admire Arianna Huffington very much and her comments about fearlessness are really speaking to me at this moment in my life. Wonderful of her to come to Etsy and take time to inspire!

  • nazaredufosse

    Nazare Dufosse from SoleildeProvence said 7 years ago

    Loved it! Again Congratulation to Etsy!! Great job, wonderful community!

  • BlueWaveJewelry

    Linda Rothbart from BlueWaveJewelry said 7 years ago

    Would love to see the entire Q & A on video too!

  • FeltTheFluff

    Ellie from FeltTheFluff said 7 years ago

    I would like to see this interview, Arianna Huffington is an inspiration to me. I have seen her on TV with Jon Stewart in the past and she was delightful!

  • SimpleThymePrims

    ronda Tedder from simplethymeprims said 7 years ago

    Sounds like a wonderful gathering and wisdom sharing....would love to hear it all.

  • BozenaWojtaszek

    Bozena Wojtaszek from BozenaWojtaszek said 7 years ago

    Learning from the masters is the best way to learn. You go, Etsy! Would love to read/watch the Q & A part myself :)

  • johnwilson674

    John Wilson said 7 years ago

    sounds great

  • LennyMud

    Lenny Mud from LennyMud said 7 years ago

    She is such a hero and a role model! LOve her- well done Etsy!

  • brooksbarrow

    brooks barrow from brooksbarrow said 7 years ago

    Sage advice. I suppose I've found it hard to seperate her from her politics - nice to see another side to her.

  • PennyBirchWilliams

    Penny Birch-Williams from PennyBirchWilliams said 7 years ago

    "She says: share your story! Don’t think of your writing like “English lit.” Liberate yourself. Write down your dreams. Start a conversation. I feel that the more personal we make our contributions, the more people will want to share them, and the more emotional resonance they will have, she said." I wonder in what way she is suggesting we share our stories? Through blogs, or our About pages? I would like to know more of the context of Arianna's statements and how they apply to artists and sellers attempting to convey professionalism as well as personal connection. But I enjoyed the post and would like to know more of the interview!

  • carolynrobles

    Carolyn from Carrieoaky said 7 years ago

    Wonderful advice from Arianna Huffington. Thank you for sharing it!

  • MrsGingerandWasabi

    Marta DQ from tribomo said 7 years ago

    This is great, it would be amazing to be able to watch the interview/talk!

  • laantigua

    Angela Marcos from LaAntigua said 7 years ago

    This is pretty interesting to me. I built my About page a few weeks ago and that is exactly what I point out: we all like stories. As a face-to-face sales person out of Etsy in a completely different industry, I can tell that people like stories they can relate to and they also like personal stories. When you can share your personal experience about something, that makes a huge difference. It is important to do things, but it is still better if we tell the stories of what we do and what we make. The littlest details have a story inside.

  • SusanFaye

    Susan Faye from SusanFayePetProjects said 7 years ago

    My story is that I waited 40 years to find the perfect place to share my creative endeavors...Etsy is the perfect fit! As someone who has great difficulty with verbal communication, eye contact and social interaction, I have always been envious of those like Arianna who are charming, quick-witted, articulate, and definitely not tongue-tied! Etsy is the perfect community where I can share my story and my creations with kindred spirits around the world simply through pictures and the written word-- It's a dream come true! Thank you, Arianna, for your words of wisdom about being fearless and getting a good night's sleep. The world would be a much less cranky place if we all got a solid 8 hours!

  • hellome

    April from hellome said 7 years ago

    A little star struck, yes. But wow I really couldn't believe how large the Etsy staff has gotten either. Thanks for sharing.

  • ruthgarciacorrales

    Ruth Garcia-Corrales from Dachshundwear said 7 years ago

    Fearless for me means go for it, make it happen, if you put all the variables in the formula you might stop and don't anything!!

  • eraprintstoo

    Suzy Sweet from AdamsAleArtPrints said 7 years ago

    Maybe the video can be provided. That would be nice. So the entirety of the Etsy community can benefit from the entirety of the conversation.

  • seafairiesjewelbox

    Marion from seafairiesjewelbox said 7 years ago

    Great article--I've seen Arianna Huffington speak (for her Fearless book tour) and she's just such a wonderful presence. Thank you for posting this!

  • ADandherdesigns

    Alice DeLonge from ALYCESCREATIONS said 7 years ago

    After reading the above and also the comments - I thought a while about this thing called 'leadership' and how it relates to an online selling source such as ETSY - and I came up with the following - one can be a leader of sorts by telling a person something of you and establish your goals and aspirations, etc. How can I lead a person to ETSY and my shop and establish a good business? In my teaching years I was told that if I did not toot my own horn nobody else would and another cliche if you know the why you can find the how - it will take a few days but for me I think it is in telling my story in the profile section of my shop and go on from there

  • sarantos

    sarantos from SARANTOS said 7 years ago

    Leadership to me is knowing when to listen but I'm sleep challenged so maybe I'm missing something. ;) Where IS the video of this? These are the videos we would like to watch.

  • nuevowoodcrafts

    Jesse Esquivel from NuevoWoodcrafts said 7 years ago

    Great article--Words of wisdom indeed!

  • kaisae1

    Kaisa E from BeanieonHelinaSHOP said 7 years ago

    So inspirational! I'm always letting the fear get in my way, maybe I'll learn to be fearless from now on.

  • Ebrown2503

    Eleanore from FiberBeads said 7 years ago

    Nice article--it seems like it was a MOST inspiring day! I like the About Page that sellers can create as a way of telling your story. Mine is sprinkled with some of the hobbies I have outside of my Etsy store as well as the color inspiration I find in my flower garden. Cool, forward thinking piece. Thanks for sharing.

  • aromacandles

    Laura from aromacandles said 7 years ago

    What a thrill that must have been to pick Arriana' s brain.... oh to have been a fly on the wall. I would LOVE to hear/see/read more on this discussion.

  • Vitrine

    Vitrine from Vitrine said 7 years ago

    Thank you for sharing what Arianna had to say! it's so inspiring to see how Etsy fits into the 'real' world and how much of the real world we bring to Etsy.

  • Busie123

    Sherri Winsor from RetroCuties said 7 years ago

    I found this article to be really inspiring. Sometimes I need to be reminded to step back and smell the roses. I certainly don't want to get burnt out and make bad decisions. That would not benefit my shop or the team I captain for.

  • CraftyStitches

    Jennifer from CraftyStitches said 7 years ago

    wtg! Can't wait to attend HelloEtsy this year. :) our street team still talks about what a great experience it is.

  • potterygod

    Cindy Ginter from potterygod said 7 years ago

    Wish I could have been there, it sounded like a great experience. I do agree, when I am tired, not only do my decisions become hurried and sometimes wrong headed, I am not my best self when translating these decisions to others with the grace and wisdom I have when I feel good.

  • FentonDesign

    Debbie from FentonDesign said 7 years ago

    thanks for sharing.

  • LoriMarie

    Lori Cellini Deal from LoriMarie said 7 years ago

    Wonderful interview. Inspiring. We all have to take care of ourselves. The days I find that I am the most creative is when I take care of me....

  • GeorgieGirlLLC

    D George from GeorgieGirlLLC said 7 years ago

    Would love to have been in the room to hear all the questions and answers and to meet the people. What an opportunity for the ones fortunate enough to be there. Would love to see a video.

  • mimsytoo

    Barbara from Mimsytoo said 7 years ago

    What an inspiring article! I too would love to see the video of this Etsy Lab. What an even greater inspiration that would be! Only Etsy offers this kind of nurturing of spirit and motivation! Many thanks, Etsy!

  • karisbears

    Kari Lindemann from KarisCorner said 7 years ago

    Would also be interested in watching a video on the interview with Q & A. Ispiring comments regarding Etsy community and how it in itself has helped people. For example Dee from Little baby Bumble bee very neat how you have used Etsy to conquer cancer. Happy for you and wish you the best.

  • Dogdohr

    Joanne Dohr from Dogdohr said 7 years ago

    It's nice that Etsy has an "about" page for us in our shops. I enjoy reading them as much as checking out people's shops.

  • OneEyedBee

    Bonnie Booth from OneEyedBee said 7 years ago

    The results are in! A majority wants to see the video. So often, I read these articles and hope that there is a link to the "in-depth", "behind-the-scenes" story. Perhaps Etsy should be fearless and give Etsians another link! A link to full-length videos of all labs/interviews/discussion groups held at Etsy. I for one would "attend" all. Thanks to Ms. Huffington for her words of wisdom. My words to others when thinking about their business, is to use the mantra "Fear cannont live here". I encourage them to step beyond.....

  • InMaterial

    Peggy McCallum from InMaterial said 7 years ago


  • HandpaintedThreads

    Maureen from HandpaintedThreads said 7 years ago

    Inpiring interview. Is it possible for Etsy to somehow post a video of the whole talk?

  • FlowerPowerExcessori

    Sharmon from SharmSimplePleasures said 7 years ago

    I am inspired and off to tell my tale!! Thanks so very much for this wonderful feature!!


    Julia from MASHUGANA said 7 years ago

    This is so fantastic. Great words of wisdom. I wish I was there for the entire session. I ❤ the Etsy community too ;)

  • china4sale

    Dixie from china4sale said 7 years ago

    This quote below from Ms. Huffington is very empowering because in today's world most personal goals can be met if one's fear of failing is overcome. “Because fear is a human emotion that we all have, and fearlessness is really a muscle that we cultivate so that when fears come up we don’t have to listen to them; we don’t have to make them the final word.”

  • BaxCatandCo

    Kelly from BaxCatandCo said 7 years ago

    This writeup is quite inspiring. It's very uplifting to hear when people truly appreciate the community that is Etsy, and recognize the hard work and dedication that goes into building a craft brand within this community. Thank you for sharing Arianna's visit with us!

  • Niftic

    Niftic from NifticVintage said 7 years ago

    Inspirational and thought provoking! Next time I feel a bit sleep deprived I'll remember Arianna's words of wisdom! Thank You Etsy!

  • tubbilicious

    jacqueline ayers from tubbilicious said 7 years ago

    I needed that! Thanks!

  • designsbynoela

    Noela Sexton from FlowersAndStitches said 7 years ago

    I do have this problem. I am to soft, too gentle female. This has got to stop. I need to take control. I am aranging a new presentation to-day. As I need to become to-day's woman. and take control. Thank you esty. I have learned a lot in the little time I have been with you. I put in the work, I do not need to be told by" friends" , Well dear that's very nice. but what else do you have to do with your time. Time for a change. Keep the new me in mind. Noela

  • nickigallery

    junko from NickiNickiGallery said 7 years ago

    Two thumbs up! Yes, Sharing our stories and dreams is incredibly powerful!

  • reneesews

    renee pasquale from reneesews said 7 years ago

    arianna touched on many important topics. Fear is part of the journey--knowing how to control it ,so it does not overcome or overshadow our goals is key. This is where strength and leadership must kick in---I believe these qualities can separate those who fail and those who succeed. Thanks for the motivation,ideas and support!

  • reneesews

    renee pasquale from reneesews said 7 years ago

    Would also like to add ----video presentations would be so powerful. Hearing and seeing a video presentation draws a closer connection, and would add a stronger sense of " Etsy Community"----just a thought !

  • DeepSilence

    Sonja Bikić from DeepSilence said 7 years ago


  • elisabartels

    Elisa Bartels from ElisaBartels said 7 years ago

    Every time an artisan shows their goods to the world it is a painful but wonderful experience. The pleasure comes from showing the world what you've created and the pain comes from hoping that it is well accepted. Fearlessness is a great attributed to nurture. Thank you Arianna

  • meropisart

    Meropi Toumbas from MeropisArtJewelry said 7 years ago

    Exciting, Interesting and mostly Inspiring! Thanks

  • barrylinder

    Barry Linder from BarrysToys said 7 years ago

    I follow Richard Branson and I am sure you know him Arianna, as you seem to have the same values. You also have one of the most beautiful names on the planet. You share it with my youngest daughter that goes to the university in G alway Ireland. I also have a published novel called The Room so share your love of writing.

  • nightcloud

    Catharina from nightcloud said 7 years ago

    "making a life (and hopefully a living!) by telling your story" -- wonderful that etsy involved A.H. with her knowledge, experience -- may it be encouraging for many of us! and yes please, to follow this on video would be precious...

  • glynniskillen

    Diane and Glynnis from DiGiJewels said 7 years ago

    Thank you for the insight! I know when I am rested, well fed and exercised (sounds like a dog!!), I can take my time making decisions and being more in tune with myself rather than the influence of others! True to yourself!

  • WoodturningsPlus

    Charles Hargenrader from WoodturningsPlus said 7 years ago

    A recording in some form would have been good. Thanks for sharing what I did read. I appreciate etsy.

  • swanson

    Laura Swanson from SwansonJewelryDesign said 7 years ago

    Inspiring! I am certainly curious about the entire conversation. Would you consider sharing it with the entire Etsy community?

  • rescuedthreads

    Kira Boyd from rescuedthreads said 7 years ago

    This is so beautifully put and inspiring. Thanks for sharing! I feel more ready to take brave leaps today!

  • umeone

    Linda Sapp Long from umeone said 7 years ago

    Thank you for sharing this little part of your interview with Arianna Huffington. It gave me clarity into what I'm doing on Etsy. Her line "...not just making a living but, making a life!" is all inspiring and will resonant with me for years to come.

  • Webbitup

    Thomas Webb from Webbitup said 7 years ago


  • sandracardet

    Sandra from IsabelsTreasures said 7 years ago

    I first got to know Arianna on NPR's "Left, Right, and Center, the wonderful political talk show. She is wise and very smart, and has lived through the kind of challenges that make a person great. I was surprised and impressed that Etsy's CEO would invite her to speak to the team. It says a lot about your leader at Etsy. Congratulations!

  • lapisulin

    Pauline Paul from PaulineandPaul said 7 years ago

    Very inspiring! Thanks so much for sharing this Etsy!

  • ribbonsandglass

    Lynn McPherson from RibbonsandGlass said 7 years ago

    What an inspiration! As a single mother of 14 year old triplets I find it hard to make decisions after 8:00 pm. The cart doesn't go anywhere without the horse. Thank you.

  • TheAmateurNaturalist

    Beth Anne and Sarah Schwamberger from TheAmateurNaturalist said 7 years ago

    I love what Arianna said about making things personal. Start a conversation; share your story. Etsy is the perfect platform for that. I love buying from real people with real dreams, and I love selling to real people who might just view my product as a treasured item for years to come. To steal a quote from one of my favorite movies, "Whatever else anything is, it ought to begin by being personal."

  • konstantinakoliavass

    konstantina from StaRsbyDi said 7 years ago

    I love hearing people sharing such important things. It is an inspiration to me and reminds me of things that i have forgotten. It gives me strenght and things to think about. Thank you so much Etsy. This work that you are doing is very importan to our community. A lot of thanks to Arianna!

  • aressa

    aressa from OriginalBridalHanger said 7 years ago

    Thanks for the post...I love the information..Great to learn .....

  • spiritedblue

    Jen Heine from GlowingHeartGallery said 7 years ago

    With Thanks and Gratitude to the founders of Etsy who paved the way to a corporation bringing an example of responsibility and inspiration for positive creativity. And to those who took the torch, moving forward to continue the task.

  • tasheenaupshaw

    Tasheena Upshaw from FreeSpiritedArt said 7 years ago

    Wonderful piece, we love a strong women's idea, and information.

  • craftyintrigue

    Daphne from CraftyIntrigue said 7 years ago

    I love that Etsy is bringing people like Ariana Huffington to talk. I really like what she had to say. I would have liked to have seen a video of the talk. Any plans to record the talks or have them available via livestream?

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