Mellody Hobson, the president of Ariel Investments, believes that speed doesn’t necessarily win in business. “Slow and steady wins the race,” she tells Arianna Huffington on the Thrive Global Podcast, in partnership with iHeartRadio and Sleep Number. “There is no finish line,” Hobson admits. Here, Hobson shares how she and her team thrive in work and in life.

Don’t micromanage

“That idea of no finish line can be all consuming, and especially hard if you manage global portfolios where a market is open around the world at all times,” Hobson says. She eases the burden of the marathon by giving people on her team freedom and independence. “We give people a lot of autonomy. They are trusted to do their work, however they do it, whenever they do it. That autonomy is incredibly liberating.”

Provide a sense of purpose

A core tenet of Hobson’s management style is to remind her team of their fundamental purpose. “We wake up with a sense of purpose and we remember every single day” that the several billions of dollars they’re overseeing is “someone’s college fund; it’s someone’s retirement… that boat they want to buy,” she stresses. Work tethered to meaning is positively correlated with productivity and employee well-being, research shows.

Get moving every morning

“I do not perform well if I don’t exercise,” Hobson says. “I need the endorphins.” The flush of endorphins, she says, moves her brain into high gear. Regular physical activity does indeed improve cognitive function, a recent study found.  

Don’t bring your phone to dinner

Hobson, who’s raising 5-year-old daughter Everest with her husband, renowned filmmaker and entrepreneur George Lucas, tries to model healthy behavior for her little girl. “I have had that phone attached to me, so I don’t even take my purse when we go to a restaurant… I can’t even be tempted to look,” she says.

Refrain from looking at your phone in the middle of the night

“My phone is charging by my bed, but I have made a concerted effort not to look at it,” Hobson says. She emphasizes that 90 percent of the time — “I can’t say zero,” she admits — if she gets up after she’s gone to bed, she does not take a peek, which is a huge improvement for her. “I would say before it was 10 percent of the time that I did not look at my phone.” Decreasing her phone use could, research indicates, improve her sleep, which also helps improve overall well-being.


  • Stephanie Fairyington

    Contributing Writer at Thrive

    Stephanie Fairyington is a contributing writer at Thrive. A New York-based journalist, her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic (online), The New Republic (online), The Boston Globe, and several other publications. She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her spouse Sabrina and daughter Marty.