With tens of millions unemployed and underemployed, and more college grads coming into the workforce, Americans have no time to waste to embrace change and find ways to give back, Huffington said. "It's like the house is on fire and we're sitting around discussing the Kardashians."
Demonizing candidates "makes it very hard to reach common ground" in solving economic problems, she said. "There's also a lot that's working. What happened if we covered those stories as obsessively as what is dysfunctional?"
The Huffington Post has created a good-news section and a feature on "the greatest person of the day."
The website is also spotlighting job creators and innovators to recapture "the spirit of the Greatest Generation" that won World War II, when nothing seemed impossible, she said.
Huffington's call for innovation was underscored by Sheahan, author of "Flip" and "Generation Y," who said the best new ideas come from within the cracks of existing organizations and collaborations among employees from different departments.
He noted that Sacramento's "still a $100 billion economy" and encouraged Americans to let go of their assumptions, to "have an open mind politically, economically, business-wise and actually reach out and create partnerships."
Sheahan said Best Buy didn't dominate the home electronics market where men spent $200 million a year until it realized that women approved 90 percent of the purchases. Then it asked female employees what it needed to do, and learned to create better signage, more functional labels and clean toilets a plan that he said drove sales into the billions.
Long called working in television "stealing money" compared with playing football, which hasn't gotten any safer over the years.
"Everybody's gotten bigger," Long said, noting that the average lineman has gone from about 250 pounds to 330.