HC UCLA Learned to ‘Innovate Like a Boss with Alexis Ohanian’ and The New York Times

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As the sun reached its apex in the sky on hump day of Week 3, Her Campus at UCLA’s members shuffled in after a day of attending classes, studying for approaching midterms and writing papers. However, faces brightened and footsteps lightened as the members caught up with each other and ate cheesy pizza, crisp salad with this awesome Italian dressing and oh so creamy desserts graciously provided by Her Campus. (That tiramisu was ridiculously good.)

While eating, we all tuned into the livestream of the talk between Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder of Reddit, and New York Times business reporter, Sapna Maheshwari. It was the most recent talk part of The New York Times’ Get With the Times series, which works to open the discourse and find answers to the provocative and challenging issues college students of today face. Other than his work with Reddit, Ohanian has funded over 200 start ups as the founder of Initialized Capital and shared a lot of wisdom, advice and insights after years as an entrepreneur and businessman. 

Since all the members work together to run Her Campus at UCLA’s digital magazine and many of us are interested in becoming journalists or working in the entertainment industry, communication is key for us. We 100% agreed when Ohanian said, “If your goal in one way or the other is to change the world, being able to communicate effectively is part of that.” Of course, the members work to communicate smoothly to other team members, but also to our readers about the messages we are trying to send. 

Perhaps the most pressing topic at hand was women in the workforce, especially in Ohanian’s field, business. Many of our members are graduating this year, so how women are treated in the workplace is definitely something on their minds. Thankfully Ohanian really liked being asked about how he balances work and his personal life, especially since only women so often get that question. 

He encouraged women in the tech industry to not give up, and said, “I don't know how we in good conscience allow that 1 in 4 women to go back to work after giving birth.” Ohanian asserted that family is important, both to men and women. It helped to hear from an influential working man that he believed women have a place in the workforce, especially during a time when gender politics seems so regressive. 

Other than gender dynamics at work, he also gave advice on entrepreneurship. If our ideas fail, Ohanian told us to create 10 more. He shared that starting businesses hinges on perseverance and said, “It’s how you deal with the set back. It’s how you deal with the failure. It’s how you deal with feeling alone.” Through his kind and experience-informed words, Ohanian put a lot of our worries at ease. After all, if women have the tenacity and strength to withstand discrimination and set backs in the workplace based on their gender, we can certainly do the same in the face of adversity for our businesses. It’s all about pursuing your dream wholeheartedly.