Alexis Ohanian Speaks on Career, Family, and Balancing It All

On the night of Wednesday, April 17, students gathered in the Surge Space Building on campus to attend another New York Times watch party hosted by Her Campus Virginia Tech. This event was centered around Reddit co-founder and husband of Serena Williams, Alexis Ohanian. Reddit is a social media platform with points-based voting on posts that was created in 2005 in Massachusetts. The platform relies on a system of upvotes and downvotes for users to rate content among “subreddits” based on interests from TV shows to cities and more. This platform, as well as his other innovative creations and startups, have shaped the internet in major ways, including supporting new ventures such as Instacart and Girlboss. Here are Ohanian’s top takeaways for college students:

 

Work hard in college, but know that it is about more than GPA.

Ohanian talked about his experiences as a History student at the University of Virginia and how it was hard to focus with so much competition. He explained that many students that are going from high school to college are so used to being the best in their class, and suddenly, in college, that changes. He said it shocks students and is strange to adjust to, when you are not the best anymore and have to really grind to stand out. He warns though that GPA isn’t everything. He spoke on the importance of the relationships in his life and how others have worked hard in his life and been part of his success. He also explained that the hustle culture that we live with can be toxic and that we need to remember to relax and take care of our mental health.

 

 

Don’t settle on traditional gender roles and set out to change industry norms.

Ohanian spoke on topics such as fatherhood, women in technology and more. He was asked by a student about how women can stand out and transform their role in technology since it can be a very sexist industry. Some of his main takeaways are to always challenge the norms and keep on pushing boundaries. He admitted that he is not the best to speak on it as a male but he acknowledged his role as an ally and reminded viewers to keep fighting for equal treatment. Ohanian also touched on his role as a new father and how it has changed his perspective. Traditionally, men are not seen as much as caretakers for their children, and he would like to change this. He talked about how many see men as “babysitting” their children and wanted to remind everyone that he is fulfilling his role as a parent and caring for his child.

 

 

Embrace your roles in life wholeheartedly and look for meaning in everything you do.

During his interview, a random topic came up - Ohanian’s daughter’s doll, Qai Qai. Qai Qai has her own Instagram and Twitter and personality; she runs her own accounts, after all, according to Ohanian. He made a great point about the doll though, when he talked about black representation in media. He explained how many children don’t see enough of themselves and based on studies, don’t value themselves as much from society’s point of view. He admits that the accounts are silly, but proved the point of validity when he explained just how many followers the doll has. Did I mention she is verified on Instagram?

 

From the beginning of Reddit, to working abroad, and then transitioning to a different role within Reddit and working for backing startups, Ohanian has been busy. But, by embracing his roles and looking for meaning to help others, he has been able to sustain a happy family life as well as successful businesses.

 

Ohanian is a great role model for up-and-coming entrepreneurs as he continues to work ahead of the curve in developing new ventures at his new organization, Initialized. His commitment to family, community and business development are admirable and his lessons from this talk are valuable. We all need a little inspiration sometimes, and hearing the refreshing takes from Ohanian certainly changed our perspectives.

 

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