Get with The Times Featuring Alexis Ohanian

On April 17th, The New York Times partnered with HerCampus in their “Get with The Times” event featuring Alexis Ohanian. Alexis Ohanian has been most widely known as the co-founder of Reddit, as the founder of the venture capital firm Initialized Capital and as the husband of tennis superstar Serena Williams.

Although Ohanian felt like an odd choice for a featured speaker at an event partnered with a collegiate organization promoting female empowerment. I did take away a very valuable lesson from Ohanian that I believe will be important in my post college career.

Failure is a necessary failure to success

Ohanian initially wanted to follow the premed track at the University of Virginia before, like myself, realizing that he and science did not get along very well.

He then decided to switch to toward the pre-law trajectory. Ohanian got all the way to the LSATs when he decided that this career path wasn’t for him and walked out of the standardized test to grab some Waffle House instead.

“It changed my life because I realized if I like waffles more than the law, I probably shouldn’t be a lawyer,” Ohanian said.

After failing in the more traditional premed and prelaw tracks, Ohanian turned to the path of entrepreneurship. In Ohanian’s opinion, he viewed the risks of a startup as relatively low.

Ohanian accepted the cultural aspect of entrepreneurship in that “I could say ‘I started a company, I failed miserably, but I learned these things,’ and I would hope that she would say, ‘Alright, that’s cool. That’s great. That’s a good use of your time.’”

Ohanian uses his past experience and expertise he gained from founding Reddit to discover premiere investments and guide young entrepreneurs.

The acceptance of failure and that your path will not be perfect is an important development that we must learn during our time at Wake Forest, as we all will face failure in some form once we graduate. Thankfully there are speakers like Alexis Ohanian and events like “Get with The Times” to help use college students find our way.