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How To Innovate Like A Boss According To Alexis Ohanian

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at WVU chapter.

On April 17, West Virginia University’s HerCampus chapter hosted a watch party partnered with The New York Times to hear what Co-founder of Reddit, Alexis Ohanian, had to say about innovating like a boss. As part of a live conversation series designed to inspire college students around the nation to be ambitious and learn more about what peaks their interests, this hour-long event began with an interview between Ohanian and Sapna Maheshwari, a business reporter for The New York Times. With prompted questions and a splash of humor here and there, Ohanian, a successful tech investor and entrepreneur, shared his personal and business experiences to positively critique the modern world and emphasize the importance of creativity, persistence, patience and family as college years come to an end and students are left with limitless potential. 

WVU’s HerCampus crew along with other WVU students watched eagerly until the end. Here is a snippet of what we learned…

Most job interviews and college applications revolve around the same type of questions, “what are your strengths/weakness?” “when did you overcome an obstacle?” and “how do you stand out from others?”. Over time, answers to these questions become second nature to many people.  Ohanian brought their relevance back to life when he explained that “if your goal in somewhat shape or form is to change the world…being able to communicate is key.” There is a reason future employers and university’s want to know how an applicant works with others or how the applicant handles situations, they want to get a sense of how adaptable and ready for responsibility this person is.

A college campus is a place to discover strengths and weaknesses by taking different classes and being involved in different clubs. Long nights in the library teach students the parallel between struggle and reward, and the sea of unfamiliar cultures and people force students out of their “mold”.  A well-rounded boss who connects with others and understands differences is what distinguishes a good entrepreneur from a great one, and college is the perfect place to start. 

So, try not to let an interviewer be the first person to ask you these questions. Regularly ask yourself if you are getting the most out of college, because as Ohanian said, “It only happens when you force it to happen.” 

Another important theme to come from Ohanian’s discussion is the significance of helping and being available for others. He spoke a lot about his daughter Alexis Olympia and wife Serena Williams. With a job like his, Ohanian is required to be away from home many days out of the week, but he always knows when he should be there for family. Similarly,  during the interview, he explained, “we want to be the first people to write a check to invest in a founder and believe in him or her and work with him her to build something that I hope one day will be bigger and better than Reddit.” With today’s modern technology, it is theoretically simple to get a company started. What people need is help from those who have experience, money and confidence in whatever project is being presented, and Ohanian is open to finding those proposals.

Mary Madeline is a junior at West Virginia University majoring in advertising and minoring in interactive design for media. She works for the university's Arts and Entertainment department as an Artist Services Intern. Mary Madeline enjoys reading, creating and is especially in love with Morgantown's chilly fall weather.
Maura is a senior at West Virginia University, studying honors journalism and leadership. She was the president of Her Campus at WVU from 2018-2019, interns with ESPN College GameDay and works as a marketing/communication assistant for the Reed College of Media. On campus, she has written opinion for WVU's Daily Athenaeum, served as the PR chair for WVU Society of Professional Journalists and was a reporter for WVUToday. She teaches leadership classes for the Honors College and is an active member of both the Honors Student Association and Helvetia Honorary. Maura is an avid fan of The New Yorker, (most) cities and the first half of late-night talk shows.