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Alexis Ohanian almost became a lawyer. Instead, he walked out of the LSAT and started Reddit

The inventor of the “front page of the internet” and Initialized Capital cofounder (and Mr. Serena Williams) takes our career questionnaire.

Alexis Ohanian almost became a lawyer. Instead, he walked out of the LSAT and started Reddit
[Illustration: Irina Kruglova for Fast Company]

Fast Company: What’s your best habit, and your worst?

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Alexis Ohanian: My best is that I’m relentless about improving—I’m good at being motivated by criticism. My worst is saying yes to things when I should default to no.

FC: When I’m creatively stuck, I…

AO: Play a quick match of Heroes of the Storm if my friends are on.

FC: What’s the business buzzword you never want to hear or see again?

AO: Hustle porn [the fetishization of overworking]. It’s my mission to purge the farce.

FC: What’s the best mistake you ever made?

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AO: Oversleeping that morning in Rome and meeting my future wife at breakfast.

FC: When I need to unplug, I…

AO: Hide my phone and play with my daughter.

FC: What book do you recommend to everyone?

AO: Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, a sci-fi adventure about the costs of war and the illusion of free will. I used it in my history-major thesis to frame a study of the 1945 bombing of Dresden. Vonnegut was a veteran of the Second World War, and was in Dresden as a POW when the bombs fell.

FC: What’s the advice you’re glad you ignored?

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AO: Paul Graham, our first Reddit investor, and my cofounder [Steve Huffman] tried to convince me to get rid of Snoo, the Reddit mascot I created. I’m grateful I ignored them, because it’s now iconic.

FC: What advice would you give your younger self?

AO: Spend more time with your parents, and don’t be so quick to grow up and be independent.

FC: What was your career fork in the road?

AO: I walked out of an LSAT and into a Waffle House, realizing I didn’t want to be a lawyer. That’s when I decided to be an entrepreneur. I persuaded my [University of Virginia] roommate to turn down his job offer and work with me to build Reddit.

FC: What’s your work uniform or wardrobe staple?

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AO: Black fitted T-shirt. AG jeans. Atoms or Jordan 1s.

FC: What’s your favorite form of exercise?

AO: Strength training on free weights or Tonal. I just installed a heavy bag in my Florida office.

FC: What TV show are you mid-binge on?

AO: I was obsessed with the Punisher comic books as a kid. I’m trying to savor the second season on Netflix right now.

FC: What is your mantra?

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AO: “Pain is growth.”

FC: What do you send to congratulate someone?

AO: A bottle of Shakmat! Armenian brandy should be shared among friends and loved ones in celebration.

FC: What’s your get-pumped song?

AO: “Power,” by Kanye West.

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