On Daily Routines, we profile successful leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, executives and athletes to explore their routines, schedules, habits and day in the life.
For the first 34 years of his life, in which a large chunk was devoted to the social news website Reddit — dubbed by Paul Graham as the “front page of the Internet” — the company’s co-founder Alexis Ohanian admits that building the business took priority over things like his physical and mental wellbeing.
“In the early days of Reddit, Steve focused on writing codes, and I focused on everything else,” Ohanian told Observer about the early days of Reddit. “From designing our website and the company logo to tending to actual business affairs, talking to customers, going to cafes and getting people to try out our software so we could get some basic user testing.”
Now, 15 years removed from launching Reddit and no longer being a part of the company, Ohanian who is married to tennis pro Serena Williams, has other priorities to focus on — namely his family (he and Serena have a daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian) and his health. “As much as I loved my first 34 years, when I was basically just living for me, I’m really excited for my next 34 years as I’m living for this house — for this family,” Ohanian told Mens Health in 2018.
In an Inc profile, Ohanian revealed a daily routine that prioritised quality time with Serena (“I try to make sure I’m the first and last person she talks to every day”), healthy breakfast smoothies (“mixed with Soylent, baby spinach, whey protein, maca, chia, and sprouted flaxseeds”), and morning gym sessions (“This is the most important investment in my day”). Ohanian wraps up his day with some TV shows — in 2017 it was the Westworld — before sleeping at around 1am, for a typical 6am wake up time.
These days Ohanian’s life is a stark contrast to the 24/7 all-consuming obsession he had during the Reddit days. “Dad life is the greatest. Entrepreneurship is all-consuming, it’s sleepless, we call our startups our ‘babies,’ we are ridiculously proud of them, and we pour all of ourselves into them — but she is already all that and more, she is my legacy,” he posted on Instagram.
As part of his work-life balance overhaul in the past few years, Ohanian spoken out against the “hustle porn” culture so prevalent in the startup and tech worlds.
“This idea that unless you are suffering, grinding, working every hour of every day, you’re not working hard enough, this is one of the most toxic, dangerous things in tech right now,” he said in 2018. “It’s such bullshit, such utter bullshit. It has deleterious effects not just on your business but on your wellbeing.”
Ohanian has also become a strong advocate for paternity leave, following his daughter’s birth, announcing his plans in 2019 to “get dads the mandated right to take paid paternity leave,” as reported by Good Morning America. “Ohanian plans to bring the pledge to lawmakers on Capitol Hill this fall in a push to pass federal paid family leave legislation.”
In an ESPN profile, Ohanian spoke about the value of being able to spend that time with his daughter as a way to bond, “Having that time off, having those months to be there and take that responsibility and know that I’m not going to break the baby – it gave me a sense of comfort and confidence to know I could handle it.”
“I also wanted to set an example for our company and other men in the tech industry. I wanted to help normalize paternity leave. Not long after that, Dove Men+Care reached out and wanted to launch a $1 million fund to help dads who can’t take paternity leave to be able to do so.”
The understanding of my responsibility to care for my family that I gained during those first months after Olympia’s birth has never left me, and it gives purpose to my fatherhood today.Alexis Ohanian: Paternity Leave Was Crucial After the Birth of My Child, and Every Father Deserves It | THE NEW YORK TIMES
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