Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of our favorite time-killing website Reddit and author of the book, “Without Their Permission,” made an appearance on campus this past Saturday to have a serious chat with Penn Staters about taking risks, exploring your passions and most importantly, picking a kick-ass mascot. Sharing with us his own personal story of success and words of wisdom as well as those of Penn State alum and founder of Weebly, Dan Veltri in a live Skype interview, Ohanian left us with these do’s and don’ts for building your dreams.
Don’t know what you’re doing.
When Ohanian and co-founder Steve Huffman started out their work with Reddit they had almost no idea what they were getting into. A lot of the time students feel deterred by their lack of professional experience or a clear-cut plan for success. “Don’t let not knowing what you’re doing stop you,” stresses Ohanian, because not knowing is the only way to start learning.
Do let your haters be your motivators.
What can we say – haters gonna hate, right? Next time someone tries to tell you your plan to ship people the products they order from your website through the use of individual flying drones is just a crazy dream (shout out to Amazon for when I need that new phone case to match my outfit within the next half-hour!) draw on your inner Honey Badger.
You’re going to meet people who doubt your awesomeness every day for the rest of your life (depressing, we know), but Ohanian says “You should let them fuel you – don’t let them hold you back.”
Do fail epically.
“Go forth and suck!” says Ohanian (but of course, don’t take that out of context), because this might be the only time in your life when failing is an option. Drawing on the story of the Humans of New York founder and photographer, Brandon Stanton, who literally failed out of college and decided to take up photography, Ohanian encourages you to take a leap of faith – even if only to fall on your face.
Don’t be boring.
Former Penn State grad Veltri suggests you follow your passions rather than sticking with a safe job just to pay the bills, claiming, “You need to do something you’re passionate about or else life will be pretty boring.”
As a college student you should be taking full advantage of your available resources while you have the chance to do practically anything you want. By joining clubs and utilizing career advising and internship opportunities you can explore your interests and make better decisions when it comes to taking a leap of faith you can stand behind.
Don’t spend all your time on Reddit.
Sad, but true – and this is coming from one of the guys who freaking invented Reddit. “We are playing with no lives remaining,” says Ohanian, and although we have been raised to see life like it’s a video game we can play with infinite time to reach our goals, in reality you only get one chance to take risks and find a fulfilling career that makes you happy.
Life, and even your time here at Penn State, is far too short to spend idly surfing the internet or enduring a tedious nine-to-five job. If you’re looking to take that next big step towards your future, take a page from success story Alexis Ohanian and “be awesome without their permission.”
Photo by Jose Ponte