I’m constantly amazed by the sheer number of learning opportunities in the Bay Area, especially around the topics of technology and its role in our society. Tonight, I made the trek to Berkeley (Go Bears!) to listen to Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit (“the front page of the Internet”), share his past experiences as an entrepreneur and promote his new book Without Their Permission. Overall, the talk was both funny and inspiring, and I loved his encouraging words to the millennial generation. I’ve captured some key points of his speech that I’d like to share with my readers here. Read on for the recap!
After a strange trap/troll rendition of Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball,” Alexis bounced onto stage, starting off his talk strong with plenty of references to Berkeley and the Golden Bears (as well as some Stanford-bashing, all in good fun since he was there earlier this year). Alexis was good-natured, funny, and charismatic throughout his talk, joking frequently in meme-speak (of course). Key points of his talk below:
- The world isn’t flat, but the Internet is, as long as net neutrality is maintained
- Using a hilarious Bane impression, Alexis stressed that the world today is exciting because the up-and-coming generation has experienced the Internet much more than the incumbents (“we were born in it”)
- Coding is the most exciting skill of the century, and also the most freely-available skill of the century
- It’s one thing to be exploring this skill, another to be building the earth beneath our feet – now is the time!
- Don’t just settle for entrepreneurship, but go through with it!
- Interesting story about Paul Graham’s edict to the co-founders of Reddit: “Build the front page of the Internet”
- In life, we’re all hacking it, we’ll always be figuring things out (enter “I have no idea what I’m doing” meme – that’s EVERYONE, no matter how put-together someone appears)
- Start small with your startup – focus on solving the problems of 100 people first
- Use your haters for fuel – haters gonna hate (story about how Yahoo called Reddit’s then-10,000 visitors a rounding error compared to Yahoo’s page views)
- Entrepreneur is just French for “Has ideas, does them”
- We should approach living our lives the same as if we had one life remaining in a video game – we tend to give it our all whenever that’s the case
After Alexis’s talk, he invited up Cal alum Jason Wang, co-founder of Munch On Me and Caviar, for a fireside chat about his experiences as an entrepreneur. I enjoyed listening to Jason’s story of building out his own websites as a kid and always having a fascination with solving problems. He seemed very down-to-earth, and I enjoyed hearing his stories about working with co-founders and sketchy lawyers and basically all the hustle that goes into creating something sustainable and beneficial for others.
All in all, the event was interesting, fun, and well-organized. I met with Alexis after the talk and we chatted about the presentation and my food blog before I got a picture with him. Great guy, and I’d definitely recommend checking out his new book Without Their Permission!