There are always going to be “haters” in our lives, Internet entrepreneur Alexis Ohanian said, and the best thing we can do is use their criticism for ammunition, for breakfast.
When Ohanian and his accompanying co-founder, Steve Huffman, first launched the social news website Reddit, they received their best ammunition from a Yahoo executive who told them they were a “rounding error” compared to established companies. (Reddit recently reached more than 80 million unique visitors per month.)
They created a “wall of negative reinforcement” that featured printouts of commentary from those nay-sayers.
“Any moment when I needed to remember why I was there and what I needed for motivation, I could look over and see right there staring at me someone who I wanted to prove wrong,” Ohanian said Wednesday during an Afternoon Mo Joe web-exclusive interview. “I printed: ‘You are a rounding error’ on the wall.”
The self-described “start-up guy,” who helped launch such websites as Reddit, Breadpig, and Hipmunk, is the author of the new personal guidebook, “Without Their Permission: How the 21st-Century Will Be Made Not Managed,” published this week. He will soon embark on a five-month tour to 75 universities around the country to promote the message and importance of Internet entrepreneurship. He claims his purpose is to “make the world suck less.”
“We aren’t born successful entrepreneurs; we have to work our way up,” he said. “The first step to doing that is just getting started; getting something out there and seeing how people respond.”
The tech-savvy Silicon Valley, Calif., is not the only area currently experiencing a boom, Ohanian said. There are communities all around the country where people test and showcase their innovative ideas. Changes are happening in philanthropy, the arts, and politics.
“Today is the day to get started,” he said. “This is frontier times all over again. We are totally on the edge of a lot of very new stuff, and so it’s on us to figure out where it’s going to go and what it’s going to be.”
Be sure to watch other web-exclusive interviews and roundtable discussions in the Afternoon Mo Joe section of the website.