The “What I’ve Learned” Podcast: Alexis Ohanian On Getting Rid of “Hustle Culture”

“The conversation shouldn't be this made-up bragging of how hard you're working or grinding or pushing it.”

In the “What I’ve Learned” podcast, Arianna sits down with people she loves and admires, in fields from music and technology to sports and business, to explore the lessons they’ve learned over the extraordinary past year about themselves, their lives, and what they truly value. 

This week, Alexis Ohanian, founder of Seven Seven Six, on why “hustle culture” is counterproductive, what we can learn from high-performing athletes, and building technology his daughter will be proud of. 

On being reminded by his wife to unplug:

“Five years ago, I got some of the highest praise of my life — or at least I thought it was — because Serena told me, ‘You work even harder than me.’ And I was like, ‘All right, yeah, I’m doing it right. This is the nicest thing you could have ever said to me.’ And she said, ‘That was not a compliment. I love that you work hard, and you clearly love what you do, and you’re great at it. And that’s awesome, but you need to have ways to turn off and unplug, or else you’re not going to be your best.’ So I really took this to heart, and to this day, she’ll still call me on this stuff and be like, ‘Yo, unplug. It’s going to be fine.’ And so it’s one of the things that I still work on to this day.”

On finding moments of gratitude and peace in his day:

“What I’ve started bringing more into my life is finding time in the day to take moments of appreciation. Both my wife and I are doing this because we want our daughter to be appreciative. That was the intent from the start — let’s make sure we’re doing prayers before a meal because it’s a moment to just say, ‘Hey, look, we’re grateful for what we have.’ And likewise, at night when she goes to bed… It’s something that I enjoy doing with her, not just for the appreciation, but actually for the peace.”

On how “hustle culture” is declining:

“The pandemic has shifted a lot of priorities for a lot of folks. More and more, people are really starting to understand what it takes to build a successful business, or be a successful athlete, or be a successful whatever-you-want-to-be. What they’re understanding is that the greats — the very best people — are all talking about recovery and rest and time away. Whether it provides inspiration or recovery, it’s valuable. And so I think it’ll be a relic of the past.”

To hear more from Alexis, listen to this full episode of “What I’ve Learned,” available wherever you get your podcasts.  

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