Episode 11
Alexis Ohanian
Season 1

How To Build Businesses with Integrity with Alexis Ohanian

Welcome to All Hands, a podcast where C-suite leaders talk about how smart HR and people strategy is good business strategy. In this episode, our host, Katelin Holloway sits down with her boss, Alexis Ohanian, Founder of Seven Seven Six, Co-Founder of Reddit & Initialized Capital, to talk about launching a new business in the middle of a global pandemic, how to lead your team with integrity, and how caregiving plays an important role in business.

“The two are more intertwined than I think more people care to acknowledge, right? There's not some separate person that deals with families issues and some other person that's the founder of the company. They're the same person."


Welcome to ALL HANDS by Lattice, where we believe that People Strategy IS Business Strategy. I’m your host -- Katelin Holloway. For the last decade, I’ve been a People & Culture executive at some of the internet’s most beloved startups, but my fascination with building true people-first cultures started many, many years ago. From film to tech (and a few interesting layovers in between), the one common denominator remains: I am most passionate about enabling people through belonging to create beautiful, innovative products.

On All Hands, I talk with CEOs and other c-level leaders about how being a "people first" company is a strategic advantage. Join us while we chat with these top leaders about how a “people first” approach isn’t just good for people -- it’s good for business too.

[Music fades out]

Katelin Holloway: [00:00:00] welcome to this. The final episode of the first season of our podcast. I can't tell you what an incredible experience it has been to host this podcast over the course of the past year. With every guest we've documented a strange new 2020 plot twist that impacts the way we operate, how we communicate and challenge what we truly value most I've noted in several episodes.

[00:00:24] That will be, it will be nearly impossible for any of us to come out of this unchanged. The world of work will never look the same. I am not the same, which is why I'm so very grateful that our last episode features a guests who understands that evolution more than anyone else. Joining me today is my business partner, mentor sponsor advocate and boss, Alexis Ohanian.

[00:00:47] Alexis. And I have spent the last half decade building companies together, both as operators and investors before our paths dovetailed, Alexis had already founded multiple startups, was a partner at Y Combinator had had written a best-selling book. You all likely know him for co-founding Reddit, marrying the greatest athlete of all time, Serena Williams, and being this generation's most vocal supporter of paid family.

[00:01:08] Leave. His own podcast business. Dad illuminates the experiences of successful fathers attempting to balance Parenthood and livelihood, but deep down, what Alexis really wants to be known for is his bizarrely detailed pancake creations for his three-year-old daughter, Olympia, Alexis. Welcome to all hands.

Alexis Ohanian:  [00:01:28] thank you, Katelin. Hell of an introduction, and I'm glad that you took note of my pancake work. And I take that work very seriously.

Katelin Holloway: [00:01:36] let me talk a little bit about, why I'm so excited to have you on the show. You have obviously been a part of my life and a part of my career for many, many years now.

[00:01:45]but one of the reasons I'm so thrilled to have you on the show, particularly as our closer is, because this is the first time we have both the founder and the head of people on together . So for five years, we've, we've been building company cultures together, in a variety of, of ways. So, we started at Reddit, which was an incredible place to learn.  and then, you went, yeah. over to initialize, venture capital firm that you had co-founded, and began building that team. And so I was helping you build cultures, externally by supporting some of your, your founders in that portfolio.

[00:02:18] Long story short. Eventually we convinced each other, I think is how that works. that maybe I should give my, my hand at investing. And so we did, and then 2020 hit us was all of the crazy things that 2020 did. And, and in that,  we now have started this incredible new firm. I'm going to say it's incredible because I believe in it that much, seven, seven, six, so.

[00:02:42] I'm going to, I'm going to take us back in time before we get to seven, seven, six first. And you know, I've gotta be honest. I've watched you grow and change a lot, like a lot, a lot since we first met. And when we first started working together, yes, you were supportive. and otherwise I wouldn't have made the choice to work for you the first time.

[00:03:02]but I would say. Maybe even cautious or skeptical of culture work. You, you were there, you were open, but you were like, yeah, I know something isn't working and we should change. but I'm not sure that you were as true of a believer in culture work as you are today. So w first of all, would you say that that's an accurate assessment and two, what has that evolution been like for you from your perspective?

Alexis Ohanian: [00:03:30] Yeah, I think that's absolutely accurate. I was very skeptical because I knew. something was wrong. I knew there needed to be worked on a lot of work done to help sort of get over  all the debts. There were tech debts, culture, debts, business debts, within the org, because this is a 10 year old company that had been founded.

[00:03:51] I mean, I was a 21 year old CEO of Reddit right out the gate. Not knowing anything about anything and actually pretty cynical about a lot of corporate things. And I know back then, for sure, I would have thought anything about values or culture or team building would have been just some malarkey from, you know, soulless, corporate life.

[00:04:16] And we were going to do it differently. Cause we were, we were the pirates and they were the Navy and that's just not, not cool for pirates to talk about.

Katelin Holloway: [00:04:23] Yeah

Alexis Ohanian: [00:04:24] And that was a very naive and limited worldview. And, but then I got the benefit of. Having other experiences, starting other companies, being a partner at YC and getting a front row seat to so many different companies get built.

[00:04:37] And then coming back to the company I had co-founded 10 years later and seeing the effect of not having that kind of leadership of not having that kind of intentionality when building an org, right. The by-product of that was, it had just sort of calcified around, you know, not great things and, And there was a lot of work to be done to undo that and seeing the progress that can happen once there was a lot of intentionality at every level of the org about the work that we were doing, the values we held, the way that we built, and, and recruited.

[00:05:17]we saw that spin up rather quickly and, and that really showed me like, This wasn't just going from zero to one. This was going from like negative one to one. And, and once that flywheel gets going and you start creating an environment where people want to work your cost to acquire new employees goes down.

[00:05:38] Your retention of talent is higher. you're also able to cycle through folks when it's just clearly not a fit for, for either. And it's done in a respectful and, and way that makes both parties better. Really. At the end of the day, it makes them better off. Watching that then in a fast-growing modern startup was, was really eye opening.

[00:06:00] I can't unsee that either now, because I've seen all the benefits and the long-term effect of it. I just can't imagine building an org any other way. And so, so much of the work that we get to do now is working with founders in those first days where many of them are, they're all smarter than I was back then, but they're at least they're all at similar.

[00:06:23] A lot of them are at similar stages where this is the first time they've built a company before. Maybe they've done a lot of other things. Maybe they haven't done anything, but they're also. Neophytes like I was, but they're really willing to hear the sort of best practices and really interested to, to build a better and more deliberate org.

[00:06:42] I think in part, because of what they've seen over the last 10, 15 years of startups, either going really well or really wrong, because that work either gets done or it doesn't. And when it gets done and it gets done well, huge returns there, there's lots of good that comes from it. And when it isn't, it's bad, really bad.

Katelin Holloway:  [00:07:00] . Yeah, you can't just say it. You can't just have stickers on a laptop yet. You have to really operationalize them and make them a really, really powerful, sharp tool in the toolkit when used well, when used. Poorly or, or not thoughtfully, they can be incredibly damaging. So I, I agree.

[00:07:17] What about building this new venture capital firms? It just really excites you like why now in the middle of a pandemic, , and what is, is kind of the focus? I obviously, I know these answers, so these are layups.

[00:07:30]but, but I'm so excited to share because this is just in the early, early infancy phases of, of what it is yet to be. So I would love for you Alexis to share with our audience a little bit more about SEVEN SEVEN SIX

Alexis Ohanian: [00:07:43] sure. why start another venture firm in the middle of a pandemic? especially when initialized it was doing so well. you know, this is, I think in a lot of ways, this is a story of 2020, where we, we got to spend a lot of time, thinking, if we have families. We got to spend a lot of time with those families.

[00:08:07] I know. I certainly did. And, and especially as, as the guy who had had a lot of success now, 15 yeah, 15 years in to his professional career, a lot of what this year did was forced me to really decide what kind of a person I wanted to be. What kind of legacy I wanted to leave behind and look, a lot of this was, was catalyzed by what we saw after the murder of George Floyd, where I really, and like, yeah.

[00:08:37] So I'm married to Serena Williams as you, you noted at the jump here. but even if she weren't Serina Williams or maybe because she is Serina Williams, I see still the, just the amount of bullshit that she has to deal with on a regular basis. And. And, and as someone who has accomplished as much as she has to still think that she fights with that every single day, really.

[00:09:05] Really crystallizes the work that we have to do as a country. And, and then it's my wife. So of course I take it even more personally and I get into it on, I get into it on Twitter. I've I've said plenty of things and done plenty of things, none of which that I regret to express myself on these issues.

[00:09:23] But it, I don't know, after, after George, after he was murdered watching that clip. it really hit me in a different way because I was having a lot more conversations at the dinner table every single night about this. and really that it, I think it changed me in a way that made me realize I need to be spending a lot more of the work that I do the time that I do, I need to be putting in. I gotta be putting in the work really. Because I want to have a future conversation with my daughter that I'm really proud of. And, and what I mean by that is, she's gonna encounter a world that needs a lot of problems solved and she's three. So like in 10 years, She'll be a snarky teenager and, and for the next decade, she'll have every person on the planet telling her what a difference her mother made in, in their lives, in so many people's lives.

[00:10:26] And, and it is kind of liberating to never have to compete with that. There is no way I will ever have that kind of an effect just because of who I am and where I come from, that Serina has had. And, and that's, that's actually a great thing, because it lets me. Really be able to chart something that is true to what I want to be doing and how I want to do it.

[00:10:50] And I just want to make sure to have a really good story for Olympia to be like, this is how Papa makes his money. This is what he did to make that money. And this is why he's really proud of what he's built. And, you know, that's what prompted me at the end of the day to resign from the board of Reddit and protest and, and, you know, I was relieved and delighted to see them make changes to the content policy to finally ban hate speech, to see it was relieved and thrilled to see them honor my requests to be replaced by a black director, but, it didn't stop there. I needed to really see if I spent the next 10, 15 years working on initialized with someone who I really care about Gary, my co-founder and. Co manager part of the firm.

[00:11:32]I needed to really believe 110%. This was exactly what I wanted to do and exactly how I wanted to do it. And if I didn't believe that, then I should, should be selfish and, and chart my own course where I could really believe. And, and, and then also really be able to build something deliberately. We, we talked about sort of tech debt.

[00:11:51] We talked about people that every organization has this. It's why the first 12 months of a company are the most productive, because you can just go, you just build and, and having had the good fortune to work with you and Lizzie for the last half decade in some really hard situations and, and, you know, turn around and now a billion dollar company, I feel like all of those experiences make it just really easy to see that blank canvas and know exactly how we want to go.

[00:12:20] I mean, we're, we're going to learn plenty of stuff and get things wrong along the way, but like there's a lot that we get to just run into, and, and really architect in a way we want to, and it's liberating to have that blank canvas again and it's, and it's a liberating time to be doing something, especially in venture, especially.

[00:12:38] Especially in the early stage though, we're not limited to it. because that is the gateway for so many people to get into this industry to get into attack, to get into venture. And we rrrget to re-imagine every single part of the firm that we build down to like. Who our LPs are and wanting diversity.

[00:12:56] They're down to how we support our founders and the 2% pledge, which you should talk about, down to what we, what we build for our operators and residents. there's a lot, there's like so much to unpack, but, but taking all the experience and then having the unfair advantage of your background and all the work that you've done, means that we can really build an intentional venture firm.

[00:13:19]Where, because we know the value of getting this stuff, right? This is, this is the capitalist imperative. This is the thing that I really believe ends up making the most money and also sets a different standard in an industry that has pretty low standards, frankly. and, and does a much better job. Changing that world for my daughter, for your sons, in a better way, than tech has done, let's say in the last 10, 15 years of just moving fast and breaking things.

[Music up]

Working with and studying so many leaders in the world of tech and film and beyond, for me, this is the number one thing that I look for in a partner. It's when a leader can live in integrity. That doesn't mean that you get it right every time. But when you don't, you make it right. And this is just one of the many, many reasons I am so thrilled to be building 776 with Alexis.

[Music fades out]

Katelin Holloway: [00:15:24] You mentioned three or four of the programs that we've got on the docket. and I cannot wait to share those with the world. I think that. You know, I'm excited about what we're going to be able to do in the world of venture, but I genuinely believe that this can be done in any industry. I don't care if you are making dry dog food.

[00:15:41] I think that if, if our leaders can live in better integrity with themselves, with our values, and really partner. With people who know how to operationalize that within organizations from a diversity equity, inclusion, belonging standpoint, and taking the time to do that deep culture work, the opportunity to do that is, is just absolutely.

[00:16:03] Unbounded. I th like I have so, so much excitement for this stuff. and I, I genuinely wish that we had more time to talk and to share more about seven, seven, six, but that, that will be yet to come.

Ed Catmull: [00:16:36] I also want to give credit where it's due. Cause like, you know, we're talking about, we did, you know, in the U I hope you all read the business insider profile of Kaitlin and her, transition over to seven 76.

[00:16:53] Cause it, you know, you unveiled a little bit, you did talk a little bit about one of the first programs. That fund is 2% fund, which is around supporting our founders as, as whole people. And I want to give credit where it's due because Felicitas. Offered, I think it was a year or two ago, 1% of invested capital at early stage in the first, the first check to founders for a mental health support and resources.

[00:17:17] So they could access those dollars for a therapy or, or what have you, around the mental health side. And like, this was a great first step. And so it was on us to say, all right, how do we push this further? How do we do it better? How do we do more? And what I love is that you brought experiences from, I think, various stages in your career to say, no, no, no.

[00:17:35] We can actually make this program even better. We can, we can not just increase the amount of money, but, but actually open the breadth for how founders can use it.

Katelin Holloway: [00:17:44] Yes, this is the perfect case of yes. Using our combined strengths and experiences to, to bring something together, to look not just at our own experiences, but to look at the world around us and the things that are working well.

[00:18:04] So, you know, you, you can call it double Downing on something. You can call it, amplifying it. We have so many different words for taking this, but, I, I will choose the Pixar words, which is plus it up. Yes and take it plus it, man, take, take what is working and say yes. And let's add an additional 1% for caregiving.

[00:18:25] Caregiving is something that you and I take deadly seriously, whether it is access to paid family, leave, up on the Hill and talking policy. we're down in the trenches, in our, in our employee handbooks and really bringing those, those, you know, legal ease, bits and pieces together to make a real world experience and have an impact and change your life.

[00:18:44]hopefully several by saying. You've got to take care of your family. You have to take care of yourself. You have to prioritize not only from a selfish perspective of growth and development and, and recognizing milestones in life and change and seasons and et cetera, et cetera. But, but to demonstrate from a leader by you taking your parental leave, you gave permission to every single person.

[00:19:11] And in particular set an example for the men and the non-birth parents in our workplace to say, I have a place. I have an important place, and this is the most important task I can be doing at this particular moment in my life. And you did it. So if we can take those things, all of that beautiful stuff that we saw in the world, including, you know, best practices, although we're, we're moving away from that word slowly but surely, but taking the things that are good in this world and saying, yes, And, and I think that that is a very positive, optimistic way to build culture and to lean on the things that have worked, shed the things that are no longer working and to continue to live in integrity, whether that's your policy or, or simply starting to weave the very beginning fabrics of our own DNA and our own companies that we're building.

Ed Catmull: [00:19:58] And, and here's the thing, Katelin, this is, this is the right capitalist choice to make. As investors, because having dollars set aside for a founder to use, whether it's for an emergency babysitter or childcare or movers to help an in-law come into their home, to live with them. Those dollars have such a massive ROI because in an early stage company, the founders are everything and they, all they're doing is worrying about if they're good, all they're doing is worrying about keeping their burn rate low.

[00:20:30] And so they're not going to use those dollars for themselves, but how can we expect a company? When the entire team or the two or three co-founders how do we expect that company to succeed? Unless those co-founders are in a good enough mental state to be able to do that really important work like it's and it, you know, yes, I think we'll we'll win because it's good, certainly for the reputation of 7 76, but, but practically speaking, you know, I, I want to make sure any founder who's a parent.

[00:21:03] Knows that we're the first, we should be the first fund on their list. and, and, and, and again, just from a return on investment standpoint, when they're accessing those dollars, and they're able to get that peace of mind to get that free week or that free night or that free everything, like the value of that time is actually priceless.

[00:21:20] And I even think back to. my own experience going through YC. And this is, you know, fairly part of, part of this is pretty public. but the other part is, and so you get a scoop. you know, I, my mother got sick with terminal brain cancer, like two months into Y Combinator. So here I was. Fresh out of college, ostensibly running this startup, that was going to be my entire life. The most important thing I could do. And this happens, and we were living in Boston at the time and my family was down in Baltimore. And so I would start flying back on the weekends to spend time with them. And, you know, YC was still in its early days.

[00:21:58] Paul did his best, but, but really didn't have a framework for how to even have a conversation with me about like, Oh, Hey, you're 21. You're the founder CEO of a startup. We just invested in and your mom is dying. LikeI don't fault him for that, but I think about that experience and I think about what it would have been for me had, they said, look, we have money set aside.

[00:22:27] You can use it for your flights, for those AirTran flights back to Baltimore. And, and we know how important this startup is to you. And we believe in it a hundred percent, but we know that this. Is really, really important and actually more important. And the two are more intertwined than I think more people care to acknowledge, right?

[00:22:44] There's not, there's not some separate person that deals with families using some other person. That's the founder of the company. They're the same person. And so had that program existed, I would have spent the last 15 years. Talking about it on every stage I could in every press appearance at every opportunity talking about what a difference it made to me.

[00:23:04] And so, you know, obviously YC didn't need the help they're doing great. but, but in thinking about how to do it differently, this was a no brainer because I know even just personally what a difference it would have made. And I know what a difference. This program you've built is going to make on so many of the lives of our founders and, and will actually make us more money in the process.

[00:23:24] And we'll be the reason why every other firm eventually copies some version

[Music up]

One of the things we want to teach our founders is how to care for their teams. How to give them the space and the support they need as they grow. And so it becomes this very altruistic flywheel of teaching and bringing empathy and compassion into the workplace.

[Music fades out]

Katelin Holloway: [00:25:07]So now ready for some totally non-sequitur questions.

Ed Catmull: [00:25:10] Do it.

Katelin Holloway: [00:25:11] Okay. This is where we're going to do it. I'm going to ask you questions. I want you to not overthink it.

[00:25:25] I just want you to answer as fast as you can. The first few are going to be easy. The last few might get a little deeper. I'm not saying you can't give me the why, but you'll know when it's more appropriate than not. How's that. Okay. First question.

Ed Catmull: [00:26:19] Yes, it is. I want to upset Reddit. I'm going to upset Reddit. Yeah, it's a sandwich.

Katelin Holloway: [00:26:22] Thank you. 2. what particular pancake art are you most proud of to date?

Ed Catmull: [00:26:28] Oh, I was really happy with my Spiderman from a few weeks, so I'd never done Spiderman before. And my first go usually of anything that I draw on pancake is terrible, but this one was really good.

Katelin Holloway: [00:26:40] I agree. There was some, there was some, some nice geometry in there that I appreciate it. Yeah.

Ed Catmull: [00:26:46] Spiderman.

Katelin Holloway: [00:26:47] Okay. Next question. What is your favorite old school trading card in your shoe box?

Ed Catmull: [00:26:59] Wow. okay. Well, all right, so it's, I, I don't have it. It's it's definitely a flex. it's a 1956 tops, Jackie Robinson.

[00:27:23]. And here's the thing with it. So they had just won the world series and beaten the Yankees, the Brooklyn Dodgers had. And, obviously Jackie Robinson broke a lot of barriers. He also stole home plate in that world series. It's pretty, pretty famous moment. And. This card, it's such a, it's such a Relic of a, of a, an era because tops on the back have these little doodles, like little sketches, sort of reenacting moments in this, in these players histories.

[00:27:52] And. They could not even conceive of sketching, Jackie Robinson as a black baseball player. And, and so you see the sketch of the back and it's like Jackie Robinson, the home run or help the Brooklyn. And it was this white dude. And, and, and it's like, and it's like, whose job was it at tops? To be like, Hey, this doesn't look like this doesn't look like Jackie Robinson at all.

[00:28:17] Someone should fix this. but it's, I mean, you know, it was in 1956. and, and it's, it's a beautiful card on the front is beautiful. The back is sadly, sadly, a, a Relic of a. I have a broken, broken system, but yeah, that one's, that one's definitely my favorite. I've got a couple strainer Williams rookie cards too, which I love a lot, but,

Katelin Holloway: [00:28:40] That's. That was the answer I was expecting. No, no, I like the Jackie story better. I thought that you were just gonna get it.

Ed Catmull: [00:28:48] No

Katelin Holloway: [00:28:48] You can do both.

Ed Catmull: [00:28:50] The Serena cards technically are all gifts for her, so it's not really in my shoe box, but.

[00:28:56] Also turns out flowers are more charming than trading cards for your partner.

[00:29:09] She was like, okay, thanks. I mean, I, that she appreciated them, but she was just like, Hmm, probably should have gone with flowers.

Katelin Holloway: [00:29:16] Fair enough. Okay. Okay. That was a decent, warm up. Are you ready for some of the deeper ones that maybe won't be so fast, but we'll, we'll try to get through it. Okay. this one, I would appreciate a fairly short answer on, only because I know that we could talk about it for a long time, company, culture, family, or sports team.

Ed Catmull: [00:29:36] Oh, a sports team.
I'm married. I'm married to an athlete. She plays solo sports too, but I grew up playing team sports. So we, you know, I, I, I joke that I'm a better team player as a result.

Katelin Holloway: [00:29:52] Excellent. As someone who invests in and coaches in the next generation of people, first leaders, what is the one piece of advice you're sure to give every single founder in the portfolio.

Ed Catmull: [00:30:06] Woah. do the work now do the work early and talk to Katelin.

Katelin Holloway: [00:30:14] correct answer, sir. Yes. One last question. Before we wrap it up now. I don't know if you remember this, but this is the question that I've asked every single leader that I've interviewed with. When I decide if they are the person that I want to work with and partner with, you answered this for me once. And I'm going to ask you this question again.

[00:30:47] I already took the job. So if I don't like your answer, we were kind of up a Creek here. but no pressure.

Ed Catmull: [00:30:52] All right.

Katelin Holloway: [00:30:54] When was the last time you wanted something so badly? It hurt.

Ed Catmull: [00:30:59] Wow. when was the last time I wanted something so badly? It hurt. I mean, it would be three months ago when I ultimately decided to, to split with Gary, from initialized and start seven, seven, six. Yeah, no, I mean, I realized that was lost a lot of sleep over many, many nights. But I realized that was the right move. Even though this was, like I said, this is a firm that was doing well.

[00:31:32] I, I care about Gary a lot and just needed to, needed to do that. Just needed to build seven, seven, six.

Katelin Holloway: [00:31:40] Right answer you pass. Thank goodness. I didn't know what I was going to do, Joe. Yeah. Job prospects are tight in COVID. Thank you. and, and to, to recall, that was what you had said back then, too.

Ed Catmull: [00:31:54] Oh, really?

Katelin Holloway: [00:31:55] It was, it was about doing, having, having the opportunity to do what was right in front of you. And you had so much energy.

[00:32:03]And, and I watched you go through that decision making process live that time, and it's good. It's this is the energy that you, you get to ride and really get to build with. So I'm glad that you feel that

Ed Catmull: [00:32:16] And cause there was definitely another option. There was another path that, that presented itself there in September and wow. Yeah, definitely. Definitely picked, definitely picked well

Katelin Holloway: [00:32:28] I feel so privileged to have had a front row seat to that decision making process. And I, I know, without a shadow of a doubt where, where your heart is, when it comes to the impact you want to have on this world and, and the model that you want to set for, for your daughter.

[00:32:44] So. I'm glad that it wasn't pancakes. although we could have dealt with it too. Okay. Last question. just to wrap it up here, this is the very last question on the last episode of all hands 2020, emphasis on 2020, what advice would you give to founders and people leaders out there trying to make sense of this moment in history?

[00:33:05] How can they use this as an opportunity to build a better organization in this next chapter? Moving forward?

Ed Catmull: [00:33:14] this is the thing I was thinking last night. cause I, I had a very subdued, eh, I, a lot of close friends who spent a lot of time doing a ton of work to help, bring this to fruition. And, you know, a lot of them were out partying, getting very drunk, hopefully in a, in a safe, socially distant way.

[00:33:33]and I'm, I'm happy that did that. I had a very subdued evening. I feel I'm gonna crack the beer, made a pizza for the fam and, and just. II really tried to take some time to think about where all this was going to go next, because this is the start of a much bigger journey like in this country and everywhere we're going.

[00:33:58] And this was a baby step. I think now more than ever, companies have so much influence on the world and we're seeing that. Head-on right. Whether it's social media, Amazon, Google, et cetera. and there's a whole nother conversation about the role business should have in society. But, but let's just continue on the courts that we're on.

[00:34:19] There is so much energy right now that has been going through the trauma of the last four years. That is now feeling motivated, determined. That is the wind is at their backs. And so. The reaction to the last four years, which I think we can hopefully agree has not been one that is out of respect and creating a sense of belonging and creating a lot of the things that a great and healthy culture or Gore nation should do for all of its people.

[00:34:49] The reaction to that is going to be 10 X. And that's the thing that gives me a lot of hope because I know the founders we're going to meet with now, we're already meeting with now. Are a very different kind of motivated about the companies. They want to build the cultures. They want to build the organizations they're going to want to build.

[00:35:09] And then there's still just a whole host of people who are looking for purposeful work, who are going to want to join organizations that lead from their chest about what they believe in. And, and the vacuum of leadership that we've had in the last four years is actually going to. It's going to make us want great leadership and appreciate great leadership now more than ever.

[00:35:33] And so I think the imperative is it's never been greater to be a people first leader from again, from a pure business standpoint, forget what I want society to be like, if you want to win. If you want to attract the best talent, if you want to retain the best talent, you have got to know what your organization stands for.

[00:35:53] You've got to be willing to do the work, to make it better every day. and, and if you do it well and you do it right, you're going to be a big winner in the same way that COVID accelerated five years of tech adoption in five months. And we saw, you know, e-commerce go one way and traditional retail go the other way, et cetera, et cetera, this, this.

[00:36:13] Virus of toxicity has accelerated the need for real leaders and, and a willingness and a hunger from, from supporters that I, I think is an important time in a rare time, because I think we're going to be able to accomplish a lot more, a lot faster as a result. not that it was worth it. I'm not justifying the last four years.

[00:36:34] I'm really trying to look at a little bit of silver in the lining, but. it's, it's going to be really important to get. Right. And, and if you do, I think you'll, you, you and your organization will win in a big, big way.

Katelin Holloway: [00:36:52] What a beautiful way to end this season of all hands. A perfect way to summarize 2020, please, everyone out there listening. Take his words and go forth. Let's let's go do the work. Thank you, Alexis.

Ed Catmull: [00:37:08] Thank you Katelyn.

[Music]

Katelin Holloway VO:

And to you, the listener! Thanks so much for joining me on this week’s episode of All Hands, brought to you by Lattice. I’m your host, Katelin Holloway.
This episode was produced by Pod People: Rachael King, Eliza Lambert [AH-liza], and Samantha Gattsek [GATT-sic]. Special thanks to Annette Cardwell. Learn more about how Lattice can help your business stay people focused at Lattice DOT com or find us on Twitter @LatticeHQ. Don’t forget to subscribe to All Hands, wherever you get your podcasts.


About the Guest

Podcast Guest
Alexis Ohanian

Alexis Ohanian is a technology entrepreneur and investor. He's an investor in companies including Instacart, Coinbase, Hubspot (NYSE: HUBS), Opendoor, Flexport, Impossible, Ro, Patreon, GOAT, Cruise, Rippling, Standard, Gusto, Weave, Plangrid, Front, Color, Daily Harvest, Cloud9, Algolia, Flock Safety, and Lattice.

‍He’s also the co-founder of Reddit. Reddit was in the very first batch of Y Combinator (Summer 2005) and he led the company to a $10M sale to Condé Nast in 2006. He returned as Executive Chairman in 2014 to help lead the turnaround of a company with less than $10M in annual revenue to today’s $3B valuation.

‍He's the co-founder of initialized and he left his role as Managing Partner in July of 2020 in order to build another venture firm from the ground up, focused on software and empathy, called SEVEN SEVEN SIX.