Alexis Ohanian Slams Critic Who Said His Family Vacation Showed 'Poor Work Ethic'

"... if you think that spending time with your wife and kid on vacation is an example of a poor work ethic, you're part of the problem."

Those who follow Alexis Ohanian on social media are probably familiar with this bonafide family man's love for his wife, Serena Williams, and their daughter, Olympia. He gushes about the women in his life on an almost daily basis, after all. So, when someone criticized the Reddit co-founder for taking his family on vacation to Italy recently, this 35-year-old refused to stand by and let this person's harsh words perpetuate the misconceptions around "hard work" in America.

"Had an associate at another VC firm text one of my partners about my vacation a couple weeks ago, implying I wasn't working hard," Ohanian wrote on Instagram. "If you spend that much time thinking/talking about your competition, you're going to lose."

"But less often said in tech — if you think that spending time with your wife and kid on vacation is an example of a poor work-ethic, you're part of the problem," he added. "Yes, work your ass off when you're working, but it cannot be everything, forever. And you don't need a family to need time for self-care. Burnout is real and you're not doing great work if you're not in a great condition."

"Find me in a decade and we'll check the receipts."


Ohanian's post exposes America's tendency to value work over family. According to Credit Loan, LLC,  85.8 percent of males and 66.5 percent of females work more than 40 hours per week. In total, "Americans work 137 more hours per year than Japanese workers, 260 more hours per year than British workers, and 499 more hours per year than French workers," as the International Labour Organization indicates. Project: Time Off adds that Americans wasted a record-breaking 658 million vacation days in 2015 alone, further emphasizing how pervasive Ohanian's critic's mindset has become throughout the country.

However, Ohanian's followers showed their support in the comments by noting their disdain for this work-obsessed culture.

Instagram user @areyouagod wrote: "I hate the way people glorify being so busy. I asked two colleagues last year what they were currently reading, as we were all part of an early intervention reading program for high risk children in Philadelphia. One of them scoffed in my face and replied he was too busy to read, as if he was somehow better than me because I had free time. Like really dude? Shut up with that noise. It's OK to do something other than work, stop making it the norm to be totally consumed by work by choice."

User @hamnmule said: "Preach! You know this is so very American, which is sad. I'm English and used to long vacations. My American Co workers have always been surprised by me taking ALL of my vacation. I worked for it. I'm taking it. QT with my family is what I work for! Super happy that you told it as it should be."

Another user, @coach_mom_wife_life, wrote: "Yes!!!! It's all about balance! Burnout is very real. Unfortunately our culture teaches us that being busy is a sign of productivity. But in actuality, we are more productive when we make time to rest, spend time with out families, travel, and take time to recharge. I'm glad you stood up for your choice!!"

Prior to the birth of his daughter, Ohanian was already a vocal advocate for paid family leave. Not only did Ohanian choose to lead by example by taking full advantage of Reddit's paternity leave policy, but he also designed a family leave plan at his new company, Initialized Capital, which includes 16 weeks of paid family leave and an additional leave plan for women who have complications during or after birth.

"I had every intention as co-founder and executive to lead by example and take that whole period, and I didn't realize though just how important that would be," he told CNN. "My wife had had a really great pregnancy but then complications during and after the birth meant she was dealing with a lot herself and I had to do everything I could to be the supportive husband and supportive father, and it really put into perspective for me how important creating this family leave policy is for men and women who want to become parents."

"What it's ultimately going to mean for the organization is a way healthier, better functioning organization," Ohanian added. "I think what is lost on a lot of people is your teams are not robots, they are humans and if you really are expecting them to do great work, they need to be in a great state of mind."

Work-life balance might seem hard to achieve amidst the societal pressures to be productive, but with staunch advocates like Ohanian leading the charge for change, the collective conscience might adopt a similar mindset sooner rather than later. 

Cover image via JStone / Shutterstock


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