Most Productive People: Alexis Ohanian

Cofounder, Reddit, and author, Without Their Permission.

[Photo by Ryan Pfluger]

“I hate phone calls so I believe in a telephone armistice. To me, the idea of calling someone unprompted is basically saying, ‘Hey, stop whatever you’re doing and talk to me right now.’ If you find yourself in the middle of something, getting an unprompted annoyance is incredibly frustrating. So I try to respect that. Unless it’s really an emergency, I’m not going to bother you. And you can see people chafe at that. You’re in the same office and instant-message each other? Why don’t you just walk over? That’s the perfect example of how ingrained the status quo is. To certain people, it may seem lazy, but I would argue it’s much more efficient and considerate.

Now, as an adviser, I do a lot of office hours with Y Combinator startups, and because I’m in New York [and they’re in Silicon Valley], I do most of them remotely through Google Hangout. There’s no fuss, no small talk. It’s two faces staring at each other. You can get face-to-face digitally.”

Time he gets up:

“I’m usually up pretty late, so I try to be up by 10 a.m.”

First thing he does each morning:

“The first thing I do is use the bathroom, then I make some coffee. No, the absolute first thing I do is feed my cat because he usually wakes me up.”

Apps and other assists:

“I use Evernote for everything because my handwriting is so bad. And I use Fancy Hands [for which he’s an adviser] and MobileWorks for certain tasks. It doesn’t make sense for me to spend three hours doing something I’m not that good at. There’s someone out there who’s great at it and should be compensated for it. I’m using Carrot to get in the habit of waking up in the morning and listing three or four really big things that I want to get done. Carrot is good about giving positive reinforcement, but it’s really about making sure I get those big things done because it’s tempting to say, ‘Let me quickly knock out this email.'”


“Scheduled calls.”


Last thing he does each night:

“Brush my teeth. That’s really important. I try not to have the computer in the bedroom. I used to sleep with it, though. I used to wake up spooning my laptop.”

Time he goes to bed:

“2 a.m.–ish.”