Most successful entrepreneurs say that knowing which opportunities to take (and when) is key when it comes to growing a business.
For Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, this process is a lot like surfing, he says, watching and waiting for the right wave to come in and knowing when to let one pass you by — and having the drive to get back up after a big wipeout.
During a recent keynote address at his alma mater, the University of Virginia, Ohanian said the “surfer mindset” is a good way to look at business — and life. Because once in a while, you’ll hit the right wave perfectly.
“Some waves come by, and you rip them perfect, and you’re just chilling,” Ohanian explained. “And you got your GoPro out. You got a good selfie, and you feel good about yourself.”
But you might have to wait hours before you get another one just like it — and that’s what business is like.
“That mindset is the right mindset for a life well-lived. If you spent all your time on that board, just being anxious about the wave you just missed, you’re gonna miss the next one,” he said. “If you spend it just daydreaming and trying to relive that one amazing wave you just had, you might miss the next one.”
The moral of Ohanian’s metaphor: Keep looking forward and don’t revel in mistakes (or big wins), but keep focusing on what lies ahead, knowing the next wave is on its way.
“There are times in your life where you will need to focus on the career, the work,” he told Entrepreneur earlier this summer. “There are times in your life when you need to focus on life. It’s on a spectrum that’s ever-flowing back and forth.”
Ohanian’s net worth is an estimated $150 million.