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Conventional wisdom says that working at a start-up wreaks havoc on one's personal life, but that's not always the case.

Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder of Reddit, which he sold to Conde Nast in 2006, writes about how working on a start-up helped him deal with a series of personal tragedies, which culminated with his mother's diagnosis with terminal brain cancer:

During the next few years I spent a lot of time travelling between Boston (where reddit was based) and Maryland (where my parents lived). Every time I left her side, I was energized by her courage and unflagging spirit. She gave me all the inspiration I needed to wake up every morning and kick some ass, because that's what you have to believe as a startup founder.
If you've worked with the spineless, you know how frustrating it can be to deal with their poisonous helplessness -- something that's only heightened in a startup where the most important thing you can do is not give up. And you'd better fucking believe that when you come home to a mother battling brain cancer and a father spending every waking hour taking care of her and running his own business, you don't complain, you don't cower, and you most certainly don't quit.
She fought for far longer than any doctor expected and died on March 15, 2008. But I got to prove that her 25 years of wholeheartedly supporting me weren't in vain -- you can bet that had a lot to do with my feelings about selling reddit. 

The full essay is here.

Last updated: Aug 3, 2010




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