Alexis Ohanian debuts his exclusive podcast, 'Business Dad,' engaging in conversations about work-life balance with accomplished fathers

Alexis Ohanian debuts his exclusive podcast, 'Business Dad,' engaging in conversations about work-life balance with accomplished fathers

Alexis Ohanian is taking a closer look at what it means to be successful as both a father and an entrepreneur.

The tech executive and father of two, 41, is asking dads the hard questions on his new podcast, Business Dad.

Presented by Realm, Ohanian poses the question, “How do you balance being a dad with a successful career?” to some of the most influential men across business, sports, entertainment and other bustling industries.

Speaking with PEOPLE about the podcast's launch, Ohanian — father to Adira, 9 months, and Olympia, 6½, whom he shares with wife Serena Williams — shares the concept behind the podcast in the works since 2019.

"It was just a couple of years after Olympia was born. I started having so many more conversations once I became a dad with other successful dads, across industries, who had so many things that they wanted to share about their own struggles. And there was something about these conversations that just struck me as so fantastic, because it was like I just joined this club that I didn't know existed," he shares.

"I discovered the people who I knew through business, who are at the top of their field, cared just as much if not more about the moves they were making as dads."

Ohanian hopes that these conversations are "normalized and popularized" the way similar conversations are among women.

"People should be able to hear these very successful men talking about the fact that yeah, they do give a damn. They give a lot of damns about showing up for their families. I felt like that voice was missing and I started recording these conversations."

While the original plans were derailed by the pandemic, Ohanian knew he wanted to get back to it as soon as he could.

"This has been an amazing collaboration with Realm. At some point, we'll relaunch the original episodes from that time, but for now, the timing couldn't feel better. You can see in the zeitgeist more and more really, really successful dads talking about how important family is to them."

Ohanian says he appreciates how the conversation is shifting and that talking about family life "makes us better at our careers."

"Ask any working mom and they've had to learn to deal with this balance and thrive within it for a very long time," he says, nodding to the antiquated idea that parenting is a woman's work.

"I really feel like there's an opportunity here to normalize a different kind of masculinity, frankly. It's seven years now since I've become a dad and I truly didn't think the timing could be better. The bar was so incredibly low for men, especially notable men. Even if you claimed your child, that was considered like you were doing something. In reality, I think we should be talking about the guys who are stepping up and doing the work for their legacy."

Ohanian notes that in conversations with older businessmen who are at the latter end of their careers and have children and grandchildren that, "they all come back to the same thing."

"Why not get the cheat chodes from men who I really respect and admire, who have done all the things? And live what they are saying, which is, 'Spend that time now, don't squander it.' They grow up quick.' The joy I find in my moments as a dad is a joy that I literally didn't even know existed, and I think normalizing that is good for everyone."

Ohanian is also excited to chat with dads about "all the new opportunities that exist today" in balancing family and career.

"Even the nature of work itself, for so many folks, offers more autonomy. Whether it's freedom of movement or freedom of time, and also the normalization of things like paternity leave. Those are things my dad didn't have when I was born in '83. He took one day off because that was what was expected. Taking more time than that wasn't a thing."

He's also hoping to inspire men who are maybe not fathers yet, but are looking for role models to relate to the kind of lives they see for themselves in the future.

"For young men, right now, it feels like there's a bit of a vacuum. You're seeing a bunch of young guys trying to figure out who they are, what they want to be about. And that weird vacuum is getting filled by some pretty random voice on the internet," Ohanian notes.

"One of the things I hope makes something like this valuable is that there are men who are objectively great in what they're doing professionally. The idea is always you gotta get your bread, build wealth, build a career, and those messages have been pushed for so long. When you can hear from folks who have done those things and are at the top of their game and are also talking about how important this thing called fatherhood is, I really hope that starts to reframe what success looks like," he continues.

"What if we can start aligning both goals, neither of which is easy by any means? It's not easy, but again, working moms have been doing this for a minute now. So we're going to try to figure out our ways to deal with the trade-offs, the struggles."

Ohanian believes being armed with this information earlier in life would be beneficial to young men today.

"I actually think so many of the best practices that I picked up since becoming a dad and that you'll hear other dads have are applicable really at any stage of your life. There's some big themes there. You require the same kind of discipline having a kid really forces upon you when you're pursuing any exceptional work. Showing up in big ways for your family takes discipline and managing a schedule, and those are skills, muscles really, that you should be exercising all the time," he explains.

"If I was 21 again and starting Reddit again, those are skills I would want to start exercising because I know they'd help me do a better job. You have so much more time at that early point in your life too, and to think of how much leverage that gives you, what a superpower it is to be able to channel it into being more effective. Not just at work but frankly, it becomes how much time you have for the other things that are important in your own personal development. It's an even bigger unlock because you have a lot more of that thing called time."

When it comes to conversations that hit close to home for Ohanian, he cited his chat with La Colombe Coffee Roasters CEO Todd Carmichael.

"I was interested in getting in the head of someone who's built a billion-dollar empire with a very brick-and-mortar business. He's had to travel the world, and Todd traveled through so much of his life and lived a very adventurous lifestyle. Then, when he decided to start a family, he knew he wanted to do it through adoption. It was something important to him and he explains all the dynamics of it. I have two sisters who are adopted, so I was so thrilled to hear him talk about it the way he did and the why behind it," he shares.

"Obviously, I've spent a lot of time talking about things like maternal health and, particularly, the Black maternal health crisis in America. Plenty of families grow the old-fashioned way, but adoption is another great way to build a family. It's great to see a guy who's already built an empire, who has adventured to some of the most harrowing places all over the world. And the thrill he gets these days is from taking his kids to practice and spending time with them now as teens," Ohanian says.

"He was able to invest in in their childhoods as well, and this is the stuff where I think, 'We can start to see a culture shift.' Todd's just a great example of one of those dads."

Ohanian believes the podcast will have something to offer anyone who "is in any way interested in learning from folks you can admire about how they navigate it, and all the struggles too."

"We're entering this age, whether you're in tech or not, where it feels like there's sort of boundless change happening. I think it's even more imperative to be able to stay adaptable, to stay fluid amid this change, to be hungry, to be sort of leaning in and learning and evolving," he says.

"It's like a little Pok√©mon, a little kid — they evolve and change. And one day it's, 'Woah, you started out as a Charmander, but now you're a Charizard, and that's very cool.'"

"You start with a little person and end up with a very different little person. And you've got to adapt because — there's some core principles that don't change about love and patience and those things, but you've definitely got to adapt your tactics as they are evolving and getting older."

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