CEO and co-founder of Airbnb, Brian Chesky, has grown accustomed to having others disapprove of his work. In a recent interview, he said that people thought the airbnb idea was absurd in the beginning stages, but he knew he had a good idea and his stubbornness and persistence paid off. When asked about the original intention for Airbnb, he said that it was supposed to only last for one weekend to pay the bills while the team came up with a better idea, but as you can see, the idea stayed around for much longer than a weekend.
So, how did they make it through the initial stages—the toughest part of building a business? And how did Brian and the other co-founders grow their company into the $30 billion valued business that it is today? Their success came from three things, and here they are:
Malcolm Gladwell said, “If you are going to do something truly innovative, you have to be someone who does not value social approval.” In other words, to seek approval before you begin is to push away any possibility of innovation. Think of anyone who has come before us who had a crazy idea. Do you think that their ideas or work were accepted by the masses? It’s usually quite the opposite. Anyone who has done something great has had many critics along the way, and it won’t be any different for you. To innovate you must learn how to fight for what you believe in, most definitely in the midst of opposition.
To innovate you must learn how to fight for what you believe in the midst of opposition. Click To Tweet
The difference between the success story of Airbnb and the other businesses who fail is that Airbnb is willing to take brave actions. They don’t limit their thinking to stay inside the box, they keep pushing boundaries, and they do what no one else is doing. An example of this can be seen in the fact that they have a presence in New York City, where a law prohibits owners to rent out properties to Airbnb users. Most people would have built their business elsewhere once they knew this law was in place, but instead, Airbnb saw NYC as a major opportunity to fight for their ideas.
When you have an idea so grand, so powerful, you will fight for the outcome. This is many times the best indication as to where your passion lies. Notice what it is that you want to fight for, innovate, and chase your dreams. You’ll be wiser and happier for it in the end.
In early 2014, Chip Conley, a true visionary in the hotel industry was appointed Airbnb’s head of global hospitality. This move in itself shows how mature Chesky is in his hiring decisions. He can take advice from a more seasoned veteran found in Conley, and is a force to be reckoned with because of it. Looking from the outside, I didn’t see Conley joining Airbnb’s team as feasible, but Airbnb’s idea was too good to pass up, and Conley saw an opportunity to fill a void in the hotel industry.
This is a lesson for all of us: we must never stop looking for the right people, but we must also create cultures that people want to gravitate towards. Someone like Conley would have never joined Airbnb would it have not been for the remarkable idea of Airbnb. But it also took someone as strong as Chesky to help entice Conley to join their already existing innovative culture. Being innovative in our approaches are not only for our benefit and the benefit of the team we already have, but for the benefit of our future business and team. And innovation starts with you and me.
Airbnb has made their mission known. Hospitality is their brand’s focus and they have even limited their entire mission to one sheet of paper so it is easier to understand, easier to execute, and easier to teach others. They know that when people are able to fully comprehend what their core values are, they are able to produce better results in the process.
Maybe you have lofty plans and aspirations, but I would encourage you to put pen to paper or fingers to keys and write out the innovative ideas that you and your business want to accomplish. Because it is when you pinpoint a plan that it becomes easier for anyone and everyone on your team to execute time and time again. And let’s be honest, ideas are great and all, but repetitive execution is where the real magic happens.