Airbnb and its growth over the past decade are legendary, scaling rapidly across countries to become an international brand. Leigh Gallagher documented its journey in her early 2017 book “The Airbnb Story: How to Disrupt an Industry, Make Billions of Dollars… and Plenty of Enemies”*, definitely a worthwhile read, both as an analysis of its evolution and challenges but also an inspiration to others who want to change the world too.
One of the interesting aspects is the extent to which Airbnb’s people scaled as the company itself grew rapidly, adapting and learning new skills at an incredibly fast pace. Brian Chesky, Airbnb’s CEO, is a shining example of this. In Leigh’s words: “One of the unique aspects of the Airbnb story has nothing to do with its weird, unthinkable idea for a business or its high-profile battles with lawmakers or even the rapid growth of its user base. Rather, it is the lack of traditional management experience of the company’s founding team – especially its CEO – and the speed with which they have had to learn how to become leaders of a very large company.”
It hasn’t always been a smooth road, but the way they managed to keep up and learnt to lead a company that had come to be Airbnb’s size with such little prior experience may offer a new playbook for leadership development.”
Read more to discover techniques that Brian used to learn and grow rapidly, innate skills he possesses, and our extrapolation to lessons applicable to all of us wanting to keep learning throughout our lifetimes.
What does succeeding beyond our wildest expectations have in common with failing? Both can conjure up similar feelings in us, often fear-based reactions. This post explores what Elizabeth Gilbert describes as the “strange and unlikely psychological connection in our lives between the way we experience great failure and the way we experience great success.” It’s based on her TED talks, and while particularly apt for the artists and creatives (including entrepreneurs) among us, it’s relevant to us all - we all create our own masterpieces that we share with others in some way.
At the end of the post, you can find the video of one of Elizabeth’s talks. I find it both light-hearted and touching, life-affirming and elegantly-put as well as candid and authentic, and take delight in sharing it with you. It’s about pursuing what we love, and keeping going, irrespective of success or failure.
Elizabeth recognises that there are times we find ourselves “afraid of the work that [we] feel [we] were put on this Earth to do”, and offers suggestions born from her own experiences as to how to manage these fears. Read more to unthread how success can be as disorienting as failure, and look into lessons from dealing with failure i.e. how to self-restore and carry on, regardless of the outcome. These include finding our purpose, maintaining a healthy emotional distance, and continuing to show up and do our work.
In this post, we set out 8 traits championed by Richard St John, based on his research into common factors identified by successful people. Richard has spoken three times at the main TED conference, for roughly three succinct minutes each time (an achievement in itself!): 2005, 2009, and 2015.
In fact, his original research was prompted while on a flight to a TED conference, when a teenager asked him what leads to success… Richard says: “So I get off the plane and go to the TED conference and I’m standing in a room full of extraordinarily successful people in many fields – business, science, arts, health, technology, the environment – when it hit me: why don’t I ask them what helped them succeed, and find out what really leads to success for everyone?”
Richard has a varied background himself including experience as a consumer researcher, marketer, speechwriter, designer, photographer, and entrepreneur (as founder of a marketing communications company). He also has a black belt in judo, cycled halfway around the world, runs many marathons, and climbed Kilimanjaro in Africa and Aconcagua in South America.
Read more to uncover Richard’s research approach, and explore the 8 traits he distilled.