Airbnb Founder: The Number 1 Thing People Get Wrong About Happiness and Success | Brian Chesky | Transcription

Transcription for the video titled "Airbnb Founder: The Number 1 Thing People Get Wrong About Happiness and Success | Brian Chesky".

Airbnb Founder: The Number 1 Thing People Get Wrong About Happiness and Success | Brian Chesky | Transcription

Introductory Thoughts on Loneliness

Loneliness as the Number One Killer (00:00)

He said something to me, he said, "Brian, do you know what the number one killer in America is?" I don't know, is it like heart disease? Is it cancer? And he goes, "No, the number one killer in America is loneliness." Airbnb CEO, his name is Brian Chesky. He's a badass in this business. You're worth $30 billion.

Different Experiences and Perspectives of Brian Chesky

The Challenge of Success (00:13)

The problem with success is that it tends to amplify things. No one ever told me how lonely you would get. It's almost like I had to go on this entire journey to realize I had everything I needed before I even started the journey. If I die, will I die Brian Chesky or the Airbnb guy just died?

Unique Episode of Unpurposed (00:27)

This is without a doubt the most unique episode of Unpurposed I think we've ever had.

Invitation to Join the Community (00:31)

Before we jump into this episode, I'd like to invite you to join this community to hear more interviews that will help you become happier, healthier and more healed. All I want you to do is click on the subscribe button. I love your support. It's incredible to see all your comments and we're just getting started. I can't wait to go on this journey with you. Thank you so much for subscribing. It means the world to me. The best-selling author and host. The number one health and wellness podcast. Come on purpose with Jay Shetty. Hey everyone. Welcome back to Unpurposed. The number one health and wellness podcast in the world. Thanks to each and every one of you that come back every week to become happier, healthier and more healed. And you know, that's my goal here to create a community where we can all come together, feel connected by ideas and visions and thoughts that help us in our daily lives. And today's guest is someone who's achieved incredible success, but also someone who I believe is carrying ideas and insights that can be really useful to us on our journey to whatever success may mean to you. I'm talking about the one and only Brian Chesky, who's the co-founder and chief executive officer of Airbnb. In 2007, Brian and Joe Gabia became Airbnb's first hosts. Since then, Brian has overseen Airbnb's growth to become a community of over 4 million hosts who have welcomed more than 1 billion guests across 200 plus countries and regions. Brian is a signatory to the Giving Pledge and is committed to donating the net proceeds of his CEO equity compensation to community philanthropic and charitable causes. Something that I'm so passionate about and so excited to dive into. Brian, welcome to Unpurposed. Well, thank you for having me. Really excited to be here. This is awesome. I'm truly honored. I think there's very few, as I was just saying to you offline, and I want to repeat what I said. I think it's hard to build something that matters. It's hard to scale something that matters. And it's hard to build and scale something that matters and keep making it matter. And you seem to be doing all those things. We try every day. Congratulations. It's been a joy watching it from afar. And I'm excited to build this relationship with you. I'm excited to talk about this. Yeah. Well, let's dive into it. I want to start off with my first question, which is, what makes you happy today? And how does it differ from what made you happy 16 years ago?

What Makes Brian Chesky Happy (02:55)

I think that I'll start with what I thought would make me happy. And I'll tell you what does make me happy and how they're different. When I started this company like 15 years ago, I started my co-founders. I was totally broke. I had no status. I had no power, no money, nothing. And I felt like what would make me happy was climbing a mountain and becoming incredibly successful. And the challenge is that, well, what do you do when you get the top of the mountain? You've achieved it. And what I've realized is, at this point, like I'm 41 years old, and a lot of people ask me, why don't you just retire? Like, why don't you do it all over again? And for me, I would tell them because the fun is just starting. But the fun of just starting is until I get the next billion people. I kind of think of myself maybe more than a business person. You're kind of who you are growing up, and I was a designer growing up. And I kind of think of Airbnb as like one of the world's biggest canvas. Almost never has a designer been given so much responsibility. So much opportunity. And what I love is like a musician wants to play music, a painter wants a paint, a builder wants a build, a climber wants a climb. And as an entrepreneur, I want to create and connect things and try to defy the notion of what a business person could be or what a designer could be. Because I never met someone like me growing up. And I'm not saying anyone's going to try to be like me. But if I can remind people that there's leadership comes in many different faces, many different flavors, and that a creative person can run a company and it can run a really big company, a fortune 500 company, then that's the very beginning. And I feel like what makes me happy now is working with people I love. Like the one of the great things about success is you can choose the people you've stressed up with. And I get to like work every single day with people I love on ideas that I'm obsessed over. And I'm just so obsessed. Like I think my motivations changed. I think when I started with my motivation was about myself becoming something. And once you achieve that, your motivation often turns outward. It's about it's starting to be about giving to other people. So letting them experience a small part of what I was able to experience and it becomes just about the work. So when you're not successful, you get validation when people praise you. But eventually like you do it for yourself, that you're not doing it for status or success. Because at some point you've gotten all that like how much more is going to make you happy. And so just doing things I love of people I care about, that's what makes me happy today. That's beautiful. That's, I can see that it's true for you too. I can see that it's real for you as you're saying it, which is such a special place to be.

Journey of Self-Discovery (06:05)

And it was interesting when you were talking about this idea of climbing a mountain, I've often thought that there's one journey in life that we take that's upwards, upper mountain. And then there's another journey we all have to take that's inwards to the valley. And that's a journey that not everyone gets to take or everyone thinks about taking because we're so busy trying to get up that we don't often get to go in. And it sounds like you've been excavating that internal part for some time. You can learn a lot about yourself through this journey. And you're right, the biggest journey I've probably embarked on is the one inside of myself. The brightest days of my life and the darkest days of my life have been the last 15 years. The highs are incredibly high, the lows can be incredibly low, the amount of stress can be unrelenting. The rewards are hard to even grapple with. When you go on a journey like this, you learn a lot about yourself. And you start to also learn like what's important to you. Starting a company, you know, one of my first investors said, Brian, starting a company is like jumping off a cliff and assembling the airplane the way down. Maybe another way of saying it is like playing a video game. And it's like a thousand levels. And each level gets harder. In each level, you learn something about yourself. You do something that's uncomfortable. In each step of the game, you learn something. And the problem with success is that tends to amplify things. I mean, that can be good, but all console can amplify holes you have in yourself. People that are a little bit paranoid get very paranoid. People that are a little deceitful become like completely fraudulent liars. People that are a little narcissistic become like egomaniacs and stuff. And so the stuff can tend to amplify tendencies inside of yourself. And so if you're afraid of conflict, that's going to actually manifest in like not actually dealing with things. If you can't, if you're not decisive, there's going to be a element of bureaucracy. If you're like get overwhelmed and you get paralyzed, there's going to be an action in the company.

Learning About Oneself through Entrepreneurship (08:10)

And so you learn so much about yourself. And I through this process, I probably learn more about myself than I even have about business. And it's been an incredible journey. And yeah, it's like incredible lessons. And the company is like a mirror about you, right? Like when you see a company, it's like a walking your house. And by walking your house, I can step a little bit in your mind because the house, you bought the house, you furnished the house, you made a thousand decisions. And it would take a while for me in conversation to understand you, but I walk in this house and I can understand the thousand decisions you made. A company is like that, but it's like a hundred thousand decisions or a million decisions. And so by seeing the company, you can like see into the person's mind everything they do and not even everything they do, but everyone they surround the self with and the culture they create and what they and that's the thing that's so crazy. I mean, Trig, you said something there that really stood out to me. You said that the happiest thing and the best thing about being successful is that you get to choose the people you worked with. You obviously built this with friends. Yeah. And that's how it started. It started in a place of being around people you love with. What was the biggest point of challenge in building something with people you love as you grow it and what is it that you experienced and what was the biggest lesson that you took away that actually kept it going? Because I can imagine as you're describing highs and lows, all of this change for 16 years, but here you are still building it together.

Building a Company with Friends (09:40)

Think about how many stories you heard of founders. It's like a band. They come together and then eventually the band breaks up and people don't stay together. They resent each other. Maybe things end very ugly. It's like a band except like it becomes so much bigger than a band because it's not just the three of you. Imagine a band that starts three people and ends as 3000 people and that amount of pressure, the amount of spotlight, the money that changes in like people status and positioning. They can do a lot to break people up. But also unlike a band where maybe, I'm not to say you just have to agree on where you perform and what you're saying, with a company you have to agree on who we're going to hire, what we're going to call, what markets we're going to go into, what's the prioritization, who we're going to raise money for. I can go down the list of the thousands of things you have to agree to. With Joe, Nate and I, I often say it's really good to start a company with friends. Not everyone has friends to start a company with, but you want that reservoir of goodwill. We made a decision. The decision was that no one decision is going to supersede our friendship and our relationship, that we're never going to have, well, debate, we'll argue, but we'll never allow a situation where winning an argument is the most important thing because you think about a company as a hundred thousand decisions. It could also be a hundred thousand arguments. If you get stuck on the first debate or you like somebody won the debate, okay, great. You have 99,999 more things to discuss. The lesson I learned is, I mean, first of all, Jay, I was lucky. A lot of people when I say I was lucky, they think, "Oh, you were at the right place, the right time with the right idea." I said, "Well, maybe, but there's something I was much luckier about." What I was most lucky about, what made me most fortunate was I met Joe and Nate, that we have this unbelievable chemistry. One time we had to do some personality tests. It was one of those core wheels. We took this personality test to see about our chemistry. They plotted our personalities and they formed a perfect equilateral triangle. Not always you're going to find people that are perfect compliments to you. I'd say a couple things.

Shared Values and Complementary Skills (11:46)

Number one, you want to have a team with people that you are friends with or could see yourself becoming friends with, that you have a deep love and respect for, that you're going to probably spend more time with your co-founders than your spouse or your family. If it goes well, if it doesn't go well, then maybe not, but that's the best case scenario, that people that have shared values because you can debate anything so long as you're trying to climb the same mountain and the same belief system. You have different values eventually that are going to become irreconcilable conflicts. But you probably also want complementary skills. The worst case is people with different values and same skills. We do the same job. We step in each other's tolls and we're trying to go in a different direction.

Mutual Love and Respect (12:26)

Then I think the final thing is just this mutual love and respect and never losing sight. One of the things I tried to make sure of is even as CEO, I wanted to try to make sure that Joe and Nate were included in things. I wanted to always make sure that people were referred to us together. We thought of us as a unit. When public, you write a founder's letter and a lot of people write letter and they just sign the name of the CEO. I made sure that it was from all of us and was representing all of us. I feel like they are the heart and the soul of the company. It's like parents.

Multiple Founders (13:03)

Not every child has the fortune to have multiple parents. Not every company has the fortune to have multiple founders. But if they're together and they're not fighting and they have a mutual love and respect from another, that's going to permeate the company just like it permeates the health of a child. Joe and Nate and I thought ourselves as parents and the company as a child. I'd never have had kids. There's something about that. I think who you are and that relationship permeates every single thing.

Impact on the Organization (13:29)

If the founders fight, the employees fight. If they have respect from one another, that is going to be a role, a model that other people throughout the organization are going to copy. That's what I've learned from that. I think what you're saying is very, very true and it's remarkable that you've been able to hold on to that. I remember just comparing it to something very miniscule. I think a lot of people will be able to relate to. It's like I think with your bros at college or at school, you'd always be like, "We're not going to fight over girls. We're not going to fight over women." It would always be the guy who trades the friendship for a girl and then the whole thing's lost. That's a short-term decision. I understand why people make short-term decisions. They make trade-offs. They want to win. But as long as you think about the arc of your life and that life is only who you're with and that you don't want to be alone at the end of your life and you certainly don't be alone at the end of the journey. If I'm climbing up now and I want friends by my side that can provide supplies at me. Being the only one in power is actually quite lonely. Having been in that little position, I now can tell people that you want to share it because otherwise it's incredibly isolating and lonely. If you get all the credit, you could also get all the blame and it can be very difficult to be able to share that with Joe and Nate. Now to be able to share that with the people that I get to pick to surround myself with that, that is one of the most fulfilling things. Great relationships get better with age and they give you energy. They make you better. They hold your negative tendencies and check and they pull out like creative ambitions in you. They see potential in you that maybe you don't see yourself. I did never imagined that I could be CEO of any company. I didn't think I could be CEO of a pizza shop, let alone be a giant fortune 500 company to go for 60 billion dollars last year in bookings. Like that's completely crazy. And I've learned a lot of lessons from this journey.

People are Fundamentally Good (15:23)

One is I think we all were born with like unknown potential. And I think the other thing is sometimes the best people in your life will be people who see potential in you that you didn't see in yourself. And I often wonder like why did Joe and Nate even agree to like let me be the CEO? Why did Joe tell me one day in 2007 to pack everything back of Old Honda Civic and drive up to San Francisco? Why did he think that was a good idea? And years later he's told me and he told me that we went to college together at RISD and he saw something in me. And it's possible he saw something in me that I didn't even yet see in myself. And this is like the hero's journey. Somebody might believe in you. You might see something in you. And that's what I got with Joe and Nate. And I think I believed in what I think I saw. They saw potential in me. What I saw maybe was potential in this idea that if people could experience what we experienced that first weekend when we host three guests that this would be an idea that would spread around the world. I think we have an easier time imagining living like this on Mars and living differently on this planet. But what do you think is more likely to happen in the near term? It's really hard for us to imagine sociological changes. We can all imagine technological changes. We can imagine things getting bigger, faster, but it's hard to imagine us living differently. And I don't think that we were visionaries per se. I think we were expeditionaries.

Exploring Loneliness, Connection and Isolation as a CEO

Discovering Something New (17:00)

And I think we discovered something. One of my first investors, Paul Graham, he said, "What do you know? What unique knowledge do you know that has allowed you, afforded you the ability to start this company that no one else has? What do you know that no one else understands?" And I think that we discovered something. We discovered that people are fundamentally good. Read the newspaper. I think Chief Justice Earl Warren said, "I don't turn to the front pages of the newspaper. It's filled with man's failures. I go to the sports page. It's filled with man's successes." I think we live in an abundance of data reinforcing that people aren't good. And we have probably as much data as almost anyone, because in the last 15 years, 1.5 billion people have used Airbnb, 1.5 billion guest arrivals in nearly every country in the world, more countries I think than Coca-Cola, nearly the population of LA every night living together. And it's only reinforced what I think we naively believed in the beginning, these two simple ideas, that people are basically good, they're 99% the same. I think that Joe and Nate believed in me and my potential to be in this company. I think we collectively believe in the potential of each other. And I think also that this idea would be one that could spread around the world. If only we could figure out how to communicate it to people. How special. I mean, that is something that I definitely got a mini version experience of. I just finished 40 City World Tour for my second book. And we probably met about 100,000 people on the way of advance. And much, much smaller than the 1 billion bookings. But I would agree with those two sentiments so strongly that we're 99% the same. And people are all overall good. If people believed everyone was basically the same, then how could you hate someone else? Because they hate someone else's to hate yourself. And I think that we spend a lot of energy in society celebrating the 0.1% that makes us different. I think there's a good part of that. We call that diversity, inheritance, and culture. But there's a dark side of believing that we're all very different. And that's that we believe that people are the other. And that therefore, it's harder to have empathy with somebody who isn't us. And I think that the best way to understand that somebody is similar to you is to walk in their shoes. And to like just, you know, as an old saying, it's hard to hate someone up close. And I think there's something weird that's happening where the more digitally connected we seem to get, the more the less physically connected we sometimes get. And I wonder if that has a way of like confusing us about people that we might argue about on the internet. No one else, no one's ever changed the most mind YouTube comment section. But if it's hard to live with somebody or to walk in the shoes and not change your mind, how could you not change your mind about something? Because that would suggest that like you've experienced all of life up to that point and that you feel your opinions are fully formed and that no new data could ever change your mind about anything. How could that pass? How do you even have your opinions in the first place based on probably experiences? And so how could you not change your experience? Your opinion by new experiences with new people. And that's kind of the kind of the simple way we think about it.

Loneliness and Connection (20:19)

I'm so glad you raised this idea of you talked about the incredible friendship that you have with your co-founders. But at the same time you brought up this idea of loneliness and you said you never want to be lonely at the end of a journey. You never want to be lonely at the end of building something big. And I think in the world today, we are seeing loneliness proliferate and it's the loneliness of not that we're not around people. It's not loneliness that we're not surrounded by people. It's that we're surrounded by people, but we don't feel understood. We don't feel seen. We don't feel heard that we feel that we have to be someone apart from ourselves, even around the people that we're closest to. And so the idea of loneliness is expanding away. People are feeling disconnected from each other. Yet you're talking about 16 years ago, you and a bunch of friends feeling so close to each other. When have you felt lonely in your life and what have been your next thoughts and steps that you've taken from that point? I think loneliness, which is like the darkness or the absence of connection, and loving connection have in hindsight been some of the driving forces in my entire life.

Dealing with Loneliness (21:31)

If I were to think about my journey with loneliness, I think I grew up as a little bit of a lonely isolated kid. I was interested in art and design, but I also played sports. I didn't really feel like I fit in growing up. I kind of felt like an outsider. I went to the Rhode Island School design where a lot of people who felt that way would come together, but even at RISD, I didn't feel like I fit in there. Even as a hockey player? Even as a hockey player at art school, I went to a military private school. And then I went to art college and I kind of had a foot in each and not fully. And I had maybe issues of authority I didn't really fit in. It turned out to be a huge benefit to being a tech founder, but of course, who doesn't want to fit in growing up? Like so much of our desire is to belong because I think to belong is a deeply human trait. We're tribal. We grew up to be in tribes of like 50, 100, 150 people and to not be part of the tribe and not belong in a prior era would be a death sentence. And I think that ultimately today, we're probably living in one the loneliest times in human history. People were as lonely in yesterday's, they are today, they probably perish because you just couldn't survive without your tribe. And I think that for me, I didn't realize that this was a thing that I was fighting throughout my life. And so when I was 25, 20, 20, 26, I started being my two co-founders and we became the family. We became a fan with a hand-hat for 10 years since I really, 10 years since I left the house. And then suddenly we were a family, the three of us. And we're just hanging out together. We live together. We all like wake up, woke up around the same time around 80M. We worked until midnight and then we do it the whole the next day. We go grocery shopping together. We like go to the gym together. It was very communal. Then we hired people that were basically our friends. We wouldn't hire anyone we didn't like. And then we didn't have a lot of work life, like boundaries. Everyone was young. We didn't have families. We go out like drinking together and hanging out together in dinner. And that became like a family. It became like a community. And that was incredible. And it was this deep, rich connection. And those were some of the closest friendships I ever had.

Loneliness as a CEO (23:46)

But then something happens. We go on a rocket ship.

Realization of Loneliness (23:49)

And then I go from being a founder to a CEO. And I was one of three founders. And then I became one CEO, an individual role. And as I became a CEO, I started leading from the front at the top of the mountain. But then, you know, the higher you get to the peak, the fewer the people, the are with you. And everyone ever told me how lonely you would get. And I wasn't prepared for that. And I had this guilt about not working because so much of my life was about being successful, probably probably if I were to dig deep because I thought that would make people love me. And that was probably adulation. But I probably didn't know it back then. And I probably thought that by being successful, I'd feel really different.

Isolation and Lack of Relationships (24:33)

And I remember I got to this point where I was already feeling pretty isolated. And then the pandemic happened. And I'm living by myself in a house. And I'm fine myself on Zoom's 24/7, like 16, 18 hours a day for an entire year of 2020. I, you know, help with the team we navigate out of a crisis. People were predicting we'd like some people that we would go out of business. We stared into the abyss and we like gotten a foxhole. We turned the company around. We took it public. And the day of our IPO, we reached a hundred billion dollar valuation. And remember, if you told me like a million dollars and more money, I never imagined growing it. My parents are social workers. It was like an unfathomable amount of money. And I remember after going public, it was like, oh my God, there's this like amazing exaltation. It was amazing. Like I got to them about a mountain and then I wake up the next day and my life is exactly the same. I'm alone. I wake up. I put on sweatpants. I go on an iMac and I have like 10, 12 hours of Zoom meetings. And I just don't really have much of my life outside of work. My work was my life. And then I remember having a 40th birthday party and I had to make a list of people invite. And never in my life have I tried to like make a list of who my friends are, but when you have to make invitations, you have to make a list. And I made a long list of people. And then I kind of went down the list and I said, once the last time I talked to these people. And I realized that almost every single person in the list, if I were to ping, I'd have to catch them up in my life. I couldn't just dive into something because I had not maintained those relationships. And it was just something that like started, you know, and I started noticing I started feeling more isolated. I would have more negative reminations and stuff. And I didn't know at the time that I was low, I lonely, I knew it was isolated, but I didn't know that that also meant loneliness. And I thought I have all these people around me. How could I possibly feel this way?

The Impact of Loneliness and The Importance of Relationships

Awareness and Consciousness (26:37)

And there were a couple of people that like entered my life that like gave me some awareness and consciousness, one at the deeply personal level and one more at the professional level.

Advice from Barack Obama (26:47)

At the personal level, I ended up actually becoming friends and a person who became a mentor to mine was the former president, I'd say, is Barack Obama. And it was kind of a crazy story where I, you know, I like many people met him in the White House and then he, we keep in touch after the White House and he became a bit of a mentor to me. We developed a relationship and initially it was a purely professional relationship. But by 2021, after we went public, he kind of told me, I kind of told him what I was feeling. And I, he said, I think you're kind of lonely and you probably need to renew friendships and he described that he had like these 10 or 15 friends, most of them he was friends with before his presidency and they kept him grounded and rooted and your roots come from your past and your past is often your relationships. Because I kept asking like, how didn't you like lose your mind? He's like, it's hard to lose your mind when you have deep connections in relations to others. And this is around the time I was like, totally realized I hadn't maintained relationships. So one of the most important things I decided to do was renew the relationships that were in that invite list. Those people that I hadn't really kept in touch with.

Reconnecting with Friends and Family (27:55)

And so I rekindled relationships with my college friends and I committed that we'd take like one or two trips a year. Because the problem is if you don't see your friends, you only text them. The only things you can talk about are like the same old stories from 20 years ago, or you can talk about other things in your life, but you have no shared experience in Zoom, in phone calls and text messages are not shared experiences. You can only talk about an experience you had. And so I did that with my college friends. I did my high school friends, I started spending more time with my sister and other people in my life. I ended up getting like a dog, a golden retriever named Sophie supernova.

Realization of Life Satisfaction (28:28)

And the crazy thing Jay is I can tell you like the ride of Airbnb and having all the success and money and power and all this stuff, it can be amazing. I'm not saying it's not amazing, but I actually think I probably, it's almost like I had to go on this entire journey to realize I had everything I needed before I even started the journey. That the thing that probably gave me the greatest life satisfaction was a thing that I didn't even need money for and I didn't even need to have success to achieve relationships many of them I had before I started.

Importance of Relationships (29:00)

As you know, I think you had Robert Waldinger on your show and I actually met him last week for the first time. He is, as people listening are probably realized he was a Harvard professor who's run the longest study in human happiness. It started before he was even alive. He's an 85 year study and the question was what's the secret of happiness and of course they don't think they thought there was a silver bullet answer and of course it is and it's relationships. And I think that that's what I've learned that like as I reconnected, I've felt like this light and this love permeate me and I think it's made me a better leader because one of the things Robert told me is 50% of CEOs are lonely. Now somebody listening to say, oh poor CEOs, well I would say I don't think I want society be led by a bunch of lonely people. I don't want society be led by a bunch of lonely people because lonely people are less trusting of other people. They're more paranoid, they're less resilient. They will typically have less empathy because they will push people away. I don't think they're as connected. They make worse decisions and so we do not live in a world where people are lonely and we especially don't want to live in a world where leaders are lonely and so this has been one of the defining things in my life. So I think the first part of the answer is for me to deal with my own sense of isolation and loneliness. And again Jay, I thought loneliness was something that like people's grandparents experience in their life. I didn't think it was something the young person experiences.

Impact of Loneliness on Health (30:26)

And the other person I met is the now and former, certainly in the United States, Dr. Vech Murphy. We hired him during the pandemic because a lot of people were afraid to like, you know, go into Airbnb's and they were worried about like germs on services. And so we hired him to do this like, you know, basically create cleaning and sanitation protocols. But I remember having a conversation with him and he said something to me, he said, Brian, do you know what the number one killer in America is? I'm kind of paraphrasing the conversation and I said, I don't know. Is it like heart disease is a cancer and he goes, no, the number one killer in America is loneliness.

Examining Loneliness and Creativity

Loneliness as a Crisis of Disconnection (31:02)

And I said, loneliness. What are you talking about? And he said, yeah, being chronically lonely is worse for your health than smoking a pack of cigarettes a day and can take 15 years off your life. And not only that, but about half of Americans are lonely. Two out of three teenagers by some studies are lonely. And it's not just that they're lonely. It's that this is leading to a lot of mental health issues. You know, one in four teenagers have suicidal ideations. You know, that's not just teenagers. You see like, you know, like there's a crisis with men and boys. There's a crisis with like one in three seniors are lonely. This is like, so I started realizing this is like a really big crisis. It's maybe a way to say it's a crisis of disconnection. And I started realizing like, you know, global warming, maybe you could say that's disconnection with the earth and that loneliness is disconnection from each other. And maybe loneliness at the most fundamental level starts with disconnection from yourself that you're running away from something and that sometimes trying to be successful and climbing a mountain is running away from something, you know, because you think that what you are isn't enough. And if you become more, you'll be, you'll become something. And that is the problem because of course, we never fully leave our history and our psychology. And so then I started learning about loneliness at the intellectual level and started asking, what Airbnb is a global community? We have hundreds of millions of people, some of the best ways to connect with other people or through travel. I was using travel and Airbnb to like connect with my friends because most of them didn't even live in the same city as me. I started realizing, you know, you get to my age of 41, you have a public company, you have a couple of choices, you can just stop and say like retire, you can do something new or you can just say my work is just getting started. And for me, like, I want to, of course, I want to like keep getting returned for shareholders and make sure like if people give me money, they feel like it was a good decision. If employees put their trust in me, it was a good career decision. And I want all that to happen, but that can't be enough. That there's got to be something more. The artist in me, the designer in me wants to solve a problem. The problem can't just be a stock price. It's got to be something greater. And I have like the one of the biggest canvases in the world of any design or ever. And what I want to design is not products, I want to design connections between people. And so I started learning about lonely and as I started realizing that modern life seems to be making people lonely. And there's all sorts of theories. Maybe it's that like, you know, everything is digitized now. The mall is now Amazon, the theater is now Netflix, the grocery stores now in the car, the office is now Zoom.

The problem with online interactions (33:36)

And I'm a proponent of all these things. I use all these services and I love them. But you know, the problem is it's like ingredients. We evolved, I think, to be in physical proximity with one another. And as we spend more time online, we seem to be spending less time together. And I think we have to be very, very careful as a society, what kind of future we want to design for ourselves.

The power of community (34:00)

So I guess for me, loneliness and its solution, which is reconnection, has been both a personal mission and now a bit of a professional mission. And a product or a service can't help with that. But a community can. And if Airbnb can go from a travel service to a travel community, if we can be in the business of trust where you understand one another and we can help you connect with people in your life or meet other people, that to me would be where the next chapter is.

The fulfillment of helping others (34:35)

And there's something about like solving your own problem and then wanting to like, you know, trying to spread it to others is like, I think, one of the most fulfilling things. They always say the best way to start a business, solve your own problem. And I think that's what I've been trying to do. Thank you for coming to my TED Talk. That was a masterclass on loneliness. And I mean that. And it's beautiful to see how it can so deeply correlate with what you've already built. And I think that's what, as I'm watching you and as people are listening and watching, I want you to take this away that you're not neglecting or negating any experience you've had. You're like, I'm not neglecting. They're awesome. And bringing them all together and saying, look, actually it's additive. I think a lot of us have this tendency in the material world to build something, go, ah, it wasn't it, throw it away and then go try and build something else. And actually what you're saying, actually, I built this thing. It's great, but actually it could be so much better and it's just the beginning. Exactly. And I also think that like, I'm not saying it never would have mattered and don't try to be a tech founder and don't try to achieve success. I'm just saying they're ingredients. Yes. If you do it alone and you don't have relationships and you do something to fill something in you, it's not going to fully do that. But if you do it because you love it and you get to do it the people you love and you can do it out of a sense of gratitude in giving to other people, you know, Steve Jobs, one of my heroes used to say, you know, I get to work now with Johnny I've, he started a firm called Love From. Love From Me To You. And that was the theory that Steve said. Steve said the best way to show your love for the species is to put your heart and soul into something and give them to them. Steve said that design is a fundamental soul of a man-made creation that reveals a self-suite subsequent layers. And I think that ultimately my motivation has gone from more extrinsic to more intrinsic, that at this point in my life, I'm less worried about what people think. I don't really feel like I have to prove anything to people. Either I already have or I never will at some point. And I think at some point it just becomes about the thing. I just want to do the thing to the purest best of my ability and to feel like I give to others. And this is the other thing. It's amazing to be able to buy things and have things. Those experiences are awesome. But the things that probably give me most joy is like sharing things with others or giving things. I totally get now. I never understood like why people like giving away things. I didn't really understand it. It was not intuitive to me growing up. I was parents of social, I was kind of middle class. And now I realize there's, I don't want to say a selfishness to it, but you get something. You get something from giving. It's not just this moral obligation. You actually get something. And what you get is this sense of love and connection by giving something, by giving love, you kind of get it back in return. And I think ultimately, I think me as a leader, I never saw something like me growing up. I went to design school and like, no, there was this weird thing, Jay, where I get to RISD, the Renan School design, and there was an obsession about getting design in the boardroom. And Joe and I were like, so like audacious. We thought, why should design be in the board? And we can run the boardroom. But of course, like designers, the people never thought started companies. And there's an old saying, art is a question of the problem in the world and design is the answer. And Joe and I wanted to seek answers to problems in the world. And one answer was, we can't pay rent. So we created this thing called air bed and breakfast, air beds, instead of beds for air bed and breakfast. But ultimately, I think a business person, I am a business person ostensibly. But I think a business person's goal is to make money in a designer's goal is to solve a problem. And of course, I'm doing both. I probably sit at the intersection, but I don't get out of bed every day to make money. I get out of bed every day to like design something amazing. And of course, I can pay money. I can fund it. And that's just a kind of motivation. And that probably can keep me going for a really, really long time. And I find that a lot of companies, they get really cold as they get big. But you start something for love. You're the customer. You talk to the customers. And at some point, the company grows and you start with the head and the heart. You like putting your love into it. You're intuitive. No startup is data oriented because there is no data. If you have an idea, there is no data. So you go off your intuition. You do something because you believe in it. And then at some point, you get so big, the company gets financialized. There's a lot more data. And you start making decisions with the heart and now with the head and one side of your head. When you look at the Fortune 500, how many CEOs in the Fortune 500 are truly like, have any creative background whatsoever, identifies, creatives, almost none. Okay, how many boards? There's 12 members and average of a Fortune 500 board. That's like probably 6,000 members in the Fortune 500. How many boards have like creative people, not many? How many executive teams have it? And so I guess the question is like, there's nothing wrong with the scientific method. There's nothing wrong. It's great. But we talk about diversity a lot in corporate America. There's a type of diversity we need, a diversity of artists and scientists of head and heart. You need all those things to solve the biggest problems today. And if Airbnb could be viewed as like a design driven company, like the world's biggest RISD project that just never stopped a company with like a sense of a spirit. A sense, you know, our logo is like an inverted heart. It was meant to be this idea almost of this like beating heart, like this lifeblood that would flow through the community. And I'm not saying we do all that. That might be an ideal that we've never gotten to. But you can. But we can or we'll die trying. Yeah. You've sparked a lot of thoughts for me that I'd love to share with you that you've reminded me of so many things. My mind is connecting so many dots with what you're sharing. The first thing that came to mind is it's really there's a beautiful statement by Paul Tillich, who's a writer who said that it's fascinating that there are two words in the English language for being alone, yet we only use one of them. And he said the two words are loneliness, which is the word we use. And the other is solitude. Oh, yeah. And when you said we're disconnected from the earth, we're disconnected from each other, but really we're disconnected from ourselves. It's because of a lack of solitude. Yes. When I lived as a monk, being comfortable, being alone was the first lesson of the day. Wow. Because the idea was that. You learned how to do that. Well, there's many techniques. One of the first techniques is if you just sit with yourself for long enough, you start to see so much in yourself that what you connect back to what you said at the beginning. If you're able to explore and take an expedition into the darkest parts of yourself, if you're able to go into the inner sky and extrapolate all of the feelings, the messages, the emotions, the things you like, the things you don't like. Now, when you sit opposite another human, you can see the complexity and the simplicity of them as well. The challenges we've never looked at our own darkness and in complacency. There's a great, one of the late, great mythologists of the 20th century, you probably know as Joseph Campbell. Of course, I love this. He has this great quote, "The cave you fear to enter lies the treasure that you seek." And I think that so many of the things we do in life are to run away from things, to avoid opening that closet to see what that monster is, but that's where the treasure is. Exactly. And to sit with that monster with the discomfort of what that actually looks and feels like. And what you were just saying now about this heart and this head or the design and the art and the creative and the entrepreneurial, I think it's so powerful because, so you mentioned Steve as a hero of yours, same with me. I feel like I've studied everything he's ever said or written. And one of the things I love, this was an interview that Mark Zuckerberg was doing with Prime Minister Modi from India. And he said this on stage to Modi. I believe this was in San Fran. And Mark said to him, he said, when he was struggling with the direction of Facebook, now Meda, in 2009, which is five years old, Facebook is, right? He went to his mentor, his mentor happened to be Steve Jobs. And he said to Steve, he said, "What do I do? I'm struggling. I don't know which direction Facebook should go in." Now, if you think about 2009, Steve Jobs is undoubtedly one of the most connected humans on the planet, has access to money, tech, everything you could possibly ask for. And Steve says to him, "I want you to go and live in an ashram in India." Wow. "I want you to go live then. I promise you, if you go there, you'll figure out the direction of Facebook." And Mark said he actually went to that monastery, that ashram. And he said in that ashram, that's where he decided that at that time, Facebook was about connecting people. Oh, wow. I didn't know that story. Yeah. And what I find fascinating, the reason why I like to share that story is I'm always fascinated by what a tech entrepreneur thinks, as much as what I'm fascinated by what a monk thinks, is it's that cross-pollination, it's that extreme of diverse thought where those two things don't collide. They don't have the same agenda. We're not living in an echo chamber. When you're talking to an artist and an entrepreneur, there's no echo chamber. You've broken it open now. And so for me, MIT did a study on that where they found that the most innovative employees inside an organization were people who didn't know people who knew the same people. There were people who knew people who had random connections. So their network chart was completely uncorrelated. Whereas people who had networks who were correlated were less likely to be creative and under the middle. If you were unknown discoveries. Exactly. And I feel like in my own life, like Steve has a saying, you can't connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking backwards. I grew up playing ice hockey. I played team sports. I went to a military high school. Design college, where I first studied fine art, then design. Then I went to MIT for a semester with a cross-enrollment product development program. Then I went to Los Angeles as in a design or at a firm. Then I went to Silicon Valley with very little and got thrust into the technology industry.

Creativity and Connecting Dots (44:24)

And it turns out that I did not know how any of these experiences would add up together. And they all came to me. And every single one of them have used. Every single experience. But I could never have reversed engineered how to get there. And it is amazing that Steve used to say the best engineers were also poets. And he was really saying that creativity is about connecting dots. It's about having disparate experiences and bringing them together. And if you haven't had a lot of different experiences, if you aren't very multidisciplinary, you're not going to be able. Einstein was like a violinist. I think a lot of the greatest scientists have leaps of the imagination. They're not just using empirical information. A lot of the big greatest artists, they haven't organized minds. Sometimes they have a fascination with numbers. So you start to bring things together. And I think that is exactly what we probably need in this world. I mean, we need more creativity. Whenever you see two bad options, you don't like it. The right answer is the third option. The third option is one, you haven't come up with yet. There requires novel, innovative, imaginative thinking.

The Source of Creativity (45:30)

Where does it even come from? Where does creativity come from? If creativity, I don't know if Einstein never said this, but there's a quote attributed to him that is that logic can take you from A to Z, but imagination can take you anywhere. I love that quote. Don't know if he said it, but I believe it. But where does that come from? Where does imagination and creativity come from? I think it comes from a sense of openness. It comes from curiosity. It comes from maybe not first following your passion, but following your curiosity with a deep intensity. And being curious about so many different things and trusting that you can be curious about something and learn about something not knowing if it will ever be useful. And have the trust to say that every single thing you'll do in your life, you'll do with accumulation of every single experience you've had before. And that the more places you've gone, the more people you meet, the more things you learn, it will all come to you. And you might not know ahead of time how it will be useful. And honestly, if I hadn't gone to military school, I probably wouldn't have been so organized. If I didn't go to design school, we probably wouldn't have been as creative and innovative in our thinking. If I hadn't played team sports, I probably wouldn't have understood about camaraderie. If my parents were social workers, I would have had this focus on service and connecting people.

The Role of Randomness and Creativity in Achievement

Unknown Potential and Randomness (46:46)

And I could never have imagined any of those things being useful. Because growing up, I didn't know what I wanted to be. I wasn't athletic enough to be a famous athlete. I was enhanced enough to be an actor. I wasn't going to sing her to be a musician. I did not think I was going to be an astronaut, a politician. And so I'm like, I don't know who I'm going to be. I don't know what I am. And the word entrepreneur was a word I'm not even sure I heard of growing up. It was like, to me, it was an obscure French term. I didn't know what it meant. And I saw Walt Disney as a kid on television. I thought one day I'll work for him, not thinking I would start a company just like him. And I never imagined that was possible. I guess we're all born with unknown potential, as I said before, but you have to live experiences as many as you can. You put them together. And I hope my story inspires people not for the remarkableness of it, but the ordinariness of who I was before to say that like, if I joined the, you mentioned the Giving Pledge. If you ask my teachers in high school to predict what other students would be a signatory giving pledge, I do not think I would have been the top of their list. I don't think that takes anything away from the teachers. I think it just means that maybe that potential is in so many of us and it's also maybe a little bit random and anything is possible. And you, like the story you tell yourself might not be accurate. And I hope that my story inspires people from the ordinariness of where it came from. That I was just like everyone else, but like, you know, a hundred thousand decisions later with enough resilience, creativity, cross-determination, you wake up one day, you're like, Oh my God, look where I am now.

Creativity is Connecting the Dots (48:26)

What I really value about that perspective is as you were defining creativity in so many brilliant ways, one thing that came to my mind was creativity is being able to connect the dots where everyone else sees anomalies. Yes. And so if you look at your journey, just as a series of random dots, they're all anomalies, social working, hockey player, design student, like they're just random things, but you're able to actually paint this tapestry where you're going, well, actually everything that I do today. And I've, I've often felt that in my own life that I lived as a kid growing up in London, my favorite subjects at school were art and design philosophy and economics. Those are my favorite things in the world. Spent my entire life being immersed in that world. When traded it in to go to Cass Business School to study management science with a focus on behavioral science, because I thought it gave me a career only to give it all up, the safe job to go live as a monk, to then come back to the real world, go back into the world of business because I just had to pay the bills and survive, went into consulting, then came out and do media now.

Painting a Unique Tapestry (49:27)

And I completely agree with everything you've just said. And it's probably the thing that makes you so unique as like you were a monk and you are an entrepreneur and you lived in London and you lived in New York and like the cumulation and all those experiences together. Correct. It's the end. Is made is made you who you are, not one of them, but all of them.

Seeking Curiosity and the Frontier (49:48)

And I think that like the one advice I would give my college self is to try more things and have more experiences and don't seek status. And part of the reason why one should not seek status is because we can't even predict what industries will be around the future. Like growing up status to me was like, I don't know, it was like being an investment banker or something or something. And I don't know, it was like fields that may not even totally exist in their current form in the future. So, you know, I like to say like, you should do things for good up, you tend to be good at things we're interested in. You should seek out whatever you're curious about, whatever you're interested in. And then you want to get to the front, a frontier in some way. At some point you'll learn everything and you'll get to the edge of all that's known about that subject. And that is an uncomfortable period where you spear off the ledge of a cliff. And that is where you enter a frontier. And if you can then peer over the edge of a cliff and then get a little bit further and extend our understanding, give us a little bit more land, that is how you like add to Steve Jobs said, that's how you give your love back to the species and create something for other people. And I think it's amazing that like anyone can do that, you know, you can do it because you anyone can do it at any scale, you know, and you can do it in your humble way, like on the side, something small, or you can do it in a really big way. But it feels the same no matter what the scale.

Reflections on the Past and Present (51:07)

You just told us what you'd say to your younger self. If you met your younger self now, let's do this exercise. What do you think your younger self would say to you? What would it be proud of? And what would your younger self say? We need to reconnect with this. The first thing my younger self would say is, Oh my God, how did you do all this?

Surprising Accomplishments (51:27)

And I would be totally perplexed. When I started me, my friends, I said this will be huge one day, thousands of people will do this. Like that was my, my sensible was possible. It's hard to dream of something you've never been exposed to. And it's hard to imagine becoming something when you didn't have any data that you could ever do anything like that in your past. And so I do not think my younger self, let's say my college self did not think I could run like a fortune 500 company, you know, you know, for every $1,500 spent in the world, $1 spent in Airbnb. Did I think I could lead an organization that's facility on? No, I did not think of it. And so that would be probably the thing I would be like surprised in a very positive way.

The Influence of Perception on Personal Growth and Happiness

Personal Life and Isolation (52:10)

But the other thing I would probably say as well, I'm 41 years old, and I live alone. And I probably thought by now I would have a family and I've always wanted to have one. And I think that for all the like attention, adulation I get, I think I would have maybe looked at my life now or my recent life and identified a little bit of isolation.

Wisdom and Happiness (52:38)

And I think the lesson is the couple things. One, I think that things have happened in a different order than I imagined. It's hard to predict. I thought I didn't think I'd be this far along my career. And I probably thought I'd be further along and have something different in my personal life. And I also would probably, I would hope the college me would tell myself now, you don't have to keep proving something to anyone because you've proven more to me than I ever thought was possible. And I think that like part of me, and this is probably true of a lot of people, we have this tape loop of like, whatever we thought ourselves as a child, like it's just frozen in times repeating ourselves and you just compulsively just keep doing something. And like many people have addictions and I probably had one that was probably work. And I think I'd have to, I would hope my child itself would remind me that maybe there'd be a wisdom that like the happiest periods of my life were with other people. Thank you for that. Thank you for opening up and going there.

Worrying about Others' Opinions (53:34)

And I felt that what is a thought that you say you have too often? I wonder what they'll think.

Regret of Worrying What Others Think (53:41)

Speaking of Dr. Waldenkert, Robert Wolln. I love Robert. He's a good friend. But I met him last week for the first time and you've had him in your show, right? Yeah, we've spent a lot of time together. I love him. Something you told me last week that really stood out to me said one of the biggest regrets that people have in their life is having lived their life worrying what other people think. And I kind of understand why like from a like evolutionary standpoint, like you kind of have to care people think because you have to fit in. And if you don't fit in, you don't belong your isolate. If you're isolated, it's a death sentence when there's the only thing you have is the village. But it turns out that like that is not true anymore, that like it's okay to be misunderstood and that it doesn't, maybe it doesn't matter what people think or maybe it doesn't matter what they think today. And that some of the greatest things I've ever done, I was at least temporarily misunderstood. When maybe it only matters what a few people think and maybe just maybe the person that most matters what they think is yourself, right? That you just listen to your own voice, not other voices. And I think if I can do that, you know, artists will call the artistic integrity, right? You had Rick Rubin on the show. He talks about like the best way to make a popular song is to make something you like and that's about it. Not make something for somebody else.

Finding Authenticity and Evolving (54:57)

And that's something I have to continue to do.

Performing for an Audience (55:01)

And the crazy thing is the more success you get, the more you start kind of performing for an audience. And you have to be very careful about performing for an appeasing an audience. And once you become something, people expect you to be that thing. You know, imagine like you happen to be something forever. But what if you change? What if you grow? You do different things. And that's a challenge I have, right?

Struggling with Self-Perception and Pleasing People

Balancing Brand and Personal Growth (55:24)

The Airbnb brand means something. I gotta be careful about changing that brand. It stands for something. And yet I as a person, I'm not meant to be the same person every year. I mean, how could I be? I learn, I grow, I change, I have new experiences. And so having the permission to continue to change and evolve and not be so self-conscious of what people think, that's something that I always struggle with.

Struggling with People Pleasing (55:49)

Because I don't know, part of me, I think I'm like a people pleaser. And one of my challenges historically be is like some people like, I'm like, I don't always like interpersonal conflict. I like to appease people, make them happy. And that's got a good sign. It also can be a bit of a prison over time. And the bigger you get, the higher the walls get. I want to just point out something you said that was so subtle, but so powerful for everyone who's listening and watching.

The Importance of Perspectives (56:14)

I've never heard it put that way. But the idea that we often think it doesn't matter what people think and you said, it doesn't matter what they think today. And that was so subtle, but so powerful because I think when we live in a world where like, oh, it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks, it can be negligent. But the idea that it doesn't matter what they think today about what I'm thinking. And thank God. Yeah. Thank God. You know why? When we first came by the idea, one of my first investors said, don't worry about people stealing their idea. If it's any good, everyone will dismiss it. We tend to believe things were good in hindsight. Some of the most revolutionary people and ideas were revolutionary because they were misunderstood in their time. That if you have to be at some point in your life willing to be misunderstood, and the solitude you can have are two things, I think. Number one, to not be so attached to it, to realize that ultimately you can't predict the outcome. Just do what you believe, follow your heart. And if it's true, whatever has happened is meant to be. But the other thing you can do is to escape into the future. To say, to have this, we call it a vision for a reason. You envision something that people don't see it and say, I'm willing to be misunderstood to try to follow this thing. And if I believe in enough, eventually other people might see it. And if you are able to be misunderstood just for a little bit, that's what it feels like to truly revolutionize something and change something. There's a beautiful statement, which is probably my favorite, which you've just encapsulated. So well, it's from Charles Horton Cooley. He wrote it in 1896 or something like that. He said this early, and when you hear it, you're like, well, that was said yesterday.

Perception of Ourselves (57:50)

He said, the challenge today is, I'm not what I think I am. I'm not what you think I am. I am what I think you think I am. And he said, we live in this perception of a perception of ourselves. So we don't even know what we look like. We are who we think other people think we are. And that's twice removed from yourself. And that distance we create from our understanding of ourselves versus what we think someone thinks of us. Totally. How will you ever know? What do you think is something you are still trying to understand about yourself? Or if you think you misunderstand a part of who Brian is, what are you still trying to understand?

Outdated Image of Ourselves (58:31)

I think that we tend to have an outdated image of ourselves. And that makes sense, right? Like think about I'm 41 years old. So my image of myself is the average of the last 41 years. And if the average of the last 41 years, the median is 20 years old. And so I still see myself a little bit like that person. And most people see me today. And a lot of people are going to see me for the first time right now. And that's their impression. And that's a delta. And I often wonder like sometimes I probably have had a little bit of an imposter syndrome. Like, what do people see me? And why do they follow me? And like, because they do. Like at some point you're a leader and you're a leader because people choose to follow you and you don't like impose yourself on them. They ultimately believe in something.

Finding Personal Happiness (59:14)

And I think I'm still trying to like maybe come to terms with that. Like, what does this all mean? I think I'm still trying to understand what will make me happy, especially at a personal level. I think I've found what will make me happy at a professional level. I was really lucky that I discovered something that I love very early on. I found a perfect harmony between what I was good at, what I loved and what kind of society valued. And those things just clicked into place and I was able to find it. But I think I've been on a lot longer journey to figure out like what will make me happy like in a larger sense of the word. And it turns out that success and status, to some extent have benefits. But it's certainly to say it's not everything's an understatement. I think I'm still trying to. I'm still trying to learn that. And maybe I'm trying to figure out, you know, at this age, with so much, so many resources. Like, I almost feel like in a way my life's just beginning. And so it's just beginning then when I can't connect the dots looking forward, it's a discovery of who am I and who am I meant to become? Like, is this my story or is this the end of this, the middle of the story, the beginning of the story? And what am I meant to do next? And I'm kind of learning a lot more about myself every year. That's a brilliant mindset. That's so empowering and I'm hoping for everyone who's listening and watching that is so phenomenal to hear from you because that is the journey of life. Like the questions you just laid out. Like, if you weren't asking those questions, how boring would life be? Like, how unmeaningful and unfulfilling would it be? And the fact that you aren't asking those questions at this point, maybe one other thing can I ask? Or is you can I have your word? So over a year ago, it was February, Russian, Vader, Ukraine, we got word that there would be like millions of refugees. And when this broke out, I remember my co-founder Joe calling me up and him telling me something. He said, when a crisis of this scale happens, we should ask ourselves one question. And that question is, how can we help? And I always wanted to believe that if I was like a CO-dron of World War II, I would have like been helpful. And I always try to use, that's the other device I use. I try to think about how I'll be viewed in the future, but I also want to, I always think in a cry, how do I want to be remembered? Even if no one will remember me. And I think anyone can do that. How do you want to be remembered by history? Even if it's just a intellectual device, because maybe not a lot of people will remember, that's okay. But live your life as if you'd be remembered. And what I realized was one of the most important things. And then we ended up helping provide housing for over 100,000 refugees. And it was an incredible team effort.

The Role of Clarity in Personal and Professional Spaces

The Power of Service (01:02:09)

But it came from this basic idea of how can I help? And maybe that is the other version of my question in my life. At this point, how can I help? With everything I have, I've hired some of the most talented people in the world. We have enormous amounts of resources. We have this incredibly advanced technology. I have this pretty big megaphone. What do I do with that? And I hope that what I do provides me happiness. And I notice that the things that make me happy are like kind of helping and giving others. I don't mean to sound cliché, but like you start to realize like what provides happiness and value for you. And so that's kind of something that I keep thinking about. And that's what I love about like entrepreneurship and creativity and design is you make something, maybe initially for yourself, but then for other people. And the real joy is seeing them use it. Absolutely. I think I was really fortunate when I lived as a monk, service was trained as the highest act. Service was like imprinted in us as the highest act, that the act of giving, the act of serving others. Interesting. Yeah. And it was so counterintuitive to everything I'd learned growing up in London because it was about getting and achieving and giving and serving were never part of even our vocabulary, alone being a part of life. And I realize now, and I see that today that when everyone, when anyone gets to a point of getting everything, all they can do is give it away. In the right, in a way that fuels them to a mission that is aligned with their purpose, not just, not just, you know, wherever it goes, but in a meaningful way. You talked a bit about which I loved about the, you know, the youngest of saying back to you that, you know, you thought that things would happen in a different order. Yeah, totally. When you think about that being single or being in your words, like being lonely, you're such a mastermind at so many things. What's the thought that blocks that? What's the worry that comes up, the anxiety that stops you from masterminding that part of your life? I've been able to look inside myself to know a number of things.

Masterminding Love and Relationships (01:04:18)

I think that I grew up feeling a little bit like an outsider. I wanted to feel like anyone, like I belong. And I found through achievement that, you know, I'd feel these feelings that I thought were like love and I would feel better, you know, and all that. And I think it's this incredible and positive to a point. But if you're not careful, it can become all-consuming. And the thing about a tech company or a startup is like, it's like, imagine, you like, again, you give a 3% ban that's now 30,000% or, you know, like a 3 million%. There's always more you can do. It can, if you're not careful, become like a one-dimensional addiction. And I think that it's like the thing that made me successful was my singular focus. But I have to be careful that the thing that could then turn against me is my singular focus. And so I think it's like the way to live my life in the next 20 years can't exactly be what I did in the last 20 years. The last 20 years worked out pretty well. So why would I do anything differently? But of course, if I don't do anything differently, then I'll be 50 or 60 and nothing will have changed. And so I think it's really about like seeking community. The word community means harmony, to live in harmony, in balance, and having that. And so I think it's just old habits. And habits that have been rewarded. So but you've got to be very careful about those habits. I think that's what it is. And I also just, yeah, I don't know. What do you think?

Clarity and Personal Goals (01:05:56)

When I listen to you and being with you for the time that we're spending together, and obviously it's the first time we've met, you're someone who has extreme clarity about what you want, who you are, what you're working on, what you're struggling on. And my question would be, or my hypothesis is, does that clarity exist around what you want in the personal space? I think that's a big insight. And maybe that's what I'm still trying to discover. Yeah, I would say that you sound so clear that if you actually had clarity, then I don't think it would be hard. It's hard to have clarity. That's the hardest thing in life. The hardest thing is to have clarity. That's a good point.

The Importance of Clarity (01:06:32)

And so when you have clarity, it would be so much more easy if you create, you can't create something if you don't have clarity. That's a great point. And so that would be my. Yeah, I love that. I love that.

Developing Clarity in the Personal Space (01:06:41)

And that's what I was going to ask you, my, what at least are those sprinklings of those clues? Let's go with that word. What are the clues of what you think could develop into clarity around what you're looking for in a personal way? You've talked about so prolifically about what you want professionally, which is this, using Airbnb as this phenomenal platform to build community and connect people and, you know, eradicate loneliness, which I love. Like I love that. That's phenomenal clarity and it's so inspiring. And I could get behind that today, right? Like that's, so what do you need to get behind yourself in the personal space?

Professional and Personal Contrasts (01:07:12)

I feel like I'm professionally like a 60 year old and a 41 year old's body and personally like a 25 year old and 41 year old's body because I am like, I've a foot in the future and a foot in the past or like I'm in totally different times, scales professionally and personally, and it kind of makes sense, right? Where I am. A whole bunch of my life maybe was a little more on hold or done in a different order than I imagined. So the question is like, how do I get clarity?

The Journey of Gaining Clarity Through Experiences

Clues for Personal Clarity (01:07:39)

When I started Airbnb before before we started Airbnb, I didn't know I wanted to start a tech company and I wanted to be like about bringing, helping putting people together and I was going to start with these two people and I was going to be a technology founder and I was going to marry art and science and do all stuff. I couldn't have known any of that. But there were some things I did professionally that are probably clues to what should be done personally.

Endless Curiosity and Action (01:08:02)

The first thing is I had endless curiosity. I had role models, heroes, people I looked up to and both well known people and lesser known people. I had an intense curiosity. I was drawn to certain types of people and I had action. It's like if you can't follow your passion, you follow your curiosity, where does it take you? And you're not going to start a company by never starting and you're not going to build a personal life you want by not starting either. And so you just go on that journey and I think you will find what you want if you start and you keep moving.

Gaining Clarity through Experience (01:08:40)

Yeah, that feels right. Tell me about that. I'm excited to hear about how you take that short moment of clarity that we've gained into the future because I really feel that you've found in your life that you've always been exactly where you're meant to be, not in the luck sense like you said at the right timing. But that each one of your experiences has made you make better decisions. And I think that maybe the exciting thing is like what if I can't connect the dots looking forward but I will realize and hindsight wow, everything just fell into place like this thing led to that thing led to that thing. And that would be fun to check in in a handful of years and see what played out. Yeah, definitely. And it's so interesting that you keep quiet in this. I've never met someone who loves quotes as much as I do. So it's fun hearing them back from you and how they've played out in your life. What if anything today, apart from everything we've talked about, we've talked about so

Concerns and Challenges (01:09:40)

many things, what if anything today keeps you up at night? What do you sleep pretty well? I don't know if I sleep that well and I not to use another quote, but Pablo Casa had a saying the older you get the stronger the wind gets and it's always in your face. And I think that could be true of companies.

Fear of Losing the Vision (01:09:55)

What keeps me up at night is, you know, like people ask me in the professional context, what keeps you up at night in the company? Like, is this something happening? What keeps me up at night is something not happening. What keeps me up at night is the idea that we grow into something that I like was meant to disrupt. 2009, Airbnb takes off. So we started in 2007, 2008, it takes off by 2009. I go on a 10-year journey. It's now late 2019. And I remember having a dream, a bad dream that I woke up and I was running a company that was unrecognizable from anything I ever intended to start. It was like I was in a wilderness for 10 years and I just, and I came back and I remember going on a hike in Belinas, California, where Joe had like a summer house and we went on a hike, Joni and I, and I told them about this dream and they said, well, what did you find? I said, I was horrified because the company we set up to start is unrecognizable. We have today and they go, what do you mean? I go, well, people are complaining that it's big, it's bureaucratic, it's slow moving, people are more complacent, cost is rising, gross is slowing it. It's starting to feel like a corporation and I didn't know what to do. I felt like we needed to like not blow it all up but change it all, like take the house back to the studs. But the problem was we're about to go public and that's like a really bad time to do that. But I have this image in my head of this kind of company that I want to have. This image was to build the most creative place on earth, to build the world's biggest startup, to build a company that was like felt small, that was completely focused, not on a product or service but a community. I was starting to come to the conclusion by 2019 that you can't be big and have a soul. Like at some point, those things were at odds, that the problem was being big and I didn't know what to do.

Clarity Through Crisis (01:11:44)

And all of a sudden, we get word in February 2020 that our China businesses collapsed by 80% because this thing called COVID. They're like, what's COVID? And then within eight weeks, you lose 80% of your business. And I've never had a near-death experience but it's been described to me as your life flashes before your eyes and I had a near-business-death experience. And then suddenly everything being clear to me. If I was sitting in this chair three years ago, I would not have been clear. I don't think I would have the clarity I had today. There's something about almost losing everything. And everything I had, at least at that time I thought was the professional that gives you clarity. Imagine your house is on fire and someone says you can take 20% of the things out of your house. Suddenly, you have to make that choice. And you get really clear about what's important. People start telling you, I want to hear me exist. You say why and they tell you as if they're giving the eulogy before you're even dead and how you want to be remembered. When you start to ask yourself, I don't know what's going to happen but how do I want to be remembered. And at that point, we stepped into action and we basically rebuilt the company for ground up. And this is to again bring it back one more time to Steve Jobs. I met two people at that point in my life who changed my life. One was Johnny Ive who was Steve's partner in design and the other was Heroki Asai who is Steve's creative director. They told me about the way Steve ran the company and actually a funny even further aside is I remember one time, I remember when to Steve's house, he never met him and I saw these books in the shelf from Robin Amman. I mean I asked his wife, what is with the Robin Amman books. But as I started studying, I realized that it was this idea that you almost like Robin kept on the whole bomb in his head. And this idea that the leader collects all the information and that you're the center, that it's not a pyramid, you're not top down, you're inside out, you're the son of a solar system. But your job is to like emit light and bring decision making in to pull in this shared consciousness. And I started realizing there was a whole new way to run a company, a company that wasn't divisions. Think about what that sounds like divisions, we are divided but totally integrated as small lean, elite as possible, creative and analytical technology and humanities that we'd have one flow. We wouldn't be metrics oriented, we'd be basically idea oriented and we'd measure the results in that we would just, this really specifically ran a company. And that was basically the way I found ourselves out of a crisis.

Lessons From a Crisis and Rebuilding a Company

Rebuilding the Company (01:14:23)

So the lesson of the story is through that, I was able to get a lot of clarity through this crisis. I was forced to answer and ask all these questions that I never had to do before. But I hope on the personal side, I don't need a crisis to answer those questions.

Avoiding the Crisis (01:14:40)

Yeah, that's exactly where I think we're headed, that you have an opportunity to avoid the crisis in order to not be. Not everyone needs that crisis. No, you don't. It sounds like, do you still, when you present ideas, they're so visual, you see them. I feel like you can see everything you're talking about. And I can see it with you. Everything in my head, my mind is like a three dimensional model. And all my ideas, think of it like a tree, the trunk of the tree is your very first principle, it's your root ideas. And then they have branches and the branches have branches and those branches have leaves. Or it's like a space, a three dimensional space, it's multi dimensional, colorful. And this is what we call the model, your model of the world that you want to live in. And as you gain more information, you keep changing the model in your head. I kind of describe my mind running Airbnb as imagine a chessboard. And there's that you have to see if you move ahead. Now imagine like a die, a thousand side of die, each playing a separate game of chess, all simultaneously anticipating and understanding relationships. As hard as that is, if you can start to organize all the ideas in your mind, but not be rigid, continually changing and orienting it, this is how I tend to see things in three dimensions, spatially, it's really rich vivid colors. And that's just how I think. I think other people will think in abstract thoughts or numbers, some think in terms of language. But that's how I do it. And it probably doesn't surprise you given my background.

Designing a World (01:16:13)

And do you see yourself in that or is that happening and you're observing it? You know, you might have hit on something. There have been times where I'm trying to design a world that other people want to, I want other people to live in. And I think it's like I want to vicariously live through them. It's like I want to design this house. That's the nicest house in the world for everyone to live in. But I'll be in the workshop, design the house. And sometimes I have to stop to say, maybe I should step inside the house. And I think that, I think that's a crux of it actually. And the answer to your question, I sometimes see myself in the house. And sometimes I see myself just kind of almost like a monk or, you know, in a technical and design monastery. Like, you know, that's kind of what the pandemic was. I described it almost like a monastery except with Zoom. But if you didn't know I was on Zoom, you just think I was meditating all day, right? Like I'd just be sitting in one chair. And so that's a great thing is I think that sometimes many times we as leaders, especially tech founders, I think that many tech founders basically designed the kind of world they want to live in because the world they grew up in was inadequate in some way and did not make them happy.

Tech leaders and staying connected (01:17:34)

I think the challenge with those tech leaders is to make sure that they step inside that world and live that world themselves. And when you don't do it, then sometimes you start to like forget why you do things and you get disconnected. Wow. I'm just kind of, you're making me think of all this now. You're making me think. I love it.

Lack of purpose in entrepreneurship (01:17:52)

No, and that resonates so deeply and strongly because I also think that without purpose, tech entrepreneurs also can sometimes, not even just tech entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs in general or anyone can build something that they monetize that they would never want to live in too. Yeah. Sometimes people don't know why they're doing it. Correct. They started it for a reason. Maybe the reason was extrinsic. I want to be rich and successful. Maybe it was intrinsic. Maybe there was something, but even so, then you find yourself waking up one day asking, why am I still doing this?

Losing sight of goals (01:18:26)

And you know the number of people that forgot why they're doing it? The number of people that are self-driving cars, there's a destination that's in the car, they're driving towards it, but they don't even know what that destination is. And that's when you don't look inside yourself. And if you're not careful, you will basically be at a super highway going somewhere, not knowing why you're going there. And you may wake up and end up in a destination that wasn't where you intended.

The Power of Self-Reflection and Perspective in Leadership

Importance of self-reflection (01:18:55)

I think this, having this clarity is so important. Who am I? What do I value? What do I want to do in this world? It's like taking the time to reflect.

Reflective leaders and their values (01:19:04)

And I think the best businesses are really introspective by introspective leaders. Like when we started the company, we were really clear. Here's our mission. And we wasn't just like a mission statement. It's like, here's exactly what we're trying to do. And now it changes. Here are our values. Here's the kind of people I want to like work with. Well, what are they all having in common? They're curious, they're optimistic, they're kind of creative. They tend to like hosting other people. Okay, those become what we call values. What are the shared lessons? What are the shared stories? And the more you can start to be really reflective, you're right. The more you're clear about what you want, the more you get it.

Lack of self-awareness (01:19:36)

Our problem isn't in life probably that we don't get what we want. Our problem is we don't know what we want maybe or we pursue things we under unconsciously wanting that are counterproductive to what will make us happy. And if we can just wrap our arms around that, some of the hardest things to change our own thoughts. But in a weird way, they also seem like the most possible to change.

Disconnect between power and success (01:19:58)

And so that's something that I've seen like some of the loneliest people I've met or some of the richest people I've met. The most isolated people I've met are some of the most successful people I've met. The most confused people I've met are the most powerful because at some point the power and success can be confusing. You had a purpose but you also have all these demands and you stay-holders and you can get fused by appeasing people. I think that happened to me. I think I started Airbnb and I had a really clear vision. And I think I'd gotten to a wilderness where I kind of got confused. And a lot of founders have described becoming confused. A lot of leaders get confused. And I totally see how that happens.

Getting back on track (01:20:41)

And I think finding your way back home is key. I would be intrigued to see if you close your eyes now or whenever you chose to see what you saw when you looked at your personal life. You're talking about your professional life as being all these thousands of decisions moving down. And you say like that kind of that period of self-reflection, right? Yeah. I think I saw somebody who was kind of almost punishing myself in romanticizing, suffering because I thought, in some extent, I maybe believed that I was going to give everything to the company. And it was like this selfless act but it became so selfless that I then could start to lose a sense of myself. I mean, you know how weird it is? I always kind of joked like if I die, will I die Brian Chesky or the Airbnb guy just died. You know, like, and like, am I Brian or my Airbnb? And like, you know, like they get really, one is an icon that's a noun and verb. You know, you've been quitlessly around the world. The other is a person that not a lot of people know, really know. And when you, it's very careful that I started becoming the company and this company started becoming me. And I think 70% of that was good because that meant the company, I think, was a person had a face as humanistic. It was in the details. But when you become a company, you seize to be a person and then you lose a sense of yourself and then you become an icon and by icon, I don't mean famous. I mean iconography. Icon is short for an iconography and iconography is for a symbol for something. And of course, people are much more than symbols. And I started seeing that I started becoming a symbol and a thing. And I stopped listening to myself. And by the way, like you get pressure from shareholders to like drive a stock price. You get pressure from, you know, employees to make it a better work environment. You get pressure from hosts.

Lack of pressure in personal life (01:22:41)

But no one gives you pressure for yourself in your personal life. If you don't create that own pressure, you will like that will be the, like that's the one person that may not put their hand up. Hey, everyone else will. And if you don't listen to yourself and I think that's been part of the second chapter in my life is like kind of designing the world I want to live in and then living in that world and choosing to actually live in that world. And you'd be, I mean, you've interviewed so many people. So, but I'm so surprised how many leaders don't actually live in that world. And I tend to think that like some, yes, some of the most successful people are people that they get so disconnected from what they intend to do when they started. And so reconnecting. I mean, so much of this, I guess I send to see everything through that lens. But so much of it is about reconnecting that, that reconnection, that path back home. I love what you were saying about the iconography and how the human meshes with the iconography and you described earlier the. And maybe everyone does that. I just did it in a bigger. Sorry, I just didn't. In a bigger way. Like you could totally get how like I am Brian Airby. They start to emerge. But I bet you even people who don't have a giant company who they really are and the person they're like supposed to be are merging. And as those two things merge, you lose who you really are. I mean, it's method acting. It's literally method acting. It's like we are all pretending to play a role only to believe that that role that we pretended to be is now us and has replaced us. And it's, and it's even harder. I'll tell you why, because when you built Airbnb, it had iconography. Yes. Brian didn't ever have iconography. Like there wasn't a, there wasn't like a mission list and a value list like before when Brian existed before. And so if you were to draw the iconography of Brian, the person not the Airbnb, I mean, intrigued as to what that would look like. If you started to design that. I see a child. I see like a child like curiosity and energy and love that I think I've always held on to. I also see the world like through this idea of family and community. And I think when people hear the word family, they think of like their parents, their siblings, their children, and I think I see like, you know, I asked like my co-founder Joe, I asked him like, what would Airbnb would success be for Airbnb? He had this crazy audacious idea. He said to redefine the word family. And I've realized that like so much of my life has been trying to do that. I see this like childlike person of curiosity and wonder that I've never left that sense of wonder that I'm open to be vulnerable and guided by love and like treating wanting to treat those around me like family. And what I mean by that is I try to do anything for them. And I hope, I hope that my friends, if they ever heard this, they would feel like that resonates and that's not just a pure ideal. I mean, that's what I mean, that's the iconography. I would hope that iconography is true to some extent. I guess as I think about it even deeper, I've used the word loneliness connection and community, but maybe at some deeper level, the deepest word is family. And what bonds, bonds family is love. And like, I think that like as families have gone smaller and smaller, we've gotten more and more isolated. And if we could re-expand that word, and maybe that's like too idealistic, but like just leaving a little bit to your like close friends and to other people and just try to like re-expand that circle. That's kind of what I would want. You know, if I designed the world around me, then I better design it with other people in it. Do you see the child or are you the child as you visualize that? Yeah, it's funny. I kind of see both. I see like, are you seeing the child sitting there or are you seeing the vision through the eyes of where you would be? I feel like a timeless image of myself. I'm like young and all at the same time, like it's not just one age. I can see the child of me and I can also see this like grown up that I always like that is protecting. So I have like both sides, the protector offering security and bringing people together and the child who is vulnerable and seeks love and wants to just be open and totally curious. It's almost like I have this image. We know like you say at the family, the dinner table, where you like use a kid with your parents, your siblings, whatever. My image is that, but it's a very big table with a lot of people. And that's not just my close family that I might have. It's maybe like the broader people in my life that I have around me. That's I think the image I have. And I think that's in a space that's very well designed, very well designed. And I have a design aesthetic that's like fairly modern, but also whimsical. I don't like the cold. I don't like coldness of modernism. I like it to be like colorful. And so yeah, I saw if you're okay with that, I want to share something that came for me. To me, the clarity is that it's not even the merger often. What you said so beautifully was like, I see my younger self and I see where I am now. And now it's protecting, but the child like is that love, that joy, that community, the family. And it's like they're hand in hand. Like it's not a merger of the two. It's not an integration. It's a hand in hand. Oh, it's really great. There's a wisdom that you have today that you didn't have then and there's a wisdom you have then that you don't have now. And it's just hand in hand and walking together. I've always wanted to believe that I can have the wisdom of my grandparents and the curiosity of a child. There you go. In one that I have a foot, Walt Disney, one of my other idols used to in the front of Disneyland, he says, here you leave the world of today and into the world of tomorrow yesterday in fantasy. He said, I have a foot in the future and a foot in the past. And I think that's partly what I have. A foot in the future. And that future is one of maybe curiosity and looking forward and futurism and technology. And then I've also a foot in the past. The foot in the past is my roots.

The Experience of Being an Airbnb Founder

Balancing Culture and Technology (01:29:21)

I think I oscillate between the two. You know, culture and technology. Massive scale. I want to become one of the biggest ones I've ever reeled with. The desire to always be a startup and always be close knit. It's like these two paradoxes competing forces. Yeah. And I think that is a tension that I think it's a really interesting tension. Now you're making me think about this. Like, I'm sure I've never, some of this stuff, I've never really, not only have not talked about it, some of the stuff I'm kind of never really thought about that until now. I'm just really thinking about it.

The Founder's Perspective (01:30:01)

One of the things when you're like, like you run a giant company, you learn scale. And when you start a company, you're tiny. You have to do everything. You have to like, you know, like things you don't even think about. Like you have an office, which is your apartment and you need to like buy a coffee maker and go buy the coffee and you need to like have a name for your company. You actually need to check with that name's trademark. You got to buy a domain name and you got to like have a story for the company. And like, then you've got to like make sure you have a legal corporation. You're not a fun lawyer. You got to interview the lawyers. And then you got to like actually decide where you're going to make. And you're like, how do I make things? Like, I could go down the hundred thousand things. You're in the tedious details. And then if you go on a rocket ship that I go on, 15 years later, you know, a billion and a half times it's been used, you end up at some massive scale, a scale that's bigger than you've ever imagined. But as a founder, you never let go of those details. You know, it's like a founder is different than a professional manager. A professional manager never saw it small. And as a founder, not only did you see it small, you created what was small. And so as you see the full scale, you tend to zoom out and zoom in and zoom out and zoom in.

Zooming In and Out (01:31:12)

And it's actually a really helpful skill in life. Whenever you need a different perspective, you can zoom in or you can zoom out. And I tend to do both. I go in and sorry, well, what about this? What about this? What about this? And go into smaller and smaller detail. And then I go back to the present scale. It's like a satellite map. It's like the power is a 10. Zoom out to space, zoom in with a microscope. And that is just a way to think about things. And you're constantly doing that when you run a company. You see the big picture and you say, what does it mean? You dive right in and you zoom out. And a lot of leaders, they struggle. They can only do that medium altitude. They can't see the fullest picture or they get stuck and they can't access the smallest of details in the entire universe, exist in the smallest detail. And that's what you discover when you zoom in and you start to realize the relationships. And it allows you to both run something large and still connect with somebody at the most intimate human level and not lose your mind along the way. Yeah, it's that balance between recognizing what's possible through scale, but at the same time being able to be embracing of your own insignificance. Yeah. And it's insignificance, but yeah, you recognize it's insignificant. Yeah. Yeah. Paradox is where it's so fascinating. Yeah. The paradox is the only thing that's fascinating. Yeah. You know, the human mind is a part of it. All of these, everything that we see that's magical about the world is a paradox that everything's connected, but everything's doing its own thing. Yes. Right? Like the ocean, the sun and doing their own thing. Yes. They connected yet. Yeah. They're doing their own thing.

Discovering Connections (01:32:50)

And I think the more you start to see why I want to scale, you sort of see you're right that more and more things are connected. But because everything's connected doesn't mean they're all the same. And the more you learn about the details of things, the more you realize how different everything is. Mm-hmm. And so you, but then you realize they're actually in some deeper way related and that you spend the rest of your life kind of in that discovery. Yeah. And you know what I've observed that is the connecting force at least up until now in my life? Is that everything that we've just talked about, everything in the universe that we see is serving uniquely? Mm-hmm. And the opposite is that it's serving, the sun is serving, the water is serving, the trees are serving, the trunk of the tree, the leaves you talked about, the flowers, they're serving. Everything is giving a service. Everything's interdependent on everything else that we tend to have this illusion that we're separate from one another. And I think that even like loneliness might be a reality, which is the way you perceive the world, but aloneness may be an illusion that you're not as alone and separate as you think you are. And I think that's a really good thing to remind yourself and that we are like so much more connected to everything else. And that I think so much of creativity is just first embracing the fact that everything is connected in some way and it's your job to discover and make connections and find relationships and similarities. And by the way, that's a great way to connect with people to know that like, wow, what makes them so fascinating is they're really different from me in some of these ways. So what is going to bond us is that we're actually so connected and there are almost no humans on this planet that you don't have some fundamental connections to. And if you don't see them, you have to keep looking. And then once you keep looking, that becomes the bond that becomes the thing that you share between them. And how do you do that with curiosity and interest? Fascinating. Just be fascinated all the time. And it's almost like that's contagious. If you're fascinated, I'm fascinated. Everyone said that to me, a director who I was doing a film shoot and he said, if you're fascinated, I'm fascinated. And I'm like, well, okay, like I really do. And it's like, and so what do you find fascinating? Yeah. Yeah, I often say to people similarly that if you don't find someone interesting, it's because you're not interested. Yeah. Like you're not interested enough. There is something interesting about every person here. There is something interesting about everyone and everything. And that is what the cure that that is. I think what curiosity is. And you find the game within the game. You find in school, I think so many people in school, they're not interested in subjects because they're abstract. But if somebody's obsessed with basketball, then teach physics through basketball, three biology through basketball, teach history through basketball, the history of, so you find something you're interested in. And I think the great thing about starting a company is I had no interest in learning about accounting. I had no abstract interest in learning about leadership and management and organization. I had no abstract interest in understanding like technical architecture, but I had an interest in how we should account for all the money we're making, what technology platform we should be on to enable Airbnb. And through something I was already interested in Airbnb, I was able to learn all these other things. But if I had to learn them abstractly the way we're taught in school, I don't think anything would have stuck.

Learning Through Experience (01:36:06)

And so Airbnb became that model, this world. And I have learned almost everything through this world that I've been generally constructing, co-constructing with my co-workers and with the community. And it's just like I like to joke that Airbnb is like the world's biggest RISD project that just never stopped. And we just kept building it and kept building it and kept building it and kept building it. And it's the bigger we build, the more I learn and the more I discover. And yeah, I've seen so much of the world through the creation of this really big house, so to speak. Yeah.

The Impact of Airbnb (01:36:40)

Well, it is pretty well. And it's just getting started, hopefully. It's just getting started.

A Unique Episode and The Legacy of The Podcast

Unique Episode of the Podcast (01:36:43)

Brian, this is without a doubt the most unique episode of on purpose I think we've ever had. Really? In four years. And I don't just say stuff like that. You can check with these guys. And but we end every episode with a final five. These are five questions I ask pretty much 90% of them to all guests. And these are your final five, Brian. They have to be answered in one word to one sentence maximum, and I will probably destroy that pattern, but you have to try. So Brian, these are your final five.

Best Advice (01:37:14)

The first question is what is the best insight advice that you've ever heard or received or read? It's better to have a hundred people love you than a million people that just sort of like you. And so do things that don't scale. And if you do, maybe people love something you love so much. They'll tell everyone about it. And you might end up with millions of people after all. It was kind of a long sentence. It's a great sentence. It's beautiful. It's perfect.

Worst Advice (01:37:46)

Second question, what is the worst insight advice you've ever heard, read, received or come across anything that involves chasing status? Not because it's bad, but because it's actually a horrible way to even get it. Love that answer. Yeah. Question number three, how would you define your current purpose to try to help bring the world together, even if it's in the end a small way?

Desired Legacy (01:38:13)

Question number four, if you were being remembered after you were physically gone, what would you hope to hear? You miss them.

On Creating a Universal Law

Creating One Law for the World (01:38:22)

Fifth and final question, I ask this question to every guest who's ever been on the show. If you could create one law that ever in the world had to follow, what would it be? Sometimes people ask me if you could impose one thing on the road, what would it be? And I'd say everyone would have a passport and everyone would walk in someone else's shoes. And I think if they were to do that, there'd be like such a greater awakening in the world. So maybe everyone was forced to live someone else's life and to step in someone else's shoes in the more different, the better. Well said, Brian Teske, everyone. Brian, that was, as I said, the most unique. I think it's really interesting something that came to my mind and heart. And since this has been such an intuitive conversation, I feel I should share it. In our professional life, we have business partners, but in our personal life, I don't think we often think about having human partners and I really appreciate you dancing with me today, going there with me today and being human partners for each other. And you definitely did that for me today. You brought out of me things I didn't know that I haven't gone to for a while. So thank you so much for inspiring me and enlightening me in so many ways. I truly had a special internal experience myself. Well I think I've learned about myself through this process. It's amazing the amount of time you can go through in your life without stopping and taking a look at things. And when you do, my God, that just changes your perspective on everything, doesn't it? Absolutely. Thank you so much. I'm so grateful for you. Well thank you so much. Thank you so much. Such an honor, such a pleasure. And everyone who's been listening and watching, if you're with us, then make sure that you, I want you to let me know what was your favorite moment. There are so many great moments but grab a screenshot of where you found your favorite moment so we can see all the seconds and minutes so that everyone can go listen to it. I love seeing what deeply connects and penetrates through to our community because this is all in service of you. So thank you for everyone who's been listening and watching and thank you Brian. Thank you, Jay. If you love this episode, you will also love my interview with Charles Duhigg on how to hack your brain, change any habit effortlessly and the secret to making better decisions.

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