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Brian Chesky Quotes

Brian Joseph Chesky

Brian Chesky quotes: billionaire Airbnb co-founder and CEO talks entrepreneurship, culture, money, and more.

“Never assume you can’t do something.  Push yourself to redefine the boundaries.”

“I think we go through our lives limiting our potential, and when times are tough, it’s easy to convince ourselves that something isn’t possible, but if you start there, then you limit yourself and the possibilities of what you can create.”

“Think of the imagination as a giant stone from which we carve out new ideas.  As we chip away, our new ideas become more polished and refined.  But if you start by editing your imagination, you start with a tiny stone.”

“Unless you have fixed costs, you don’t need any capital to create a prototype.  Ideally, your co-founders, with sweat equity, can create the product themselves.”

“Culture is so incredibly important because it is the foundation for all future innovation.  People with passion can change the world.”

“Culture is simply a shared way of doing something with passion.”

“A company’s culture is the foundation for future innovation.  An entrepreneurs job is to build the foundation.”

“There’s no such thing as a good or bad culture, it’s either a strong or weak culture.  And a good culture for somebody else may not be a good culture for you.”

“The stronger the culture, the less corporate process a company needs.  When the culture is strong, you can trust everyone to do the right thing.  People can be independent and autonomous.  They can be entrepreneurial.”

“Whatever career you’re in, assume it’s going to be a massive failure.  That way, you’re not making decisions based on success, money, and career.  You’re only making it based on doing what you love.”

“Having a clear mission and making sure you know that mission and making sure that mission comes through the company is probably the most important thing you can do for both culture and values.”

“On culture, it’s living the core values when you hire; when you write an email; when you are working on a project; when you are walking in the hall.”

“Brand is really the connection between you and your customers.  If you have a very strong culture, then the brand will come through.”

“Repetition doesn’t create memories.  New experiences do.”

“Customers are willing to try new things, and if you can survive, you will have fewer competitors.  It’s like entering the eye of the storm.  As long as you are strong enough to survive, you can end up in still water by yourself.”

“We start with the perfect experience and then work backward.  That’s how we’re going to continue to be successful.”

“If you want to create a great product, just focus on one person.  Make that one person have the most amazing experience ever.”

“Do things that won’t scale; it will teach you.”

“Somebody asked me, ‘What’s the job of a CEO?’ and there’s a number of things a CEO does.  What you mostly do is articulate the vision, develop the strategy, and you gotta hire people to fit the culture.  If you do those three things, you basically have a company.  And that company will hopefully be successful, if you have the right vision, the right strategy, and good people.”

“The second thing I had to do was not to be reluctant as a leader.  And when I started doing that, I realized that people are thriving from this, and that it’s so much more helpful for people.”

“Companies that hire employees that are deeply passionate create companies that customers are really, really passionate about, and those are the companies that have strong brands.”

“There is a job and then there is a calling.  We want to hire people that aren’t just looking for jobs, they’re looking for a calling.”

“Everyone’s got a moment or two in their life where something happens and you make a decision and then your entire life changes.”

“Every day I would wake up and think, ‘Today is another missed opportunity to do something important.’  After enough days like this, you start feeling like you are getting old, even when you are relatively young.  We are all natural entrepreneurs, and being manacled to a desk job is not for us.”

“We need to have mentors.  I think I’ve always been pretty shameless about seeking out people much smarter and much more experienced than me from the very beginning.  The more successful I got, the more leaders I started seeking out, whether it was investors, or Sheryl Sandberg at Facebook, or I got the opportunity to spend time with Warren Buffett and he became a close mentor of mine.  Somebody once said, ‘You’re the average of the five people you surround yourself with.’  So the question is, how mature are the people you surround yourself with?  If you surround yourself with the right people, you can grow up pretty quickly.”

“Our overnight success took 1,000 days.”

“On my co-founders: I think I was lucky because I found two great people that I wanted to start a company with; and people I admired that almost intimidated me at how talented, at how smart they were.  Founders are like parents and the company’s the child.”

“You gotta build a team that is so talented that they almost make you slightly uncomfortable… because they know by being with them you’re going to have to raise your game to be with them.”

“Designers and artists see potential in things where others do not.  I think artists in many ways are the original entrepreneurs.”

“People went to Dell for the computers, but they go to Apple for everything.  That’s the difference between a transactional company and a transformational one.”

“Build something 100 people love, not something one million people kind of like.”

“When you start a company, it’s more an art than a science because it’s totally unknown.  Instead of solving high-profile problems, try to solve something that’s deeply personal to you.  Ideally, if you’re an ordinary person and you’ve just solved your problem, you might have solved the problem for millions of people.”

“Because I think while one trend is automation, there’s another trend happening.  A phone is now more powerful than a super computer from the 1980s, and so we now have super computers in our pocket.  We can have reputations in a minute or two.  We can pursue our passions and skills.  There are so many things you can do.”

“In summer of 2008, I meet a guy named Michael Seibel.  And Michael Seibel says there are these people called angels, and they’ll give you money.  The first thing I thought is I can’t believe this guy believes in angels.  That’s how naïve I was.  He introduced us to about 20 angel investors and a couple of venture capitalists.  At that point we were trying to raise a $150,000 at a $1.5 million valuation.”

“No one funded us.  The first reason was Joe and I were designers.  And as far as they were concerned, designers didn’t start companies.  We didn’t ‘look like’ tech founders, which I think is ridiculous, because I don’t think you should ever hire someone just because they look like something else.  If you want a new thing, well, maybe they’ll look different.”

“There’s also a bigger lesson, which is we just didn’t quit.  I think a lot of people who try to do what we did, or try to do other things, they quit, they stop short.  A lot of people ask, ‘Why didn’t you quit?’  The reason we didn’t quit is if you start a company, very simply, you have to know something no one else knows about your business.  You need to have a unique insight.”

“My life experience before Airbnb was a year and a half making $40,000 a year as an industrial designer in Los Angeles, California.  And before that, growing up the son of two social workers.  I had never even heard the word ‘entrepreneur.’  I think there’s a benefit to young people like us starting companies.  We can come up with novel ideas.  But it also means that we’re learning on the job.  That’s the price sometimes of these things.”

“We will have created tens of millions of entrepreneurs who are creating experiences.  A whole new part of the economy is the experience-based economy.  And then we’ll have also gone to aviation, and started to redefine how we fly.  Because what if flying was the best part of travel, not the worst part of travel?  We call all this ‘magical trips’ – basically trips that are just amazing, memorable, end-to-end experiences.  This is what we want to be doing in the next 10 years.”

“In June 2010, I moved out of my apartment and I have been mostly homeless ever since, off and on.  I just live in Airbnb apartments and I check in every week in different homes in San Francisco.”

“I’m not saying the whole world will work this way, but with Airbnb, people are sleeping in other people’s homes and other people’s beds.  So there’s a level of trust necessary to participate that’s different from an eBay or Facebook.”

“What I’ve been surprised by is not how different people are, but how similar they are.  There are certain types of Airbnb people, and they are in every city in the world – it’s just that in some cultures, there is more of a generational divide.”

“Whatever the press is talking about, they want to keep talking about it.  So instead of asking yourself, ‘How can I get them to start talking about me?’… figure out a way to get yourself involved in what they’re already talking about.”

“You have to meet with people.  You have to meet with cities.  Even if they don’t like you, if they hear your story, and you hear their story, you can come to a resolution.”

“It’s better to have 100 people love you than to have 1,000,000 people like you.”

“Belonging has always been a fundamental driver of humankind.”

“As children, we have vivid imaginations.  We stay up late waiting for Santa Claus, dream of becoming president, and have ideas that defy physics.  Then something happens.  As we grow older, we start editing our imagination.”

“The American dream, what we were taught was, grow up, own a car, own a house.  I think that dream’s completely changing.  We were taught to keep up with the Joneses.  Now we’re sharing with the Joneses.”

“The stuff that matters in life is no longer stuff.  It’s other people.  It’s relationships.  It’s experience.”

“My life is longer because of the journeys I have taken.”

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