“Anything I come across that feels impossible, I probably need to take a second look.”
– Joe Gebbia
Joe Gebbia (@jgebbia) is a designer, entrepreneur, and global explorer. He is the co-founder and CPO of Airbnb, which has changed the way the world travels and how people connect in more than 190 countries.
In this wide-ranging and hilarious interview, Joe shares the decisions, hardship, failures, and successes that prepared him for Airbnb.
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Want to hear another episode with a fascinating leader? Listen to my conversation with Ray Dalio. We discuss how Ray thinks about investment decisions, the three books he would give to every graduating high school or college senior, how he might assess cryptocurrency, and much, much more (stream below or right-click here to download):
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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.
Scroll below for links and show notes…
Selected Links from the Episode
- Connect with Joe Gebbia:
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Collection, Vol. 1 by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird
- Date with Destiny
- IMG Academy Bollettieri Tennis
- Open: An Autobiography by Andre Agassi
- Atlanta College of Art
- Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)
- 26 Of The Most Epic Senior Pranks Of All Time, BuzzFeed
- Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2 by Pink Floyd
- School’s Out by Alice Cooper
- High School Stories: Scandals, Pranks, and Controversies
- Gerrit Rietveld at MoMA
- Clark University
- The Story of Scrotie, the College Sports Mascot Who Was a Dick and Balls, The Ball Report
- Critbuns Keeping My Ass In Check by Lisa Katayama, Wired
- How the Ubiquitous Foam Finger Reveals the True Nature of American Entrepreneurship by Jeff Spross, The Week
- Virtual Tour of Rhode Island’s Central Landfill
- Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things by Michael Braungart and William McDonough
- Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution by Paul Hawken and Amory Lovins
- GreenBox and Product NutritionLabel, Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum
- Chronicle Books
- Playboy: The Complete Centerfolds by Hugh Hefner
- The Ferry Plaza Farmers Market
- SXSW Conference
- Brian Chesky: I Lived on Cap’n McCain’s and Obama O’s Got AirbnB out of Debt by Michael Carney, Pando
- All Marketers are Liars: The Underground Classic That Explains How Marketing Really Works — and Why Authenticity Is the Best Marketing of All by Seth Godin
- Purple Cow, New Edition: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth Godin
- Field of Dreams
- How did Joe’s first business venture get him into trouble? [02:09]
- How did Joe wind up being raised in the rural deep south? [04:47]
- What sparked Joe’s entrepreneurial curiosity? [05:30]
- What did Joe’s parents teach him about connecting with others and going above and beyond to be of service? [07:00]
- How Joe’s parents learned to support his interests the hard way. [11:55]
- Joe talks about some of his other early entrepreneurial exploits. [14:07]
- From a high school perspective, what did Joe want to be when he grew up? [16:44]
- On getting into the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). Was it the environment or the medium that helped him excel? [18:05]
- How Joe rose to the challenge of outdoing a legendary senior prank at his high school. [20:32]
- Why has Joe seen Michael Jordan naked? [45:19]
- What source does Joe credit for his intuition to go beyond expectations? [1:08:29]
- How founding a basketball team at RISD was like running a startup. [1:15:38]
- We’ve talked about balls. Let’s talk about buns — CritBuns. [1:22:50]
- A rejection equation: SW2 + WC = MO (Some will love it, some won’t + who cares? = move mn) AKA “Keep going until you find the people who do love your idea.” [1:33:56]
- The goal Joe set for CritBuns that would represent the pinnacle of achievement — and how he reached it. [1:38:52]
- What happened when Joe took CritBuns to Japan? [1:47:03]
- On pitching to Billy Mays. [1:51:35]
- What was the turning point that made Joe pivot away from building a CritBuns empire? [1:53:20]
- On starting a digital service during the revenue-light Web 2.0 years. [2:02:03]
- How a rent crisis prompted the birth of Airbnb. [2:05:49]
- Mixed reactions to the initial Airbnb concept, an unsuccessful SXSW launch, and the company’s evolution into something bigger. [2:18:27]
- A more successful relaunch during the Obama vs. McCain campaign. [2:23:31]
- Closing thoughts on reframing rejection into an invitation, and the small adjustments that can turn a failing idea into a successful one. [2:30:14]
- Joe Gebbia, Sr.
- Eileen Gebbia
- Tony Robbins
- Jim Loehr
- Lorenzo Beltrame
- Nick Bollettieri
- Andre Agassi
- Thelonious Monk
- Dave Brubeck
- Kim Gebbia Chappell
- Mark Isenhour
- Michael Jordan
- Chris Tucker
- Marcus Camby
- Lenny Wilkens
- Dikembe Mutombo
- Steve Smith
- Scottie Pippen
- Steve Kerr
- Dennis Rodman
- Phil Jackson
- Gareth Jones
- Henry Moore
- Frank Lloyd Wright
- Gerrit Rietveld
- Rosanne Somerson
- Alexis Ohanian
- Gerald Fauss
- Billy Mays
- Charles and Ray Eames
- Brian Chesky
- Amol Surve
- Nathan Blecharczyk
- Barack Obama
- John McCain
- Errol Barnett
- Seth Godin
- Elon Musk
Posted on: March 8, 2018.
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Who was interviewed? Here's a very partial list: tech icons (founders of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Craigslist, Pinterest, Spotify, Salesforce, Dropbox, and more), Jimmy Fallon, Arianna Huffington, Brandon Stanton (Humans of New York), Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ben Stiller, Maurice Ashley (first African-American Grandmaster of chess), Brené Brown (researcher and bestselling author), Rick Rubin (legendary music producer), Temple Grandin (animal behavior expert and autism activist), Franklin Leonard (The Black List), Dara Torres (12-time Olympic medalist in swimming), David Lynch (director), Kelly Slater (surfing legend), Bozoma Saint John (Beats/Apple/Uber), Lewis Cantley (famed cancer researcher), Maria Sharapova, Chris Anderson (curator of TED), Terry Crews, Greg Norman (golf icon), Vitalik Buterin (creator of Ethereum), and nearly 100 more. Check it all out by clicking here.