“In order to scale, you have to do things that don’t scale.” — Reid Hoffman
This episode is a showcase from Masters of Scale, one of the few podcasts I recommend repeatedly to entrepreneurs. It’s a conversation between LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman (@reidhoffman) and Airbnb co-founder Brian Chesky (@bchesky), and it focuses on how you can scale your company by, paradoxically, doing things that don’t scale.
This is, in some ways, part two of my conversation with Airbnb’s co-founder Joe Gebbia (which you can check out here). I also highly recommend subscribing to Masters of Scale, which just began its third season and features interviews with founders of Spotify, Instagram, TaskRabbit, Shake Shack, and Glossier, among many others.
Please enjoy this short conversation between Reid Hoffman and Brian Chesky, with a few cameo appearances in the mix.
- Listen to it on Apple Podcasts.
- Stream by clicking here.
- Download as an MP3 by right-clicking here and choosing “save as.”
Want to hear another podcast with an entrepreneur who understands the meaning of “traction?” — Listen to my conversation with Bryan Johnson, the rags-to-riches philosopher who founded Braintree, which was bought by eBay in 2013 for $800 million in cash. (Stream below or right-click here to download):
- Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
- The Tao of Seneca by Seneca
- The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
- Nonviolent Communication by Marshall B. Rosenberg
From now until July 31st, 2018, Amazon Prime members can get Audible for just $4.95 a month for the first three months ($14.95 per month after). To claim this offer, go to Audible.com/Tim or text TIM to 500500 to get started.
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 Reid Hoffman:
- Connect with Brian Chesky:
- Masters of Scale
- Reid’s previous appearances on this podcast: The 10 Commandments of Startup Success with Reid Hoffman and The Oracle of Silicon Valley, Reid Hoffman (Plus: Michael McCullough)
- My interview with Joe Gebbia — Co-Founder of Airbnb (#301)
- 1,000 True Fans by Kevin Kelly
- Brian Chesky: I Lived on Cap’n McCain’s and Obama O’s Got Airbnb out of Debt by Michael Carney, Pando
- Y Combinator
- What is LinkedIn Open Networking? Should You Be a LION Open Networker? by Larry Brauner, LinkedIn
- The Beatles Arrive In New York (1964) via British Pathe
- Elon Musk, Speaking at SXSW, Projects Mars Spaceship Will Be Ready for Short Trips by First Half of 2019 by Michelle Castillo, CNBC
- Dress for Success
- Pixar Animation Studios
- Airbnb Wants to Handle Your Entire Holiday with Trips by James Temperton, Wired UK
- The Hero’s Journey: Joseph Campbell on His Life and Work by Joseph Campbell
- The 2008 PR campaign that turned things around when Brian and Joe of Airbnb were in dire need of a lifeline. [06:43]
- Brian gets his hands dirty (and burnt) for the team. [08:35]
- “In order to scale, you have to do things that don’t scale.” Reid introduces the program. [09:18]
- Y Combinator’s Paul Graham reminds Brian of an important lesson he’d forgotten between design school and Silicon Valley: to design with empathy. [11:14]
- How the Airbnb founders immediately put this lesson into practice. [12:59]
- How these early personal visits with hosts gave Airbnb its roadmap. [14:29]
- Passionate feedback from early users is one sign you’re doing something right. But you need to separate the wheat from the chaff to turn that feedback into growth. [15:12]
- A thought exercise for increasing the distance word of mouth travels when people talk about your business: how many stars would this experience be worth? [17:18]
- What are the two stages of a start-up’s product, and which one should be scaled first? [20:15]
- How Brian decided on what to scale first. [21:16]
- Input from Airbnb’s Ellie Thiele about how they began to automate for scale and build features that users really wanted. [21:39]
- How Stripe’s Patrick Collison and Kayak’s Paul English personally weighed customer feedback in the early days. [23:19]
- Thoughtful founders may look back on these early days with mixed feelings, but they’ll often consider them their career’s most creative phase. [24:41]
- Nancy Lublin founded Dress for Success out of her New York City Apartment as a clothing drive to help women interview confidently for jobs. [25:11]
- Two opposing mindsets required for the transition from the handcrafted phase to the massive scale phase — think of the difference between writing and editing. [26:01]
- The non-glamorous work that goes into making the adjustment from one phase to the next. [27:42]
- The importance of maintaining the handcrafted mindset no matter how big your company gets. [28:50]
- Looking to reinvent an industry? Get orthogonal. Airbnb peered outside of hospitality and found inspiration from cinema. [30:00]
- What are the essential ingredients for a perfect trip? Here’s a master class in finding the answer by handcrafting. [30:51]
- Using this handcrafted experience to create a blueprint for operating on a global scale. [32:49]
- Brian’s surprising message for early-stage entrepreneurs worried about traction. [34:36]
- Reid’s closing good news for early-stage entrepreneurs. [35:21]
- Reid Hoffman
- Brian Chesky
- Peter Thiel
- Joe Gebbia
- Barack Obama
- John McCain
- Mark Zuckerberg
- Paul Graham
- Steve Jobs
- The Beatles
- Elon Musk
- Ellie Thiele
- Patrick Collison
- Paul English
- Nancy Lublin
- Ricardo from London
- Sheryl Sandberg
- Eric Schmidt
- June Cohen
- Deron Triff
- Dan Kedmey
- Jennie Cataldo
- Ben Manilla
- Jessica Johnston
- Saida Sapieva
- Elisa Schreiber
- Chris Yeh
Posted on: July 11, 2018.
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