What I’ve read
The best autobiography I have read in a long long time (long x2 = really good!). The highlights...
The company was originally called blue ribbon, thank god that changed!
He’s incredibly shy and hated selling, his shyness would be the cause for strong discomfort for people. To get comfortable he sought exposure to build the muscle. In his first job selling encyclopaedias he realised he wasn’t built for rejection, a small setback knocked him sideways.
His leadership mantra: don’t tell people how to do things tell them what to do and let them surprise you
He didn’t have the money for his first orders which were to be shipped to an office that he didn’t have either! “I tried to be nonchalant as I signed the papers and placed an order costing more money that I didn’t have to have it shipped to the east coast office that I also didn’t have”
He hated making decisions in a hurry so developed the following technique to explore ideas, opportunities and overcome problems.
What do I know?
What else do I know?
What does the future hold?
What’s step one?
What’s step two?
He suffered from a lot of doubt - “From my first cup of coffee in the morning to trying to fall asleep at night, I’d tell myself I’m a fool, maybe this whole shoe thing is a fools errand”
He didn’t see the point in advertising and found any investment choices in sales and marketing challenging to justify. “When you hired an accountant, you knew they could count. When you hired a lawyer, you knew they could talk, when you hired a marketing expert or product developer, what did you know? Nothing. You couldn’t predict what they could do.”
At the end when he made $178m in an IPO he felt regret, because he wished he could do it all over again!
What I’ve seen
I’ve watched / listened this commencement speech a number of times, which is often cited as the best commencement speech ever. It’s soooooo good
What I’ve heard
Masters of scale the podcast by Reid Hoffman (the founder of LinkedIn) with Brian Chesky the co-Founder of AirBnB.
Podcast description: If you want your company to truly scale, you first have to do things that don't scale. Handcraft the core experience. Get your hands dirty. Serve your customers one-by-one. And don't stop until you know exactly what they want. That's what Brian Chesky did. As CEO of Airbnb, Brian’s early work was more akin to a traveling salesman. He takes us back to his lean years – when he went door-to-door, meeting Airbnb hosts in person – and shares the imaginative route to crafting what he calls an "11-star experience.”