White Walls

Brian Chesky
Feb 26, 2017 · 2 min read

Our San Francisco office has very clean white walls. One day I asked why no one dared to paint them. We never told people they couldn’t. Everyone just assumed they weren’t supposed to mess with the white walls. It was at this moment that I realized that I needed to give permission to everyone to change things, whether it be the white walls, the product, or something else.

Now when I meet with new hires, here is what I say:

“Everything around you was designed by people no more experienced than you. Only four and a half years ago, we were operating out of a 3 bedroom apartment, and we had fewer resources than you have now. Back then, we dreamed of being able to hire the best people in the world. We have now hired you. You are here to change things. If we didn’t want anything to change, you would not be here.”

Never assume you can’t do something. Push yourself to redefine the boundaries. Just like Joe, Nate and I challenged the status quo, you are here to challenge us. So if you see a white wall, make your mark.


In 2015 I started an email series where each Sunday I would email our company something that was on my mind. Since then I have written nearly 100 emails in what is now called the Sunday Night Series. In the coming months I will be sharing some of these with you. This was one of the first ones.

If you visit our office today, you will notice there are no longer many white, unmarked walls.


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