39 Quotes from Brian Chesky on Company Culture and Building a Team

From How to Start a Startup — Lecture 10

Rajen Sanghvi

From Stanford’s CS183B Course How to Start a Startup — Lecture 10

The quotes below are all 140 characters or less, so please feel free to share as you see fit. In case I’ve missed any quotes or you find any errors, please leave me a comment and I will be sure to update the post.

  1. “AirBnB wasn’t meant to be the company we were trying to start.”
  2. “AirBnB was never meant to be the big idea. It was meant to be the thing that paid the rent so we could think of the big idea.”
  3. On his co-founders: 1/ “I think I was lucky because I found 2 great people that I wanted to start a company with.”
  4. On his co-founders: 2/ “People I admired that almost intimidated me at how talented, at how smart they were.”
  5. On building a team: 1/ “You gotta build a team that is so talented that they almost make you slightly uncomfortable…”
  6. On building a team: 2/ “…because they know by being with them you’re going to have to raise your game to be with them.”
  7. “Founders are like parents and the company’s the child.”
  8. “The child will manifest in many ways behaviours the parents have between their relationship.”
  9. “At some point you go from building the product, to phase 2, which is building the company, that builds the product.”
  10. “It doesn’t matter how great your original product or idea is, if you can’t build a great company, then your product will not endure.”
  11. “Think about it this way- if your company is like your child — a parent wants his child to outlive him or her.”
  12. “It would be a tragedy to outlive your child- also I felt it would be a tragedy for us to outlive our company & just watch it rise & fall.”
  13. “I kind of felt like your first engineer was like bringing in DNA into your company.”
  14. On making their first hire — “If we were successful, there were going to be a 1000 people just like him or her in the company.”
  15. “Now you want diversity- you want diversity of backgrounds and age, but you don’t want diversity of values.”
  16. On values — “You want very very homogeneous beliefs and that’s the 1 thing that shouldn’t be diverse.”
  17. “I interviewed the first 300 employees at AirBnB.”
  18. “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.”
  19. “All the founding stories of your company, end up becoming the things that people repeat and talk about when you’re a thousand people.”
  20. “AirBnB launched and a year after we launched, I think we had 100 people/day visiting our website and we had like 2 bookings.”
  21. “In the year 2008, we made $5K from our website and we made $40K selling breakfast cereal.”
  22. “We believe constraints bring out creativity. When you raise like $800M, suddenly all that scrappiness… it’s easy to lose.”
  23. “Everyone knows if you don’t give a crap, you shouldn’t be here. It doesn’t mean you have to give a crap, it means you have to, to be here.”
  24. “Things that are hard to measure often get discounted.”
  25. “The biggest problem with culture is that it doesn’t pay off in the short term.”
  26. “Culture makes you hire people slowly and makes you deliberate about decisions that in the near term, can slow progress.”
  27. “This is a functional question. If you could hire anybody in the world, would you hire the person sitting across from you.”
  28. “Every single person is meant to hire a person better than the previous people. You’re constantly raising the bar.”
  29. On the decision of purchasing Samwer Brothers’ AirBnB clone — “I felt like we were missionaries and they were mercenaries. I didn’t think they were doing it for the beliefs.”
  30. “I believe in a war, missionaries would outlast and out endure mercenaries.”
  31. “Whatever happens inside the company, eventually comes out — you can’t hold it in.”
  32. “Brand is really the promise outside the company that everyone identifies with.”
  33. “Your brand evangelists are your employees.”
  34. “There is no such thing as a good or bad culture. It’s either a strong or weak culture.”
  35. “Brand is really the connection of you with your customers.”
  36. “There has to be I think, a deeper core belief, and if that doesn’t happen you’re a utility…and the utilities get sold at commodity prices.”
  37. “There’s a number of things the CEO does but what you mostly do is articulate the vision.”
  38. “We would go door to door in NYC, or Denver where the DNC was, literally meeting with, staying with and living with our users.”
  39. “I used to joke that when you buy an iPhone, Steve Jobs didn’t come and sleep on your couch but I did.”

Please note that the above quotes from Brian Chesky only summarize the second part of the lecture. This post does not include Alfred Lin’s more academic overview on defining company culture. You can watch the entire lecture for yourself here: http://startupclass.samaltman.com/courses/lec10/

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Image Credit: Screenshot taken from Stanford CS183B Lecture 10 Video

How to Start a Startup

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    Rajen Sanghvi

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    Founder & Sales Builder @ www.salestraction.io | The future of sales is authentic, transparent and intelligent. Btw it’s already here.

    How to Start a Startup

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