Joe Gebbia — Co-Founder of Airbnb

34 Comments

“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.

Enjoy!

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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):



This episode is brought to you by Athletic Greens. I get asked all the time, “If you could only use one supplement, what would it be?” My answer is, inevitably, Athletic Greens. It is my all-in-one nutritional insurance. I recommended it in The 4-Hour Body and did not get paid to do so. As a listener of The Tim Ferriss Show, you’ll get 30 percent off your first order at AthleticGreens.com/Tim.

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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:

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

Show Notes

  • 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]

People Mentioned

Posted on: March 8, 2018.

Please check out Tribe of Mentors, my newest book, which shares short, tactical life advice from 100+ world-class performers. Many of the world's most famous entrepreneurs, athletes, investors, poker players, and artists are part of the book. The tips and strategies in Tribe of Mentors have already changed my life, and I hope the same for you. Click here for a sample chapter and full details. Roughly 90% of the guests have never appeared on my podcast.

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.

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34 comments on “Joe Gebbia — Co-Founder of Airbnb

  1. Great insights, like always – love you books and podcasts –
    But would have loved you supporting a woman for international woman’s day today.

    Like

  2. Paraphrasing…”I did (accomplished) it. If I could do this, what else could I do?”

    I took away more from this episode than many in recent past. I enjoyed listening to story and background of how his achievements came into play.

    Looking forward to the second installment of your next interview with him.

    Like

    • Tim, first off thanks for all the great podcasts. I love the fact that they are long form and not condensed.

      You asked for some feedback on the video, so here goes.

      I’m not sure I’m getting anything extra from seeing the video, I think a good number of your listeners probably hear you in the car or on the subway and probably won’t have time to sit in front of a screen. that said, no one is forcing them to watch so maybe it’s more of a ‘nice to have’ AND maybe best used for those episodes where the guest actually has something to show, like a good exercise, or a drawing or a demonstration.

      I’m surprised you chose to make your guest (and you) hold the mics in your hand for that long. It was even uncomfortable for me watching you both hold them for so long 🙂 Consider using small table top stands for this. Something like this:

      [Moderator: link to Hamilton Stands KB810M Nu-Era Tabletop Mic Stand with Bag and Mic Clip removed.]

      The zoom recorder is a great choice for portability and the audio quality is great so keep that up!

      -Alex

      Like

  3. Hey Tim,

    For the video podcasts you should check into using these microphone stands – On-Stage Stands MS7920B Bass Drum / Boom Combo Mic Stand

    You’ll get a better quality recording and it won’t be as awkward with having to hold the mics the whole time

    Cheers!

    – Vinny

    Like

  4. Finally being a Mexican Industrial Designer pays off a little.

    Noun
    āhuacatl
    avocado (fruit)
    testicle

    From proto-Aztecan *pa:wa (“avocado”).

    Bonus: From āhuacatl (“avocado”) +‎ mōlli (“sauce, broth”).

    Like

  5. Hey Tim, in your search for inner peace and happiness, have you checked out the work of Byron Katie? Seems like you would find the 4 questions and turnarounds quite valuable as tools to end emotional distress in the moment. Just sayin.

    Like

  6. You asked about whether or not the video was worth it…. Although I clearly don’t speak for all, in my humble opinion, probably not. With a few exceptions – Coach Somers and Jason Nemer, for example. But in general, my preferred means of listening to your podcasts is during otherwise dead time, such as driving. Video is not an option. Of course, I’m not bothered if it is there. Just doesn’t add much value most of the time. And it strikes me as a lot of extra work to produce.

    Really appreciate your work. Thank you.

    Like

  7. Dammit. I listened to this whole podcast via iPhone app without realizing there was a video – more video content Tim! After 3 years of consuming your content, I have just now only realized that solving problems > pursuing money. The penny has dropped. Often times brilliant business titans (in all industries) are very rarely chasing money, in the beginning. Anyway, stoked for part deux!

    Like

  8. As someone who is also currently in the process of bringing an idea/prototype to a mass manufacturing scale, this has been very insightful and uplifting! Just what I needed 🙂

    Like

  9. Hi Tim,

    This felt from start to finish as a conversation more than anything else, and although this is the first time I’ve listened to Joe, it’s clear that someone has done his homework and knew how good he is at telling stories.

    Not sure when exactly, but I think it was clear at one point that this wasn’t going to be enough for only one episode. Looking over the show notes, it seems like the high school story really took a good portion of this podcast, which to be honest, is the one that stuck most.

    Just to give some of my thoughts on what many would probably enjoy for a part 2, in case this comment has any type of weight, I’d be curious to know how the present looks like, of course, with some tactics or routines that could be extracted, and just as much, curious about the future.

    //Felix

    Like

  10. Hi Tim

    I have been following your podcasts regularly for the past 2 years. Love your work, valuable content for life is what I get out of your podcasts.
    Is it possible to get Gilbert Enoka on your podcast?
    Best Regards
    VG

    Like

  11. I commented above when I was only halfway through…..

    That was the best podcast I’ve ever heard. Thank you.

    The stories reveal far more about what is needed to find your way to success than any analysis or conceptualizing of the ideas that drive the stories could ever hope to do. The viewpoint is revealed instead of the idea and it’s the viewpoint that is necessary to get the end result.

    Can’t wait for part two.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hey Tim,

    I’m a longtime fan, thanks for doing what you do.
    If I’m being honest, I didn’t love this episode as much as others. .. The last one I listened to was with Dr. Gabor Mate. Joe’s story about his high school prank kind of pale’s in comparison to Dr Mate’s deep insights on human behaviour and childhood.

    Like

  13. 2 1/2 hrs…I fast forward the podcast only to backtrack and listen to the hilarious stories in full……SW2 + WC = MO
    thanks for taking us through the Journey……

    Like

  14. “What evidence do you have that suggests that?” – a simple non-confrontational way (depending on tone) to call BS… or otherwise make it clear that you require something more than a confidently-stated conclusory statement to influence you or your decisions. Well done.

    Like

  15. I loved this episode, and found that Joe’s fascinating storytelling was reminiscent of Cal Fussman. One critique: is it just me, or does there seem to be a big difference in volume between Joe’s voice and Tim’s voice (Joe seems much softer, and Tim much louder)? There were many times that I had to jack my stereo volume way up to hear Joe, and then Tim’s response would come blaring out. If possible, I think it would be good to remix the sound; bumping up Joe by about 10-15%, and taking Tim’s volume down by about the same amount.

    Like

  16. Joe is a great story teller and was very open but positive about his setbacks.
    Loved the SW2 + WC = MO (Some will love it, some won’t + who cares? = move mn). Made me want to go to design school lol

    Like

  17. Hello!

    This podcast did a lot of good to me… came in a perfect time, thank you.

    Thank you for the video also, I did listen to it on audio twice, and I was wondering about Joe’s body language and it was a pleasant surprise to find the video here! I also think this format works better to share content in the living with friends and family.

    For me this episode encompasses a lot of teachings in the form of stories:
    – The quality of the questions he asks to himself to achieve.
    – The positive emotions on the questions and the meaning he puts on the challenges he sets ups for himself
    – How he arrives to big solutions at the last moments of the stories
    – The power of story telling
    – The benefits of training getting out of the comfort zone.

    I know there is more here… to me it feels like a combination of Tim Ferris, Seth Godin and Tony Robbins teachings in a format of fun stories.

    Ernesto Butto

    Like

  18. Good Afternoon Tim and Team,

    This podcast ranks as my all time favorite episode thus far. I have already listened to it for a second time. I have consumed most if not all of your podcasts beginning with Jocko’s podcast in October of 2015. Your podcast is part of my daily commute. Thank you for the tremendous value that you bring to your listeners and to myself.

    I found this particular episode so fascinating because I am always looking for additional role models for my children. I want my children to be able to understand and see how hard work, curiosity, passion, goal setting, resourcefulness and serendipity can lead to something magical. I think this podcast does just that.

    I was also reminded to lift my head up and think bigger there are opportunities on the horizon. I know this intellectually but this episode stirred the fire in my belly.

    Now please, please, please, please hurry up and broadcast Part II.

    Thanks,
    Jamie Presser

    Like

  19. I’ve listed to so many of the podcasts and have taken away more than I can ever explain. This one is one of my all time favorites. Listening to this took me places. Thanks to both of you.

    Like

  20. This might be my favorite Tim podcast ever. Joe has so many awesome stories of hijinks, ballsiness, perseverance, inventiveness…and of course, the equation: SW (2) + WC = MO. Great stuff, gentlemen!

    Like

  21. TIM,

    You and Joe brought feelings of frustration that I thought were well behind me! I cut off live television series many moons ago due to cliffhangers (Lost, Nip/Tuck). First I felt like I was violating privacy with this opportunity to eavesdrop on such intimate chatter. Well, 2 hours and 33 minutes in, you cut off for an unannounced round two! Well played sir!

    As we are midway through March and you just published #4 episode of the month (Frank Blake), I hope that of the remaining 2 shows in your quota we enjoy the conclusion of Joe’s journey.

    Thank you for what you do and pre-register me for any monthly subscription service you cook up will you?

    Like

  22. Tim, Joe is one of the best storytellers you’ve had on your show. I would love for you to explore how he became such a great storyteller in episode 2. Keep up the great work!

    Like

  23. Fascinating interview. It was great to hear so much of the backstory to the story we usually get. Can’t wait for part two!

    Like

  24. Tim, for part 2 with Joe I’d love to learn your and Joe’s POV on when you decide, if ever, to transition from being a “scrappy startup” to being a “professional, adult company.” How do you keep what makes you special while unloading sometimes destructive startup behaviors? When should a hands on CEO begin to delegate? When should a group of employees who can do it all learn to stay in their swim lanes? How do you bring in professional, experienced newcomers such as CFOs or strategists or HR without destroying your startup culture? Thanks.

    Like

  25. Hopefully someone can help me find a Tim podcast. He recently did a podcast where they talked about scientist falling in love with their hypothesis. And even after being proved otherwise, they wouldn’t change their theory. Does anyone recall this podcast?

    Like