It’s been a roller coaster of a year for all of us. But for Airbnb, the peaks, dips and spins have been especially stomach churning. The company started 2020 as the markets’ darling—top of everyone’s list for IPO of the year. By the end of March, “I was reading stories questioning: would Airbnb even exist?” says CEO Brian Chesky. “It took me 12 years—me and my partners—to build this business, and we lost most of it in four or five weeks.”
And now? Chesky spoke with Ellen McGirt and me on this week’s episode of Fortune’s Leadership Next podcast, and had a kind of ‘pinch me’ tone describing the current state of his business:
“We were expecting this storm to go on for years. And something remarkable started happening. At the end of May and early June, we did more business in the United States than at this time last year… [People] don’t want to get on planes, they don’t want to cross borders, they don’t want to travel on business, they don’t really want to go to cities…What they want to do is get in a car and travel up to 300 miles…People want to get out of the house, they do want to travel…That’s what we started Airbnb for.”
Throughout the crisis, Chesky continued to hone the thoughtful, almost studious approach to leadership that led Fortune to first profile him back in 2015. In the podcast, he gives his well-articulated advice for leading through crisis, and it is worth the 30 minutes it takes to listen. For CEO Daily readers, I’ll leave you with this:
“I think what ends up happening with companies is they usually just serve one stakeholder—shareholders; they look at only certain types of metrics—financial metrics; they look at them over a short period of time—quarterly; and so human beings get reduced to numbers on a spreadsheet. What business needs a little more of now is a little more love and a little more humanity. Why are board meetings dominated only with financials when CEOs need to be thinking about a lot more than financials?”
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