Being a leader means leading. Leading by example. Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky decided to counteract some challenges in his business that provides a great example of how to deal with challenges in your business.
On last weeks episode of dylan’s podcast (“Don’t react – counteract”) I spent time talking about the two choices entrepreneurs have when they are faced with difficult circumstances. One choice is to react to circumstances and the other is to counteract. Reacting means you are responding to a moment whereas counteracting means you are changing the direction of the moment.
Over the past few weeks, Airbnb has been receiving its share of media attention due to the death of five people who attended a Halloween party at a home that was rented through the Airbnb platform. I think many entrepreneurs in Brian’s position would have responded to the accusations the best way they knew how to do and in a best case scenario, would have accepted responsibility for the problem. That’s probably where most entrepreneurs would stop – but not Brian Chesky.
If you know anything about Brian Chesky you probably know about his famous “10 Star Experience” philosophy (if not, check out “What Would Be The 10-Star Experience & Beyond?“). How Brian responded to the horrific incident related to Airbnb is a framework that any entrepreneur can use to deal with their own challenges. Instead of simply responding to the media and using words to pacify problems, Brian decided to re-examine and undertake an overhaul of the Airbnb business foundation. Airbnb has over 7 million listings on it’s platform and Brian decided they will verify them all. Yes all of them. All 7 million. He decided to address another problem at the same time which centers around guarantees to guests who aren’t satisfied. Airbnb will now give guests back 100% of their money if the Airbnb listing they stay in doesn’t meet their expectations (this has actually been a major problem for Airbnb). But that’s not all. Airbnb has set-up a 24/7 hotline that is managed by real people who are going to be available to help guests and manually review high risk reservations. Each one of these decisions will have a major impact on Airbnb’s business. By recognizing the problem and not being content with simply responding to it, Brian has given his team a new bar to hit so that guests will have a better experience with Airbnb. A safer experience.
You will inevitably run into serious problems while you attempt to build a profitable and valuable business. Many of the problems you experience will not give you any warning before they arise. The manner in which you respond can help you discover new opportunities to do a better job and can set your business apart from its competition. Problems are opportunities in disguise but its takes courage and conviction to act in the face of fear. Don’t waste the opportunities your problems are hiding.