What’s the biggest lesson you learned in 2012?
“A year ago, we were a much smaller company–what happens when you grow super fast is that you have more people working on more projects and there are so many more opportunities to pursue. At some point you wake up and you’re the one responsible for making sure the company is focused. You wake up and realize that there are literally hundreds of things happening and people are pursuing different priorities and interactions. The lesson I learned is that it’s really important to learn how to prioritize what people are doing and making sure that everyone is aligned on a single vision.
“We created a framework for keeping ourselves focused. Most startups are only focused on growing faster. We realized that was the wrong thing to focus on solely – that would not make us a great company. To be a great company we realized we had to focus on three things: Love, Growth and Foundation.
“Love was making sure our customers love the experience of Airbnb. The constituent is our community.
Growth helps us focus on gaining momentum. This is what most startups focus on, and it’s a good thing to focus on, but shouldn’t be all that you focus on. The constituents for this are our shareholders.
“Foundation ensures the long-term success of our company and that it’s a great place to work. The constituents for this are our employees.
“We are focused on making sure we take care of our community, or shareholders and our employees–those are the constituents of Airbnb. This was our big insight.”
How do you think you’ll apply this lesson in the year ahead?
“We are already working on our 2013 plan. We try to prioritize different projects under Love, Foundation and Growth. Love is the biggest priority for our company because we are in the business of delivering amazing experiences for our customers–that is the most important thing we need to do. The second thing we need to do is make sure we create a great company that provides long-term value that the best people in the world want to work for. If we can do these two things, we will grow and create long-term value for our shareholders. So we are going to focus on a few key initiatives for Love, Foundation and Growth and we will prioritize in that order.”
More Lessons for 2013 from some of today’s most innovative business thought leaders here.