A life-changing lesson from airbnb’s CPO

Ever wonder what airbnb stands for? Seriously. I thought it had something to do with computer cloud space since reservations are booked online. Airbnb seems like such a slick, modern company that I figured the name came from something way over my head. I was totally wrong, it really comes from beneath your feet.

Airbnb literally stands for air-bed and breakfast. Not any fancy futuristic thing, just a blow up mattress that you put on the floor and inflate. The company’s co-founders were living in San Francisco and their rent got raised, leaving them unable to afford their own apartment. That same weekend, a huge design conference came to town and the city’s hotels were all booked, leaving many attendees without a place to stay. Looking to solve both problems at once, they decided to blow up their spare air mattress in their living room and charge people money to sleep on it. This was the birth of airbnb.

I use airbnb all the time. As a matter of fact I have two airbnb reservations set up for next week. These guys changed the world with an incredibly simple idea. Plenty of people have spare air mattresses. They were the ones who had the foresight to rent it out.

So what’s the life-changing piece of advice? Get started. It doesn’t matter how it looks at first. You won’t have everything you need when you start out. Your job is to drum up the courage to put something out there and have faith that you will put the right pieces in place along the way.

Look at any corporation that has ever started. Each one of them began as an idea. An idea from a human being just like you. If they can build, you can build.

This is why I got back into the blogging game. I tried twice before and I failed. I was thinking about starting another blog and committing to it, but the little voice in my head kept saying “you know you’re not going to keep it up.”

But one day, I heard Joe Gebbia tell that story of rolling out the air mattress at that conference. That simple act, followed by dedication and persistence turned him from a guy who couldn’t afford his rent into the billionaire co-founder and Chief Product Officer of a company that rents apartments out around the world.

That talk gave me the courage to start Twelve-Eight. I knew I wanted to make the site, but I couldn’t think of a name for it. So, I went with my birthday. December 8th. Twelve-Eight. It’s kinda dumb, I know.

But hey, I’m rolling out the mattress. That’s all you can really do in life. Roll out the mattress and see if success needs a place to stay. It might just stick around for a while.

Watch Gebbia’s speech here.


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