“Human beings are more alike than unalike, and what is true anywhere is true everywhere, yet I encourage travel to as many destinations as possible for the sake of education as well as pleasure” — Maya Angelou
Last year, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky sent an open letter to our host community about our plans to build a 21st-century company, what that means, and what it will look like in the years ahead.
A 21st-century company is one that realizes its vision — and ensures the vision is good for society. Airbnb’s goal to build a 21st-century company is as lofty as it is inspirational, and one that I’m proud to be a part of.
Airbnb’s value can be seen in the impact we’ve had across the globe: from giving people economic empowerment to the creation of local, authentic, and sustainable tourism worldwide. While these are all things we’ll continue to do as we strive to build a 21st-century company, we’ll also be striving for something more. In Brian’s words,
“Airbnb must treat hosts in our community as partners and make guests feel like they belong. All the while, Airbnb must serve and strengthen local communities, while expanding diversity and acceptance in the world.”
Airbnb is helping to bring people together in new ways — which is more and more important in this digital age. When you meet someone face to face and learn about them, you can put yourself in their shoes and walk around a bit.
I was 23 when I deployed to Iraq with the Army, with a much narrower view of the world and of people from different cultures and languages and faiths. Yet, while there, I had the chance to talk with some local Iraqis that we interacted with, and I found my whole perspective changing.
When we spoke in person, we didn’t focus on our religious or political differences, but spoke about family and close friends, and our hopes and dreams. Through our conversations, I realized that although we came from much different backgrounds and upbringings; we were more alike than different.
And that’s the beauty of coming face to face with people. You realize we’re all on the same journey, the journey of getting up and breathing, of working and dreaming, of loving, of life. At the end of the day, we’re much more similar than we are different.
In the 10 years since Iraq, I’ve traveled all over the world: China, Azerbaijan, New Zealand, South Africa, Peru, much of Europe, Singapore, and Cuba. Every time I travel, I meet some amazing people and experience people and cultures in new ways.
Playing piano with a local in South Africa from the townships, eating lunch with a host family around a table in Havanna, learning about the history of the country and their favorite cliff jumping spot from an elderly couple in New Zealand.
By building a 21st-century company, Airbnb is continuing to help people all over the world come face-to-face — and realize that we’re much more alike than we think. I have great hope that as a company, we can make strides to improve society by bringing people together, tearing down walls, fostering more awareness and understanding, and expanding acceptance in the world.
There’s a quote from the movie Pollyanna attributed to Abraham Lincoln that has always stuck with me,
“When you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it — you surely will.”
Let’s travel and experience new cultures and come face-to-face with people — and let’s look for the good in them when we do.
Andrew is passionate about fitness and health, building community, and empowering others.