Airbnb: Changing Your Life By Changing Your Plans, Friends, Apartments
It’s not often that I have a face-to-face encounter with a disruptive technology that actually disrupts my life in a good way and pushes me to the envelope of innovation and progress. But I have had that experience with Airbnb.
It’s changed my life. I am not the only one.
Right now, in New York City, two young women, age 24 and 27, are staying at my apartment, renting it for the month, while they find an apartment somewhere in Manhattan. I am sitting at a worktable in a huge, cavernous warehouse flat in Brooklyn, on a street I never even knew existed in this borough, while I wait the next 16 hours for my flight to Hong Kong.
[edited] I am now in Hong Kong, about to move from my friend’s flat to the apartment down the street, which I rented online one month ago.
In the last part of 2011 and in 2012 I plan on visiting: Senegal, Morocco, Barcelona, Hong Kong, China, Sweden, Chile, Argentina, and Iceland.
This year alone I have been to Costa Rica, Fiji, New Zealand, Mexico, and Seattle.
And I do not have a full time job at a corporate headquarters.
I am an intelligence agent for the social web. Or, I am a professional networker. Social networks online mean nothing unless you actually meet the people who follow or friend you. That’s what makes them social.
So, to get the job of meaning creation done, I travel around the world building up the social media cache that we use at Re-Wired Group by meeting people face to face and interviewing them. We tell their stories, and find ways to inform the public about how entrepreneurs are finding ways into the jobs to be done framework.
Listen to our two most recent radio shows: An interview with Raphael Ouzan about the social layer of billing statements; and a twenty minute interview with Ringbow co-founder Saar Shai and his girlfirend, the lovely Alicia Zur Szpiro, as they talk about the disruption of global corporate infrastructure brought on by the massive data coming-of-age.
Airbnb has made all of this travel and work possible, simply because it has introduced me to people I never would have met at a bar, at a church or standing in line for a concert.
I am ready to proclaim that 2012 will be the Tipping Point year in a technological revolution that will unsettle lives and create new lifestyles and career choices for millions of people. It’s not the economy, stupid. It’s the apps.
Airbnb allows me to collect rent on my place while other people use it to discover the city. I can then use that money towards travel, where I visit other countries and develop new businesses, create new networks of social media influence, and create meaningful value in work for my clients, globally. I’m like a one-man global media company.
This is an example of a job that a company like Airbnb allows one to accomplish to experience progress. It’s another example of what I have written about in the past: that business is no longer about the mechanics of business, it’s about being social and helping people find meaningful progress in their emotional lives.
As Chris Spiek says about the advances brought on by Airbnb:
This is a great example of an innovation unlocking what is possible in terms of making progress. Most people that have had the same aspirations (job) as you, wouldn’t think of accomplishing it by renting out their place.
They would not, I think, because their emotional energy is tied up in ego management. Their ego is so connected to the stability of a choice that was really not theirs to make. To consider doing what I have planned and executed on would require al etting go of the meaning that was really not theirs to begin with.
With Airbnb, I — and millions of others — have fond meaning in purchasing what on the surface is just a service. But it gets so supercharged because by hiring this company we are achieving the creation of meaning that we created, that we can own.
And in my experience, that makes me a loyal customer and consumer of Airbnb. It’s not that I am satisfied with the service. I am satisfied with myself.
Companies need to get this. companies that don’t get this will end up like Blockbuster video, or GM, or any of the thousands of companies every year that fail.
It didn’t use to be this way, but it is this way now, because of this magical data-linking, people channel called the Internet.
If you can help someone make a meaningful choice in their life, then they will do more than buy your product. They will be loyal, to the bone. And tell their friends about it.
Shell Martinez started using Airbnb last year, and she and her roomate are now thinking of buying their own place to create a kind of international hostel for the hundreds of people who have stayed with her and would stay with her again.
I wrote about her a little bit on my travel blog, For All the Dogs in Mexico.
In short, Shell and Rita have both decided that there are things they can do now that they had only thought about before.
They can start a business, help Airbnb, travel around the world, host parties, and even put together new friendships and relationships based on common interests.
Shell even built a sixteen foot table out of wood and industrial steel pipes. Airbnb’s customer service reps come here on Fridays and set up shop.
It’s an example of a home turning into a business, and within that business the creation of a social layer around getting work done. This never could have happened twenty, or even five years ago.