advice on how to build meaningful brands

October 4, 2019

68 | Part 3 of 3 – A behind the scenes of how Airbnb built their powerful culture and how you can do it too – with Douglas Atkin

Why you’ve got to listen to this episode:

This is the third and final episode of a three-part series where we go deeper on how to define and operationalize your purpose and core values and how to create and nourish the right culture.

Creating and maintaining the right culture for your organization is as important as it is difficult. Without the right team and the right culture, you won’t be able to achieve your purpose and organizational goals.

In this three-part series, starting with episode 66, I speak with Douglas Atkin, former Head of Community at Airbnb and the man responsible to define and implement Airbnb’s brand. We walk you through the details of how to find your purpose, define your values and how to create and maintain the right culture for your organization. We give the behind the scenes details of how Airbnb did it.

Who can benefit from listening in:

I think everyone understands the importance of having a strong culture, but we are unsure of what needs to take place to create and nourish the right culture.

In this episode, we go through the definition of culture, the different aspects that shape the culture in every organization and what you need to do to build the culture you want to see.

In this episode we focus on:


  1. What is culture – the visible and invisible aspects of culture
  2. How is culture made
  3. How to create and nourish the right culture
  4. What to do when you “fuck up” your culture

In episode 66 we discussed:

  1. Purpose
    • Why you should have one
    • What makes a good purpose
    • How to define your purpose and how Airbnb defined its purpose
    • How to launch your purpose
    • How to show that it’s real

In episode 67 we discussed:

  1. Values
    • The importance and role of core values
    • How to define your values
    • How to operationalize your values

NOTE: On episode 60, Douglas gave an overview of the Airbnb brand. It is helpful to listen to that overview first and then listen to the three-part series in sequence.

Key takeaways from this episode:

  • “Culture is how you do what you do in order to make your purpose real”. Douglas Atkin
  • “You have to live your brand from the inside out” Douglas Atkin
  • “You want to create missionaries not mercenaries. Staff must be believers of the brand.” Douglas Atkin
  • “Your culture is like a bank balance. You need to keep investing and making deposits in the culture to create a robust organization that is strong enough to deliver on your purpose.” Douglas Atkin

Airbnb Values at Work

Diversity and Belonging in Airbnb

Episode supplement

The supplement for this episode includes steps for how to operationalize your purpose.



Links to resources mentioned in this episode



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