Red alert, battle stations!

When all is going haywire people look to leadership for both reassurance and direction. Don’t be like the captain who abandoned his cruise ship when it was sinking. This is your time to step up and let people know that we’re going to get through this. Be calm, cool and honest with your team even if you’re freaking out inside.


Lesson 1: You’re the leader, be the leader

AirBnb’s CEO, Brian Chesky, pulled 16-hour days, conducted emergency Board meetings even on weekends, had all staff meetings and more to keep his team together. Leaders are empathetic, but also transparent. In all staff meetings he straight up told them nothing is off the table. Knowing people would be concerned about job security he changed staff Q&A’s from monthly to weekly and addressed their concerns. There are two things we can take from that.

One, is that Mr. Chesky dignified staff by preserving their anonymity and addressing the issue rather than calling out staff for the concerns they bring up. Second is that by being transparent he also created joint ownership of the problem. By stating nothing is off the table he opens up to input from everyone to solve the problem together.


As the visionaries of our brand, it’s imperative we step up as leaders

It reminds me of Star Trek, pick any version, all the captains had the same crucial trait. When the ship was on the brink of destruction, they maintained their cool and used their experience to save the ship and win the day.

Remember people work for you for a reason. If your team is there just because they need a job, then they’re going to leave if they haven’t already. Most people work in small businesses rather than corporations because they want to belong to something. Many times, it’s your vision. Embrace that, lead your team and they will follow.


Lesson 2: Be professional and empathetic

When it came time to lay off staff, I’ve never seen anything like this done. Rather than giving pink slips and calling security, Airbnb took a hands-on approach to help the difficult transition. Staff were allowed to keep company issued laptops and still got a year of health care. Additionally, Airbnb set up a staff portal other companies could access to hire recently laid off staff. After all some business are still growing during this pandemic. This is noteworthy because Airbnb’s policy was to bring in the best talent because it would help their rapid growth. Such talent would be an asset somewhere else. Now they have a chance to have the same talent that propelled Airbnb on their team. This was handled so well that laid off staff said they had a newfound respect for Mr. Chesky. When Airbnb started rehiring again, they went laid off staff first.


Our role as leader is difficult, but it’s one we chose when we decided to run a business

Embrace the role, lead your team, be empathetic and your brand can survive. Next time I’ll talk about the most important thing you’ll need to do to adapt. I’ll be honest and say I’m not doing great on this one — self-care.


Don’t Miss Part 1!

Click here to read part one of this series.



Adapted from Preetika Rana, Maureen Farrell. “How Airbnb Pulled Back From the Brink.” The Wall Street Journal, October 12, 2020.


Banner and Feature Image Credit

Airbnb’s Cancelled Listings Create a Surplus of Rental Inventory: How Property Owners Can Mitigate the Flux


Red alert and professional photos courtesy of

George Paul III


George Paul III is a branding expert and award-winning designer. He’s the Founder of Seize the Brand, an education platform designed to empower business owners by leveraging the power of branding to realize business and life goals.




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