I love alliteration…and spaciousness.

As I’ve shared in recent posts, the highest priority for me in 2017 is creating more space in my life. It’s given me the time to work on the updated, 10-year anniversary edition of “Peak” that comes out this fall (including great tales from companies like Facebook, Pinterest, and Airbnb whose employee and customer strategies have been influenced by the book).

I’m also in deep research and the writing of “Modern Elder,” which will come out in the latter part of 2018. Harvard Business Review asked me to write on this subject — how I was both a mentor and an intern at Airbnb — and if you want to get a taste of what my next book will be about, here’s that article. I gave a TEDx talk on the subject at Burning Man 2016 and that video is here (not the greatest production quality, but hopefully you understand given the conditions in the dusty desert).

Another beautiful benefit of this time is connecting more deeply with my family. I’ve just finished a couple of weeks with my 79-year-old father, sharing our passions with each other. He’s spent the past two decades doing more than 750 scuba dives all over the world and I’ve been to Bali more than a dozen times in the past quarter century. So, we combined his love of diving deep in the ocean with my love of diving deep culturally and here’s what we got.

Being in the Airbnb universe means I’m sent all kinds of fascinating articles and videos about subjects ranging from global nomads to disrupting industries. This video in particular, “Dear Older Generations,” has created a stir, suggesting that Millennial travelers have a whole different perspective than the rest of us. Maybe partly true. But, based upon the trip my Dad and I just took, I think we’re all looking for a little transcendence from our travel. So here’s a bookend video, “Dear Younger Generations,” with a counter POV. Travel isn’t just about moving, it’s also about being moved.

Speaking of being moved, I felt like a proud papa when the Airbnb Open was honored at this year’s 15th annual Ex Awards — the Golden Globes of the experiential marketing industry. The Airbnb Open grabbed the highest honor, the Grand Ex Award, awarded to the corporate marketing event of the year with the highest score (amongst 1,000 entries in 26 categories). Nominees included global brands such as Intel, Netflix, Google, Samsung, Ford, Nike, BMW, Oracle, and more. Pretty amazing considering this was only our third year producing the event. This short video gives a sense of the progression of this epic experience over the past three years. Proud to have been the birth father.

If you’re interested in a 30,000 foot view of Airbnb right now, The Economist published the article, A “Different Breed of Unicorn,” last week. In it, they give a pretty balanced overview of this growing phenom and its evolution beyond the hospitality space.

For those who think that the hotel industry’s days are numbered, this San Francisco Chronicle article on the renovation and relaunch of the Laurel Inn shows that I believe hotels can continue to learn and adapt from the home sharing movement. I’m writing this newsletter while staying in a hotel in Bali, even though there are many phenomenal home stay options. My favorite is that of my long-time friend, guide, and driver, Made Jiwa, who has created a more sustainable income for his family by renting out two small villas on their family compound (for $22 and $25 per day each). Prior to Airbnb, Jiwa would go months at a time without having guests because it was so difficult for a home stay host to connect with prospective travelers. Homes and hotels are both great options for travelers.

There was a time when I was greatly fueled by seeing my name in lights. But as I get older this has less resonance for me. While I still appreciate positive press and awards, it’s the personal stories I hear that truly give me a sense of meaning. Receiving heartfelt emails, like the one below, is a big reason I continue to write books and share my lessons in life.

Wishing you all a beautiful end of spring and start of summer,


Dear Chip,

I know that you’re a storyteller, so I hope you can take some time to read and enjoy this one. It’s a little long, but I assure you it’s worth it.

My first job in hospitality was running an elevator.

Despite being a college graduate, the only entry-level hotel job I could find was as a host of a rooftop venue at a new boutique hotel. Being last in the pecking order, every night it was my job to run the independent elevator that took guests up and down 27 floors to and from the hotel’s popular rooftop. 

I was extremely embarrassed by my job. I had entered the hospitality world because of my love for creating experiences for those around me, and despite already having success in the service industry and travel booking, here I was confined to a tiny space for hours at a time. Something had to change.

First, I timed each elevator trip. Thirty-two seconds. I began to practice different ways to introduce myself and create a routine of relaying the basic facts and information required before they reached the top, always leaving room for a joke or some improvisation. I’d even recommend drinks at the bar, views around the rooftop, and give them my own business card for table bookings. After a while, guests began asking for me instead of the hosts that were actually working the venue. 

I’d made the most of my “elevator pitch,” but I had yet to focus on another opportunity: the way down. In fact, most of the time I spent in that elevator alone, so how could I take advantage of that time?

When I told my parents I’d found a job, I decided to hide some of the details from them (specifically the moving metal box), but they still knew I was at the bottom of the food chain. As a gift, my Mom sent me a book that she said would help me once I got to where I wanted to go. The book was called PEAK, and I would read it every trip down in that elevator a half a minute at a time before hiding it in the emergency compartment as the doors opened for the next guests to go up.

Because of PEAK I began to see more and more value in my job as well as those around me in other departments of the hotel. I also began approaching relationships with coworkers and guests more genuinely, enhancing my network and accelerating my development as a leader. It also provided me with a level of confidence in my decision making that would serve me well when I got my shot.

Over the next 3.5 years, I worked from the elevator to Management. While a lot of my own personal motivation led to my success, it was your book that prepared me for when I got my shot and provided a context from which I could evaluate and contribute to the overall leadership of the venue and hotel. I also decided to return to school for my Master’s, focusing on customer service psychology and business management before joining an up and coming hospitality group in 2015.  I have since left that job and have been traveling around the world and preparing for beginning the next chapter of my life, one that introduces self-actualization, or perhaps my own “joie de vivre.”

I hope you enjoyed the story and continue to influence young professionals and companies poised to impact the world. Oh, and can’t wait for that next book, either.


Gabe Huntting