Tag Archives: #people

Diversity And Inclusion – Airbnb

I had written a post about Diversity and Inclusion a while ago. And I am still fascinated by the power of diversity.

I like to travel as some of you know – and I realized that for the last few trips we have always stayed at an Airbnb. I remember being skeptical about the idea initially. What! Do you live in someone’s house? They live there too! How does that work?

But, after the very first one, I was hooked to the idea. I was a total convert. Why do I like Airbnb? And how is it related to Diversity and inclusion. For those of you not familiar with Airbnb – here is the link to the website. But even important is their mission

“Our diverse global community makes Airbnb possible. Building an inclusive platform for all hosts and guests is our greatest goal, and we’re always working to improve it.”

Brian Chesky – co-founder and CEO of Airbnb states the following succinctly.

If you think about it, the very foundation of Airbnb is based on inclusion. You open your houses first to a stranger and then open your hearts to them as well. It is difficult to not like a human after you have ‘really’ seen them. For example, in my most recent trip to Toronto with my friend we were staying with an Asian family – complete with a kid, grandparent, and the parents. It was a very lovely Airbnb – the living room and kitchen was a common area, our bedrooms and bathroom were separated.

And if you are from an Asian culture, you instinctively understand the situation. The grandparent(s) usually travels along with the family to take care of the kid. They did not speak English, and we did not speak Chinese. The first day we were there, we were very polite and just nodded and smiled at each other if we crossed paths. At night the little kid starts crying. My friend and I give each other a look – ‘Kids’ and we went to sleep as the rooms were very well segregated. Next day we saw what they had for breakfast, they saw that we skipped breakfast. We could see the kid viewing us to see what we did, how we did etc. That evening she came up to us with her mother shyly and gave us two candies. Next day we returned the favor. And by that time we had become quite familiar with each other. And when we left, we took selfies. We exchanged our names.

Now, this is what happens in a joint family in India. You live with other people – you ADJUST, and you ACCEPT. This is what makes us a grow as a person. Living in Airbnb reminds me of that. And at the same time in a world where technology is pulling people away, we need more of these instances to remind us that we are all humans who share space on this lovely planet called earth.

I enjoy these tiny, intimate connection with people who I have never met – because it reminds me of our oneness.

Magical – Teams

The Four Rules state:
Whoever come are the right people.
Whatever happens is the only thing that could have.
Whenever it starts is the right time.
When it’s over, it’s over.
and The Law of Two Feet states that:

“If during the course of the gathering, any person finds themselves in a situation where they are neither learning nor contributing, they must use their feet and go to some more productive place.”

If you are familiar with open space, then you know what I am talking about. If not, then open space is a way to run a conference/meetings/retreat. Now, if you are a control freak I am sure this sounds scary because this is all about trusting the process – BIG TIME.

Why am I talking about this? Last weekend we were at Give Back Hack(athon) in Cleveland. This is like a 48 hour startup weekend. Adam presented his idea on Friday, his idea made it to the top 10 out of the 50 ideas pitched. We were joined by 7 other people (self-selection) making us a team of 9 people. The idea was to employ homeless youth to screen print t-shirts and sell them. Screen printing suits the homeless youths flexibility, skill set.

Over the course of 40 hours, we did user validation, talked to people, built our business model with financials and social impact model. We also built our Minimal Viable Product called
Wild Tiger Tees managed to get 17 orders in 5 hours and pitched our final presentation and we won!!!

We started off as nine strangers who met on Friday night, and by Sunday night we were a high-performing team of screen printing experts. How cool is that? Most of the team members spoke to a few other groups and came back feeling very grateful for the team we have.

If you ask me what contributed to our success was the following
1. People: It is imperative the team be happy – happy people – great work. We had a fun champion who at every hour would make us do something or laugh. And by the end of it, we were all looking forward to jokes. And even now seems it’s going to become something of a tradition. We also had a closing down routine where we would all gather in a circle with our arms crossed and shout – Fired Up

2. Patience: When I started on Friday – I knew where I wanted us to go as a team. But if I had stated that on Friday evening – it would have been a flop. So I selfishly kept those ideas to myself and let the team plow through it. By Saturday afternoon I had two people come to me and state that it was getting a little confusing. That was my cue to get everybody into focus and move on.

3. The team takes priority: However great you think your idea is – unless you get the team to buy into it – success will elude you. Hence, it is essential to not get attached and trust the process. Sounds easier than done for sure. And it comes with lots of practice and experience. And as a control freak – I can tell you how painful the process is.

Experiences like this become memories and fill a space within our empty souls. I am very grateful to have been the medium for this to happen and also to experience this.

If you are so called by our cause – please place a pre-order at Wild Tiger Tees

Happy New Year. #Sydnye

Happy New Year All.
This year we were in Sydney for the New Years and decided to do what we never did even once in the seven-year we lived in London. Watch the fireworks in person. A well-organized event in Sydney. There are different vantage points. The one we chose was the McMahons point – it opens from 8 am – 1 pm but capacity is limited to 15000. We reached there at 4:00 – the place was packed. We managed to squeeze in our three chairs somehow and just sat there ignoring the irritated looks of the people next to us. We could see the Opera house on the left, Harbour Bridge in front of us and then a sea of people with humongous colorful umbrellas and tents.

Around 4:00 pm it was still hot in Sydney, so everybody was applying sunscreen on a regular basis, but as the evening cooled down, tents come down, people wore sweatshirts to protect themselves from the chilly winds. And by that time we had practically become family to our initially unfriendly neighbors. The huge crowd of thirteen teenagers and one mom who was parked in front of us were asking us to move closer as their tent come down. I was tapping my feet to their music. We even sang happy birthday to somebody in the group at midnight. Somethings happen only in cities – where strangers share intimate, private moments and then go back to being strangers.

I was quite impressed by the portable toilets. There were about 20 toilets at the lower level and maybe another five male toilets at the upper level. That meant roughly one bathroom for 600 people. The queues were thirty minutes to one hour long. But they were all clean and operational even at 11:30 pm. Now that is an impossible feat if you ask me – hats off to the planners.

As we started getting closer to midnight, I could feel the excitement building up in the air. People got their glow necklaces, bracelets, and headbands. Now that it was dark we noticed the projections on the wall on the two sides of the bridge. And as a teaser, they release fireworks for five minutes at 8:30 and at 10:30 pm. People would gather and stand up as it neared those times.

Fireworks were shot from the boats behind the bridge, and they lighted up the bridge. It looked as if the bridge itself was a silent spectator enhancing the beauty of the fireworks. The way wind was blowing all the smoke shifted towards opera house which looked like three priests looking out from their cowls in the darkness. The display for five minutes was so dazzling that I found myself looking forward to the twelve-minute show at midnight.

And soon enough after a surprisingly quick 8 hours, the final countdown started from 75 seconds. And there was silence as the fireworks exploded like there was no tomorrow (which was true for 2017). There were different types of fireworks with varied colors. Some were concentric circles of different colors. Kids immediately labeled it as a rainbow. Then there was golden rocket which sprouted a dozen others as it fizzled out. And they made full use of the bridge. They shot upwards from the top of the bridge; there even was a golden waterfall at the end from the bottom of the bridge. The trains still going across the bridge just made the experience even more surreal. Crowds Oohed and Aahed with the rhythm of the fireworks. Little kids perched on their dad’s shoulder watched with their mouths open, finger pointed, but no voice came from them. As the frenzy grew so did the fireworks, it was like without a break.

When it was all done we made our way back home taking the miracle of the fireworks – Thank you #Sydnye (Syd New Year’s Eve). We could not have found a better way to usher in the New Year.