If you like to listen to podcasts, you probably at some point have seen or heard of this NPR series called “How I Built This with Guy Raz.”
Listening to successful entrepreneurs and founders talk about the stories of their early days is an incredibly motivational and uplifting experience for me.
The host, Guy Raz would interview founders of some of the world’s best-known companies to talk about how they first got their ideas to build the services and products that are now loved by millions of people.
The more I listen to it the more I got hooked to the show because these behind-the-scene stories give me a rare glimpse into the humble beginnings of even the biggest names in tech today. The stories also add a human touch to which otherwise would have been just another article of a founder’s bio or a page in Wikipedia.
In one of my favorite episodes, Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia talked about the early days of Airbnb when he and Brian Chesky recruited RISD alumni to help the young startup raise money by designing and selling online a limited edition Obama Oats breakfast cereal for 40 dollars a box. They made 500 of them and somehow got viral on CNN which in return helped them to immediately sell out. The original Obama O’s can still be found here!
He also revealed that they found out later the reason they were admitted to the Y Combinator program was not that their pitch or growth strategies were exceptionally great but because of Paul Graham heard the crazy story of how they sold breakfast cereal to fund their early stage company, and in that Paul saw the hustle and grit in these guys, which are key characteristics YC look for in founders.
Here are my favorite episodes:
Airbnb: Joe Gebbia
Instagram: Kevin Systrom & Mike Krieger
Lyft: John Zimmer
Cisco Systems and Urban Decay: Sandy Lerner
WeWork: Miguel McKelvey
Some more inspiring episodes you may like:
LinkedIn: Reid Hoffman
Patagonia: Yvon Chouinard
Stitch Fix: Katrina Lake
Bobbi Brown Cosmetics: Bobbi Brown
Kickstarter: Perry Chen
Rent the Runway: Jenn Hyman
Slack and Flickr : Stewart Butterfield
Lululemon Athletica: Chip Wilson
Stripe: Patrick and John Collison
Take a listen and tell me in the comments below which one is your favorite!