Does Being the First Have More Upsides or More Downsides?                                                     


I learned three great lessons from Airbnb founder Joe Gebbia that I think could benefit you too. I’m going to focus on the third lesson today, because it’s interesting to consider the upsides and downsides of being the first person to do something.

It’s also important to know what type of person you are and what makes you happiest. Self awareness is a tool for your success. Plus, having insight in yourself will also give you insight in how to work most effectively with others. When we appreciate the differences we all bring to the table, the table gets stronger.


Lessons I learned from Joe:

  • Instead of looking at strangers with stranger danger in mind, look at them as friends waiting to be discovered.
  • True creativity is turning fear into fun.
  • Being the first to test an idea is powerful and beneficial to you and others

Click HERE to see Joe’s TED Talk on How Airbnb Designs for Trust

Be the first to try something new


This has run through my mind before, “I had that same idea. I wish I had done something with it before they did.” Have you ever thought something similar?

Being the first person to do something can be both powerful and risky at the same time.

If you are willing to be the first to do it, there are benefits to be gained including:

If it is your idea you are acting on, testing it first displays a confidence in your idea that speaks loudly to others.

The same way Joe was the first to actually host strangers in his home before rolling out the idea as a worldwide suggestion through his Airbnb site, you too can display your belief in an idea by being willing to do it; not just talk about it.


Learn what needs to be improved or tweaked.

If you are the first to test it, you’ll also have the first round of outcomes. There is no better way to know what needs to be fixed or improved upon than to run the tests yourself. Having others run it and report back to you is second-hand information—nowhere near as powerful as your own experience and conclusions.


If your idea changes the world, as Joe’s did, you’ll always have those wonderful intrinsic feelings of knowing you made an impact and left your footprint.

If you have an idea you don’t act upon, and someone else has the same idea and is the first to try it. It will be that person who gets to be the originator of the concept. This is an example of actions speaking louder than words.


Being the first person to try something doesn’t only benefit you. It can benefit others in the following ways:


For many people, it’s easier to be a follower of a good leader than to carve a new path on their own.

It takes less planning and incurs less risk to do something that has already been proven successful by another. Often it’s also less expensive. To use the Airbnb site (a site already built and functional) costs us much less than it would cost to create our own website or app for the same purpose.


It reduces others’ fears to see that someone else has already done it.

I’ve been skydiving many times, but if I had been the first person to ever jump out of an airplane with a lives-saving backpack on, I don’t think I would have jumped. I felt safe, because others had gone before me.


Less glitches for them to work out.

Everyone who buys the first of any technology should be aware that they may encounter glitches. It’s part of the process. Once someone else has done it first, used it, found the flaws, and given the company time to fix them, it makes it safer for the rest of us to invest in that product. When you test your idea first, you are essentially beta testing so you can provide a less bumpy path for those who follow you.


With the benefits of being first and the benefits of not being first in mind, which do you lean toward? Do you like leading the way, changing the world, showing us all that you are confident in your ideas? Or do you prefer to let someone else carve the path, fix the flaws, and create a lower risk scenario for you, knowing that they will also get the credit when the idea succeeds or blame when it fails?


Neither is right or wrong. They are just different, and only you can choose for yourself which category you fit into best. Keep in mind, you may not fit into either category all of the time. There may be certain areas of your life where you are first and others where you are content with letting others pave the way. It will help you to know for which areas you are willing to take the lead and for which you’ll want to encourage those you care about who take the lead.


I’d love to hear what you think about this topic. Please leave a comment below.

Also, if you think someone you know would like this post, please share it with them.


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