TheBridge profile: Casey Aden-Wansbury
Name: Casey Aden-Wansbury
Current city: San Francisco, CA
Current job: Director of Federal Affairs, Airbnb
Past job: Chief of Staff to US Senator Al Franken
Q. Favorite spot for a coffee meeting? Arlequin Cafe in Hayes Valley, San Francisco
Q. Describe one way how a skill you learned in a previous job helped you in your new job. Getting up to speed quickly on unfamiliar topics. As a political communicator and a Senate chief of staff you have to be comfortable as a generalist. Each day brings a new set of decisions to make on a wide variety of news events or public policy issues you may never have encountered before. You have to learn how to quickly absorb enough about the topic to be able to analyse the key decision points - what is the problem, what is our goal, who are the stakeholders. These skills have been crucial as I navigate the tech industry and the hospitality industry at Airbnb.
Q. Job advice in three words? Resilience is key.
Q. How are you (or your company, org, nonprofit) currently bridging the gap between politics and tech? Though Airbnb is an internet platform, the business we support - home sharing - is really about empowering individuals to monetize their biggest expense - their home. Our hosts live every state and congressional district and when guests stay with them the money they spend goes to support the local economy. That entrepreneurship is something that excites both politicians and techies.
Q. Most underrated virtue in an employee? Grit. Talent and intelligence are important but when it comes down to it being able to count on someone to persevere through obstacles to see an accomplishment through to the end is what makes me want to give someone more responsibility.
Q. What can Silicon Valley teach DC? To have a higher risk tolerance. Entrepreneurs know that taking risks means you’re going to fail, but failing - and learning - is how you get to innovation.
Q. What can DC teach Silicon Valley? The patience to invest in building long-term relationships. Silicon Valley favors quick ROI but in the world of public affairs you need to start educating and building trust with stakeholders long before you’ll have an ask.
Q. Favorite restaurant? In SF - Outerlands in the Outer Sunset, where I live. In DC, Little Serrow.