Lina competed at Sydney 2000, representing Bulgaria in beach volleyball just four years after seriously taking up the sport. She also competed at Athens 2004.
She runs an Airbnb Olympian Experience outlining her model for success, working with corporations to help them identify big goals and how to achieve them.
With our support, you too can become an Airbnb host and work with people from around the world. You can sign up through Athlete365.
I’ve been a leadership coach for some time, but about a year ago I was introduced to Airbnb Olympian Experiences and the idea of being a host. I saw an amazing opportunity to be able to share my story, and the lessons that I’ve learned, with companies all over the world.
In Airbnb’s partnership with Athlete365, I found my dream team: a collaboration with perfect alignment of core values and systems.
Furthermore, my business efforts were instantly amplified by the Airbnb platform, which made the process of communicating, scheduling, booking and reaching new clients seamless. I could be at the playground with my daughter and get a request, respond within seconds through the Airbnb app, and have a booking, which otherwise could have taken me months to organise! You have control of the timing and availability of your experiences, and the fact that it’s all online gives you great flexibility.
Airbnb and Athlete365 made my work so much more accessible to people around the globe, and I now have relationships with companies like Intel, Microsoft, Google, Twitter, Shopify and many more. I don’t think that on my own I would ever have been able to have that kind of global reach.
My “playbook for success”
My Airbnb experience is aimed mainly at corporate audiences. It gets people to think about what their big goals are, and it gives them a framework for how to go about achieving them – on an organisational level as well as an individual level.
My journey with beach volleyball began in 1996; I was sitting on my couch watching the Olympic Games on TV, and I had this idea that I wanted to be a professional beach volleyball player. It was quite a feat to go from there to playing in the Olympic Games myself just four years later.
I’ve broken down my experience of achieving that into a step-by-step process for taking a big idea and then figuring out how to make it happen. I share what I call my ‘playbook for success’, with five specific steps that close the gap between where we are and where we want to be.
When people hear my story, they can see how the steps I’m outlining have been put into practice. I think it connects to something in all of us – we all have aspirations, we all have dreams – and what I think happens during the experience is that each person is able to draw parallels from my story with their own path. Being an Olympian or Paralympian gives you a special kind of validation. There is a certain level of respect for the achievement; only a tiny percentage of people that start out as an athlete make it to the Olympic or Paralympic Games.
A global family
Through my Airbnb experience I’m connecting with people all around the world. Being an This sense of belonging to something that’s bigger than myself is identical to how I felt playing in the Olympic Games. I get a little bit of that sense of being on the world stage that I did as an athlete, but not in a competitive sense. Now it’s a collaborative sense where I’m bringing value to companies and individuals, and it feels really rewarding.
Not only that, but the support I’ve received has been amazing. Airbnb gave a lot of guidance at the beginning, together with Athlete365, about how to structure my experience and engage my audience. I feel so grateful that this opportunity exists, and I hope that many more Olympians and Paralympians will take advantage of it.
Going your own way
If you’re thinking about setting up your own Experience, my main piece of advice would be not to try to be like somebody else. Everybody has a unique gift to bring and we’re all experts in our own right. If you’re trying to do an Experience how somebody else does it, I think it will fall short, because it will fail to capture your unique essence.
Think about something that energises you. For me, the Experience needs to give me energy. I need to feel excited about presenting and about doing it. When I walk away from my sessions I feel elated, I feel like I’m walking on clouds. That’s the kind of feeling that you want to create. Think about the gifts that are unique to you – perhaps your training regime or your nutrition.
It’s also important to relax. People want to connect with other people. They are not looking to connect with a presenter. They’re not looking for somebody who’s really polished, or who will never make any mistakes. People want to know you, as an athlete but also as a person. Being open and creating your own style, just letting your personality shine through, is the best way to achieve that.
Being an Airbnb Olympian Experiences host makes me feel that I am a part of a global team, side-by-side with Airbnb and Athlete365. We’re delivering value to people and companies from all over the world.