You Need to Love the People Around You: What I Learned as the 23rd Employee of Lyft
A love for design.
A wanderlust for experiencing beautiful nature.
It’s the small things that sometimes have the largest influence on our lives. I realized this as I went on a wild ride to California thirteen years ago to chase these passions.
It all started at Mountain Hardwear in San Francisco where I worked for over seven years, an experience that would mold my professional style, success playbook, and value system.
There’s something different about niche businesses with high-value products.
Something that’s sometimes lost in large corporations.
That something is culture. A cult-like obsession for perfection.
Our customers were not just people; they were family. They bought into this brand as a lifestyle convinced it was a key determinant of their happiness.
Then it hit me. It’s not just about the product.
When you join a company, the crucial piece for success is the strength of relationships among employees and customers. No long-term vision can be realized without others who you can depend on, who believe in you, and who are willing to vouch for you.
You need to love the people around. Not only your coworkers but your customers. And when you come home from a day at work, you need to feel that you made the world a better place. That customers didn’t just leave happy because they purchased a product that fills a need, but also because they purchased it from you.
The tribe mindset is real. One push can move a person, but never a tribe. A strong company tribe weathers tough times. After this experience, I had learned something powerful: Robust cultures build the best companies. No exception.
When the outdoor gear industry moved out of California, I reluctantly left my dream job. The beautiful community I saw every day at work was no longer there.
I started on the job hunt for an industry and company that exuded passion for their product and built cult-like obsessed communities.
This led me to the tech startup world. Being patient, I ensured I would align myself with people who I’d enjoy working with.
After dozens of interviews, none of the companies held this critical element. So, I continued punting.
I saw an ad doing recruiting for $14/hr for a new company working on this innovative idea called on-demand ridesharing. Taking a pay cut was not something I was too excited about, but the idea was silly and intriguing.
Will people really buy into the concept of strangers riding around in cars together? Plus, what’s with that giant pink mustache?
All my worries subsided within seconds of walking into the Lyft’s office. I knew this was the company I had been looking for. The incredible culture connection was obvious, and there was a palpable feeling of enthusiasm that hung in the air. A familiar feeling of team and focus.
After absorbing the values and objectives that Lyft wanted to achieve, I was ready to take on the world.
And we did.
We launched aggressively while ensuring to balance our time and energy for our communities strengths.
The wheels spun fast. And we worked hard to keep up.
Motivation was all around. Lyft saved people time so they can invest in themselves, reduces the number of drunk driving accidents, and developed a more vibrant community in each city we launched.
This fueled our energy deep into every weekend. And when tough times came, we dug deep into our tribe culture.
I’ll never forget when on April 24th, 2013, after launching in 60 markets in just over one year, we launched 24 cities within 24 hours!
At the point in time, it was real. The long nights, the crazy hustle, the many missed social life moments, all became worth it.
Many cities followed, and Lyft continues to grow forged on the same core values we set forth years ago.
The connection to people and communities is a thread that has remained constant in my career. And the best lesson I’ve learned is never to let it go.
Now, working as a Program Manager at GrowthX Academy, I once more get to share and learn with many incredible leaders and entrepreneurs who are relentlessly focused on their core values.
We may not have a pink mustache, but if you talk to anyone here, they are their own pink mustache.
And as Simon Sinek says,
“Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.”