Hao Meng | Crain's

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Hao Meng


The Lyft ride-hailing service is available to 95 percent of the U.S. population. Since launching in 2013, San Diego has become one of Lyft’s fastest-growing markets.

The Mistake:

Not working smarter.

When I first started, I was really intent on acting quickly and making an impact very quickly. A while back, we had a driver appreciation event where we decorated a couple hundred cars to delight both our drivers and passengers.

The team was exhausted because it was extremely manual. We felt like the hours spent decorating could have been spent on something much better, like figuring out how to offer this opportunity to more drivers. We wanted to delight our entire driver community, not just a couple hundred.

Beyond this instance, I think my desire to act and make an impact quickly resulted in me having to build some manual Band-Aid elsewhere, so we could keep moving forward on things.

Work smarter, rather than faster.

The Lesson:

Work smarter, rather than faster.

In retrospect, it probably would have been smarter to create a kit. Because we have limited manpower on our team, a kit would have allowed us to spend the same amount of energy on a ton more drivers. We might not have been able to affect every single driver in our community, but thousands of drivers is better than a couple hundred.

Building a scalable business in a smart way and striving for continuous improvement are two of our top goals right now. I think those two are very intertwined. We might not get it the first time, but if we continue to look back and figure out how to do things better, not only are we going to get better, but we’re also going to figure out how to do things in a way that has more impact with less work. That way, we can spend more time creating other great opportunities.

Lyft is on Twitter at @lyft.

​Photo courtesy of Lyft.

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