Lyft’s core values mean absolutely diddly squat

Getting where you need to go.
Getting where you need to go.
Image: Reuters/ Chris Helgren
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Amidst all the very important financial information released in Lyft’s IPO prospectus, the ride-sharing service also revealed its core values yesterday (March 1.) The company announced that its guiding principles are: “be yourself,” “uplift others,” and “make it happen.”

It’s hard to believe these slogans could be endorsed by anyone beyond an overworked kindergarten teacher doing a half-assed job. The best thing you can say about them is they resisted the temptation to write, “UpLyft others.”

Lyft explained its core values with two sentences that say absolutely nothing except that, bizarrely, Lyft thinks its “community” is responsible for creating a “virtuous cycle.” Lyft’s prospectus on “Why Lyft Wins” reads: “Our team members, who uphold our values and live our mission every day, are at the forefront of cultivating and spreading this culture across the drivers, riders and communities we serve. This continuous interaction across the entire Lyft community creates a virtuous cycle which further reinforces our culture and fuels our growth.” It’s impressively empty jargon.

As anyone who’s ever been given the advice on the first day of a new job knows, “be yourself” offers little specific guidance. Which self? According to Buddhism (and contemporary neuroscience), there’s no constant “self,” we are perpetually changing. Perhaps this advice means we should behave according to internal values, but if these values are as vague as Lyft’s, they’ll be of no help.

“Uplift others,” is blandly nice, but whoever came up with “make it happen” clearly didn’t make their vision for inspiring and innovative company values happen. At least, though, they are marginally more congenial than Uber’s onetime company policy of “toe-stepping,” aka being an asshole. Perhaps, in that sense, Lyft’s core values effectively reflect its public perception: a bit bland, but not as bad as Uber.