The First

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Wednesday was Manvinder’s first day driving for Lyft and I was his first customer.

When he picked me up he quickly let me know I was his first customer by motioning to his phone which I soon learned meant that he was in active conversation with a friend who was guiding him through how to handle his first assignment!

What became clear right away was that Manvinder did not know how to use the Lyft app to transition from “picking up the ride” to “getting the ride to his destination.” It kept telling him to go back to the hotel to get me. And I was already there.

As he continued to struggle and his colleague continued to “help,” I chimed in that I could direct him there myself. He remained intent on following the instruction provided by the app which meant that he kept trying to return to the hotel.

At this point it was clear that Manvinder was stressed! He had an app giving him bad information, a friend in his ear and a passenger in his car…who wouldn’t be?

So I attempted to break through the noise and said, “I can get you there…just turn right.” And he did. But I underestimated my opponent: a human passenger who knows where to go is a poor substitute for a device that does not.

Slowly, so slowly it seemed, I made progress: “left here…yes…stay in the middle lane…no, the MIDDLE lane.”

Which is when it hit me that if the app wasn’t working Manvinder wasn’t going to get paid. And I was not – the first, first passenger he would ever have – going to have that on my conscience.

So I said, “Please hand me your phone.” Which he did, right away. A few clicks and swipes later I got the app to the “Confirm David Pick-up” button which led to the “Begin David Trip” button. And just like that we were official.

It was a random and energizing way to start the day. Except that wasn’t all of it. What then struck me was that Manvinder was driving me, his first customer, to meet with my first client. In March of 2013 a former colleague recommended me to the leader I was on my way to meet. We began a relationship that has led to a very meaningful project with his team as well as additional, rewarding work in his organization.

It is a gift to be reminded of someone helping me to get started. It is a gift to have played that part for someone else.

And, having arrived safely at my destination, Manvinder and I celebrated the moment in the best way we know how: with a selfie.


DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world.

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