The JN learns how Elliot Darvick’s new position as Lyft’s Regional Director for the Midwest allows him to create better customer experience for their drivers, riders and communities.
Photos courtesy of Elliot Darvick
1. How and when did you get involved with Lyft?
I joined the company in 2016 to start our Detroit office. General Motors had just made a
significant investment in Lyft and there was an eagerness to establish and grow a team
in the Motor City.
2. What is your new job title for Lyft? What does your job entail?
I am Regional Director for the Midwest, which is a territory comprising eight states (he is now based in Chicago). I sit within our Global Operations group, which is responsible for things like ensuring smooth airport operations, delivering in-person support to drivers and building local partnerships to solve transportation barriers. My day-to-day is focused primarily on team leadership and management, long- and medium-term strategic planning, and problem-solving alongside my team in pursuit of a better customer experience for our
drivers, riders and communities.
3. What are some of the challenging aspects you face in your career?
At best, a career is punctuated with moments where you realize that “what got me here,
will not get me there.” I’ve doubled my team size at least five times in the last three years.
Each time, I’ve had to learn something different to be the leader my team deserves and,
with that, comes admitting you don’t have all the answers you need to succeed. It
requires reinvention, humility and a continuous commitment to learning. I love the
challenges that growth creates, and I’ve found it humbling.
4. What is your favorite part about working for Lyft?
It is a company deeply grounded in a mission to remove transportation barriers and
reshape cities around people, not cars. That means fewer medical appointments missed
by senior citizens, fewer jobs out-of-reach due to the high cost of car ownership and
less pollution as we reduce the amount of single-occupancy car trips. I find this mission
incredibly motivating and, with more than 30 million active riders on the platform, Lyft has the scale to be a meaningful part of driving the change we seek.
5. How does Lyft differentiate itself from Uber?
I honestly think it’s most important for us to focus on how we differentiate ourselves from
car ownership. Our true competition is behavior — changing the way we think about
integrating multimodal transportation into our lives. For example, shifting the instinct to
drive downtown into taking a bus there and a Lyft ride home. Beyond that, we’re going to
continue leaning into our unique set of values, which brings to market programs like
Round Up & Donate, where every ride in Metro Detroit can be rounded up and donated
to the Detroit Public School Foundation.
6. How has your Jewish identity followed you through your business success?
My Jewish identity is inextricably linked to my personal values. Deeply believing in
concepts like tikun olam has led me to companies like Lyft, which has built a business on
the idea that we can improve lives through transportation. My values also guide how I
interact with our communities and my team members; for example, to embrace the idea
of b’tzelem elohim (in God’s image) means you naturally seek out equality and act with compassion.
7. What do you miss most about living in Michigan?
Most obvious is the community of friends we left behind. The love of Detroit, the
Midwestern sensibilities, the closeness of the Jewish community — all of these things
added up to quality friendships I know are rare in life, especially when you consider my
wife and I had only lived there as a family for three years.
From a career standpoint, I can’t speak highly enough about how open people are to
collaboration, both in the business community but also within local government. Because
of the lows Metro Detroit has experienced over the years, my sense is there is a genuine
enthusiasm to experiment and try new things that might not have been present in the
past. That’s powerful, and I’m very bullish on what happens from here. One way or the
other, it will always be home for me.
Elliot Darvick is a native of Metro Detroit, where he attended Hillel Day School and graduated from Cranbrook-Kingswood. Elliot has spent the past 15 years of his career at the intersection of technology, automotive and media — with the last three years spent building local operations for Lyft across Michigan, Ohio and now the broader Midwest. He lives with his wife and toddler in Chicago, where they recently moved after spending three years living in Huntington Woods.
Schmoozing with Brandon Ben-Ezra