Lyft CEO David Risher shares his daily routine.
If you’re a San Francisco resident, look out: the biker whizzing by you just might be the new CEO of Lyft. A well-caffeinated David Risher cycles to the ride-sharing company every day, where he’s often in meetings or checking in on products.
Risher’s day begins sometime between 6:30 a.m. and 7 a.m., he tells Fortune—an early riser, but at a time that is more in tune with the schedules of many workers than that of other CEOs who wake up well before the crack of dawn.
“My mother was a big-time believer in the early bird gets the worm,” he says. “So it’s been sort of a lifelong thing. And I used to deliver newspapers way back in the day.”
For the 58-year-old, that worm is the rideshare giant he inherited in the shadow of its recent prime. Lyft has been struggling with a falling market share and decreasing morale, the Wall Street Journal reported. With fierce competition from Uber and a difficult to navigate post-pandemic market, Lyft brought on Risher, who went to Harvard Business School and worked at Microsoft and Amazon in the ‘90s, to help turn the company around. In his four months as the company’s CEO so far, Risher has already made waves by issuing large layoffs and mandating a return to the office.
His day is fittingly meticulous, rigorous, and a little offbeat at times, filled with the typical meetings as well as bike rides and Starbucks runs. He walked Fortune through his daily routine, which reads not all that different from most workers, despite being a CEO.
Coffee, coffee, coffee
6:30 a.m.: Risher wakes up before warming up. “I do some exercise in the morning, just stretches on the floor,” he says, adding he’s been doing this for the past 15 years.
It all began when he went to a surgeon for back pain, who he says basically wanted to “get his knives out and start cutting into me.” Looking for alternatives, he went to a physical trainer who helped him develop an exercise and stretch routine, which he now does “every single morning…I’m sort of religious about doing that.”
He then drinks his morning espresso—“I’ve been a coffee drinker for years,” he says—while doing a little more exercise and perusing his phone. He says his phone time is “fairly disciplined,” as he scrolls through Twitter, Threads, and the news. “I actually try to leave email for a little later because I want to just sort of sink things in and actually look at the New York Times for a little bit,” he adds. “Before other people start pinging me with things, I try to get a little handle on what’s going on with the day.”
Risher also never skips breakfast, which is when he goes back to the old-school way of consuming news by reading the San Francisco Chronicle, which gets delivered to his house every morning.
8:30 a.m.: Risher says he is “lucky” to live only 20 minutes away from the Lyft offices via bike, so he cycles to work on, fittingly, a Lyft bike every day. He usually picks up a second coffee at Starbucks along the way, ordering ahead using the app. “I’m such a regular there that literally as I walk in they’re already saying hi, and they have my coffee ready for me,” he says.
9 a.m.: Risher arrives at work, give or take a few minutes. He almost always has time with his team, which he calls the purpose driven team. On Mondays, that means a group meeting that lasts a couple hours, but other times the meetings are usually one-on-ones. “That’s always a top priority,” he notes. Company meetings also happen once a month, as Risher notes they try to “over-communicate to our employees as we go through so much change.” He also meets with the finance team.
“I spend a lot of time in meetings with other people, but we’re also pretty disciplined about keeping time during the day,” he says, adding that if it’s not exactly free time, it’s basically less scheduled time. He likes to spend his unscheduled time “walking around the big loop” on Lyft’s campus to catch up and chat with others and check in on what they’re working on.
The day often also includes product reviews where they explore a new feature that they’re looking to launch, always talking about the journey from the customers’ perspective.
Lunchtime: Risher says he often finds himself taking lunch at his desk in the afternoon, but has lunch with a team member or in Lyft’s cafeteria once or twice a week. Inspired by his vegetarian daughter, he says he tries to “go a little vegetarian” because it’s healthier and better for the planet.
But he says he doesn’t love Lyft’s “basic food services” which often include salads, pizza, and soups. So he hopes to do an Iron Chef level challenge in the next few weeks before everyone returns to the office, where “we can bring people in who’ve been basically eating the same thing every single day for the last year, and say, ‘okay, you’ll show us how you can use these ingredients to combine and make it something really interesting.’”
Risher also takes a quick walk during his lunch break to “breathe and think” or to call his kids. Keeping the caffeine running high, he typically grabs a matcha. “As you can tell, I’m sort of addicted to Starbucks,” he admits.
5:30 to 6:30 p.m.: With the work day over, Risher hops back on his bike to go home and to get connected to “the physical world, not just the virtual world of screens.”
While each evening is different, Risher says he’s “pretty religious” about going to the gym a couple of times a week. He also fits in time with his wife, often watching a T.V. show series together, or calls his kids.
10:50 p.m.: Risher usually spends the last half hour of his night winding down by reading, something he says has been a life-long passion and has helped him see the world from a different perspective. He’ll also work on the New York Times’ Spelling Bee or some sort of puzzle, “just to sort of get my mind in a different space.”
Not fully unplugged, he’ll also be back on email a little bit to get some things done or get ready for the next day.
11:20 p.m.: Lights are out, and “the day begins again.”