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“Think Generationally” 5 Leadership Lessons With Kris Careusma-Primm of Lyft

“In the U.S., my grandparents were deemed the “Greatest Generation” for defeating fascist dictators who threatened global domination in…


“In the U.S., my grandparents were deemed the “Greatest Generation” for defeating fascist dictators who threatened global domination in World War II. My parents, the Baby Boomers, ushered in an era of civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights and launched the modern environmental movement. I am among the oldest U.S. Millennials. What are the most impactful contributions millennials can make to improve people’s lives? Personally, I believe it’s twofold. One, beat climate change. Two, make capitalism work for everyone, especially the four billion people living on less than $4 a day. How you see your generation’s most important impact could be different, but keeping the big picture in mind, and working for generational change, can help you stay focused on what matters most and not sweat the small stuff.”


I had the pleasure of interviewing Kris Careusma-Primm, Lyft Nevada marketing lead. With the arts under attack and Nevada slated to lose $700,000 in funding for arts programs alone, Lyft knew something had to be done. The result is the Intergalactic Art Car Festival in Las Vegas on Saturday, June 9 with all proceeds benefiting local arts programs.

Thank you so much for joining us. What is your “backstory”?

I grew up on a hippie commune in a Hawaiian rainforest where I was raised to believe that working for the “greater good” was the “rent” we pay to live on earth. From these roots grew a lifelong search for fun, cool and impactful ways to improve people’s lives, including helping the real-life Jerry Maguire transform athletes into champions of social impact; the executive producer of Live 8 dream up his next global movement; and now improving people’s lives through transportation with Lyft.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?

I worked for U.S. presidential campaigns and with Congress believing that government could be the most impactful place to help improve people’s lives. When Hurricane Katrina hit, I traveled to the Gulf Coast with several members of Congress and organized town hall meetings to learn exactly what type of help people needed. It became clear that the elderly, people with disabilities and people whose first language was not English were finding it even more difficult to survive. So our team wrote a bill to help serve those who were most vulnerable. Due to the crippling effects of partisanship, the bill went nowhere. This marked a turning point in my search for ways to improve people’s lives.

I left government to learn how to improve people’s lives from the private sector, as well as cross-sector collaborations that included business, government, NGOS, tech, media and more. The past decade has taught me that that none of these sectors working alone can solve the biggest challenges facing humanity; only by working across all these sectors do we have a shot.


Are you working on any meaningful non profit projects? How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Art programs have been cut from schools. Museum funding has been ripped away. When we found out that Nevada may lose $700,000 for local arts programs, we decided to create the Intergalactic Art Car Festival to double down on our creative community.

At Lyft, we feel that arts are fundamental to society. Arts teach us more than drawing or painting, they teach us a creative process to solve problems. Einstein is credited with the quote, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” We need creativity in our culture to help us think differently about solutions to a variety of problems ranging from traffic, to job creation, to climate change.

On June 9, art cars from across the galaxy will descend on Las Vegas for the Intergalactic Art Car Festival produced by Fired Up Management. The cars will roll down the Las Vegas Strip, then circle up in Downtown for a music festival unlike any other on Earth with a mission to “Fund Local Arts Through Festivals.”

People will see the largest collection of art cars outside the playa created by some of the galaxy’s most unconventional thinkers. The art cars feature fire shows, LEDs, lasers, bubbles and state of the art sound systems for DJs. Some art cars stretch more than 25 feet long and over 35 feet high. They include a fire breathing praying mantis, rhino, alligator, monster and swan.

Lyft wants to include everyone in this special event, so we’re making it free by covering the cost of tickets for first 10,000 people who show up and RSVP at artcarfestival.com. To raise funds, we are also offering a “Philanthropist Pass” that comes with an open bar and responsible ride credit from Lyft. All of the proceeds from food, drink and donations will support local art programs through the First Friday Foundation.


Wow! Can you tell me a story about a person who was impacted by your cause?

Imagine if Mozart was never exposed to a piano, or Michelangelo to a paint brush, or Maya Angelou to poetry. The next creative genius who will bring more beauty into our culture is already alive. She or he just needs exposure to the right creative tools to unlock their potential.

We must protect and nurture our art programs to help our future leaders of culture find their respective cavasses and unlock their creative potential.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Think generationally. In the U.S., my grandparents were deemed the “Greatest Generation” for defeating fascist dictators who threatened global domination in World War II. My parents, the Baby Boomers, ushered in an era of civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights and launched the modern environmental movement. I am among the oldest U.S. Millennials. What are the most impactful contributions millennials can make to improve people’s lives? Personally, I believe it’s twofold. One, beat climate change. Two, make capitalism work for everyone, especially the four billion people living on less than $4 a day. How you see your generation’s most important impact could be different, but keeping the big picture in mind, and working for generational change, can help you stay focused on what matters most and not sweat the small stuff.
  2. Be yourself. A powerful thought, but harder than it sounds. You must know yourself. Have you ever sat down to write an answer to the question “What matters most to you, and why?” Give it a shot. Do it often. See how it changes over time. Not only will this help with your potential applications to grad school, but once you are confident in what matters most to you, it will unlock your power to say no to things that are not a priority.
  3. Get mentors. Who has had the most impact in the world on what matters most to you? Find that person. Go work for them. For me, this simple advice unlocked dream jobs: helping people after Hurricane Katrina, helping professional athletes to give back, and now helping to improve people’s lives through transportation at Lyft. I will call out that most organizations do not have budget to help you learn. So be prepared to get a second job and sleep on a friend’s couch (or in my case, the bathroom closet because I snored) to subsidize your learning.
  4. Use Lean Methodology. UC Berkeley Professor Steve Blank’s Lean Launchpad methodology has transformed Silicon Valley culture. The outdated belief about entrepreneurs was that they needed to be Richard Branson-esque: tall, good looking, dudes who through charisma and hard work became billionaires. The Lean Methodology dispelled that myth and showed that opportunities to innovate are everywhere, and that anyone can bring this innovation to life by following a step-by-step process of testing and learning. Steve Blank democratized startups. Learn his methods and apply his innovation process to whatever matters most to you.
  5. Fall in love. Deeply, madly in love. As many times as you can, until you’ve found what work best for you. Learning how you love, how you fight, and how you comfort yourself are among the most important lessons you can learn.


Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this, or I might be able to introduce you.

I would love to have lunch with Pasquale Rotella, founder and creator of Insomniac, world’s largest dance music and experience company. Millions of people love and follow his events around the world, including Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) and millions more have been moved by music from the artists at his events. I would love to ask Pasquale about the opportunities and challenges for festivals to help address some of the biggest challenges facing humanity.

Originally published at medium.com

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