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Lyft co-founder: I was depressed

Lyft co-founder and president John Zimmer tells CNN's Laurie Segall that he found himself in a dark place during certain moments of his company's heated competition with Uber, and talks about how he overcame those personal struggles.

Posted: Dec 11, 2018 7:15 PM
Updated: Dec 11, 2018 7:15 PM

Lyft CEO John Zimmer admits that a few years back he got depressed when he realized that Uber had 30 times more cash than his company.

"I didn't know what to do ... I got overwhelmed with the things I couldn't control," Zimmer told CNN's Laurie Segall. During that period, he said, he was "slow to lead."

Zimmer eventually came out of his funk. And Lyft not only survived, it filed plans just last week to go public.

But Zimmer's experience of feeling defeated at a critical stage is far more common than a lot of CEOs are willing to admit.

Whether your competitor gets more funding, captures bigger market share or nabs a choice client, here's what you can do to ensure the success of your own company long-term:

Get right with yourself

Make it a priority to take care of yourself physically and mentally, especially if you are depressed or anxious in the wake of what you perceive to be a defeat.

"Have daily practices that center you," said Peter Bregman, who founded the leadership advisory firm Bregman Partners.

For instance, meditating even for a few minutes in the morning and the afternoon can give you a chance to reset yourself, much the way sleep can, Bregman said.

Reach out to your competitor

In cases where you were directly competing for something (e.g., a big client), consider offering your congratulations to the competitor who won out.

"There is no downside to it," Bregman said. If anything, you distinguish yourself and you plant the seeds for a relationship, which can bear fruit down the line.

Put things in perspective

Setbacks happen, but they're temporary.

And success is never an all-or-nothing proposition.

"There's always room for more than one [successful company] in every market," said Dana Severson, cofounder of Startups Anonymous, a platform for founders to confidentially share their stories and challenges.

Also, just because a competing firm gets a big round of funding doesn't mean there won't be enough for you. "There is so much money out there if your idea is good enough," Bregman said.

Be realistic about what your competition just 'won'

Keep in mind, more funding doesn't guarantee success.

"People often think funding is a victory in and of itself," said Severson, who's founded other startups, including gourmet beef jerky seller Stick in a Box.

What's more, big funding brings big expectations and demands. It may even mean your competitor will need to take on a different kind of client than you'd like, he said.

And while more money means the other company can spend more than you on marketing and hiring, "that doesn't mean those are necessarily good business decisions," said executive coach Jerry Colonna, a founder of Reboot, which provides counseling and boot camps for CEOs, founders and venture capitalists.

Remember, too, Colonna added, companies that gain "first mover advantage" don't necessarily succeed long-term (see Myspace, GeoCities and AOL).

Swim in your own lane

The best thing you can do for your company — and your sanity — is to pay attention to what you can control.

"Stay focused. If you spend the entire time looking left and right when you swim, you'll lose," Colonna said.

Especially focus on the quality of your own work. What does your company offer that distinguishes it from others in the industry? And what can you learn from your competitor to make improvements?

Once you're clear on answers to those questions, and have gotten some perspective on your current situation, you'll be better positioned to motivate and encourage your employees for the challenges ahead.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 517138

Reported Deaths: 10306
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison35086559
DeSoto33512432
Hinds32826644
Jackson24938392
Rankin22621405
Lee16564245
Madison14986283
Jones14195248
Forrest13865260
Lauderdale12343323
Lowndes11401193
Lamar10715140
Pearl River9762244
Lafayette8898143
Hancock7854132
Washington7562169
Oktibbeha7246138
Monroe7106179
Pontotoc7071110
Warren6915179
Panola6815136
Neshoba6762210
Marshall6751142
Bolivar6484151
Union647099
Alcorn5969108
Pike5953157
Lincoln5550136
George511380
Prentiss511086
Tippah498483
Itawamba4916107
Scott479599
Tate4790118
Adams4789125
Leflore4765144
Copiah458995
Simpson4587117
Yazoo458692
Wayne444372
Covington435895
Sunflower4338106
Marion4313112
Coahoma4263111
Leake414491
Newton396482
Tishomingo390294
Grenada3799109
Stone366466
Attala342290
Jasper341667
Chickasaw320867
Winston319092
Clay314378
Clarke302095
Calhoun289550
Holmes273789
Smith271452
Yalobusha246547
Tallahatchie233153
Greene225549
Walthall222266
Lawrence221142
Perry214656
Amite210657
Webster207248
Noxubee188943
Montgomery182857
Carroll176341
Jefferson Davis175043
Tunica164139
Benton153539
Kemper145641
Choctaw138027
Claiborne134939
Humphreys132639
Franklin127130
Quitman107928
Wilkinson106539
Jefferson97334
Sharkey65321
Issaquena1957
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 849409

Reported Deaths: 16199
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1165042004
Mobile744951384
Madison53605739
Shelby38474373
Baldwin38236590
Tuscaloosa36225644
Montgomery34599784
Lee25712264
Calhoun22652520
Morgan22569411
Etowah20084521
Marshall18878318
Houston17806426
St. Clair16987359
Limestone16220222
Cullman16183306
Elmore15967295
Lauderdale15126308
Talladega14275302
DeKalb13099271
Walker12202380
Blount10803193
Autauga10566157
Jackson10237196
Coffee9447192
Colbert9396210
Dale9052192
Tallapoosa7291202
Russell711965
Chilton7101171
Covington6985197
Escambia6972146
Franklin6379108
Chambers5815142
Marion5451132
Dallas5307210
Pike5135109
Clarke485986
Lawrence4857130
Winston4804111
Geneva4658137
Bibb436795
Barbour370880
Butler3446101
Marengo342593
Monroe338666
Randolph338567
Pickens335590
Fayette332785
Henry321566
Cherokee321264
Hale320289
Crenshaw262278
Washington256952
Cleburne255460
Lamar253755
Clay253169
Macon246667
Conecuh193962
Coosa186248
Lowndes178468
Wilcox178338
Bullock152845
Perry141940
Sumter139841
Greene130845
Choctaw94928
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