RockIt Careers

Life Lessons of an Uber Driver

In the process of starting our new business venture at RockIt Career Consultation Services, I signed up to become an Uber driver in order to make some extra income. Since opening our office, I’ve cut back on my driving time, but I still like to get out there and drive people around town on weekends. It’s been a liberating experience. I get to decide when to log in, how long to drive, and whether or not to take a ride.

As an Uber driver, I have seen a true cross-section of America. I have seen people at their best and at their worst. For this reason, it’s provided many little life lessons that I wanted to share with you today.

1. You Can Have an Interesting Conversation with Anyone

If you’re the type who doesn’t find it easy just going up to a person you don’t know and start talking with them, here’s a little secret I’ll share with you: most other people are the same way. There are some true extroverts who love mingling and are really good at it, but the next time you’re at a party, look around you. Most of the people are more like you until they’ve had a few drinks to loosen up.

So what do you do when you don’t know what to talk about? Ask the other person questions about themselves. People like to talk about things they are knowledgeable on, and there’s nothing people know more about than themselves. If you keep asking questions about them, you’ll eventually find something you both have in common that you can discuss at greater length. This is the key to good conversation: finding something you both have in common. This discovery is what makes a conversation interesting to you and the other person. You both get to share your personal knowledge about the topic and can banter back and forth. Just make sure that you don’t go too long on one topic. Keep asking questions and finding new topics every few minutes to keep the discussion fresh and lively.

So what kind of questions should you ask? Here’s a pretty simple list to get a conversation started: (1) Where do you live? (2) Do you have family? (3) Where do you work? What do you do there? (4) What sort of hobbies do you have? (5) What sports do you enjoy? (6) Do you have any travel plans? (7) What kind of books/movies/restaurants do you like?

That’s the secret to interesting conversations that you and the other party will walk away from happy that you met.

2. People Make Poor Decisions, But There’s Always Tomorrow

Obviously, as an Uber driver, you see people make a lot of poor choices when it comes to alcohol. These poor choices lead to poor outcomes, whether it’s feeling sick, having a hangover, or fighting with the bouncer.

In life, you’re forced to make many decisions. Where you are today is ultimately a result of all the choices you’ve made in the past. So if you don’t feel like you’re in a good place today, chances are you’re not a victim of someone else, but a victim of your own bad decisions. But here’s the good news. You have the opportunity to make better decisions that will get you to a better place tomorrow.

So after the hangover of last night’s bad decisions subsides, greet the new day and start thinking about long-term consequences rather than just short-term gains/losses. In my profession as a career consultant I see people make hasty choices all the time when it comes to their career. They quit a job without notice because they disagreed with their boss. They no-call-no-showed because they partied too much the night before. They accept a job offer to something that doesn’t move them forward in their career. They don’t negotiate their offer to maximize their earning potential.

Learn from your past mistakes, vow never to make them again, and move on.

3. Prepare for the Worst, Expect the Best

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kristopher S. Wilson
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kristopher S. Wilson

Veteran Uber drivers who are out during the late hours over the weekend try to be prepared for what will inevitably happen some night. They are going to get a passenger who gets sick while riding. It’s happened to me twice. But I’ve never had any clean-up because I had a small trashcan within reach to give them when I saw their condition as they got into my vehicle. I hand it to the passenger and tell them to hold it, it’ll save them $150 for a cleaning fee.

In life, too, you want to always be prepared for the worst possibilities. As best as you can, work to save at least three months of your salary in the bank as a reserve so that if you should ever lose a job, you have something in the bank to help pay for what you need when the pay check stops coming. Also, when you’re in a period of unemployment, prepare for it to take about twice as long as you think it should take. Cut all unnecessary expenses out of your budget to make those dollars and cents last longer. Does this mean you can’t enjoy life when you’re unemployed? No! It just means there are probably more affordable ways to enjoy life than having the gold package subscription with the cable company.

Now even though I advise you to prepare for the worst. If you expect the worst, that’s probably what will end up happening. As an Uber driver, if I saw someone walking toward me and I thought, “I hope that’s not my passenger,” and it turned that he/she was, I can almost assure you that the ride wasn’t going to go well. Instead, I go into a ride with high expectations that we’ll be respectful, have an interesting conversation, and a fun and safe ride. Ninety-nine percent of the time, this is what will happen. The same can be said of a person in a career transition. If you not only prepare for the worst, but expect it as well, it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. While recruiting, I’ve seen many dejected job seekers walk into an interview with the wrong attitude and got exactly what they expected, a rejection. Don’t do this to yourself. There is a reason they called you in for an interview. Prove them right!

4. When Something Isn’t Working, Change Strategies

I am part of a Facebook group of Uber drivers. One of the pieces of advice that veterans give rookies is to never stick to one strategy if it isn’t giving you good results. Most of us have particular staging spots to park our vehicle where we have found a lot of success. But sometimes, those fishing holes aren’t producing rides. So just as a fishermen does, we move on to other fishing holes we think might be more productive.

The same can be said in a job search or career transition. Keep track of what you’re doing and the results it’s producing. If you spend a lot of time applying to jobs online using the big job boards, have you gotten many calls for interviews? If not, perhaps you should spend more time focusing your efforts on another search strategy. Maybe you’ve had several similar jobs and you haven’t enjoyed them or feel stuck. Perhaps you are pursuing the wrong job or career altogether and need to find one that is a better match with your strengths, skills, and experience.

Whatever difficulty you’re facing, if what you’re doing today doesn’t seem to be working for you, stop banging your head up against this wall and try something different that might give you better results.

5. Good Networking Leads to Good Outcomes

Some of the most successful Uber drivers who do it full-time have developed a good network of riders. These riders have had such a good experience with a driver they want to know how they can get him or her again. These drivers often carry a business card with them so that they will get a call whenever their services are needed. This also leads to them getting referred to others. This is networking done right.

If you are trying to transition to a new job or are changing careers, start networking right away with the people you know and  who appreciate your work. Let them know what you’re trying to accomplish and I can almost assure you, some of the people in your network will know someone else who will be able to help you.

Networking sounds more challenging than it really is. It’s simply catching up with the people you know and seeing how you can help one another in some way. That’s it. There’s absolutely nothing more to it. So start reaching out and thinking about how you can help others and how others could help you in return.

6. Don’t Give Up. Your Next Big Ride is a Ping Away

There are nights when I’m out and wondering if I’m ever going to get a big ride. I’d just be getting one $3 ride after another. I’m getting tired and frustrated. I’m ready to call it quits. And then it happens. I get a request and the person wants to go from one far stretch of the city to the other side. I’ve also heard people getting requests to take their passenger to locations hours away. Life as an Uber driver can go from doing a $3 drive to doing a $100 or more drive in a matter of minutes.

Life can come at you fast. When you’re in search mode for a new job or career, sometimes it feels like all you do is run into dead-ends and dashed hopes. Don’t give up. Your big offer is just a phone call away. If you live a system in which you are having interesting conversations with others, making good decisions, are preparing for the worst but expecting the best, are open to different strategies when yours isn’t giving you good results, and are expanding your network, your chances of clearing the leap from your last job to your next one are high.

At the end of the day, it won’t be a matter of if, but when. Life’s road is curvy. Just stay alert, stay focused, stay between the lines, and you’ll do fine.

About RockIt Career Consultation Services

At RockIt Career Consultation Services, our mission is to help you discover your true strengths and use these strengths to set your course to something more rewarding and exciting in your career.

We will guide you on what job or career best suits you and then help you market yourself through your resume, your networking strategies, your interview skills, and your negotiation to ensure that you are doing something you love and are maximizing your earning potential. Throughout, we will be there to keep you motivated and determined.

We’d love to help you launch your career and encourage you to learn more about the services we can provide you on your path to a more prosperous future. With our help, you will become the applicant every company wants to hire!