What Happens when a New York Times Best-Selling Author Becomes an Uber Driver?

The shared economy is a remarkable thing. We have entered an age where anyone can use their gifts, talents and abilities to bring value to others without having to work for a large corporation or go to a nine-to-five job. That’s because innovators are coming up with game-changing ways of helping people get what they want and need.

One such company is Uber. Revolutionizing the automobile transportation industry, Uber is a force to be reckoned with. Their multi-billion dollar company takes people where they want to go in a more personal and convenient way than any taxi service has ever been able to accomplish.

As an Uber passenger, I have used the service in at least six cities, and I’m sure I will continue to use it as I travel across America and around the world.

One morning, I woke up and thought, “I wonder what it would be like to be an Uber driver?”

And that’s exactly what I did. I signed up to become an Uber driver so I could experience it from behind the steering wheel.

Like my previous experience in retail at Barnes & Noble, this was a paradigm shift for me. As a best-selling author and someone who has not held a real job for nearly twenty years, once again I placed myself in the shoes of someone providing a unique service.

I’ve had 34 years of experience as a driver, so surely this wouldn’t prove to be too challenging for me. And yet, I found myself a bit nervous about picking up complete strangers who were depending on me to shuttle them from point A to point B.

The Uber signup process was relatively painless. Beyond the basics, you have to submit a picture of your driver’s license, proof of insurance, automobile registration and info about the vehicle you will be driving. Since I own a 2-door Mustang, I asked my son if I could borrow his 4-door Mazda 3.

After being approved and securing access to the driver portal, Uber sent me an iPhone 3 preloaded with the driver app. Simply fire up the app, go online and wait for your fare.

I placed a GoPro Hero 3 on the dashboard and carried a Flipcam around for the week which I did this. Before I took any footage, I asked my passengers if they were okay with me shooting footage for a documentary that I was creating on the Uber experience. Every one of them said yes and were happy to be a part of my project. I have several hours of footage from this experiment.

I’ve got to say this. I really enjoyed the experience!

My first passengers!

As a passenger, I tend to disappear into my own little world in the backseat of the car, earbuds on and music keeping me company.

But as a driver, I enjoyed talking to all my passengers, asking them questions, telling jokes, discussing their lives and sharing bits of mine.

From the young college students going to work to the older gentlemen who had a bit too much to drink, I found all of my passengers to be interesting and engaging.

And on top of that, I think I grossed approximately $25/hour for my efforts.

A little extra spending cash for my efforts

I truly enjoy trying new things and looking at life from different angles. And now I get to share a little bit of it with you.

Scott Smith, my friend who produces the Motivation to Move podcasts, took hours of footage and produced this short video which really sums up the Uber experience for me. Being clueless as to what I am doing, I manage to get lost, converse with many passengers, while away the time as I wait for my next fare and share from my heart about some of my encounters.

I hope you enjoy it.

My Life as an Uber Driver

I am no longer an Uber driver because I was busy traveling when there were some new requirements that needed to be submitted. I missed the deadline and my driver account went inactive. If I had a 4-door vehicle, I think I would still drive people from time to time. However, the mission was accomplished with this experiment. I’m sure I’ll find some other cool stuff to try. Maybe I should just start a show where I try different jobs I find interesting?

For more on the shared economy and another take on what I did, check out Daniel Newman’s piece on HuffingtonPost.com.

P.S. — I’ve got some GREAT outtake video that may never see the light of day.


Originally published at joelcomm.com.