Mindfulness in Business Podcast – Episode 1: How my random interview of a Central Florida Uber driver inspired the heck out of me

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My random interview of a Central Florida Uber drive. She is a single mother, going to college, and trying her best to pursue her passion to become a lawyer. Uber has helped make that dream a reality.

Listen to our interview (on Soundcloud) above but first read the story below:

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Uber gets so much bad press and maybe it’s so called “battle” with Lyft has been a bit dramatized, but let’s be clear, Uber represents what is awesome about the internet and innovation.

Why? -- well for starters the fact that you can hail and track a private driver all on your mobile phone, from the comfort of your bathroom while getting ready to hit the town on a Friday night, is nearly magical. Not to mention its logical impact on DUIs and deaths caused by driving while impaired.

However what really inspired me about Uber this time was this random encounter I had this Christmas evening 2015.

Oh and to be clear, no I am not an employee of Uber, yes I have friends that work there but I have no vested interest whatsoever and always remain unbiased. So this is purely based on facts and my personal opinion of course. That said, I must disclose that I am exclusively using Uber these days after experiencing an atrocious customer service workflow with Lyft and decided to discontinue my usage based on principle. However for the record I love Lyft as a company as well, I’m just pissed off at the experience I had. 

Anyways, I have been using Uber since its early days, when they were exclusively a black car service. I’ve never had a problem and actually enjoyed the fact I could discontinue having to deal with traditional taxi services.

Then Uber started to add ride-sharing models which gave anyone with an automobile an opportunity to become an entrepreneur. As a result the cost of using the service dropped and I basically decided to never drive again; unless it was a Ferrari or flying car of course. 

At the time, I didn't truly understand what was happening at a macro level. Yes, I saw tons of Uber drivers on the streets in San Francisco, London, and New York, but kept thinking that was specific to the big cities, who have had a long history for being early adopters.

Well, I was wrong and I’m inspired by it.

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Uber is alive and kicking in Winter Garden, FL

My mother lives in a small suburb 14 miles west Orlando, FL called Winter Garden. According to Wikipedia Winter Garden’s population is 34, 568 and was pretty spread out.

Because I don’t drive, I pulled out my trusty iPhone aka my digital lifeline, and requested an Uber. It was Christmas night and I was heading to another small suburb north of Orlando, which is only accessible via vehicle. I suppose I could have tried to learn how to take the bus system but that would have surely been a painful, several hour ordeal. Plus it was 840pm and I was ready to go out for some fun.

Within minutes my driver arrived and I was greeted by a huge smile and awesome music. I could immediately tell that my driver, Elisha, was not your typical taxi driver turned Uber driver. She began telling me about how she decided to make some money and even though it was Christmas night and she rather be spending it with her daughter, she was very grateful to be driving me to my destination.

I immediately became curious and began asking her questions. What was to follow inspired me tremendously and actually make me proud about being in the technology industry.

Elisha became so overwhelmed with emotion that tears started rolling down her face. She went on to describe how Uber has changed her life and apparently many of the lives around her.

She said that Uber now made traveling long distances in areas like Central Florida way more affordable. She said that Uber has given her a sense of freedom that she had never felt before. She can now create her own schedule and make it work around her 6 year old daughter's needs.

It was the entrepreneurial dream alive and kicking, in a small town very far from the streets of San Francisco and New York.

Hope this inspires you to do something big and bold.

Why not you?