Reflecting First 30 Days at Uber

Social introductions in DC usually start with “which company do you work for?” When I tell people I work for Uber, usually I’ll get a grimace or a sarcastic question—“oh, and how do you like THAT company?”

It’s been a month since I joined Uber. Albeit the never-ending bad press coverage about Uber is discouraging, I look forward to going to work every single day. I love my team, respect my manager, and believe in the revolutionary transformation Uber has embarked on.

Starting from the recruiting process, everyone I spoke with was kind, and most importantly, honest. When asked about the former CEO’s negative press and how that’s affecting morale and culture, I got admission not denial, transparency not lies. One of my interviewers (now coworkers) said, “I don’t disagree with the mistakes the company made. We have a long way to go to make Uber a better place to work, and together we will get there.”

Thus far, my peers have amazed me with their brilliant ideas and blunt questions. Every week the entire company has an all-hands meeting. I’ve seen our leaders, board directors, and even the newly elected CEO answer some of the toughest question from Uber employees. There seems to be less bullshit within Uber as the company has gone through so much drama, and the employees are becoming more vocal and demanding the brutal truth rather than sugarcoated lies. Churchill once said, “One ought never to turn one’s back on a threatened danger and try to run away from it. If you do that, you will double the danger. But if you meet it promptly and without flinching, you will reduce the danger by half.” This is the boldness and perseverance I’ve witnessed, and I can’t say that about some of the companies I’ve worked at.

Many YouTube channels and ride-sharing blogs have written about underpaid drivers. Various news articles have revealed a broken background check process or “failing trust” between our driver partners and Uber. In contrast, working at Uber has taught me how to listen and be more empathetic. When traveling in San Francisco few weeks ago, I requested an Uber ride after finishing working out. The driver called to confirm the studio location and told me he doesn’t really want to pick me up if I was soaked with sweat right after workout. Slightly irritated, I assured him that I had towels with me and was mostly dried up, and he agreed to come pick me up. Once I got in the car, my driver said that he didn’t mean to be rude but that the last passenger he picked up at the studio sweated all over his car and that it took him a long time to clean it up, in addition to being a brand new Lexus. Putting myself in his shoes, I can’t even imagine how annoyed I would be if someone disrespected my new car. No longer being offended, I thanked him for his honesty and gave him a 5-star- rating. Whether drivers or riders, we are all human beings and deserve to be treated with respect and integrity. Now when I request Uber rides, I always listen to my drivers’ stories, good or bad, content or upset, and try to make a little bit of a difference.

Resiliency is another value I have learned to better appreciate. Uber might appear as a sketchy workplace from an outsiders’ point of view. I take these perceptions with a grain of salt. As a matter of fact, external storms like Uber’s feel more unifying than dividing, especially compared to the internal turmoil and politics from other workplaces. Looking back, I am glad I took a leap of faith and left my comfort zone to a nerve-wracking but possibly rewarding opportunity. I’m looking forward to many months and years to come as a citizen of Uber 2.0.

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