I was taking a traditional taxi the other day, and the driver was weaving around and honking, trying to make stuff happen. He kept yelling, "f*%*ing Uber drivers!" I finally asked him why he was yelling at them.

"Because they do it for the money and take no pride in the drive," he responded. "They don't know where they're going; they stop in the middle of the street; they don't pull over, and they cause traffic congestion!"

While they don't always know where they're going, I love Uber because the cost of a ride has gotten so inexpensive and the drivers are friendly (if only because they want good reviews). However, I had never thought about the congestion before; about them not caring about the other drivers, about stopping wherever to pick up and drop off a passenger without considering the inconvenience it's causing to those around them.

It made me think about people and their careers. Are you an "Uber driver" of your career?

Are you working purely because you need some money and don't really want to be doing it? Do you complain about how much money you make to anyone who will listen because the company changed the compensation plan (like Uber has)? Do you cause "traffic" at your company because you don't care about the work product, and simply "go home" at the end of the day, whether the work has been successfully completed or not? Do you job hop and cause "traffic" problems for everyone else because you don't think about the other passengers (coworkers who depend on you), and only focus on the immediate, short-term gain?

The "gig economy," as it has been coined, isn't real. It's a made-up term by people working to create companies based on part-time workers who do part-time work to make extra money. The gig economy (for the most part) is income augmentation, not career replacement. The majority of Uber drivers do it for extra money, not their only money. The majority of drivers would like to be working in the field of their choice, not the highway of their passengers.'

We now have apps like Uber for bartenders, substitute teachers, handymen (people), etc. There are certain industries that need people on an ad hoc basis and bring on people who are between jobs, unemployed, or need extra money. However, these businesses are only augmenting people's income. They don't replace the traditional employer. This isn't the "gig economy." This has existed for decades, if not hundreds or thousands of years. The difference is that today, rather than having it be all word-of-mouth, people have created companies around it. Ironically enough, the companies that make up the "gig economy" have the overwhelming majority of their employees as salaried, full-time employees.

Just because a top-tier developer or a specialist in a field can move from job-to-job and never get hurt, doesn't mean everyone can. Don't listen to those who say you have to move around from company to company because it's what everyone does. As my father said to me as a teenager when I used the same excuse, "If everyone jumped off a bridge would you do that, too?!"

How you treat people, how you interact, how you follow up, the impression you make and the impression you leave...it's what you have. Everyone needs to think about what's most important. If today's dollar is of the utmost importance, then keep jumping for the next best thing. However, if you want to build respect, and if you want to have the feeling of accomplishment, don't be penny wise and dollar foolish.

Your career is a multimillion dollar investment. Invest in yourself by investing in your career. Four years plus at a job to show the ability to follow through. The ability to build inter-company relationships. Prove to yourself you can get promoted and take on more. It's not always about keeping up with the Joneses. The ability to turn down short-term temptation for career longevity is a skill that's in high demand today. Don't be an Uber driver with your career. Traffic sucks.

Published on: Jun 27, 2017
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