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Do you know this feeling? You set out to do the norm and discover inspiration? You follow the regular routine and something disrupts it, yet in a good way? Turns out, my side gig for my branding startup delivered just this sort of twist. Through the ridesharing services of Uber and Lyft, I’ve had a series of rides where I’ve listened to stories and I’ve been impacted. In fact, it was happening often enough I knew I would eventually blog about it. So expect lessons on being humbled, enlightened, schooled, inspired and blessed.

Startups: Feast or famine

Photo by Gor Davtyan on Unsplash

I’ve learned expertise and passion don’t drive a startup business. I have 20+ years of both and neither guarantees a steady client funnel and/or income. As a result, I sometimes stare the ‘feast or famine’ scenario smack in the face. When it’s famine, I drive for Uber and Lyft. These ridesharing services allow me to work when I want for however long I want. For me, this typically means early morning or early evening for a couple of hours. Driving gets me out of the house and interacting with people and the greater universe as a solopreneur.

The gifts of perspective and grace

Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash

When I drive for Uber and Lyft, passengers either talk or they look down to their phone. Honestly, there’s no in between. For those who engage, the stories get pretty real and the life journeys pour out. It’s not expected so when it happens, it’s a beautiful lesson of everyday people offering perspective and grace. Allow me to introduce a few of my favorite riders and their enlightening stories.

The lessons of everyday people

Photo by Thiago Cardoso on Unsplash

“Jasmine, the young Mom.” I picked up Jasmine at a restaurant where she’d recently scored a new job. She told me I was her first Uber ride and she needed to call her Mom to say she was safe. She explained she’d been up since 4 am getting her son ready to stay with her grandmother while she worked. As a single Mom, Jasmine lives with her parents and they both work, thus the Uber ride. We drove to her grandmother’s home and she invited me in to meet her son. We settled on sharing phone pictures and as we looked, she told me – I want to set a good example for my son. *Takeaway: God’s praise for village care and young, single moms with tenacity. Lesson: When the day feels overwhelming, get up, get your feet on the floor and move forward.

“Foodie Freddie.” I picked up Freddie at a local sub shop and he immediately started talking. At the top of the list? Consistently scoring meat-stacked subs because he’s a regular and the girls there like him. I then learn Freddie was a model for Newport Lights in his early career and he also owned a restaurant. Apparently, when Tiger Woods was in town for the PGA Players Tournament a few years ago, he wanted soul food and landed at Freddie’s place. After Tiger’s visit, his business blew up and Freddie scored 15k in one weekend because Tiger put his culinary talent on the map. *Takeaway: I simply want to sit with Freddie and hear more life stories. Lesson: Life’s a journey not a destination. Oh and also, charm goes a long way.

The magic of musicians

“Steve the saxophonist.” When I picked up Steve at his house, I realized he was blind. I wasn’t sure how to navigate the pick up. But Steve did – easy entry. He’s a musician and plays with several bands in the Jacksonville area. We shared ‘best concert ever’ and ‘the one band we still want to see’ stories. He plays here at the beaches and I was blessed to hear his surf music band, a first for me. When I dropped Steve off at his restaurant destination, I again wondered if he needed help. No surprise, Steve had it covered. He told me I know this restaurant and went right to the front door. *Takeaway: The uniquely-abled have much to teach us about living life fully. Lesson: Turn challenges into triumphs and go conquer the world.

“Diamond Dave.” It took two attempts to pick up Diamond Dave. Once I arrived, he enthusiastically jumped into the front seat and with a booming voice said hello, how are you and let’s go. And go we did. For 35 minutes, I learned about his life story. He paused briefly only to say he spoke loud because he was a sax player (yes, another coolio sax player!) and it came from years of diaphragm training. Dave told me he was in a 12-step AA program. He openly shared his loves and losses; challenges and successes; sacrifices and victories. *Takeaway: Struggle is part of life’s success. Lesson: Live life day by day and honor the small joys in life.

Healthcare heroes

“The Englanders.” I picked up the Englanders at a condo complex. As they settled in, the wife asked if I could turn the air off. She told me her husband ran cold due to his brain tumor treatment. Bam. She continued to explain they’d traveled miles from across the pond. The doctors in England told them there’s nothing more they could do. With research, the Englanders learned about the UF Proton Therapy Institute. And it’s been a game changer! The husband was responding well; they were hopeful. The wife told me – I’m not sure Jacksonville knows the gem they have here. *Takeaway: I do now and thank you for the life lesson in grace – in more ways than one. Lesson: Never give up.

“Mayo Mavericks.” I picked up the Mayo Mavericks at a local breakfast joint. Ultimately, I dropped them off at Mayo’s extended home care stay. But before we got there, I learned about their family travel stories. I recall thinking to myself, wow, you have an amazing life. As we approached Mayo and continued to converse, I realized they weren’t visiting a patient – the wife was a patient. They’d been there for three months for her liver transplant follow up. She was lucky. She was doing well and her body was responding positively. *Takeaway: The wife shared a card with me, which is tucked in my overhead visor. ‘Rejoice in the Lord and be glad. Psalm 32:11.’ Lesson: Carry positive light forward.

Bringing it home

In closing, my CTA or call-to-action is supposed to drive my business. This go round, I’m simply saying everyday people matter. Each of us has an experience and story. With the hustle and bustle of life, it’s rather easy to breeze past others. Yes, life is crazy and our immediate circle of people keeps us busy enough. I hear you and still – I encourage you to engage with a passerby. A shared commute, cafe line, hallway passing, lunch table, parking lot walk, store shopping outing, work out or neighborhood walk.

My side gig with Uber and Lyft has exposed me to people I would never meet otherwise. It’s begged me to slow down long enough to let the blessing of everyday people impact my day. There are opportunities to see people differently. So listen to the stories and gain a new perspective. You’re invited and welcomed to share experiences and moments via comments.


19 Comments

Kimberly Armsworthy · September 27, 2019 at 5:28 am

this gave me colors, feelings, and sights, best story telling ever Deb! makes you truely see the light shining inside you and the love . keep going, keep driving, keep reaching my friend!

    Martha Bennett · October 17, 2019 at 9:57 pm

    Each time I read one of your blogs, it just gets better.. Maybe one of your gigs should be writing for your local newspaper. I especially enjoyed the correlation between lessons and takeaways. I challenged myself in each story to determine my own takeaway and our views were spot on. You’re an interesting writer, Deb, and I look forward to more.

      cooldeb · October 20, 2019 at 12:04 pm

      Thank you Martha. In today’s world, it’s all about online content aka content marketing I’m seeking opportunities there. I’m an ardent advocate for the power of thought leadership content and story to drive customer engagement (versus social media ads). I’m glad you enjoy reading and can find takeaways to apply to your own life. Makes me smile. : )

cooldeb · September 27, 2019 at 10:28 pm

KIm, I appreciate your reply. Please know this is not about me. This post is about shining the light on what I’ve learned from others. I so give credit to Voice… no matter where you receive it. I appreciate you saw and heard this and responded. Especially with color! : )

Laurie · September 27, 2019 at 10:58 pm

And so, the universe (with the help of good people) gives you what you need when you need it. I needed this today. Thanks Debbie!

    cooldeb · September 28, 2019 at 6:56 pm

    Thank you for receiving Laurie. It’s all about being open to see, hear and feel. I appreciate your comment and sharing your perspective. .

Mary · September 28, 2019 at 8:03 am

Beautiful! Good to remember everyone has a story.

    cooldeb · September 28, 2019 at 7:00 pm

    Yes Mary, everyone does have a story. What I’ve learned is to take moments to listen. REALLY listen. “Everyone” may make look different. Act different. Come from a different background. Or a different class. What’s shared may actually make us uncomfortable. But that’s part of the learning.

Theresa Hunter · September 29, 2019 at 10:17 pm

Love it! And it’s what I’ve always loved about you, that you connect with all people in meaningful ways. (My fave is Steve-what an important take away and lesson for all of us)

    cooldeb · September 30, 2019 at 8:07 pm

    I appreciate the compliment Theresa and I learn from leaders like you. You’re in the trenches of our education system with all types of students with diverse experiences. Your heart is always open and how you manage difficult situations always blows my mind. You’re the perfect example of listen and receive. And thank you for sharing your favorite story! 🙂 Steve was definitely a cool breeze kind of guy.

    cooldeb · September 30, 2019 at 8:23 pm

    Thank you for receiving the takeaway – which is first to see others. Then engage. And then – listen. It’s not natural for us, particularly with people we don’t know. And yet so many health and lifestyle experts are saying slow down and be present. So why don’t we? And you nailed it Pam – “your famine moments gave you more than what feasts could ever give you.” They did, which is why I wanted to share this blog post. Thank you for your sharing your thoughts and reply.

Gabriela · September 30, 2019 at 6:34 am

Thank you for sharing their stories and YOUR story, as well. I love how you find joy and life lessons in even “small” interactions ❤️

    cooldeb · September 30, 2019 at 8:36 pm

    Thanks Gaby. It’s not an easy story to share – feast or famine as a startup. Yet what I’m learning from fellow entrepreneurs is keep it real and honest. Many actually share their failures (with humility) in an effort to help others. You actually stand in the gap of sales and marketing and know better than most us, the value of listening to truly engage and add value on a professional level. Listening to understand. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts.

Tyler · September 30, 2019 at 10:53 pm

What an incredible story of stories! We can learn so much from strangers.

    cooldeb · October 1, 2019 at 8:39 pm

    Odd to learn from strangers, right? Applause, applause.

Theresa Johnson · October 1, 2019 at 6:11 am

Bravo my friend. Love the way you listened and the lessons you learned and passed on through your blog!
You truly have a gift for not only listening, but seeing the best in every person who is lucky enough to take a ride with you. Thank you for the journey.

    cooldeb · October 1, 2019 at 8:45 pm

    I keep saying this…my post isn’t about me! I know there are fellow listeners out there and lesson learners as well. There are others who know what I’m saying and live it better than I do. I simply enjoy putting pen to paper, so to speak, and capturing. Thank you for traveling with me Theresa.

Pam · October 1, 2019 at 8:31 pm

You are truly blessed with your writing. This story especially gives us insight into others lives, each a very special story and meaning. You are obviously a good listener. Not everyone is. That in itself tells me what a special person you’ve grown to be. From this story, I will strive to be a better listener. We owe that to each other. How can we grow if we are not listening and paying attention to others. Thanks for sharing your experiences of what you learned from these people. Your “famine” moments gave you more than what “feasts” could ever give you!

    cooldeb · October 1, 2019 at 8:32 pm

    Thank you for receiving the takeaway – which is first to see others. Then listen. Then engage. It’s not natural for us, particularly with people we don’t know. And yet so many health and lifestyle experts are saying slow down and be present. So why don’t we? And you nailed it for me Pam – your famine moments gave you more than what feasts could ever give you. They did, which is why I wanted to share this blog post. Thank you for your response.

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