How to be a goal-getter
We sat down with 4 talented Uber employees—a designer, an engineer, a marketer, and a Greenlight Hub expert—to find out how they stay energized both in and out of the office. Read on for tips you can apply to any goal.
Emilee Urbanek, Software Engineer
- Meet Emilee
Hi Emilee! Tell us a little about what you do at Uber.
I’m a software engineer on the Uber for Business team. If your company has Uber for Business, we’ll send you a report at the end of the month with all of the trips you booked with Uber so it’s easier to keep track of expenses.
What does a typical day look like for you?
People are always surprised that I don’t spend all day staring at a computer screen! I spend most of my time talking through engineering problems with my team, so you’ll often find me drawing those out on the whiteboard wall next to my desk.
You recently wrote a blog post about your experience overcoming imposter syndrome. Can you talk about that?
I wanted to talk about my experience because I felt like other people must be experiencing it, too. Before I hit “publish,” I was worried how people would react. But so many people messaged me afterwards to say things like “I feel that way, too!” It made me realize that imposter syndrome can affect anyone, no matter what kind of job you do.
Tell us about a goal you met last year.
Last January I finally said, “Okay, it’s time to get in shape.” In a year, I went from not being able to run a quarter of a mile to being able to run 6 miles, no sweat. (Okay, maybe a little bit of sweat.)
After being in college, where I always did things in chunks of 10 weeks, it was new to work on something over the course of an entire year without much structure. Sticking to it was hard, and I fell off the wagon a few times, but I made it. I recently signed up for a half marathon! Getting fit has had unexpected side benefits, too, like getting to see more of the city I live in as I run around.
How do you manage your goals?
Write it down. At the end of the day, I’ll write down 1) what I did that day and 2) what I learned that day. So when I feel stuck, I can see how far I’ve actually come in the past year. I like to brainstorm on paper, too. Not everything needs to be digital.
What are you hoping to accomplish at work this year?
I’m excited by the edge cases. Most of the time our processes work really smoothly, but there are always edge cases that keep us from perfection. It might take 50% of the work to get a project 95% of the way there, and the other 50% of the work fixing that last 5%. I’m a perfectionist, and I can use that to help us get to 100%.
As far as personal goals, I want to learn more about biology. I love being an engineer but sometimes miss the other sciences. So I want to read more scientific papers in my spare time and figure out how I might apply that back to software.
What’s your best advice for someone trying to meet a goal?
Technology gives you the illusion that you can focus on 15 things at once. But if you have multiple goals for the year, just do them one at a time. Now, my mantra is ‘All or nothing.’ I don’t do half friendships, half hobbies—I give it everything I’ve got. If I say I’ll do something, I’ll do it. That also means I have to be better about saying no to things I’m not fully committed to, so I can say yes to the things that are really important.
Just make one small change, and you’ll be making bigger ones in no time.
Noah Raybin, Greenlight Hub Expert
- Meet Noah
Hey, Noah! Tell us about what you do at Uber.
I’m what’s called an Expert at one of our driver-partner support centers—we call them Greenlight Hubs—in San Francisco. Driver-partners come in because they’re having a problem.
There are problems we can solve quickly in person that are harder to solve with online customer support, like giving a driver-partner an extra Uber sticker for his car so he can meet city requirements.
What kinds of questions do drivers have?
We help with anything and everything. If a driver-partner forgot to start a trip in the app when he started driving, I can show him how to handle that in the app. If another driver-partner had an issue like an unruly rider in their car, I can talk them through it to reach a solution and escalate their concerns to the proper departments. Driver-partners often ask about Uber’s plans for products moving forward, including marketing and in-app changes. Sometimes, they just want to talk.
It’s great to be able to talk to someone face to face and have them leave the Hub happier than they came in. If someone leaves happy, I’ve done my job.
How many people are on your team?
There are 4 of us, plus a mechanic on site most days to perform the 19-point vehicle inspection that’s required for all driver-partners. Since it’s a smaller office, it really feels like a family.
How do you work with Uber HQ?
We log driver-partner pain points and feed that information back to the team building the app. For example, a while back some driver-partners complained that not all riders knew about the car seat law, and were asking driver-partners to carry children without car seats. After that, we added some info about car seats to the Uber rider app. That might seem small, but it’s made a difference for people who drive with Uber.
What do you love about your job?
I love following up with people I’ve helped and connecting with them on a more personal level. It’s the best feeling to have a driver-partner wait in line until I’m free just so he can talk to me. Some driver-partners even come in when they don’t need help, just to show me their new car or photos of their daughter’s quinceañera.
What are your goals for 2018?
I’m trying to advance in 3 core areas: career, health, and hobbies.
Career-wise, we’re working on standardizing Greenlight Hubs across the board, so a driver-partner can go to any Greenlight Hub anywhere, see someone like me, and get the exact same level of help. I love building relationships with driver-partners; they mean a lot to me.
Health-wise, as long as I’m moving, whether that’s hiking or football or even throwing a frisbee around, I’m happier. As I grow that discipline, it helps me in every other area of my life.
On the hobby front, I bought a motorcycle last summer and taught myself to maintain it, so every outing is a chance to learn. I love the exhilaration I get from riding, as well as the community of riders I’ve met so far.
Any advice for someone trying to stick to their resolutions?
No zero days. Do one thing to get closer to your goal, every day. Do one pushup,
read one page, write one sentence. By the time you’ve finished with one, you’ll already be in the
position to continue and you may just feel ready to do ten more.
And if you slip, don’t beat yourself up. Jon Kabat-Zinn has a great quote that reads, “If you can’t change the waves, you might as well learn to surf.”
Annabel Ly, Marketing Manager
- Meet Annabel
Hey, Annabel! Tell us about what you do at Uber.
I work on a weekly newsletter we send to driver-partners with info on new features, tips, and local events going on in their area.
A lot of work goes into this one email to make sure what we send to say, Nashville, is as relevant to driver-partners in Nashville as the emails we send to driver-partners in Los Angeles are relevant to them. We’re reaching more driver-partners now, and I’m excited to keep making it a better resource.
What’s something you’ve accomplished recently that you’re proud of?
I haven’t had any sugar this month! And believe me, I really like ice cream. It was difficult in the beginning, and I had to just take it one day at a time. But now, I can sit in front of a table of donuts and not feel like I need them.
What are you hoping to accomplish this year?
I have a basic understanding of front-end development, but the more I know the more I want to learn.
On the personal side, I’ve recently been getting into baking. I’ve historically been bad about cooking because there’s so much good food in San Francisco, but I just bought a stand mixer. As soon as my sugar-free month is over, I’m going to make cheesecake and fluffy Japanese pancakes I’ve seen on Instagram.
How do you stay inspired?
I’m really into anime, so there are certain studios and shows whose art style I admire. There’s one I’m watching now called March Comes in Like a Lion, about a Japanese shogi player, that’s really beautiful.
If I didn’t work at Uber, I’d probably run a lifestyle blog based around fashion, food, and travel. I used to run one full-time and that’s how I got into marketing, but now I only post on Instagram.
What’s your mantra?
Just breathe! Whatever is stressing you out will still be there a minute from now, but if you spend a minute breathing (from your stomach, not your chest) you’ll be in a much better place. You’ve got this.
Ojai Mitchell, Product Designer
- Meet Ojai
Hey, Ojai! Tell us about your job here at Uber.
I’m a product designer working on financial products for riders, like Uber gift cards and the Uber Visa card. If you’ve ever sent or received an Uber gift card, that’s something I worked on.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of my job is iterating. I love getting a problem and finding as many ways as I can to solve it, then standing back and trying to figure out which one works best. It can take awhile, but I find it really rewarding to get to that level of detail.
How do you stay inspired?
I love listening to podcasts and watching documentaries, especially the kind of feel-good stories that reinforce your belief in humanity. Some of my favorite podcasts are the Tim Ferriss show, Revisionist History, 99 Percent Invisible, and Radiolab. I’ve also been reading more books lately.
How do you stick to your resolutions?
If you want to get better at anything, commit to a class. You’ll have a teacher waiting for you and a class full of students cheering you on. Last year I took a drawing class to challenge myself, and now drawing has become a part of my regular routine. The class helped me practice being intentional and meticulous, which also helped me at work.
What are you working towards this year?
I wanted to try something totally new, so I’m motivating myself to learn German by planning a trip to Germany. I study every day with Duolingo and a flashcard app called TinyCards. At work, I’m hoping to practice more motion design.
What advice would you give someone trying to stick to a resolution?
Things go wrong all the time, and you just have to embrace it. Once you get into the rhythm of doing things, you won’t notice those little mistakes as much. I probably made a mistake this morning, and I’ll make more before the end of the day—but I’ll learn something from it and it’ll make the next attempt that much better. The goal is to be as comfortable with the failure as possible. If I’m not failing at anything, I’m probably not pushing myself enough.
If you do make a mistake, remember that time brings perspective. Whatever’s bothering you today won’t matter as much tomorrow or a month or year for now—so don’t let it consume you. You’re going to be just fine.
Whatever you’re hoping to achieve this year, here’s to an inspiring road ahead.
The statements contained herein are those of the individuals and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views, opinions, or policies of Uber Technologies, Inc.