THE BLOG
12/01/2014 04:47 pm ET Updated Jan 31, 2015

People Make The World Go Round: Standing Up for the Collaborative Economy With Joel Comm

If you were the author of a NYT Best Seller, founder of a multi-player gaming community sold to Yahoo!, and a sought after worldwide speaker on social media, you probably wouldn't wake up on a random Tuesday and say, "Hey, I think this week I want to be an Uber Driver."

Beyond seeming irrational, it just isn't something that would come to mind, unless of course your name is Joel Comm.

For Joel Comm, the renowned author of Twitter Power and nearly a dozen other books, the idea of joining the sharing economy as an Uber driver seems exciting, spontaneous and perhaps even an adventure out of his comfort zone. So he did what perhaps no one else like him would do and he signed up and he drove. Unsure of what to expect from his experience, Joel decided to do more than just live the experience, but rather capture the whole thing. Much to his surprise, when he was done, he came to realize something about the collaborative economy.

It's About The People, Not The Company

Over the past couple of months there has been harsh criticism of the leadership of Uber. From abusive management practice to misogynistic behavior; the media has been calling for the heads of its leaders with a downpour of damaging exposes that suggest incredible negligence among the ranks. Yet the brand rolls on and Uber continues to provide more than a million rides a month.

Perhaps what has kept the movement in place is really at the center of what Uber set out to accomplish in the first place.

  1. Help markets meet their transportation demand by providing a supply of people to move them on demand with literally the touch of a button.
  2. Employ people who are looking for a way to augment income or have flexible employment based on a skill that they can deliver with little or no training.
If you think about it, what other businesses have allowed people to more quickly turn a non-performing asset into a revenue center more quickly than Uber? Perhaps only AirBnB, which is Uber's direct counterpart in hospitality. So what is driving this phenomenon?

Today we have entered an economy where the consumer is driving the enterprise. This started with the iPhone and has evolved with collaborative applications that are being delivered by developers working out of their basement and their garage. Who in the world would have thought a silly application like Flappy Birds could make a developer $50,000 a day? Probably no one, but then again, who would have thought a website like Match.com for Cabs and Hotel rooms would have an 11 figure valuation?

The bottom line is that the collaborative economy has a new and more powerful resource and it is rooted in human potential. What Uber and AirBnB have started will surely be replicated with every other facet of our lives; whether it is finding someone to be our personal shopper or someone to keep us motivated at the gym. In many ways these things already exist, only in the future it will be more flexible, more simplistic and how we compensate people for doing these things will be directly correlated with the market economics.

When A NYT Best Selling Author Drives An Uber

After a week of driving and experiencing the collaborative economy, Joel Comm had a feel for what it was about. In the end it came down not to these behemoth tech companies leasing the land, assets and labors of the community, but those that actually wake up and drive each day.
It is as simple as it looks. Getting people where they need to go. But there is a certain nostalgia about it. It takes us back to the roots of the human condition. Connecting people, providing service and bartering in a way where everyone wins.

Sure the experience was a bit surreal and odds are Joel Comm won't be spending many of his days "Ubering" around town (at least not as a driver). But who really knows, as we continue to move toward new economics and new currencies of talent and capabilities, the future may hold a bit more unexpected fun for Joel and all of those people he drove during his time as an Uber Driver.

Now...check out Joel Comm in his week as an Uber Driver.