May we love who we were, while hardly recognizing ourselves

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At a rather boring New Year’s party, circa 10 years ago.

As we close out 2016, I came across the blog of Donald Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz (which I haven’t read, but am now looking forward to), as I meandered across the interwebs.

 I really liked this thoughts about ever growing and changing; well-encapsulated by this quote:

Ten years from now, may we all look back and love who we were while hardly recognizing them.

Donald writes about not being the same person who wrote Blue Like Jazz… and about that being perfectly okay.

Life happens. Time moves. We grow.

Just as things should be.

If I haven’t changed, something is drastically wrong.

People are designed to grow and if they don’t it’s because something’s wrong.

There are forces in the world that do not want you to grow, change or get stronger. A variety of motives cause this resistance, but regardless, it must be fought.

God designed you to grow from a baby to a child to a teenager to an adult and even after you’re an adult you’re designed to continue learning about God, about love, about each other and about yourself. Not a day goes by when we aren’t given the opportunity to become a better person. Why in the world would anybody want to stay the same?

Indeed. Why would anybody want to stay the same?

Here’s to always growing and ever changing.

May we all look back – whether 10, 15 or even 20 years from now – and love who we were, while hardly recognizing them.

Happy new year 2017!

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Merry Christmas! Peace On Earth, Goodwill To All Mankind

An artist's impression from The Illustrated London News of 9 January 1915: "British and German Soldiers Arm-in-Arm Exchanging Headgear: A Christmas Truce between Opposing Trenches" (Source: Wikipedia)

An artist’s impression from The Illustrated London News of 9 January 1915: “British and German Soldiers Arm-in-Arm Exchanging Headgear: A Christmas Truce between Opposing Trenches” (Source: Wikipedia)

I heard this song over Spotify and fell in love with it.

The song, They Sang Silent Night, by Fiona Bevan lyrically tells the true story of an incident that occurred more than 100 years ago. On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day of 1914 during World War One, thousands of British, Belgian and French soldiers put down their rifles, stepped out of their trenches and spent Christmas mingling with their German enemies along the Western front.

It was known as the Christmas Truce of 1914.

While specifics are fuzzy, what is generally believed is that about two-thirds of troops – about 100,000 people – participated in the truce. Most accounts seem to indicate that the truce began as carols were sung from the trenches on Christmas eve. The next day, on Christmas morning in some locations, German soldiers emerged calling out “Merry Christmas” in English to Allied soldiers who came out and greeted them warily. Over the course of the day, soldiers exchanged gifts of cigarettes, food, buttons and hats. Some accounts also mention a British soldier having his hair cut by a German soldier who had been a barber before the war, while others mention impromptu soccer games with makeshift balls! Both sides also took the opportunity to bury their fallen.

As 2016 draws to a close, I can’t help but think about the timeliness of this event from over 100 years ago. The Christmas Truce of 1914 is a powerful and hopeful story of how humanity can rise to the occasion even during our darkest moments . We live in a world today endlessly barraged by war and suffering. My hope, to close out the year, is that we will truly make our way towards peace on earth and goodwill to all mankind.

Merry Christmas, my friends.

Read more about the Christmas Truce of 1914 here: Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce of 1914

Check out this Christmas ad inspired by the events of The Christmas Truce of 1914 by Sainsbury:

The Priest & Imam From That Amazon Ad Are Now Actual Friends

An ad for Amazon Prime making its rounds over social media features the friendship between priest and an imam. If you haven’t watched the spot, you should… essentially, they both discover they share the same problem and – through Amazon – they help each other out.

It’s a very heartwarming trope and especially timely during these times (and season).

My faith in humanity was restored after I read this story in Relevant Magazine that reveals the actual priest and imam from the commercial met for the first time on the set of the commercial and have since become close friends.

See the interview by Al Jazeera below:

 

Malaysia PM Najib Razak Recommends Uber

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Okay, I won’t lie to you – but I was absolutely proud of the #PRWin we pulled off when Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak, during his televised Budget 2017 presentation to the country, recommended Uber as a way for Malaysians in the “B40” category (bottom 40% of households with monthly income of RM3,900 and below) to earn additional income.

He said, “To assist the B40 group, especially BR1M (Bantuan Rakyat 1 Malaysia) recipients, to generate additional income, the government will encourage their participation as ride-sharing drivers such as Uber drivers, particularly those who own vehicles.”

This was particularly amazing to us because:

  • Ridesharing regulations in Malaysia have yet to be passed, yet we are already receiving endorsements from the highest levels of the Malaysian government that ridesharing is here to stay!
  • This clearly shows that the Government recognises how Uber can contribute to lifting people up economically by providing them flexible earning opportunities.
  • PM Najib Razak specifically mentioned Uber (and even used our logo as a visual aid), instead of our competitor (which claims to be the local player), as an example to expound on.

This is the latest achievement in a string of high-level Government endorsements for Uber in a country where there haven’t been formal ridesharing regulations yet. Previous endorsements have included:

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  • (Jun 2016) Tan Sri Abdul Wahid Omar, former Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department and minister in charge of the Economic Planning Unit, trying his hand as a driver-partner with Uber, in his first public appearance since his term as senator ended.

Photo Credit: The Edge Markets (story here)

 

We’re chuffed at the momentum we’re seeing from the Malaysian government. We’re definitely looking forward to the journey ahead towards regulations!

The Sound Of Empowerment

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This week was one of my more awesome weeks on the job at Uber: publicly launching app update features for hearing-impaired driver-partners in Singapore and Malaysia!

This is the kind of technology-changing-the-world awesomeness that I signed up for!

Internally codenamed “Beethoven” – after the master-composer who was deaf himself – these app features are designed to help hearing-impaired driver-partners earn an income to support themselves and their loved ones on the Uber platform. To develop these features, Uber’s research team invited hearing-impaired partners to participate in feedback sessions to learn what we could build that would improve their experience.

You can find out more about how the app works here.

In the course of preparing for this event, I really had my paradigm changed and many misconceptions broken – especially when I went through the research on road safety in the case of hearing-impaired drivers. Did you know, there was no evidence indicating a higher risk for deaf and hard of hearing drivers? The majority of the relevant information we receive to drive is visual, and there is no evidence to suggest that deaf drivers are at an increased risk for a crash.

  • “Deafness does not in any way limit a person’s ability to drive a car or other vehicles. Consequently, a deaf driver does not constitute a risk for safe traffic. There is no evidence that deaf drivers are involved in more car accidents, or are at any more risk on the road than those with normal hearing.” – World Federation of the Deaf
  • Almost 100 countries around the world – in Africa, Middle East, Asia, Europe and the Americas – allow deaf people to obtain driver’s licenses. – World Federation of the Deaf survey reports
  • “Evidence from the private driver’s license holder population does not support the contention that individuals with hearing impairments are at an increased risk for a crash.” – 2008 ECRI Report
  • In October 2014, the US Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced that deaf truck drivers were allowed to obtain commercial drivers licenses (CDL) and attend CDL training schools. – FMCSA

The greatest highlight for me (and others in the team) was the stories of the driver-partners themselves! In Singapore, I got a chance to hear Andrew’s story and meet a really bubbly guy called Roland, who has conducted almost 3,000 trips and even runs a WhatsApp group to support other deaf Uber driver-partners (check out this video of being driven around by Roland here)! In Malaysia, I was introduced to James, a 3D designer in Petaling Jaya who decided to earn some extra income by becoming an Uber driver at night.

All of them were great examples of resilience and character, who overcome their “different-abledness” to become providers for themselves, their loved ones, and to be a productive member of society. At the end of the day, isn’t that what we all want to have an opportunity to do?

To our hearing-impaired driver-partners, thank you for being part of the Uber experience. This week has really been a blessing to me to be learn from and be inspired by all of you!

More pics from the events in SG and MY available here.