How Ryan Graves Became Uber’s Head of Global Operations

Six years ago, a guy named Ryan Graves emailed me a marketing question:

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We ended up chatting on the phone for an hour. His story was awesome. He’d just completed a bunch of free marketing for a new tech company called FourSquare, and they’d hired him on the spot for being so useful. Even though he didn’t have any experience or technical skills, he landed a job he loved by generously helping a company he cared about.

Fast forward to today… Ryan is now the Head of Global Operations for Uber. He is one of the wealthiest people in the world, working for the fastest growing startup in history. He went from “dead end job” to “making a BILLION dollars doing what he loves” in just a few years.

You might be tempted to dismiss this story as an anomaly. But I can’t, because this is the THIRD TIME a billionaire has told me directly that they got their start doing free work.

Even Warren Buffett — the most successful investor in the world (worth $60 Billion) — began his career by working for free. He told his professor Ben Graham that he’d work for free, and Ben said, “You’re overpriced.” Warren says “You will do well at whatever turns you on. There’s no question about that. Don’t let anybody else tell you what to do. You figure out what you are doing.”

And that’s the difference between an internship and free work. An internship is passive, free work is proactive. Interns sit around waiting to be told what to do; free workers figure out how to help others, and then they JUST DO IT.

I teach people how to get started in my new course, Land a Job You Love. Take a look and watch the video:

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Charlie Hoehn is the author of Play It Away, Play for a Living and Recession Proof Graduate. His work has been featured on NPR's TED Radio Hour, Forbes, Fast Company, and Harvard Business Review. Previously, he was the Director of Special Projects for Tim Ferriss. Currently, he is the Head of Video at Book In A Box. He lives with his wife and daughter in Austin, Texas.

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