What does playing pro football and leading Uber’s newest venture have in common? With both, it’s a fast-paced environment, there’s on-the-spot pressure—and you have to perform at a high level. That’s why working on Uber’s new flexible lease program—that’s helping Uber drivers get in a car and start earning extra money—was a natural fit for Ronnie Cameron.
But just because he’s swapped the gridiron for an office doesn’t mean he’s let his fitness go. On the contrary: It fuels what he’s doing—he eats clean, works out hard, and stays lean. We had the chance to ask him a few questions about his post-NFL career.
Men’s Fitness: How do you think that your sports career has helped you in a startup environment?
Ronnie Cameron: Basically, just overall my fast-paced nature. My background is playing football and, even at a very high level, the expectation is that you'll pick something up on the first or second try, or you probably won't get a third try. That type of on-the-spot pressure is an experience in that realm that I've been able to translate well in this environment because everything is moving very quickly. Pretty much everything was due yesterday. You also push to perform at a high level day in and day out, so I think that experience has made it a smoother transition than if I didn't have a sports background.
MF: Why was Uber the career choice after football? You could have done a million things. Why Uber?
RC: Actually, I went to Deloitte for a couple of years after I stopped playing football. I jumped from playing football into the consulting world where I got some professional experience. Uber was one of those companies that, when they reached out, it was a natural fit. I felt like that the pace that they were moving at [was impressive]—and I came from a supply chain background—so I was like, "I think I could really add a lot of value." It was definitely a fit that I wanted to be a part of.
MF: All right. In the simplest form possible, how would you explain the flexible lease program that you guys are doing?
RC: We have a program that's giving a lot of people an opportunity to get into a car.
MF: Okay, and how did the program actually start?
RC: The original people with the company wanted to make sure that car ownership isn't a barrier to being able to earn money. They essentially prompted to develop this program.
MF: In your opinion, what makes Uber drivers so unique?
RC: [The program] is near and dear to my heart. I'm the son of two immigrants: My mom is from Haiti and my dad's from Trinidad. I believe that if Uber was a thing 20, 25 years ago that they would have done that, because after they were in the country for a while, they were doing so many different odd jobs to make money. That is the level that beats on the passion that I bring to the job—knowing that I'm, essentially, building a part of something that my parents would have used.
We can also see the effect that we have on drivers in our area in a positive way where we've been able to help people pay for college for their kids or help people get back on their feet. They were able to get a sense of freedom working with Uber. It's been a joy to see that.
MF: Even though you haven’t played football for a couple years, I'm sure you're still very much into fitness and working out. What do you do fitness-wise to keep your game up there?
RC: I work out five or six days a week. It's, actually, what keeps me balanced because coming from a sports background where you're working out all the time, if you're not working out, you're full of this pent up energy. Sometimes I wake up at 5:45 AM. I work out for an hour, hour and a half, before I come into the office, and I would say my workouts are probably similar to what I was doing when I was playing football.
I get a lot of my mental energy from how I perform physically, so I personally just try to push myself. A lot of benching. Pretty much, it might be the same workouts I did when I was playing ball, which is pretty crazy to people. I was 310 pounds as a defensive tackle in the NFL and my first few months after I stopped playing football, I lost about 30, 40 pounds. Now I'm probably around 250, 260. A lot less wear and tear on my knees because of it.
MF: How did the weight just drop off like that? Diet?
RC: It was definitely diet. I cut carbs for a while. I would be eating cans of tuna and just being really, really clean. I cut out alcohol for a while, cut out fried foods, and I was working out at least twice a day at the time. It was one of those things where I had to make a decision that I wanted to stop playing football and I didn't want to leave the door open at all. I knew that losing that weight would close the door to be able, for me, to move forward. You stop playing for a while and if you physically can't go play or you shouldn't be doing what you were before, there's that urge to keep going back. I wanted to make sure that I closed the door completely and I could just move on in my life.
MF: Right. The diet will definitely do that. You said you feel better carrying less weight. That's good.
RC: Yeah, I had knee surgeries and things like that when I was playing ball, and being able to have 50 less pounds on your knees helps.
MF: How can people that want to take up the flexible lease program find out more about it?
RC: Signing up through Uber.com is the best way to find out more information. People sign up to be an Uber partner and then they can apply for the leasing program.
MF: What makes going through the leasing program with you guys different from them just doing something on their own?
RC: We try to make it a lot more flexible to get in and out of the lease.