First, Klout failed. With that out of the way…

A recently published article by Mohamed A. El-Erian on Bloomberg, What a Middling Uber Rating Might Say About You, caught my attention. Even the snippet is intriguing:

It’s an opportunity to gather useful information for improving personal and professional interactions.

The article describes a woman, a friend of El-Erian, who is worried about her “low” Uber score of “4.5 out of a possible 5.” The story basically a real-life example of the Nosedive episode from Black Mirror.

Mathematically, to me at least, 4.5/5 = 90%, which in the U.S. gets you an academic A-; the second best letter score that you can earn: 90-93 = A-; 94-100 = A. The vast majority of people would really enjoy getting an A-.

El-Erian that proceeds to give advice to help rectify the situation:

If [your score is] below 4.7, ask yourself why, and not just by looking in the mirror. It may be less about how you believe you come across to others and more about how others actually perceive you. So, seek the frank assessment of trusted friends and acquaintances. You may well learn something that is useful for improving a broad range of personal and professional interactions.

In translation: there is something wrong with you, and you’d better find out what it is. And that’s just false.

The article makes mention that the his friend is an international traveler. Perceptions, ratings, and scoring thresholds vary greatly across the globe. Some cultures are additive, some subtractive. Meaning, in some cultures you start with 0 and work your way up; in other cultures you start with 5 (or 100), and work your way down.

The U.S. is a subtractive culture. You start will a full score and points are taken off. However, in additive cultures an average performance will give you an average score. Meaning, that if you do everything that’s expected of you, in a non-exceptional way, you’ll score right in the middle, not at the top. So, if the scale goes from 1-5, as it does with Uber, and you behaved perfectly normal, you’ll probably score a three in an additive culture. So, if you tip and tipping is normal, that’s a “3.”

In my EMBA program, during group projects, we had to score our teammates on a scale from 1-5. I live in a subtractive culture, but come from an additive culture, which I applied in my scoring. So, if your work was perfectly adequate you’d earn a 3 on my scale; if you work was very good you’d earn another point; and if you voluntarily assumed a leadership role in the project you could earn your final point. My average-performing teammates were not pleased…

And let me tell you, if you get 10% wrong on a test in an additive culture, you do NOT earn the equivalent of an A-. You’d barely get a pat on the back.

Back to the article. If a woman—this has to be pointed out, because few cultures treat women fairly—manages to attain and maintain a global Uber score of 4.5, spanning both subtractive and additive cultures, that is an excellent achievement. Yes, ideally gender would not matter. Ideally, and normally, women should also earn equal pay…

So, friend of Mohamed El-Erian, THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU. You’re totally crushing it. In fact, you’re probably awesome! That’s the best human rating you can get.

Also, don’t let Silicon Valley ruin your sense of self-worth.

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