Dean Jones is the CEO and founder of PowerObjects, which recently celebrated its 20th year. Since the company was founded, PowerObjects has grown to become the #1 Microsoft Dynamics CRM partner in the world, with over 175 employees and counting.
When you think of a CEO, you probably don’t imagine an avid bike commuter—but then, Dean doesn’t fit the traditional mold. We asked Dean a few questions about his biking habits and what motivates him.
Have you always been a biking enthusiast?
No, I haven’t actually.
Gary gets all the credit. [Gary Nelson is a year-round bike commuter at PowerObjects and an inspiration to many.] Gary doesn’t own a car—he bikes every day. I figured if he can bike every day, I can bike in the summertime. So I started biking in the summer and got addicted. Now I’m biking year-round. So it was 100% motivated by Gary.
Do you bike every day?
I try to. On really bad days, I try to come up with an excuse. Last year I biked every day, unless I had to be dressed up. This year I biked until January 10 and then I tore a muscle, so I was out for two months. But now I’m back.
When did you start biking to work regularly?
I started 2 years ago.
How long is your commute?
30 minutes. If I pedal really hard, it’s 29 minutes. If I pedal slow, it’s 31. There really isn’t much difference. In the winter time, it’s slower for sure—sometimes it takes 45 minutes when there’s snow.
Do you take the same route or mix it up?
I take the same route every day. It takes 10 minutes to get to the bike path, and then I’m on the bike path for 20 minutes. From there, it’s only 2 blocks of biking downtown to get to work.
What kind of bike do you ride?
I ride a Marin.
Do you use any special biking gear?
Yes—especially when I started biking all year round. I’ve got waterproof shoes in case I run into a 10 inch puddle. Rain pants that I carry all the time—who knows what the weather will do? A reflector jacket that is waterproof and windproof. I have straps to keep my pants tight so they don’t get caught, plus they have reflectors for safety. In the wintertime I wear goggles and a snowboarding helmet. In the summer I wear a bike helmet. And then I have a couple of lights of course, because you don’t know when it’s going to get dark.
What bike accessory can you NOT live without?
The headlight—the lights, in the wintertime especially, are really important. You have to have lights. It’s kind of fun on the path in the winter. It’s pitch dark, and the light just kind of makes it fun. You can’t survive without it. Some people get really competitive about their lights, but I just have an average light and it works great.
What have been some of the challenges in commuting to work?
The biggest challenge is texting drivers. You come to an intersection, and people are on their phones. You have to be really careful downtown and on city streets. You wouldn’t believe how many times a car says “Yeah, I know they have the right away, but I can cut across faster.” If I’m at an intersection and I don’t stop and put my feet down, it can be dangerous.
Any funny stories to share?
Today was a good example. At one point the bike path had a barricade that showed it was closed, presumably because of the rain. There was a big puddle. I thought I would follow the lead of other bikers and peddle around the barricade. So I’m peddling through the puddle around the barricade and all of a sudden my feet were under water. It was more than just a little puddle.
I do have new shoes that are supposed to be waterproof, but that doesn’t totally work your feet are completely under water. I thought I was going to fall over in the puddle, but I didn’t!
What do you like most about biking?
Everything. You feel great. You get to work and you just feel great.
I can get to work and get home faster. I drove yesterday because I had to run errands after work, and it took forever. I could have been home half an hour earlier.
You also feel like you’re helping out the environment. If everyone biked, the world would be a better place, guaranteed. It also saves me from having to go to the gym—I get an hour of exercise without going to the gym.
What has PowerObjects done to promote commuter biking?
We’ve done all sorts of stuff. We’ve always encouraged it by creating places for people to put their bikes. But recently we’ve added the lockers and the bike rack downstairs. I think having people that bike all year round motivates people as well. We’ve had several people go out and buy bikes this year just because they’re motivated by others.
Any tips for others who want to start biking regularly?
Kind of like what Nike says—“Just do it.” It’s a pattern thing. Once you get into the pattern, you won’t stop. It’s easy to put it off, to say “I’m going to start this week, but it rained.” I biked when it was freezing cold last week. It’s just as easy to throw on rain pants and head out the door as it is to get in your car. And I get home faster. It’s easily much shorter biking home than driving.
Even if people live farther out, they can throw the bike on the back of the car, park somewhere in between, then bike in to work from there. Parking downtown is a small fortune—they can save money and get their exercise in.
Any last thoughts?
When you see someone else who does it all year round, how can you not step up to the challenge? I kind of joke with the team to take the challenge and bike too.