Mike Sinyard, Founder and CEO of Specialized Bicycle Components, on The Life-Changing Power of Cycling
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On this episode of Unconventional Genius, guest Mike Sinyard, Founder and CEO of Specialized Bicycle Components talks about the life-changing power of cycling. Mike founded Specialized in 1974 as a bicycle company made for riders, by riders. By overcoming his own personal challenges, Mike learned the true power of cycling and its ability to help others overcome obstacles in their lives.
Becoming the CEO of a successful worldwide company didn’t happen overnight for Mike Sinyard. He took an unconventional path, dropping out of high school. But cycling helped Mike find meaning and purpose in his life. During our conversation, Mike talks about how his journey to success has given him a passion to help others find empowerment and success through cycling.
Riding passion and necessity to success
After discovering his passion for cycling, Mike realized that there was a gap in the United States cycling market. He started Specialized to fill that gap and serve others who shared his passion. I own two Specialized bikes myself, so I am familiar with the quality of the Specialized brand. Focused on meeting the specific needs of each rider, the company began by offering road bikes and touring bikes.
In 1980, Specialized started manufacturing mountain bikes, allowing a larger segment of the population to enjoy cycling. Mike says, “Sometimes those of us that love cycling too much can go so far that we make it too elitist when the end it’s just fun.” Mountain bikes opened up greater opportunities to expand the reach of the company.
Finding focus and clarity through cycling
Mike struggled through school. He found it difficult to pay attention and usually had to take summer classes. At age 16, Mike decided that school wasn’t for him so he dropped out. He eventually did go back to school and graduated college, thanks to an unexpected benefit from cycling.
Mike started cycling while in college. By doing so, he discovered a way to regain focus and clarity. He cites the fresh air, balance and the zen-like motion of pedaling as an exercise not only for the body but also for the mind. Listen as Mike discusses how cycling helped him deal with ADHD.
Studying the life-changing power of cycling
After seeing his son struggle with the same type of ADHD related issues, Mike suggested that he start cycling. While initially resistant, his son eventually did take up cycling and experienced the same benefits that Mike had. This was a pivotal moment for Mike, becoming the first step toward exploring the benefits of cycling.
Mike connected with a doctor from Harvard who wrote a research paper on the impact cycling can have on people with ADD or ADHD. He decided to sponsor a full study on the life-changing power of cycling. The findings of this study eventually led to the founding of The Specialized Foundation, which promotes cycling as a tool for kids to start riding for focus by investing in primary scientific research and school-based cycling programs.
Is cycling better at treating ADHD than a prescription drug?
What is it about cycling that calms the mind, increases focus, and helps treat ADD and ADHD? Through the Specialized Foundation’s study and partnerships with other research centers, the answers are starting to become clear. Mike says that there are benefits not only for school children, but also for senior adults who suffer from Alzheimer’s and dementia.
The Specialized Foundation is focused mainly on school-aged children, seeking an alternative treatment to prescription drugs. The foundation also looks to partner with other cycling companies to accomplish the goal of giving children an opportunity to experience the life-changing power of cycling. Hear all about this and more during my conversation with Mike Sinyard.
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Topics Featured In This Episode
- [0:40] Introduction of Mike Sinyard, CEO of Specialized Bicycle Components
- [1:25] Specialized is a brand by bicycle riders for cyclists with an incredible reach
- [5:16] How Mike Sinyard found clarity and focus that helped him overcome ADHD
- [8:18] The Specialized Foundation helps kids with ADD and ADHD
- [10:24] The balance and repetition of cycling can change lives
- [13:42] Mike Sinyard’s journey to starting and leading the Specialized company
- [17:19] The importance of surrounding yourself with great people
- [22:05] How Mike Sinyard has used his disability to his advantage
- [24:00] Cycling:The new drug for ADD
Resources & People Mentioned
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