This three-part series is a special feature on two industry leaders doing good inside the board room and outside on the pavement. AvePoint CEO Dr. Tianyi (TJ) Jiang and Microsoft’s Jeff Teper will be two of the competitors at the Boston Marathon 2020, running on Team Red Cross. AvePoint will match donations through the end of December. Donate to Team Red Cross and check out how else you can help at www.redcrossblood.org.
Today, in the spirit of running 26.2 miles, we ask Jeff and TJ for 26(.2) answers to fun questions that give you insight into their training plans and what motivates them in the office and on the pavement. But first! An intro into Jeff’s journey:
Jeff: “I’ve been running for several years but only started running marathons three years ago when I needed a ‘crazy person goal’ to keep me in balance as we drove to Microsoft’s big “Future of SharePoint” day on May 4, 2016 (yes, Star Wars Day . . . ).”
TJ will be running Boston with Jeff Teper, Corporate Vice President at Microsoft for Office, SharePoint, and OneDrive. TJ and Jeff and have known each other from the earliest days of SharePoint and a few years ago were surprised they had independently settled on the challenging goals of running all 6 Abbot Marathon Majors to balance their personal and work lives and contribute to great causes like the Red Cross. They have run New York, Chicago, and London together. TJ will finish first as Jeff still has Tokyo to complete in 2021 to reach his 6 Star Goal.
Without further ado, let’s get to the interview!
1. What’re your favorite tunes to run to?
JT: The Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack is a favorite!
TJ: Definitely “We Will Rock You” by Queen for me.
2. What about podcasts?
JT: The Bill Simmons Podcast, Marathon Training Academy, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, Reid Hoffman’s Masters of Scale, Ted Radio, Freakonomics Radio, and Planet Money.
TJ: For me it has to be RadioLab by NPR, How I Build This, Tim Ferriss Show, Freakanomics, TED Radio Hour, Hidden Brain, More Perfect, The Intelligence by Economist, ThroughLine by NPR, and Fareed Zakaria GPS by CNN.
3. Do you have an oddest running experience?
TJ: I tried to run in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, but ended up giving up as there are almost zero sidewalks in the city…
JT: I ran in Geneva in the dark before a SharePoint Saturday. I got lost and am still not sure how I found way back to the hotel!
4. What’re the strangest things you’ve seen while running?
TJ: A family of otters playing in a sand volleyball court next to the National Stadium in Singapore at 5am was pretty strange…
JT: Dogs riding in strollers. Who’s the owner??
5. What’s your preferred food & fuel before/after a run?
TJ: I’m a big fan of protein bars and GU Energy Gel.
JT: Oatmeal or custom protein pancakes before, and chocolate milk always hits the spot after.
6. What’s been your favorite race thus far?
TJ: Every one of the Abbott Majors are so unique and fun in their own way; Tokyo is the quietest marathon, London is the loudest Marathon, NYC is my hometown marathon, Berlin is the fastest marathon, and Chi-Town (Chicago) is just awesome.
JT: The New York Marathon was great as I lived there for a few years and my family came out to support, but I also loved the London Marathon because it’s an amazing city and has great crowds–they were cheering us on outside pubs!
7. When did you start running? What motivated you to run in the first place?
TJ: I’ve been running for cardio since my high school years. But it was only in 2015 when I started doing long runs (10km+ or 1 hour+ runs) and got into marathon training. Getting into the 40s really motivated me to stay healthy and keep (I was 41 at the time).
JT: I did my first marathon in 2016 to align with our big “Future of SharePoint” event!
8. Do you prefer morning or evening runs?
TJ: I do both; it really depends on what time zone I’m in. Since I travel so much for work, I found running as the best way to adjust to the correct time zone and get rid of jet lag.
JT: Morning with an occasional evening run. Winters in Seattle are tough, though, because of how short the days are.
9. Do you have any guilty pleasures on the road or off?
TJ: The benefit of running and burning off carbs is that you get to eat whatever you want and don’t have to feel guilty about it. However, please don’t drink alcohol and then run–that’s just asking for trouble.
JT: I like to run in new places on business trips. A few favorites are Santa Monica to Venice Beach and back in LA and a lap or two around Central Park in NY.
10. What’s your least favorite part of running?
TJ: I got heat stroke once while running in Singapore…that was NOT fun.
JT: Stretching after. But you have to do it!
11. What drags you out the door when you want to skip a training session?
TJ: Running a global business requires discipline–the same discipline for keeping up with long distance running. That said, I’m an inherently lazy person, so signing up for marathons forces me to follow a marathon training schedule as there’s no cheating yourself in marathon training. If you cheat you will suffer greatly on race day.
JT: The accountability of scheduling the next race well in advance helps, but I also really enjoy it. If I’m not feeling it, I just run slower.
12. Do you prefer solo or buddy runs?
TJ: Because of my frequent business travels, I’m predominantly solo runner. But when I can, I always enjoy running with my friends and colleagues. It’s such a great way to have conversation and enjoy that sportsmanship comradery!
JT: Solo. My schedule is pretty fluid and I have lots of team collaboration in my day job 😊.