There's a famous anecdote about Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad's thrifty ways: apparently, he drove the same 1993 Volvo sedan for 20 years, finally giving it up not to buy something a little more flash with his billions, but simply because it was no longer road-worthy.
It's a hard tale of CEO simplicity to top, but perhaps Lynn Jurich, co-founder of recently public solar company Sunrun, might be able to manage it. Apparently, the San Francisco-based CEO has absolutely no car at all.
It's a tidbit she let drop in a piece she penned for Fast Company a few years ago, but when Inc.com checked in with her recently she was still car-free. Though it turns out her motivations say more about her commitment to sustainability and the sharing economy than any desire to out penny-pinch the likes of Kamprad.
1. Because commuting is objectively awful.
Jurich's first reason to skip car ownership is perhaps the simplest -- commuting by car is objectively awful (really, study after study ranks it as one of life's most misery-inducing activities), so given that she lives in a place that provides alternatives, it simply makes sense to take them.
"I'm lucky to live in a city, San Francisco, where I can take public transit or walk to work," she told Inc.com in an email this week. Plus, time sitting on public transport is time she can use for reading, catching up on work projects, and making phone calls.
2. Our kids will want clean air too.
But Jurich's car-free lifestyle is about more than just avoiding traffic jams. While Sunrun sells itself to customers as a hassle-free way to save on their electricity bills rather than just a do-gooder environmental option, Jurich's interest in solar stems from a deep concern about air quality that crystallized while she was working in smoggy China. Not having a car stems from the same convictions.
"My choice to not own a car is also motivated by a desire to live sustainably. I've always looked for ways to reduce my environmental footprint and as a new mom, it's more important to me than ever to ensure a healthy planet for future generations," she explains.
3. The sharing economy makes it easy.
Finally, and perhaps most interestingly, Jurich's choice to forgo owning a car puts her right in the middle of the same trend her company hopes to ride to market dominance. Call it "the sharing economy" or, as Sunrun does, "dis-ownership," but whatever term you use, the phenomenon is largely the same -- thanks to a host of smart companies, it's now often easier to rent, borrow, or lease many items than to actually own them.
It's a cultural shift many people associate with the likes of Airbnb, but Jurich's company is actually a part of the sharing economy too. It offers people a way to skip buying the solar panels on their roofs in favor of a deal whereby they agree to purchase the power those panels generate from Sunrun, which owns and maintains them. Just like with sharing economy household name Zipcar, you get the benefits of ownership without all the trouble.
Jurich is apparently so convinced of the merits of dis-ownership, she's participating in the movement herself. "I'm a big proponent of simplicity and efficiency, so rather than own a car and use it infrequently, I've opted to use car sharing services that provide wheels when I need them and take the hassle and expense out of car ownership," she notes, pointing out that "we're focused on something similar at Sunrun."