Talk Story Interview with Mike Wysocki

Maui-based Mike Wysocki never thought his undergraduate degree in sociology would lead him to a long and successful career in tech security sales.
Getty Images Mike Wysocki Story
Photo: Getty Images

Now, he’s combining those two interests and diving deep into the topic of employment with his new book, “Careers By The People,” in which he hopes to guide younger generations into careers they’ll be “truly passionate about.” This interview was edited for clarity and length.

Q: You work for a national company, but you have a “hire local first” philosophy for the Hawai‘i operations. What are the pluses of that strategy?

Wysocki: For sales, as long as you speak well, write well and know some basics about business, then the potential is there. You don’t need to go to an Ivy League school; all you need is an associate degree from one of the local community colleges.

When you bring local people to sales appointments, for example, they can talk local. They understand the difference between ‘Ewa Beach and the Windward Side, and more importantly, how to pronounce ‘Ewa Beach. They understand the high schools and so much more that helps business immensely.

If you are not from Hawai‘i, hopefully local partners get to know you over time, and they know you are the Mainland guy who is outspoken sometimes, but a good person, that you’re going to do right and do right for Hawai‘i.

If I’m working on a project with a company, and if I lose the contract, I just try to make sure I lose it to a local business.

Mike Wysocki, Manager of technology sales and business development, VPLS. | Photo: courtesy of Mike Wysocki

Q: You believe local businesses too often outsource employees from the Mainland?

Wysocki: There’s a lot of talented people on the island and the word just doesn’t get out. It has nothing to do with skill set, it has to do with lack of self-promotion by locals.

One of the big tech companies I used to do business with in Hawai‘i hired this guy from Omaha, Nebraska, to run their main service program and he was very qualified. But I met with him one night and I could tell he just couldn’t assimilate to Hawai‘i. So six months later he’s gone. The company spent all that time and money recruiting him and boom, he’s gone.

We need to understand that there are people here ready to work and do business with.

Q: You have worked in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and other places. How does the tech industry’s mindset differ in those places from Hawai‘i’s?

Wysocki: It’s like two different worlds. In those places, the people in business will know you, but they don’t really have to know much about you. Here in Hawai‘i, it’s a cultural thing, where they really want to know about you as a person.

In Los Angeles when I was doing business, it was all guys. I can tell you firsthand that Hawai‘i actually has more women in technology than on the Mainland. In the STEM field, they always say they want more women, but I would say Hawai‘i is leading in that.

Q: What is your advice to local high school and college students who want to pursue careers in tech?

Wysocki: You have to be passionate about technology. You can’t just do it for the money because you’ll get bored and burn out. You may be good, but you won’t be great. You have to truly believe that it’s your passion.

Internships are great, but if you can’t get an internship, then volunteer. See what it’s like in the tech world, even if your job is just fetching coffee or mirroring somebody.

Q: Please describe your book, “Careers By The People.”

I built this program that asked people about 20 questions regarding their career and I got 2,500 sets of answers over five years. I picked the 66 best, which are included in the book. They include CEOs, executives, college professors, operations managers and people with manual labor jobs.

It will be a great resource for community colleges and anyone who is about 16 to 25 years old. It’s a giveback and a way to help the next generation by providing thoughts from somebody who has actually worked in a particular industry and in the real world.

Too many people put more time selecting a television than they do about picking a career that’s going to last them 40 or more years.

Categories: Biz Expert Advice, Business & Industry, Careers, Community & Economy, Technology