Employee Spotlight: Mojitos with Mike Sarazine
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Ladies and gentlemen, introducing Kenna’s Salesperson of the Year: Mike Sarazine!
When Mike—Regional Sales Director for North Central—was awarded this incredible distinction at Kenna’s 2021 Sales Kickoff earlier this year, it came as no surprise. When Mike joined Kenna, he hit the ground running, and the impact of his professionalism and commitment could be felt immediately. By the end of 2020, which, let’s face it, posed even more challenges than the average year, Mike had hit top performer status, helping more companies join the Kenna family to tackle vulnerability management together. The secret to his success? A remarkable combination of drive, instinct, hard work, and connection to the customer. In addition to being brilliant at his job, he also happens to be a genuinely nice person, and that combination is hard to beat.
Dee Snider (yes, that Dee Snider) said it best: You’ve got a big fanbase, Mike!
Q: Where did you grow up?
A: Owatonna, Minnesota. I lived there throughout my entire childhood until I left to go to Minnesota State University, Mankato, for college.
Q: How did you come into this field of work?
A: I worked for Enterprise Rent-A-Car while I was in college. I was really good at selling people coverage that was a “nice-to-have” but not a “need-to-have,” and I soon realized I’d like to move into something else on the sales side. An organization in the Minneapolis area was hiring for a general IT sales position, and I decided to go for it. But during the interview, the guy interviewing me stopped me and said, “Why would I hire you? You have no experience doing this.” I reassured him I have a passion for technology, I’m hungry and eager to learn, and I told him that if they are willing to take a shot on me, they wouldn’t regret it. They decided to take that shot.
That position helped get me into a few different things, primarily storage. I was doing work for Compellent (now Dell) and Code42, which back then was solely focused on backing up Apples since there wasn’t a whole lot out there for Apple at the time. That was my route into the industry.
Q: What career advice would you give 21-year-old Mike?
A: Invest everything you have in Apple and Microsoft! Sales is about listening, not speaking. Let your customers and prospects speak and don’t feel like you have to talk to sell. Work hard and don’t be afraid to take chances. Maybe party a little less in college.
Q: What is one event in your life that made you who you are today?
A: My parents were small business owners (a Dairy Queen), and growing up in their household taught me hard work is essential to making good things happen. I saw first-hand their experience with the tangible results of your effort: if you don’t work hard, your business doesn’t strive, and your family doesn’t eat. That molded me into the hard worker that I am today—and possibly the mildly-obsessive-compulsive guy that just cannot put his phone down because I absolutely have to know what the email that just came through said.
When I was a senior in high school, I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I was born and raised in the Dairy Queen, essentially, and I was debating buying my parents out. When I graduated high school, I wasn’t planning on going to college; instead, I would just spend time working at the Dairy Queen. But my dad got cancer and was hospitalized, and for a month I acted as the owner of the business. And that summer, I realized I didn’t want to be a Dairy Queen owner. If the 16-year-old kid working for you calls in sick last minute on a Friday night (it happens all the time), who do you think has to go in to cover that shift? Your family just has to accept your last-minute absences and deal with it. It wasn’t a very stable lifestyle.
That experience helped me determine I wanted something more, and I signed up to go to a four-year school and went to college the following fall. That summer was a really difficult time, but I’m so grateful it happened the way it did. If it hadn’t, I might be running a Dairy Queen instead of doing a job that I absolutely love and adore, like I’m doing now.
Q: What’s your favorite carnival/amusement park food?
A: Cheese curds—as long as they are the type that make a napkin really greasy to the point where it’s almost grossing you out but at the same time you just have to eat it. And then a fresh corn dog that was just deep fried or a deep fried Snickers.
Q: What topic would someone most likely overhear you talking about at a party?
A: Cryptocurrency. I’m kind of obsessed with it at the moment, so there’s probably a good chance that I’ll be talking about that. Or Hawaii (an upcoming trip). My wife and I have three children and we don’t get away from them very often. To go somewhere beautiful and spend the days just the two of us!
Q: What is one possession you can’t live without?
A: My cell phone, honestly. I rely on it for everything from work communication, directions, camera. Without my phone calendar, my wife and I would be scrambling to figure out where we have to go every day. My phone helps me organize the chaos in my life.
Q: What is your favorite city in the whole world?
A: Maui, or any city in Hawaii, honestly. Anyone who has ever been to any of the Hawaiian Islands knows that island life is just different. You just feel this sense of calm over you. I’m a type A person and always a little high-strung. For whatever reason, when you get to Hawaii, your stress levels just go down. You’re on “island time,” which means everything just moves a bit slower. This feeling is something I’ve yet to experience anywhere else.
When my wife and I go to Hawaii (or Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic), we actually get a chance to relax—lay on the beach, sit in a pool, etc.—or do fun activities like golfing or horseback riding. We also both like wine, so if there’s a wine tasting nearby, we’ll be there!
Q: Top 5 songs for your road trip playlist?
A: To pick 5 songs is really tough for me as I like anything from country to classic rock to older rap. I’m just not a big fan of modern country and modern hip hop. I could listen to entire albums of any of the bands listed.
- Folsom Prison or anything by Johnny Cash
- Interstate Love Song by Stone Temple Pilots
- Free Fallin by Tom Petty
- Blister in the Sun by Violent Femmes
- California Love by Tupac
- Uncle John’s Band or Casey Jones by the Grateful Dead
Q: Too hot or too cold?
A: Too hot
Q: Cheetos or Doritos?
Q: Live without music or live without books?
A: Live without books
Q: Clowns or sharks?
Q: Evernote or good ol’ fashioned legal pad?
A: Legal pad