How about this for advice - "Make sure you fail, if you don't fail you're not trying. It's better to aim high and miss and aim low and hit." That's just a taste of the insight that we learned from our hero Vic Parangelo. From his early days of wanting to be an astronaut to being a pilot in the Air Force Vic always shot for the stars. He shared his amazing journey and provided insight and knowledge around how the world of industrial automation is evolving.
He provides great guidance for those wanting to pursue a career in industry and emphasizes the fact that we all should keep learning. With the rate of change that is seen in industry now the need to constantly keep growing your skillset is critical. He often tells people to get comfortable being uncomfortable and it's that mindset that makes him a brilliant leader.
Vic shard about some of his hobbies outside of work and loves to find time to get on the water and fish whenever possible. He has an amazing family and brags on his wife being his wife and keeping him straight! His kids are doing great and he loves helping them each achieve the goals. Vic has a passion for industry and his story is inspiring. You'll quickly hear why Vic is our hero!
Guest: Vic Parangelo - Regional Manager at ProSoft Technology
Host: Chris Grainger
Executive Producer: Adam Sheets
Podcast Editor: Andi Thrower
This is one I wish somebody taught me. Make sure you fail. You have to fail. If you don't fail, you're not trying, but I know it sounds cliche, but it's better to aim high and miss than to aim low and hit. You have to learn from your failures. You can learn from other people's failures. You can't be afraid to fail. You're not going to learn anything if you always do everything right.
Welcome to EECO Asks Why a podcast that dives into industrial manufacturing topics, spotlights the heroes that keep America running. I'm your host, Chris Grainger. And on this podcast, we do not cover the latest features and benefits on products that come to market, instead, we focus on advice and insight from the top minds of industry because people and ideas will be how America remains number one in manufacturing in the world.
Welcome to EECO Asks Why. Today we have a hero conversation, and we have with us Vic Parangelo, who's the regional manager at ProSoft. So welcome Vick.
Hey Chris. Thanks for having me.
I'm excited to have you on the show, man. I've been looking forward to working with you, and I know you've had some exciting things throughout your career, and we love to get these hero conversations started Vic by just hearing about your journey to where you're at now.
Sure. Sure. So, Chris going back to when I was three years old, I wanted to be an astronaut, right? I'm sure a lot of other little boys wanted to as well and I was well on my way until the, the Challenger in 1986. So that kind of changed my mind a little bit. And I decided to just stick with being a pilot, but, later on in the early nineties I had a job offer at the Kodak Federal Systems, which is up in Rochester, New York, doing work on aerial surveillance drones out of Hancock Air Force Base.
I had spent enough time in the sand so I chose the frozen winter Wonderland of Rochester, New York at Kodak, where I was able to earn my master's degree at night. So it's interesting. My background in mechanical and aerospace engineering ultimately led me to a career in various aspects of automation, mostly tied to military or semiconductor projects.
During the past 20, 25 years, I've only really worked for two companies. One company called Anurag in New York, on Long Island and another one called Aerotech based out of Pittsburgh. Now, both of these companies stayed on the cutting edge of ultra high precision industrial automation, going back to 1970. I was surrounded by a lot of smart people. I was privileged to work with and learn from the brightest military and civilian mind in the field.
That's awesome, man. That's great. So I saw on your LinkedIn profile, you have a jet as your background image. So I'm guessing that's not by chance.
No. That's what I live to do. And, it was another lifetime.
Now where did you go to school for your undergrad?
So I went to the
Air Force Academy. Okay, awesome.
And the joke I tell everybody is I graduated high school on a Sunday in June and by Tuesday morning I was doing pushups in the mud at sea level. Now I'm doing pushups in the mud at 7,250 feet in Colorado Springs.
I hear you, man. Well, thank you for your service first and foremost, man. That's awesome. Well Vic with your experience and you have a lot of experience working in industry, what are you hearing out there? What are you seeing as changing that maybe industry is going to be challenged with in the future?
I think right now I think the greatest challenge is the rapid rate of change. The best example of this would be something like companies like Intel and Moore's Law. Right? You think about it, you've got 18 months to overcome the challenges of doubling your capability and capacity. And as soon as you make that achievement, the clock starts again on the next doubling. So it's an exponential growth curve, right? You've got to run as fast as you can just to stand still.
Not everyone can handle that challenge. You know, some can. Add to that the past of revenue generation, right? Every time you hit a breakthrough or you meet or exceed the quota, it's immediately old news because you've got another quarter or another target to hit next month. You're the king of the hill on December 31st and on January 1st, everybody's reset to zero. It can be a wild ride.
No doubt, man. No doubt. Onto the next one. You can never celebrate for too long.
It’s always what'd you do for me lately?
That's right. Speak to the young people who are wanting to pursue a career in industry. What advice would you give? Maybe what's some advice that you wish somebody would've gave you that you didn't get?
There's a couple. I think the biggest one is that you need to keep learning. Remember. I didn't pick up on this when happened, but when you graduate high school or college, that's called commencement. Right? Which means a beginning, a start. You got to keep moving forward. You can't rest on your laurels of what you did yesterday. No matter what awards you've won or what level you achieve, you always have to keep your eye on the next challenge. The next level. Most good employers, they'll spend a lot of money to make sure you know how to do your job, or how to do the job better. Just, you gotta keep learning. That's number one.
Number two, and lastly you gotta focus. Don't confuse being busy with being productive. Don't allow yourself to get sidetracked by secondary activities that doesn't serve you. We all feel like we have unlimited time, You know,
You got that right. That is definitely a scarce commodity. I love your failure point. I mean, because you're right. That's where you really grow as a person, as a professional is in those moments.
You gotta be able to get knocked down and pick yourself back up.
And be comfortable being uncomfortable. I've been telling people that lately. Very good. So when you look back over your career have there been people who have been mentors to you who have spoken positive things into your life that you'd like to recognize?
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, What I think about it. So many people have influenced me and I can appreciate it. I can learn something from everybody, but there are two people that really stick out. One of them is my dad and another one. The guy named Charlie Zelman, he actually lives in Raleigh. They're both the same age right now. They're both in their mid-eighties.
My dad, he was a New York City cop for 20 years. And I could tell he didn't like his job. He retired 20 years to the day. But he saw the big picture. He provided for his family. The thing that sticks with me the most is an idea where he said, you need to enjoy your work. He said, "It doesn't matter if you're like a street sweeper or the president," he says, "find something that you love to do it better than anybody else. And have someone pay you to do it.
On that note, I joined the military to fly jets, which is pretty much what I wanted to do. He wasn't so happy about that. My mom wasn't so happy about that one. And then Charlie Zelman, he was a national sales manager at Aerotech for 40 years. He taught me the value of interacting with people. And I remember he said to me, "You could have an IQ of 200, but if you don't know how to work with people, you're screwed." He was a brilliant engineer. He was a very effective salesman, and he was a people person. He's a great teacher and a friend and he still is, but he pulled me out of the engineer's cubicle and put me front and center on stage, where the spotlight is on.
No doubt, I sounds like, that's just two wonderful mentors that have guided and helped you grow to, to where you're at now.
Yeah, I owe them a lot and they imparted wisdom.
That's great. That's great. Now, when you think about engineering and the role that you're in now. You said they took you out of that cubicle and puts you into spotlight. Sometimes there's a myth around engineering or sales in general, right? They're not always positive, types of myths either so you get a chance to debunk something here. What would it be?
There's definitely a few and I think I'm living proof. So engineers aren't all cubicle-dwelling geeks with debatable social skills, right? Not all of us with above-average intelligence. We don't all love math. We're not all men. There's a lot of women engineers. And we don't all like Star Trek.
Now that's a new one. You kind of caught me off guard with that one. That was good stuff, man. So how about this? When you're at work and you're doing the work that you enjoy the most and it's bringing you just so much joy and you're feeling fulfillment. What are you doing in those moments?
So I get the most fulfillment at work when someone brings me a hard problem and they come to me to solve it and I already know the solution because I'd already solved it for somebody else. Silly example, you know what, when I was in high school, I remember I applied to eight colleges.
And I got into seven. The one that I didn't get into the Princeton, but it didn't really matter because you know, I got into the air force academy. I went to the air force academy, but many years later I started to wonder like, why didn't I get into Princeton? Just, why. As a salesman, you never mind losing an order as long as you know why you lost the order.
Because you learn from that for the next sale. So it was bugging me, cause I didn't know why. So as it turns out over the years, I was doing a lot of work with Princeton's engineering department and little by little, you know, the professors got to know me and I was solving the problems. And then I had already worked on similar problems in industry.
So it was like that. Some of these professors even ask me to guest lecture their classes from time to time. So it was like, it came full circle, right on an earlier failure. I originally failed selling myself as an undergraduate, but now here I am teaching there. That was pretty fulfilling.
That was a great story, man. How about any highlights? Anything that you look back on he'd had such an impressive career. Anything that stands out was like, man, that was really cool when I was part of it?
With so many things, Chris, I look at it more of a big picture. The highlights of my career has been and continues to be traveling and living all over the world and not paying for it. I mean, I've been all over the middle east. I've been in all of Europe and the Americas. I like to travel. I love to sell and I'm very comfortable talking to strangers.
There you go. Okay. Now, Vic, with these hero conversations, we'd like to get off the career path and have a little fun outside learn just to learn about you and to share that with our listeners. What hobbies do you have, man? What do you enjoy doing for fun?
The hobby I do the most is fishing, and I didn't really choose it. It chose me. Growing up, as far as I can remember, we always had a boat on Long Island. And my dad and I were on it all the time, we would start fishing around St. Patrick's Day and we would end the fishing season somewhere between Thanksgiving and Christmas. As long as the fish and the weather cooperated. So if either one of them wasn't there, then we were done. Fishing reminds me of my childhood, hanging out with my dad on the boat, staring up at the sky, watching the airplanes go by. I remember some of my friend's parents had big boats, 40, 50 footers. So we'd head out a hundred miles out to the canyon offshore and we caught some big stuff. Like two, 300 pounds shark and tuna. That was crazy.
That sounds awesome, man. Fun times. Fun times. Now, how about we also love to share, you are shared about your dad. What else would you like to share with our listeners about your family?
So, you know, my wife, she's my rock, she keeps me in line. She wears the pants. My kids are awesome. My oldest daughter, she's a sophomore in college. My son's a senior in high school. I feel kind of bad, my daughter just missed the COVID thing. So everything was normal for her. And my son is in the middle of it now. My youngest she's in preschool and I'm telling you she's smarter than all of us combined.
So you have college, high school and preschool. That’s a pretty big span there.
Yeah. Yeah. Keeps me young, Chris.
I hear you, man. That's awesome.
Because the older two don't know my name anymore. They're like who? They could drive. They don't need me anymore. They can drive.
They know this is called a hero conversation for a reason. Just remind them of that Vic.
Oh, don't worry. They, come to me when they need something.
Well, it sounds like you got a wonderful family, man. That's awesome and best of luck to your older kids as they go through college, they got a great role model in you to learn from man. So how about when you think through the stuff that you consume on a regular basis, it could be podcasts or YouTube channels books. Is there anything that you find value in? This could be stuff that you just enjoy for Vic or stuff that you enjoy for work.
So as far as podcasts go, I have to be honest with you, Chris, I never really listened to any podcasts until I discovered EECO Asks Why. It's really the only podcast I listen to, but I'm more of a YouTube guy.
So I like these, you guys, some of it's old school, but there are some names like Evan Carmichael, Motivation Hub. You probably heard of Les Brown, Jim Roan, right? Even like really old school, like Earl Nightingale. I like these guys because they give great personal and professional advice and it's like straight up in your face.
The theme is always the same. It's no, one's coming to save you. It's up to you, if you're on your successes and your failures are all on you don't point the finger at anybody else. And ultimately when you know what you want and you want it bad enough, you'll find a way to get it. So something that I've always wrestled with when I talk to people, whether it's my wife and my kids, family, friends, I've always known what I wanted.
I told you from three years old, I want to be an astronaut and I wanted to fly and you know, I'll ask somebody, what do you want, what do you want for dinner? What do you want? And a lot of people just don't know and that's okay. That's okay. Like I think it was Jim Rowan that said it when you know what you want and you want it bad enough you'll find a way to get it, but if you don't know what you want, what do you do?
No doubt, man. That's good stuff, buddy. Good stuff. Well, and we also have been doing, Vic, this has been fun for me. And I think our listeners are enjoying this just a lightning round. Just to get to know you a little bit more some things that, that could be random, just this fun stuff, man. So if you're down, we'll play the game. I like starting easy. So what's your favorite food?
All right. Pizza. New York style?
There you go. How about the adult beverage man?
Any IPA? Now, if you had to, if you had to narrow it down to one or two, anything jumps out?
Voodoo Ranger. Tastes like Tangerine doesn't even taste like beer. It's like you're drinking Tangerine juice and an IPA.
Okay, cool. Cool. Have to try that out. How about uh, all-time, favorite movie?
I have two. Usual Suspects and the Sixth Sense. I like any movie that has a hairy twist at the end and I didn't see it coming.
Okay. You hit me fooled. I thought you were going to go with Top Gun or something, man. I wasn't sure.
No, not, it's funny you say that Top Gun is great. But I was like, I was before Top Gun, so it was like, cool, but I think if I had been after Top Gun then it would have been my favorite.
Okay. How about your favorite music?
Anything eighties. Hairbands, right? The Eighties, even eighties, like ballads, anything eighties.
So I'm going to make you, I'm going to make you focus here. So what's your favorite eighties hairband? If you had to pick one.
Cinderella. They have crazy hair.
Cinderella. Okay, cool.
I was going to say Van Halen back in the David Lee Roth days, but I think Cinderella had crazier hair.
Nice. Nice. How about a destination man? Somewhere you want, you want go?
Caribbean island type stuff, I've been like a Paradise Island in the Bahamas, Hawaii, that type of thing, sand and sun and some sort of rum drink wherever they serve that stuff.
No snow. Right? No snow. How about your favorite place you have been, cause you, you mentioned you've been all over the world. What stands out as someplace that really was memorable?
Oh Tel Aviv.Yeah. Tel Aviv, right on the Mediterranean. You watch the sunset over the Med. I told my family it's like Manhattan on the beach. Beautiful weather. Hawaii is cool that so many nice locations, but I'd pick out Tel Aviv was just, it wasn't, it was not what I expected until I got there. It was really nice.
That's awesome. How about pets, dogs, cats, other? what do you like?
It's funny. I just had, I had a 100 pound Husky that I had for about 17 years past recently, the dog never barked, it was awesome. Now I have two Shih Tzu that together. They don't weigh 20 pounds combined and they don't stop barking.
Oh yeah, they have personalities. That's for sure.
Oh my God. I tell you no one's sneaking into this house with those little dogs. Whereas with the Husky, it would lead you to the refrigerator.
Like the last question in the lightning round you're taking your wife out on a date, something that you enjoy doing, what are you guys doing that night? Where are you going?
So, you know, this goes back to our first date. When I first met her I tried to impress her. I took her to a steak and sushi house. And then, I got surprised because, I ended up with a $400 bill, which I was not expecting that for two. But it was a steak and sushi place on the water. So it was really nice, on Long Island, I guess it would have been better if it was in the Caribbean, but it was on Long Island. We pretty much every year on our anniversary, we go back to that place, but that's the ideal steak and sushi at a waterfront restaurant.
Man. That's awesome. That's awesome. You crushed the lightning round, Vic, so you did a great job. Great job with that, man. And it's been a lot of fun to get to know you. And you shared so much for our listeners and we call it EECO Asks Why, Vic, so I'm not going to let you escape without this one. So this is all about your passion man. So what would be your personal why?
There's a saying in aviation lore, and the saying is that, you know, being a professional pilot is a lot like being a professional athlete. When you're a professional athlete, you're always like one injury away from ending your career while at a similar way, when you're a professional pilot, you're always like one medical checkup away from a career-ending diagnosis. So you have to have a backup plan.
My backup plan was engineering. I told you I always wanted to be a pilot and I was a kid there was never anything else on my radar, but in high school I realized that I had the aptitude to be an engineer. So I'm glad I did the pilot thing, got that out of my system.
I enjoy engineering for solving problems. I enjoy sales because it's high risk, high reward. You're being rewarded proportionally to your effort level, no cap. And I like marketing. So when you put them all together, engineering, sales, and marketing, it's like fishing, right? You got to find the fish, maybe you chum, and use the right bait, build a custom lure and catch the fish and reel it in. And then what are you do next? You do it all over again. Nonstop stuff. When I look at it like that, it's just like back in the day when I was hanging out with my dad as a kid in the boat.
That's cool, man. That's cool. Well, Vic this has been a blast. You're a great guest, you know, thank you for playing the lightning round too. And for giving us some more insight and man, you've done phenomenal things in your career and definitely one of our heroes. So thank you for taking the time to share with us on EECO Asks Why.
Thank you, Chris. I loved it. I appreciate it.
Absolutely. You have a great day.
Thank you for listening to EECO Asks Why this show is supported ad-free by Electrical Equipment Company. EECO is redefining the expectations of an electrical distributor by placing people and ideas before products, please subscribe and share with your colleagues and friends. Also leave comments, feedback, any new topics that you would like to hear. To learn more or to share your insights, visit EECOAsksWhy.com. That's E E C O A S K S W H Y.com.