Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS)



Mike Uesugi, Top International Entrepreneur, Software Developer

This week, Stephen Ibaraki has an exclusive interview with Mike Uesugi.

Mike UesugiCTO & Co-Founder, Mike Uesugi is the technology behind Social Rewards, a social media based loyalty marketing program that awards brand consumers for engaging in social media activity such as brand mentions via Twitter, Instagram and Facebook likes and fan activity.

To listen to the interview, click on this MP3 file link

The latest blog on the interview can be found in the Canadian IT Pro Connection where you can provide your comments in an interactive dialogue.


Interview Time Index (MM:SS) and Topic

:00:36: From your early youth to the present, can you share your interests, experiences, milestones and roles which defined your life and career?
"....I was born in Osaka, Japan and was there until I was 15 years old. I came to the United States to learn English and stayed with my uncle (a professor at Cal Poly Pomona) for three years. I went back to Japan after high school for financial reasons. After two years I saved up enough money to come back and went to college and right after college I went to work for Apple. At the time Macintosh just came up with the Japanese OS KanjiTalk and I was part of the team to develop the Japanese input method (where you input the phonetic way on the keyboard and it comes out in Japanese). I worked at Apple for four years. I left to start my own company called Global Micro Solutions. About five years ago my business partner Joe Morin (a good friend from high school) and I were talking. He was very much into the Google search engine optimization community and he was really well known for Google SEO. Social media had really started booming and Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn were really becoming big and we wanted to utilize social media. How could we make social media businesses? That's how we came up with Social Rewards...."

:05:09: You talked about your youth and being between the US and Japan, were you always interested in things like math or sciences?
"....Even in elementary school I always wanted to become an engineer and I wanted to come up with something using mechanics or doing some computing....When I was eleven I took the amateur radio (ham radio) license in Japan and I was the youngest person in Japan to get one. That was really the start for me to go into the IT world...."

:06:40: What are some developer lessons and tips that you can you share?
"....As a developer I think it's really important to be aware of your surroundings. Your kids are talking about social media, how they use it and things like that so it's important to listen with an open mind....If there is something that interests you, you should find out what it's all about. It's great to learn, but in order for you to really utilize the technology you have to know what's going on...."

:09:23: Can you define or name some of your top developer resources?
"....We use a lot of GitHub to manage and organize our source code and that's the technology we use. But not just GitHub, we came up with our own tools to organize and find tools and stuff like that. As far as utilizing what's out there, just because GitHub is good for us it might not be good for you. I'm sure that there is other technology out there that you might want to use, you just have to try them out to make sure that it fits your needs...."

:11:21: You talked about Social Rewards and also Micro Global Solutions, how many people work with you (for example in Micro Global Solutions)?
"....I used to have an office in Singapore and I still do in China, Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand, all the offshore developments that we managed. We find a company who has a problem then we go in and solve the problem for them. When you start doing that you need a lot of manpower. I think it's very important that you have key people in the United States, (those people who can come up with solutions). But when you start doing a lot of coding (millions of lines of programming), that takes a lot of time and you realize that you have to go outside of your comfort zone and work with a partner outside the country...."

:13:41: Can you share some career lessons and tips?
"....I'm not sure if this will fit other people, I can only talk about it through my experiences. When you work with other people as a team, it's very important to understand and communicate with others....Don't try to be what you are not, I think it's really important to be sincere..…You can't really influence other people, the only thing you can control is yourself....Try to be positive about things....Try to be a leader as much as you can. Not everybody is qualified to be a leader, but if you take advantage of every opportunity (even the work environment), I think people respect that....Don't overstep other people, try to be a great co-worker and help other people in the workplace...."

:16:06: Are there any tips you can share from an entrepreneurial standpoint?
"....As a start-up I think it's very important to be focused....In order to achieve your goals you have to learn to say no....I think you have to be a lean start-up. The finances are very important. The product is really where the main focus should be....You have to have a team, your partner to really make things happen. Finding the right people is very, very important for your start-up....If you are looking for personnel, even employees (e.g. if you are looking for a really good engineer or programmer), start going out to different meetings, start writing blogs, start writing about different stuff. People will find you and before you know it they are going to start contacting you....I think that's what the whole thing is all about, the passion as an entrepreneur, you have to love what you are doing because it's going to be tough out there and a lot of things happen, but if you are really committed to what you are doing you can overcome a lot of things...."

:23:34: Any leadership lessons and tips that you can share?
"....When you talk about a good leader, I think leadership and management are two different things....I think to be a good leader you have to inspire other people and show a clear vision of what you have and make it simple for people to understand....You have to listen and be open-minded and you have to communicate so that they respect you...."

:27:20: Let’s talk about the goals of your companies, is there anything else you want to add about Global Micro Solutions and Social Rewards?
"....I started Global Micro Solutions to solve problems for other companies and I've been doing that for 20 years. Social Rewards is our baby and we want to help it to grow. I think that's the difference with Global Micro Solutions, I still help people and companies if they need any help, but my focus right now is on Social Rewards....I think a lot of people or businesses really don't understand social media. They understand at a personal level, but when you start talking about how you can help your business through social media, that's where we come in. We wanted to make a solution for businesses to utilize social media and we came up with Social Rewards. We wanted to make it more natural, so we were searching for different ways that the business could utilize it and we analyzed our platform of what people liked to do in social media. We are finding out that a lot of people tweet or share when things happen (an event), when they travel, when they have a birthday, those different experiences they want to share with their friends....Social media is very much about sharing and discovering and I think that is how businesses can take advantage, by providing their customers with a tool to get excited about...."

:37:05: Based upon your global expertise are there any predictions you’d like to make, for example in cyber-security, cloud computing, big data, mobility, modeling & simulation, web technologies, autonomous systems, rapid hardware design or blue sky out of the box thinking or any area that you want?
"....I consider myself a nerd because I just love playing with a gadget, iPhone, Android phone, tablet, Google Glass, you name it. I love to play around with all new technologies, but when it comes to the future and prediction, cyber-security, cloud computing, big data, those things are just going to keep going, I think it's not going to stop....I think AI is going to be a big part of what we are doing....Computing is just going to keep getting smarter, CPU's are going to get faster and a lot of people are getting smarter as well to utilize this technology....The world is becoming smaller and smaller. It happened with the internet and now it's time for us to physically go faster. As a geek I always think those things...."

:43:50: Microsoft has been in the new lately especially with Windows 10 and there’s the Surface Pro and I see something called Hololens. You are an Apple guy, but what do you think about the Surface Pro, Windows 10 and Hololens?
"....I have an iPad and I use it every day, but sometimes when I want to type in something, I wish I had a keyboard and a mouse to control the iPad so it could sometimes be used as a laptop....I really admire Microsoft for doing the 2 in 1, putting the tablet and laptop together which I think is the way it should be for now. But in the future, people are becoming more and more efficient and I think the way Microsoft doing it is really good timing....One thing I wanted to add about Windows 10 is interface. User interface is so important with OS when you are working with a computer. Of course it has to be fast and efficient but the interface is the first thing that you use when you face a computer. With Windows 10 they did it, I think they learned from previous operating systems and they made it better...."

:47:24: Do you feel computing should be a recognized profession on par with accounting, medicine and law with demonstrated professional development, adherence to a code of ethics, personal responsibility, public accountability, quality assurance and recognized credentials? [See and the Global Industry Council,]
"....Yes definitely because as an IT person I want to believe that I am solving problems for the world in a lot of things (medical things or it could be life and death situations), because of that I think we should be recognizable by other professions. There are medical practitioners, lawyers and accountants; I think the IT person should be as important as those types of professions....

:48:21: This is the very last question and I'm going to give you an assortment and you can choose any one to answer. Perhaps a story from your amazing journey in life and work, or maybe a challenge you want to talk about or perhaps a question that I should have asked but didn't ask. It's free form.
"....I love to travel....I think it helps make your character by talking to people you never thought that you would. I think it makes your life more full. I'm pretty sure it helps me in my profession to be an interesting person and to come up with new products...."

:51:47: Mike, with your demanding schedule, we are indeed fortunate to have you come in to do this interview. Thank you for sharing your substantial wisdom with our audience.