PLEASE COMMENT: Leadership – What Does It Mean To You?


I’m working on a presentation about leading the next generation.  And I want to get your inputs for this presentation.

Think of a leader that you have known in your life.  This leader can be a boss, someone at your school, someone you know, a president, a great speaker, someone from history…. basically anyone that you have witnessed as a great leader.

Now, think of what made them a great leader.  What were the 1-2 things that they did that stood out to you that made them great?  How did they interact with their followers?  How did they tell their stories and talk to the people?

I have just one request – please share your thoughts as comments to this blog.  I’d like to take your input and build it into my presentation as inputs from the community.

Thanks in advance for your inputs and comments!

Jumping back on the horse

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Mike Lyles:

You got to check out the site of my friend, and partner in a mentoring session to take him to new experiences as a speaker at conferences. Tony Gutierrez is going to experience exponential growth and you will be wanting to hear him speak before long….keep your eyes open for him!

Originally posted on nogutznoglory:

So after patiently waiting to get a mentor with the Speak Easy.   One of the areas I told him I wanted to get better at was blogging. Lo and behold his advice on this was “Start Writing”. So here I am  jumping back on the blog horse and trying to see if I get kicked off again.  It should be a hell of a ride though. I am really looking forward to this mentoring commitment.  My overall goals for it are quite ambitious as I want to eventually speak at conferences, have articles published, and overall help contribute to the testing community.

So I hope to document my journey with my mentor Mike Lyles and hopefully by this time next year I’ll be at a conference doing my first talk. I also want to thank Speak Easy for helping make this possible.

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12 Rules of Success from Steve Jobs

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Anyone that knows me understands that I have quoted Steve Jobs many times in my leadership coaching, mentoring, speaking, and training.  I was fortunate to find an article which listed 12 rules of success that he had claimed years ago.  I wanted to share these 12 rules with my readers and followers….

Photo Oct 08, 7 35 23 PM

Rule #01: Do what you love to do. Find your true passion. Make a difference. The only way to do great work is to love what you do.

Rule #02: Be different. Think different. Better to be a pirate than to join the navy.

Rule #03: Do your best at every job. Don’t sleep! Success generates more success so be hungry for it. Hire good people with a passion for excellence.

Rule #04: Perform SWOT analysis. As soon as you join/start a company, make a list of strengths and weaknesses of yourself and your company on a piece of paper. Don’t hesitate to throw bad apples out of the company.

Rule #05: Be entrepreneurial. Look for the next big thing. Find a set of ideas that need to be acted upon quickly and decisively and jump through that window. Sometimes the first step is the hardest one. Just take it. Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.

Rule #06: Start small, think big. Don’t worry about too many things at once. Take a handful of simple things to begin with, and then progress to more complex ones. Think about not just tomorrow, but the future. Put a ding in the universe.

Rule #07: Strive to become a market leader. Own and control the primary technology in everything you do. If there’s a better technology available, use it regardless of whether or not anyone else is using it. Be the first, and make it an industry standard.

Rule #08: People judge you by your performance, so focus on the outcome. Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected. Advertise. If they don’t know about it, they won’t buy your product. Pay attention to design. We made the buttons on the screen look so good you’ll want to lick them. Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.

Rule #09: Ask for feedback from people with diverse backgrounds. Each one will tell you one useful thing. If you’re at the top of the chain, sometimes people won’t give you honest feedback because they’re afraid. In this case, disguise yourself, or get feedback from other sources. Focus on those who will use your product – listen to your customers first.

Rule #10: Innovate. Innovation distinguishes a leader from a follower. Delegate. Let other top executives do 50% of your routine work to be able to spend 50% your time on the new stuff. Say no to 1,000 things to make sure you don’t get on the wrong track or try to do too much. Concentrate on really important creations and radical innovation. Hire people who want to make the best things in the world. You need a very product-oriented culture, even in a technology company. Lots of companies have tons of great engineers and smart people. But ultimately, there needs to be some gravitational force that pulls it all together.

Rule #11: Learn from failures. Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.

Rule #12: Learn continually. There’s always “one more thing” to learn.
Cross-pollinate ideas with others both within and outside your company. Learn from customers, competitors and partners. If you partner with someone whom you don’t like, learn to like them – praise them and benefit from them. Learn to criticize your enemies openly, but honestly.

I hope you enjoy these, and I hope also that you are already following some of these rules in your life.  I wish you all much success and that you reach all of your goals!

Source of information: http://www.businessbrief.com/apple-ceo-steve-jobs-12-rules-of-success/

The Best STPCon Ever Is Coming!

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Screen Shot 2015-08-13 at 8.26.08 PMIf you love software testing, a great conference awaits you in October!  STPCon is holding our Fall 2015 conference in Boston this year, October 5-8.  (Make sure you see the bottom of this article for a REGISTRATION DISCOUNT CODE before you leave!)

I began speaking with STPCon back in 2012.  I have been privileged to be part of the sessions, workshops, and even a keynote.  Over the past year, I have been fortunate to be part of a community advisory board (CAB) that has reviewed and selected great presentations for the last three events.

A few months ago, I was honored with being named the Director of Strategy for Software Test Professionals (STP).  I will be involved in building out the future events for this conference, as well as non-conference events that are coming very soon!  I have thoroughly enjoyed all of the conferences that I have been part of over the past couple of years, but there is a special place in my heart for STPCon.

If you are a software tester there is something for you at this conference.  We have tracks for hands on testing, test automation, performance testing, mobile testing, and test management.  Each track is packed full with great topics, great speakers, and a commitment to impress the audiences.

Just take a look at some of the great speakers we have with us in October:

  • James Bach will be giving a keynote on Thursday morning.  But..wait!! There’s MORE!!  James has agreed to spend the day with us at STPCon, conducting four  1-hour sessions across multiple topics.
  • If you’re a fan of test automation, you will not want to miss Jason Huggins, the father of selenium, as well as Elfriede Dustin, who both will be providing keynotes on Wednesday.
  • Workshops take place Monday and Tuesday with the following highlights:
    • The popular test automation track returns with multiple presentations throughout the two days from Joseph Ours, Dave Mamanakis, Benjamin Lamb, Geoff Horne, Ahkil Patel, and Doug Hoffman.
    • STPCon brings back premier speakers to the event once again:
      • Smita Mishra delivers two workshops – her tutorial on “Implementing Business Context to Test Heuristics Model”, and “Who’s Your Data” – a new workshop that covers the topic of Big Data, Enterprise Data Warehouse, and the ETL Process
      • Eric Proegler will give us insights on “Interpreting and Reporting Performance Test Results”
      • Andy Grabner gives us his popular “Applications Performance Clinic”
      • Dawn Haynes returns to STPCon to speak on “10 Things Your Stakeholders Need to Know About Testing (but don’t)”
      • Leonidis Hepis brings back his workshop on “Personality Types: Understanding Ourselves, Understanding Others”
    • I will be presenting my latest topic “Visual Testing: It’s Not What You Look At, It’s What you See” as a workshop on Tuesday.
    • We also introduce new STPCon speakers to the workshops: Johanna Rothman, Mary Thorn, Carsten Feilberg, Ilari Henrik, Ben Kelly, and Robin Goldsmith.
  • One-Hour Sessions take place on Wednesday and Thursday.  There are so many great speakers lined up:
    • James Bach, Paul Grizzaffi, Smita Mishra, Damon Synadinos, Mark Tomlinson, Jim Trentadue, Melissa Tondi, Matthew Eakin, Mary Thorn, Andreas Grabner, Doug Hoffman, Michal Stryjak, Carlo Cadet, James Sivak, Wayne Ariola, Joseph Ours, John Ruberto, Manoj Pahuja, Dave Mamanakis, Justin Rohrman, James Pulley, Bradley Baird, Jessica Ingrassellino, Bob Small, Silvia Siquera, Craig Ayres, Terri Chu, Bill Nicholson, Geoff Horne, Anthony Kless, and Alexander Podelko

You must check out each of the presentations and descriptions at: The STPCon Website .

So what are you waiting for?  Have you signed up yet?  Are you ready to come?

Well… let me give you one more incentive…

If you register with my discount code “STPF15LYLES” you get an extra 10%

Early Bird registration ends in August – maximize your savings and we will see you in Boston!

The Joy of Speaking

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25 - Agile14

I have been speaking at conferences and events for several years now.  But this past week (Aug 4-6, 2015) was an awesome experience.

I was honored to be invited to speak at two conferences during the same week.  At both of the conferences, I shared my topic “Visual Testing: It’s Not What You Look At, It’s What You See”.  In this topic, we reviewed how that our eyes sometimes see something that our brains do not notice.  Many times these things are right in front of your face, yet you don’t see it.  We talked about how the brain works, and how that testers can improve their skills by noticing their “Inattentional Blindness”.

06 - CAST01I started my week in Grand Rapids, Michigan at the CAST 2015 conference.  After speaking there on Wednesday, August 5, I then jumped on a plane and headed to Washington, DC, where I would then speak at the Agile 2015 conference on Thursday, August 6.

If you’re interested in what I was speaking, you can view the slides on slideshare at the following link:

My Visual Testing Slides – at Slideshare

I hope you get a chance to look at pictures that I took from the conference.  They can be found at my Facebook page below:

My Facebook Page – Conference Pictures

Follow my Facebook page at: Mike Lyles Business Facebook Page

Follow me on Twitter at: Mike Lyles on Twitter

Who Needs A Leader?

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How many of you have played the game “follow the leader” as a child?  We gathered as children and we designated just one as the leader and then everyone else was to follow the leader and trust their judgment to not only keep them safe but to also enjoy the game.

Imagine how difficult the game would have been if it had been called “follow each other”. Instead of a single file line behind one person making decisions for the team, you’d have a whole field of kids standing side by side and going in every direction.  It would not be long before the game would bore everyone and a new game would have to be played to keep the attention and excitement of the crowd.

At the time I am writing this article, one of the latest news reports in the United States is around Zappos.  The company has moved to a new organizational structure called Holacracy (www.holacracy.org), in which managers have been removed and the team is empowered to work together.  Zappos CEO, Tony Hseih is quoted as saying, “Think of every employee as a mini entrepreneur.  Which is not really for everybody; some people like to be told the 10 things to do”.  He’s absolutely right.  In fact, it was proven this week as 14% of the staff accepted a buy-out to leave the organization because they didn’t like the new structure.

I’m honestly surprised that it was only 14%, because I would think many of us want to have some direction and guidance.  In fact, even if you’re a CEO, you look for direction from your board members, customers, and supporters.

Why is this structure so difficult for some to deal with?  The reason is that it’s human nature to be led. When we are born, we immediately inherit parents who will guide us, protect us, and teach us how to deal with and survive in the world.

We then go to school, and experience teachers, counsellors, and coaches that provide guidance and direction for our education.  Imagine how we would have learned as children had we gone to school and was told “work together, but we are not going to tell you what to work on, nor are we going to give you homework or exercises to learn”.

As we grow up, we experience sports, and in part of that experience, we notice that there is a coach there to guide the team. I’ve heard the following quote many times through the years: “players win games, but coaches win championships”. We can all play well together.  It’s quite possible that we can even be productive and successful. But to experience true success beyond all opportunities takes having a coach and a leader there to drive toward the goals.

When I examine the holacracy practice, I begin to wonder why some people accept it and some people cannot. Here is what I’m thinking:

The Leaderless

Some people do not want to answer to authority. They feel independent and want to have control over their responsibilities and their outcomes.

The Leader Needers

Some people require that leadership, the push to keep them going. They seek guidance to send them in the right direction and drive them to success. Without it, they would simply sit and wait for the next suggestion or command.

If you’re a believer of the “Leaderless” theory, then you must find the best approach to work collaboratively with your team to ensure the responsibilities are met without someone in the front driving the direction. It is important that everyone understand the roles of the team.

For the “Leader Needers”, if you are the leader in front, you have a great responsibility which can not only affect your life, but the lives of others. I would assume that many people are starving for direction in their successes. If you are focused on winning with the team collaboratively (similar to the leaderless theory) while still driving the decisions and directions of the team, you can be part of something amazing.

For the reality check, It’s very likely that we live in a society where leaders are becoming soft. They are not accepting their position and driving the team aggressively with authority. I challenge the leaders who are not taking the responsibility and either do not want the role (maybe it was given to them against their wishes) or they are not dedicating themselves to being successful.  If you’re in this position, maybe it’s best for you to give someone else a chance to take the reigns of the team. If you’ve ever seen birds flying in a “V” formation, keep in mind that the front bird is hardly ever consistently the same. Sometimes they fall back and let another take the lead for a while. You will earn much more respect by recognizing that a change is needed than to just keep trying with no success.

Which best fits your idea of a high performing team? Could you operate in either? I would like to hear your inputs on which one you would feel most comfortable working within, and the reasons behind your decision.

What is your Legacy?

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PREFACE: I’ve had this blog on my mind all week.  It’s been a while since I have written and I was thinking of this very topic as my first after so long.  I had 90% of this writing complete and saved it as a draft this morning.  As I sat in church today, my pastor began speaking and I realized that his topic today was exactly in line with this very article.  He spoke of realizing  your purpose in life and leaving something to the world long after you are gone.  It’s times like these when I know that the work I do and the writings I share with the world are meant to occur.

Two Most Important DaysThis week I was watching “The Voice” and a song called “See you again” is being performed by Wiz Khalifa. The inspiring words are at the start:

It’s been a long day without you, my friend

And I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again

We’ve come a long way from where we began

Oh, I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again

When I see you again

So many thoughts came to mind as I listen to these words. The one core though that stayed in my mind was how that, so many times in life, the moment is gone before we even realize it was happening.  It reminded me of another phrase that I heard just yesterday once again:

“Life is what happens while we are making plans”

Why are we unable to cherish and enjoy those special times in life to the fullest?  Maybe it’s because the world is getting faster before our eyes. We’ve gone from having computers on our desk and laps to having them in our hands and wearing them on our wrists.  Everything is at a faster pace than ever before in history.

But as I thought about the great people I’ve gotten to spend my life with – especially my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and parents – I’m reminded of what things I remember when I reminisce about the days of the past.  And then I’m reminded of the legacy that was left to me; the lessons I’ve learned; the stories that I have been able to tell; and the experiences that have shaped my life to what it is today.

Then I’m reminded of one of my personal core values that I learned first from Stephen Covey: “To Live, To Love, To Leave a Legacy“.

It may sound crazy, but one of the many things I must ensure that I accomplish in life is to leave a legacy. To be remembered for something.  To stay in the minds of others long after I am gone.

What is your legacy?  What are you hoping to accomplish in this life that you want others to remember you by?  Is it a book? Is it a charity event or effort? Is it helping others in need? Is it a great invention? Is it to help grow your company or organization? Is it to start your own company? Is it to provide a memory to your children and grandchildren of core values and a purpose in life? Or is it something even more large that changes the world forever?

We all have the potential. And we all have the same amount of time every day. Zig Ziglar stated that “We all have 24 hours in a day“. What are you doing with your days to leave your legacy?

I’ve learned that as we grow older new things become more important than others. I’ve learned many of the basic core goals of my life in just the last few years.  I feel confident in telling you that when you realize what your goals, your aspirations, and your legacy encompasses, you will know it with clarity.

I would love to hear from you, reader, and what are your plans for leaving a legacy? Your life is important. Have you found your purpose?  What is your purpose?  How do you want to be remembered?

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