Playoffs? Don’t Talk About Playoffs!!

Jim Mora says "Playoffs?  Don't Talk About Playoffs!"
Jim Mora says “Playoffs? Don’t Talk About Playoffs!”

This weekend the NFL will be featuring the AFC and NFC Championships. Being a football fan, this is an exciting time, knowing that the two winners will be playing in Superbowl XLVII.

However, it’s just not the same when your team is not in the race to NFL World Champions. Having the playoffs without your team in them is like going to the school dance without a date. It’s exciting, fun, and you will have a good time. But it’s better if you have someone there with you that you care about the most!

So let’s talk about my team, the Pittsburgh Steelers. For those of you who don’t know them well, they are the only team in history to have SIX Superbowl wins. They gave us such great memories in the 1970’s and 1980’s. From the “Steel Curtain” to “The Immaculate Reception”, they have been a team to follow.

No, this is not an Emmitt Smith jersey!
No, this is not an Emmitt Smith jersey!

So you may be asking “Mike, you were born, raised, and live in North Carolina. Why are you not a Carolina Panthers fan?”. First of all, when I was growing up, we didn’t have a team. But most importantly, I was raised to be a Steelers fan from the very start. My grandfather, Charlie Lyles, was one of the biggest fans of the Steelers. I spent many Sundays, with my grandfather and dad, watching our team play on TV. Those are memories I will never forget.

Me @ 11 yrs old
Me @ 11 yrs old

Growing up, I didn’t know there was even an opportunity to be a fan of any other team. I watched the Steelers play their many rivals – the Dallas Cowboys and the Cleveland Browns were the two that stood out as the one’s to beat. When these teams were playing us, we would sit glued to the TV, cheering on our team to beat the opponent. My birthday parties were soon themed as Steelers Parties. And all my friends knew who I felt was the best team in the land.

So now I’m much older than I was during those Steelers birthday parties at 11 years old, but the tradition of Black & Yellow still holds. I’ve followed this team for life, and don’t see it changing. I’m a die hard fan, and if you want some evidence, check out a few of my Steelers Notes below:

  • Didn't Know I Used to Play for Steelers?
    Didn’t Know I Used to Play for Steelers?

    In the 90’s, I joined the Steelers Fan Club. The most memorable benefit of this membership was that you were granted one VIP pass to the Steelers training camp in Latrobe, PA. My brother and I packed up and took a trip to the camp, got to stand on the sidelines during practice, meet several of the players, and get autographs. I remember that our air condition broke on the car about fifteen minutes into the trip and we spent the rest of the trip in the heat, but I will never forget that trip with my brother

  • In 2002, I had the privilege to attend my first AFC Championship game. The Steelers were highly favored to win over the visiting New England Patriots. I remember it was uncharacteristically warm that day – when Pittsburgh saw weather in the 30’s in January, this game was played with the temperature in the high 50’s. The game didn’t go in the Steelers favor, and the Patriots went on to win one of many superbowls in the early 2000’s. (this is when I added the Patriots to my list of rival teams which I could never support).
  • My Son's First Steelers Game @ 7 Months Old
    My Son’s First Steelers Game @ 7 Months Old

    In 2003, my son, Wynston, was born, and in August 2003, the Steelers were visiting the Carolina Panthers. So my young son, at the time 7 months, got to experience his first Steelers game, in a full Steelers outfit, complete with a Steelers bib and bottle. Someday he can blog that his love of Steelers started at birth just like mine.

  • It's Only Weird If It Doesn't Work!
    It’s Only Weird If It Doesn’t Work!

    I have a t-shirt, which says “It’s Not Just Football, It’s Steelers Football”. This old t-shirt gets washed in the offseason. Then, when the season starts, I wear it every game, and then hang it up, unwashed, until the next game. I’ve worn it to live games and at home, and I’ve came to believe that it helps them to win. It’s a crazy superstition, but as the commercial says “its only weird if it doesn’t work”. I also have one of the famous Steeler “Terrible Towels”, a small square yellow towel, that has never ever been washed, and I carry it with me for every game. It’s traveled to many live games, and if it were ever lost, I don’t think the Steelers could ever win again.

  • In January 2011, during the playoffs, I watched as the New York Jets defeated the New England Patriots, making the Steelers the host of the AFC Championship game. I called up my friend, John, and we bought two tickets, drove to Pittsburgh, and prepared for the game. It was 9 degrees on the field that night, but the game was one to remember, as the Steelers defeated the Jets and moved on to the Superbowl. Unfortunately, they were beaten by the Green Bay Packers that year.

So, as you can see, it’s hard for me to watch the playoffs this year without my team there to cheer on. And two teams who always battle hard with the Steelers (the Baltimore Ravens and the New England Patriots) play on Sunday. Who do I pull for in this game? Can I vote for both to lose? I guess not.

With that said, the playoffs these year have been so exciting so far. Close games, double overtime, and historical plays. We can only hope that this continues to happen in the AFC Championship and NFC Championship games as well as the Superbowl. But in the back of my mind, I’ll always wonder ‘what if the Steelers could have made it to the playoffs’. But unfortunately, we’ll never know.

Whoever your favorite team may be, if they are playing this weekend, I wish you the best of luck. For all of the fantasy football fans out there,  I leave you with my predictions – not sure it’s worth much since I predicted at the start of the season that the Steelers would win the Superbowl – but here they are:

  • AFC Championship Game – Baltimore Ravens 35, New England Patriots 31
  • NFC Championship Game – San Francisco 49’ers 27, Atlanta Falcons 17
  • SuperBowl XLVII – San Francisco 49’ers 24, Baltimore Ravens 21 (in Overtime)
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10 Things Your Body Is Telling You

You can run, but you can’t hide. Whether you like it or not, your body is always with you everywhere you go. And now is the time to start listening to what it’s saying. Below are ten things that you should notice:

Arm1. When you wake up remind yourself “ARM going to make a difference today”

Every day is a new day. What you have done in your past has already accomplished what it set out to achieve. The only potential you have is to plan today for what you will do in order to make a difference in your life, your career, and the lives of others. Start each day by telling yourself you are going to do at least one thing to make a difference!

Toe2. Don’t let them say – I TOE’d you so

If we could take a poll across the world on how many people are positive all the time, how many are negative all the time, and how many are influenced by every minute of their lives in deciding which they will be, the numbers would be surprising for sure. If someone is giving you advice, analyze the advice and determine if it is a reasonable suggestion. Too many times our own egos tells us that we know better than everyone else. We live in a world full of people with many ideas. We can’t have all the right ones. Sometimes the best ideas in our lives come from those around us. Some of my best blogs have been suggestions or discussions I’ve had with other people. Never discredit the value of people in your life. And never let yourself fail in front of those who have suggested you the way to succeed.

Ear3. Let the whole world EAR your “Voice”

The world wants to hear what you have to say. Let your voice be heard. You have a very short time in this life to make a difference, and there are so many opportunities for you to change not only your life for better, but the lives of others. While there is a time to be heard, there’s a time to be quiet. Sometimes the best things are said when you say nothing at all. Examine your situations and your life, and determine if this is the time to be heard, or simply a time to listen and be quiet.

Groucho Nose4. No one NOSE your potential better than you

One of my favorite quotes among many I have read in the past has been “You can get by on charm for a season – but eventually you have to know something”. Everyone knows people that have more charm than potential. We also know that “perception is reality”. Sometimes it is not about how good you are, but more about how people perceive you. Your goal should always be to present yourself as confident and sincere in your abilities. No one truly knows what all you can accomplish other than you. And chances are very good that you are not performing at the level you truly CAN. Look for ways to improve every day. Ask yourself “What one thing can I do today to be a little better than yesterday?”

Knee5. Look around you for others who desperately KNEE’d your support

There’s a reason we have so many support groups, online support, customer service organizations, discussion websites, and social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. People need each other. The question you have to ask yourself is “who needs my help?”. Because there is always something you can do to support others. One thing to remember is that if a poll was taken, it would surely show that some of the best support anyone has ever given has been just to listen to the other person. Sometimes people need someone to hear what is going on and not to be given advice. Who needs you today?

Leg6. LEG go of the things that are holding you back

It’s much easier to climb a mountain when you don’t have to carry a ton of things. Don’t let your past, your circumstances, and others in your life keep you from climbing to where you want to be. Take a hard look at the things you do every day, and ask yourself if everything you are doing is important and helping you to get where you want to be. If not, then start stripping these things from your life and strengthen your focus on efficiency and doing only those things that are important.

Eye7. Keep telling yourself “EYE can do anything if I only try”

I wrote a blog recently on the 5 reasons you should stop chasing your dreams. It detailed all the many things you or others will tell yourself to keep you from doing something you are passionate about. You truly can do anything if you examine what needs to be done in order to achieve it. Don’t let the negative comments, support, and feelings get you down. Rise above it and chase your dreams!

Neck8. Don’t let failure stop you – NECKS time you will be better

When you look at many great people through time, you will find they didn’t succeed on their first attempt. I read somewhere just recently that the more you fail the more you will succeed. This is because failure should be a stepping stone for you to determine what went wrong and how to correct it. Don’t let your hopes be destroyed by a failed dream. Put it behind you and try again. Falling down is okay. If you don’t stand back up, this becomes an issue.

Back9. You will never reach your dreams if you keep looking BACK.

Zig Ziglar once said “Yesterday ended last night”. Such a powerful statement and it’s so accurate. Regardless of what has happened in your past, you only have the opportunity to change today forward. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Focus on the future.

Heart10. Follow your HEART – it knows where you need to be!

Our minds are working overtime every day. We think about so many options, opportunities, things we could have done better, and we approach so many crossroads where a decision has to be made on which direction to take. When you reach these crossroads, you obviously should think logically about your options, but always follow your heart. Search yourself for the true path that you need to take. Your mind should never overrule the heart. Write down your options, look at them, and ask yourself which one means the most to you, and which one you truly feel, deep down, will be the best one to take.

Listen to your body. The advice is priceless and will make you a better person in the long run!

Stand Out in the Crowd

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Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, I feel everyone wants to be appreciated and remembered for something.

I spent this morning realizing that we have an endless web of resources at our fingertips, thanks to the internet, for improving ourselves, learning how to be a better leader, coworker, employee, family member, or friend. And most importantly, I have accepted the fact that I will never be able to read everything I would like before my time on the Earth is over.

But that should never stop us from trying. Today is the day that you can get started – find an interesting article, and then build on it. The thing I realized today was that if you find a great article or posting, there is almost another one sitting right there on the same site for you to go even further into this ‘web of knowledge’. And what I find is that one site will give me multiple other sites to go, and in turn, those sites will provide links to other sites, and soon you will find yourself in the middle of dozens and dozens of interesting readings that will help you to improve in your own personal life.

First of all, I want to be part of that web. When folks start digging deep into great articles and things that change their lives – whether short term or long term – I want to be remembered as one of their stops along the way to self improvement. And I won’t stop until I do just that!

So for today, I wanted to share with you a great article I just read on Inc.com from Jeff Haden below:

10 Things Extraordinary People Say Every Day

To summarize the 10 things that extraordinary people say – they are:
1. Here’s what i’m thinking
2. I was wrong
3. That was awesome
4. You’re welcome
5. Can you help me
6. I’m sorry
7. Can you show me?
8. Let me give you a hand
9. I love you
10. Nothing. (there are times this is the best thing to say….nothing!)

What you will find from this site is that Jeff, as well as others, have so many other links with similar topics.

Start today improving yourself — even if you only have a few minutes per day – everything you do every day is taking you one step closer to being a better you!

Enjoy the journey.

Ask The Tester – January 2013

In November 2011, I was fortunate to meet someone who would change my writing and speaking career forever.  Matt Heusser was writing a column called “Ask The Tester” for ST&QA Magazine – a magazine that so many testing professionals follow.  Matt wanted to interview me for his column.  We worked together, and I was fortunate to be featured in the March 2012 edition.

After a wonderful 2012, writing articles for the magazine and speaking for their conference (STP Con) in October, 2012, I was asked by Matt to take over the article in 2013.  What an honor and a privilege.

So now comes the part where I need your help.  If you’re a test practitioner, leader, or simply have testing related questions for my January 2013 candidate, please submit a comment to this blog and I will review the top 10 comments with our candidate.  If selected, your question will be published in our January 2013 article of ST&QA Magazine (you can view the latest online copy at www.softwaretestpro.com)

I plan to pull together all questions by early next week (Jan 7, 2013-Jan 9, 2013) – so submit your comment / question as soon as possible and increase your chances of being part of our article!!  So let me tell you a little about John……

Meet John Ruberto

When it comes to financial software, Intuit is one of the leaders in the space.  From TurboTax to QuickBooks and others, each have been a part of our lives for many years.  They offer financial products that assist consumers and companies with taxes, finances, bookkeeping, accounting, payroll, and many other features.

I introduce to you John Ruberto from Intuit.  Their team assists with functional testing, performance testing, as well as automation.  John has been developing software in a variety of roles for over 25 years. Currently, he is the Quality Leader for QuickBooks Online, a web application that helps small business owners manage their finances.   Before joining Intuit, John was the test manager for element and network management systems at Alcatel-Lucent. He has also held development manager roles for Phoenix Technologies, and was a software engineer for Boeing.

For the past 13 years, John has held test & quality leadership roles. As such, he is known for career development for quality professionals, quality strategy, and bringing innovation to testing organizations.

If you have a question, please submit as a comment to this blog, and provide the following:

      • Your Name
      • Your Title
      • Your Company (if applicable)
      • Your Geographic Location

Thanks in advance for your questions everyone!