Hey Joe!

You

My brother is well known for a silly joke that he told for years…..

Let me set the scene for you.  There is a guy and girl sitting in the lower level seats at a sporting event.  People are everywhere.  The two are talking, having a great time, enjoying some nachos and cheese, and taking in the event.

All of a sudden, a guy several rows behind them yells “HEY JOE!!!!”.  The guy stops talking, looks to his left, as far as he can see.  Then he turns to this right, looking and looking.  Turns back and starts talking to the girl again.

A minute or so later – same thing…..”Hey Joe!!!!!’  same situation….

A minute or so later – same thing…..”Hey Joe!!!!!’  same situation….by this time the guy is getting frustrated.  He has stopped talking three times now, looked around, and tried to see who is yelling.

A minute or so later – same thing…..”Hey Joe!!!!!

The guy turns to the girl – with an angry look on his face – hands her the nachos and says “hold these for a minute!” and stands up turns toward the back of the ground and yells “MY NAME IS NOT JOE!!!!

My brother used to tell this “joke” everywhere he went.  It was not uncommon for someone in my family to say “HEY JOE” to my brother at family events, and he would turn around and say “MY NAME’S NOT JOE!!”. It is something that will stick with my brother for the rest of his life, I’m sure.

Whether you laugh at this ridiculously corny joke or not, there is a story to be told.

In his book, “The Purpose Driven Life”, Rick Warren opens with four simple words…..”Its not about you”.  And there could be no more true statement.  The young man in my joke was sitting in a whole crowd of people.  As you are listening to the joke, I’m sure you were thinking that this guy’s name would be “Joe”.  Why would you not?  He kept looking everytime the guy yelled “Hey Joe!!”.  But the punchline tells us the story.  A story about a young man who assumed that everyone was talking to him, and that surely this guy must be talking to him but have the wrong name.

Now I don’t think any of you would do this at an event.  If you or I heard someone yelling “Hey Joe!!”, we would just assume that this person was not calling for us (unless, of course, your name is Joe).  But thing I want you to think about today is beyond this story.  Are you living in a world where you think it’s all about you?

I’ll be honest….our society has evolved to the “me” concept.  As much as I love Apple products, they put “I” in front of each of them (iPhone, iPad, iTunes, etc).  We didn’t even have “selfies” until just recently.  But now everyone is posting pictures of themselves on social media everywhere.  Don’t get me wrong, everyone does it.  And if you’re a selfie fan, it doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong, or that you’re not a good person.  It’s just an observation of how our society has changed.

I remember growing up – it WAS about me.  I had to study to pass my classes, I had to decide what I wanted to study in college.  I had to take that job so that I could pay for my expenses in college.  I had to search and find that first job after I graduated, and I had to take care of myself.

But today I’m here to share with you 3 times that I realized it was not about me:

  • The first time I realized it was not about me, was when my son was born.  The delivery was difficult, and the doctors decided to do an emergency C-section to bring him into the world.  When he arrived, they handed him to me, and went back to taking care of his mom.  I remember that day very well.  The way he looked at me, as if to say “Are you the dude that is going to take care of me?”.  They say when you become a parent you finally realize unconditional love.  That was true for me.  And that was the day I knew I had to take care of myself, my health, my finances, and everything else, so that I could also take care of him.  It no longer was about me.  I was about me and him.

 

  • The second time I realized it was not about me was when I became a manager:  In 6th grade, I took a test on an Apple II/e computer and got my “computer certification” in elementary school.  I remember going home and telling my mom, “I’m going to be a programmer and I’m going to do that all of my life!!”.  Well, the first part was true.  I went to school to be a programmer, I got a job as developer, and I loved it.  But the true passion in my career came when I became a manager, and it was no longer about me.  The situation was very similar to having that first child.  I was now responsible for a “team” and not just myself.  My decisions would affect them just as much as me.  It was no longer about me at work, I was about the team.

 

  • The third time I realized it was not about me was when I became a speaker:  We love meetings in the office.  I participated in many meetings.  I even led many of them.  I had given advice and guidance, but in 2012, I realized a new passion that would change my future forever.  I was asked to speak at a conference on software testing.  Halfway through my 2 hour session, I started to notice something.  People actually “WANTED” to hear me talk.  They were listening to every word, and they were asking questions.  They were involved.  It felt like that moment, years before, when my son was looking at me on his “Day 1” – as if to say “are you going to take care of us?”.  I have made sure that along the way, as I speak more at conferences and events, I try to give each and every attendee something to take away with them that they can never forget.  It is no longer about me.  It is now about EVERYONE.

I leave you with this challenge.  Who do you meet often that you could make a difference in their lives?  What can you do today to build those relationships and make a difference in someone’s life, career, or future?

But wherever you go…whatever you do…never forget, “It’s not about you”.

Advertisements

How Do You Want To Be Remembered?

Cam Newton Peyton Manning

How many of you watched Super Bowl 50 this year?  For those that know me, I am a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, so I didn’t have a favorite team. To me, I was just watching the game for the love of the sport.

When the day started on Superbowl Sunday, I did not expect to learn a valuable leadership lesson from the whole event. But I did.

Two things happened on this day. And both involved interviews with the QB from each of the two teams that were playing in the Superbowl. If you’re not a football fan, the QB is the leader of the team on the field. They understand the plan for the game, and they work with the coaches to define the plays that they are going to execute in the attempt to win the game.

The first thing that I encountered was a pre-game interview with the Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning.

If you don’t know this great QB, he has the most records in football than any other in that position – just a few of the records he holds are:

  • Most TD = 539
  • Single season TD record: 55
  • Most passing yards – season:  5,477
  • Most games 300+ yds:  86
  • Most passing TD in a single game:  7
  • Most games with a passing rating higher than 105:    92
  • Most games with a perfect passer rating of 158.3:    5
  • Most seasons with 350+ completions: 9
  • Most games completing 80-percent passing: 16
  • Highest completion percentage in a postseason game with 450+ yards: 81.8
  • Highest yards-per-game, season: 342.31
  • Most seasons passing for 4,000+ yards: 14
  • Most consecutive seasons with 25+ touchdowns: 16
  • One of two quarterbacks to ever beat all 32 teams
  • First quarterback to beat 31 franchises: 2007
  • Most Games Won by a QB: tied going into the Super Bowl and got it with the win

When you see someone like this be so successful, it’s hard to believe that a person with this much success could be humble and respectful. But in this case, Peyton is one of those great players that fans of other teams hated to love. Football fans like me show their support for their team by despising the great players and star players from the other teams. But in the case of Peyton, he’s one of those players that everyone respects, regardless of their selection of a favorite team.

PeytonInterviewIn a pre-game interview, Peyton was asked the following::

What would be the legacy that Peyton Manning wants to leave behind?

His answer was inspirational:

Two of the most important things to me would be that my teammates said that I was a great teammate. That’s important to me. And, I think, the coaches that I played with and I played against would say that they respected me. That would be important to me.

That’s something that my dad always told me to strive for. Earn the respect of your teammates. Earn the respect of the coaches that you played for and that you played against. So that would be the most important thing to me from a football standpoint. I’ve worked hard for that and I hope that I can maintain that and keep that in tact.

CamInterviewOn the other team was our star Carolina QB, Cam Newton. He’s young, he’s fresh, he’s excited about football, and he has been quoted as saying that football has always been his life. While some players saw football as something they did, Cam saw football as something he ‘was’.

After the Superbowl, the media flocked to both teams. They wanted to cover the responses by both the winning and losing teams. As Cam sat in the interview, he was visibly sad, depressed, and low. When asked questions about the game he responded with:

 

  • We got out played
  • They just played better than us
  • They made better plays than us – and that’s what it came down to
  • We had opportunities – and we gave the game up
  • It wasn’t anything special that the other team did
  • They scored more points than us

His interview lasted only a little more than 2 minutes. Many were upset at him for how he behaved. Many were angry that he would not sit there and take the questions and give the fans (his customers) what they wanted.

I’ll be honest, my first reaction was disappointment in his behavior. How many of us get to walk out of our job when things are not going well? Have you been in a meeting where you are the center of the discussion, things were not going well that day, and you stand up, walk out without saying anything, and go home? Probably not. Yet this is the job of the players in football, and one of their stars did this very thing.

I then began to look back to the other QB, Peyton. I recalled many big games in which he lost, where he would give the media and his fans as much time as they wanted in the interviews after a game in which he lost. A few years ago, Peyton was in the Superbowl and he lost to another team, and this very thing happened.

But the story behind all of this is as follows – it took maturity and learning for a veteran like Petyon to handle the pressure, disappointment, and impact of losing a big game. Cam will learn from this loss. And hopefully he will be prepared for the interviews in the event he loses another big game.

How can we apply this to our own lives as leaders in our professional and personal lives? What is the lesson to be learned here?

The FIRST lesson is simple…

Great leaders are not defined by how they behave when things are going great. They are defined by how they handle situations when they are NOT so great.

Cam was well known for his celebrations during the game and the leadership he exhibited with a team that seemed unstoppable throughout this past year. He was always smiling, driving, motivating and giving direction to his teammates.

But when facing a team that came prepared with a strong defense that would shut down the aggressive attack of the Panthers, Cam was unable to handle it.

How many of you have had a ‘bad day’ at work in the last month? If you’re a leader, it’s so hard to keep your head up, and to motivate your team, your peers, and to keep pressing forward. But I challenge you today to keep going. There will be times when you are the only thing that will motivate someone else on your team. And being a leader is a big responsibility. But you can do it!

The SECOND lesson is about servant-leadership….

Servant leadership is an unselfish approach to leading others, giving direction, and being part of their success.

If you look at the statistics of this Superbowl, you will find that Peyton Manning did not have one of his STELLAR performances. While he holds almost every record you can imagine for a QB, it was not his performance that won the game.

It was the performance of his team as a whole. The performance of the defense that broke down the attack of the Panthers. And the performance of the players around Peyton that supported him and took his direction with unconditional trust.

You don’t have to be the star of the team. You don’t have to be the one making all of the big plays and doing all of the great work. But if you want to be a strong leader, you will find a way to drive your team with MOTIVATION, ENCOURAGEMENT, MENTORING, SUPPORT, and RESPECT.

It’s amazing how we can learn something about leadership in almost everything we do, everywhere we go, and everything we see or hear in the world. My challenge to each of you is to let LIFE teach you how to grow and become a great leader. Look around you, enjoy the times you have, and seek to find a story, an example, and a lesson from what you are experiencing.

And if you do that…you just might get that interview at the end of your career…where you can say “I am respected by my peers, my teammates, my manager, and managers on other teams”.

I wish you the best!

Questions for Keynote Panel: I Need Your Inputs!

Calling all software testing and IT professionals.  I need your inputs and questions that I will ask at the next STPCon software testing conference in San Francisco, CA from April 4 to 7, 2016.

I am going to be moderating a keynote panel with three well known names in software testing, and we will be taking questions from this blog, other social networks, and the audience at the conference.

Please take a look at the members of our panel, think of your question(s), and please submit your questions as comments to this blog post.  I appreciate, in advance, any questions you submit, and I promise to try to ask them to our panel when we are live on Thursday, April 7, 2016.

One last note before I introduce you to the panelists.  I hope that you not only submit a question, but you also plan to attend.  You can see all of the conference sessions, workshops, and keynotes at the official site for STPCon at this link:  STPCon Official Site .

Now let’s meet the panelists.  I will give you their biography and then share with you some additional information that I know about each of them:

Panelist #1:  Smita Mishra

Smita Mishra
Smita Mishra

Bio: Smita Mishra is the Founder of PoolWallet – an online expense sharing app and is the CEO and Chief Test Consultant at QAzone Infosystems, which is a software testing organization. She enjoys problem solving.  She supports her customers in identifying the risks their applications are carrying and / or passing on further to their end customers, through carefully crafted skills of product development and software testing. She also engages with different forums to assist growth for women in her field and otherwise too.

Smita will speak to the advances in the testing practice, where we are going with outsourcing and services, the changes for women in testing, and how organizations must realize the need for setting the context for strategic growth.

Additional Information: Smita is a well known testing professional across the globe.  She has a great following.  She has led multiple testing meetups, and recently held a major conference in India, called ThinkTest, where the conference sold out and was overbooked, and included James Bach as the headliner speaker.  She was honored with an invite to be part of an expert panel for a Sheroes conference (Sheroes Website) where she spoke about her new product (PoolWallet – PoolWallet Website), women in technology, and work-life balance.

 

Panelist #2: Dave Haeffner

Dave Haeffner
Dave Haeffner

Bio: Dave Haeffner is the writer of Elemental Selenium (elementalselenium.com), a free, weekly Selenium tip newsletter read by thousands of testing professionals. Dave is also is the creator and maintainer of ChemistryKit (https://github.com/chemistrykit/chemistrykit) an open-source Selenium framework, and the-internet (https://github.com/tourdedave/the-internet) an open-source web application that’s used to help teach test automation. He’s also the author of The Selenium Guidebook (seleniumguidebook.com) — a concise guide that will teach you how to use Selenium successfully. He’s helped numerous companies implement automated acceptance testing including The Motley Fool, ManTech International, Sittercity, and Animoto. He’s also a founder/co-organizer of the Selenium Hangout (an entirely online Selenium meetup), Selenium Conf (the annual conference put on by the Selenium project), and frequently speaks about automated acceptance testing at conferences and meet-ups around the world.

Dave will speak to the advances in tools used for testing, how we have grown in the testing practice, our constraints and our opportunities, and how testing is complemented by the complex growth in tools to support the testing practice.

Additional Information: Dave has established his name to be synonymous with Selenium for several years now.  His expert trainings and books have changed the way Selenium is used across the globe.  He consistently looks for new ways to leverage the tool and to use automation to increase the success of organizations.

Panelist #3: Damian Synadinos

Damian Synadinos
Damian Synadinos

Bio: Damian Synadinos started testing software—on purpose and for money—in 1993. Since then, he has helped build better software and build software better using various methods and tools in numerous roles at many companies in diverse industries. During the past ten years, Damian has focused primarily on teaching and leading testers and improving processes. Currently, he is the enterprise quality lead of metrics and reporting at a large Midwestern bank, helping to answer questions and tell stories about quality with data. In addition to testing, Damian enjoys improv, golf, poker, gaming, acting, cartooning, and spending time with his family.

Damian will speak to leadership and mentoring of testers in today’s world, how we define measurement and metrics to accurately represent our progress and success, and how to work collaboratively with our stakeholders and partners.

Additional Information: Damian will surprise you with his acting and improvisational experience.  When you hear him talk, its like watching a performance.  He is engaging with the audience, and it is his belief that this is how you engage not only with audiences, but with your team.  He has extensive knowledge in leading teams, and coaching others and his experience with metrics and measurement is extremely exciting to learn.

Thank you so much for your participation and I look forward to seeing your questions for this great team!

PLEASE SUBMIT YOUR QUESTIONS AS COMMENTS BELOW…

My Interview with Testing Circus

TestingCircus-Dec2015Through the many years of my career, I have been honored with requests for interviews, articles, and speaking engagements.

In December 2015, I was asked for an interview by Testing Circus.  So many great things have happened throughout my life, and I feel this interview captures not only my work within software testing, but also gives the reader some background on things that have happened to me along the way.  It also gives some insights and suggestions that I have on leadership, interviewing, growing leaders for the future, and many other great topics.

I hope that you get a chance to read it.  You can check it out at the following link:

Testing Circus Magazine – December 2015 – Interview with Mike Lyles

 

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!

The Best STPCon Ever Is Coming!

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!

Who Needs A Leader?

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.