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”.

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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!

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

 

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!

Just Start It!!

In 1988, Nike launched an ad campaign which would become a common phrase used by the world for many years, even still today.  The slogan was “Just Do It!“.  Likely one of the most famous slogans by any company, everyone in the world would think of them when this statement was made.

Today, I want to discuss a similar but different term….”Just Start It!“.

I realized this while listening to someone at work talk about how we need to get a strategy in place, to build out our plan, and what steps we would take to get from point A to point B and to the final outcome.  And someone made the statement, “Just get started – we’re wasting time”.

Then it hit me.  It’s been said many times that Good is the Enemy of Great.  We put off things today because we feel we don’t have the time to do it perfect.  We delay for days, weeks, months, maybe even years,  beginning something that we could simply just start now.

From a personal standpoint, I’m guilty as well.  I have known for years that I wanted to begin writing, coaching, mentoring, and teaching others about leadership, management, setting personal goals, and personal & career growth.  But I kept taking notes, writing in a journal all the things I could eventually someday put into a book.  Everyone that knows me knew that I continuously stated “I will write a book someday”.  However, nothing was ever produced other than incomplete goals and dreams.  But I have now been interviewed and published in a magazine, I am going to be a speaker at a Testing Conference in October, and I have started a blog, right here on WordPress, which I hope will continue to move me to the goals I have set for myself.

What I have found from a personal standpoint, is that it’s so easy to procrastinate.  I read a quote somewhere once that said “It’s amazing how much you can accomplish when you are NOT working on what you supposed to be doing”.  This is so true.  Many of us will complete dozens of things unrelated to the truly important work that needs to be in progress.  Stephen Covey notes in “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” that you have to focus on working on what is IMPORTANT and less on what is URGENT.  Obviously, we have to get the URGENT + IMPORTANT work out of the way, but many times we focus on the things that are either URGENT + NOT IMPORTANT or NOT URGENT + NOT IMPORTANT and we fail to ever move to the true goals and aspirations for our lives.

My challenge to you, reader, is to get started TODAY.  Most everyone has something they have wanted to accomplish.  Something they feel is important for their lives, their career, their future.  But it sits on the shelf and we think about it often but never take action.  Stop waiting for that perfect opportunity to align, and get started on the little things that can move you step by step toward your ultimate goal.  It’s been said “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”.  Begin taking those steps.

With that said, I’m a realist and I’m also a logical thinker.  “Just Start It” doesn’t apply to every single thing in the world.  For instance, if your goal is to be an airplane pilot, you obviously would not just jump on a plane, take the cockpit, and start flying.  It would be disastrous.  It would require you to take the training, learn the process, and then begin flying a plane.  But even in this example, the first steps – taking the courses, getting instruction, learning the controls, educating yourself on aeronautics, is a simple way you can “Just Start It”.

I have applied this theory in my work.  I have, more often than not, put off things which I felt I needed more time to perfect and prepare, and I have found myself cramming to get everything done with much less time.  WIth this new theory, I see such progress in the way I deliver, and the way I start with simple steps, modify, update, perfect, and reapply, and it is amazing how much more productive I have found myself now.

So get out there – take your first steps – people will notice.  It’s better to show that you have work in progress and that you have something to show things are moving, than it is to say “I’m working on the plan”, or “I have it all in my head – just need to put it on paper”, or “I need to meet with the team and come up with our approach”, or “I’m waiting on person-X to get back to me before I start”.

Just Start It!  The worst that could happen is that you have to stop and restart it.  But I challenge you to try this theory and see how it works for you!

Seek First to Remember, Then to Never Be Forgotten

Early in my career, I became obsessed with personal growth and building my career beyond the limits. I was determined to have no regrets in retirement, never to look back across my legacy, and feel that I had failed to accomplish every goal and objective in my life.

I began looking for that perfect book, that perfect mentor, something to help guide me along the way, coach me to be better each day, to stretch beyond my limits and be different from all those around me. What i found was “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey. What I didn’t realize was the tremendous power of the teaching of this great leader. Little did I realize the impact this would make on my life, my career growth, and how I not only set my goals and objectives, but also how that I coached and mentored those who worked with me to grow in their own careers and personal development.

Today I was saddened to hear that we lost Mr. Covey at the age of 79. He left us with not only this wonderful book which sold over 20 million copies in 30 countries, but many other books on leadership and management principles. While his book gave step by step details on how to live and practice the seven habits, simply reading them can give you insight to the simple steps to personal development. I want to share those 7 habits below for the readers:

Independence or Self-Mastery

  • 1. Be Proactive
  • 2. Begin with the End in Mind
  • 3. Put First Things First

Interdependence

  • 4. Think Win Win
  • 5. Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood
  • 6. Synergize

Self Renewal

  • 7. Sharpen the Saw

Throughout my career, I have quoted this great man to peers, managers, subordinates and friends. I have read the Seven Habits more times than I can count. And every time I do, I learn something new each time. Some of the most memorable quotes are listed below:

  • “Effective leadership is putting first things first. Effective management is discipline, carrying it out”
  • “Live out your imagination, not your history”
  • “Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall”
  • “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities”
  • “Most of us spend too much time on what is URGENT and not enough time on what is IMPORTANT”
  • “The way we see the problem is the problem”
  • “Strength lies in DIFFERENCES not in SIMILARITIES”
  • “…to learn and not to do is really not to learn. To know and not to do is really not to know”
  • “When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective”
  • “Two people can see the same thing, disagree, and yet both be right. It’s not logical, it’s psychological”
  • “Happiness, like unhappiness, is a proactive choice”
  • “People can’t live with change if there’s not a changeless core inside them”

I owe the motivation to become a writer, a motivational leader, a mentor, a coach, and someone that others looked to for support to this great leader, Mr. Covey. His teachings and guidance helped shape so many aspects of my career, personal growth, and leadership principles.

I urge you, readers, to read the works of this great author and leader. While he has left us, one thing he always said in his teachings was that his desire was “..To Live, To Love, and to Leave a Legacy”.

Stephen, you have left a legacy. You will be missed.

DWYSYWD

Back in 1994, I worked in tech support for year. What an enlightening time. You realize something very early in a tech support role – and that is there are people who know exactly what they are doing, and just need some help, and there are people who have no idea whats going on technically and need a friend to help them resolve their problem.

Our team used a term to describe those who had no clue technically — PICNIC. Which stood for “Problem In Chair, Not In Computer”. It was always comical when someone from the team would say “we have a picnic here….”

Today, I want to discuss a new acronym. One that I recently learned and has changed the way I work from day to day. This term is DWYSYWD (“Do What You Said You Would Do”).

Now I’ve read hundreds of leadership books, motivational materials, time management books, and listened to dozens and dozens of self help, management, and leadership audios. I’ve subscribed to everything that Stephen Covey and John C. Maxwell writes. I especially liked a book by Jeffrey Fox, entitled “How to Become CEO”. What an awesome book that is a quick read, and if you have not read it yet, i encourage you to do so.

But let’s talk about DWYSYWD. How many times in a given day do you make a committment to someone casually, and both of you know that this will never happen? How many times have you said “I’ll look into this today and get you an answer on Friday”, or “you have my word, I’ll give you a call on Wednesday and we’ll work this out”. I’m sure each of you have done this. And I would also be willing to bet that you had every intention to meet that committment.

The problem is that we make so many unwritten commitments every day, that we simply forget some of them. And then we find ourselves on committment Friday standing in front of the person we have made the committment to hearing them ask “so have you got something for me?” and you slap your face and say “oh my gosh! I knew I should have written this down”.

I have one simple suggestion – and I hope that it changes your life like it has mine. Write it down. Write down the committment you have made, the moment you have made it, who you made the committment to, the date you made the committment, and the date you committed to deliver. Then monitor and track this list to ensure you complete the task on time. You may be saying “that works well for my big commitments”, but I challenge this by saying that you should do it for everything. Why keep these commitments in your head. Each of us have too many things going on day after day to retain any of our commitments in our minds.

While this simple process will give you personal freedom and control, the effects of this disciplined approach will reach far beyond your own personal benefit.

Once people see that you are someone who always meets a committment, someone who never forgets a promise, they will gain astounding respect for you and will see you as someone they can count on always to deliver. You will also find that they will feel obligated to reciprocate the same level of committment and dedication to you.

If you are a manager or responsible for people’s careers, you will find that this is a great way to gain respect and support from your team and peers. When you consistently deliver on your commitments, they will feel empowered to meet their commitments to you as well.

You may be saying “I have kept a list for years, I have managed my ‘to-do’ lists always”. This is NOT the same. While keeping a list is a great discipline, you never have full control until you document if this is a committment to someone, and a planned delivery date for that committment. I can tell you from experience, that I too kept a list for dozens of years. I always work from one. But until just recently, I didn’t always keep the person expecting me to deliver or the committment date, and I have seen this new discipline make me extremely focused on delivering and building the trust of those around me.

I solicit your inputs on processes that you have used in your personal lives to manage your commitments as well, and I especially solicit your feedback and replies for anyone who tries this and finds it helpful!!