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Archive for March, 2012

GAMES WE PLAYED AS KIDS

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 29, 2012

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, click HERE.

It’s interesting what you can learn just sitting on a park bench. Not long ago, I was down at Crystal Beach, a local park and pier on the Gulf of Mexico where I was enjoying some Florida sunshine and waiting for the sunset when I happened to overhear some kids who were bored and looking for something to do. In the course of the conversation they talked about their favorite games; they mentioned: “Call of Duty,” “Batman: Arkham City,” and “Portal 2.” Only then did I realize they were talking about computer video games and got me thinking about the games I played as a child growing up in Connecticut.

Back then, the emphasis was to get out of the house and get some fresh air. We were fortunate to live in a wooded countryside with a stream running through our backyards in the community. We spent a lot of time swimming and fishing in the stream, where we mostly caught brook trout. The only organized sport we played back then was Little League baseball, but it seemed we were always playing a pickup game regardless where we were.

We drove our bicycles everywhere; to school, to the baseball fields, and to the store. One of our favorite endeavors was to canvas the neighborhood to collect used soft drink bottles and take them to the grocery store where we turned them in for the deposit (two cents for a regular bottle, three cents or a nickle for a quart bottle). We would then take the money and play a round of putt-putt golf at a nearby range, and stop off at a country store to buy penny candy; e.g., root beer barrels, paper strips of dots, rock candy, jaw breakers, pixie straws, wax candy, licorice sticks, and a myriad of other delicacies.

Living in a wooded setting, one of our favorite games was Hide and Seek, and we all learned some rather devious places to hide. So much so, it would take a couple of hours to play just a handful of games. We would also play Tag, Red Rover, and Red Light/Green Light. Our fathers tried to teach us “Buck Buck” (aka “Johnny on the Pony”) but this never really caught on with us.

One time, the neighborhood was planning a Clam Bake party and the adults were all charged with various responsibilities, be it preparations, cooking, dessert, entertainment, cleanup or whatever. The father next door was charged with keeping the kids out of everyone’s hair so the adults could do their jobs. To do so, he devised a scavenger hunt whereby he placed clues all over the neighborhood, at certain landmarks in the woods, and at our school. He broke us up into teams to make it competitive. The hunt began in the morning from a massive boulder in his backyard. After he explained the rules, he turned us loose where we had to find the carefully hidden clues and and decipher them which was rather devilish as I recall. This went on for several hours until late in the afternoon where the hunt finally led us back to his boulder in the backyard where he sat enjoying the day by reading a book. We all thought it rather ironic that the hunt ended at the same place it started. He just laughed.

Afterwards, we had dinner and were now too tired to do anything but go to bed, which the parents had hoped for as their Clam Bake was about to begin. Afterwards we realized it was a brilliant bit of strategy by the parents.

There were many other things occupying our time in those days: we whittled, we caught fireflies in mason jars, built forts in the woods, picked apples in a nearby orchard, and played a lot of Dodge Ball (we called it “German Dodge” for some unknown reason). When it rained, a group of us would get together and play marathon sessions of Monopoly. In the winter, we slowed down a bit, but still found time to ride our sleds down hills, ice skating, build snow forts, and of course engage in several snowball fights.

So, as I thought about the young men talking about their video games, I kind of felt sorry for them. Here we were sitting on the Gulf of Mexico on a beautiful day and they were bored. It never occured to them to drop a fishing line off the pier or even a simple game of catch or “pickle” (running bases). They just wanted to go home and play their favorite video game. I was tempted to teach them how to play Red Rover, but like our fathers who tried to teach us “Buck Buck,” I knew this wouldn’t really catch on with them. Pity.

Whenever I hear a youngster lament, “There’s nothing to do,” I just role my eyes and think back to my youth. There is much more to being a child than just playing with electronic gadgets. Maybe the parents just need to throw the kids outside and force them to discover the world around them.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:  
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.


NEXT UP: 
INTUITIVENESS, THE SIXTH SENSE – Some recognition for the Radar O’Reillys of the world.

Posted in Life, Society | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

DOES BLACK AMERICA REALLY SUPPORT OBAMA?

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 27, 2012

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To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, click HERE.

A recent Gallup Poll (ending March 4th) revealed 88% of African-American voters approve of President Obama’s performance in office. Unless something radical causes them to change their minds, one can only assume the 88% will vote for the president in November. That is approximately 34 million people, which doesn’t sound too bad on the surface, but in reality he’ll likely get less than half of that. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 16.1 million Blacks voted in 2008, which means he can expect a comparable number in the Fall. Such a number is still respectable, but he’ll need a lot more to win reelection. Nonetheless, the president considers African-Americans his base and carefully cultivates their support, not just on his campaign site, “African Americans for Obama”, but also in a controversial video on YOUTUBE where he attempts to rally Blacks to his support. Critics claim the video is racist in that a white candidate would be chastised and berated for making a similar video specifically aimed at whites, but that is another story.

Although Obama has general approval in the African-American community, it is far from unanimous. Blacks are becoming more vocal in their displeasure with the president, particularly from two disparate groups, one with leanings to the left and the other to the right. The first group includes blacks who feel the president failed to deliver on his campaign promises for social reform and, instead, has sold out to the Washington establishment. This includes groups like the New Black Panther Party and the Black is Back coalition who feel betrayed and taken for granted by the president. The other group opposing the president are those with allegiances to the GOP, such as the National Black Republican Association. They too have a problem with the president’s social reforms, not that he has done too little but that he has gone too far, particularly with the stimulus packages, Obamacare, and excessive government spending. They have even gone so far as to formally accuse the president and the Democratic party of racism (see National Black Republican Association E-News).

Both groups are disturbed by the high unemployment rate for Blacks, particularly among those in their teens, but they disagree on how to solve the problem. Nonetheless the idea that all of Black America embraces the president is a myth. Some question his integrity and see him as simply the product of a white mother and black father, with no true connection to slavery and the Civil Rights movement, thereby questioning how well he truly understands Black Americans.

There have been attempts to start “Blacks Against Obama” web pages, both independently and on Facebook, but neither seems to be truly embraced by anyone.

Regardless of the trivial issues of the day, if the economy does not turn around, and if blacks cannot find employment, look for the president’s support among African-American voters to further erode. And if he loses his base, he will likely lose the support of other Democratic loyalists, and the election.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.


NEXT UP: 
GAMES WE PLAYED AS KIDS – Anybody remember “Red Rover”?

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

HOW DO WE TEACH RESPONSIBILITY?

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 25, 2012

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To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, click HERE.

I’ve heard a lot of friends in the corporate world complain how irresponsible young people are these days. Initially, I just shrugged it off attributing it as a common complaint that comes with age, but it was recently enforced by some teacher friends who made the same accusation and how it was having an adverse effect on student grades. My first reaction was that it is simply a problem of parenting, that they lack the necessary skills to properly raise their children, but I believe it goes beyond this and is now a general problem in society.

There’s no doubt parents command the lion’s share of the blame for not teaching discipline, organization and accountability. We all probably know parents who, for one reason or another, fail to give direction to their offspring, coddle their every whim, and fail to discipline them. I know parents who do not just help children with their homework, but rather they do it for them. There are also those who bribe their kids with cars, clothes, computers and a variety of electronic trinkets without having to do any basic chores around the house. It is hoped such acts of kindness are appreciated, but more often than not they are taken for granted. Should the child want a new toy, the old one conveniently meets with an accident, thereby causing the parent to replace it.

There is nothing wrong with insisting on performing some chores around the house, be it nothing more than cleaning their room, helping in the kitchen, sweeping a floor, running a lawn mower, or whatever. The intent of such activities is not so much about “cause and effect”, whereby “if you do this for me, I’ll do that for you”; instead, it is more about teaching pride in ownership – this is “your” room, this is “your” home, these are “your” possessions. As a kid, I loved my bicycle, my baseball glove, my baseball cards, even my room; I “valued” them and consequently took good care of them. This makes the point that material objects are a reflection of our personality and, “You can make of it what you want.” This attitude cascades to other endeavors, e.g., this is “your” school, these are “your” books, this is “your” team, this is “your” company, this is “your” desk or workspace, etc. The more a person can personally associate themselves with an object, the more likely they will assume responsibility for its well-being. In the process, they develop a sense of value and causes them to prioritize what is important and what is not. Pride in ownership helps to improve self-esteen and leads to a better work ethic overall.

In terms of schooling, it is important the parent convey the lesson to the child that it is “your” education, not the parent’s, that they must take initiative and learn to think for themselves. If they are not taught the value of an education, society will leave them behind. When they learn this important lesson, the child’s thirst for knowledge will simplify the teacher’s job and homework will no longer be a problem.

Religious institutions are helpful for teaching the concept of personal value and morality. They can reinforce parental teachings of right and wrong. Unfortunately, attendance at churches and temples have declined over the years as parents no longer understand the importance of such institutions.

So, what is inhibiting parents, other than the obvious of being uncaring or too lazy to work with their children? Some think assigning responsibility simply isn’t “cool,” where taking charge of something and being held accountable is for saps. Then, there are those who are afraid to discipline their children as they rightfully or wrongfully fear criminal prosecution. Actually, they have been conned into believing it to be politically incorrect to discipline a child under any circumstance. To them, “corporal punishment” is a primitive concept from the past, but they should realize basic discipline is not. There is nothing wrong with a little “attitude readjustment” when the child is doing something wrong. The worst thing parents can do is allow television and the Internet to teach their children the lessons of responsibility and morality.

In business, there are people who “micromanage” their employees on everything, thereby freeing them of accountability. In this regard, it is no different than the parent who does the homework for the child, the workers learn nothing and assume no responsibility for success or failure. Instead, I have always been a proponent of “managing from the bottom-up”; teach and train your employees properly, empower them with responsibility, and hold them accountable. Managers should do less supervision, and more management (so should parents).

Let’s face facts, parents cannot be around their offspring 24/7; you cannot live their lives for them. You can only help give them a start in the proper direction. After that, it is up to them. In a way, it reminds me of when I taught my son to ride a bicycle years ago. I first used training wheels for a period so he could get comfortable with the idea of riding on the bike, but when I thought the time was right, I removed the training wheels, steadied him on the bike, and gave him a gentle push. Fortunately, he picked up on it right away. I’m sure he experienced some falls in the early days, but he never went back to the training wheels. Oh yea, he also valued that bike and took good care of it.

To my way of thinking, teaching responsibility is less about “cause and effect”, and more about helping a person learn the meaning of value: the value of home and property, the value of family and friends, and the value of self. Only then will they learn the meaning of respect and treat them accordingly. If the parents want the children to take responsibility for their actions, they should lead by example and take responsibility themselves. Just remember, they’re “your” kids.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Family, Life, Social Issues | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 22, 2012

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To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, click HERE.

Music greatly influences our lives, particularly in our impressionable youth and it remains with us for the remainder of our lives. If I hear a few notes of an old song, it takes me back to a past moment in my life. Like a lot of people back in the early 1960′s, I was a Beatles fan. Elvis was considered passé by this time and part of another generation, definitely not part of the 60′s, at least so I thought. At the time, my family lived in the southwest corner of Connecticut with our radios tuned to stations in New York City. In addition to the “Fab Four” there were other singers and groups that caught my attention between 1964-1965:

The Dave Clark Five followed the Beatles as part of the British Invasion. Their hit single, “Glad All Over” came out in 1964 and was followed by others such as, “Bits and Pieces,” “Do You Love Me,” and “Because.”

The competition with the Beatles was fierce. In my school, you were either a Beatles fan or a Dave Clark Five fan, but not both. Although my loyalty was to the Beatles, I couldn’t help but tap my foot to the beat of DC5′s drums. The band’s web site claims they sold over 100 million records, including 23 hit albums and 30 hit singles, but they never quite rose to the notoriety and consistent volume of hits that the Beatles did. They finally disbanded in 1970.

The lead singer for the group was Mike Smith who also played organ. Following the breakup of the group, he moved to Spain and began to tour again in 2003 until he suffered a horrible accident by falling at his home which left him paralyzed from the waist down. He died in February 2008 at the age of 64, just eleven days before the DC5 was to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The band’s founder and manager, Dave Clark was the drummer. Following the band’s breakup, Clark became a shrewd businessman and millionaire, owning the rights to all of the DC5 music along with other entertainment investments. Today, he resides in North London at the age of 69.

 

Sam the Sham was the stage name for singer Domingo “Sam” Zamudio. Although his group, “Sam the Sham and the Pharoaohs,” was theoretically supposed to be Egyptian, Sam himself was a singer of Mexican descent. His breakthrough song was, of course,“Wooly Bully” in 1965. Although others followed, such as “Li’l Red Riding Hood,” he would never realize the success he did with “Wooly Bully.” Sam and his music was just plain fun to listen to and loaded with energy. On television, the group wore pharaoh costumes and rode motorcycles. Everyone knew it was a gag, and Sam was a master showman. Back then, whenever you heard “Wooly Bully” beginning to play on the radio, you learned to turn the volume up and sing along. I still do so today. Sam went on to do other musical revues without the Pharaohs. I also heard he had became a bible teacher in a federal prison in Texas. Occasionally he still performs, but only if he can include his Gospel tunes. According to his web site, Sam today is a motivational speaker and poet, and still makes occasional concert appearances, although no tour dates are listed.

 

 

 

 

Gary Lewis to me was a class act. His group, “Gary Lewis & the Playboys,” got its first break as an obscure group at Disneyland in California. Although he was the son of comedian Jerry Lewis, he downplayed the association. So much so, many of us never realized the connection until much later. Even then, we liked Gary’s work better than his father’s. His big hit was “This Diamond Ring” in 1965. It was polished, the vocals were good, and it was catchy. This was followed by a string of other hits including,“Count Me In”“Everybody Loves A Clown”, and “She’s Just My Style.”

The group disbanded suddenly when Lewis was drafted into the Army and served in the Vietnam War from 1967-68. After his Army hitch, he went into obscurity as an owner of a Los Angeles music shop where he would also teach drumming lessons. In 1984, an agent contacted him and began booking him in different smaller venues. Since then, he has been performing 60 to 100 dates a year. Today, Lewis and his family reside in Honeoye Falls, New York.

 

 

 

 

Petula Clark went from child star to Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE). Along the way, she sold in excess of 68 million records based on such hits as: “A Sign of the Times”“Don’t Sleep in the Subway”“I Know a Place”“I Couldn’t Live Without Your Love”“This Is My Song”, etc. Her biggest hit though was “Downtown” in 1964. I remember when Ed Sullivan in New York rushed her from her plane to his stage. She looked a little confused at first but found her voice and belted out a hit which conquered America. “Downtown” was her first international hit and paved her way to fame and fortune, not just in song but in movies, the theater, as well as television. Today, at age 79, Pet still tours but not as actively as she once did. During the month of March, she is “down under” in Australia where she is making several appearances. What a classy lady.

 

 

 

 

There were, of course, many other musicians I remember during this rich period of popular music, as there would be many more in the remainder of my school years as I moved to Chicago, then on to Cincinnati, but these four stand out in my mind. As a kid in Connecticut, I listened to their music late at night on WABC in New York. Whenever I hear these songs, I think back to my youth. I clearly remember the summer, autumn and winter of 64, the spring of 65, and I can still smell the seasons. I find it interesting how our senses conjure up specific images in our mind, particularly sound, sight and smell. Different sounds, different chapters in our lives. This happens to be my generation. Different generations, different music, but the same sort of memories.

So, where are they now? Most are still alive and kicking, but I carry all of them with me wherever I go.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached attimb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Entertainment, Life | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

IS BUSINESS INHERENTLY EVIL?

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 20, 2012

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To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, click HERE.

If you listen to the “Occupy” movement, they would have you believe American business is greedy, corrupt, and inherently evil. The president is also sending subliminal signals that business isn’t to be trusted and does not pay its “fair share.” No wonder the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is at odds with the administration.

Wanting to know just how bad America was, I looked up our rating as published by Transparency International, a non-governmental organization that monitors and publicizes corporate and political corruption in international development. In its 2011 annual “Corruption Perceptions Index,” the United States was listed 24th out of 183 countries in terms of clean records, behind such countries as:

New Zealand – #1
Canada – #10
Germany/Japan – #14 (tied)
United Kingdom – #16

For a country that is supposed to be inherently evil, I don’t think we scored badly. Maybe business is not really as evil as we thought. Perhaps it is nothing more than the rhetoric of an election year where one side is pushing a new social agenda and business happens to be in its way.

I’ll admit I’ve met quite a few shady characters in my time, particularly in the I.T. industry, but I am not prepared to categorically declare business evil. Quite contrary, it has done some great things and given us a high standard of living. Following WWII, American business propelled the world’s economy. It is only in the last few years we have slowed to a snail’s pace, but that is another story. If anything, I’ve seen more corruption in government than in business, yet the country is not screaming for the heads of our officials. I wonder why. Government can hardly be called a model of efficiency and people tend to see it more as a overbearing bureaucracy where politicians are given special treatment. I have yet to meet anyone who sincerely trusts it.

Business people generally agree, honesty and morality makes dollars and sense; it’s just plain good business, but they also understand the pressure resulting from such things as competition, economics and snafus. The temptation to bend under such pressure can be overwhelming. It takes a moral person to do what is right. Yes, there are those who are weak and lack conviction, but there are many more people in business who are trying to make their companies successful through ethical means.

So, is business inherently evil? Hardly. As I said, I have met a few charlatans along the way, but many more visionaries and strong people who are concerned about the well-being of their employees and shareholders. True, we live in a society that promotes individualism over teamwork, thereby creating a competitive environment, and; true, greed does exist in our culture which leads to self-centeredness and power-hungry politics, but I hardly believe business holds a monopoly over such things.

Rather, such attacks are aimed at undermining the fundamental concept of capitalism; to make people believe it is a flawed system which, of course, it is not, and should be replaced by socialism thereby redistributing the wealth of the country. Next time you hear someone maligning American business, consider the source: do they believe in “the land of opportunity” or “the land of entitlement”? Their perspective will dictate their political agenda. To know what side of the fence you sit on, consider the following listing which I found on the Internet:

If a Capitalist doesn’t like guns, he doesn’t buy one.
If a Socialist doesn’t like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.

If a Capitalist is a vegetarian, he doesn’t eat meat.
If a Socialist is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for everyone.

If a Capitalist is homosexual, he quietly leads his life.
If a Socialist is homosexual, he demands legislated respect.

If a Capitalist is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation.
A Socialist wonders who is going to take care of him.

If a Capitalist doesn’t like a talk show host, he switches channels.
Socialists demand that those they don’t like be shut down.

If a Capitalist is a non-believer, he doesn’t go to church.
A Socialist non-believer wants any mention of God and religion silenced.

If a Capitalist decides he needs health care, he goes about shopping for it, or may choose a job that provides it.
A Socialist demands that the rest of us pay for his.

For more information on capitalism, see my past column, “In Defense of Capitalism.”

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Business, Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

THE ART OF THANK YOU

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 18, 2012

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To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, click HERE.

Just when you have about given up on the younger generation, something happens which restores your faith in them. It’s rare, but it happens. Such was the case recently when I met with a young man, about 28 years of age, who asked my advice on some business related issue. I had never met him before, but he had heard of me and hoped I could answer some questions for him. I arranged a face-to-face meeting where we sat down and discussed what was on his mind. I cannot divulge what we talked about but suffice it to say we got to know one and other and I was able to take care of his problem. To me, he appeared to be a sincere young man who had graduated from High School, survived a tour of Afghanistan with the Army, and was now beginning his professional life. In the course of the conversation we talked candidly and discovered our common interests even though there was a significant difference in our ages. He had started back to college and was working towards a degree in I.T. security. He also realized his education was important as he wanted to start a family soon.

A few days following our meeting I received a package in the mail which included a letter from him thanking me for my time and advice. Also included were a couple of cigars. Evidently, I had said something during the meeting about my passion for cigars and he had remembered it. Needless to say, I was impressed by his thoughtfulness, something you typically do not see anymore.

I told this story to a close friend who told me a similar story. Recently, he had driven his bus for a youth outing from his church. It took a few hours out of his day but he was glad to help. A few days later, he received a very nice thank you card in the mail from the youth group director who appreciated his efforts.

In this day and age of e-mails and instant messaging, my friend and I were genuinely surprised and touched by the gestures of appreciation. It is a sign of good grooming which is why I believe youngsters should get in the habit of learning to write thank you notes at an early age. Unfortunately, not too many do. Maybe this is something that should be taught in elementary school which would help promote penmanship to boot.

Writing a letter and saying “thank you” graciously is becoming a lost art. Even with today’s sophisticated electronic communications, people seem to have trouble expressing their gratitude, thinking it is more of a waste of time than anything else. Have we become so jaded that we cannot express our appreciation for anything? Saying “thank you” is one of the little things in life that make it worthwhile. It is a courtesy that doesn’t go away unnoticed.

Years ago, when I was involved with computer societies, I was often responsible for securing speakers for meetings. I would call them on the telephone to invite them, followed it up with a letter detailing the meeting and checking on their requirements; afterwards, I would send them a note thanking them for speaking at the event. I did this regularly. So much so, I never had a problem securing a speaker, simply because I made sure they knew they were appreciated. I was always mindful of the old idiom, “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”

This is why I was particularly glad to see thank you notes still around. They may be rare these days, but they certainly haven’t disappeared and are very gratifying.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Life, Society | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

VOTER PERCEPTIONS: SEPARATING FACT FROM FICTION

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 15, 2012

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To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, click HERE.

One of the most fundamental lessons to learn in business and in life, is that people act on their perceptions, regardless if it is right or wrong. If we believe something is true, even if it is fallacious to everyone else, we will act accordingly which may prove disastrous to our well being. To illustrate, if I believe the flame will not hurt me, I will stick my hand in it; if I believe the car is shifted to “Drive” (as opposed to “Reverse”) I will likely accelerate faster and look the wrong way; if I believe it is warm outside, I will not wear a coat, etc. All of our decisions are based on how we perceive a situation. Success, therefore, is predicated on who is the most alert, can process the data properly, and arrive at the correct conclusion.

As an old systems man though, I can tell you authoritatively: If the input is wrong, everything that follows will be wrong. So, a lot depends on our senses, our intelligence and education, our attention span and power of observation, our sense of right and wrong, and our general awareness of the world around us.

On November 6th, American voters will be asked to elect a president, congressmen, and several state and local officials. Voter perceptions will obviously play an important role in our decision making process and already we are receiving conflicting messages. For example, the president’s campaign proudly proclaims: “We’ve added back 2.6 million private sector jobs as of September 2011.” (Source: https://my.barackobama.com/) Yet, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the 2011 Unemployment Level was 13,747,000 people, and the Unemployment Rate is yet to dip below 8%, regardless of the president’s stimulus bills. As Stephen Gandel of TIME Magazine wrote (July 14, 2009), “Back in early January, when Barack Obama was still President-elect, two of his chief economic advisers (Christina Romer and Jared Bernstein) — leading proponents of a stimulus bill — predicted that the passage of a large economic-aid package would boost the economy and keep the unemployment rate below 8%. It hasn’t quite worked out that way.”

There is also a lot of spin being offered regarding taxes, spending, and of course the national debt and deficit. The president blames the GOP-led House of Representatives for obstructing progress, and the Republicans blame the president for reckless economic policies. So, who should we believe? What is the correct perception? It ultimately depends on your ability to separate fact from fiction. Only by taking the initiative and digging into statistics will we discover the facts:

Federal Spending UP
Federal Deficit UP
Federal Debt UP
Food Stamps UP
Gas Prices UP
College Tuitions UP
Americans in Poverty UP
Home Values DOWN
US Global Competitiveness DOWN
Exports DOWN
Federal Credit Rating DOWN

Yet this is what the Obama administration wants us to perceive as a “Recovery.”

The problem associated with gathering facts is two-fold: first, most people do not take the time to study the news, and; those who do, tend to listen only to those people we believe and trust. As to the former, a recent Harvard survey found that only one in 20 teens and one in 12 young adults read a newspaper on a daily basis. Another study in 2008 found that roughly 64% of 18-to-24-year-olds said they had viewed a newspaper online within the last year, but by 2009 the number dropped to 54%. Regardless of the overwhelming amount of news and information available through the Internet, printed media, radio and television, people understand only a fraction of what is going on in the world and rely on others to filter and prioritize the news for them. As to the latter, we tend to gravitate to those people who appear to share our same interests and morality which is normally along ideological lines. Whereas Democrats frequent those news outlets who share their interests, the Republicans do likewise. The concept that news is independent and unbiased is a naive notion based on a bygone era. It’s a matter of what is hip and who people trust.

Young adults are less interested in facts and more interested in what is fashionable or popular. The problem though is they will be eligible to vote in November, and the media specialists are fully cognizant that younger minds can be more easily shaped than older ones who are set in their ways. Political strategists are also acutely aware of this and are trying to manipulate the masses like a magician’s slight of hand, causing the audience to look one place where the truth actually lies somewhere else.

Message X Media = Perception

Repetition of the message is essential for conditioned response as in the case of Pavolv’s Dog. If you say something enough times, people tend to believe it, regardless if it is right or wrong. Such repetition must be relentless and tends to be long term in nature in order to penetrate the human psyche. The message must capture the hearts and minds of the people, such as:

“everyone should pay their fair share”
“Win the future.”
“pass this jobs plan right away”

Short sound bites that are easy to comprehend, remember, and repeat.

Behind all of this is a deep seeded contempt for the human spirit, that people are cattle and easily swayed. Using brainwashing techniques, lying and misleading people is considered perfectly acceptable in politics as long as it ends with the desired results. Thereby truth and honesty are often sacrificed in the process.

President Obama’s campaign strategy seems rather obvious: he desperately wants to distract people from his record, which ultimately cost him the House of Representatives in 2010. He will try to put the spotlight on others, as opposed to himself. He will blame the Congress, blame the rich, blame business, blame the GOP candidates, and Yes, he will continue to blame Bush. Plus, he is counting on the American public having a short memory. He will inevitably engage in a campaign of brainwashing using the media as his ally. The president and his minions will spin, attack, deceive, intimidate, ridicule, and assassinate character; anything but discuss the facts.

The GOP, on the other hand has to stay focused on the president’s failed record and hold him to the facts. They must stop the bickering and close ranks once their candidate has been established. The real question they must ask the country is, “Can we afford four more years of President Obama?” Ultimately, they have to delineate two distinctly separate views of America:

MASSIVE GOVERNMENT – where business is evil and cannot be trusted.
or
SMALLER GOVERNMENT – with less red tape allowing the country to go back to work.

MORE TAXES & SPENDING
or
FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY

A LAND OF ENTITLEMENTS
or
A LAND OF OPPORTUNITY THROUGH PERSONAL INITIATIVE

A NANNY STATE
or
PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY

RIDICULE RELIGION
or
IN GOD WE TRUST

SOCIALISM
or
CAPITALISM

UNDERMINE THE CONSTITUTION
or
REVITALIZE THE CONSTITUTION

In order to win the day, Republicans need to stay informed, educate others (particularly the young), and vote. More than anything, each person has to “FIND YOUR VOICE.” No, not everybody can deliver a speech or write an article, but each person has to find a way to let their opinions be known, such as:

* Attending meetings to discuss issues, at all levels of government and for both parties.
* Read and research, challenge and publish the facts.
* Network and talk to young people.
* Attend rallies, host meetings.
* Write letters to the editor on-line.

Where Democratic Congressmen will try to divorce themselves from the president’s record, Obama will try to ride their coattails back into office. This is to be encouraged. The more we can tie the Democrats to the president and his failed policies, the more likely they will lose the election.

As this election year progresses I have on more than one occasion heard Republican friends lament, “I’m scared; I’m starting to believe Obama will get voted back into office for another term.”

Such comments are more indicative of the vicious GOP campaign thus far as opposed to President Obama’s leadership. I counter by reminding them of three things:

1. The Supreme Court’s review of Obamacare on March 28th-29th. Regardless of the decision to uphold or reject it, the decision will be a rallying cry for the GOP.

2. We are all facing a summer of high gasoline prices which will not endear the president to the American taxpayer.

3. The turmoil in the Middle East is a liability to the president, particularly if more violence erupts thereby affecting our fragile economy. He will likely be blamed for a weak and reckless foreign policy.

The November election is not about a fabricated “War on Women,” Rush Limbaugh, a candidate’s gaffe, or political correctness. These subjects are nothing more than deceptive distractions. In reality, it’s about the economy, unemployment, energy, and foreign policy. You are admonished to stay focused on the real issues of this campaign.

Republicans must always be mindful the 2012 election is not about facts and figures, but “mind share.” In other words, controlling the perceptions of people and creating the illusion as to who our leaders should be. If it were as simple as just interpreting facts and figures, President Obama would have been driven out of office already.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

WHO IS BEARING THE LOAD?

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 13, 2012

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, click HERE.

We often tout America as “the land of opportunity” but I started to wonder how many people truly work for a commercial business, be it large or small. You know, the real people responsible for the Gross Domestic Product, our exports, and our quality of life. When you think about it, these are the people who support everyone else, not just in terms of the lion’s share of taxes, but without them, there would be no need for government or anything else. Wanting to know the answer, I recently researched some statistics at the U.S. Census Bureau and was struck by the projected 2012 figure for the U.S. population which is now at 313M people, more than double since I was born. It’s interesting how the Census Bureau assembles the population data every ten years but you cannot help but wonder how accurate it is. After all, there is allegedly over 13M illegal aliens in this country, and I do not believe they are included in the population total. Nonetheless, I began to wonder how the 313M occupied their time and, consequently, I visited the web sites for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to see what I could find.

First, I wanted to know how many people worked for the government in one capacity or another, be it at the federal state of local level. Here is what I found:

Federal Government Employees – 4.4M
State Government Employees – 5.3M
Local Government Employees – 14.2M
Government Employees Total – 23.2M – 7.4% of the populace.

This struck me as a rather high number, but I was somewhat surprised to see there were more people employed at the local level than both the federal and state levels combined.

Next, I considered the number of people who were not working, either due to unemployment, retirement, disability, or stay-at-home spouses. Finding the number of unemployed was rather easy, finding retirees and disabilities was a little trickier, so I checked on statistics at the U.S. Social Security Administration. As to spouses, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics was helpful.

Unemployed – 13.7M
Retired or receiving disability – 61.0M
Families with one spouse working – 9.7M
People not working – 84.4M – 26.9% of the populace

Adding the 23.2M government employees to the 84.4M “not working” comes to a total of 107.6 million or 34.3% of the populace.

When you subtract the 107.6M people from the original 313M number from the U.S. Census Bureau, you arrive at a number of 205.4M people working for private enterprises or 65.6% of the populace. This isn’t quite accurate as there are also millions of people working for 501(c) corporations, such as charities, churches, and other non-profit institutions. Of course, there are also those involved with criminal activities, either actively or imprisoned, which the Census Bureau would have trouble keeping track of. Suffice it to say, there is at least 50% of the populace working for a commercial business and is shouldering the tax load for the rest of the country, including the 13M illegal aliens.

I wonder how this number compares to years past? I can’t help but believe the percentage of people working in business was higher back in the 1950’s when business was booming following the end of WWII, and government was smaller. Since then, federal spending has doubled, as has the federal debt and deficit which have skyrocketed. Regardless, the shrinking rate of people in business also signals a decline in entrepreneurship in this country which should be of concern to all of us as this represents the innovators, inventors, and captains of industry who have traditionally invigorated this country. Without them, the nation would likely become nothing more than a third class country.

No wonder people are getting mad. Like me, they’ve added up the numbers and don’t like what they see; one half of the country is giving, and the other half is taking and not paying taxes. I wonder what will happen when the balance tips from giving to taking?

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Politics, Society | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

WHY WE GET PEEVED

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 11, 2012

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)

I was recently talking to a friend who was commenting on some of my pet peeves, many of which he could relate to. Inevitably, he asked me why the world was so screwed up today. I thought about this for quite some time afterwards and believe I finally have an answer; it has always been screwed up, we simply weren’t paying attention. Let me explain…

As we enter the work force, usually in our 20’s, we’re full of vim and vigor. We tend to tackle assignments brashly, some would say recklessly or impetuously. Because we want to make a name for ourselves, we tend to knock down obstacles in order to reach our goals and be rewarded. What we lack in knowledge and experience, we make up for in sheer energy.

In our 30’s we’re still energetic but we become smarter as we gain experience in what we do. As we enter our 40’s, we tend to slow down a bit but think of ourselves at the top of our game.

In our 50’s, we’ve become fully experienced in our profession and life, and from this we become acutely aware of our limitations. It is then when we begin to realize time has passed too quickly and we finally start to recognize the changes in the world. In other words, in our youth we were preoccupied with starting our lives; so much so, we were distracted and did not realize the world was changing around us. As we get older, we slow down and suddenly become cognizant of the changes and ask why things aren’t the same as they used to be in our youth.

Our world is a big and complicated place. So big, it is impossible to stay on top of all of the changes going on around us, even in spite of the 24/7 news media. Changes come at us from many directions: politics, science and technology, the arts, competition, fashion, customs, public opinion, social issues, international affairs, and a wide range of changing laws, rules and regulations. However, change is so slow, it is almost transparent to us and if we become distracted, as most of us do, we don’t recognize it. Only after a few decades do the changes become vividly clear to us and by then, it is usually too late to do anything about them as we should have been paying attention earlier on. Suddenly we realize people are acting and looking different, particularly the next generation, that social and moral norms are different, and the world has changed.

So why do we get “peeved”? I think it is simply because we have suddenly realized the world is different and the status quo is unlike what we remembered from our youth. And we don’t like it.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Life | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

THE ROAR OF LAWN MOWING

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 8, 2012

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)

I have been mowing lawns for 46 years now. When I was a kid in Connecticut, my family had a reel mower; you know, one of those plain push mowers where the blades twirl faster as you push the mower. When we moved to Chicago in the mid-60’s my father bought our first power mower at Montgomery Ward. The engine only turned the blade; you still had to push it as there was no self-propulsion. Over the years I’ve had a variety of lawn mowers, both push and riders. The fact remains though, year after year I’ve been mowing my lawn. I’ve had help from my son over the years, but now he is off to college, leaving me to fend for myself again.

In my neighborhood, I’m one of the few guys remaining who mows his own lawn, if not the only one. People stare at me as they drive by my house while I’m mowing. I guess they think I’m either eccentric, too poor to hire a lawn service, or maybe I’m a lawn service worker myself. Actually, I don’t mind doing the lawn as it is an excellent way for me to get some exercise, and I take great pride in my work if I can get the lawn to look the way I want it to.

Most of the people in my neighborhood use a lawn service. I don’t think I have ever seen a youth in our subdivision push a lawnmower either. As for my family, both my son and daughter have taken their turn with the lawn mower over the years, but mostly the burden fell to the boy. I’ve always looked upon such work as a great way to teach responsibility and pride in workmanship. Over the years, my son has learned to use all of my power tools and is now pretty handy with them. He also understands safety issues as well. I’ve asked some of my friends why they don’t have their children mow their lawn and they look at me incredulously like I’ve taken leave of my senses. I guess they’re afraid their kids might learn Spanish and become professional landscapers. As for me, I’ve always seen it as a way to teach children how to carry their weight in the household. Then again, I guess I’m old fashioned.

Down here in Florida, the main type of grass we have is Floratam St. Augustine, or just plain “Floratam,” which was developed to resist all the little bugs and critters we have in our soil down here. It’s not quite the same type of grass as you find up north which looks thin and puny by comparison. Actually, I think down here they’ve got us all conned into believing that Floratam is something special when, in reality, it is nothing but an expensive form of crab grass.

It’s interesting the ensemble of lawn tools you collect and use over the years. In addition to the lawn mower, I have a fertilizer spreader, an edger, a weedwhacker, a hedger, a chain saw, different pruning clippers, saws, rakes, etc. It can become quite an investment in equipment if you want to do the lawn yourself. No wonder I get Christmas cards from Home Depot and Lowes.

The only thing I dislike about mowing is when the mower breaks down, which happened to me recently. I have a riding mower and a bolt popped out causing the undercarriage to fall off and snapped a belt. It wouldn’t be a big deal if was a push mower, but because it is a rider, I had to schedule an appointment for it to be fixed and call on a friend with a truck to help me move it which, frankly, is a pain in the ass. Otherwise, when the mower is working properly I can get it done in no time at all.

While the lawn mower was in the shop for repair, which was for a few weeks, I arranged to have a service come in to take care of the lawn for me, and I admit they did a remarkable job. However, it seemed very strange to me not to mow the lawn and I started to go through withdrawal symptoms. I know I won’t be able to take care of the lawn forever and at some point I’ll have to acquiesce the responsibility to someone else. I suppose it’s been a matter of pride and determination for me (or just plain stubbornness). I guess I fear someone saying, “What? You’re getting too old to do the lawn?” Maybe I’m just confused; that mowing lawns for over 50 years is not so much considered a feat of strength, but an act of stupidity. I’m not sure which.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Life | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

 
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