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Archive for October, 2010

TERM LIMITS

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 13, 2010

As much as we are accustomed today to presidents serving two consecutive terms, this was not always so. In fact, prior to FDR only ten of the first 31 presidents were elected to second terms, that’s just 33%. In the 1800’s there were eight single term presidents between Jackson and Lincoln, and seven single term presidents between Grant and Teddy Roosevelt. Then along came FDR in the midst of the calamity of the Great Depression and World War II who was elected to an unprecedented four terms thereby ushering in the concept of the career politician. This of course was negated by the 22nd Amendment which now permits only two consecutive presidential terms. Since it was enacted, five out of eleven presidents were elected to consecutive terms (45%).

Our founding fathers had no concept of career politicians. It was expected you would serve a reasonable time in Congress before returning home and allowing someone else to take a turn. Although the presidency was Washington’s to keep as long as he wanted it, he unofficially established two terms as the maximum length of office for a president. He too saw the need for not allowing the government to stagnate and allow others to bring in fresh perspectives in the running of the country.

Today, politicians serving a single or double term are the exception as opposed to the rule. Consider for example, the late Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia who served for over 50 years; Senator Ted Kennedy served almost 47 years; Senator Harry Reid of Nevada has served 24 years in the Senate (he is currently seeking his 5th consecutive term) and four years in the House of Representatives prior to that, and finally; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has served 23 years (which seems paltry by comparison).

The concept of career politicians does not sit well with Americans anymore, particularly members of the Tea Party who believe such politics leads to cronyism and corruption, something they can no longer tolerate and represents the impetus to remove incumbents. Beyond this, there is a movement underfoot to enact term limits for members of Congress. After all, if it’s good enough for the president, it should be good enough for congressmen, right?

There are several proposals being bandied about, but my favorite is the one geared towards a maximum of twelve years in office, whereby:

A. Two, Six-year Senate terms
B. Six, Two-year House terms
C. One, Six-year Senate term and three, Two-Year House terms.

Further, a Congressman should collect a salary only while in office and receive no pay when he/she is out of office.

Opponents to term limits claim it sets up a “Lame Duck” scenario, but this could be argued over the presidential term limits as well.

Bottom-line: the country is tired of “business as usual” and realizes career politicians lie at the crux of the problem. The message is clear: It is time to clean house.

Vote November 2nd.

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.

Tune into Tim’s THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! podcast Mondays-Fridays, 11:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2010 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

WHY WE NO LONGER THINK ‘BIG’

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 12, 2010

Starting with the MIS movement (Management Information Systems) of the 1960’s, companies invented major enterprise-wide systems that handled everything from manufacturing to customer service, to accounting and beyond. These were mammoth systems that were designed and built by systems analysts working in conjunction with programmers. The systems were not exactly glamorous by today’s technological standards, but they worked. Over the next two decades the stature of programmers rapidly grew and system analysts declined. So much so, by the 1990’s the analysts were almost extinct. This greatly affected the ability of companies to build and maintain major systems as evidenced by the numerous development disasters during that period. It seemed every field was affected, and we read about major system snafus in banking, transportation, insurance, health care, manufacturing, etc.

By the 21st century, these system disasters had become so prevalent that companies were convinced major systems development projects were an impossibility, that they plain and simply cannot be done in this day and age. This is like admitting we no longer know how to build bridges, skyscrapers, ships, or aircraft; not just because of prohibitive development costs, but because people no longer knew the methodology for building such an object. After all, the systems analysts had all been turned out to pasture. Consequently, the computer industry was content to build small things, such as “apps”, which led to the current “agile” campaign of developing programs within a 30, 60 or 90 day time frame. Big deal. The fact remains, the information systems of the United States have been rotting and rusting as fast as the country’s infrastructure thereby allowing our competitors to leapfrog the United States in several key areas. For example, America’s banking systems are shamefully behind those in Europe and Asia.

The sad reality though is that systems design is not as complicated and difficult as people portray it. True, a lot of work is involved, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to design a system, just a person who is disciplined in the science of systems which, remarkably, is not too dissimilar to an architect or engineer. In fact, when I teach courses in systems I draw upon such analogies heavily and argue the design and development of an information systems is not unlike engineering and building any other object, be it a bridge, a skyscraper, a ship, etc.

The design of major systems need not be a complicated process couched in a cryptic vocabulary using seemingly esoteric techniques. While the state of the art in programming has undergone considerable changes over the last half century, little progress has been made in the area of systems which has stagnated due to the lack of standards and the heavy emphasis on programming.

Only now are companies reluctantly starting to realize the vital role systems analysis plays, not programming. Some of the symptoms include: systems lack integration (e.g., one system doesn’t effectively communicate with others thereby causing redundant data, or worse, information incompatibilities), redundant work effort, disjointed work flows, and considerable time and money lost rewriting systems,

System design is not a dirty little secret, but rather an open and well documented set of governing principles beginning with a simple concept: “A system is a product that can be engineered and manufactured like any other product.”

This mindset of thinking smaller, not bigger, is infecting other aspects of business and our society in general. For example, long rage planning is no longer thought of in terms of years, but in increments of 30, 60 or 90 day increments instead. Our foreign competitors do not think this way. When you consider the major construction projects in Asia or the manufacturing juggernaut in Europe, you realize they are not limited by 30, 60, or 90 day time frames. It is no small wonder that the United States has slipped to become the third largest exporter in the world, with China now at #1 and Germany #2. It also explains why we are dropping out of the space race.

Other countries have no trouble thinking big. In the United States though, we’re scared to death of 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.

Tune into Tim’s THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! podcast Mondays-Fridays, 11:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2010 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Life, Systems, Technology | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

WHAT SMALL BUSINESSES WANT

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 11, 2010

In the United States, small businesses account for about half of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and more than half of the country’s employment. As we all know, the GDP recently dropped to a paltry 1.6% and, as of this writing, the country’s unemployment rate is up to 9.6%. Recognizing the role small businesses play in the nation’s economy, our politicians are slowly trying to figure out what can be done to help them out. Actually, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what is wrong or what to do.

Historically, small businesses invested heavily in new innovations during recessions. Unlike big businesses which tend to be imbued with bureaucracy and slow to react, small businesses typically can turn on a dime. Not so today as small businesses are hesitant to make any move or invest in anything until they see signs the economy is picking up. This is compounded by Obamacare which has business owners scared to death in terms of its impact on their business. They are now questioning why they should hire anyone if the government is only going to shove regulations and fines their way. Regardless of what you think of Obamacare, good or bad, nobody understands it and, as such, they are not inclined to hire anyone until this matter is resolved. Although they would like to hire employees, if Obamacare is implemented, look for small business owners to hire subcontractors instead. However, if you really want to kill the small business workforce now, allow Congress to raise the minimum wage again. We certainly cannot afford any inflationary measures at this time, including tax hikes.

Until such time as the economy begins to pick up and consumers start spending again, small businesses will continue to flounder. Stimulus programs do not work, but tax incentives just might, assuming they entice consumers to spend and businesses to invest. The President and the Congress moved much too slow in this regard. Look for a dismal Christmas retail season as a result which will have ripple effects on the economy.

Other than this, we hear small businesses are in need of financing to hire more workers and expand operations. This may be so, but I’m skeptical as a revitalized economy would take care of the problem better than incurring more debt. Nonetheless, the Congress is working on legislation to improve financing and possibly offer tax credits. As of this writing, lawmakers were still debating the issue. Regardless of what they come up with, I suspect it will be too little, too late. As to perpetuating the Bush tax-cuts, what’s our alternative? Cancelling them means raising taxes in the middle of a recession which certainly will not stimulate business or spending.

The last thing small businesses want is to get government off their back. It is hard to find one small business owner who doesn’t have at least one gripe about government red-tape and fines, be it at the federal, state, or local levels. Government bureaucrats give the impression they are shaking down businesses thereby paralyzing them from doing anything. I can’t begin to tell you how often I hear this complaint.

To summarize, what does small businesses want? They want the economy moving again; they want consumers spending money and to be able to invest in themselves through tax incentives. They also want government bureaucrats off their backs (flatten government). More than anything, small businesses want to work, but they want government to run interference for them as opposed to trying to impede their efforts. The best thing government can do for small businesses is to lead, follow, or get the heck out of the way.

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.

Tune into Tim’s THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! podcast Mondays-Fridays, 11:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2010 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Business, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO OBAMACARE?

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 11, 2010

Shortly after the Obama Health Insurance Bill (aka “Obamacare”) passed the Congress last March 21st, Democratic spin doctors crowed over its passage and claimed it would be an asset to incumbent Democrats in their bid for reelection in November. This, of course, never happened. Here we are just three weeks away from the mid-term elections on November 2nd and I have yet to hear anyone triumphantly gloat over the passage of Obamacare. Maybe this is because nobody has ever taken the time to read the massive document cover-to-cover, prior to voting for its passage (or afterwards for that matter). All of the signers of the bill (see list below) have basically kept quiet and hoped nobody would notice them, thereby allowing them to quietly slip back into office. The bill is being treated like the plague, Democratic politicians running for re-election refuse to make the slightest mention of it on their web sites.

Obamacare is so politically charged right now that even the state sponsored litigation against it attracts little press as it awaits the outcome of the November elections. Nonetheless, the American public remains overwhelmingly against the bill.

I for one have not forgotten about it. So much so, I wish to remind voters of the people who supported it. Below is the list of the 219 Congressmen who voted for its passage. Is your Congressman represented?

CONGRESSMEN WHO VOTED “YES” TO H.R. BILL 3590
Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (H.R. 3590) Bill
(passed 219 to 212)

Names Alphabetically (State District)

Gary L. Ackerman (NY 5)

Rick Larsen (WA 2)

Robert E. Andrews (NJ 1)

John B. Larson (CT 1)

Joe Baca (CA 43)

Barbara Lee (CA 9)

Brian Baird (WA 3)

Sander M. Levin (MI 12)

Tammy Baldwin (WI 2)

John Lewis (GA 5)

Melissa Bean (IL 8)

Dave Loebsack (IA 2)

Xavier Becerra (CA 31)

Zoe Lofgren (CA 16)

Shelley Berkley (NV 1)

Nita M. Lowey (NY 18)

Howard L. Berman (CA 28)

Ben Ray Lujan (NM 3)

Timothy H. Bishop (NY 1)

Dan Maffei (NY 25)

Sanford D. Bishop Jr. (GA 2)

Carolyn B. Maloney (NY 14)

Earl Blumenauer (OR 3)

Betsy Markey (CO 4)

John Boccieri (OH 16)

Edward J. Markey (MA 7)

Leonard L. Boswell (IA 3)

Doris Matsui (CA 5)

Allen Boyd (FL 2)

Carolyn McCarthy (NY 4)

Robert A. Brady (PA 1)

Betty McCollum (MN 4)

Bruce Braley (IA 1)

Jim McDermott (WA 7)

Corrine Brown (FL 3)

Jim McGovern (MA 3)

G. K. Butterfield (NC 1)

Jerry McNerney (CA 11)

Lois Capps (CA 23)

Kendrick B. Meek (FL 17)

Michael E. Capuano (MA 8)

Gregory W. Meeks (NY 6)

Dennis Cardoza (CA 18)

Michael H. Michaud (ME 2)

Russ Carnahan (MO 3)

George Miller (CA 7)

Christopher Carney (PA 10)

Brad Miller (NC 13)

André Carson (IN 7)

Harry E. Mitchell (AZ 5)

Kathy Castor (FL 11)

Alan B. Mollohan (WV 1)

Judy Chu (CA 32)

Dennis Moore (KS 3)

Yvette Clarke (NY 11)

Gwen Moore (WI 4)

William Lacy Clay (MO 1)

James P. Moran (VA 8)

Emanuel Cleaver II (MO 5)

Scott Murphy (NY 20)

James E. Clyburn (SC 6)

Christopher S. Murphy (CT 5)

Steve Cohen (TN 9)

Patrick J. Murphy (PA 8)

Gerald E. Connolly (VA 11)

Jerrold Nadler (NY 8)

John Conyers Jr. (MI 14)

Grace F. Napolitano (CA 38)

Jim Cooper (TN 5)

Richard E. Neal (MA 2)

Jim Costa (CA 20)

James L. Oberstar (MN 8)

Jerry F. Costello (IL 12)

David R. Obey (WI 7)

Joe Courtney (CT 2)

John W. Olver (MA 1)

Joseph Crowley (NY 7)

Solomon P. Ortiz (TX 27)

Henry Cuellar (TX 28)

Bill Owens (NY 23)

Elijah E. Cummings (MD 7)

Frank Pallone (NJ 6)

Kathy Dahlkemper (PA 3)

Bill Pascrell Jr. (NJ 8)

Susan A. Davis (CA 53)

Ed Pastor (AZ 4)

Danny K. Davis (IL 7)

Donald M. Payne (NJ 10)

Peter A. DeFazio (OR 4)

Nancy Pelosi (CA 8)

Diana DeGette (CO 1)

Ed Perlmutter (CO 7)

Bill Delahunt (MA 10)

Tom Perriello (VA 5)

Rosa DeLauro (CT 3)

Gary Peters (MI 9)

Norman D. Dicks (WA 6)

Chellie Pingree (ME 1)

John D. Dingell (MI 15)

Jared Polis (CO 2)

Lloyd Doggett (TX 25)

Earl Pomeroy (ND At Large)

Joe Donnelly (IN 2)

David E. Price (NC 4)

Mike Doyle (PA 14)

Mike Quigley (IL 5)

Steve Driehaus (OH 1)

Nick J. Rahall II (WV 3)

Donna Edwards (MD 4)

Charles B. Rangel (NY 15)

Keith Ellison (MN 5)

Silvestre Reyes (TX 16)

Brad Ellsworth (IN 8)

Laura Richardson (CA 37)

Eliot L. Engel (NY 17)

Ciro D. Rodriguez (TX 23)

Anna G. Eshoo (CA 14)

Steven R. Rothman (NJ 9)

Bob Etheridge (NC 2)

Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA 34)

Sam Farr (CA 17)

C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (MD 2)

Chaka Fattah (PA 2)

Bobby L. Rush (IL 1)

Bob Filner (CA 51)

Tim Ryan (OH 17)

Bill Foster (IL 14)

John Salazar (CO 3)

Barney Frank (MA 4)

Linda T. Sanchez (CA 39)

Marcia L. Fudge (OH 11)

Loretta Sanchez (CA 47)

John Garamendi (CA 10)

John Sarbanes (MD 3)

Gabrielle Giffords (AZ 8)

Jan Schakowsky (IL 9)

Charlie Gonzalez (TX 20)

Mark Schauer (MI 7)

Bart Gordon (TN 6)

Adam B. Schiff (CA 29)

Alan Grayson (FL 8)

Kurt Schrader (OR 5)

Al Green (TX 9)

Allyson Y. Schwartz (PA 13)

Gene Green (TX 29)

David Scott (GA 13)

Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ 7)

Robert C. Scott (VA 3)

Luis V. Gutierrez (IL 4)

José E. Serrano (NY 16)

John Hall (NY 19)

Joe Sestak (PA 7)

Debbie Halvorson (IL 11)

Carol Shea-Porter (NH 1)

Phil Hare (IL 17)

Brad Sherman (CA 27)

Jane Harman (CA 36)

Albio Sires (NJ 13)

Alcee L. Hastings (FL 23)

Louise M. Slaughter (NY 28)

Martin Heinrich (NM 1)

Adam Smith (WA 9)

Brian Higgins (NY 27)

Vic Snyder (AR 2)

Baron P. Hill (IN 9)

Jackie Speier (CA 12)

Jim Himes (CT 4)

John M. Spratt Jr. (SC 5)

Maurice D. Hinchey (NY 22)

Pete Stark (CA 13)

Rubén Hinojosa (TX 15)

Bart Stupak (MI 1)

Mazie K. Hirono (HI 2)

Betty Sutton (OH 13)

Paul W. Hodes (NH 2)

Mike Thompson (CA 1)

Rush Holt (NJ 12)

Bennie Thompson (MS 2)

Michael M. Honda (CA 15)

John F. Tierney (MA 6)

Steny H. Hoyer (MD 5)

Dina Titus (NV 3)

Jay Inslee (WA 1)

Paul Tonko (NY 21)

Steve Israel (NY 2)

Edolphus Towns (NY 10)

Jesse L. Jackson Jr. (IL 2)

Niki Tsongas (MA 5)

Sheila Jackson-Lee (TX 18)

Chris Van Hollen (MD 8)

Hank Johnson (GA 4)

Nydia M. Velázquez (NY 12)

Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX 30)

Peter J. Visclosky (IN 1)

Steve Kagen (WI 8)

Tim Walz (MN 1)

Paul E. Kanjorski (PA 11)

Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL 20)

Marcy Kaptur (OH 9)

Maxine Waters (CA 35)

Patrick J. Kennedy (RI 1)

Diane Watson (CA 33)

Dale E. Kildee (MI 5)

Melvin Watt (NC 12)

Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (MI 13)

Henry A. Waxman (CA 30)

Mary Jo Kilroy (OH 15)

Anthony Weiner (NY 9)

Ron Kind (WI 3)

Peter Welch (VT)

Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ 1)

Charlie Wilson (OH 6)

Ron Klein (FL 22)

Lynn Woolsey (CA 6)

Suzanne Kosmas (FL 24)

David Wu (OR 1)

Dennis J. Kucinich (OH 10)

John Yarmuth (KY 3)

Jim Langevin (RI 2)

 

I haven’t forgotten. Will you?

Vote November 2nd.

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.

Tune into Tim’s THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! podcast Mondays-Fridays, 11:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2010 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Healthcare, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

THE COUPON SHELL GAME

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 7, 2010

The economic crisis of 2010 is cause for concern for just about everyone. It is difficult to avoid the subject in either personal or professional settings. We’re all looking for creative ways to survive in these difficult times.

Recently I was talking to a merchant in my area who complained how the vendors who serviced his store were slowly and quietly raising their prices as if nobody was paying attention. My friend certainly was. When he confronted them about their escalating prices, they all claimed they had to do something to offset the customers they had been losing recently. In other words, they were making the merchant pay for their problems. For my Liberal friends, this is what is commonly called “Inflation.”

Nonetheless, my friend agonized what to do. He had cut costs as much as possible, tried different types of advertising, experimented with changes to his product line, etc. Regardless what he tried though, he still suffered from fewer patrons visiting his shop. Desperate for ideas, he came up with an idea that went against conventional wisdom, he raised his prices. Actually, he devised a rather slick idea whereby he doubled his prices but introduced a coupon program whereby customers could save 25% if they redeemed the coupon within a certain number of days. This worked remarkably well. More and more customers started to frequent his store thinking they were going to save a lot of money. The reality though was they were actually paying 75% more than before.

This hunger by the consumer to “save” money worked so well, my friend couldn’t print coupons fast enough. After awhile, he didn’t even have to print his coupons in the newspaper as word quickly spread that customers could pick up the coupons in the store. Then, my friend had a stroke of genius, he arranged a 50% sale on Mondays which were normally his slowest day. This resulted in a tsunami of customers flooding his store causing him to hire some additional help.

I visited my friend not long ago as a postscript. He claims his store is doing fine now and is able to laugh about it. To hear him tell it, coupons are nothing more than a clever shell game to conceal inflated prices and driven by consumer greed. You know what the scary part is? It works.

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.

Tune into Tim’s THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! podcast Mondays-Fridays, 11:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2010 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Business | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

AN 86 YEAR OLD BOOK REVIEW

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 6, 2010

Looking for something to read, I went back into my library and pulled out a copy of “The Autobiography of Mark Twain” which I have had since High School. I’ve always been an admirer of Samuel Clemens’ work, but I have to admit I balked at taking his autobiography seriously years ago. This time though, I was in the proper frame of mind and wanted to know more about the renowned author and humorist, not so much about the facts and history of his life, but more about his perspective of the times. I wasn’t disappointed.

The book was originally published in 1924 (fourteen years after Twain’s death) and basically consists of sketches describing his life spanning the years from 1835 to 1910, which is known as a very rich period of American history. He describes life prior to the Civil War, his involvement during the war, and the expansion west. I found his narratives of life in the Midwest, both as a child and an adult, particularly colorful and interesting. Clemens did a remarkable job describing life as a boy living on a farm. His description of the foods of the period made me hungry and I could vividly visualize the school he attended and life on the farm.

I’m afraid African-Americans will not be too happy with the book as Twain uses the “N” word liberally, but not maliciously. It was just the way people talked back then. There was no ulterior motive for using the word, nor venom in his language, it was simply a snapshot of the times. Nonetheless, African-Americans may call for the book to be banned from schools if they read it.

As a writer, I found his rich vocabulary, sentence structure, and punctuation particularly interesting. It was much different than what I am used to in the 21st century. Unlike today where we typically try to gorge ourselves on a novel as expeditiously as possible, Twain’s style forces the reader to slow down and savor each sentence. You can tell that it was written by a craftsman intimate with the English language.

His humor is also different. Instead of today’s “in your face” approach to comedy, Twain mischievously takes the reader down an unknown path where he inevitably springs a humorous conclusion on you. It is not backslapping funny, just elegant humor very tastefully presented. His anecdotes are always designed to teach a lesson and cause a chuckle in the process.

I wanted to read his autobiography, not so much to learn about his family history, which he volunteered reluctantly, but more to understand his perspective of the times which I found was essentially no different today than 100 years ago.

He made a few comments that particularly caught my attention; the first was the cycle of life, to wit:

“A myriad of men are born; they labor and sweat and struggle for bread; they squabble and scold and fight; they scramble for little mean advantages over each other. Age creeps upon them; infirmities follow; shames and humiliations bring down their prides and their vanities. Those they love are taken from them and the joy of life is turned to aching grief. The burden of pain, care, misery, grows heavier year by year. At length ambition is dead; pride is dead; vanity is dead; longing for release in their place. It comes at last – and they vanish from a world where they were of no consequence; where they achieved nothing; where they were a mistake and a failure and a foolishness; will lament them a day and forget them forever. Then another myriad takes their place and copies all they did and goes along the same profitless road and vanishes as they vanished – to make room for another and another and a million other myriads to follow the same arid path through the same desert and accomplish what the first myriad and all the myriads that came after it accomplished – nothing!”

The second observation that caught my attention was his comments regarding success. In the book, he comments on the many bad business deals he had made in his lifetime which cost him dearly. He also missed an opportunity to invest in Alexander Graham Bell’s new invention, the telephone. However, an acquaintance of Twain’s invested $5,000 in the company and was paid back many times over thereby causing the writer to observe:

“It is strange the way the ignorant and inexperienced so often and so undeservedly succeed when the informed and the experienced fail.”

Concerning heroes:

“Our heroes are the men who do things which we recognize with regret and sometimes with secret shame that we cannot do. We find not much in ourselves to admire, we are always privately wanting to be someone else. If everybody was satisfied with himself there would be no heroes.”

On writing, which I wholeheartedly agree:

“…when the tank runs dry you’ve only to leave it alone and it will fill up again in time, while you are asleep – also while you are at work at other things and are quite unaware that this unconscious and profitable cerebration is going on.”

Samuel Clemens was a past master of the anecdote. His autobiography was assembled more as a collection of such stories as opposed to a flowing history. I appreciated his cogent comments regarding the world of the 1800’s. His ability to paint a picture with words and tell a story was like taking a ride on a time machine. I, for one, thoroughly enjoyed the trip, but I’m not sure today’s younger readers would feel likewise as his stories are less about the complexities of life and more about the simple truths of living it.

The book is still available in print. Look for it on the Internet – see Amazon.

Most book reviews are printed either just prior to publication or shortly thereafter. I apologize for the slight delay.

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.

Tune into Tim’s THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! podcast Mondays-Fridays, 11:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2010 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Books, Literature | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

BEWARE OF THE SILVER FOXES

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 5, 2010

As you get older, you start to become more cognizant of your abilities as a worker. There was a time when a person was expected to retire at age 65. However, due to the current economic climate and our ability to live longer, the “Silver Foxes” are more inclined to keep working as opposed to retiring. This may be fine but it makes for a crowded work force and hampers young people from finding a job.

Recently, I came upon a report from AARP entitled, “The Business Case for Workers Age 50+,” which piqued my interest. The publication was originally published in December 2005, but it provides an interesting glimpse into the thinking of the Baby Boomers as it applies to their views on employment and retirement. Below are some highlights I extracted:

“Fortunately, many of today’s workers want to work and want viable work options later in life. AARP research found that 69% of individuals between the ages of 45 and 74 who are either working or are looking for work plan to work in some capacity during so-called retirement. In another study, 68% of workers between the ages of 50 and 70 who have not yet retired reported that they plan to work in some capacity into their retirement years or never retire.”

“The myth that older workers are inflexible and uncreative is not grounded in fact.”

“50+ workers bring experience, dedication, focus, stability, and enhanced knowledge to their work, in many cases to a greater degree than younger workers.”

“As the big Baby Boom Generation approaches traditional retirement age, many U.S. companies face a potentially significant loss of experienced talent in key roles ranging from leadership to sales to certain technical and professional disciplines and many skilled trades. And virtually all companies are likely to face a more competitive U.S. market for talent in the coming years.”

“About half the respondents to a recent survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) said they are seeing many new workers who lack overall professionalism, written communication skills, analytical skills or business knowledge.”

“According to Towers Perrin data, older workers are more motivated to exceed expectations on the job than their younger counterparts are.”

Such quotes should be of interest to not only older workers but to younger workers as well who must compete with the old guard. Basically, the report suggests the Baby Boomers are not going to go away quietly. Therefore, my advice to young people entering the workforce is simple: Beware of the Silver Foxes.

For a copy of the 100 page report, see: http://assets.aarp.org/rgcenter/econ/workers_fifty_plus.pdf

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.

Tune into Tim’s THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! podcast Mondays-Fridays, 11:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2010 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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RETIREMENT BREAKDOWN

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 4, 2010

I think we all know the Presidency of the United States is a very demanding job. Every now and then we comment on how the job ages the Commander-In-Chief, such as: “Gee, did you see how gray he’s getting,” or “Wow, he’s really starting to look worn out.” As bad as the president ages in office, it is not uncommon for his health to decline more rapidly upon his retirement. LBJ, for example, had heart trouble and died just four short years after leaving office. Richard Nixon lasted longer (20 years) but became gravely ill after leaving office, suffering from phlebitis and a blood clot. Eisenhower died of congestive heart failure after eight years of retirement, and Ronald Reagan had his “long goodbye” with Alzheimer’s disease. These were all men who drew their strength from the office they occupied, but when it was over, it was like someone pulled an electrical plug from a socket and they slowed to a stop.

Presidents do not possess a monopoly over this phenomenon as many people experience it upon their retirement, whereby life slowly grinds to a halt. I contend that regardless of whether we like or dislike our jobs, we draw strength from them. Our body’s physical regimen adapts to our work, it keeps us alert and gives us a rhythm. Our bodies may grow weary over time, but it adapts and tries to operate routinely. For example, suppose you normally wake up at 5:30am every working day. Come the weekend or a day off, your body has an inclination to wake up at the same time and expects you to follow your routine. If you do not, you might feel out of sorts because the pattern has been disrupted.

I discussed my thesis with a doctor friend who confirmed my suspicions. He said he often sees this phenomenon in his office; a variety of ailments begin to form the moment a person retires. Even when a person develops a physical problem while still working, quite often his physical regimen adapts to the problem and masks it. Yet upon retirement, the regimen relaxes and the problem quickly manifests itself into a serious medical problem.

When we decide to retire, it is important we somehow remain active. We may not have a high powered job anymore, but we can ill-afford to relax too much and stagnate. There are obviously a lot of things we can do to stay busy and it needn’t be too taxing mentally or physically. For example, play a sport like golf, tennis, fishing, or basic exercise and walking; take up a hobby; garden or perform home repair; take on a smaller part-time job; volunteer in your community such as something for your local school, hospital, hospice, library, chamber of commerce, or become actively involved in a nonprofit organization; attend school or, better yet, teach part time (after all, you may very well possess certain knowledge and wisdom that a younger person may need personally or professionally).

Changing and adapting to life after retirement is the hard part. Making the transition to your new life requires you to break some old habits and build new ones, which is something we tend to resist as we get older. The point is, resting and physically degenerating is the easy part, working and enjoying life is the hard part. As Malcolm Forbes observed, “Retirement kills more people than hard work ever did.”

For my earlier article on “Retirement” click HERE.

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.

Tune into Tim’s THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! podcast Mondays-Fridays, 11:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2010 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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

PRESS 1 FOR ENGLISH

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 1, 2010

Welcome to (any company using voice mail). Your call is very important to us. Listen to your options carefully:

PRESS 1 – for English.

PRESS 2 – por Espanol.

PRESS 3 – for any other language except French, Greek, Dutch, Italian, German, Chinese, Portuguese, Korean, Japanese, and Ebonics.

PRESS 4 – if you detest Voice Mail.

Thank you. While we’re processing your request we’ll now play some incredibly boring music repetitively that has been proven to drive away most adults.

PRESS 1 – if you are a glutton for punishment and want to continue waiting.

PRESS 2 – if you would like to call back and be bored to death another time.

PRESS 3 – if you would like to change language options.

PRESS 4 – if you detest Voice Mail.

Please note, for Quality Assurance purposes some of our calls may be monitored. In reality though, we couldn’t care less.

PRESS 1 – to enter your nine digit social security number.

PRESS 2 – to enter your account number which we will lose after you have entered it.

PRESS 3 – to enter the winning Lotto number for tonight’s drawing.

PRESS 4 – to enter the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin.

For a Customer Service agent:

PRESS 1 – to speak to “Bob” in India.

PRESS 2 – to speak to “Bob” in Baghdad.

PRESS 3 – to speak to “Bob” in Pakistan.

PRESS 4 – to speak to “Bob” in the United States. Sorry, just kidding.

Thank you for your patience. All of our agents are currently busy with other customers at this time. Please stay on the line and the next available agent will take your call in the order it was received, which happens to be backwards. While you’re waiting, take your telephone outside to your front yard, jump up and down, wave your arms madly, and scream like a chicken as it will be a better use of your time than waiting for us to do anything on the phone.

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.

Tune into Tim’s THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! podcast Mondays-Fridays, 11:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2010 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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