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Archive for May, 2011

THE SYSTEM IS BROKEN

Posted by Tim Bryce on May 31, 2011

We are still in the early part of the 21st century, and instead of looking brightly into the future we tend to believe the outlook is rather dark and ominous. These are strange and turbulent times we live in. Regardless of your political persuasion, Americans are suspicious of their government officials, how the government operates in general, the political parties, big business, even their neighbor. All three branches of the government are believed to be tainted. Trillions of taxpayer dollars are given away either as pork or dispensed to those who fraudulently abuse government programs, and there is an enormous amount of data available to support this contention. Our trust in government, at all levels, is reaching new lows. We no longer believe politicians are trying to do what is best for the country overall, but for themselves and are nothing more than puppets for lobbyists and their political party. Further, big business in this country is now considered an icon for greed as opposed to the captains of industry. It seems we have traded ethics, patriotism, and unity for graft, cronyism, and corruption.

Quite simply, the perception is the system is broken, not just a little, but a lot. So, what holds us together? The average American just hangs on in the hopes that somehow things will get better. The reality though is the damage is so massive there is no single person who can fix it regardless of who we elect. So, what can be done? Fire our politicians and start over with new ones? I think the problem will just replicate itself. Do we tear up the Constitution and develop something else? I know of no politician living today who can match the brilliance of the authors of the Constitution, just lawyers. There is nothing wrong with the basic logical design of our government, but we have certainly botched its physical implementation. It is large, complex and unmanageable, and as such, prone to failure.

Let us not forget our system was designed and implemented by generations of people with strong moral convictions. They believed in the Golden Rule, “to do unto others as they would have others do unto you”; to observe the Ten Commandments; and cherish the human spirit, it’s dignity and honor, and defend its need for freedom. Based on this, our forefathers tried to lead worthy and honorable lives. Cheating was unfathomable and taking relief was unimaginable. If you indeed needed help, you reluctantly asked for it as you didn’t want to disgrace your family and become a burden on society. Yes, there was always an underworld, but it was rather small by comparison.

I do not believe we possess the same fervent beliefs as our predecessors did and, as such, our morality is in decline. We are now encouraged to take money even if we didn’t earn it, and applauded for cheating whenever possible. If we are truly disappointed with our government, we should also be disappointed in ourselves as it is nothing more than a reflection of our character. After all, since the government is elected by the people, and we continue to elect corrupt officials and tolerate corrupt practices, then we are undoubtedly corrupt as well.

Actually, we shouldn’t be surprised by our moral decay as it has been eroding for quite some time. To illustrate, The American Religious Identification Survey has been conducted several times over the years in order to study the religious trends of the American people. Comparing the reports from 1990 and 2008 (spanning just 18 years) within the last quarter century, the study found:

 

1990

2008

Christian

151,225-86%

173,402-76%

Others

5,853-03%

7,796-03%

No Religion

14,331-08%

34,169-15%

No answer

4,031-02%

11,815-05%

TOTAL

175,440

228,182

(Numbers are expressed in thousands)

The obvious conclusion from this study is that Christianity is in decline, and Agnostics/Atheists (“No Religion”) are on the rise. Theoretically, organized religion is suppose to teach and promote moral values, but if this is in decline, then perhaps we should not be surprised to see the American system begin to deteriorate.

So what should we do about the American system? Desolve our political parties? Dismiss our government and start over? Rewrite the Constitution? Hardly. As an old systems man, I can tell you authoritatively that systems are built by evolution, not revolution. Nobody has built the perfect system the first time, and nobody ever will. It is an ongoing process of modifying and improving the existing system, something we have neglected for far too long in this country. We can certainly design new processes to help prohibit fraud and corruption, and we certainly can find new leaders who are more interested in doing what is best for the country as opposed to their pocketbook. However, we have to recognize the American system hinges on our own morality, and that is an area within ourselves we must first address. If all you do is lead a noble and worthy life, surrounding yourself with people of similar character, and not tolerating amoral behavior, then you are improving the American system.

The 21st century will either be remembered as the century where America was reborn or suffered a slow and painful death. As for me, I vote for the former and not the latter.

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, 7:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Politics, Social Issues, Society | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

THE FIVE WORD CONVERSATION

Posted by Tim Bryce on May 26, 2011

I recently had the shortest telephone conversation of my life, involving no more than five words. It was short and to the point and would not have been possible without the two parties knowing each other so well. The other party was a good friend of mine who appreciates a cigar as much as I do. On Fridays, after work, it has become customary for us to sit down in his backyard, light up, and decompress from the week’s events. We’ve done this so often, we no longer find it necessary to waste a lot of time with lengthy conversations on the phone. It went like this:

Friend: “Hello?”

Me: “Cigar?”

Friend: “Come over.”

Me: “Bye.”

As I was driving over to his house, I reflected on the brevity of the conversation which could not have lasted more than seven seconds. In the past, such conversations would take a lot longer, for example:

Friend: “Hello?”

Me: “How are you doing? What’s going on?”

Friend: “Not much. I’m just bushed from the week. I’ve been fighting with the usual gang of idiots at work. They’re driving me crazy.”

Me: “Me too. I had some crackpot call me today from Timbuktu who wanted to argue about my column. I listened to him carefully, thanked him for his input, and then blocked him from calling me again after we hung up. I’m beat.”

Friend: “Me too. Why don’t you come over for a cigar?”

Me: “Yea, I think I’ll swing by after I clean up my desk and shut things down. I’ll see you in about a half hour.”

Friend: “No problem, I’ll see you then.”

Me: “Bye.”

Instead of seven seconds, our conversation would normally take about five minutes. From a technical point of view, the shortness of the conversation represented a quantum leap in improved productivity. However, I think this is another instance where we’ve been conditioned by technology. Instead of being more personable with the other party, we’re now content to operate with small sound bites, a type of shorthand not too dissimilar to what people use in text messaging.

Interestingly, when I finally caught up with my friend at his house, we sat down and lit up our cigars and kicked back to relax. We could finally unwind and articulate the week’s trials and tribulations:

Me: “Anything new?”

Friend: “No. SOS.”

(And we puffed away on our cigars as we checked our messages on our cell phones).

How about that? Another record.

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, 7:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Communications, Social Issues, Society | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

YOUR MANAGEMENT STYLE

Posted by Tim Bryce on May 24, 2011

I know a young man who was recently promoted to the position of “Project Manager.” This was his first management position and he was naturally a little nervous going into it. Knowing I frequently write on the subject, he asked for my advice as to what to expect. I began by saying management is not for everyone as it represents a leadership position where you become responsible for your subordinates. Some thrive in such a capacity, others prefer being led. I had a friend who was a master machinist and happened to be promoted to supervisor where he would be responsible for five people under him. This distressed him greatly as he worried about their performance. So much so, he developed ulcers and became quite ill. He begged his boss to go back to being a machinist, whereby he quickly regained his health.

Just because you’ve been given the title “Manager” doesn’t mean you’ve suddenly been imbued with certain knowledge. You have to work at it. For example, in the Information Technology industry, it is common to see a successful programmer elevated to analyst, then to project manager, then to I.T. manager. Such a person may have been a great programmer, but that is no qualification for becoming a manager. Not surprising, the Peter Principle is applied whereby the person is elevated to a position above his level of competency and the company suffers for it. In most cases, such I.T. managers have a rather narrow perspective as they tend to think less as managers and more as programmers.

Whenever thrust into the position, a person must develop his/her own unique style of management. Quite often we will try to emulate others we respect, we may also read books and attend seminars to learn management techniques, and solicit advice from our confidants. However, we must realize what works for one person may not for another, and because of this, we have to tailor our strengths and weaknesses to the situation at hand. We will inevitably experiment with different suggestions until we find a comfortable style of management.

There are ultimately three variables dictating our style of management:

1. Our assigned duties and responsibilities which defines the scope of our management authority, and as such, our mission as manager.

2. Available resources, both human and machine. The skills and proficiencies of our workers and equipment will play a significant role in the timely completion of work products. For humans we consider experience, performance, and skill set, which includes interpersonal relations (defining our socialization skills). For equipment, we primarily consider its limitations. As my old football coach was fond of saying, “A team is as strong as its weakest player.” If we have weak workers, we will need to improve their skills. If we have limited technology, we may need to consider upgrades. Of course, this depends on the availability of another type of resource, financial.

3. The time allotted to demonstrate you are achieving your goal. For a single project, you will likely need to demonstrate the project is proceeding on time and within budget. For departmental management you will need to demonstrate it is under control and improving productivity. It is very important you understand the timing variable as it will greatly influence your style.

These three variables define the hand we are dealt; how we play the hand is then up to us. Some will become drunk with power and try to micromanage everything under the persona of Attila the Hun. Some will try to make use of carrot-and-stick techniques to encourage workers to perform better, and still others will allow workers to walk all over them.

As for me, I always had a strong sense of organization and communications. Standardized and reusable methodologies for conducting business are invaluable in terms of defining Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How, all of which improves communications and clearly delineates how work products are to be produced. Unlike micromanagement, I prefer managing from the bottom-up, whereby assignments are clearly defined and employees are then empowered to see the task through to completion themselves. Other than this, I monitor the operation and run interference to overcome obstacles and obstructions. In other words, I believe in spending less time supervising, and more time managing.

The point is, this is a style that works for me. It may or may not work for you. As to my young friend becoming a Project Manager, I admonished him that, until such time as he discovers his own style of management, I recommended he remain flexible, to adapt and adjust accordingly, study others (what works and what doesn’t), and learn more than teach. After all, style comes with experience. As such, I advised him to learn everything he can about his niche of the business, be fair and honest, and lead by example. Never ask someone to do something you are not prepared to do yourself.

We must never forget human behavior rests at the heart of the science of management. It is not about technology, it is not about numbers, it is about people, which is why we call it “man”agement. Perhaps the best way to define it is “Management is getting people to do what you want, when you want to do it.” And it all begins with your style of management.

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, 7:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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

WHAT INSPIRES US?

Posted by Tim Bryce on May 22, 2011

Baseball immortal Willie Mays recently turned 80 and as a kid I always had great respect for him. True, the Hall of Famer won his share of awards for his play on the field, but that wasn’t what impressed me about him. Even as a kid, I recognized his love for the game and how he was a student of it. He would watch everything on the field and had an uncanny ability of being able to steal the other team’s signs which gave him a definite edge. Some would only watch him when he was at the plate. I learned to watch him all the time. As a Little Leaguer, I tried to emulate his play, not just his physical abilities, but his never satiated curiosity of baseball. He was very inspirational to me and helped create a life long love affair with the game. So much so, I purchased an autographed baseball bearing his signature years ago.

Inspiration stimulates us to action, to try to do better, to exceed our own expectations, and represents the hot buttons we push to motivate ourselves. Inanimate objects, such as flags and other symbols, are important, but I’m not certain they truly inspire us. Music, poetry, and text stirs our souls, but it is people that truly inspire us. It is the imagery of the human figure we relate to, whether they possess a quality we wish to emulate or what they have been able to achieve in their lifetime, something which causes us to become envious of them, something we want to replicate. True, their words may be important, but its their symbolism we act on. Although inspiration can result from major actions, it can also come from simple deeds or lessons learned, something that strikes another like an epiphany and fills a void where one exists.

There are essentially two characteristics causing people to become role models for others, either who they are (their station in life) or what they have accomplished. As to the former, we look to others for guidance and leadership and invest our trust in them, whether it is a teacher, a coach, a member of the clergy, an officer in the military, a government official or whatever. We believe in what they say and what they represent, and as long as they maintain a clean record, they will always remain an inspirational symbol for others to emulate. However, should their reputation become tarnished, people will readily abandon them.

I tend to believe people are more inspired by the accomplishments of others who are measured by their ability to get things done, particularly in the face of adversity. They stood against the status quo and against all odds. Although we remember those who were successful, we also find admiration in those who tragically failed. It is the fight in their eyes that spurs us on. To stubbornly push on, not knowing whether we will win or lose. It is this courageous tenacity, to boldly go where nobody else has gone before, that people gravitate towards. It is their hard work, their sacrifice, their accomplishments that inspire people to action, e.g., “If he/she can do it, so can I.” Even if the person’s reputation is soiled, their accomplishment is not. Case in point, baseball’s Pete Rose; even if you think his reputation has been ruined, you have to tip your hat to him for his 4,256 hits, a major league milestone which will likely never be broken.

Those that inspire us tend to be quotable. There was either something the person said or a lesson they indelibly impressed upon our mind. This is particularly true of religious leaders such as Jesus Christ, Muhammad, Buddha, and Confucius. Their quotations help make the hard connection between ourselves and the other person.

The people who inspire us says a lot about ourselves, how we think, our interests and priorities. Whereas creative types might find inspiration from the artistic works of Pablo Picasso or the poetry of Robert Frost, others might find the genius of Albert Einstein more appealing. Many find inspiration in the work of Mahatma Gandhi. As for me, I see much of his work as admirable, but not inspirational. Instead, I find inspiration from other types of people. In addition to my family and religious figures, the following list of people have positively influenced me in my walk through life. See if you can glimpse into my personality.

Winston Churchill – I’ve read a lot about Churchill over the years and have even visited his home in Chartwell. His rise to becoming Prime Minister during the dark days of World War II is fascinating, particularly as he tried to hold Great Britain together until the New World could come to its assistance. As a writer, his “History of the English Speaking People” was magnificent. And as a cigar aficionado, I envied his cigar humidor featuring over 10,000 cigars. When I visited his home, I went to his study where I could imagine him working at his standup desk. I stood there for quite some time taking it all in. I think it’s Churchill’s defiance of Hitler, his oratory and immense curiosity about everything that I am attracted to.

Favorite quote: “Nothing can save England if she will not save herself. If we lose faith in ourselves, in our capacity to guide and govern, if we lose our will to live, then indeed our story is told.”

Abraham Lincoln – Lincoln was another favorite subject I studied. His rise to the Presidency and his ability to turn former adversaries into friends is a lesson for us all. I also admired his ability to stay focused during the Civil War, even under the weight of his own son’s death.

Favorite quote: “The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise — with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew.”

Jack Benny – some may be surprised to see Jack’s name mentioned here. In addition to being a great comedian, he taught me an important lesson about teamwork. To Benny, it wasn’t important for people to tune in to see or hear him on television or radio, it was important for people to tune into “The Show.” He would be the first to recognize the contributions of his cast, the writers, his guests, and everyone else involved with the show. Because of his focus on teamwork, the Benny show remained in the Top Ten for years and years.

Favorite quote: “I don’t deserve this award, but I have arthritis and I don’t deserve that either.”

Ronald Reagan – It was interesting to watch Reagan’s rise to the White House. He came at a time when morale in the country was very low and I give him credit for finally ending the Cold War.

Favorite quote: “Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere as long as the policy you’ve decided upon is being carried out.”

Theodore Roosevelt – I read a lot about Roosevelt as he ascended to the Presidency. What always amazed me was his energy and zeal for life. He was far from being a physical specimen, but his enthusiasm was contagious, even when you only read it in print.

Favorite quote: “There are two things that I want you to make up your minds to: first, that you are going to have a good time as long as you live – I have no use for the sour-faced man – and next, that you are going to do something worthwhile, that you are going to work hard and do the things you set out to do.”

Billy Mitchell – the forgotten Army General who advanced the concept of “Air Power” and had the audacity of telling his superiors in the military they were wrong, even in the face of his own court martial. Mitchell was prophetic about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor by 17 years. He was ostracized for telling the military what they didn’t want to hear, the truth. I do this quite often myself.

Favorite quote: “In the development of air power, one has to look ahead and not backward and figure out what is going to happen, not too much what has happened.”

Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain) – More than just his adventures around the world as documented in his many books, Clemens inspired me by saving himself from bankruptcy and saving the honor of his family by starting his career over again in his late 50’s. And as any writer who has studied his work can tell you, his mastery of the English language, his use of words and sentence structure was incomparable.

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

So what does this list say about me? That I am attracted to people who are unabashed visionaries, not afraid of adversity, their resolve in themselves and their cause, and to rise above their limitations to achieve their goals.

As for Willie Mays, I was just glad to see him play the game he loved. My favorite quote of his was honest and something I took to heart, “In order to excel, you must be completely dedicated to your chosen sport. You must also be prepared to work hard and be willing to accept constructive criticism. Without one-hundred percent dedication, you won’t be able to do this.”

Even to this day, I keep his autographed baseball on the credenza in my office as a reminder. Say Hey, Willie on your 80th.

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, 7:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Life, Social Issues, Society | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

MY SENIOR-SENIOR PROM

Posted by Tim Bryce on May 19, 2011

My first high school senior prom was held in 1972, my second was held 39 years later, except this time I was attending as a chaperone as a favor for a friend. In the process, I saw a lot of similarities to my prom, and some startling differences. Nonetheless, it was an eye opening experience for me. Since my children are grown up, and I really didn’t know any of the students there, I would like to believe I looked at it rather objectively.

The word “prom” is derived from the word “promenade” which means it is used to denote entrance into adulthood. As such, it is normally a formal black-tie affair to display your grooming, manners, and taste in dress. The only problem is that young people, ages 17-18, are still going through an awkward maturation stage of finding their identity. This was no different than my day. In terms of appearances, the women easily out shined the men. Although most of the ladies wore fine gowns and had their hair and makeup well in place, there were quite a few who looked more like participants from “Dancing with the Stars” with quite a lot of flesh on display. There were also a lot of women wearing tight spandex outfits which I thought had disappeared with the 1970’s. It hadn’t and was back in the form of some rather short and revealing outfits.

The dress and appearance of the young men in attendance ran across the spectrum. Some were well dressed and quaffed, but most looked uncomfortable and out of place in their outfits. Some men at this age can wear clothes well, others cannot, particularly those who never wore a suit before their prom. Then there are the “zanies” where they wore some rather avant-garde outfits with some rather strange hats. There was, of course, the hippie look, the loud suits with obnoxious ties, there was even one fellow in a complete white tux, tails and top hat, who I affectionately dubbed the “Ringmaster.” Perhaps the strangest sight though were two young men who were dressed in Sgt. Pepper band uniforms, one looked like John Lennon and the other like a short Paul McCartney. Regardless, the outfits achieved what they desperately sought, attention. I would like to believe we were better dressed in my day but I doubt it. Keep in mind, the 1970’s was when the leisure suit began to appear and tuxes came with frilly shirts, and the hair was much longer than it is today.

Alcohol has been a staple of the prom experience for as long as I can remember. Some need it to overcome their shyness for the evening, others for bravado. If you took a drink, you were cool about it and didn’t overindulge and you most definitely did not flaunt it in the faces of the school administrators who were there to chaperone. This time though, there was one young man in attendance who was thoroughly inebriated and made no attempt to hide it. Consequently, the police contacted his parents to pick him up before they would be forced to arrest him.

Unlike my day, there was no smoking allowed anywhere around the venue, even by the chaperones like myself who craved a cigar. It was impossible for anyone to smoke any cannabis as there was no tobacco smoke to mask the smell of drugs. As such, we could not find any evidence of the use of drugs at this year’s party.

One difference between yesteryear and today is that we had a band play at our prom, or at just about any other dance we attended. Today, DJ’s are the norm who do a capable job of keeping the music loud and varied. I just wish they had some Sinatra in their repertoire.

All in all, the young people were rather well behaved…until they started to dance. One of the principal reasons for holding a prom is to make contact with the opposite sex. In my day, we did some rather strange rock-and-roll dances, as well as a waltz for slower songs. This time though, yes, I did see a slow dance now and then, but when it came to the fast songs I was stunned to see a dance whereby the woman turns around and places her posterior squarely into the groin section of the man who then humps away generously. As this was my first exposure to this “Dogs in heat” dance, I was taken aback. At first, I saw just a few couples doing it, but then I realized the whole dance floor was humping away in rhythm. It was quite a spectacle.

I noticed a handful of ladies who refused to do the step, but most openly welcomed the opportunity to release some sexual energy. I could only imagine what effect this was having on the men. Actually, I thought the ladies should have been paid on a per dance basis as it was some of the finest lap dancing I had ever seen. I just wish I had the condom concession afterwards.

I asked one of the more virtuous young ladies present (one that didn’t participate in the humping) why the students danced in this manner. It was her contention the men didn’t really know how to dance and this was the only primal form of dancing they could understand (which perhaps explains why they call such dancing “cavemanning”). I thought it was a rather over-simplistic answer, as I believe the move was probably learned from a television video. Besides, why bother learning to dance properly if your partner seems willing to let you hump her? Yes, we were probably just as horny in my day as they are today, we just weren’t as flagrant about it.

The open display of homosexuality was also a bit of an eye opener as well. There were, of course, gays during my day but they tended to be somewhat discreet. We all knew they were gay, they just didn’t want to create a spectacle about it. At today’s prom, I saw just the opposite; lesbians dressed as men with their female dates, and a pair of openly gay men on the dance floor giving long, sloppy kisses for all to see. Oh yes, and a lot of humping right along with everyone else.

Despite the humping, and open displays of public affection, be it homo or heterosexual, I observed the police standing no more than ten feet away from “the action” but would not intervene, nor were the chaperones as it might infringe on the rights of the students.

The next day, my sister-in-law called to ask me what the prom was like. I replied, “Two words: Sodom and Gomorrah.” I also do not believe what I witnessed at this high school prom was any different than any other high school prom, at least in our area. Now, I don’t want to sound like some old fuddy-duddy. In fact, those who know me realize I have a rather ribald sense of humor. However, the fact remains there is a time and place for everything, and I believe the whole concept of prom has been distorted beyond its original premise. It is less about “coming of age” and more about flagrant sexuality.

I personally do not believe the prom should be abolished as young people need such a venue to socialize, but I would certainly make the following suggestions to bring it under control. First, have a pre-prom dance class where it is made clear what is permissible, and what is not. Back in my day, we learned to dance in Junior High (Middle School), but schools do not offer such programs anymore. Some simple dance classes could go a long way to overcoming the humping problem. Second, mandate that parents chaperone the dance, not just school officials. I think most parents would be surprised with what they would see at the prom these days. It would also inhibit the young people and force them to behave better.

As a writer I found the experience rather enjoyable, even if it felt like you were at a peep show. As a parent though, I would be deeply concerned what is going on at the high school prom these days. Then again, there are a lot of parents who simply do not care, e.g., “Kids will be kids.” These are the same knuckle heads who haven’t got a clue what is going on in the lives of their children and are perfectly content with having others raise them with questionable moral values.

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, 7:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Social Issues, Society | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

HOW TO DEFEAT OBAMA IN 2012

Posted by Tim Bryce on May 17, 2011

We’re now just 18 months away from election day which might seem like an eternity to voters, but an excruciatingly short amount of time to those running political campaigns. President Obama will be a formidable opponent in 2012, but he certainly can be beaten. There are four things an opposing candidate must do in order to defeat him:

1. GATHER RESOURCES – You will need both financial and human resources, lots of each. In terms of money, you will need more than Obama can generate. Unlike the president, who has the luxury of having the press on his side, you will need to buy your media coverage. This means your campaign will be more expensive as you do not want to run out of cash in the waning days before the election. In terms of human resources, you will need a dedicated team of volunteers and workers in every state and municipality across the country. Can’t get enough resources, either one or the other? Don’t bother running.

2. ORGANIZATION – You will need to assemble an effective infrastructure of people and communications. Although there will be a need to acclimate to the nuances of the locale, the organization must be able to move as a single organism. This means not only efficient and secured communications, but also some rather sophisticated systems to monitor the performance of your organization.

3. MANAGEMENT – Although you will need a centralized group of people to administer your campaign, you must be ready to personally jump in and make decisions. Do not leave the running of your operation to just your staff, be actively involved. After all, if you become president, you will have to do likewise in office.

4. STRATEGY – It will be necessary to develop “mind share” in the general public. You must be able to show the status quo is no longer tolerable, and demonstrate you can rectify the problems. In other words, you must push not only the president’s weaknesses, but your strengths as well. Fortunately, the president has made enough mistakes which has caused the country to become disgruntled with his performance, but you must go further in the media and in personal appearances to foster an image of his incompetency. Be adamant and unapologetic, that it is time to reverse course from his policies. You must not only discredit him, but you must attack his ideology and anyone subscribing to it, particularly the cronies in his administration and those in the Congress seeking reelection. You must apply this full court press early in the campaign in order to convince the public you are correct. Repetitive slogans and talking points told excessively leaves impressions in the minds of people. Never let the president elude his record.

If this all sounds familiar, it should, it comes from Obama’s 2008 play book. His attacks on George W. Bush were legendary and linking him to the Republican party caused John McCain to be seen as just another Bush wannabe simply through guilt by association. The difference now is the president will no longer be attacking the status quo as much as he will be defending it. Blaming Bush will cause him to lose points in the polls. The status quo is his Achilles Heel. Use it to the same degree he did in 2008.

In contrast, the subjects you must embrace include the economy, immigration, moral values, patriotism, and the Constitution. You must also make voters understand some hard decisions will have to be made in order for the country to survive. If they recognize the severity of the problem, they will support you.

You must also come up with a way to appeal to the youth of the country. Don’t look for MTV or SNL to help you. Instead, your volunteers must stay focused on school boards and officials and hold them responsible for the actions of teachers and questionable curriculum presented in school. Get your volunteers active at the grassroots level.

It should come as no surprise to learn the general media is your enemy and is working to undermine your election. Be forthright, honest and direct with them, but do not allow them to misrepresent a policy or position you have taken. Hold them accountable for any inaccurate reporting of your position, and publish it on the Internet for all to read. Never play defense with the press or your opponent, take the offense. Whoever is forced to play defense in the next election will undoubtedly lose.

It is anyone’s guess as to who the Republican candidate will be at this stage of the game. One thing is for certain, whoever the media lampoons the most, are the people the Democrats are most frightened of. Right now it is Donald Trump and Michele Bachmann, which probably wouldn’t be a bad ticket.

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, 7:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

CHECKING OUT THE CHECKOUT

Posted by Tim Bryce on May 15, 2011

When I was a young lad visiting my grandparents in Buffalo, New York, there was a local grocery store I loved to visit with them. It had wooden floors, a pickle barrel, and separate barrels for butter and cheese. Milk was still sold in glass bottles, and the store butcher cut meat in accordance with your wishes. There was also freshly ground coffee that smelled heavenly, as well as the fresh bread sold there. To a young boy, the shop was a wonder to behold with all of its sights, sounds, and smells. The only other institution that could hold a candle to it was an old hardware store in my hometown of Norwalk, Connecticut. It too had wooden floors, barrels on the floor for different nails and screws, a wide array of tools for just about any task, and the smell of freshly cut pine enraptured me. Such stores were magical and I never wanted to leave.

The focal point of both stores understandably was the checkout counter featuring a massive cash register with a wide array of white ivory buttons. I was mesmerized by the clerk whose fingers flew across the rows of buttons rapidly and accurately to record the transactions, each making a distinct and authoritative mechanical sound. When the register drawer was opened, a pleasant sounding bell would ring. A simple receipt was printed which identified the store by name and number, today’s date, the price of each item you purchased, sales tax, and the total. The whole receipt was no bigger than a baseball card. The machine itself was a majestic instrument made of brass with decorative swirls and lines adorning it and there was a massive handle on the right side of the register to process the final transaction. The register drawer inside it was made of wood and the oils from the fingers of clerks over the years turned it deep brown thereby revealing its age. The machine was sturdy, reliable and never broke down. To my young mind, it was truly a work of art and added a touch of class to the establishment.

Today the checkout counter is a much less pleasurable experience. Registers are plain looking plastic boxes with considerable electronics, making them much less impressive than the splendid grandeur of yesteryear. In most stores we are asked to swipe credit cards which rarely read them properly on the first pass. Then we must sign our names to acknowledge the transaction, not on paper, but on a touch screen which has a tendency of making our autographs look garbled as if it were signed by a five year old huckleberry. You’ll notice the machine will always display “Signature Accepted” regardless of how illegible it is to read, even if it is nothing more than an “X.”

Then there is the matter of the paper receipts. Instead of simple slips of paper, the machine now generates “War and Peace” containing legal terms and conditions, rebate offers that are too illegible to properly process, along with coupons and discounts on everything except what you want to buy. Reams of paper are generated thereby taking up considerable space in our wallets or purses. For a paperless society, we sure know how to kill a lot of trees.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, I’m always amazed by the automatic checkout counters in the mega hardware stores and supermarkets. The concept is to allow customers to check themselves out without assistance from clerks, thereby saving the company money in terms of personnel needed to process the order. Interestingly, I have yet to see an automatic checkout counter without a human standing nearby to supervise activity and intervene when trouble arises, which seems to be always. Because these checkouts seem to be prone to processing snafus, I wonder why companies bother. After all, I prefer human contact where you are, in theory, to be treated cordially and friendly, thereby encouraging repeat business, references, and increased sales. I don’t need clerks heckling me with “Good Mornings,”but rather someone who cares about me visiting his/her store.

God, how I miss those big brass cash registers.

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, 7:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Society, Technology | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

FRIDAY THE 13TH

Posted by Tim Bryce on May 12, 2011

I never did quite understand why people are so superstitious regarding Friday the 13th. There are many ancient myths and legends regarding it, but nothing of any substance. My personal favorite is the day it represents in 1307 when the Knights Templar of France were to be arrested on charges of heresy, which led to the demise of their order. However, this is still nothing but a legend and not rooted in fact. I tend to believe the reason Friday the 13th is unpopular is simply because it is based on a number and day, both of which are considered unlucky independent of each other, and putting them together means double the trouble. I truly believe it’s as simple as that. At least it makes more sense than what anyone else can offer, pro or con.

People are particularly leery of the number 13. For example, it is quite common not to have a floor in a building labeled “13th”, even though there certainly is a 13th floor. I guess that makes the 14th floor “13th” in disguise and we certainly shouldn’t set foot there, right?

When it comes to Friday the 13th, I have seen people who I had previously thought to be rather rational cancel all appointments, refuse to work, and not make any business deals in fear such actions will be jinxed. Some take the day off completely in fear something catastrophic will happen that day. Nonsense. It’s all a self-fulfilling prophecy where people will likely run into trouble if they are predisposed for such a negative event. They could easily make it a lucky day if they were more inclined to think positively.

Then there are those who take the superstition to the sublime and believe such preposterous things as:

* If you cut your hair on Friday the 13th, someone in your family will die.

* A child born on Friday the 13th will be unlucky for life.

* If a funeral procession passes you on Friday the 13th, you will be the next to die.

I don’t think Granny from the “Beverly Hillbillies” could explain it any better.

Hollywood perpetuates the myth as it is good business for them to do so. Not only have they created a movie bearing the name “Friday the 13th,” the producers of slasher films are inclined to release their trash on Friday the 13th thereby capitalizing on the mood of the people that day.

The date is also good for authors and book publishers specializing in books and articles pertaining to the paranormal. Let’s face it, Friday the 13th is just good business.

As for me, regardless of the number of cracks in the sidewalk I step on, or the number of black cats that cross my path that day, Friday the 13th has always been a lucky day for me. I started to notice this when I was in grade school. Whereas some kids were intimidated by the superstition, I somehow managed to have a very fortuitous day, either getting straight A’s in my classes or perhaps hitting a home run in Little League. It seems I can do no wrong. If anything, I seem to have a problem with the rest of the days in the year, but I definitely do not have a problem with Friday the 13th. In fact, I welcome 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, 7:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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

IMMIGRATION REFORM

Posted by Tim Bryce on May 10, 2011

Currently, the federal government is preoccupied with talks regarding the federal debt and 2012 budget, two very important subjects that have overshadowed just about everything, including illegal immigration. Undoubtedly this will be an important issue in the 2012 elections. We may be distracted from it now but the problem is not going away anytime soon and does indeed impact our economy, and the next election. The left tries to trivialize the problem as they see illegals as potential voters, while the right is angered that our existing immigration policies and codes are not being enforced.

Several years ago our company wanted to bring an Australian and Brazilian to this country because they had special technical skills we needed. To bring them in, we had to jump through a lot of hoops and legal red tape. It was not easy. In 2010, Homeland Security reported the total number of persons legally naturalizing was 619,913. As an aside, the leading countries were Mexico (67,062), India (61,142), the Philippines (35,465), the People’s Republic of China (33,969), and Vietnam (19,313). For the full report, see: U.S. Naturalizations: 2010 – Homeland Security (April 2011) 619,913 is an impressive number and is higher than years past, but it becomes rather insignificant when you consider there are 13 million illegals currently in the country. That’s right, 13 million people.

Some would argue illegal aliens are needed to perform cheap labor. This is a rather naive argument as they are hardly “cheap”. They may be paid less wages, but we all pay for the illegals one way or another. Among other things, they get free medical treatment and a free education that U.S. taxpayers pay for. Again, there are those who suggest this is but a mere pittance. Not really, and I do not believe most Americans grasp the magnitude of the costs involved. To this end, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) prepared an in-depth report on this very subject and found we are paying a staggering $113 billion a year to support illegal aliens. That’s right, $113 billion a year.

Let’s break the $113 billion down further, FAIR contends $84 billion is absorbed by state and local governments. They go on to say, “Education for the children of illegal aliens constitutes the single largest cost to taxpayers, at an annual price tag of nearly $52 billion,” which, again, is picked up at the state and local levels. If you are having trouble understanding why state governments are struggling to balance their budgets, you can now start to understand why. FAIR contends, “The annual outlay that illegal aliens cost U.S. taxpayers is an average amount per native-headed household of $1,117.” That’s right, $1,117 per household paying taxes. This doesn’t leave much for our other important programs.

So, is illegal immigration really “cheap”? Hardly. Does it have a bearing on our economy? Absolutely. Also consider this, as FAIR points out, “Most illegal aliens do not pay income taxes. Among those who do, much of the revenues collected are refunded to the illegal aliens when they file tax returns.” Whereas illegals have become wards of the state and capitalize on our generosity, they possess no allegiance to our country.

I certainly do not have anything against anyone who comes to this country legally and becomes a citizen. Rather, I have a great deal of respect for that person as he/she have had to learn our government, take a test, and be administered an oath of allegiance. In all likelihood, they will be better citizens than those who do not take the time to vote. However, I cannot fathom why we are tolerating illegal immigrants who come to this country only to exploit it. It is one thing to be kind, generous, and philanthropic, quite another to be naive and stupid. From this perspective, I believe it is every citizen’s responsibility to report illegal immigrants to the authorities as they have become a parasitic burden on our society. That’s wrong.

FAIR concludes their report by making an important observation: That the country is at a crossroads, “One choice is pursuing a strategy that discourages future illegal migration and increasingly diminishes the current illegal alien population through denial of job opportunities and deportations. The other choice would repeat the unfortunate decision made in 1986 to adopt an amnesty that invited continued illegal migration.”

The 2012 election will likely determine which path we take.

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, 7:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Politics, Social Issues | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

RECORDING MINUTES

Posted by Tim Bryce on May 8, 2011

I recently received an e-mail publicizing a “webinar” on how to keep minutes for a meeting. At first I thought it was a joke as I consider such a task to be rather simple and obvious. Then again, although I had written numerous minutes over the years for a variety of organizations, it occurred to me there are a lot of people who haven’t. The obvious is not always obvious, and perhaps the producers of the webinar were on to something.

As I am a writer and have done this type of work for many years, let me give you my spin on how to keep minutes. First, do not trivialize the keeping of minutes. It is an official recording of the actions and decisions of an organization and, as such, has legal ramifications. Consequently, I recommend you become more intimate with how meetings should be conducted. To this end, you may want to obtain a copy of “Robert’s Rules of Order” and keep it nearby for reference purposes. I also recommend attending a course in Parliamentary Procedure. Regardless of the advice derived from these sources, you must also be cognizant that not all organizations observe such protocol and, as such, you should become intimate with the governing documents of your organization, such as its bylaws. There may also be some specific rules and regulations in your state for how minutes are to be recorded and maintained. Aside from this, just like about any other document, there are three basic parts to recording minutes: a beginning, a middle, and an end.

The beginning specifies the 5-W’s:

WHAT – defining the proper name of the organizational body. If it is a committee, subcommittee, or subsidiary of another body, be sure to denote the superior entities.

WHERE – specifying exactly where the meeting occurred, including street address, city, state, zip code, name of building and room number (if applicable). I also happen to include the telephone number, e-mail address, and web address if I happen to know it.

WHEN – the date the meeting occurred including the starting and ending times, and any breaks during the meeting.

WHO – the officer(s) running the meeting, along with their titles. Some organizations require keeping track of all attendees. For this, you might need to perform a roll call or require a sign-in sheet, either of which should be attached to the minutes.

WHY – defines the purpose of the meeting, e.g., board of directors meeting, general meeting, committee meeting, etc.

The middle section represents the chronology of events during the meeting. Hopefully, the person chairing the meeting will maintain control and not allow it to become a free-for-all which complicates recording minutes. It is also hoped the chairman is operating with an agenda which provides structure for the meeting. The agenda should include sections such as: Opening, Committee Reports, Awards, Correspondence, Old Business, New Business, Closing, etc. This provides a convenient road map for the person keeping the minutes and represents the various sections of the document. However, if there is no agenda and the meeting runs out of control, you’re on your own.

Throughout the meeting, there will be people making motions, some important, others rather trivial. Regardless, you must record all motions. When doing so, make sure they are as clearly worded as possible to avoid confusion later on. It is common to identify the person making the motion in order to assure the person is a legitimate member of the organization and is entitled to make such a motion. The person making the “second” is less important other than to be identified as a legitimate member of the body. Identifying the person, therefore, is considered optional. Depending on the nature of the motion, you can either indicate the motion passed or failed (or possibly “tabled” until another time), or list the number of votes for and against (and abstained).

Discussion on motions can become rather lengthy and heated. As such, it is advised you avoid including a description of the discourse unless specifically instructed by the chairman to take note of something. Always remember, you are a recording secretary, not a stenographer. More importantly, concentrate on the outcome of the debate in terms of what was resolved.

During the course of a meeting, a report or paper may be introduced that has a direct bearing on the organization itself or a particular motion, such as a committee report, treasurer’s report, an important letter, etc. In addition to making a motion to accept such a document, a motion should also be made to attach it to the minutes and become a part thereof.

If money is collected during the meeting for a specific purpose, be sure to personally count the money, record the amount and denote the purpose for receiving it. For example, if someone makes a donation to a specific charitable cause, state the name of the person, the amount donated, and the charity to receive it.

The ending is rather easy as it denotes the name, title, and signature of the person recording the minutes. It is also a good idea to have the minutes countersigned for validity by the senior officer present, such as the president or chairman.

Remain objective in writing minutes, do not editorialize. Avoid the temptation to say something was “good” or “bad.” For example, “Sam Smith gave an excellent lecture on…” Instead, write something like, “Sam Smith gave a lecture on… The Chairman thanked him for the presentation.” In other words, stick to the facts and do not embellish.

Recording minutes is a relatively simple matter to perform, it just requires a good agenda and someone who can competently write. Working with the senior officers of an organization, I help prepare the agenda in advance of the meeting. Consequently, I am able to assemble a set of the minutes in advance and make minor adjustments to them during the course of the meeting. In other words, I establish a template and fill in the blanks.

After the minutes have been recorded and approved, they should be filed in chronological sequence, normally in a binder or folder. Some organizations require minutes to be permanently glued and bound in hard cover books. Again, consult your governing documents for specifics. However if they are to be physically stored or archived, take precautions for their safeguard, such as from fire, water damage or acts of God.

My only other recommendation for recording minutes is, if it looks like the chairman or senior officers haven’t got a clue as to how to run a meeting, and many do not, have somebody else write them.

Maybe there is a market for training people in how to record minutes. “Who’da thunk 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, 7:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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

 
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