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Archive for March, 2013

SOMETIMES THE OLD MEDICINES ARE THE BEST

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 29, 2013

BRYCE ON LIFE

– Why won’t they just go away?

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)

To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

Now and then I am reminded of an old medicine I haven’t heard about in a long time. I’m usually surprised they’re still around as I thought they were made obsolete. Then again, such medicines still work and are used by loyal consumers with strong allegiances. For example, one of my neighbors confided in me she takes a tablespoon of Castor Oil on a daily basis. I was surprised by the admission as I hadn’t heard of it since my youth, which I remember as some nasty tonic that doesn’t go down too easily. My neighbor said the taste wasn’t too bad after you get used to it. Actually, Castor Oil has several uses, one of which is medicinal in nature, primarily as a laxative “to keep you regular.”

You can’t mention Castor Oil without thinking of Cod Liver Oil at the same time, another ancient tonic. Cod Liver Oil though is an excellent source of Vitamin A and is actively used to relieve joint pain caused by arthritis. I understand it was also used as a base for a red paint used in the cod fishing towns of Newfoundland. I cannot vouch for its taste as I have never tried it, but I have heard mixed reactions. Nonetheless, it remains a viable product.

Another obscure laxative is Pluto Water which my father’s side of the family used religiously for years as a means of “Spring cleaning.” He always claimed it was quite strong and worked its magic effectively. Thankfully, he only had to “take the cure” once a year under the insistence of his mother. Pluto Water comes from French Lick, Indiana which I visited some time ago and smelled the springs where the water originates. It was a strong sulfur-like smell thereby causing me to well imagine the powerful effect of ingesting the water.

Tooth Powder is another item you don’t see too much anymore. There was a time, years ago, when most Americans used tooth powder as opposed to paste. I grew up in such a household, and I remember all of my relatives using it as well. I’m told tooth powder is actually an ancient product that goes back to Roman times. I believe it is still sold in tins, but there are also some simple recipes for tooth powder you can make from home. I’m not too sure the people at Procter & Gamble and Colgate-Palmolive would be too happy for you to know this though.

I bring up the subject of Straight Razors, which isn’t a medicine, yet something commonly found in medicine chests, or at least used to be. Most people today use some form of a safety or electric razor, but it doesn’t seem that long ago the straight razor was the predominant means for a shave. In fact, they are still actively used in most barbershops. I can still remember my great-grandfather sharpening his straight razor on a long leather strap early in the morning, something he was also known to use to discipline children, but that’s another story. Straight razors haven’t disappeared completely. Certain shaving aficionados still prefer them, but they have certainly become a rarity. So much so, I do not believe most men today would know how to use one.

Finally, my favorite, Rawleigh’s Man and Beast Salve. Way before there were antiseptic sprays, ointments and Band-Aids, there were simple antiseptic salves, a universally applicable product for both humans and animals. Farmers always kept a tin nearby, as did most families for that matter, including yours truly. A salve was useful for cuts, scrapes, burns, rashes, poison ivy or any other skin irritation. Just a dab of salve on your skin and you were on the road to recovery. Interestingly though, it is almost impossible to find such salves in the drug stores anymore. Fortunately, I found a source through the Internet. When I called the woman to place an order we struck up a conversation about salves. Actually, she was more than just a distributor, she was an outspoken proponent of the salve and couldn’t imagine life without it. Neither can I. When I mention it to my friends, they think it is some barbaric poultice, which can also still be found around barnyards.

Most of the aforementioned products have been fading from public view for many years, made nearly extinct by changing medical technology. The fact they haven’t disappeared completely means they are still regarded as viable medicinal products. They may have disappeared from drug stores, but they are still around, they’ve just gone underground thanks in large part to the Internet.

Keep the Faith!

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

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

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  HOW INFORMATION AFFECTS MICROMANAGEMENT – Information requirements gives us insight as to why people micromanage.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, 12:30-3:00pm ET), and KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays. 6:00-10:00am MST). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Also look for Tim’s postings in the Palm Harbor Patch, The Gentlemen’s Association, and throughout the Internet.

Posted in Life | Tagged: , , , , | 8 Comments »

SLIPPING INTO A NATIONAL DEPRESSION

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 27, 2013

BRYCE ON POLITICS

– And how the Tango can help.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)

To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

I recently read an article claiming Tango dancing was an effective means to eliminate stress and depression. Evidently there is something about the legendary South American dance exhilarating to the human spirit. Maybe it has something to do with restoring confidence. Afterwards, it occurred to me this might just be the tonic needed to lift the country out of the doldrums we are in.

Not long ago, I asked my accountant if he knew of any business in the area which was experiencing any true success; not just keeping their head above water, but was really doing well. After pondering the question for a few seconds he said, “No,” he couldn’t think of any. Keep in mind, my accountant’s forte is in the area of small businesses in the Tampa Bay area. He may not know many big businesses, but he knows a considerable number of people and small businesses in the area, most of whom had settled into a survivalist mode of operation as opposed to a dynamic proactive company. I personally happen to know some medical equipment suppliers who are doing well, and some personal injury attorneys who know how to play the insurance game, but aside from this not too many other successful businesses. Owners are still trying new ideas and innovations, but most are cutting spending and treading water.

Over the last ten years I have also seen a decline in business ethics, possibly because of this survivalist mentality. Professional courtesy and craftsmanship have been replaced by micromanagement and cronyism. Companies may talk about teamwork and high professional standards, but this is mostly facade. It’s still a “dog-eat-dog” world out there, maybe more so. To “Baby Boomers” like myself, the corporate landscape has radically changed since we entered the work force under the tutelage of “The Greatest Generation.” Today, it’s more about technology and less about people. More importantly, we have transitioned from a “can do” mentality to “can’t do” or “why bother?” attitude. Entrepreneurs no longer talk about new industries to conquer. Most are burned out and want to quietly retire, but everyone is afraid to.

In our schools, “helicopter parents” keep a tight reign over their offspring. No decision is made without parental approval, particularly at the college level. It’s no small wonder young people can easily adapt to today’s corporate culture of micromanagement.

Retirees worry they have enough in their portfolio to see them through to their final days. Confidence in social security and Medicare is shaken. So much so, Baby Boomers are delaying retirement as they lack confidence they will be able to afford it. Despite this, there is a whole generation of doctors who are contemplating early retirement due to the harassment of government bureaucracy.

I don’t know anyone, be it liberal or conservative, who has supreme confidence in our politicians in Washington, or the future of our country for that matter. Everyone is on tender hooks.

Plain and simply, the mood of the country is not good. This is why I believe we are slipping into a psychological depression, a national sense of hopelessness. Business people lack confidence in the future, as is the average worker. Our national psyche is probably as low as it was during the Great Depression of the 1930’s when we felt we had lost control over our destiny. We are no longer optimistic about our future and our character has become highly volatile.

To overcome this problem we need to restore our confidence. What is needed are some successes or victories. Better yet, a clear vision setting the country in a positive direction. Americans do not just want to survive, they want to grow and prosper. Anything less causes a mood of frustration and hopelessness. Unfortunately, the country feels rudderless and is spinning in circles as the government is gridlocked. Unless we can regain our composure and confidence, our depression will only deepen.

Then again, there is always the Tango.

Keep the Faith!

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

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

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  SOMETIMES THE OLD MEDICINES ARE THE BEST – Why won’t they just go away?

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, 12:30-3:00pm ET), and KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays. 6:00-10:00am MST). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Also look for Tim’s postings in the Palm Harbor Patch, The Gentlemen’s Association, and throughout the Internet.

Posted in Politics, Society | Tagged: , , , , | 8 Comments »

THE EVOLUTION OF THE BUSINESS CARD

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 25, 2013

BRYCE ON BUSINESS

– From simple calling cards, to advertising, to pins.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

Years ago I happened to see a copy of Amelia Earhhart’s business card. It was actually quite simple and included nothing more than her name and title, “Aviator.” There was no address or anything else, and I suspect it was used merely to introduce her to people, a “calling card” if you will. In an old CBS western starring Richard Boone, the main character also had a simple business card which included a reference to his line of work, “Have Gun, Will Travel,” along with “Wire Paladin, San Francisco.” Also included was an image of a chess piece, a knight to be precise, presumably a symbolic touch of class.

Business cards today are much more sophisticated than those of yesteryear. Although most are still wallet sized, there are many new avant garde designs and shapes which force the recipients to somehow address the information on the card. In other words, business cards have gone beyond merely identifying a person and providing contact information, it is now an important part of a company’s advertising strategy. Some cards are larger and quite eye-catching, but if I cannot fit it in my wallet or business card case, I will likely discard it, as I will consider it unprofessional, but that’s me.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, the exchange of business cards in Japan is a very serious and formal affair requiring protocol. Americans tend to treat it more frivolously and pass out cards as if they were dealing a hand of poker. Such disregard says a lot about a person who probably suffers from minor social dysfunctions, such as introductions and handshakes.

The typical business card today includes:

* Name, title, and company.
* Mailing address (sometimes both a post office box and physical location).
* Promotional message or time of operation, e.g.; Open 9-5, M-F)
* Multiple telephone numbers for: office number, mobile phone number, home number, text messages, and fax messages.
* Internet addresses, such as web site, e-mail, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Tumblr, etc.

Not surprising, the business card has evolved from elegantly simple to horribly complicated. I find it rather amusing when a person has so many electronic addresses, yet you still cannot contact them (they refuse to answer the phone or respond to messages). Maybe they should just have a card like Amelia Earhhart’s.

We used to keep and carefully file business cards for future reference. Not so anymore. People usually enter the data in their address books and discard the card. This can be done either by keying the data or by scanning the card and transferring the data using optical character recognition technology. Even this is changing though as smart phones are embracing barcodes such as the QR code (Quick Response) which is a matrix-like graphic that can store data in a small space. A person can simply scan the QR code and transfer the data to an address book. The image is so small, not only can they be printed on business cards but will eventually make the business card obsolete. Instead, you will likely wear a small pin containing the image which can be easily scanned.

The pin somehow sounds nice, but I think I’ll miss the proper exchange of business cards and the value we once placed in them.

Keep the Faith!

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

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

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  SLIPPING INTO A NATIONAL DEPRESSION – And how the Tango can help.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, 12:30-3:00pm ET), and KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays. 6:00-10:00am MST). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Also look for Tim’s postings in the Palm Harbor Patch, The Gentlemen’s Association, and throughout the Internet.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

CATCHING A COLD

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 22, 2013

BRYCE ON LIFE

– You can run, but you cannot hide from the beast.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

I hate colds. I can usually sense when they are coming on, be it in my throat, nose, eyes, ears, or even lips. I immediately take some preventative medicine. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. If the cold really wants to bloom, I find there is no stopping it. I believe it has a mind of its own. I can go a long time between colds, but when I finally get one, it’s usually a real beaut.

When it comes, I tend to slow down, get some rest, and try to be a good patient. I do not like to take a lot of medicine but I’ll do as my wife prescribes. She can also make a mean “Hot Tottie” which includes lemon, honey, whiskey, and hot tea. It usually knocks me out and, if I’m lucky, I can sweat the cold out of me. My latest cold converged on my head and throat. Luckily, it avoided my chest. I took various remedies to clear my sinuses, and they worked rather well, but they wouldn’t knock the sniffles completely out. I loathe having to blow my nose every five minutes which, of course, becomes rather irritated and sore.

I attend quite a few meetings during the week and in doing so I have to meet and greet a lot of people. As is customary, I offer a handshake to people, but when I have a cold I don’t want to pass it on to others, so I awkwardly do not extend my hand and inform them I’m suffering with a cold. People are glad you tell them so, but the expression on their face gives me the uneasy feeling that I have somehow contracted the plague. I find it rather amusing how people automatically take a step backwards when you inform them you have the slightest suggestion of a cold. It’s like a reflex action, sometimes followed by a handkerchief or hand sanitizer (just to be safe).

The Japanese seem to be more sensitive to the transmission of a cold. Since most people over there make use of mass transit and are in close quarters with many others, a person experiencing a cold will typically cover his mouth with a surgical mask. Others wear it simply not to contract a disease from others. Whereas Americans seem to relish in sharing their misfortune, the Japanese try to minimize the effect of a cold. I tend to believe the Japanese are more considerate in this regard.

If my cold goes on too long, I find I have to take matters into my own hands. Since the beast won’t take the hint to leave, it’s time I show him the exit. This is when I finally introduce it to the smoke and fire of a good cigar, and strong drink, such as Scotch whiskey. I’ve done this on more than one occasion and believe it or not, my cold starts to run and hide, eventually succumbing to the smoke and alcohol. In a way, it acts like a farewell party, which is perhaps what the cold had been waiting for before it departs.

Actually, I believe we always have a cold within us, but I think it waits for the right combination of elements before it raises its ugly head. Perhaps it is a drafty room, exhaustion, or some food combination. Whatever the magical recipe is, the cold emerges from its den in an ugly mood and searches for a weak body part to attack, and the cycle starts all over again.

The only good part of a cold, at least to me, is knowing that I have a date in the offing with a fine cigar and a glass of Scotch. It has the added nuance of making me feel like a lion tamer.

Keep the Faith!

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

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

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  THE EVOLUTION OF THE BUSINESS CARD – From simple calling cards, to advertising, to pins.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, 12:30-3:00pm ET), and KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays. 6:00-10:00am MST). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Also look for Tim’s postings in the Palm Harbor Patch, The Gentlemen’s Association, and throughout the Internet.

Posted in Life | Tagged: , , , , | 8 Comments »

MANIPULATING THE MASSES

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 20, 2013

BRYCE ON POLITICS

– And the means by which leaders persuade their followers.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

The concept of leaders and followers is as old as mankind where one person champions a path for others to follow. Leaders believe they possess the knowledge and skills to take their followers to the promised land. They do this for several reasons: compassion for others, ego, greed, or it is simply their job to do so, as in business. Followers are searchers, be it for knowledge, truth, direction, or because they have no alternative. People will follow leaders either willfully, reluctantly, or by coercion, such as by threat of punishment. It depends on the follower’s perception of their leader. They either have confidence in the leader’s ability and trust his judgement without question, they lack confidence but are willing to follow, or are resigned to their fate.

Perhaps the single biggest attribute of a leader is his/her ability to motivate the masses to action. Religion holds the best examples of such leaders including Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, other religious prophets, and members of the clergy. In the business world, people like Ford, Rockefeller, Carnegie, Edison, and others reshaped the world. In American government, people like Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and the Roosevelts had a profound effect. Even dictators like Hitler, Mussolini, Castro, and many others rose to positions of power mostly through their skills of oratory, along with some persuasive military force behind them.

For this to work properly, followers must become subordinate to the leader; this can be done either through some friendly persuasion, fear of force, or some other means, and herein is where politics is born. Leaders must use various techniques to inspire their followers, be it logic, trust in judgement, an appeal to their emotions, or a whip and a chair. To cement people’s perceptions, propaganda is used. Leaders have an intuitive appreciation for the power of propaganda, some more than others. Controlling both the message and the media by which it is communicated is imperative so followers will not deviate from the leader’s message or vision. The media, therefore, is the Kool-Aid the masses must drink.

Recently, famed newspaper columnist Bob Woodward and television commentator Lanny Davis were taken to task by the White House for some of their comments considered critical of the President. Both were threatened in some form as a means of retribution, something considered alarming even by the media supporting the president. This is a considerable departure from the past. For example, even in the tense and dark days of Watergate, there is no evidence the Nixon administration threatened Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein who were credited for blowing the whistle. Presidents are certainly not happy with everything written about them, but the First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech which, in theory, provides a shield to protect the press.

During the 1930’s-1940’s, the White House convinced the media not to photograph FDR in his wheelchair as they didn’t want to depict America’s leader with a disability. The press obliged. This was trivial in nature compared to the tactics now being implemented to manipulate the media. In addition to sharp criticisms, we are now hearing about such things as revoking press corps privileges, gag orders, censorship, discrediting people, and blocking news organizations not in line with White House policy.

It would appear, an organized department of dirty tricks or propaganda is in effect in the executive branch. If true, this goes way beyond fair play and dangerously into a constitutional controversy over the First Amendment. The 2012 Amber Lyon/CNN incident is indicative of the control the government is trying to exercise. One thing is for certain, how the press operates today is unlike the Watergate years. Journalists are being kept on a short leash for political purposes. The result is a press coerced to follow White House doctrine and not allowed to deviate from it. It is not so much that the main street media is biased, as much as they are being controlled by the government. By towing the White House’s line, the media is just the Kool-Aid the president needs to manipulate the masses.

“Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed. Everything else is public relations.” – George Orwell

To many, leadership is about control and how much he/she wants to exercise it. It appears we now have a different type of leader in the White House, one who acutely understands the power of the media, and knows how to manipulate it to serve his purposes. However, as many American politicians have discovered over the years, if the leader leads with an iron hand, his days are numbered, unless he has a strong military to back him. Americans like a benevolent leader, one who knows how to work out differences with the Congress as opposed to being confrontational. Recent examples include Bill Clinton working with Newt Gingrich, and Ronald Reagan with Tip O’Neill. A president can dictate terms when his party controls both chambers of Congress, but he has to compromise when another party controls a part of the government, as the GOP currently does in the House. Confrontational tactics, such as accusing blame and smearing reputations, has never proven to be effective to promote compromise. Then again, maybe the president is not interested in compromise.

Unlike his predecessors, it appears President Obama intends to blame the GOP for the country’s woes and hold himself blameless. This is part of a long-range strategy to discredit the Republicans in order to re-take the House of Representatives in 2014, thereby giving him carte blanche to do what he wants in his last two years in office. Such tactics are unlike anything we have witnessed in recent memory. To do this though, the President will rely heavily on his control of the media to sell it to the masses.

What is unsettling is the prospect that this may be the first President to never pass a budget during both his terms of office.

Somehow I am reminded of the old Rolling Stones song, “You can’t always get what you want” (But if you try sometime, you just might find, You get what you need). What the country needs is a leader who knows how to get the job done and not allow the country to stagnate.

Keep the Faith!

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

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

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  CATCHING A COLD – You can run, but you cannot hide from the beast.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, 12:30-3:00pm ET), and KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays. 6:00-10:00am MST). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Also look for Tim’s postings in the Palm Harbor Patch, The Gentlemen’s Association, and throughout the Internet.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 7 Comments »

THE DEATH OF PROFESSIONAL COURTESY

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 18, 2013

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– What ever happened to “The Golden Rule”?

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

I was recently invited to bid on a technical writing project. The initial meeting was treated like a job interview to determine my qualifications and everything seemed to go smoothly. Evidently I passed the test as I was invited for a second interview to discuss the project assignment in more detail. I arrived at the company’s offices a few minutes ahead of schedule (11:00am). Nobody was at the front desk so I took a seat in their waiting room along with another gentleman who I judged to be approximately the same age as myself. We exchanged pleasantries and I soon discovered he was also invited to bid on the same assignment. I was dressed in suit and tie for the appointment, and my competitor was dressed in “business casual.” Actually, we developed a good dialog about who we were and where we were from. There was no animosity between us, just some friendly banter.

During the course of the conversation, I discovered his appointment was scheduled for 10:20am and even though people had come by the reception area, nobody had spoken to him. This concerned me as I noticed I had already been waiting for fifteen minutes. Normally, I would leave ten minutes after an appointment, as some of my doctors and dentists have learned over the years, but since I had been busy conversing with the other person, time seemed to slip by. Shortly thereafter, another visitor walked into the room. Like us, he had arrived a few minutes early so he wouldn’t be late for his appointment. Again, nobody greeted him and he took a seat next to us. Time kept ticking away until it was 11:20am, when I started to become angry over our inhospitable treatment. Finally, I could stand it no longer, wished my acquaintances good luck, and exited the building. Needless to say, I was unhappy about being taken for granted and wasting my time.

When I arrived back at my office, I sent an e-mail to my contact with the company expressing my displeasure. After explaining what had happened, I informed him that if he wanted to arrange another meeting, I would only do so on a time and materials basis and quoted a hefty hourly rate. Not surprising, I did not receive a reply from my contact expressing any regret.

My concern though is that we are witnessing the extinction of professional courtesy in the work place. To illustrate:

* Telephones used to be answered promptly and courteously. Further, people would take whatever action was appropriate to assist the caller. Voice mail did away with all this. Unless you happen to catch the person right then and there on the phone, in all likelihood you will never receive a response.

* All job applications used to be answered with a letter, written professionally, acknowledging the letter and stating its condition, e.g., under review or thanking them for the opportunity to review the resume even though the company was not hiring at the time.

* Correspondence was typically typed out neatly, was written with proper grammar, and colloquialisms were avoided. Today, business correspondence contains considerable slang, uses primitive sentence structure, and spell checkers are avoided at all cost, particularly interoffice communications.

* Years ago, if you made an appointment, you kept it. If something extraneous occurred thereby forcing a delay or postponement, the other party was notified promptly so they can adjust their schedule accordingly. As my recent appointment proved, there is no consideration for the other person. I am reminded of Mahatma Gandhi who said, “Being late is an act of violence, an act of terrorism, because you unnerve people.”

Such rudeness reflects a general disregard for humans, be they customers, vendors, employees, or job applicants. Basically, it is an open admission that we hold people in contempt as opposed to soliciting their cooperation. With such disregard for people, it’s no small wonder “micromanagement” is the management philosophy of choice in today’s workplace. Maybe it’s our technology that is jading our sense of humanity. After all, it commands our attention and various senses.

Getting back to my appointment, I wonder how long the other people in the reception area stayed around? Both were “old school” and felt if you made an appointment, both parties had an obligation to keep it. Unfortunately, the company I was visiting was not of this philosophy. The only way to teach people this lesson is to walk away from the appointment as I did, and charge them for your time. Only then will they take you seriously and afford you the basic dignity you deserve. Otherwise, they will continue to take you for granted. Frankly, the longer we accept such disrespect, the more commonplace it will become. I suggest we just walk away from such insensitive knuckleheads. We may not get the contract, but they won’t get the best service from their people either.

Let us not forget the ancient “Golden Rule” as found in all religions: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” This is a two-way reciprocal relationship between people. Whenever such relationships become a one-way proposition, it ultimately denotes a decline in our moral fiber and culture.

Keep the Faith!

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

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

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  MANIPULATING THE MASSES – And the means by which leaders persuade their followers.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, 12:30-3:00pm ET), and KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays. 6:00-10:00am MST). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Also look for Tim’s postings in the Palm Harbor Patch, The Gentlemen’s Association, and throughout the Internet.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | 15 Comments »

MY “CROWNING” ACHIEVEMENT

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 15, 2013

BRYCE ON DENTISTS

– Why my visit to the dentist was like digging the English Chunnel.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

Aside from a few fillings when I was young, I have been blessed with some rather good teeth. Year-in and year-out I’ve dutifully visited my dentist for cleanings and have kept them in good shape. On a recent visit though, my dental hygienist found I had broken a back molar thereby requiring a crown. To dentists, this is like hitting pay-dirt as I discovered crowns can be an expensive proposition. It’s not uncommon to pay in excess of $1,000 for a crown. Fortunately, I was covered by dental insurance, which brought the out-of-pocket expense down considerably, but I was mindful how expensive the procedure can be. Many years ago, it wasn’t too expensive, but inflation and the technology of the 21st century changed all that.

On the day I arrived for my procedure, the dental assistants began with a battery of preparations before allowing the dentist to work on me. I was asked to bite down on a big wad of Silly Putty in order to make an impression of my teeth. Whatever it was, it actually tasted like the famous polymer I played with years ago. As I bit into it, the suction of the putty was so strong that it seemed it was extracting every filling in my mouth. When they pulled the final impression out, I was relieved to see none of the fillings were attached.

Next, they used a long cotton swab to apply Novocaine to deaden the senses around my molar. Years ago I remember the dentists used a long ominous looking needle to apply Novocaine. To a little kid, the Novocaine needle could be terrifying. So much so, people preferred using “Laughing Gas” (“Nitrous Oxide”) as opposed to facing the needle. I’m glad someone invented a simpler and less threatening means for applying the local anesthetic.

The next step was to insert a variety of things in my mouth, such as rolls of cotton to provide a buffer between my cheek and gums, and a massive piece of plastic to pry my mouth open at a specific angle allowing the dentist easy access to the tooth in question. It felt like a miniature sawhorse and worked just as effectively. A breathing tube was added, along with suction to draw my saliva away.

The dentist then made his appearance and after a few pleasantries, he applied some microscopic lenses to his glasses, which looked like a couple of Bic pens, and thus he began using a whirling drill to sand down my molar. The drill proved to be very effective and I listened carefully as he whirled and chiseled my tooth down to size. A couple of times I could see smoke coming from my mouth. My eyes must have expressed alarm as the dental assistants quickly assured me my mouth wasn’t on fire, that it was just a little steam. Since when does steam smell like burning flesh? I could have easily lit a cigarette if I wanted to. I persevered nonetheless.

As I sat there and let the dental staff have their way with me, it occurred to me the operation had turned into something resembling the digging of the English Chunnel. There were workmen with lights and safety glasses protected by barricades and sawhorses as they drilled down into the cavern. Lines were inserted to pump air into the chasm and water out of it. The analogy was so strong, I had the unsettling feeling I was being worked over by the Department of Transportation as opposed to a medical team.

After much work, the molar had been trimmed to size and a temporary crown put into place using a caulk gun which seemed appropriate for a construction job. As the dentist finished, the assistants cleared my mouth of debris and equipment and traffic resumed. I just hope they picked up all of the cigarette butts. As I was leaving, I didn’t know whether I should just thank the staff or take them out for a beer afterwards.

I still have the final crown to be fitted and inserted, but this shouldn’t be as big of a job as the Chunnel. It was an interesting experience and I think I can now relate to those friends of mine who have had an inordinate amount of work performed on their teeth. In the end, all I can say is, “Thank God for Novocaine.”

Keep the Faith!

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

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

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  THE DEATH OF PROFESSIONAL COURTESY – What ever happened to “The Golden Rule”?

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, 12:30-3:00pm ET), and KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays. 6:00-10:00am MST). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Also look for Tim’s postings in the Palm Harbor Patch, The Gentlemen’s Association, and throughout the Internet.

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

POST OFFICE INEFFICIENCIES

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 13, 2013

BRYCE ON POLITICS & MANAGEMENT

– How far behind is the USPS operating behind its competitors?

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To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

The United States Postal Service (USPS) recently announced it is going to suspend Saturday deliveries of mail. Actually, we shouldn’t be too surprised as paper based mail has been diminishing over the years, thanks to e-mail, electronic banking, and rising postal costs. I know many businesses who avoid the USPS as much as possible and prefer the service of other carriers instead. All of this adds up to a decline in revenues and an increase in expenses for the USPS who is now scrambling to reorganize themselves in order to survive.

One of the key lessons I preach when working with young people is, “Everything begins with a sale.” Business functions such as administration, engineering, research and development, and customer service are nice, but all employees should be cognizant of the fact that everything begins with a sale. Consequently, employees should be mindful that everything should be geared towards producing income and minimizing costs. In the case of the USPS, either the product isn’t priced properly, or they’re running an unproductive operation.

One clear indicator is the amount of profit associated with each employee. To illustrate, let’s consider a commercial enterprise, such as the Ford Motor Company, who in 2012 had 164,000 employees. The company had $136.26B in revenues and $128.632B in expenses, leaving an operating profit of $7.628B. If we divide the profit by the total number of employees we find each employee is responsible for incurring $46,512 of the profit. Think of this as a performance measure. It is an important figure which every employee should be cognizant of, yet few companies publicize.

Let’s next compare the USPS and its shipping rivals in the same light:

  EMPLOYEES REVENUES EXPENSES PROFIT PROFIT/EMPLOYEE
USPS 546,000 (2012) $ 65.223 billion (2012) $80.964 billion (2012) $-15.741B $-28,830/employee
DHL 423,348 (2011) $ 71.169 billion (2011) $70.693 billion (2011) $ .476B $ 1,124/employee
UPS 398,000 (2012) $ 54.127 billion (2012) $52.784 billion (2012) $ 1.343B $ 3,374/employee
FedEx 300,000 (2012) $ 42.7 billion (2012) $39.494 billion (2012) $ 3.206B $ 10,686/employee

NOTE: Latest available data, courtesy of the corporate web sites and Wikipedia.

Thanks to a considerable operating loss in 2012, USPS employees are operating in the hole. Also notice in the comparison, even though the USPS has the most employees, it has the worst profit performance. Not all of its shipping competitors topped the revenues of the USPS, but all were considerably less in terms of expenses. This may be indicative of the difference between running a commercial enterprise and one operated by the government.

There are actually many variables affecting a company’s performance, such as economic issues, changing government regulations, and business decisions, but making each employee mindful of their individual contribution raises their consciousness as to what should be best for the company overall.

Suspension of Saturday deliveries may be a good idea to reduce costs, but I suspect it is another example of a bloated government bureaucracy running amok and needs more serious cuts as opposed to minimizing service. I am reminded of the Bryce’s Law, “Do not try to apply a band-aid when a tourniquet is required to stop the bleeding.”

Perhaps it’s time for a little Enterprise Engineering to flatten this government behemoth. Otherwise, the taxpayers will be asked to once again bail out this model of inefficiency. If it was a commercial enterprise, it would have likely perished by now and its shipping competitors would have taken over (and we wouldn’t be discussing the suspension of Saturday service).

If the government is having this much trouble running a monopoly like the post office, imagine what they’ll do with Obamacare.

Keep the Faith!

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

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

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  MY “CROWNING” ACHIEVEMENT – Why my visit to the dentist was like digging the English Chunnel.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, 12:30-3:00pm ET), and KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays. 6:00-10:00am MST). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Also look for Tim’s postings in the Palm Harbor Patch, The Gentlemen’s Association, and throughout the Internet.

Posted in Government, Management, Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 13 Comments »

LONG LIVE THE FAX MACHINE

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 11, 2013

BRYCE ON BUSINESS

– Why +830,000 physicians rely on this aging technology.

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To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

As a small businessman, I haven’t had to use a fax machine in quite some time. Like most people these days, I rely primarily on e-mail. If I have a lengthy document, I convert it to a PDF file and attach it to the e-mail. Many years ago, we relied heavily on fax machines to communicate with customers overseas (and TWX machines before that), but in recent times we have little use for such devices. We keep a fax machine in the office for “just in case” situations, but we mostly leave it unplugged to avoid the many spam faxes still plaguing the public. I am also able to interface with other systems to upload/download data in a variety of file formats with Delimited ASCII being the most prevalent.

I recently visited my doctor for a routine checkup. We’ve known each other for years and I am always fascinated by the latest medical technology in his practice. His office consisted of a modest sized staff with the typical number and type of computers you would expect to support administrative needs. Interestingly, I noticed he had a fax machine which was slowly chugging away and spitting out voluminous reports. Frankly, I was surprised to see a fax machine being so actively used; certainly he transmitted/received data by e-mail or some other computer protocol I thought. Actually, No.

Although physicians have abundant computer software available to them for communication purposes, it is not as actively used as the fax machine which is the true work horse of their office. The doctor claimed his office received on the average 18,000 faxes each year. This does not include sending documents which is probably just as voluminous. Patient records, test results, prescriptions, hospital reports, etc. are all regularly sent by fax, and no other device. This means the data has to be re-keyed into the doctor’s computers by his staff. It doesn’t take a systems man like me to realize this is not an efficient or cost-effective approach for operating any office. Frankly, I was thunderstruck just how primitive the office systems were, and this was just one office. As I was to learn, most doctors operate in the same manner thereby representing a model of system dysfunctionality on a colossal scale.

A mandate from the federal government a few years ago requires doctors to digitize all of their medical records (see “Turning Everyone into Data Entry Clerks”). This means every medical institution in this country has been busy entering data about all of their patients, a herculean task which the medical community is currently embroiled in. To accomplish this, a variety of medical software packages have been introduced with little or no compatibility between them. This means your medical records with your General Practitioner cannot be read by another doctor, unless he happens to use the same medical records software, which would be a very remote coincidence. There are, of course, strict privacy issues concerning the exchange of patient records. Regardless, assuming consent is given by the patient, there is no easy way to electronically exchange data.

Blame for this incompatibility falls squarely on the shoulders of the federal government who has not devised a standard file format for exchanging data. They may have mandated all doctors digitize their patient records, but they never devised a means for exchanging data. This incompatibility issue is so glaring, you have to suspect it is premeditated.

Now consider the enormity of this problem; there are over 830,000 physicians in this country, all of which are busily digitizing patient records, none of which can be exchanged electronically with other doctors. So how do they communicate? You guessed it; by fax. It also means all of these doctors and their staffs have to work double-time to record patient data as transmitted by fax. Doesn’t make a lot of sense does it?

Let’s take it a step further, assuming my friend’s office annual workload of 18,000 faxes is an average, and considering there are over 830K doctors, this translates into over 15 trillion pieces of paper being printed each year by physicians alone (not counting hospitals). This isn’t exactly environmentally friendly, but certainly supports the bottom-line of paper companies.

This system snafu places a significant burden on doctors and inhibits their ability to practice medicine and care for their patients. Not surprising, a mutiny is in the offing. Tired of growing governmental bureaucracy, many physicians are opting to retire early or quit their practices outright, thereby creating a shortage of competent doctors.

My visit to my doctor’s office taught me a couple of things; first, the fax machine is the Achilles’ heel of any physician’s office, without it, the doctor is lost. Second, this need not be the case if the federal government would just devise some simple standards for data exchange. However, knowing the government, I do not think I’ll hold my breath. I’m quite confident doctors will go on killing trees for many years to come.

Keep the Faith!

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

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

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  POST OFFICE INEFFICIENCIES – How far behind is the USPS operating behind its competitors?

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, 12:30-3:00pm ET), and KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays. 6:00-10:00am MST). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Also look for Tim’s postings in the Palm Harbor Patch, The Gentlemen’s Association, and throughout the Internet.

 

Posted in Doctors, Management, Politics, Technology | Tagged: , , , , | 9 Comments »

THINGS I NEVER GET TIRED OF

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 8, 2013

BRYCE ON LIFE

– Why do we keep coming back for more?

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To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

I am a sucker for reruns. I love to watch an old movie, maybe because I’m not too impressed with what Hollywood is churning out these days. For example, I recently watched “Billy Bud” the other night, which I probably hadn’t seen in forty years. It was based on Herman Melville’s novel of the same name and starred Robert Ryan, Terence Stamp, Peter Ustinov, Melvyn Douglas, and a young David McCallum. This was a departure in character for Ryan, who often played a hero or good guy. Instead, he played a heartless, cold blooded villian. There are a handful of such movies I’ll watch over and over again, such as “Twelve Angry Men,” “Anatomy of a Murder,” “Stalag 17,” and others. Interestingly, these are all black-and-white movies which suggests the story-line is more important to me than the cinematography. Over the years, I have learned there are a series of things I never get tired of, such as movies and music, and I wonder why I am so fascinated with them.

I like attending wedding anniversaries as it represents a significant milestone for a couple and reflects their love and commitment to each other. Unlike birthdays, which I generally have no use for, anniversaries represent a conscious decision made by two people. In birthdays, you don’t really have a lot to say about when and where you are born.

I never tire of watching members of the military returning home to their loved ones. The surprise homecomings are always heart warming; click for SAMPLE. Even homecomings with pets can be moving. Such reunions reflect considerable love and relief to the families of our military personnel returning from harm’s way.

The game of baseball has been a favorite of mine since I was a lad, and I certainly enjoy watching a game. As I get older though, I find I enjoy watching the youngsters as opposed to the pros. Any game at the Little League level, high school/college, or even the minor leagues can be more interesting as they are trying harder than the pros and haven’t yet forgotten that it is nothing more than a “game” (as opposed to a business).

I have been following the Olympics since the 1964 Tokyo games. I never get tired of the opening ceremonies, particularly the lighting of the cauldron. They’ve all been memorable, including the recent London games, but I particularly marveled at the elegant simplicity of the Mexican games in 1968. As far as I am concerned, if I miss the opening ceremonies, I’ve missed the games.

I’ve always enjoyed Independence Day (4th of July), particularly in a small town who holds a parade. I guess it brings the patriot out in me. We typically host a barbecue at my house, but more importantly we enjoy a fireworks display afterwards. Over the years, I think I’ve missed seeing fireworks only once, which was due to inclement weather. If I get a chance, I’ll tune-in on television to watch fireworks, particularly if a good orchestra is on hand to play Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever.” And, Yes, I miss Arthur Fiedler’s rendition with the Boston Pops.

I’m a sucker for a parade, whether it is Independence Day, Thanksgiving, or New Year’s eve. For the last ten years I have been involved with a local Christmas parade where we pass out candy to the kids, and beads (after all, this is the South). To me, it is not the floats, balloons and flowers that make a good parade, it is the marching bands. I am particularly proud of the marching band of my college alma mater, the Ohio University Marching 110, “The finest band in the land.”

I never tire of watching craftsmen at work, regardless of the products they produce. It is always a pleasure to watch someone who knows what they are doing, regardless of their profession, and see a quality product being built. Regrettably, craftsmanship is in decline in this country, but when I find a good one, I just sit back and take notes.

Formal ceremonies of just about any kind can be very moving to me, such as the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers, the Battleship Arizona Memorial, the Iwo Jima reunion, and Reagan’s speech at the 40th anniversary of D-Day at Normandy. Such ceremonies can be very touching. It is also of importance to family members. As an American though, such ceremonies are important as they express our national respect and commitment to others, particularly those who paid the supreme sacrifice.

At the end of any military funeral, I have seen the playing of “Taps” cause grown men to weep, including yours truly. There is something about “Taps” that lends itself to the finality to a service. In other words, it wouldn’t be complete without the distant sound of this military classic.

As a Scot, I have a deep-seated attachment to the sound of bagpipes. Although the pipes can be used for festive occasions, the playing of “Scotland the Brave” and “Amazing Grace,” stirs my soul like no other instrument. There must be something in my DNA which causes this, for I never walk away from it. No doubt other instruments from other lands equally affect other people with different heritages. It plays to our soul.

If I sit back and study these elements collectively, what is it about them that causes me to come back to them time and again. Surely I have seen all of this many times over the years, but why do they hit a nerve with me? My guess is they probably represent my sense of who I am and what my values are. It reflects my sense of patriotism, morality, work ethic, and family heritage. I actually think it is a bit like Pavlov’s Dog, where I have been conditioned to salivate upon command. Whatever it is, I embrace these ideas and will hopefully continue to revisit them for many years to come.

I’ve told you what things I never get tired of, now how about you? Then ask yourself the question, “Why?”

Keep the Faith!

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

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

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  LONG LIVE THE FAX MACHINE – Why +830,000 physicians rely on this aging technology.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, 12:30-3:00pm ET), and KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays. 6:00-10:00am MST). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Also look for Tim’s postings in the Palm Harbor Patch, The Gentlemen’s Association, and throughout the Internet.

Posted in Life | Tagged: , , , , | 10 Comments »

 
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