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Archive for July, 2013

PERFORMING A JOB YOU HATE

Posted by Tim Bryce on July 31, 2013

BRYCE ON WORK

– Things to consider before tackling that ugly job you despise.

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

Years ago, my grandmother made the observation, “In everyone’s life, you must eat a teaspoon of dirt.” There is a lot of wisdom in this comment. Throughout our lives there are little jobs we are called upon to perform, be it at home, school, the office, or wherever, tasks we simply hate to perform. Whether you have been asked to do it or realize it is something you have to do of our own free will and accord, tasks you simply do not want to undertake. Maybe it’s a job requiring physical skills and talents you simply do not possess, or maybe it’s a “dirty job” involving unique situations that are not exactly the most sanitary, such as cleaning up after an animal. Or maybe it has to do with a boss you do not like or respect, someone with an unsavory character. Working for a boss you like is one thing, working for someone you despise is something else altogether. Bottom-line, it’s a job you dislike and are reluctant to perform. So what do you do?

Quitting is the easiest alternative, if you can afford to do so, but it also means you have been defeated, which may be the reason you were asked to perform the task. Sometimes you are asked to perform no-win jobs simply because someone is looking for an opportunity to watch you fail and eliminate you. Sadistic managers are notorious of assigning such tasks. It’s a setup for which you are not expected to succeed. When I discover I have been put in such a position I usually rise to the occasion and conquer the task quickly, professionally, and with great zeal. There’s nothing quite like turning the tables on an adversary. It unnerves them.

For all other difficult tasks, I have found it’s a matter of having the right tools and working conditions for performing the job, and putting yourself in the proper frame of mind. Just resign yourself to your fate and “Get ‘R Done.” This, of course, requires patience and determination, two elements which seem to be in short supply these days.

Early in my career, we were developing a series of seminars to promote our software product line. Working with an ad agency, we devised a clever invitation which included a beautiful brochure, and an egg housed in a photo cube (you remember, those little plastic boxes where you could insert photographs). Inside the egg was an invitation to the seminar with the person’s name on it. In other words, they were instructed to crack open the egg where they found their invitation and instructions. From a marketing perspective, it was brilliant and garnered a lot of attention. To implement it though was another story.

As this was my pet project, I found myself selecting the seminar sites, compiling lists of potential attendees, and assembling the invitations. That’s right, I found myself burdened with blowing out hundreds of eggs, inserting the invitations, and resealing the eggs (using “White Out”). Assembling the boxes and brochures was easy, but preparing the eggs was another story. I simply resigned myself to the task, setup a radio and blew out hundreds of eggs and packed them up. I quickly discovered blowing eggs requires a certain knack. If you do it wrong, the egg blows up on you and creates a mess, but if you take your time and find your rhythm, you’ll do just fine. You just cannot push it too hard, and I found the job took me all night to perform. Even though our seminars were a success, I still loathe the thought of blowing out eggs. I’m sure there are other jobs that are worse, but you get the idea.

So, when you find yourself harnessed with a job you hate, either rise to the occasion and overcome adversity, thereby earning the respect of the people around you, or toss in the towel early, assuming you can afford to. Just do not let a teaspoon of dirt turn into a table spoon.

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:  WRISTWATCHES – Are they still status symbols?

LAST TIME:  THE ART OF PATIENCE – An art that is difficult to master.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays, 6:00-10:00am Mountain), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Lance Tormey & Brian Teegarden (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). 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.

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

THE ART OF PATIENCE

Posted by Tim Bryce on July 29, 2013

BRYCE ON LIFE

– An art that is difficult to master.

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

Ever since college, I have been an admirer of Rudyard Kipling’s classic poem, “If,” whereby he writes:

“If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:”

The lesson here is in order to lead a mature and positive life, we should actively try to practice patience and understanding. Further, life is short and the best way to socialize and get ahead in this crazy world is to simply keep your wits about you. This isn’t quite as easy as it seems, particularly in the 21st century where road rage is common, office rage, marriage rage, etc. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I blame a lot of our problems of impatience and intolerance on the excessive use of technology where our expectations are programmed to do everything instantaneously, and we resent any form of delay, be it a speed limit, waiting in line, or arguing with another, particularly regarding politics. Patience seems to be in short supply these days.

Patience means biding your time; to wait for the proper moment or opportunity. This may be rather agonistic particularly as we seem to be spending an eternity waiting in lines for something. The right moment may never occur. Further, our patience is tried by the multitudes of people trying to invade our space mostly for purposes of advertising. For example, consider the pop-up windows suddenly appearing on our desktop, the uninvited video clips constantly harassing us, the voluminous spam e-mails we receive, and how audio volume is increased on television or radio whenever a commercial comes on. It’s like screaming kids clinging on to a mother’s dress.

Impatience is caused by many different situations:

* When our focus is broken by an irritating distraction.

* When plans and expectations are not realized thereby causing frustration.

* You cannot seem to connect with another person in conversation (they do not understand you).

* You are stymied by technology, either inexplicably working too slow or considered “unfriendly” to use.

* When your progress is unfathomably impeded by others, particularly among motorists texting or talking on their smart phones.

* Someone rants on and on about something trivial or nonsensical, aka “gobbledygook” or “BS”.

* Or you are just inconvenienced and feel slighted, such as waiting in line.

Simple frustration is the prime cause of losing our patience. Knowing this, customer service representatives should be more sensitive to our frustrations, but they seldom are and go on autopilot instead, thereby compounding the problem. It takes an empathetic person to be sensitive to the frustrations of others.

If you have got all the time in the world, you can afford to be patient, such as retirees. However, if you are still working and trying to get things done, regardless of their importance, you are more likely to be aware of the clock and not want to waste your time. However, where is our time going? To technology. I would suggest a national “Turn Off the Technology” Day, but it is so imbued in our society, a lot of people would spazz out and suffer withdrawal.

We all have our breaking points. Some fuses are longer than others. I would like to believe my fuse is longer than most, but I have my moments, such as trying to digest the BS of “political correctness,” watching an injustice go unchallenged, or driving behind someone who obviously believes he/she is the only person on the highway. I sometimes find it necessary to simply walk away from something as opposed to compounding the problem, or in some instances, pull off the roadway until the problem has dissipated. This is probably why I prefer driving early in the morning or late at night in order to avoid such problems.

Some people find it necessary to step back from a problem and take a deep breath before continuing, thereby refreshing one’s focus. Since technology is often the culprit for becoming impatient, simply turning it off works wonders, be it a radio or television, a smart phone, a computer, or whatever device you are plugged into, thereby eliminating irritating distractions. Just turn it off, clear your head, and refocus. It’s that simple.

It’s also important to find time during the day for ourselves. We do a lot for others during the work day, such as customers, employees, vendors, or our boss and family. Our inclination is to assist or serve others, which can easily add to stress. To overcome this, find some private time during the day for you to collect your thoughts; nothing radical, just something simple, such as reading a book, closing your eyes for a cat nap, taking a walk, or just stopping to smell the roses. Such respites break up the monotony of the day, allows you to collect your thoughts, and brings your stress level down.

Practicing patience is an important part of our ability to socialize with others. Quite often, we believe it is someone else causing our frustration, and maybe that’s true. However, we must also admit we create our own problems by being self-centered and not practicing a little courtesy to others. Just remember, if you can maintain your focus, if you can remain calm in the midst of catastrophe, and do unto others as you would have others do unto you…

“Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!”

– Rudyard Kipling

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:  PERFORMING A JOB YOU HATE – Things to consider before tackling that ugly job you despise.

LAST TIME:  READING THE SIGNS – There are some signs nobody seems to read.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays, 6:00-10:00am Mountain), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Lance Tormey & Brian Teegarden (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). 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, Social Issues, Society | Tagged: , , , , | 9 Comments »

READING THE SIGNS

Posted by Tim Bryce on July 26, 2013

BRYCE ON COMMUNICATIONS

– There are some signs nobody seems to read.

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

Comedian Jay Leno is well known for reviewing strange signs sent in by viewers on his “Tonight Show.” I’ve recently seen a few that makes me scratch my head myself.

First, I was recently in the dry cleaners and saw a sign posted that read, “You must sign a release for us to iron rhinestone shirts.” Not that I have any rhinestone shirts, but it struck me the sign was actually saying, “Can we have your permission to destroy your shirt?” I don’t think I would want to leave my shirt with anyone who wasn’t confident they could iron it properly.

Next, I went to a chili parlor recently. Posted on the door as you entered was a sign that read, “Use of cell phones will prohibit us from serving you.” I guess someone other than myself was perturbed over the obnoxious use of cell phones. Nonetheless, I went in and sat up at the counter and ordered my meal. While I was waiting, I looked around and saw at least three patrons in the restaurant talking on their cell phones. Interestingly, the waitresses were serving them their meals without any problem. What’s the point of posting a sign, if nobody is going to pay attention to it, including the people who posted it? Or do you think maybe the sign was a prank by some kids who posted the sign on the door?

And finally, I saw a sign outside of a hamburger stand that read, “Parking for Drive-Thru Service Only.” I thought, “Gee, isn’t that a oxymoron?”

I wish people would actually read the signs they are writing. It would probably make it a lot easier on the rest of us.

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 ART OF PATIENCE – An art that is difficult to master.

LAST TIME:  WHY ANTI-BIG BUSINESS? – Is it a crime to be successful?

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays, 6:00-10:00am Mountain), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Lance Tormey & Brian Teegarden (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). 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 Communications, Social Issues | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

WHY ANTI-BIG BUSINESS?

Posted by Tim Bryce on July 24, 2013

BRYCE ON BUSINESS

– Is it a crime to be successful?

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

In the 40+ years of our company’s existence, we have been afforded some rather interesting perspectives on business. As a small business we have been able to nimbly change direction on a dime, but as a management consulting firm we have serviced Big Businesses of just about every size and shape, not to mention the geographical nuances of the company. During this time, we have observed various management styles, corporate cultures, and the moral values of both management and employees. I have seen both the good as well as the bad. All companies, whether they are large or small, have their positives as well as their negatives. Fortunately, I have seen more good than bad. With this in mind, I am somewhat bewildered why some people consider Big Business as inherently evil, that by their sheer nature they are corrupt.

To me, business is what made America great. It is the economic engine which fueled our economy, and by doing so it has afforded us a high standard of living, the envy of many other countries. Then we hit a deep economic pot hole a few years ago, which slowed us down and changed our perspective on things like employment, entitlements, and debt. Suddenly, Big Business was cast as the bad guy who held too much control over our government and was insensitive to the needs of the American people.

It is true, the banking and mortgage industries made bad decisions, as did manufacturing, but the government decided to bail them out as opposed to let them fold. It is also true, many big businesses outsourced parts of their operations overseas. We must remember though, you outsource when you can no longer find the talent you want at a competitive price. It also has tax benefits. As our standard of living escalated, companies found it more economical to outsource certain types of jobs. Now, as our standard of living has dropped, many such jobs are returning home, that is, of course, assuming the government doesn’t tax them to death.

Aside from this, Big Business performs a vital function to our economy by bringing the cost of goods down by volume, by employing people, and investing in research and development. Small business may represent innovators who can move rather fast, but Big Business moves the country forward due to its sheer size. I tend to think of it as a lumbering giant who leans forward and let’s its legs catch up with it. Now and then, it stumbles due to its immensity, such as what we experienced these last few years.

However, I still do not understand why Big Business is being stereotyped as evil. Since when did it become a crime to be successful? I thought that was what the American dream was all about; to risk, to explore, to conquer. It’s interesting, in this country we celebrate entertainment more than business, yet entertainment has itself become Big Business. Hollywood companies, and High-Tech companies like Apple, Google, and Microsoft are generally regarded as good guys, yet they are essentially no different than other companies trying to dominate their fields, such as energy production, insurance, pharmaceuticals and housing development. This sounds like a double-standard to me. Maybe it’s because people understand entertainment better than general business.

The real reason behind the growing distrust of Big Business is because it is viewed as an impediment to a socialist agenda; Big Business is being depicted as too big for its own good and cannot be trusted to do what is right and, further, it should be controlled by government. As a confirmed capitalist, I find this rather amusing as our federal government itself has grown to mammoth proportions and can no longer be trusted to function properly. As should be obvious, we only have ourselves to blame. If we do not like the lobbying efforts of companies over our government, our tax structure, or corporate financial incentives, change it. It can be done with some determined effort and an informed public, but maybe that’s asking too much.

As for me, I prefer the environment of a small business. It may not have the seeming security of a Big Business, and risks are great, but as I said, I like being able to change direction on a dime, and have money to spare.

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:  READING THE SIGNS – There are some signs nobody seems to read.

LAST TIME:  A COUPLE OF SUGGESTIONS FOR THE USPS – For starters, how about forwarding our mail to the public dump?

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays, 6:00-10:00am Mountain), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Lance Tormey & Brian Teegarden (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). 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 Business, Social Issues | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

A COUPLE OF SUGGESTIONS FOR THE USPS

Posted by Tim Bryce on July 22, 2013

BRYCE ON THE POST OFFICE

– For starters, how about forwarding our mail to the public dump?

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

Whenever the United States Postal Service (USPS) suffers a major economic downturn, which seems to be fairly regular, they always threaten to cancel Saturday delivery service. Basically, they contend their operating costs are getting out of hand. Instead of cancelling Saturday service though, there are some alternatives, something they should have been cognizant of all along.

As we all know, the cause of the problem is the decline of printed material requiring delivery. Magazines and newspapers have been sharply curtailed, and we now live in an age of eZines. Correspondence is done by e-mail as opposed to a card or letter, and bills are paid on-line as opposed to the mail. Although I personally prefer paper mail, particularly for my bills, I have many friends who do everything on-line, particularly younger people. To illustrate, I had a friend recently contend everything she gets in the mail box goes directly into her garbage. There is virtually nothing of interest to her and she is irritated she has to walk out to her mail box only to drop the contents off in the garbage. She jokingly thought of changing her address to the public dump in order to save time, but her idea is not entirely without merit.

It would be my suggestion the USPS take charge of the telephone book, complete with addresses, and offer clients the option to be removed from postal deliveries (a simple Yes or No switch). Further, they would sell mailing lists to those vendors who still want to mail printed documents through their service. This would eliminate the problem of receiving junk mail, speed up the letter carrier’s route, and offer vendors a more cost effective direct mailing scheme; after all, why send mail to a location where the recipient will only toss it in the garbage?

Due to economics, many organizations have turned to eZines as opposed to printing newsletters or other documents. Although this has saved a lot of money, there are still people, mostly older, who are not intimate with technology and prefer receiving such publications in the mail. Obviously, this means you will not be able to go 100% paperless, unless you no longer care about your older members. In some of the nonprofit organizations I am involved with, such e-mail is sent to approximately 75% of our membership, with the other 25% receiving it in hard copy form. Nonetheless, this approach has saved a considerable amount of money.

What about shipping packages? Two alternatives: either separate package delivery from other mail, or abandon packages altogether and leave it to other carriers such as UPS and FedEx, but this isn’t really a practical alternative as packages represent a huge revenue stream to the USPS. Instead, separating package delivery from letters and other printed materials would be the logical alternative. Whereas letters would require letter carriers operating on a routine route, packages would be delivered upon demand, which is essentially how UPS and FedEx operates.

Regardless if these suggestions are used or not, the USPS has to change in order to remain a viable delivery service. If they do not, we might all want to change our addresses to the public dump.

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:  WHY ANTI-BIG BUSINESS? – Is it a crime to be successful?

LAST TIME:  ROADSIDE MEMORIALS – Are we really honoring the deceased or creating a road hazard?

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays, 6:00-10:00am Mountain), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Lance Tormey & Brian Teegarden (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). 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 Business, Social Issues | Tagged: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

ROADSIDE MEMORIALS

Posted by Tim Bryce on July 19, 2013

BRYCE ON HIGHWAY SAFETY

– Are we really honoring the deceased or creating a road hazard?

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

I remember when I took my first driver’s license test in Ohio when I was 16. On the test they had a section where you had to identify traffic signs using multiple choice answers. For the yellow “crossroads” sign they had the following: 1-Church ahead, 2-Crossroads, and, 3-Someone died on this spot. I thought this was particularly funny and wondered how anyone could fail the test. Well, we may not use the crossroads sign but you sure see a lot of roadside traffic death markers out there, usually in the form of a small cross with lots of flowers around it and perhaps other things related to the deceased, such as stuffed toys.

Roadside memorials are actually not new. They’ve been around for years and are normally built by the deceased’s loved ones. Some states allow them, others do not. Some are temporary, some are permanent. Some are plain and simple, others are a bit more lavish (and an eyesore). If you scan the Internet you’ll see numerous examples of them.

Although they’ve been around for a long time, I’ve noticed these road memorials have become more prolific lately, popping up just about everywhere. Down here in Florida it is not unusual to see them on major thoroughfares, such as US19 and the legendary Alligator Alley. Offhand, I don’t have a problem with such markers on quiet roads but they are becoming a bit distracting on the major roads and highways, often leading to additional traffic problems. I would find it sadly ironic if one roadside memorial would lead to the death of another person, but I’m sure it has already happened.

For the loved ones left behind, I’m sure you mean well and I’m sorry for your loss, and I don’t want to appear insensitive, but you are doing a disservice to the memory of your dearly departed by creating a traffic safety hazard. If these roadside memorials go unchecked, highways will eventually look more like Arlington Cemetery than the road to Miami.

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:  A COUPLE OF SUGGESTIONS FOR THE USPS – For starters, how about forwarding our mail to the public dump?

LAST TIME:  GROCERY SHOPPING IS CHANGING – Another instance of how technology is altering our lives.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays, 6:00-10:00am Mountain), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Lance Tormey & Brian Teegarden (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). 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 Social Issues | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

GROCERY SHOPPING IS CHANGING

Posted by Tim Bryce on July 17, 2013

BRYCE ON SHOPPING

– Another instance of how technology is altering our lives.

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

Recently I stopped to talk with a UPS driver who was making a delivery to our office. I asked him how business was at his company. He claimed it couldn’t be better. Internet titan Amazon alone kept them busy, not just delivering books but many other items, including toilet paper. “Toilet paper?” I asked.

Yes, toilet paper. Evidently, people have grown tired of going to the store and prefer having UPS deliver it to them instead. I looked it up on the web, and lo and behold there it was at some rather competitive prices. When you consider there is also free shipping on orders over $25, you start to understand why people are moving in this direction.

Not long afterwards, I heard about AmazonFresh, Amazon’s latest move to sell groceries over the Internet with home delivery. The concept of Internet grocery shopping is certainly not new, as different companies have been experimenting with it for several years, including Amazon who has been testing it for the last five years in the Seattle area. Now it appears Amazon is ready to break out to other major metropolitan areas, including Los Angeles and San Francisco. If it becomes successful, watch for Amazon to branch out rapidly across the United States.

The problem with Internet grocery shopping is being able to deliver fresh products to the consumer. Paper products, can goods, and other non-perishables is one thing; produce, cold and frozen foods are something else altogether. This is the Achilles’ heel of such an endeavor. Spoilage can easily damage profit margins. Some companies have abandoned the idea of home delivery and, instead, have developed a “Click and Connect” approach whereby the consumer can order his products in advance and then simply pick it up at their convenience. This is a good alternative plan, but if toilet paper is any indicator, the country is now ready for home delivery of groceries. To this end, Amazon appears to be addressing this problem with specially designed warehouses strategically located around town.

This is all being watched diligently by retail giant, Walmart. If Amazon is successful, they could pose a genuine threat to Walmart over time, something which would be simply unacceptable to executives in Bentonville, Arkansas. Supermarket giants like Kroger, Publix, and Safeway better pay attention as well, for this could prove devastating to their businesses. They will either have to come up with a viable home delivery system or spruce up their stores, prices, and customer service (or be prepared to close their doors). More likely, look for some to form partnerships with Amazon. Either way, consumers will undoubtedly notice considerable changes in their grocery shopping experiences over the next few years.

I have mixed emotions about this. Home delivery sounds better than facing another WalMartian in the grocery aisles, but I am one of those people who don’t mind visiting the supermarket. First of all, it affords me some time to spend with my wife. However, I believe this goes back to a time when I was a child and would accompany my grandparents to farmer’s markets and the neighborhood “corner store” where everyone seemed to know everybody in the neighborhood. It was a place where neighbors met and showed family pictures and caught up on gossip and recent events. I think we lost that “down home” feeling as the supermarkets flourished and grew to gigantic proportions. Now it’s a matter of getting in and out of the store as if it were an Entebbe Raid. It will be no small wonder why people will abandon the supermarkets in favor of someone like Amazon. As for me, I’ll miss smelling the coffee grinders, talking with the butcher, and catching up with the Jones’.

I guess this is just another instance of how technology is altering our lives.

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:  ROADSIDE MEMORIALS – Are we really honoring the deceased or creating a road hazard?

LAST TIME:  TRAVEL PLANNING – I resent being turned into a travel agent.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays, 6:00-10:00am Mountain), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Lance Tormey & Brian Teegarden (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). 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 Business, Social Issues, Technology | 4 Comments »

TRAVEL PLANNING

Posted by Tim Bryce on July 15, 2013

BRYCE ON TRAVEL

– I resent being turned into a travel agent.

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

As we all know, travel has become a big headache. What was once considered an enjoyable part of business life is now looked upon with disdain. Today, travel planning is maybe just as difficult as the actual trip itself. In the old days, you would call either an in-house group or an independent travel agency to make arrangements. Actually, it was a rather painless process, but thanks to the Internet, we have all been turned into travel agents, and for some reason I liked it better the other way around.

I’ve booked reservations on the airlines, cruise lines, and hotels in the past with little difficulty, but it was only recently that I tried the on-line discount travel agencies (such as Priceline, Travelocity, Orbitz, etc.) but I cannot say I was pleased with the results. To illustrate, I was planning a trip up to New York City with my family; I had no problem picking an airline and hotel separately, but trying to find a combined discounted package presented me no end of grief. True, I could find some great rates, but I had trouble trying to find a flight that could accommodate my schedule or a room to suit my requirements. The combinations were simply overwhelming and difficult to wade through.

Wanting to know more about one package combination, I telephoned one of the agencies and spoke to a young person who could competently describe how to process orders on their site, but couldn’t answer my travel questions effectively. I came to the conclusion that trying to call the agencies was a colossal waste of time as they most likely want us to deal with a machine as opposed to a human being. I got the feeling there was only one guy working at the agency who was responsible for the care and feeding of the computers, dusting, and to occasionally answer the phone (I think the owners are located on an island somewhere in the South Pacific).

What we have here is another example of how technology complicates our life as opposed to helping it. What was once a relatively painless task has become laborious, particularly for those who do not know how to use a computer or the Internet.

Next up, finding tickets for a Broadway show on the Internet. Oh God, does it ever end?

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:  GROCERY SHOPPING IS CHANGING – Another instance of how technology is altering our lives.

LAST TIME:  HEATED POLITICAL DEBATES – If you think political fighting is bad now, you don’t know your history.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays, 6:00-10:00am Mountain), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Lance Tormey & Brian Teegarden (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). 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 Travel | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

HEATED POLITICAL DEBATES

Posted by Tim Bryce on July 12, 2013

BRYCE ON POLITICS

– If you think political fighting is bad now, you don’t know your history.

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As members of the 21st century, we tend to believe the political discourse of this country has reached new heights. The sad reality though is we pale in comparison to our predecessors. For example, the parallels between the Obama era and that of Jefferson is actually quite remarkable. To illustrate, I recently completed Jon Meachum’s book, “Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power” (2012) and read about the presidential election of 1800 pitting Jefferson against his old friend, John Adams (the second President). Like Washington before him, Adams had been a Federalist. Jefferson, on the other hand was a Democrat-Republican (the origin of the Democratic Party as we know it today).

By 1800 there were already sharp ideological differences between the parties. Whereas the Federalists sought a strong federal government patterned after the British monarchy, Jeffersonian Democrats were more in favor of states rights and upholding the rights of the common man. The Federalists controlled New England, while the Democrats controlled the South. The disparity between the two parties is essentially no different than the Democrats and Republicans of today. Interestingly, Jefferson won New York which ultimately broke the log-jam (and edging out Aaron Burr).

Both parties controlled different newspapers, thereby providing a vehicle to attack each other and communicate their positions to the public. This was long an accepted form of communication until 1798; as the country approached the election of 1800 where it became apparent the Democrat-Republicans were gaining momentum, the Alien & Sedition Acts were passed by the Federalist controlled Congress, and signed into law by Federalist John Adams. The Sedition Act prohibited criticisms of the government and was viewed as a serious threat to the First Amendment by Jefferson and Madison who fought to overturn it.

The Federalists also tried to pack the courts. There is no clearer example of this than Adams picking his Secretary of State, John Marshall, to become Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Interestingly, even though Marshall didn’t share Jefferson’s views, he was a cousin and administered the oath of office to Jefferson. The Federalists also passed the Midnight Judges Act which made sweeping changes to the judiciary before the Democrat-Republicans took control of both the executive and legislative branches.

The discourse in Congress was much louder and violent than what we are familiar with today. To illustrate, in a Congressional debate in 1798, Democratic-Republican Congressman Matthew Lyon implied that Connecticut Federalists, including Roger Griswold, were corrupt. Hearing this, Griswold called Lyon a coward on the Senate floor. Lyon responded by spitting in Griswold’s face. Following this, a motion to expel Lyon from the Senate failed. Two weeks later, Griswold charged across the Senate floor and began striking Lyon with a heavy wooden cane about his head. Lyon retrieved hot tongs from a nearby fire pit and defended himself. However, Griswold was able to disarm him. The two exchanged blows briefly until they were finally broken up. This was not the first or last time, Congressmen would physically fight on the floor of the Capitol, but it gives you an idea of the heated passion of the day. Despite today’s political hyperbole, I am not aware of an incident in recent memory involving fisticuffs on the floor of the House or Senate.

Such incendiary oratory has actually been with us for a long time. For example, consider the debates over issues such as the Missouri Compromise, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, Jackson’s dismantling of the National Bank, and just about every other argument leading up to the Civil War. All were just as inflammatory as the discourse of today, maybe more so.

I just wonder what effect television has had on Congressional arguments. I cannot help but believe it has somehow calmed the passions of the speakers. Without it, I can well imagine some rather loud and visceral arguments, with maybe some canes and tongs thrown in for good measure. Hmm…sounds like a good angle for reality TV doesn’t 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&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:  TRAVEL PLANNING – I resent being turned into a travel agent.

LAST TIME:  BILLY MITCHELL – THE ORIGINAL WHISTLE BLOWER – What we can learn from a famous whistle blower of the yesteryear.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays, 6:00-10:00am Mountain), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Lance Tormey & Brian Teegarden (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). 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 History, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

BILLY MITCHELL – THE ORIGINAL WHISTLE BLOWER

Posted by Tim Bryce on July 10, 2013

BRYCE ON SEEKING THE TRUTH

– What we can learn from a famous whistle blower from yesteryear.

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

We’ve been hearing a lot about whistle blowers lately, particularly Edward Snowden, the NSA contractor who ignited the U.S. surveillance program scandal. There are also the whistle blowers involved with the Benghazi scandal and the IRS intimidation program. Whistle blowers have actually been with us a long time. In my life, it goes back to Daniel Ellsberg who in 1969 released the “Pentagon Papers” to the “New York Times,” detailing the military activity in Viet Nam under LBJ and Nixon. This, of course, ultimately triggered Watergate. However, let’s go a little further back in time to 1925 when the Army instigated a court-martial against Colonel Billy Mitchell, an episode which has quickly been forgotten in history, but has an important bearing on the whistle blowers of today.

Although Mitchell is primarily credited for building Air Power in this country, his military history goes as far back as the Spanish-American War where he served as the youngest Army officer (at age 18). Mitchell’s notoriety though began during “The Great War” (WWI) where, as Major, he became the first American officer to come under fire in the trenches of France. During the war, he earned several decorations and citations. More importantly, it was in France where he developed his fascination and passion for the airplane as a military weapon.

Mitchell understood the potential of the airplane. His superiors did not, and saw it as nothing more than a trivial instrument for observing enemy forces. They laughed at him when he claimed airplanes could sink a ship by dropping bombs on it. At the time, battleships were considered invincible. He finally got an opportunity to prove his claims and sank the German battleship “Ostfriesland” which was to be scuttled following the war. Nonetheless, the military was unimpressed. Following the war, in peacetime, there was an emphasis on shrinking the military. Even though Mitchell begged for money for research and development, he was ignored. He even urged the military to form a separate branch dedicated to an air service, but was denied. Consequently, American Air Power diminished almost to obscurity. The English, French, Italians, even the Germans had far superior airships than the Americans, and Mitchell made sure the newspapers knew about it.

Knowing Mitchell’s image was growing larger in the press, the military sent him on assignments in order to make him disappear. In 1924 he was sent to study military defenses in the Pacific. During this time, he visited Japan and witnessed firsthand how the Japanese were embracing Air Power and realized America was far behind their counterparts. Following his tour he produced an extensive 323 page report on his assessment of American defenses in the Pacific. It was in this prophetic report that he predicted how Japan would attack Pearl Harbor with remarkable accuracy. Even though the military dismissed his report as ridiculous, Mitchell’s predictions would come true 17 years later. Nonetheless, he was buried again by the military.

One year later, in 1925, the Navy dirigible “Shenandoah” was destroyed in a storm in Ohio, with a loss of thirteen lives. Mitchell was outraged as he knew the ship was archaic and denounced the Navy for its “almost treasonable” attitude towards aviation:

“As a patriotic American citizen, I can stand by no longer and see these disgusting performances…at the expense of the lives of our people and the delusion of the American public. We may all make mistakes but the criminal mistakes made by armies and navies, whenever they have been allowed to handle aeronautics, show their incompetence…This, then, is what I have to say on the subject, and I hope that every American will hear.”(1)

Although Mitchell became a hero to the American people for his bold statements, his superiors felt otherwise and was given a court-martial for insubordination. Actually, the court-martial was what Mitchell was hoping for as he figured it was the best way to bring attention to the problem and create change. The case garnered a lot of attention in the press, and many notable proponents of Air Power testified on his behalf. In the end though, Mitchell was suspended from the Army for five years. Instead, Mitchell resigned in 1926 and spent the remainder of his life speaking on behalf of Air Power. He would die in 1936 never knowing how accurate his predictions would become in World War II. In 1942, President Roosevelt, recognized Mitchell’s contributions to Air Power by restoring his status and elevating him to the rank of Major General. In 1946, he was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, “in recognition of his outstanding pioneer service and foresight in the field of American military aviation”…10 years after his death.

There are some similarities, as well as differences, between Billy Mitchell and Edward Snowden. Both tried to do what they perceived to be right. Mitchell was a visionary who used his court-martial to draw public attention to the problems of Air Power. Snowden is not a visionary. He just stumbled on a problem and reported it. Whereas Mitchell stood and took his medicine as a military officer, thereby garnering the support of the American people, Snowden took flight as he didn’t want to suffer through a career ending court case as Mitchell did.

The big problem with becoming a whistle blower is that it doesn’t pay well. You might earn the admiration of the American people, but you must also face the wrath of the establishment. For example, State Department witnesses in the Congressional hearing on Benghazi have reported their career is essentially over. Likewise, Cincinnati IRS witnesses have allegedly been intimidated. It takes someone with a lot of character to stand up and report a problem, whether it be in the corporate world or government. The prime difference between Billy Mitchell and Ed Snowden is simple: Mitchell stood and took his medicine; Snowden has not. Understand this though, the American Air Power we knew today can be directly attributed to the efforts of Billy Mitchell. Had he not spoken up when he did, our air defenses would have been primitive by the start of World War II. Mitchell knew what he was talking about and would not be intimidated by the powers in authority.

Keep the Faith!

1-“The Billy Mitchell Story” by Burke Davis, page 102

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:  HEATED POLITICAL DEBATES – If you think political fighting is bad now, you don’t know your history.

LAST TIME:  PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES – How would our founding fathers in today’s electoral circus?

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), KGAB-AM 650 “The Morning Zone” with host Dave Chaffin (weekdays, 6:00-10:00am Mountain), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Lance Tormey & Brian Teegarden (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). 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 History, Social Issues | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

 
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