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Archive for March, 2014

GREETING A STRANGER

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 31, 2014

BRYCE ON SOCIETY

– Try it. You might even enjoy the reaction you receive.

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

In my travels around town, I’ve noticed a lot of sour expressions on people’s faces. Maybe it’s just the snowbirds from up north. There just seems to be a lot of unhappy people walking around these days wearing a sourpuss. In a local restaurant I frequent for lunch, people come in with blank looks on their faces, and exit with the same expression. One would think consuming a good meal would change a person’s disposition, but not so from what I have observed. Then again, maybe it was the meat loaf or stuffed peppers affecting them. More likely, I suspect it is based on our technology addiction or the state of our country that is altering our interpersonal skills.

Whether I am at the post office or a restaurant, it is not unusual for me to greet a stranger and wish them a good day. The reaction by most people though is one of bewilderment or intimidation. Instead of exchanging pleasantries, they look at me like I have three eyes. I can almost hear them saying to themselves, “What did he mean by that?” or “What does he want?” Frankly, nothing. I just want to say hello.

I learned this years ago when I was a young man sitting in the waiting room of my doctor’s office. When I entered, the room was already full of patients representing a variety of ages. There were old magazines to read, and a trashy soap opera on TV which nobody was watching, yet nobody had the courage to change the channel. It was all rather gloomy. Then, all of a sudden, the front door swung open and the mailman walked in briskly, “Good morning everybody! Beautiful day out there, isn’t it?”

He delivered the mail, turned and exited. After the door shut behind him, people seemed to snap out of their sullen trance, smiled, and began to talk with each other. I was taken by how such a simple gesture quickly produced a positive reaction, and have not forgotten the incident. Consequently, this is why I try to warmly welcome some one to our office, be it a delivery man, a customer, or whomever. In turn, people appreciate the attention and respond in kind.

A couple of weeks ago I happened to visit the local WalMart to pick up a prescription. Yes, the Walmartions were out in force that day, but I tried not to let them get me down. On this particular afternoon, as I exited, I saw a young WalMart employee sitting in the smoking area enjoying a small cigar. I judged him to be 18-19 years old. As a fellow cigar smoker, I approached him and kiddingly asked, “Is this the first class smoking section?” The young man looked up puzzled; my question had obviously caught him off guard.

I then asked him, “What kind of cigar are you smoking?” and he began to loosen up. It was a cheap cigar, something he could smoke quickly while on break. This led to a brief discussion on types of cigars and I confided in him my experience smoking my first cigar, a White Owl classic, which I smoked as a teenager behind my friend’s house in Chicago. He laughed and asked me what I smoked now. I then offered him a cigar which he gladly accepted. The whole exchange between the two of us lasted no more than three minutes. Whereas he seemed sullen when I first met him, his spirits were obviously higher as we departed. We never knew each other’s names.

I find it interesting how people tend to shun such repartee and build a force field around themselves. Perhaps worse is the reaction people have when someone greets them, probably because we are suspicious of their motives and do not trust them. Maybe so, but what is the harm of once and awhile saying, “Good morning everybody! Beautiful day out there, isn’t it?” Try it, You might be pleasantly surprised by the reaction you receive.

Maybe there wouldn’t be as many public shootings if we just learned to say “Hello” now and then.

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 © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  APRIL FOOL’S DAY: OUR 43RD ANNIVERSARY – The fact “PRIDE” has survived for 43 years is a testament to its integrity.

LAST TIME:  TIM BRYCE: RABBLE-ROUSER?  – Or someone who is passionately curious?

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Social Issues | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

TIM BRYCE: RABBLE-ROUSER?

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 28, 2014

BRYCE ON SELF

– Or someone who is passionately curious?

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

For as long as I can remember in my professional career, I have been accused of being a rabble-rouser by one person or another. When consulting on systems or management, people would be insulted when our company told them the truth. They had trouble accepting it. To illustrate, many years ago in Milwaukee, we were hired to determine the systems problems plaguing an insurance company. After studing the problem carefully we reported to the company’s executive board they were rewarding their “fire fighters” for coming in at all hours to correct defects in their systems and programs; however, we went on to point out their fire fighters were also their chief arsonists, meaning there wouldn’t be any problems if their leaders were doing their jobs properly. This didn’t sit well with the executives and we were never asked to return. Nonetheless, our conscious was clear in terms of what we told them, the truth.

This same phenomenon has followed me in the many nonprofit organizations I have participated in over the years. The officers of my homeowner association were perturbed when I demanded to audit their books to determine how much money had been spent on a brick wall enclosing our community (I discovered a $15,000 snafu in the process). The local Little League was likewise irritated when I served on the Finance Committee and demanded to see receipts and bids. In the process though, I cleaned up the books and established a budget. I have done this on more than one occasion.

I find the label “rabble-rouser” to be erroneous. First, it insults my readers and customers by describing them as “rabble”; second, a “rabble-rouser” is someone trying to stir the people for some political objective. It has connotations of the Yippies of the 1960’s, such as Jerry Rubin, Abbie Hoffman, and the rest of the Chicago Seven. No, my hair is far too short. The English have perhaps a more apt description, “Mixer,” meaning I am trying to engage people to think. My objective is to cause people to reconsider a position they may have overlooked or consider that which they commonly take for granted.

I believe this all started years ago at our company, a small management consulting firm with a special niche. Due to the competitive nature of the industry, it was essential all of the consultants operate in a consistent and predictable manner. Consequently, it was common for us to engage in debates about system design, project management, business systems planning, quality assurance, data base design, and much more. Such arguments led to the discovery of a four model approach to data base design (as opposed to three models). This discourse was invigorating as we were exercising mental gymnastics in search of what was logically correct. Our competitive edge was based on our search for the truth. If a customer wanted to know something, they turned to us first as they knew we had performed our homework.

I see myself more as the child who observed, “The Emperor has no clothes.” Over the years I have learned not to accept people at just face value. As such, I challenge the status quo to understand why something is done or if there cannot be a better way of improving the current mode of operation. However, challenging the status quo can present problems. People become too comfortable within it, and can react violently to any proposed change. As Machiavelli correctly observed in “The Prince” (1513), “It must be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to manage than a new system. For the initiator has the enmity of all who would profit by the preservation of the old institution and merely lukewarm defenders in those who gain by the new ones.” Translation, defenders of the status quo tend to suffer from hardening of the arteries and react violently to new ideas.

My problem is that I ask people to think as opposed to operating on auto-pilot. If you have the audacity to think for yourself or ask questions, people can become indignant and will try to undermine your position, even if you haven’t arrived at a logical conclusion yet. Instead of realizing a person is in search for the truth, it is easier to accuse him of being a rabble-rouser thereby undermining his credibility.

I do not consider myself an intellectual, just an average Joe who has been around the block a few times and suffers from an acute case of common sense. My favorite branch of mathematics in school was Geometry which is nothing more than an exercise in logic. This puts me at a distinct advantage over others as I have learned common sense is not very common anymore. People will often say to me, “Just go with the flow.” The only problem with going with the flow is you are in all likelihood blindly headed towards a waterfall. I would rather do my own thinking as opposed to depending on others, and ultimately this is why I am perceived as a rabble-rouser for I have the nerve to ask, “Why?”

I also firmly believe our dependency on technology has stunted human thinking patterns and created social problems. My dream would be to knock out all forms of electronic communications thereby forcing people to snap out of their trance and begin to think for themselves again. Alas, it is but a pipe dream of mine.

My choice of words may seem unconventional, then again, I do not like to sugarcoat a problem or be politically correct. The petty taunts I receive and the innuendo my critics whisper like old ladies are amusing and I resist the temptation to respond in kind. Not to worry, I have developed some rather thick skin over the years. I am more concerned with seeking the truth as opposed to wallowing in the status quo.

Me, a rabble-rouser? I believe this says more about the accuser than the accused.

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 © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  GREETING A STRANGER – Try it. You might even enjoy the reaction you receive.

LAST TIME:  IMPROVING CUSTOMER SERVICE  – Remember, good customer service is good business; Bad customer service is bad business.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific), and KGAB-AM (650) of Cheyenne, Wyoming. Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Social Issues, Society | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

IMPROVING CUSTOMER SERVICE

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 26, 2014

BRYCE ON BUSINESS

– Remember, good customer service is good business; Bad customer service is bad business.

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

Customer Service is the front line of a business. It answers customer questions, schedules appointments, troubleshoots problems and acts as the customer’s ombudsman. Although some people consider it an inconsequential function, I consider it vital to the success of a business.

Let me give you an example, a few years ago I was flying on American Airlines from Tampa to Seattle, with a connection in Dallas. This was an important business call as I had a sales presentation to make. Understandably, I became upset when the Tampa flight left unexpectedly late. As I arrived in Dallas, I realized I was going to miss my connecting flight. Consequently, I was instructed to get in line to talk to a customer service agent, a line which moved painfully slow and my temper began to rise noticeably. So much so, an older agent read the rage in my face and asked me to step out of line and over to the counter where she was working. Before I could give her a piece of my mind, she raised her hand calmly and said, “Stop. I will take care of you.” I explained my problem and, to her credit, she had me rerouted and solved my problem. I found it remarkable how she was able to read me and defused the situation. She did it professionally and, frankly, with a lot of class. So much so, she turned a hostile customer into a happy one. I think her maturity and experience had a lot to do with it, but “Okay” was not okay with her, nor was the status quo. The process didn’t solve the problem, it was her personality and socialization skills that saved the day.

The benefits of Customer Service are often overlooked. The intent is to make customers happy. By doing so, happy customers become loyal and buy more (repeat sales). Better yet, happy customers tell their friends about your business thereby creating new revenue streams without having to advertise for it. By doing so, customer service can help reduce marketing expenses.

Over the years, I have learned it is a myth that “the customer is always right.” As Americans, we have developed a unique knack for attacking the wrong problems which I commonly refer to as the “Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic” phenomenon. I see this not only in the corporate world, but in our private lives as well. Instead of addressing the correct problems, we tend to attack symptoms. This would be like taking an aspirin to alleviate a major head injury. Because of this, it is the responsibility of the Customer Service agent to read the symptoms and diagnose the true problem, and its cause.

Symptom > Problem > Cause

In this way, Customer Service establishes a doctor/patient relationship. The patient may very well possess
a misconception of the problem. The Customer Service agent must diagnose the patient’s symptoms and work backwards to discover the actual cause. The cure for the problem may actually cost less than the symptom the patient described. True, you could gouge the customer based on his interpretation, but in all likelihood, the patient will eventually discover the swindle which will ultimately cost you business later on. To this end, you may need to perform some preliminary tests to verify the problem. In other words, do not act on impulse, find out what the problem truly is and what the cost will be to correct it. By going through this process, you give the customer what he needs, not necessarily what he wants.

If you want to cheat the customer, fine, but do not expect any repeat business from the customer and understand he will likely tell his friends of the indiscretion and your reputation will be ruined (as well as your business). The lesson here should be rather obvious, “DO NOT LIE TO THE CUSTOMER.” This can have catastrophic consequences. Do not fabricate an excuse or a lie. You will inevitably get caught. Instead, find and report the truth at all times, e.g.; “I’m sorry, I do not know that, let me look it up for you and call you back.” Remove negativity from your vernacular as it is a sign of weakness, develop a positive “Can Do!” attitude instead. For example, replace “I don’t know,” with, “Let me research it for you.”

Throughout this doctor/patient process, your patience will likely be tested. Now is the time for you to maintain a cool disposition and treat the patient like the professional you are. In the airline story, the ticket agent read my temper correctly and surprised me by raising her hand calmly (yet forceably) and said, “Stop. I will take care of you.” By doing so, she defused the situation and took charge like a professional.

Customers do not like to be taken for granted. They want to be assured their best interests are being maintained by their vendors. From this perspective, “Okay” is not okay. The only excuse for indifference in customer service is when the customer is becoming more trouble than he is worth. Even then, he may affect sales simply from a reference point of view. This also means maintaining the status quo will not suffice. Regardless of the policies and procedures in place, customer service reps need to go beyond the call of duty to keep the customer happy. It is what we used to call “hustle.” In other words, they cannot afford to go on automatic, but rather think and take charge of the situation.

I have a friend who is a sales manager for a large distributor of industrial supplies. He primarily hustles around the area meeting new customers and checking on existing ones. After a customer is established, they can call in orders, large or small, to the main office who should promptly process and ship accordingly. One day, late on a Friday afternoon, a customer called in a small order for a box of tape. Since it was late in the day on the last day of the work week, the customer service rep figured the order could wait until Monday morning. He thought wrong. The box of tape, as innocuous as it seemed, was actually very much needed by the customer. When he didn’t get it in time, he became very upset and the company lost the customer forever. This did not sit well with my friend who had to discipline the customer service rep for the snafu.

There are two other simple things you can do as a Customer Service rep to develop trust and rapport with the customer, first; HONOR YOUR COMMITMENTS. In the 43 years we have been conducting business, we have never failed to meet a customer commitment, be it a training class, or a consulting project. By doing so, our customers trust our dependability. If we agree to a date or a price, they have confidence we will honor it. Second, FOLLOW UP WITH THE CUSTOMER, particularly after delivery of the product or service. Questions, such as, “Is everything okay?”, “Any problems?”, or “Is there anything else we can help you with?” can work wonders in terms of building trust and satisfaction, not to mention leading to additional sales.

Customer Service is really not that difficult as long as we remember customers do not want to be taken for granted and want to have confidence their interests are being maintained by their vendor. Most customers do not want to jump from one vendor to another. They actually want to build a loyal relationship with someone they trust. They are just looking for a little hustle, to be treated fairly, and some professional courtesy. A good firm handshake can go a long way to instilling confidence.

In summary, Customer Service is simply a matter of diagnosing the true problems of the customer, and giving them what they need as opposed to just what they want, and doing it with a sense of professionalism. In a nutshell:

Good customer service is good business; Bad customer service is bad business.

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 © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  TIM BRYCE: RABBLE-ROUSER? – Or someone who is passionately curious?

LAST TIME:  THE POLITICAL FINANCIERS  – Who really funds our electoral process? No, really?

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific), and KGAB-AM (650) of Cheyenne, Wyoming. Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Business, Management | Tagged: , , , , | 11 Comments »

THE POLITICAL FINANCIERS

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 24, 2014

BRYCE ON POLITICS

– Who really funds our electoral process? No, really?

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

Whenever the subject of political financing comes up, two names inevitably come to mind, the Koch Brothers and George Soros, both of whom are on the opposite ends of the political spectrum. The Koch Brothers support conservative causes thereby earning them the ire of the left. Conversely, Soros supports the liberal agenda and attracts criticism from the right. Both are iconic in terms of their contributions, causing them to be accused of trying to buy the country. True, they both have deep pockets, but let’s consider the amount of money each side has truly invested.

The Koch Brothers control Koch Industries, Inc. of Wichita, Kansas, the second largest privately held multinational corporation in the United States, which is involved with manufacturing, trading and investments. Annual revenues are approximately $100 billion. Charles Koch is the Chairman and CEO, and his brother David is the Executive VP. Both are considered libertarians. In fact, David was a Libertarian Vice-Presidential candidate in 1980. Together, the brothers are worth close to $70 billion.

In recent years, the Koch Brothers have funded conservative think-tanks, political campaigns, and lobbied the government. They believe in limited government, free enterprise, and personal freedom. They are also supporters of the Tea Party. They have been accused of donating more than $100 million to their political agenda, but this is unsubstantiated.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research group in Washington, D.C. which tracks money for politics and lobbying, Koch Industries donated approximately $18 million to conservative causes over the last 25 years; that is $720,000 annually. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, between 2006-2011 they also spent $50 million to lobby Washington.

It should be noted that Koch Industries has also made generous donations to many non-political programs as well, including education and a variety of charities. Nevertheless, the Koch Brothers’ political donations cause liberals to label them as “Evil.”

Financier George Soros is originally from Hungary and came to the United States via the United Kingdom. Although his estimated net worth is $23 billion, according to Forbes, Soros made an estimated $4 billion last year as the top hedge fund manager. It has been reported that since 1979 Soros has given away $8 billion to various causes, including politics, human rights, public health, and education.

Over the years, Soros has made generous donations to a variety of liberal causes, e.g., $3 million to the Center for American Progress, $2.5 million to MoveOn.org, and $20 million to America Coming Together, all of which were asked to support Democratic causes. In 2004 he donated $23,581,000 to 527 groups dedicated to defeating President Bush. Recently, he has donated generous sums to the super PAC Priorities USA Action and the Ready for Hillary campaign.

If you were to consider the donations of George Soros and the Koch Brothers together, it pales in comparison to the donations given by Labor Unions. Koch Industries is listed #59 on the OpenSecrets.org listing of the Top All-Time Donors, 1989-2014. However, 18 Labor Unions are ahead of them on the list representing an accumulative total of $6.3 billion to Democratic politics. I wonder if the “rank and file” are aware of this. As an aside, the #1 donor is ActBlue, a political action committee founded in 2004 who has donated over $97 million to Democratic causes. Such donations make the Koch Brothers contributions seem rather miniscule by comparison.

Between the campaign donations and the lobbying in Washington, as well as the state capitols, the amount of money spent in this endeavor is mind-boggling, yet this is how our system works. Imagine how these billions of dollars could be better spent if we simply revised our electoral process. Some time ago I proposed creating a separate fund whereby for every dollar donated to politics and lobbying, it must be matched and placed into a fund where it would be used to support charitable concerns and improving the nation’s infrastructure. Undoubtedly, the media would not support this as it would affect advertising revenues, and their power would diminish. Hmm, sounds like a Win-Win situation to me.

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 © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  IMPROVING CUSTOMER SERVICE – Remember, good customer service is good business; Bad customer service is bad business.

LAST TIME:  THE WIT OF GROUCHO MARX  – The art of language.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific), and KGAB-AM (650) of Cheyenne, Wyoming. Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

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

THE WIT OF GROUCHO MARX

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 21, 2014

BRYCE ON HUMOR

– The art of language.

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

Today’s style of humor can probably best be described as “In your face,” meaning it leaves nothing to the imagination. It’s very graphic. Back when radio was the primary entertainment vehicle, comics had to be more precise in their language in order to paint a picture for their audience. Comedians such as Jack Benny and Fred Allen understood this and used it to conjure up images, as did “Fibber McGee and Molly.”

The king of oratory though was Groucho Marx of Marx Brothers fame. Whereas his brother Chico portrayed an Italian, and Harpo the fun loving mute, Groucho was charged with keeping the dialog moving along with wise cracks. His genius was his ability to twist grammar and capitalize on the double entendre of the English language. As a listener, you had to pay attention or you might miss one of his throw-away lines. You just couldn’t see it coming. By doing so, he exhausted listeners due to the mental gymnastics he put you through.

His more legendary lines include:

“One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got into my pajamas I’ll never know.”

“I never forget a face, but in your case I’ll be glad to make an exception.”

“I have had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it.”

“Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?”

“If I held you any closer I would be on the other side of you.”

“Marriage is a wonderful institution, but who wants to live in an institution?”

“When I invite a woman to dinner I expect her to look at my face. That’s the price she has to pay.”

“Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them… well, I have others.”

Margaret Dumont was one of his favorite foils in his movies. Here are a couple of examples of the banter between the two:

Dumont: “Why, that reminds me of my youth!!”
Groucho: “He must be a pretty big boy by now.”

Groucho: “Do you follow me?”
Dumont: “Yes!”
Groucho: “Well, you better stop following me, or I’ll have you arrested.”

Groucho: “Why don’t you marry me?”
Dumont: “Why, marry you?”
Groucho: “You take me, and I’ll take a vacation. I’ll need a vacation if we’re going to get married. Married! I can see you right now in the kitchen, bending over a hot stove. But I can’t see the stove!”

Dumont: “Oh, I’m afraid after we’re married a while a beautiful young girl will come along and you’ll forget all about me.”
Groucho: “Don’t be silly. I’ll write you twice a week.”

Groucho also had the ability to make the listener think:

“Do you mind if I don’t smoke?”

“I sent the club a wire stating, “PLEASE ACCEPT MY RESIGNATION. I DON’T WANT TO BELONG TO ANY CLUB THAT WILL ACCEPT PEOPLE LIKE ME AS A MEMBER.”

“Practically everybody in New York has half a mind to write a book, and does.”

“A woman is an occasional pleasure but a cigar is always a smoke.”

“Wives are people who feel they don’t dance enough.”

“My favorite poem is the one that starts ‘Thirty days hath September’ because it actually tells you something.”

“What do you get when you cross an insomniac, an agnostic, and a dyslexic? Someone who stays up all night wondering if there is a Dog.”

That joke went over a lot of people’s heads.

I also saw him participate in a roast of Johnny Carson at the Friar’s Club. His description of his dressing room was excellent, and the video is available on YouTube.

“Let me give you an idea of the friendship Johnny Carson and I have for each other. I was on Johnny Carson’s very first Tonight Show, six years ago. I’ll never forget the first night I met him, and heaven knows I’ve tried. I was in my dressing room, at least that is what they said it was. It was the only dressing room I had seen with twelve sinks. He rushed in, dropped some change in the machine, bought a comb, a nail clipper, a squirt of perfume and he left. The last time I saw him was 40 minutes ago. I had the same dressing room. Two sinks had been removed. He came in and said, “Boy am I glad you’re here; The nail clipper doesn’t work.” For your information Mr. Carson, the perfume has worn off too.”

And, Yes, it was Groucho who asked “Who’s buried in Grant’s tomb?”

I’m still amazed how many people never got it.

Through his use of the English language, Groucho exhibited a playfulness with his audience which endeared them to him. Sometimes his comments were suggestive, others were more innocent. He never had to be crude to captivate his fans, he just had to make them think.

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 © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  THE POLITICAL FINANCIERS – Who really funds our electoral process? No, really?

LAST TIME:  THE AGE OF DARKNESS  – Are we still seeking truth and knowledge, or are we pacified by the status quo?

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific), and KGAB-AM (650) of Cheyenne, Wyoming. Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

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

THE AGE OF DARKNESS

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 19, 2014

BRYCE ON SOCIETY

– Are we still seeking truth and knowledge, or are we pacified by the status quo?

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

The “Age of Enlightenment” was a period beginning in the 17th century where people began to question the status quo through discussion and reason. This led to many scientific discoveries and fueled the arts simply because people were encouraged to challenge the status quo and exchange ideas. Such discourse was made possible through free speech and the proliferation of the printing press thereby providing a convenient means to record ideas and convey information. Freemasons also had a role to play in this, although historians might argue otherwise, by providing a venue for the thinkers of the day to meet and talk. Some of the principals of this movement included Voltaire, Montesquieu, Franklin, Jenner, Mesmer, Mozart, Haydn, and Frederick the Great, all of which were Freemasons in search of knowledge. Many others followed and by doing so the arts and sciences were revolutionized, new trade routes were explored, new countries were colonized and founded, commerce and agriculture flourished, and political reforms enacted. It was an inspiring period.

Compare it to the last 100 years where we have witnessed great changes in transportation, business, communications, medicine, and other technologies. We have explored space and landed men on the moon, multiple times. Along the way, we have also been forced to endure several wars around the globe, and survive economic catastrophes. Today, our space program is a mere shadow of itself, our military has been reduced in size to the era of pre-World War II, a religious powder keg still exists in the Middle East, the nation’s economy can be described as fragile at best, and we are still dependent on other countries for energy. We have also witnessed some not so subtle changes in our government and the media, suppressing the exchange of ideas, thereby challenging our freedoms. The Age of Enlightenment has been replaced by paranoia. Others now dictate what is proper for discussion and enforced by the spin of the media or by autocratic rule. Political correctness tempers our tongues and forces people to accept the status quo. Even the Masons now fear censorship for discussing subjects not approved by their grand jurisdictions.

Today, we could convincingly argue we are embroiled in an “Age of Darkness” where people are forced to go underground to whisper their views and ideas. Bureaucratic rule and excessive laws are aimed at regulating the behavior of people, not to protect their freedoms. Is such rule needed to control an overly populated planet, or is it nothing more than a zeal for domination? I suspect the latter. Instead of being allowed to ask questions, we are now expected to accept everything at face value by the government and the media. This does not bode well for people seeking enlightenment. I can appreciate the need for secrecy on certain matters, but I value candor more, where we seek and learn the truth as opposed to being treated like cattle.

When “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson made his views about morality known in an interview for GQ magazine, including homosexuality, the media called it “shocking,” thereby causing A&E, the network for the show, to suspend him indefinitely. Fans of the show rebelled and forced A&E to lift the suspension. This was not the first time Robertson butted heads with A&E executives who bleeped “in Jesus’ name” during his prayers. This is a prime example of how expression is repressed in this day and age.

Enlightenment represents our thirst for discovery, invention and innovation, and to “boldly go where no man has gone before.” In order to continue our quest for enlightenment, freedom must be safeguarded, particularly the rights of the individual. It cannot succeed under a regime of repression, where Big Brother is watching our every move, listening to our every word, and judging our political correctness. The governing powers understand it is difficult to control people who possess the thirst for knowledge and expression. Consequently, they create an environment to restrain the human mind. Criticisms and different viewpoints are no longer tolerated, just blind faith. New ideas or methodologies for improving the human condition are also not acceptable, just the status quo.

So, where can the thirst for enlightenment be found? Certainly not in our schools where students are only encouraged to memorize facts, not to think for themselves or learn to speak their mind. This makes them more manageable. The thirst can only be found in those who truly appreciate the need for freedom and are willing to fight for it; that we do not simply want enlightenment, but resist all efforts to repress it.

Enlightenment represents hope, and darkness our demise. Enlightenment represents freedom, and darkness our enslavement. Our predecessors were cognizant of this, but I fear too many people today have found comfort in the darkness of the status quo. As for me, I vote for enlightenment.

I wonder what our founding fathers would say. In today’s world they would have likely been rounded up, their properties confiscated, and hung in public before they could have written one word of the Declaration of Independence. Such is the fate of those resisting the Age of Darkness.

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 © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  THE WIT OF GROUCHO MARX – The art of language.

LAST TIME:  REACTIVE MANAGEMENT  – Why it is easier to be more reactive than proactive.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific), and KGAB-AM (650) of Cheyenne, Wyoming. Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Media, Social Issues, Society | Tagged: , , , , | 7 Comments »

REACTIVE MANAGEMENT

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 17, 2014

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– Why it is easier to be more reactive than proactive.

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Americans tend to be more reactive as opposed to proactive in their approach to life. I suspect the reason can be traced back to our Anglo heritage which historically has been hesitant to take decisive action. Consider how slow the British were to suppress the uprisings of its colonies, usually making the wrong decisions in the end. Our history is littered with instances affirming our reactive behavior; e.g., Pearl Harbor, the Battle of the Bulge, the Stock Market crash of 1929, 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and the Crash of 2008. These disasters could have been avoided if we had heeded warnings and planned accordingly. For example, the destruction of Katrina could have been averted had local politicians heeded the advice of the Corps of Engineers. Pearl Harbor could have been avoided if the military had listened to General Billy Mitchell a whopping 17 years earlier.

There are many reasons for reactive management: laziness, arrogance, apathy, timidity, unwillingness to offend anyone, or plain and simply, it is easier than being proactive. Making difficult decisions is hard work which is why most people procrastinate. Like it or not though, “Not to decide is to decide.” If we do not make the decision ourselves, a decision will be made for us, and probably not to our liking. We see this in such things as making funeral arrangements, divorce, handling troubled children, putting parents in an assisted living facility, making a major financial transaction, evaluating employees, career changes, and terminating employees. People can be slow to react in making such decisions and, by doing so, they inevitably fester and get worse.

I have a friend who has some aging parents entering the twilight of their years. The husband has developed some physical problems restricting his mobility. The wife is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s and is forgetful. They have been married for 60 years but are now finding it difficult to care for each other. Their siblings have encouraged them to sell their house and move into an assisted living facility near one of the children. At first they reluctantly agreed and signed a contract with a realtor, but after reflecting on it, the mother put a halt to it by steadfastly refusing to move. Although the husband’s driving days are coming to an end, the wife believes she can still drive which scares the family as she might take the car for a spin and either get lost or hit someone. As a precaution, the family keeps the car keys hidden.

My friend has tried to reason with them that now is the time to sell the house before one of them suffers a fall, is hospitalized, thereby leaving the other alone. Regardless of his arguments, they refuse to budge. Again, here we see a prime example of reactive management at work. The mother feels particularly comfortable in her home and does not want to leave it. She knows her kitchen, her neighborhood, and her church. However, she is not truly aware of her mental condition and how isolated she really is. Should something happen to the father, which is likely, she would be trapped in the house. In her case, she does not want to deal with reality and accept the fact there is a problem. The father does not want to fight his wife.

We do not like to make a difficult decision. Some managers balk at performing an employee evaluation or terminating employment as they do not want to hurt another person’s feelings. By not addressing such actions, the manager is doing a disservice to both his company and the employee who may very well be unaware a problem exists and, as such, does not take corrective action to improve himself.

Back in Chicago, my father had to terminate an employee. Prior to this, he gave the employee every opportunity to make adjustments and improve himself. He even went so far as to reassign him to other jobs within the company, hoping he would excel in another position. Unfortunately, nothing worked. Finally, he had to let him go. About a year later, my father happened to meet the man downtown. My father was understandably concerned his former employee held a grudge. Remarkably, he didn’t. Instead, he thanked my father for terminating him which forced him to find the correct career path. By taking a proactive approach, my father did what was best for the company and, ultimately, the employee.

Being proactive is much more difficult than being reactive. It requires planning, a conviction of beliefs, and the ability to sell the course of action appropriately. In other words, it requires a mastery of interpersonal relations/communications. These are much needed skills which are typically learned through life experiences. Unfortunately, this is something we cannot teach in business schools.

For my earlier paper, see “Proactive versus Reactive Management.”

For more on Billy Mitchell, see “Pearl Harbor Day.”

Also see, “Firing Employees isn’t for Sissies.”

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 © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  THE AGE OF DARKNESS – Are we still seeking truth and knowledge, or are we pacified by the status quo?

LAST TIME:  PARANOID PARENTING  – Who’s in charge? The parent or the child?

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific), and KGAB-AM (650) of Cheyenne, Wyoming. Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Business, Management | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

PARANOID PARENTING

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 14, 2014

BRYCE ON PARENTING

– Who’s in charge? The parent or the child?

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My grandmother used to be fond of saying, “Most children are raised by amateurs, not professionals,” and I think she really hit the nail on the head with this one. Regardless of how much you read or the classes you attend, nothing really prepares you properly for parenthood. Only by experiencing it and looking back afterwards do you appreciate what is needed to be an effective mother and father, but then again, it’s too late.

Whether or not you’re paying attention to them, children will grow like weeds, and if you’re not actively involved with their development, I can assure you someone else will be, and probably not for the better. For example, if children do not pick up their manners and other socialization skills from their parents, they will inevitably learn it from classmates, neighbors, and the media. In terms of the latter, I’m not so much concerned what they are watching on “Sesame Street” as I am in terms of what they are watching on MTV and late night television.

What concerns me though is when children are left in charge of their own development. This happens when parents have either abdicated their parental duties due to other priorities or operate in fear of their offspring. That’s right, fear. Due to our litigious society some parents are actually afraid of disciplining their children as they might be accused of child abuse. Precocious children who have been paying attention to television and the Internet understand this and have actually turned the tables on some parents by threatening to falsely accuse their parents of inappropriate conduct. This makes the parents paranoid in terms of how to discipline their children thereby compounding the problem further. In other words, parents walk on eggshells in dealing with their own children. Instead of the child being subordinate to the parent, the parent becomes subservient to the child.

Although it is sad to see such a relationship emerge, parents have themselves to blame, simply because they maintained a “hand-off” approach to parenting in the earliest stages of the child’s development. So what can be done? It depends on the parents and the resources available to them. Corporal punishment might be suitable based on the old philosophy of “Spare the rod and spoil the child,” but perhaps not as a regular regimen. It might be preferable instead to seek professional help which would include counseling and possibly medication. Even better, try turning the TV off and unplugging the Internet, give them some chores and responsibilities to perform, put them on a timetable, follow-up, and don’t let them off the hook. Don’t worry about being their best friend, instead worry about being a good parent. In other words, it is your responsibility to engage them.

Originally published: 11/11/2008

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 © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  REACTIVE MANAGEMENT – Why it is easier to be more reactive than proactive.

LAST TIME:  MEDICINAL MARIJUANA AS A TROJAN HORSE  – What is the real reason for legalizing marijuana? To relieve the pain of patients? Hardly.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific), and KGAB-AM (650) of Cheyenne, Wyoming. Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Family, Social Issues | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

MEDICINAL MARIJUANA AS A TROJAN HORSE

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 12, 2014

BRYCE ON DRUGS

– What is the real reason for legalizing marijuana? To relieve the pain of patients? Hardly.

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The legalization of medicinal marijuana is being considered here in Florida. Other states have implemented it already, most notably Colorado. I have been polling various medical people about it. My dentist and dental hygienist sees nothing wrong with it, but my doctor friends are balking at adopting it, primarily because they know if it is legalized, they will be inundated with patients requesting it. Medicinal marijuana has also been approved in other countries, but it is far from being an international standard.

From what I have read, it certainly doesn’t cure anything, and only relieves nausea and vomiting for chemotherapy patients and people with AIDS. There is no evidence it relieves the symptoms of dementia, diabetes, epilepsy, or anything else; just the relief of nausea and vomiting. The FDA has not approved it, nor has the Institute of Medicine or the American Society of Addiction Medicine.

The real question, which proponents avoid, is whether this is nothing more than a prelude to recreational marijuana. In other words, if the public accepts medicinal marijuana, can the recreational version be far behind? Obviously not. I see no other reason for the sudden heightened interest.

Are there other medicines which can effectively deal with nausea and vomiting? Certainly. Marinol is one such product representing the legalized form of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), but I suspect there are more. As such, there is no true argument in favor of medicinal marijuana other than as the vanguard for the recreational version, the real goal.

The proponents of marijuana are counting on a naive public which can be easily manipulated. The medicinal version is nothing more than a Trojan Horse to implement the recreational version. If successful, a whole new industry will emerge with a revenue stream for the government in the form of taxes. This should be the real discussion as opposed to trying to slip something in the back door, but the marijuana proponents know they will lose such a debate which is why they are touting medicinal marijuana as something the public perceives as good, not evil.

One cannot help but wonder who is driving this campaign. The medical community or the pharmaceutical industry would seem to be the likely candidates, but they are not. Instead, it is a grassroots effort probably spearheaded by the pot heads of the 1960’s and 1970’s. Attorneys are on board as well because they also see it as another revenue stream from the drug related accidents which will likely ensue. As an aside, I find it amusing the people condemning tobacco are the same ones endorsing marijuana.

The real question though, will the Trojan Horse strategy work on a gullible public? In all likelihood, Yes. Next up, crack vending machines and drive-up heroine dispensers.

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 © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  PARANOID PARENTING – Who’s in charge? The parent or the child?

LAST TIME:  ITALIAN RED SAUCE – IT’S PASSIONATE  – Want to start an argument between two or more Italians? Ask them who makes the best red sauce.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific), and KGAB-AM (650) of Cheyenne, Wyoming. Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Drugs | Tagged: , , , , | 24 Comments »

ITALIAN RED SAUCE – IT’S PASSIONATE

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 10, 2014

BRYCE ON FOOD

– Want to start an argument between two or more Italians? Ask them who makes the best red sauce.

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Ever since my youth, I have had many Italian friends. Inevitably, I have been invited over to their houses for dinner which is usually a gourmet feast of homemade pasta, meat, cheeses, wine, and other delicacies, usually prepared by “Moma” or my friend’s wife. As I discovered, everything focuses on the red sauce, of which considerable pride and love goes into it. Interestingly, I’ve discovered all Italians believe they make the best red sauce and, in a way, they all do. Their sauces are based on family recipes handed down over generations and, as such, are perfectly tailored to family tastes.

However, do not try to compare sauces in a one-on-one taste test. This is where Italians lose their sense of humor. When sampling another Italian’s sauce, they smile and politely say, “Very nice.” Never “Wow!” or “That’s incredible!” It’s just, “Very nice.” Privately, they’ll confide it was perhaps the worst thing they ever tasted and it suffered from either too much sweetness or acidity.

Italian men often get actively involved in the process which probably explains where the stubborn pride originates. Whereas Italian women quietly whisper about the imperfections of another’s sauce, the men are more vocal about their displeasure. As an outsider, it is rather amusing to watch.

I certainly do not claim any authority over the process of making red sauce but I have discussed it several times with my Italian friends. The recipe is relatively simple: Take some olive oil and sweat some garlic and onions in it. Puree skinless tomatoes, preferably plum tomatoes, and mix it in with the oil, garlic and onions. Add sugar to cut the acidity, and allow it to simmer for a couple of hours. What I have written thus far is enough to drive any Italian cook insane, and I’m only getting started. They would argue over the type of olive oil to be used, the amount, how to slice the garlic, the types of tomatoes, whether to use tomato paste, and how to sweeten the sauce to taste.

Even though there are but a few ingredients to consider, it is the combinations and process of assembling the sauce which creates countless permeations. Instead of sugar, some people use carrots to cut the acidity. I have a friend who sears a country pork rib in the olive oil to give it a delicious taste. Some people consider this blasphemous, particularly the Vegans. Then there is the matter of additional spices and herbs to be used, such as parsley, basil, cloves, thyme, bay leaves, not to mention cheeses. And the combinations grow exponentially.

If chili recipes are personal, Italian sauce recipes are passionate, understandably so. When the right ingredients and love is added, their red sauce turns to magic. While Italians squabble over their recipes, the non-Italians, including yours truly, are gorging themselves on some rather splendid cuisine. Personally, I can count on one hand the number of Italian dinners I’ve had that were heaven sent. One was in Rio de Janeiro at the home of an Italian friend whose “Moma” cooked an amazing Sunday meal. Frankly, I think she was trying to kill us with food as one dish was better than the next. I feel lucky to have survived. The rest were in the United States. I won’t divulge the names as I do not want to be the cause of another vicious argument. One was a restaurant, the rest were prepared by friends.

Obviously pasta is the other variable in Italian dishes. In theory, it is also simple to make; just wheat, eggs, and water. Then again, arguments inevitably arise over the type of wheat, eggs, and liquids to be used. Regardless of what ingredients are selected, Italians will inevitably say, “Very nice.”

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 © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  MEDICINAL MARIJUANA AS A TROJAN HORSE – What is the real reason for legalizing marijuana? To relieve the pain of patients? Hardly.

LAST TIME:  HABITS  – Positive or negative, we should be sensitive to excessive repetition.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific), and KGAB-AM (650) of Cheyenne, Wyoming. Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Food, Society | Tagged: , , , , | 9 Comments »

 
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