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Archive for April, 2017

HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS

Posted by Tim Bryce on April 28, 2017

BRYCE ON LIFE

– Be it ever so humble…

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

This is an observation about the concept of “Home.” I don’t think we really appreciate home until we leave it for awhile, whether it is to go off to school, the military, or we simply grow up and move away. Even if we go on a business trip for a day, week or longer, we still want to get back to our own surroundings where we can kickback, scratch, belch, and be ourselves. It is our fortress of solitude.

If we’ve been away from home for an extended period, we notice small changes upon our return, perhaps a new street sign, new neighbors who painted the house next door or changed the landscape, or maybe the decor of your house has changed a bit. Nonetheless, you still know the roads, the people, the weather, the food, along with the schools and buildings. Even though your bedroom has been converted to a guest room, it is still “your” room with all of its hidden nuances.

This leads to an important point, I tend to believe that home is where your parents are. Sure, some things may have changed but home is still basically the same; your parents maintain the same routine, talk about the same type of things, and enjoy the same comfort food and special snacks you’ve grown accustomed to. This means there is a predictability factor associated with home. Even if your parents move, such as retiring to Florida, their new house or condo bears a striking resemblance to their old one; they decorate it the same way, they organize and store things the same way, and the tempo and cooking are still the same. In other words, you intuitively know where everything is and can predict what’s for dinner, what they’ll watch on television, and when everyone will go to bed.

Even when your parents pass away and the house has been sold, and you now live hundreds of miles away, there is still a special fondness in your heart for “home.” Home is much more than a physical structure, it defines what we once were and who we are now; it is our roots, our values, our likes and dislikes, our beliefs, and it represents our growing pains where we experienced both triumph and disaster.

Unfortunately, some people drift through life without any concept of home, perhaps due to a failed marriage or maybe they were orphaned. Such turn of events can emotionally scar a person and leave them with an identity crisis, never knowing their place in the world. As such, home obviously represents much more than a roof over our heads; it is an interesting tapestry reflecting our personalities, our values, and how we want to live our lives. It is most definitely where the heart is. Pity those who do not have one.

Also published in The Huffington Post.

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 40 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 © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  FIGHTING DIABETES – One man’s fight against Type 2 Diabetes.

LAST TIME:  OUR RIGHT TO FAIL  – Don’t take away this important God-given right.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; 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. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

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

OUR RIGHT TO FAIL

Posted by Tim Bryce on April 26, 2017

BRYCE ON LIFE

– Don’t take away this important God-given right.

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

As a youngster, one of the things I learned early on was that winning and losing was a natural part of any game I played, be it baseball, football, hockey, Monopoly, cards, you name it. Somebody wins, somebody loses. Nobody likes to lose, but as I have written in the past, there is nothing to be ashamed of if you have tried your best, but still failed. In fact, I have more respect for the person who valiantly tried and lost, as opposed to the person who won by cutthroat tactics.

The point is, failure is a natural part of life and an inherent property of evolution (see Charles Darwin). It is a strong message telling us that what we are doing is not working, and we can either learn from it and change or ignore it and perish. It’s nice to have a safety net, but where would we be if nobody took a risk? Without failure, life stagnates. We cannot make progress if we are not allowed to fail. Entrepreneurs, adventurers, and other Type A personalities understand in any venture there is a certain element of risk, whereby they will either reap the rewards of success, or taste the agony of defeat. They weigh the risks carefully, then work overtime to assure success, but they clearly understand there is no such thing as a guarantee for success.

There are people today who want to eliminate our right to fail, that nobody should experience the pain or embarrassment of defeat. This is why I have a problem with government bailout and stimulus plans. They will only be a temporary fix, and the companies will not make the severe and necessary changes to survive in the years ahead. Only failure will cause them to make the required changes. To my way of thinking, the government bailout plans are only delaying the inevitable.

All of the greed and corruption we allowed to creep into our business practices have finally come home to roost. Consequently, companies are no longer maintaining a competitive edge in business, and are losing money due to unscrupulous self-centered interests and just plain stupid business decisions. The companies are all sorry for the problem and promise to never allow it to happen again. I don’t believe an accused murderer or rapist could say it any better. They all want redemption without having to worry about paying a penalty. I’m sorry, but that is not how the game is supposed to be played, but then again there are those who want to change the rules so that nobody loses. This is just plain wrong.

If you believe companies will make the necessary changes in their policies and operations, simply because the government is going to bail them out, you are taking it in the arm. Like it or not, failure is the only real catalyst to invoke true change. Nothing is more powerful to truly change someone, than failure; ask anyone who has experienced it.

Nobody likes to take their medicine, but I’m afraid it is time to pass out the Castor Oil and tablespoons. It may sound silly and I don’t expect a lot of people to jump on the bandwagon, but it’s time to “Protect our right to fail!”

Also published in The Huffington Post.

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 40 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 © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS – Be it ever so humble…

LAST TIME:  MAKING TIME  – What you have to do when you run out of it.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; 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. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

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

MAKING TIME

Posted by Tim Bryce on April 24, 2017

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– What you have to do when you run out of it.

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

I was recently asked how I learned to make the time necessary to accommodate the many activities I have been involved with over the years. Actually, it’s not too difficult to answer: children. Prior to my wife and I starting a family years ago we both worked at separate companies and, because we were still young (in our twenties), we would frequently work late into the night. Often we would meet afterwards for a bite to eat somewhere. On the weekends we would have our own pet projects. I particularly relished mornings where we would devour the newspaper over a pot of coffee while listening to some Jazz or Sinatra in the background. But this all came to an abrupt end when our first child was born. It’s truly amazing how a baby can monopolize your time. Life as I had known it was over, not that I minded as this is what we had intended all along, I just never realized the substantial difference it would make in our lives.

I quickly learned that I couldn’t operate “business as usual” anymore. Whereas I used to get to work by 8:00am and stay later, now I found myself arising much earlier and getting to work by 6:00am (5:30am was not uncommon). This afforded me the opportunity to stay on top of things. As most of my coworkers didn’t arrive until 8:30am the office was quiet and I found I could get quite a bit of work done before everyone arrived. This became such a habit with me that years after the kids had grown up, I still come into work fairly early.

As my children grew up, I suddenly found myself involved with school functions, youth sports, scouting, etc., you get the idea. It was around this time that I started to slowly back away from responsibilities in other volunteer organizations. In essence, I was learning to prioritize my time. I realized I had a small window of opportunity to work with my kids and try to be an important part of their lives, and I like to believe I made the right decision, but these were the tiring years as it was common for me to be out attending meetings or being at a ball field five or six nights a week. As the kids got older, I was able to back away from the student related activities and finally regained some time for other activities.

If I learned anything from this experience, it was that “making time” meant managing your shifting priorities. You obviously can’t be everywhere and do everything, so you have to start asking yourself what is important to you. Some people may want to concentrate purely on their professional careers, others on their family or community. It is quite a balancing act, something that will test the stamina of both your spouse and yourself. As in any partnership, I found communications was key to success so that we both agreed on our course of action, understood each other’s schedules, and helped each other whenever necessary. This, of course, also meant sacrifice on both of our parts.

Had it not been for children, my wife and I would probably still have leisurely weekends and late night suppers. We probably would have traveled more as well, but to tell you the truth, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. To me, “making time” represents a life changing experience where I had to change my sleeping and work schedules, prioritize my activities, and make certain sacrifices. Although I caution you not to bite off more than you can chew, I encourage you to get involved with something, be it for your family, your community, your company or profession. Go the extra mile. We have enough people sitting on the sidelines. If everyone did just one thing, think of how far ahead we would be.

Also published in The Huffington Post.

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 40 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 © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  OUR RIGHT TO FAIL – Don’t take away this important God-given right.

LAST TIME:  THE SECRET OF MASONIC HANDSHAKES  – What do they represent?

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; 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. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

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

THE SECRET OF MASONIC HANDSHAKES

Posted by Tim Bryce on April 21, 2017

BRYCE ON FREEMASONRY

– What do they represent?

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

Now and then I like to write about Freemasonry, an ancient fraternity I have much respect for. It dates back several centuries, back when operative Masons were building the great churches, cathedrals, castles and other buildings of the time. Working as a group, the Masons of that period would mentor and teach their skills and building techniques to younger members of their group, thereby improving craftsmanship and bonding as a set of trustworthy brothers. Over the years, the society evolved to allow others to join the fraternity in order to build better men.

Today, the Masons are a very tight knit group who actively participate in their communities, promote morality, and come to the assistance of others, not just members of their own group. As the fraternity spread around the world, certain words and handshakes were invented to identify Brother Masons. Such protocol helped establish relationships between Masons, such as that between Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill during World war II. It also opened doors to visiting Brothers and welcomed them to communities, and was used to request assistance in times of peril. The grip between Masons, therefore, is an important symbolic gesture of trust.

The secret to the Masonic handshake is not in how it is given, but what it represents. Those who learn it are taught to subscribe to the three basic tenets of Freemasonry, which are “Friendship, Morality, and Brother Love.” This is more than a catch-phrase, it represents how Masons are to treat each other; to meet on the level as friends, the expected rectitude of conduct, and how to work with others, such as offering wise counsel between brothers. Such a handshake creates a bond between people, just as the ancient Masons tried to build in their society of fellow craftsmen.

Most Masons take the handshake seriously and are mindful of what it represents. Unfortunately, there is a small minority of people who join the fraternity for ulterior motives, such as to build a network of contacts to promote their business. Such people learn the customs of the Masons and use them for personal gain as opposed to the three tenets of the fraternity. I personally have a problem with this and refuse to shake the hand of someone I do not believe embraces the true concept of the handshake.

Over the years I have met a handful of Masons who use the handshake for political purposes and have forgotten its original intent. This is a small number of men, but they do exist and, to my way of thinking, besmirch the character of Freemasonry and hurt the society in the process. If you cannot trust the person, there is little point in extending your hand, regardless of their Masonic title.

So, the secret of the Masonic handshake is that it represents a type of relationship and rapport you expect between Brothers. I would like to believe the Masonic handshake is foolproof. Unfortunately, it is not. Without a clear understanding of what the handshake represents, it becomes meaningless and a symbol of the fraternity’s decay.

Also published in The Huffington Post.

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 40 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 © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  MAKING TIME – What you have to do when you run out of it.

LAST TIME:  THE COLLEGE DEBT GETS DEEPER  – It’s now growing faster than we envisioned.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; 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. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

Posted in Life | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

THE COLLEGE DEBT GETS DEEPER

Posted by Tim Bryce on April 19, 2017

BRYCE ON EDUCATION

– It’s now growing faster than we envisioned.

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

Back in 2011 I wrote a column regarding the growing college debt. At the time, the amount surpassed the $1T threshold, representing an acceleration of borrowing. For the first time ever, Americans owed more on college loans as opposed to credit cards, which is a frightening thought.

This led to a movement of young people in Occupy Wall Street to demand a means to lesson the financial hardship. Then, during the 2016 presidential election, the Democrats embraced the idea of expunging the college debt completely and let the American taxpayer assume the cost. Fortunately, this didn’t happen, and students remain on the hook for their own loans.

Today, according to a Consumer Federation of America analysis of U.S. Department of Education data, the number of people defaulting on their student loans is steadily on the rise. More than 3,000 borrowers default on their loans EVERY DAY. In 2016, 42.4 million American students owed $1.3T in loans. To make matters worse, the number of defaults grew from 3.6M in 2015 to 4.2M in 2016. (Click for report).

Such financial woes leave a black mark on credit records, making it harder to get a good paying job, or purchasing a house, condo, or automobile. It should therefore come as no surprise that more and more Millennials are staying home, and fewer are driving.

Americans place a lot of emphasis on education but we should be mindful of the fact that attending college is not a right, but a privilege. During the Depression years prior to World War II, there was no more than 1.4 million college level students attending approximately 1.7 thousand institutions of higher education. Today, according to the Digest of Education Statistics, over 19.1 million students attend 4.4 thousand colleges, a quantum increase. Since the 1960s alone, when colleges experienced an influx of students seeking refuge from the Vietnam war, enrollment has more than doubled.

Back in the Depression, money was scarce and, as such, it was common for all of the members of a family to work, often sacrificing higher education in the process. Back then, a high school diploma was considered a prestigious achievement. Even a junior high diploma was prized as some people could not afford to rise above this level.

Regardless of what school counselors tell students, COLLEGE IS NOT FOR EVERYONE. Other institutions offer fine programs which lead to good paying jobs, such as trade schools and the military. Yet, these are typically pooh-poohed by the counselors which performs a disservice to students.

Let us also consider the spiraling cost of colleges. Although this is hard to pin down with precise certainty, the lion’s share of costs for college operations appears to be in salaries and benefits (such as health insurance, pensions, etc.), and with cost-of-living adjustments and a competitive market place, labor costs are growing unabated.

Between rising college costs and the ability for students to pay for it, college enrollment has recently plateaued, but the Department of Education expects a slight bump to slowly grow over the next ten years. Regardless, the economic reality is that colleges cannot continue to operate as business as usual. we will likely see a downsizing of faculty and trimmed operating costs in the next few years.

As for the students, there is no panacea on the horizon for the debts they incur. And that is just the point, they incurred it, not the American taxpayer. It was their decision to go to college, not the public’s. This is why I continue to say higher education is a privilege, most certainly not a right. At some point, they have to learn what it means to earn your way through life. If you cannot afford it, there are other options available to you. Again, COLLEGE IS NOT FOR EVERYONE.

Also published in The Huffington Post.

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 40 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 © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  THE SECRET OF MASONIC HANDSHAKES – What does it represent?

LAST TIME:  TALKING TO YOURSELF  – What it says about you.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; 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. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

Posted in Education | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

TALKING TO YOURSELF

Posted by Tim Bryce on April 17, 2017

BRYCE ON LIFE

– What it says about you.

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

I have noticed as I get older I have developed a habit of talking to myself. Other friends of mine have commented they have done likewise. It would be rather cheeky to say it is the most intelligent conversation of the day, but this is not what I’m getting at.

With me, I think it began years ago while driving around town. Because of all of the northerners who visit the Sunshine State, Florida has some of the most eclectic driving habits around. Evidently, how they teach driving in the Midwest is noticeably different than how they teach it in the East or Canada. This is very frustrating to the natives, such as myself, who often lose patience with other drivers and let loose with a salty tongue of expletives voicing their displeasure.

Naturally, as we get older, we are not as nimble as we once were and might suffer from basic body aches caused by arthritis or whatever the ailment du jour is. Consequently, we are susceptible to bashing ourselves into walls, stubbing toes, and bruising ourselves in the process. When we hit the deck in the morning, we feel our bones and muscles pop into place. None of this is beneficial to our demeanor and we start the day as a bit of a curmudgeon.

We also find simple tasks are no longer simple. For example, I used to be able to change a car battery in just a few short minutes, but thanks to today’s engineering and safety standards, it has become a complicated procedure, like performing a frontal lobotomy that now takes a couple of hours to perform and causes your patience to wear thin. Technology was supposed to simplify our lives, but I find it only complicates it.

With this in mind, we find ourselves becoming impatient with inanimate objects. To illustrate, I have a Kia with man-eating car doors. No matter what I do, I cannot seem to get the door to stay open as I enter or exit the vehicle. I think the Koreans have trained it to intentionally rip my legs off. Naturally, I become irritated with it, and begin to argue with it, e.g.; “Will you just stay put?” I demand. Of course, it pretends to not hear me and continues to ride my leg.

When I am dressing or undressing, I might reprimand an article of clothing or shoe for not fitting or buttoning properly, e.g.; “Will you just get off of me?”

As you work in the kitchen to cook a new recipe you read in a magazine, you try to follow the directions carefully but somehow it doesn’t turn out the way you had imagined, e.g.; “Why, this tastes like s***!” Naturally, you see yourself as the victim and not the cause of the snafu.

At night, a body ache of some form, such as a muscle or joint, might throb thereby preventing sleep. I admonish them as if they were my kids when they were little, “Will you knock it off and go to sleep!”

The interesting part of arguing with an inanimate object is that you never win. It may be nice to vent your frustration, but such talk says more about ourselves than anything else. When you curse an inanimate object, you are actually cursing yourself. The object is not a thinking entity, you are, and the fact you are quarreling with it means you no longer know how to deal with it anymore.

Now, about this stupid computer…

Also published in The Huffington Post.

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 40 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 © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  THE COLLEGE DEBT GETS DEEPER – It’s now growing faster than we envisioned.

LAST TIME:  EMBRACING COMPLEXITY  – It’s a matter of how many things we can juggle at one time.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; 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. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

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

EMBRACING COMPLEXITY

Posted by Tim Bryce on April 14, 2017

BRYCE ON TECHNOLOGY

– It’s a matter of how many things we can juggle at one time.

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

For years in my youth, I was the “go to” guy for operating the family’s technical equipment, be it tape recorders, record players, or even our Super 8 movie projector. As I grew older, I eventually relinquished my title to my son who is adept at setting up our High Def TV, cable box, DVD/VHS player, cell/smart phones, and other such devices. It was only when I realized we were as dependent on my son, as my family was on me years ago, that I began to ask why.

It is a long accepted theory that younger people tend to embrace and adapt to technology faster than seniors. I am reminded of the story told by comedian Jay Leno where he purchased a remote control for his parents’ television set. On a return visit to their home in Boston, Jay couldn’t locate the device and asked his father of its whereabouts. The father informed Jay they kept it locked up in a nearby drawer as he considered it a complicated piece of equipment and wanted to be sure it “wouldn’t go off accidentally.” Despite Jay’s attempts to assure him it wasn’t a phaser that could burn the house down, the father was unmoved and kept the device safely locked up. Whereas we tend to accept complexity in our youth, we grow abrasive to it as we grow older under the mantra, “simplify, simplify, simplify.”

In our youth we are more inclined to accept complexity as we assume it is a natural part of the learning process. As we mature, we learn to handle more responsibilities and assignments much like a juggler takes on additional objects to be thrown into the air. We keep juggling more and more objects until we reach our capacity and discover our limitations. Our arms deftly spin for years and years juggling everything until we grow weary and can no longer embrace any more items. In fact, we start to slow down, prioritize what we are doing, and drop those tasks we no longer consider important thereby simplifying our lives. In the Jay Leno example, the father had grown to accept changing the television channel manually and felt the remote control was simply one more thing to complicate his life. Consequently, he avoided using it, even going to the extent of fabricating an excuse.

In youth we are eager to accept new challenges as we want to prove ourselves ready to assume our place in society. As we master the subjects that interest us, we begin to exercise our skills and express ourselves creatively. Typically, our window of peak creativity is no more than ten years. To illustrate, both the Beatles and the Beach Boys, two of the most successful Rock and Roll bands of all time, were at their zenith of their careers for no more than ten years, as is true for most bands. The members of the bands ranged in age from their late teens to late twenties. In their thirties, they slowed down and were never able to duplicate the creative output of their earlier years. This phenomenon is not only true in the arts, but in the sciences as well. Our tempo slows, we prioritize our efforts, and we begin to focus on fewer things. Whereas we were eager beavers in our youth, we become more cognizant of our limitations and more selective in our challenges.

One reason young people are gravitating towards the Information Technology field is because of their ability to embrace complexity. For example, the average computer program consists of approximately 100 components (such as data elements, records, files, modules, etc.), each requires a series of design decisions based on type (e.g., a data element’s length, precision, scale, label, validation rules, etc.). In total, there are approximately 2,000 such decisions to be made and controlled, which is quite a challenge for anyone to track. Whereas younger programmers are more inclined to simply write and compile the software iteratively until it is clean, their older counterparts are more likely to carefully plan and document the software to avoid forgetting or overlooking the components used and the design decisions associated with them.

Whereas youth is quick to tackle complex issues, often to the point of recklessness, this inevitably leads to mistakes and causes us to slow down and become more cautious. As we grow older, we don’t mind tackling complex issues, but we are leery of making mistakes and, consequently, become wiser in how we tackle such undertakings. As we approach retirement and beyond, we are less likely to tackle bold new ventures and, instead, are more inclined to “simplify, simplify, simplify.”

Actually, if programmers weren’t so bad at designing devices to be easy-to-use, we wouldn’t be so dependent on our youth to operate them for us, but that is another subject. As a teenager, there were only two buttons on my family’s television set, one for on/off and volume, and a tuning dial. Today, God only knows how many buttons I have on my High Def TV; I know there is one for power, three for color, two to adjust screen positioning, and one to automatically call 911 when I’ve finally lost my mind.

Also published in The Huffington Post.

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 40 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 © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  TALKING TO YOURSELF – What it says about you.

LAST TIME:  THE STATE OF I.T. IN BUSINESS  – Have we really made progress?

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; 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. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

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

THE STATE OF I.T. IN BUSINESS

Posted by Tim Bryce on April 12, 2017

BRYCE ON TECHNOLOGY

– Have we really made progress?

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

Watching the speed by which Information Technology (I.T.) has changed over the last forty years has been amazing. Hardly a day goes by without some new twist or invention. In particular, my interest is in how I.T. can be applied to support the systems needed to operate a business, such as for manufacturing, inventory, order processing, customer service, accounting, human resources, and much more. I have seen a lot during the last four decades, perhaps too much.

On the physical side, I have watched computing go from mainframes to minis, to PC’s and Smart Phones. Instead of mere Local Area Networks (LAN), we now network through the Internet and share resources via “The Cloud.” By doing so, we have placed data entry and information retrieval into the hands of more people than ever before, be it internal users, or externally with customers and vendors. In the process though, security has become a serious problem.

There have also been drawbacks to computing’s diminishing size. By thinking smaller, we tend to focus on only a small part of the puzzle and have lost sight on the total picture of our systems. The physical aspects of computing may be seductive, but it has compounded problems within companies. To illustrate, data redundancy remains the Achilles heel of most businesses, be they large or small. It may seem odd, but it is certainly not unusual for companies to have multiple interpretations of such simple, yet important, data elements as “Customer Number,” “Part Number,” “Order Number,” and “Product Number.” Whereas there should be a single interpretation of each, there are multiple interpretations instead. Consequently, the opportunity to share and re-use such data is lost, and systems invariably lack integration.

The formulas for generated elements, such as “Net Pay,” “Order Total,” and “Earnings Saved” may also be redefined for each program written. This results in erroneous information throughout the business. For example, one user’s calculation of “Total Sales” may be entirely different than the values produced for other users. With such inconsistencies, the business will ultimately make poor decisions. It also means systems lack integration, thereby dividing the business units simply because of the lack of consistency, and leading to user complaints.

Despite the sophistication of today’s data base management technology, the idea of a managed data base environment in companies today is still the exception as opposed to the rule.

The programming staff tends to pride itself in terms of speed of development and technical elegance for their piece of the puzzle only, not the entire system. Requirements are roughly prepared and evolve as the program is developed. In the end, it looks nothing like what the user had hoped for.

Because writing program source code is typically a 1:1 endeavor, it tends to foster an individualistic attitude among programmers, and institutes a heterogeneous development environment. This leads to inconsistencies in workmanship and deliverables, thereby hindering quality. If you were to ask programmers if systems development is a science or an art form, without question they would respond as to the latter. This grants us insight into how programmers see themselves and their work.

Interestingly, programmers are not concerned with producing any documentation to maintain or modify their program should future occasion require it. It is generally believed it is cheaper and faster to simply rewrite the code as opposed to modifying the existing program, regardless of its level of complexity. Naturally, as the programmer moves on to another job in a different company, he walks away with the program logic safely lodged in his brain.

In terms of managing the development effort, companies covet Project Management certification, which is useful for such things as estimating and scheduling, but provides no insight into using effective methodologies for developing systems. Despite their best intentions, development projects still come in late and over budget. Consequently, companies shy away from massive development efforts, and are content building smaller things, thereby discouraging systems integration.

Come to think of it, the state of the I.T. industry is essentially no different than what it was when I began in this business back in the 1970’s. The technology may have changed, the problems in terms of development certainly haven’t. This includes how to specify information requirements, standardizing on systems theory, the role of documentation, managing information resources, etc. These problems are no different today than what they were back in the early 1970’s. Common sense is still uncommon.

Also published in The Huffington Post.

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 40 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 © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  EMBRACING COMPLEXITY – It’s a matter of how many things we can juggle at one time.

LAST TIME:  THE AMERICAN HEALTH CARE ACT; HERE WE GO AGAIN  – It looks like history is going to repeat itself.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; 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. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

Posted in Technology | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

THE AMERICAN HEALTH CARE ACT; HERE WE GO AGAIN

Posted by Tim Bryce on April 10, 2017

BRYCE ON POLITICS

– It looks like history is going to repeat itself.

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

NOTE: This column was originally published in late March, prior to withdrawing the legislation. The point remains valid.

I have some grave reservations about the pending American Health Care Act, not because of political or health care reasons, but for management. Eight years ago I wrote about the outrage I had in how Mr. Obama’s Affordable Care Act was concocted behind closed doors and written by lawyers. Any company embarking on such a huge undertaking would have first developed a Feasibility Study in order to make a proper business decision. This would have included a Project Scope specifying the limitations of the project, a Current Systems Analysis describing the strengths and weaknesses of the current system, Requirements to define the specifications for the new product, a System Approach to satisfy the requirements (with consideration given to proposed alternatives), a System Evaluation to enumerate the costs, schedule and financing of the System Approach, and finally a Review with participants signing off on the project.

This did not happen back in 2009 and it is not happening in 2017. Despite their best intentions, the Republicans are approaching this in the same manner as the Democrats. Today’s American Health Care Act may be much smaller (123 pages) than what Mr. Obama offered, but it is still written with legal blather. Click to download a PDF version of the document.

I would have liked to have seen a Feasibility Study built in a Congressional Committee with input from both parties, not just one. A frank and open discussion would be one way to de-politicize the bill and build consensus, something we haven’t seen in our nation’s capitol for quite some time. Wouldn’t it be interesting to read an accurate description of the strengths and weaknesses of the current system? In addition, I would have also liked to have seen someone think beyond mere insurance and consider such things as Tort Reform and the nightmare medical systems now in place, but such is not the case.

As I wrote in 2009, “If our Congress went through the motions of building a true Feasibility Study, it would promote cooperation through effective communications, thereby eliminating partisan sniping; it would produce a proper solution for the right set of problems, and; it would go a long way to improving the trust in the government by the American people, simply by assuring them that the “T’s” were crossed and the “I’s” were dotted (that it has been thoroughly thought through).”

Politicians will read this and claim it’s nice, but “We don’t have time to do it right.” Translation: “We have plenty of time to do it wrong.” This is the same excuse I commonly hear from programmers who practice “Fire, Aim, Ready,” as opposed to “Ready, Aim, Fire.”

Consider this, had we performed a proper Feasibility Study back in 2009, we wouldn’t have this discussion now and we would have implemented a system we all are proud of, not a partisan pile of legal gibberish. Regrettably, it appears history is going to repeat itself.

Related article: WHY THE AMERICAN PEOPLE HATE OBAMACARE

Also published in The Huffington Post.

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 40 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 © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  THE STATE OF I.T. IN BUSINESS – Have we really made progress?

LAST TIME:  EXPLAINING JACK BENNY  – And his lesson of teamwork.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; 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. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

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

EXPLAINING JACK BENNY

Posted by Tim Bryce on April 7, 2017

BRYCE ON COMEDY

– And his lesson of teamwork.

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

Recently, I attended a dinner in downtown St. Petersburg. I invited a young man I knew to accompany me to introduce him to some people for networking purposes. At age 25, he had already finished a hitch in the Army and served in both Iraq and Afghanistan and was now starting his professional career. As we drove home, we discussed the after dinner speaker who had made a reference to Jack Benny, the legendary comedian of yesteryear. My young friend innocently asked, “Who is Jack Benny?”

Not thinking of his age, I said, “You remember, he had his own show for a number of years; had Rochester as his butler, Mel Blank, Dennis Day, Don Wilson, Phil Harris, and his wife, Mary Livingstone; he sold Jello; his car was a Maxwell; ‘Your money or your life’; his basement vault guarded by “Ed,” an ancient sentry; the Si-Sie-Sue bit, etc. Remember?”

“No sir, I’m afraid not,” and he looked at me blankly. It was only then when I realized how young my friend was and how much older I had become. I spent the remainder of our drive home trying to explain Jack Benny to him which I found rather difficult to someone unfamiliar with Jack’s gentle style. Today it is common for comics to be crude, vulgar, and “In your face.” Benny was certainly more refined and presented himself as a gentleman which is something young people have trouble relating to today. His good friend George Burns referred to him as a “Quiet Riot.”

Over the years, Jack cultivated an image as being a spendthrift (cheap), vain, and a pitiful violinist. So much so, his writers had to only suggest a situation and the audience would be conditioned to laugh immediately, as if a button had been pushed. His walk, his ability to stare down someone, and play the dupe for his guests, would naturally result in gales of laughter. It wasn’t “what” Jack said that was funny, it was his persona and his predictable reaction to certain situations, such as picking up a check at a restaurant, purchasing Christmas gifts, guessing his age, or receiving a compliment. To illustrate, Jack’s biggest laugh came on April 25, 1948 when Dorothy Kirsten was the guest on his show, a famous soprano opera star of the day. During the show, his announcer, Don Wilson, strikes up a conversation with Miss Kirsten regarding opera. Listening to them was Jack and Mary Livingstone who played his girlfriend (his wife in real life):

Don Wilson: “Oh, Miss Kirsten, I wanted to tell you that I saw you in “Madame Butterfly” Wednesday afternoon, and I thought your performance was simply magnificent.”

Dorothy Kirsten: “Well, thanks, awfully. It’s awfully nice and kind of you, Mr. Wilson. But, uh, who could help singing Puccini? It’s so expressive. And particularly in the last act, starting with the allegro vivacissimo.”

Don Wilson: “Well, now, that’s being very modest, Miss Kirsten. But not every singer has the necessary bel canto and flexibility or range to cope with the high tessitura of the first act.”

Dorothy Kirsten: “Thank you, Mr. Wilson. And don’t you think that in the aria, “Un bel dì vedremo”, that the strings played the con molto passione exceptionally fine and with great sostenuto?”

Jack Benny: “Well, I thought…”

Mary Livingstone (to Jack): “Oh, shut up!”

This resulted in a huge laugh from the audience, not because of what Jack said, but because the audience was sensitive to his character. During this operatic dissertation, the audience knows Jack has to somehow butt in and add his two cents, but they don’t know how he can possibly contribute to the pretentious conversation, which is why Mary shuts him down immediately. Youth has trouble comprehending this type of humor, probably because it doesn’t exist anymore. When you think about it, Jack is the straight man in this skit and the butt of the joke. By himself he wasn’t funny, but because of his persona, people find such a situation hilarious. Please keep in mind, this was all done on the radio, not on television, that’s how strong his persona was.

The Benny show was in the top ten for a number of years, both on radio and later on television. Jack’s genius was not so much his own personal comedy, but his ability to orchestrate an entire show. It was common for him to afford his guests more laughs than himself, even if he had to be the butt of the joke. He would always heap praise on his writers, his regulars, and everyone else. When asked why he was so generous, he said he didn’t want people to tune in just to see him personally, but rather they should tune in to see “The Benny Show.” He was very cognizant of the power of teamwork in the cutthroat entertainment industry. It wasn’t about him, it was about the show, and Benny laughed all the way to the bank as a result.

Benny had come up the hard way and paid his dues in the entertainment industry. He was one of the few people who had been successful in Vaudeville, radio, television, motion pictures, and the stage, not to mention his music which generated considerable amounts of money for charity.

Jack has been gone for over 42 years now and, without a doubt, comedy has changed considerably since his passing. I can appreciate bawdy humor, but I certainly do not want to be subjected to incessant expletives and vulgarity. There is nothing wrong with a little dignity and class which, frankly, I consider to be more cerebral. That was Jack Benny, a “Quiet Riot.”

Also published in The Huffington Post.

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 40 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 © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  THE AMERICAN HEALTH CARE ACT; HERE WE GO AGAIN – It looks like history is going to repeat itself.

LAST TIME:  OH! WHAT A LOVELY WAR  – In just two months, we have gone well beyond just a war of words.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; 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. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

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

 
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