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Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

CHECKING OUT THE CHECKOUT

Posted by Tim Bryce on April 18, 2019

BRYCE ON LIFE

– In appreciation of old brass cash registers.

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

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

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

Today the checkout counter is a much less pleasurable experience. Registers are plain looking plastic boxes with considerable electronics, making them much less impressive than the splendid grandeur of yesteryear. In most stores we are asked to swipe credit cards or insert the memory chip. Then we must sign our names to acknowledge the transaction, not on paper, but on a touch screen which has a tendency of making our autographs look garbled as if it were signed by a five year old huckleberry.

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

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

God, how I miss those big brass cash registers.

Keep the Faith!

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

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&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 timb1557@gmail.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2019 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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

 

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FIGHTING WITH MY GARAGE DOOR REMOTE

Posted by Tim Bryce on April 12, 2019

BRYCE ON LIFE

– It’s the little things that makes life enjoyable.

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

When I was younger and starting my professional career, I relished tackling big projects, probably because I saw it as an adventure and a learning experience. However, as the years went by and I mastered many big things, I started to appreciate the little things in life, such as a graduation, a wedding, a birth or an anniversary (you can skip the birthdays). It might even be a little simpler like a fine meal, warm slippers or comfortable clothes.

Recently, I noticed my remote garage door opener wasn’t working. I dutifully changed the battery but, alas, it still didn’t work. Thinking I had somehow lost the proper signal, I tested my wife’s remote unit. Yes, it worked fine, but mine was being finicky. So, I took my unit apart, replaced the battery and delicately tried to put it back together again, again, and again. Frustrated, I took the unit apart and pretended to play technician with the computer chip included therein, which is actually a bad idea. I delicately blew on it, rubbed it clean, tried to position the parts back together carefully, all to no avail. I then found myself talking to it, first calmly, “Come on, nice and easy, let’s try it again.” Finally, as I was close to losing my sweet disposition, I ended up cursing at it with some choice expletives. I raised my hand and threatened to throw it against the wall in a fit of rage when, lo and behold, it started to work. In other words, a good cursing worked wonders. Even though I wasted a half hour on this small task, I felt triumphant for having conquered this problem, and proudly showed it to my wife (who, having watched me through all of this, thought I was about to lose my mind). Nonetheless, fixing this little triviality made my day.

Likewise, it is the little things in baseball that attracts me to the sport. Home runs are nice, but I enjoy a clean well-targeted base hit better, or a well layed down bunt, a stolen base, a pick-off, and the nuances of the defensive field positions. I particularly enjoy a runner on first base distracting a pitcher by threatening to steal a base, thereby upsetting the pitcher’s rhythm and accuracy to the batter at home plate. It’s these little things I love to watch.

I also appreciate simple common courtesy from a clerk or waiter, be it in person or on the telephone. Expressions like “please” and “thank you” still go a long way in my book, as well as a smile and good service. It may not sound like a lot, but it is what makes life bearable.

No, I don’t need the big or flashy car anymore, nor a yacht or be a globe trotter (as I have already seen the world). All I need is some good conversation, a politically incorrect joke, honesty, politeness, a fly-rod, and perhaps a good drink. Like I said, it’s the little things.

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 timb1557@gmail.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2019 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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

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AMERICANS EMBRACE REACTIVE MANAGEMENT

Posted by Tim Bryce on April 9, 2019

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– Why we are inclined to accept disaster.

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

Planning is not natural to most Americans. We resist it because it requires some foresight, analysis, and change. In other words, work. Our history is littered with stories of snafus resulting from poor planning, both large and small; Pearl Harbor, 911, and Hurricane Katrina are legendary. In the case of Pearl Harbor, the Army’s Colonel Billy Mitchell studied the island’s defenses and wrote a report detailing how the island would be attacked with incredible accuracy. The report was written a full 17 years prior to December 7th, 1941. Instead of heeding his advice, the Army would eventually lose patience with Mitchell and run him out of the military.

In terms of Hurricane Katrina, civil engineers were acutely aware the weaknesses of the levee system protecting New Orleans was inadequate to withstand a Category 5 storm, as well as Category 4. Their warnings though, unfortunately, went unheeded.

Overseas, particularly in Asia, planning is more common. For example, it was incredibly important in the re-development of Japan following World War II. In business, Japanese companies spend much more time planning than Americans as they like to “look before they leap.” Americans, on the other hand tend to take the plunge before they know what they are jumping into. Even worse, they often take the wrong course of action when faced with disaster. Allow me to explain…

I know a Florida fraternal organization who, like a lot of nonprofits, is losing members. However, this is not new as they have been losing on the average of +1,500 members per year for the last 15 years. Everyone in the organization is cognizant of it, but the leadership has done nothing to stem the problem, hoping it is a temporary condition and will simply go away. Whereas there were in excess of 58K members in 2003, by 2017 there was approximately 35K. It was only this year that the leadership decided to take action by leveraging a hefty per capita tax on each member, which will inevitably drive more members away. Whereas they should have been studying the problem all along, they waited until the last minute to make a decision which will ultimately have an adverse effect on membership.

Similarly, New York State has one of the highest tax rates in the country. So much so, it is causing New Yorkers to flee the state as economic refugees seeking shelter in more tax-friendly states, such as Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas. To compensate for their departure, the state recently added new taxes in New York City; a “congestion tax” to ride on city streets, and a “mansion tax” on expensive estates. This too will likely cause more New Yorkers to flee the state. Instead of cutting expenses and lowering taxes to make the state more inviting to live in, they continue to tax and spend madly. As an aside, according to a recent Mercatus Center study, New York State is ranked #41 of the fifty states in terms of fiscal health (Florida is #4, North Carolina is #9, Georgia is #18, and South Carolina is #20).

As in the Florida fraternal example, New York State waited too late until conditions worsened, failed to change their ways, and opted to burden the remaining people instead. Such “knee-jerk” reactions is typical of incompetent leadership.

Then we have the crisis of illegal immigrants at our southern border, a problem threatening our country’s sovereignty. While some claim the problem is “manufactured,” reports from the Department of Homeland Security are undeniable. The American people have known this to be a problem well before the 2016 elections. Remarkably, the Congress fails to address the problem, even to this day. Regardless of the party in power, if this is a legitimate problem, where is the House and Senate in terms of changing our laws? The fact they insist of ignoring the problem goes beyond simple dereliction of duty; it is pure negligence, if not treasonous.

These three incidents are typical of American planning, as they prefer waiting for disaster to strike before taking action. This, of course, is madness. The reason for it should be rather obvious, we feel comfortable operating in an auto-pilot mode and resist making hard decisions that might offend someone. Yet in the end, reactionary behavior ultimately hurts everyone.

Let me give you one last example, knowing our Fraternal Lodge was losing membership and money, and realizing the costs to maintain our building were escalating, I prepared a Feasibility Study which came to the conclusion the Lodge should sell the building and move in with a neighboring Lodge. Had we done so, we would have probably sold the building for $750K. Unfortunately, the members voted to stay and hoped the problem would alleviate itself. It did not. Consequently, 13 years later, the Lodge was finally forced to sell the building for $500K, a substantially lower number. In other words, they avoided the inevitable which ultimately cost them. Think about it, it is essentially no different than the Billy Mitchell story which cost the military dearly.

Planning requires foresight, keeping a pulse on changing conditions, the ability to adapt to change, and above all else, effective leadership. If the leaders are operating on auto-pilot, the group should not be surprised by the consequences when havoc strikes.

For more information on Reactive Management, click HERE.

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 timb1557@gmail.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2019 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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

 

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MAYBE YES MEANS NO

Posted by Tim Bryce on April 4, 2019

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– There are some significant differences between Eastern and Western management.

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

I have been to Japan several times over the years on business and have had the privilege of seeing Japanese work habits first hand, which are noticeably different than in the United States. As a small example, the first time I visited, I noticed that in addition to having Coke and Pepsi machines on a street corner, there were also beer and whiskey machines. I discovered the Japanese were not worried about their youth getting alcohol from the machines as it would cause their families to “lose face” through embarrassment. If we had such machines in this country, they would probably be emptied by our youth faster than the vendors could stock them.

Aside from this though, there are a few other differences I observed in corporate Japan:

* Japanese do not like to say “No” to someone as they do not want to offend the person. Instead, they tend to say, “Maybe Yes,” which, when translated, means “No.” This is similar in intent to the American habit of saying, “I’ll try to make it” (to a meeting or appointment), yet never do.

If the Japanese nod their heads in the affirmative, it only means they understand what you are saying but they don’t necessarily agree with you. Because of this, it is not uncommon for American businessmen to fool themselves into believing they are being successful when they make a presentation in Japan. In reality, the Japanese understood the presentation but need time to digest and discuss it among themselves. If an American asks them something like, “Was I correct in this regards?” If they answer, “Maybe Yes,” the American is in trouble.

* I have been in a few large offices in Japan where I have seen young employees suddenly jump up on their desks and give a five minute speech on why he/she is proud of his company and what a pleasure it is to work with their coworkers. When finished, the rest of the office politely applauds before returning to their work. I wish I could say I have seen this in the United States, but I’m afraid I cannot.

* It is not proper for an employee to be insolent and openly criticize his superior. Knowing this may lead to pent up frustrations, some companies have small closet-sized rooms where the disgruntled employee can go into, close the door, and quietly beat an effigy of the boss with a bamboo stick. It may sound kind of silly, then again, you don’t hear of anyone going “postal” in Japan either.

* It is still important for the Japanese to reach a consensus on any significant decision. This process may take some time to perform, but they want to emphasize team building and inclusion of employees in the decision making process. In other words, you do not see too much in the way of “micromanagement” over there.

* When you join a major company in Japan it is common to first “pay your dues,” whereby you and your “class” (those who joined at the same time) are put on the same employment level and work for ten years, after which it is determined who the hard workers are and reward them with a major job promotion. If you didn’t work hard, the company won’t necessarily fire you, but your advancement in the company is arrested. Nonetheless, the emphasis here is on teamwork and creating a spirit of cooperation.

In the United States though, things are a little different…

* Americans are not afraid of offending anyone. So much so, that “Hell No!” (or stronger) is a natural part of our vernacular. Unlike the Japanese who digest something before speaking, Americans do not hesitate to tell you whether they agree with you or not.

* Rarely do you find an American employee who is steadfastly loyal to his company. Instead, it is more likely he will start an anonymous blog to bitch about his company and slander the character of the boss and his coworkers.

* Americans tend to vent their frustrations more publicly than the Japanese. For example, you might get attacked in the company parking lot, or someone may pull a gun out and start shooting.

* Instead of group decision making, Americans prefer rugged individualism whereby decisions tend to be made unilaterally as opposed to seeking the counsel of others. Consequently, employees tend to undermine any decision which is jammed down their throats.

* When you join a major company in the United States, you are rewarded more for individual acts as opposed to team playing. This results in a never ending game of scratching and clawing your way up the corporate hierarchy. Obviously, this approach promotes interoffice politics and cutthroat tactics as opposed to a spirit of cooperation.

Why the substantial differences? Primarily because Japan is a homogeneous culture, and the American “melting pot” is heterogeneous which includes people of all races, faiths, and beliefs.

Although the differences between east and west are noticeable, things are slowly changing in Japan, whose youth have grown up with the Internet and are starting to emulate the work habits of their counterparts in the west. In other words, instead of observing courtesy, honor and respect, Japan is slowly becoming Westernized and I fear that some time in the not too distant future “Maybe Yes” will mean nothing more than that.

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 timb1557@gmail.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2019 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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

 

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

KEEPING MEN GUESSING

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 29, 2019

BRYCE ON LIFE

– Guys have a hard time guessing what women like.

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

I’ve been married now for over 35 years and you would think that after such a period of time I would have a good idea what my wife likes and dislikes. Frankly, I haven’t a clue, and I don’t think I’m any different than a lot of other guys out there who still have trouble understanding the feminine mystique. Let me give you some examples…

In preparing to go out for a major social function, my wife typically comes out to model an outfit she is considering to wear and asks what I think about it. Usually she gives me a couple of choices, either this, this, or that. They all look nice, but regardless what I choose, she always settles for something else. After the outfit is selected, then it’s a matter of what shoes to wear; again, this, this or that. Whatever I pick, she picks the opposite. Then of course comes the accompanying purse to complete the ensemble where I, of course, swing and miss again. Strike three. Frankly, I believe I’m a broken barometer when it comes to predicting what a woman wants to wear.

My daughter picked up this same modeling habit as she was growing up and would ask my son and I what we thought she should wear. Again, whatever we picked, she picked the opposite. Although she trusted my wife’s judgment, my son and I always struck out. However, I got a little comfort out of this as I realized I wasn’t alone in picking the wrong fashion.

This phenomenon isn’t restricted to clothing either. I run across it whenever I want to order her food, or shop for presents. Whatever I pick, it’s never quite right.

I’m flattered she still asks for my opinion on what she wants, but it’s all very demoralizing when she ignores you. I am not allowed to take on a defeatist attitude either. For example, if I were to say something like, “Pick whatever you like,” I’m accused of not caring. Then again, there is the game of deliberately picking the wrong item in the hopes she will pick what you want. Unfortunately, she sees though this ploy too easily and doesn’t fall for it. Bottom-line she picks what she wants and I am nothing more than a shallow endorsement.

I guess the point of this exercise is to simply keep men on their toes and never allow them to get the upper hand.

While I’m on it, another part of the feminine mystique is the woman’s purse. This is something I learned a long time ago not to go into as God only knows what you’ll find in there, least of all something you’re looking for. As I was growing up, my mother would ask me, “Just reach inside my purse and get me this or that.” Of course I could never find “this or that” and, instead, learned to just retrieve the purse for her to look through. My wife is no different in this regards.

Women store a lot of things in a purse, such as their wallet, cosmetics, memo pads, glasses, cigarettes, cell phones, menus, report cards (from the 1960’s), broken items in need of repair, and other pieces of bricabrac. Actually, the purse is more of a footlocker than anything else, which makes me wonder why anyone would try to snatch a purse as they would get a hernia trying to do so and wouldn’t be able to find anything in it even if they were successful.

I also find it interesting how women have different sizes of purses; small dainty ones for social occasions, medium sizes for travel, or the “Big Mama” pack horses. Regardless of the size, they all manage to squeeze the same paraphernalia in them, which would even impress Harry Houdini. Regardless, I’ve learned to keep a safe distance away from women’s purses and when asked to retrieve one, I treat it like a delicate Claymore mine.

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 timb1557@gmail.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2019 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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

 

Posted in Life | Tagged: , , , , , | 5 Comments »

THE LESSONS OF A LITTLE LEAGUE COACH

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 28, 2019

BRYCE ON BASEBALL

– As a new baseball season begins, a perspective on the game itself.

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

For ten years I coached Little League baseball and softball, not to mention being an umpire and serving on the local board of directors. I cannot lay claim to being the greatest coach, nor the worse. I certainly didn’t suffer under the illusion this was the big leagues, nor that my kids would go on to play pro ball, even though a handful made it to the college level. Instead, I wanted to teach the mechanics of the game (how it is played), sportsmanship, and the general love of the game. My kids are all grown up now and if I made the slightest impression on them, that I somehow shaped their perspective on the game, than I consider myself lucky. There were only two things I asked of them; that they try their hardest, and maintain their grades in school.

Baseball is a game; something you are supposed to find entertaining and rewarding. I never understood those coaches or parents who believed in winning at all costs. Some would accuse me of not being competitive enough. Sure, I wanted to see our team win, but not “at all costs”; not if it caused us to lose sight of right and wrong and a distorted sense of sportsmanship. There were coaches who would make their kids run laps if they lost a game. I guess this was designed to shame them into playing better and to teach them losing was a disgrace. Had this been some life threatening event, I may have understood their rationale. It wasn’t. It was Little League. It was a game.

Whether I was coaching boys or girls, prior to the game I would have the kids line up on our foul line, take off their caps, and recite the pledge of allegiance to the flag. It became my signature to do so. To my way of thinking, baseball is America’s game and it was my way of making the kids cognizant of not only our country but the need for fair play. When we recited the pledge, we would invite the other team to join us, as well as the parents. Most were happy to do so, but I ran into at least three coaches who steadfastly refused to have their teams participate. I thought this was strange, as did the parents of the other teams.

During practice we would spend a lot of time teaching defensive moves both in the infield and outfield. There was also a lot of batting practice. The league would also sponsor clinics in batting, pitching, catching, and umpiring. During batting practice, I would spend considerable time on bunting. Girls had no problem with it, but boys tended to resist it. Nonetheless, they learned the virtue of a good bunt and how it can win a game. There is perhaps nothing more exciting to see a bunt win a game or a stolen base. Speed was important to me. If we got on base, we made it clear we were going to challenge the arms of the other team, if for no other reason than to unnerve them.

Aside from the physical nuances of the game, we also taught the psychological aspects, such as the importance of momentum, dominance at the plate or on the mound, and how to “sell” a play to an umpire. As to the latter, we obviously didn’t want our players to cheat, but we told them an umpire has only one set of eyes and cannot possibly see everything. Therefore, it is important to do such things as showing the ball in your hand after a close play, thereby helping the umpire make up his mind for him.

One time, when we were playing defense, a player from the other team advanced to first base in a close game and we were concerned he would steal second base. From the dugout I would yell a football call, “Red 21″…”Red 21.” This confused the runner and coach who believed a secret play was in the works to throw him out. Consequently, the runner held at first and never advanced. As the inning ended, my players returned to the dugout where they asked me what “Red 21” meant. “Nothing,” I replied. It was just a smokescreen to confuse the other team. The kids thought it was a riot.

We also spent a lot of time explaining the strategy of the game, such as when to throw a pitch-out to a dangerous hitter, how a third baseman should challenge a bunt, picking-off a runner, how to keep a runner on second base, and much more. A lot of my kids, particularly the girls, learned how to keep score and came to realize the value of a well maintained scorecard.

It was also important to teach the kids to have fun. During practice we would play certain rock and roll songs with a certain beat and rhythm to teach them timing, particularly Jethro Tull, Led Zeppelin, ZZ Top, and The Who. Parents who would normally drop the kids off and leave would stay and listen to the music. It became somewhat of a social scene for the parents who would gel and become strong supporters of the team.

Now and then, when our hitting was off, we would say “Time to wake up the bats,” and drop three or four bats loudly in the dugout to get the kids to snap out of their slump. If the kids were groggy at an early Saturday morning game, which seemed to be common, we would give them sugar-sweet pixie sticks which would give them a jolt of energy to wake them up.

Little League games typically last just six innings. One time, during a night game, we were playing a team coached by a friend of mine. We concocted a little scheme with the umpire and at the end of the fifth inning, the umpire called “time,” and both teams came out of their dugouts and over to the sidelines where the parents were sitting. They looked perplexed as to what we were doing. We had the kids assemble in multiple lines in front of the parents and, on queue, we began to sing “Happy Birthday” to one of the mothers who was a local school teacher. Both the parents and the kids enjoyed the experience, and I’m sure the mom won’t forget it anytime soon.

As we live in Florida, we have a Fall league to provide additional coaching to players. Inevitably, we would play during the day on Halloween in October. For this, the coaches wore masks which looked ridiculous but broke the tension for the kids.

There were of course many other things to liven up the season, such as ice cream, pizza, and an occasional barbecue. It was important that we taught the kids to play hard both on and off the field.

I learned a lot from this experience. I met a lot of good, caring parents over the years, but more importantly I got to meet a lot of great kids and it was fun watching them grow into adulthood. It’s not important they remember me, although I will bump into one of my players now and then, but it’s more important they remember something they learned along the way, such as how to lay down a bunt, how to keep score, appreciating the difficulty of throwing a runner out at second, the importance of teamwork, or standing for the national anthem with their hand or cap over their heart. If I contributed in any way to such things, then I consider myself a successful coach. It’s not the runs scored that makes baseball a fascinating game, it’s the kids.

First published: October 12, 2012. Updated 2019.

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 timb1557@gmail.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2019 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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

 

Posted in Life, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

WHY WE WORK

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 26, 2019

BRYCE ON LIFE

– For our mental well-being to begin with.

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

In this age of entitlement, some young people are wondering if they should be enjoying life as opposed to working as diligently as we do. This explains why Millennials do not seriously think about long-term employment. Studies indicate they would rather see the world now, not later, sample new delicacies, relax and play games as opposed to being attached to a career. From their perspective, they have two lives, personal and working, but they do not see them intertwined. This is the antithesis of preceding generations who worked hard, not just to survive, but to prosper.

As someone from the old school, I tend to believe we were put on this planet to work, e.g., to explore, to discover, to invent, to compose, to engineer, to basically leave the world better than how we found it. Of course, this represents evolution, to aspire for perfection, knowing we may never achieve it, but to improve it nonetheless.

Some do not see work in this light as their job may seem too mundane, such as pushing a broom or digging a ditch. However, I believe there is dignity in all forms of work and I, for one, certainly do not look down my nose at anyone regarding their form of employment, as long as they do it professionally. The work of common laborers may seem trivial, but as Michelangelo observed, “Trifles make perfection and perfection is no trifle.”

To illustrate, a janitor is typically responsible for cleaning, sweeping and tidying up. The cleanliness of the work place has a huge impact on the other workers as studies have shown people work more productively in a clean environment as opposed to a cluttered one. If the janitor doesn’t perform the job properly, it could very easily have an adverse effect on the output of the other employees.

I remember a time when I was working with a customer late at night in a large office. I happened to observe the janitor cleaning up as most of the staff had gone home. He noticed a framed picture was skewed ever so slightly. Where some people would skip over it, he stopped and straightened it. I asked him why, to which he replied, “It just wasn’t right.” In other words, he took his responsibilities seriously and developed a professional attitude which ultimately influenced the lives of others in the office.

To those who take on a professional attitude, there is no separation between personal and working lives, as they are merged into one. Our working life is an extension of our personal life. After all, there is only one you. Even when we are charged to perform a task at work we do not like, this is essentially no different than doing a difficult task in our personal life. The marriage of the two affects both sides; our skills and ethics on our personal side influences our decisions at work, and our working side teaches the personal side new lessons.

When a person decides to retire, it severs an important part of their life. Some people begin to deteriorate shortly thereafter as they have lost their sense of purpose and have difficulty finding a new endeavor to pursue. To illustrate, when American presidents leave office, it is not uncommon to see their health and mental acuity diminish. Lyndon Johnson is a good example. Here is a man who spent his life in government as a member of the House, the Senate, as Vice President, and finally as President. He was a man who stood at the helm during our Viet Nam War and oversaw the civil rights movement. Regardless of how you felt about LBJ, when his term of office was over, and he retired to his Texas ranch, his health declined rapidly and he died just five years later. This is why it is important to remain busy in some pursuit following retirement.

There are fundamentally three reasons why we work:

1. Survival – to put food on the table and secure the well-being of ourselves and loved ones.

2. Improve the human condition – to go above survival and endeavor to achieve greater things.

3. Spirituality – for our mental well-being and development as a person.

As to this last point, learning to work and mastering a craft gives the person a sense of purpose, structure, and sense of accomplishment (reward gratification). It also teaches us to learn the differences between right and wrong thereby affecting our sense of ethics. Bottom-line, work leads to the development of our character, our sense of worth and dignity.

This is why it is important to assume a professional attitude regardless of your job. If you are not happy with your current job or want to do something else, quit and move along, but while you are charged with a task, do it to the best of your ability if, for no other reason, your mental well-being.

Consider the adverse effects on a person who is unemployed. They become unstable and a burden on society. The old adage, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop,” comes to mind.

On the other hand, “if you find a job you love, you’ll never work again,” as you have found stimulation and fulfillment as a person.

While others want a free ride, there is something to be said about the satisfaction of earning something on your own, which can be very motivational to people and instills pride in our work. I am, therefore, a proponent of the benefits of gainful employment.

Finally, always try to remain positive and never embrace a defeatist attitude. As former President Theodore Roosevelt observed in a talk to schoolchildren in Oyster Bay, Christmas-time 1898:

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

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 timb1557@gmail.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2019 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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

 

Posted in Employment, Life, Management | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

MAKING MATTERS WORSE

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 21, 2019

BRYCE ON LIFE

– Going from bad to worse.

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People often ask me where I get the ideas for the topics I write about. Although most of it is from my own personal observations, I do occasionally get suggestions from my readership, such as today’s topic which was suggested by a friend in Finland who recently learned a difficult lesson, namely, “No problem is too big that you cannot make it bigger.”

In my friend’s case, earlier this summer he was surprised by his wife, whom he had been married to for twelve years, that she had filed for divorce and wanted to keep the kids and that he should move out of their house. This came at a particularly awkward time in his life as he was starting a new job and was still on probation with the company. Naturally he became depressed by the events, but instead of turning to alcohol he found solace driving his motorcycle each night after work, usually 200 to 300 miles every night, then arriving home after midnight exhausted. It wasn’t uncommon for him to drive over the speed limit, but to his credit, he did this on rural roads with much less traffic than the major highways. One night while going to meet his family and iron out the final details of his divorce, he was clocked on his motorcycle doing 75 mph in a 50 mph zone. Although he tried to explain his plight to the two Finnish police officers who stopped him, they were unmoved and issued him a ticket for $1,600 and suspended his driving license for four weeks. (Note to self: Finnish Police are not a sympathetic lot).

So, in addition to paying for hefty legal fees related to the divorce and wrangling over custody and settlement issues, my friend now has to pay a stiff fine for speeding and make other arrangements to get to work. As he explained to me, just when you think a problem can’t get any bigger, it goes from bad to worse.

My friend’s situation reminded me of an old story that also exemplifies the point, one that is somewhat legendary. It also involves a motorcycle as driven by a teenager. While doing some basic maintenance on the bike in the garage of his home, he accidentally dropped the bike thereby causing gasoline to leak out of the gas tank and on to the garage floor. The teenager got some rags, soaked up the gasoline, and rung them out in the toilet of the bathroom adjacent to the garage. Unfortunately, he failed to flush the toilet. The teenager’s father came down to use the toilet, totally unaware of what had transpired. While sitting on the john he lit up a cigarette and, as you can imagine, was blown off of the toilet by the combustion. I believe he was left with a pipe stem and two raisins. The teenager called 911 and summoned an ambulance. The paramedics placed the father on a stretcher face down (for obvious reasons) and asked how this happened. As the teenager explained the story, the paramedics began to laugh, so hard in fact they dropped the man from the stretcher, thereby breaking his shoulder.

So I guess the lesson is obvious: Just when you think things can’t get any worse, they undoubtedly will.

First published: September 16, 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 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb1557@gmail.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2019 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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

 

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ASK ME HOW SMART I ARE

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 20, 2019

BRYCE ON LIFE

– We’re probably not as intelligent as we think.

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In the political world, people like to argue which group is more intelligent, particularly liberals. I’m not sure why this is, other than to presume it creates an air of superiority to suit someone’s vanity. I believe it to be a moot point as I know a lot of smart people on both sides of the aisle, but I never saw a big discrepancy one way or another. Come to think of it, such a boast probably denotes some hidden weakness by the person expressing it. The biggest difference between the two sides, as far as I’m concerned, are separate interpretations of moral values. We simply see the world differently and have different priorities.

In terms of pure intelligence though, I think I can count on one hand the number of true geniuses I’ve met in my walk through life, but aside from this I have met some truly intelligent people whom I greatly respect. Interestingly, not all possess a formal education, yet they exhibit signs of intelligence I admire and rely on for advice.

Some people believe a person’s vocabulary is a distinguishable characteristic of intelligence. It may be an indicator, but it is certainly not proof of intelligence. I have met far too many people who have a verbosity of bullshit cloaking other shortcomings in their personality. They may be able to speak well, but so can a parrot if trained properly.

There are those who believe intelligence is distinguished by a person’s ability to absorb and recite facts. I have trouble with this notion as well. To my way of thinking, the person has nothing more than a good memory which any tape recorder or computer can duplicate.

Years ago in an interview, author Truman Capote made the observation that actors and entertainers weren’t especially intelligent. He recounted his relationship with actors Sir Lawrence Olivier and Sir John Gielgud, two excellent and well recognized actors of his generation. According to Capote, both were nice guys, but he hardly considered them intellectuals. Both could memorize a script, but lacked problem-solving skills, and I suspect a lot of entertainers today fall into this category as well.

To me, intelligence is the ability to apply logic towards solving a problem. Knowing facts and possessing an articulate vocabulary is nice, but knowing how to put it all together to solve a problem or achieve a goal is the real measure of intelligence. From this perspective, I have met a lot of people with basic street smarts who are far more intelligent than a lot of college professors or savants I know. In other words, I have more respect for a person who can think clearly for himself, than a person who can do nothing more than parrot facts and figures.

Sometimes we confuse intelligence with experience. Under this scenario, a person who has lived through many experiences, and learned from them, can pass this knowledge on to others who may perceive the person as brilliant. Probably the only thing “smart” here was that the person learned from the experience. Conversely, anybody that fails to learn from experience, and repeats a mistake, cannot be very bright.

IQ scores don’t necessarily impress me either. I remember a classmate in high school who allegedly had a high IQ score. I found it rather amusing when he failed the written portion of his driver’s test on more than one occasion (I think he was looking for the meaning of life in a stop sign). I’ve also found a lot of people like this who simply want to be paid because they are smart, but don’t know how to work productively. In other words, they may know a lot, but have trouble applying it. Those who are perceived as “witty” tend to fall into this category. Most are entertainers who possess an aversion to real work.

To me, the real distinguishing characteristic of an intelligent person is someone who knows what they are doing, does it well, and can be counted on to deliver solutions and solve problems over and over again (reliability). This is why I am so impressed with craftsmen who know how to produce fine work, even under extraordinary circumstances. It is a pleasure to watch such people tackle a difficult assignment, conquer problems, and produce a finished product of exquisite workmanship. They look at a problem, determine the method to follow and the tools to use, and complete the task on time and within budget. As far as I’m concerned, this is the work of sheer genius.

I have also found such people exhibit an insatiable curiosity about the world around them, not just a single area. As the Japanese like to say, such people think in terms of “360 degrees.” In other words, they are always looking at the bigger picture.

Actually, I wish people would be less concerned with being an intellectual, and be more driven by common-sense. I think we would get a lot more done. As one former president said…

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” – Calvin Coolidge

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 timb1557@gmail.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2019 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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

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

THE BEST WORD IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 14, 2019

BRYCE ON LIFE

– And it is certainly not “please.”

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My company has been fortunate to have conducted business all over the world. Visiting the different cultures has afforded us the opportunity to learn a lot about their perspectives on life, not to mention their humor and speech patterns. Inevitably we often compare notes about the expressions and idioms used by people. For example, in Australia, I was somewhat surprised to learn that a “rubber” referred to an eraser. I went to a restaurant and discovered they didn’t have “doggie bags” but rather “pussie boxes.” I had to bite my tongue on that one.

When people from overseas visited with us, they were enraptured by our slang and colloquialisms. The English, for example, had trouble understanding the expression “G2” which I commonly use in my presentations. The term is derived from the military and used to express the performance of research and intelligence work, e.g., “Did you do your G2?” While most Americans understood the expression, it baffled the British. The point is, I tend to believe Americans use a lot more jargon than we are cognizant of.

There is one word in our vernacular outsiders particularly enjoy, Bulls*** (aka “BS”). In particular, the Japanese have a fondness for this word beyond description. Evidently, they have nothing comparable to it in their lexicon. They consider it the most versatile word in our language fulfilling many applications. It can be used to express intense displeasure with something, to describe a frivolous activity, to refute an argument, to cut someone off in conversation, and many other uses. It was made very clear to me by the Japanese and others, that in the business world, “BS”, is the best word in the English language.

Not surprising, I have heard it used in many settings; in Japanese companies for example, a manager may shout it out for inferior workmanship; in Brazil it is amusing to hear Portugese conversation interrupted by a booming “BS”; or even the proper English allowing it to slip inconspicuously into the conversation, “I say old boy, that truly is bulls***.” The Mexicans have, of course, adapted it to Spanish, “Caca de toro.”

I fear though, the expression is doomed to extinction as it is more identified with my Baby Boomer generation and not by others. For example, my son’s generation has no appreciation for the word and will seldom use it. It’s a pity too, as I’ve found it to be one of the best words I have ever used, both in business and personal settings. Perhaps the Japanese will maintain it for us until future generations in this country rediscover its value.

Originally published: Jul 20, 2012. Updated: 2019.

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 timb1557@gmail.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2019 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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

Posted in Communications, Life | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

 
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