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Posts Tagged ‘Big’

BIG FISH IN SMALL PONDS

Posted by Tim Bryce on August 7, 2009

Do you remember the Dr. Seuss classic, “Yertle the Turtle”? In it, Yertle was the king of the turtles in a pond who demanded his subjects elevate him higher than the moon. The story was intended to make a mockery of ultimate power. There are still a lot of Yertles out there living separately in small ponds and I’m sure we all know a few of them. You can find them in companies, nonprofit groups, schools, even in our neighborhoods. They may not have been officially anointed king, but they very much try to play the role. It is what we commonly refer to as the “Big Fish in a Small Pond” phenomenon.

Titles and material objects are very important to the Big Fish, such as the biggest house in the neighborhood, the sportiest car, the largest boat, or whatever. They flaunt their extravagance as opposed to modestly concealing it. It thereby becomes a game with them to give the illusion they are somehow superior to everyone else. They basically want to be considered some sort of local power broker or social elitist, but in reality, they are essentially no different than anyone else, perhaps even weaker. True, people are impressed with such materialism at first, but I find the Big Fish tend to have serious character flaws and insecurities and, as such, are trying to purchase admiration and prestige as opposed to earning it through simple social skills.

The flaw in the Big Fish concept though is that size is relative. Whereas the fish may be big in one pond, it may very well be small in another wherein it’s limitations and insecurities are easily detected. Their ego is quickly deflated when this is brought to their attention. One has to ask if they are truly a big fish, why aren’t they living among their own kind? Why do they find it necessary to live among people they admittedly consider their inferiors?

The antithesis to this phenomenon is someone like Warren Buffett, one of the richest men in the world (and a very BIG fish), yet lives in the same house in Omaha, Nebraska he bought in 1958 for $31,500 (although some modification/improvements have certainly been made over the years). Nonetheless, I’m led to believe he has tried to lead a peaceful and unassuming life in his neighborhood for over 50 years.

I tend to be suspicious of Big Fish in Little Ponds. To me, they are trying to divert attention away from some other weakness they are hiding or have some ulterior motive. Eventually they are unmasked for what they truly are and their kingdom comes crumbling down. Just remember, Yertle the turtle may have been king for a while, but his subjects ultimately did him in.

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

Keep the Faith!

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

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

For a listing of Tim’s Pet Peeves, click HERE.

Download Tim’s new eBook (PDF), “Bryce’s Pet Peeve Anthology – Volume I” (free) DOWNLOAD).

Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Life | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

TOO BIG TO FAIL?

Posted by Tim Bryce on May 19, 2009

A friend and I were recently talking about the bailout programs the government enacted and discussed how it was primarily targeted at big business, not the little guys, which we thought was rather unfair. Over the last 100 years, Americans have come to believe that “Big” meant best, that behemoths were generally regarded as invincible. If the recession has taught us anything, it is this is certainly not true.

In my industry, I remember when IBM was considered the giant you dared not trifle with, that you would be steam rolled if you weren’t careful. Arthur Anderson was also considered a major force to be reckoned with in the consulting and CPA fields. Times have changed though; for example, IBM is now a mere shadow of its old self when it dominated an entire industry, and Arthur Anderson evaporated as the “Big 8” shrunk and merged to become the “Big 4.”

A few scant years ago it would have been unimaginable to see the American automotive and banking industries coughing up blood like they are now, not to mention the huge financial institutions in peril. It’s no small wonder the stock markets sit on shaky ground. Obviously, bad decisions were made and one could argue greed played a significant role in this mess, yet these are the companies we thought were impervious to anything. “Big” does not necessarily mean best, nor does it make a company invincible, which we should have known all along.

This points out a couple of things; first, big business needs to be flattened in order to move with the same ease as companies a fraction of their size. They may be big, but they have to think small. Second, our government is certainly not invincible either. The same type of bad decisions made by big business can also be made by our government. The only difference is that it is unlikely that anyone will bail us out. We may be a great nation with a military second to none, but it is simple economics that can topple even the biggest and best of us. Doesn’t anyone remember how the Soviet Union fell?

This should be a humbling experience to all of us, as well as an invaluable lesson. Just remember the haunting expression, “As GM Goes, So Goes the Nation.” Let’s hope not.

“I do not believe the greatest threat to our future is from bombs or guided missiles. I don’t think our civilization will die that way. I think it will die when we no longer care. Arnold Toynbee has pointed out that 19 of 21 civilizations have died from within and not from without. There were no bands playing and flags waving when these civilizations decayed. It happened slowly, in the quiet and the dark when no one was aware.”

– Laurence M. Gould
President Emeritus
Carleton College

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

Keep the Faith!

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

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

For a listing of Tim’s Pet Peeves, click HERE.

Download Tim’s new eBook (PDF), “Bryce’s Pet Peeve Anthology – Volume I” (free) DOWNLOAD).

Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Life, Management, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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