– Who is defending the status quo in your business? Are they right?

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

I have been fortunate to have visited a lot of companies in my lifetime as a consultant. I have also participated in several nonprofit groups, many of which are well established and steep in customs and tradition. Interestingly, a lot of these organizations operate on autopilot when it comes to executing procedures. So much so that whenever someone suggests something new as a means of expediting a process it is often greeted as if it were heresy. After all, “That is the way it has always been done.” I’m sure we have all heard this on more than one occasion and is the earmark of a bureaucracy.

What I find interesting is when you run into a situation where people have been doing things wrong for so long, they think it is right. Actually, such situations evolve slowly over time as people are replaced by new workers who are not properly trained or are less skilled than their predecessors. Consequently, small changes creep into the process which corrupts it. Nonetheless, over time it becomes a natural part of the process and is deemed as proper. If left unchallenged, these processing anomalies become a part of the standard operating procedure, which even though they are being performed erroneously, people tend to steadfastly defend.

Challenging the status quo is a daunting task. As Voltaire astutely observed, “It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong.” Even if you have identified a problem with an existing process or can recommend an improved way for performing it, you will inevitably have to contend with the wrath of the defenders of the status quo who will resist any change whatsoever. As creatures of habit, there are a lot of people who do not embrace change easily and treat it suspiciously. Some will even go so far as to politically sabotage any hint of change.

As we all know, change simply for the sake of change is madness, but we certainly would not make any progress if we didn’t periodically challenge the status quo. Change is a natural part of life which I believe many resist unnaturally. Using the standard cop-out, “That is the way it has always been done,” is simply a lame excuse to preserve the current system. It should therefore come as no surprise to see a lot of organizations suffering from dry rot in their operations, thereby affecting their ability to compete or serve their customers adequately. Even though people tend to be inflexible in terms of addressing change, we must all face the reality that if there is anything constant in life, it is change.

Keep the Faith!

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

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at

For Tim’s columns, see:

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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

How Did our Moral Values Change?

Was there an epoch event that caused us to change? Actually, Yes, I believe so.

Following the publication of my book, “Stand Up for MORALITY,” I was asked by a reader why there is a disparity between the moral values of yesteryear and today. Was there an event that caused it? I can only offer a theory as to the cause, but first let’s consider some fundamental differences between then and now:

Many years ago, declaring bankruptcy was considered a disgrace, now it is commonplace and a convenient way to avoid paying your bills. Over the last 100 years, bankruptcy in the United States has slowly climbed. It began to accelerate in 1980, when there were less than 500K filings, and skyrocketed to its height of +2M in 2005. True, bankruptcy will affect your credit and future ability to use money, but it has become the escape hatch of choice for people inundated with loans or bills. Declaring bankruptcy may get you out of the hole, but it certainly will not help your creditors.

Divorce was considered scandalous for many years. Attitudes change though and the 1970’s marked the decade where the divorce rate began to skyrocket.

Pregnancies out of wedlock were also considered a family disgrace. Since the 1960’s though, it has steadily increased. For example, in 1980 18.4% of all births in the United States were to unmarried women; in 2007 the rate was nearly 40%.

Premarital sex, which was long considered a taboo, accelerated dramatically in the 1960’s, from 22% to 74% in 1991.

Being unemployed was considered a black mark against a person, particularly if you were fired. Not so anymore, primarily due to the financial instability of our economy.

It used to be, the very idea of accepting charity from anyone was considered an embarrassment. Not so anymore. Today, over 100 million people accept federally funded welfare.

Female-headed households has grown considerably since 1960 at about 8% of households to 23% by 2000.

Whereas attending church was considered a natural part of life years ago, attendance has steadily declined since the 1960’s.

So, what caused these changes? My theory is it was the cultural revolution of the 1960’s where attitudes and values began to change. This is the decade where young Americans protested the Viet Nam war as opposed to supporting the military as their parents did in World War II. It was also the decade of civil rights, of protesting how we were treating the environment, of burning and looting downtowns, and where Yippie power turned the 1968 Democratic convention upside-down. Places like Chicago, Watts, Newark, and Selma became icons of disturbance in our country. And it was a decade marred by political assassinations triggered by social change.

The 1960’s was also a decade where a counterculture of drugs emerged; where people like Timothy Leary encouraged young people to “turn on, tune in, drop out,” and people like Dr. Benjamin Spock encouraged parents to give their children more freedom and independence as opposed to discipline and teamwork. It was a decade where our music changed, and the words accompanying it reflected the mood of the young people, of protest and change. Thanks to the space race of the 1960’s, our technology changed in leaps and bounds, and the electronic media became a dominating influence in our society. And it was a decade where lawyers dismantled old customs in our culture, such as the classroom, and people began to question if God really existed.

Because of the 1960’s, all of the attitudes and values of our parents were challenged and a new libertine era of permissiveness was born. We lost respect for our government, our institutions such as schools and churches, and the concept of conformity. It was an era where we tried to “beat the system” and reinvent America. We revolted with youthful exuberance, but interestingly, most of us didn’t know it at the time.

I can think of no other reason for such dramatic changes in moral values than the 1960’s. It was fascinating to live through, but we had no idea of the sweeping changes it would have on the personality of the country.

Keep the Faith!

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

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at

For Tim’s columns, see:

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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



– They are getting harder and harder to find.

I happened to visit my brother-in-law in Cincinnati not long ago. He is a master machinist in a machine-tool company up there. He gave me a tour of his company and it was interesting to see how he can take a block of aluminum and transform it into a high-precision instrument. He patiently explained the whole process to me and described the details for making such an instrument. His knowledge of the overall process along with the tools he used was very impressive. More importantly, he expressed his pride in his company and the products they produced. This was all very refreshing to me as you don’t hear too many people anymore who take pride in their work and know it thoroughly.

I think you can trace the decline of craftsmanship back to the 1980′s when the bean counters started slashing costs and programs aimed at the production of quality products. Fortunately, this didn’t happen at my brother-in-law’s company which is privately owned by a German immigrant who is also a craftsman and invests heavily in his people and research and development. The consciousness of the people in the plant is such that if the product isn’t just right, it is done over again. Interestingly, the company doesn’t have any problems in terms of morale, tardiness, or absenteeism. The older workers mentor the younger workers, and the employees in general relate to their work. In other words, management has created an environment of cooperation as opposed to competition, thereby allowing workers to focus on their work and take personal initiative to solve problems themselves. By doing so, the workers have been able to marry their personal and professional lives.

I found this all somewhat eerie and I felt I had been transported back in time to another era where workers were dedicated craftsman and genuinely cared about their work. We don’t see a lot of craftsmanship any more, particularly in I.T. departments who prefer “quick and dirty” solutions these days. I shouldn’t single out I.T. departments though as they are not alone in this regards. Just about everywhere you go, you don’t find too many people who understand the total process of building something and sweat over the details. Most people simply don’t care and disassociate their personal lives from their professional lives, …which I find rather sad.

Keep the Faith!

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

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director ofM&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached

For Tim’s columns, see:

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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



– “And if I stumble, grant me the courage to ask for help.”

We take several pledges and oaths during our lifetime, a symbolic and public commitment to certain ideals and principles. For example, the pledge of allegiance to the flag of the United States expresses our commitment to our country and patriotism. Just about everyone in our government must take an oath to defend and protect the Constitution of the United States. Our wedding vows represent our commitment to our spouse. Even street gangs and organized crime allegedly have symbolic oaths binding their members to their groups, for better or worse.

As I have just completed my series of articles on “Stand Up for MORALITY,” I have been asked what kind of token gesture we should make to express our commitment to improving morality. I thought about this long and hard, whereby I devised the following pledge which is intended to recognize the impact of morality on society and define some basic values the general populace can subscribe to. The pledge is not based on religion, thereby making it universally applicable to anyone who understands the need to practice and promote morality in this country.

The Morality Pledge

I believe morality is a distinguishing characteristic of our culture.
A society without morality is primitive and barbaric.
I know I am not perfect but I will try to lead a virtuous life, not just for myself, but for my family, friends, community, and country.
I will always try to do what is fair, equitable, honorable, or common sense under the circumstances.
I will adhere to the laws, rules, regulations of the land, as well as the local customs, courtesies, and social norms.
If I consider the laws, rules, and regulations immoral, I will endeavor to change them peacefully.
It is my responsibility to become a positive role model, promote moral values, and urge others to develop a moral compass.
I will recognize, and not ridicule, a person practicing a moral act, and will not accept the immoral behavior of others.
I recognize humans are imperfect and make mistakes, but we should strive to improve our society, not destroy it.
I may forgive a transgression, but I certainly will not forget and allow it to be repeated.
I believe in the moral values of honesty, courtesy, respect, kindness, honor, loyalty, courage, integrity, dedication and pride in workmanship.
I will do unto others as I would have others do unto me.
I will respect my elders and those in superior position.
I will help, aid, and assist all persons less fortunate, as I am able to.
I will not wrong, cheat or defraud another.
I will respect the property of others.
I will work faithfully, professionally, and industriously for those employing my services.
I will respect the dignity of the human spirit and treat people fairly and equitably.
I will not do anything to bring dishonor to myself, my family, my community, my profession, and my country.
I will endeavor to take responsibility for my actions and not become a burden on society.
I recognize this will be a difficult task, but grant me the power to resist temptation and do what is right.
And if I stumble, grant me the courage to ask for help.

Something as simple as this pledge may have a profound effect on how morality is implemented in this country. Simply place your right hand over your heart, the sign of fidelity, raise your left hand, repeat the pledge, and express your commitment…. There, that wasn’t so bad was it?

Mr. Bryce is available to speak on this subject

Keep the Faith!

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

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at

For Tim’s columns, see:

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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

Freemason Tim Bryce.

Stand Up For Morality: Part 2


– Morality is a COLLECTIVE concept which defines us as a culture.

This is Part 2 in my series on “Morality” as derived from my new eBook “Stand Up for MORALITY.”

In Part 1, we examined the state of Morality in our culture and where it is heading. Here, in Part 2, we will define what Morality is and describe its properties.


Is it something we intuitively know or is it something that must be taught and learned? Unfortunately, morality is not a subject commonly discussed anymore, particularly at the dinner table, office, or just about anywhere.

  • Does morality mean following the letter of the law? What if the law is amoral?
  • Is morality “political correctness”? Somewhat.
  • Is morality synonymous with religion? Religion helps to define morality, but it is certainly not a requirement. For example, I have personally met people who avidly attend church and can quote chapter and verse, but I personally consider immoral, particularly in their business affairs.
  • Is it possible for atheists or agnostics to be moral? If they have been taught to respect the rights of others and observe the rules of the land, Why not?
  • How does morality differ from ethics?


noun (plural moralities)
Principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior.
– A particular system of values and principles of conduct, especially one held by a specified person or society.
(Oxford Dictionary)


  1. (usually treated as plural) moral principles that govern a person’s or group’s behavior: Judeo-Christian ethics
  2. (usually treated as singular) the branch of knowledge that deals with moral principles. (Oxford Dictionary)


  1. Behavior showing high moral standards
  2. A quality considered morally good or desirable in a person (Oxford Dictionary)

Whereas morality represents the values of right and wrong or good and bad, ethics represents a body of moral values. This is why you see a “Code of Conduct” representing the guiding principles for employees in a business. More than anything, a moral value is an accepted form of behavior. This may be written, but quite often it is not. To illustrate, there is a multitude of laws, rules and regulations for operating an automobile, be it pertaining to traffic lights and signs, observing speed limits, parking, etc. However, there are other rules that are not documented, such as allowing another motorist to pass you on the highway, to enter traffic in clogged intersections, to dispense with the use of a cell phone in heavy traffic, etc. Such rules are commonly referred to as the “courtesy of the road” and just as important for the steady flow of traffic.

Morality is a COLLECTIVE concept which defines us as a culture. It refers to a code of conduct that applies to all who can understand it and can govern their behavior by it. It means acting in an expected/predictable manner, representing the status quo based on the norms of the day. To be a moral person, one must subscribe to this code of conduct of right/wrong and good/bad. The intention of morality, thereby, is to develop a person’s conscience as it includes the elements of honesty, courtesy, respect, kindness, value, honor, loyalty, courage, integrity, dedication and commitment, and a sense of professionalism. Morality means giving of one’s self, putting aside our self interests for the common good of all, so we may live and work together.


One must consider how a moral value originated. Perhaps it was based on philosophical or religious teachings, such as the Ten Commandments. For example, just about every religion and philosophy embraces the “Golden Rule” (“Do unto others as you would have others do unto you”). Most moral values though are based on “Natural Law” which is the use of reason to analyze human nature and deduce binding rules of moral behavior. Such law is normally not written. However, if it becomes necessary to formalize the law in order to properly communicate and enforce it, it can become Statutory Law as enacted by legislators.


“Stand Up for MORALITY” is an eBook available in PDF, Kindle and Audio formats.
All are available through MBA Press.
The Kindle version is available through AMAZON.

Mr. Bryce is available to speak on this subject

Keep the Faith!

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

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at

For Tim’s columns, see:

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Freemason Tim Bryce.

Stand Up For Morality: Part 1

– “Morality is something we all claim to know, but never openly discuss.”

Today I begin a series on “Morality” as derived from my new eBook “Stand Up for MORALITY,” which discusses morality in American culture, the properties of morality, and how to teach it in a uniform manner. “Morality is something we all claim to know, but never openly discuss.” Herein we will tackle the subject head-on.

Let me preface my remarks by stating unequivocally, this is not about religion. I am not a member of the clergy, nor am I here to preach dogma. I am certainly not interested in your particular faith, if you have one. Religion is your business, not mine. I will make comments pertaining to organized religion as an institution but my intention is to comment on the need for promoting fundamental morality in our society. By understanding the properties of morality, it will enable us to support and perpetuate it.

Laced throughout this text are exercises designed to promote discussion. We cannot solve a problem unless we truly understand it. As such, the discussion points contained herein are intended to stimulate thought.

This book is a companion to a training seminar of the same name as conducted by the author.

I would like to thank the many people who took the time to review a preliminary copy of the manuscript and offer suggestions. Although they generally believed morality is a lost cause in this country, they encouraged me to persevere and light a torch to help show the way. The path to a moralistic society is a long and arduous one, requiring tenacity and conviction. In my office, is a framed quotation from President Calvin Coolidge which has inspired me for years:

“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.”

Let us now “Press On.”


In May of each year, a Gallup poll is conducted regarding the country’s “Values and Beliefs,” the most recent being conducted in 2012.

Two questions are asked:

How would you rate the overall state of moral values in this country today?
20% – Excellent/Good
36% – Only Fair
43% – Poor

Right now, is the state of moral values in this country getting better or worse?
19% – Getting Better
05% – Remain the Same
73% – Getting Worse

The poll paints a rather bleak picture of the values of our country and does not offer much hope for the future. One can only ask, why this is occurring? Answers vary:

People have become self absorbed (“Looking Out for #1”, “Dog-Eat-Dog World”)
Permissive society (too tolerant).
Affluence – people believe they are above morality.
Cavalier attitudes about sex, drugs, alcohol, and violence.
Parents have abdicated their responsibilities.
Organized religion is in retreat.
Schools are not doing their jobs.
Business and Government are perceived as corrupt.
We’ve become too tolerant of abuses and too ready to forgive & forget.
Hollywood is corrupt and disseminating immoral messages under the guise of entertainment.

Morality is everywhere. I know of no other word that has so much to do with the way we live and act. It represents a pattern of living, setting standards or drawing a line in the sand for which you will not cross. Morality is wherever the human animal dwells, be it in schools, offices, or other institutions, for example:

The Israel Defense Forces teach morality for armed combat situations. They believe a new type of warfare has arisen whereby soldiers need to be able to identify combatants and deal with them accordingly, not to mention the treatment of prisoners as well.

The Government of New Zealand teaches morality to police officers. The aim is to equip police with “a commitment to goodness,” to “recognize evil” and “confront it more effectively”.

The real purpose of such programs is to devise a standard approach resulting in uniform morality, which is also the intention of this paper.

What one family teaches their offspring, may be different than the next. What one boss teaches his subordinates, may be different than the next. What one church or organization teaches their congregation, may be different than the next. Organized religion generally teaches uniform lessons of morality within their faith, but not everyone goes to church anymore. In fact, church attendance has declined noticeably.

To America’s founding fathers, religion and morality were recognized as a requirement for good government and citizenship. Hence the first Congress in 1787 passed the Northwest Ordinance (CLICK for more) which defined how America would expand and admit states from that area (land surrounding the Great Lakes). An important part of the legislation was Article 3 which states: “Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”

Through Article 3, our founding fathers foresaw the necessity of teaching knowledge, religion, and morality in a uniform manner, and for many years the schools did so. Even well into the 20th century, public schools were used to provide religious instruction albeit it was not compulsory and conducted after normal school hours. Aside from this, schools used to teach general religious concepts, such as one divine entity, and moralistic concepts of right and wrong. This was all abandoned in public schools over the last fifty years.


NEXT TIME: We will define what Morality is and describe its properties.

“Stand Up for MORALITY” is an eBook available in PDF, Kindle and Audio formats.
All are available through MBA Press.
The Kindle version is available through AMAZON.

Mr. Bryce is available to speak on this subject

Keep the Faith!

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

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at

For Tim’s columns, see:

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

The Good Neighbor


– The joy and benefits of a little cooperation.

Every now and then I take an elderly friend home from my Masonic lodge (I’ll pick them up as well). If they need help getting into the house, I do so. If I am just dropping them off, I make sure they get inside the front door before I leave. For friends who are away from home on vacation or business, I check their houses at night to make sure everything is alright. If they ask me, I pick up their newspapers in the driveway as well as the mail. If they need to be dropped off at the airport or picked up, I’m glad to oblige. On a few occasions I have mowed the lawns for my neighbors when it got too long and someone failed to cut it. Every now and then I am called upon to help move something heavy at a neighbor’s house or assist in some awkward task, such as helping my neighbor get her gravely ill husband back into bed after he had fallen out. All of these acts are appreciated and not taken for granted by my acquaintances. I certainly do not expect any recognition or compensation for this other than they reciprocate in kind. However, most respond by remembering to buy me a good cigar which I certainly appreciate. I do not consider this an imposition as they are good friends and neighbors.

I am not sure where I learned to be a good neighbor, probably from emulating my parents who did likewise over the years. As I was growing up in the various communities throughout the United States there was always a sense of community, that you kept an eye out for your neighbor and helped out where needed. During the Great Snow of Chicago in 1967, the roads were clogged with snow. Adults and kids helped clear driveways, and checked on neighbors to make sure they were alright. Some would take sleds and trudge to the grocery stores to pick up basic food supplies, not just for themselves but many others as well. Everything closed down during that storm, including schools, businesses, transportation, etc. I have never seen anything quite like it since. This resulted in some of the best block parties as the neighbors were determined to socialize as opposed to being trapped in their houses.

Disasters, such as tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes and flooding, seem to bring out both the best and worst in us in this country. Sure there are those who loot and take advantage of emergency services unnecessarily, but most of us seem to be more than willing to lend a helping hand in the face of disaster, be it in distributing food and supplies, fixing a roof, using a chainsaw, clearing debris, offering transportation services, helping people find shelters, tending to pets, donating clothing, or whatever. How we respond is truly admirable. Such response represents our compassion for humanity.

I only wonder why it takes a disaster to behave this way and why we are not like this the rest of the year. Many people today believe volunteerism is for chumps and won’t extend the most basic courtesies to their neighbors, be it nothing more than a simple greeting. I fear though, common courtesy is no longer common, nor is it being taught by parents. I do it, not because of my parents or anyone else. I just realized it is the right thing to do, and believe it or not, it is not costly or painful. I certainly do not feel like a “chump” when I volunteer my services, and feel sorry for those who do not as they will never realize the benefits of cooperation.

As I write this, I am reminded of the old Frank Capra movie, Meet John Doe, starring Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck, where a grassroots movement is started to promote good citizenship. A John Doe philosophy then spreads like wildfire across the nation, and clubs sprang up to promote the concept of being a good neighbor. It may sound naive, but maybe we need some more John Doe Clubs to again learn to “Be a better neighbor.”

Keep the Faith!

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

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at

Tim is a Past Master and currently Secretary at Dunedin Lodge No. 192 F.& A.M. in Florida.

For Tim’s columns, see:

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Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

SHAPETH UP AND GETITH THINE ACT TOGETHER – Some tricks of the trade for being productive.

Also look for Tim’s postings in the Palm Harbor Patch and throughout the Internet.

Tim’s Travel Planning Checklist

– Don’t leave home without it.

Travel used to be fun and carefree; you grabbed your tickets, got on the airplane and off you went. Thanks to terrorists though, the TSA, and the dangerous world we now live in, it has become quite complicated. I have done my fair share of traveling over the years and learned a few things along the way, such as how to organize a trip with a minimum of headaches. Below is a checklist I use to mentally prepare myself. Now, I’m finally putting it to paper to perhaps make travel planning a little easier for others. This checklist is not designed to help you order tickets, only how to prepare for the trip after you have made the purchase decision. It will also not cover the items you can or cannot carry on to an aircraft (see the TSA for guidelines). If you have a concern or question, either contact the TSA or your airline carrier. Aside from this, these suggestions will hopefully simplify your trip and make it more enjoyable. I have listed my suggestions in alphabetic order:

AIRLINE COURTESY LOUNGES – Most major airlines offer private lounges available on a membership basis. They offer comforts for the weary traveler, including beverages, snacks, privacy, television, Internet access, comfortable chairs for catching a few winks of sleep, clean washrooms, and sometimes showers. If you are going to be traveling extensively, it may be wise to purchase a membership. Don’t want to join on an annual basis? Most airlines have a 30 day membership available or pay as you go. If you have a rough and rugged road to travel, it may very well be worth it. Contact your airline for details.

AIRLINE TICKETS – Make sure you have your seat assignments in advance. If you have certain food requirements, notify the airline in advance, not on the day of departure. Boarding passes can still be obtained at the airport but most people prefer printing them in advance on their computer, usually 24 hours in advance. Print two copies, just in case. TRAVEL INSURANCE may be wise if you are planning an expensive trip where there is a possibility your travel plans may change. As for me, I typically avoid it under normal circumstances.

AIRPORT – get there early. TSA usually creates unGodly security lines where you are seemingly strip searched. Wear comfortable shoes you can quickly slip in and out of, and socks to avoid the germs awaiting you in the security screening area. Avoid wearing or carrying anything metallic, particularly coins, lighters, or anything else. Try not to dress like a Huckleberry thereby indicating you’re an inexperienced traveler to be taken advantage of by charlatans.

AUTOMOBILE, PREPARATION – If you are going on a lengthy trip by automobile, be sure to have your car’s tires, brakes, and oil checked, and possibly have it tuned up. An ounce of prevention now, may save you headaches later on.

BALLOT – If you will be gone during election time, be sure to request an “absentee ballot” from your local board of elections.

BATTERIES – make sure all of your batteries for your electronic devices are charged or replaced. It might not be a bad idea to bring extra batteries if you are going to be gone for an extended period.

BILLS, PAYING THEM IN ADVANCE – if you are going to be gone for an extended period of time, try to have your bills paid in advance so that you will not be in arrears upon your return. If necessary, have someone you trust pay bills for you, or utilize electronic payments.

CALL HOME – upon your arrival, let your loved ones back home know that you have arrived safely, either by telephone, instant message, or e-mail.

CAMERA – Are you planning on taking pictures during your trip? Make sure your digital camera is fully charged and ready to use. Don’t forget the charger and any other cords and attachments. I typically purchase a book of photos of the country I’m visiting (the local photographers are much better than I am).

CAR RENTAL – It pays to make reservations well in advance, not to mention shop around and look for specials. I tend to use reputable firms with airport shuttles as opposed to hitching a ride to East Podunk to pickup a car. Beware of insurance coverage; I tend to get minimum coverage but it is your choice. (Also see “International Driving Permit”).

CASH – do not take an inordinate amount of hard cash with you. If you are robbed, it will be impossible to replace. Take enough cash for taxis or shuttles, tipping, basic “walking around” money, and perhaps a drink or something to eat along the way.

COMPUTER – If you are planning on taking your laptop, be sure you will have Internet coverage. As with the telephone, check on available coverage.

CONCIERGE – a hotel concierge can be your best friend if you treat him/her right. Let them know what your interests are and ask for their advice regarding restaurants, tourist attractions, transportation, and currency exchanges. Sometimes they may point you in the wrong direction, particularly if an outside firm is paying them a commission for every tourist they send their way. Develop a good rapport with them if possible and they will, in general, treat you right.

CREDIT/DEBIT CARDS – alert your credit/debit card companies of your travel plans. Such companies may refuse the processing of transactions from a faraway location (including within the United States). In addition, write down your credit/debit card numbers and customer service telephone numbers and keep them in a safe place. This can be invaluable if you lose your wallet or purse and need to cancel them (and get new ones).

CURRENCY EXCHANGE – try to have some local currency with you before you arrive, for use with taxi drivers, tipping, etc. You can obtain such currency through a bank, but it may be better to get it at an airport if you have some time between flights. While at your destination, check with the hotel’s concierge or front desk on how to exchange money. Make sure you are getting the correct rate, realize that not everybody necessarily will charge you the same rate. Sometimes black market rates are better than those offered by the banks. For the latest rates, check HERE.

ELECTRICAL CONVERTERS – not everything runs on the American electrical system, including plugs. Fortunately, there are inexpensive adapter plugs available for you to plug-in an American electrical device. Radio Shack provides a fine TUTORIAL on this subject.

E-MAIL, AUTO RESPONSES – If you are going away for awhile, do not write a default e-mail response such as, “I’ll be away on vacation from DATE to DATE”; Translation: “Hello burglars, the house is deserted, come and get it.” Frankly, it’s nobody’s business where you are. Try something like this instead, “I’m away from my office right now, please contact John Doe if you require immediate support, (telephone number and e-mail address).” If possible, periodically check your e-mail while you’re on the road and answer critical messages.

EMBASSY – It may be wise to write down the telephone number and address of the local American embassy or consulate. Click HERE for a listing. (Also see “Police”).

ENTERTAINMENT – you may be traveling for hours. Either plan on getting plenty of sleep during your journey or take something to occupy your time, such as a book, magazine, portable DVD player, laptop computer, or some other electronic device. On airplanes, observe the proper decorum for using such devices.

FLASH DRIVE – Don’t want to lug around a laptop with you? Put a lot of your data on a simple flash drive which you can carry in your pocket. Rarely do I take a laptop with me anymore. Instead, I keep important documents, email addresses, and web bookmarks on my flash drive. You may also want to scan your passport, driver’s license, tickets, and traveler checks and maintain them as JPG or PDF files on your flash drive (as opposed to photocopying such items as mentioned under “Photocopying.” I also make active use of GOOGLE DOCS/DRIVE for documents, graphic presentations, and more, which I can easily access from any computer. Using this same rationale, I also check my e-mail using such things as GOOGLE GMAIL or YAHOO! MAIL.

HOTEL BUSINESS CARD – You can obtain such cards from the front desk or concierge. Take more than one. They are particularly useful for finding your way back to your hotel. If you are in a place where you do not understand the language, just hand the taxi driver the card and he’ll get you home.

HOTEL ROOM KEY, LEAVE AT THE FRONT DESK – this is a custom most Americans cannot seem to grasp. By leaving your key with the front desk, you do not have to worry about losing it or having it stolen (plus it is one less thing to carry with you).

INTERNATIONAL DRIVING PERMIT – if you are planning on driving an automobile overseas, obtain an International Driving Permit in advance. In addition to allowing you to drive, it also makes a handy form of identification. You can obtain such a permit on the Internet or at AAA. It would also pay to familiarize yourself with local rules of the road, and ROAD SIGNS.

JET LAG – if you are traveling to distant lands, try to adjust your sleep patterns accordingly. For example, when I’m traveling to the Orient, I try to get as much sleep as possible on the aircraft to get myself on the time zone of my destination. Just remember, it is easier to adjust as you chase the sun (going from East to West) and harder when you chase the moon (West to East).

LOCAL CUSTOMS – familiarize yourself with local customs, such as greetings, forms of address, dressing for occasions, and tipping.

LUGGAGE – Try to pack lightly thereby minimizing additional baggage charges. If you are planning on shopping, take an extra collapsible bag for such sundries. Be sure that all bags have attached identification tags, including your name and address. Some people also add their mobile telephone number and e-mail address thereby expediting contact with you in the event of lost luggage. I have also found it useful to add luggage straps which keeps the bag together in the event the locks break by reckless baggage handlers. Because many bags look alike, it may pay to put something colorful on it so you can spot it easily on the luggage carrousel, perhaps a ribbon, a rag, or some tape. If you need to take unusual items such as golf clubs, fishing poles, etc. contact the airlines and ask for their advice on how to best pack them. As to carry-ons, keep it simple and small enough to fit under the seat in front of you (in case the overhead compartments are full).

MAPS – obtain in advance a map of the destination you will be visiting. Bookstores, Hotels, AAA, and other travel agencies have a plethora of them available, not to mention what you can find on the Internet. Study the map before you arrive so you know where you are going.

MEDICATION – obviously you want to bring sufficient amounts of your medications, but it is the unexpected you should take into consideration, such as coming down with a cold, motion sickness, and indigestion (particularly if the local cuisine doesn’t agree with you).

NEWSPAPERS AND MAIL, HOLDING – newspapers left on a driveway is an invitation for thieves to rob your house. Either arrange to have someone pick them up for you or have them stopped. Leaving the mail in your box may expose important papers to thieves as well. Want to stop your mail, either call or visit your local post office.

NOTIFY a trusted neighbor, friend, or family member that you will be gone and to keep an eye on your residence. Also notify the local police.

PASSPORT – You simply cannot travel without a passport anymore, be it by ship or airplane. Driver Licenses may suffice in North America but the preferred method is to carry a passport with you at all times. You can apply for a passport at a local post office (call them first) or check ON-LINE. If you haven’t traveled in a while, check the expiration date of your passport, maybe it is time to renew. (Also see “Visas”).

PETS – If you are leaving your pets at home while you are traveling, make reservations to have them boarded or have a friend or family member take care of them. If you are taking your pets with you, check with the airlines about traveling restrictions and possibly shots. Also be sure to contact the hotel regarding their policy on pets.

PHOTOCOPY YOUR PASSPORTS, TICKETS AND TRAVELER’S CHECKS and hide them in the lining of your luggage or some other safe place. Losing such items overseas can be a painful experience. (Also see “Flash Drive”).

POLICE – It might not be a bad idea to get the telephone number of the local police and carry it with you, in case of emergency of course. No, not everyone uses “911” for emergencies; the British use “999” and other European countries use “112.” (Also see “Embassy”).

RESIDENCE, CLOSING IT UP – make sure you have timers on lights in strategic areas of the house so it doesn’t give the appearance it is deserted. Give consideration to lawn maintenance or snow removal while you’re away. Also, make sure your heating or air conditioning is set at a minimal level so that you do not waste electricity (and money). It’s also a good idea to turn off plumbing, particularly to toilets. Should the lines burst or leak you can be left with an expensive mess. And of course, make sure all of the windows and doors are locked and major appliances turned off.

SUNDRIES – purchase travel sized toiletries in advance, including clothes detergent if necessary to wash your socks. In all likelihood, you won’t like the prices overseas. Make sure you bring sufficient medications with you. Also, if you are so inclined, take a small bottle of booze. I can assure you, it will be a lot cheaper than the hotel’s mini-bar. Also bring a sufficient amount of tobacco. Better yet, you can buy such things at the Duty Free shops either at the airport or on your airplane. If you are not sure, ask the airlines regarding allowances you can purchase.

TAXIS AND SHUTTLES – Make sure you have a plan for getting from the airport to your final destination, such as your hotel. If you are going by taxi, be sure to ask how much it will cost BEFORE you get into the cab. Otherwise you might wind up on an expensive joy ride.

TELEPHONE – If you are planning on taking your cell phone or smart phone, it might be wise to see if you will have any connecting coverage at your destination. Check with your carrier and also be sure to understand any special connecting fees. Sometimes it is preferable to take a prepaid telephone card with you instead.

TRANSLATION – obtain a pocket dictionary and learn some basic words and phrases, such as “Please,” “Thank you”, “How much?”, and “Where can I find…” Make a simple cheat sheet of common expressions, such as on an index card, and carry it with you. There are also some smart phones that now have translation “apps” available for download. Familiarize yourself with how they work before you go.

TRAVEL RECOMMENDATIONS – ask your family and friends about favorite places to visit at your destination if they have been there, including sightseeing, restaurants, and do’s and don’ts.

TRAVELERS CHECKS – in this age of credit/debit cards, the use of travelers checks have diminished. However, I have always found them to be a universally acceptable form of payment. You can obtain travelers checks from your bank, AAA, or other financial institutions.

TRIP SHEET – write out your travel agenda, along with the name of the hotel(s) you will be staying at, their address, telephone, e-mail and web addresses. Also include your travel itinerary complete with flight numbers and departure/arrival times and dates. This is useful not only for yourself, but provide a copy for your loved ones.

VISA – if you are traveling overseas, you may need an entry visa which can typically be obtained from an embassy. For a listing of country requirements. Some countries may also require you have certain shots which you can either get from your doctor or a medical clinic. Specific paperwork is required which is commonly attached to your passport. When getting such shots, be sure to take your passport with you. (Also see “Passport”).

VOICE MAIL – As with the “E-mail” response, do not leave a voice message indicating you are away. Also, periodically check your messages.

WEATHER – check the forecast for your destination and pack clothes accordingly. Don’t forget the portable umbrella.

MASONS – If you are planning on visiting a Lodge overseas, try to make contact with the Lodge in advance. You can usually find Lodges listed on the Internet, either individually or through their Grand Lodge. Ask about dress codes, schedules, and decorum. Be sure to bring your Dues Card and brush up on the “Tyler’s Oath” of your jurisdiction.

Hopefully you will find this checklist helpful in planning your next trip. If I have overlooked something, please be sure to drop me a line with your suggestion. Now for the hard part of the trip: enjoy yourself! Bon voyage Y’all!

Keep the Faith!

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

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at

For Tim’s columns, see:

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Producing Newsletters: Beware of the Birdcage

– Writing newsletters that will be read as opposed to discarded.

formating newsletters, group communication, As I have been involved with a variety of nonprofit organizations over the years, I am often saddled with the task of producing the group’s newsletter. Maybe it’s because I know how to string a few words together and have worked with computers for more years than I care to remember. Nonetheless, I have probably produced over a thousand newsletters over the years for management groups, technology associations, homeowner groups, and fraternal organizations. Because of this, I like to believe I have learned a thing or two over the years about these publications, the first being they should never be taken for granted. Too often I see newsletters prepared frivolously where the same verbiage is spewed out month after month thereby become very predictable and quite boring. I know of newsletters where the same copy is used year after year and nothing changes except the names of the club’s officers. Surprisingly nobody notices. There is nothing wrong with devising a standard format, which readers tend to adapt to, but if there is no “news” in the newsletter, in all likelihood it will only be used to line the bottom of a birdcage. However, if they are meaningful, not only will they be read, they’ll also be kept for future reference.

When writing copy for the newsletter, keep it simple and to the point. Do not ramble as most readers of newsletters have the attention span of a gnat and become easily bored. You have less than thirty seconds to grab a person’s attention with a newsletter, after which they will decide to either read it or discard it. I tend to see the newsletter as a working tool which is why people should discuss more about what is on the horizon and less about what happened in the past. Your column should be positive and upbeat, not negative and depressing. In other words, keep the glass half full as opposed to half empty. We write to communicate, not to put people to sleep. People will likely follow you if you are more optimistic. If you’ve got bad news though, do not try to sugarcoat it, give it to your members straight so you get their attention and encourage participation if necessary.

Other than news, a schedule of upcoming events should be included, along with a listing of club officers and their contact information (e.g., telephone, e-mail). These two items are what most people are looking for, everything else is secondary. In terms of “filler,” there is a lot you can add, but do not overdo it as you should be mindful of the birdcage liner phenomenon. I have seen a variety of things used, such as a welcome of new members, a listing of past presidents, this day in history, cartoons, some useful tips and techniques, educational trivia, and a listing of sponsors.

As I begin editing the newsletter, I collect all of the notes and columns from contributors and place them into a plain text file (ASCII) suitable for use with any text processor, e.g., MS Notepad. People always wonder why I do this. The answer is simple, in this format I can migrate it to any other computer file format, be it a word processor, desktop publishing, HTML (web page), E-Mail, PDF, etc. Whereas these other formats are limited in terms of migrating to other file formats, plain ASCII text can go anywhere. In one association I am involved with, I produce multiple versions of the same newsletter: using desktop publishing, I produce a paper copy to be printed and mailed and a PDF version to be e-mailed; I also produce an HTML version for our web page. This is all simple to do, but not possible without first preparing the plain ASCII text version. As an aside, I am a big proponent of Adobe’s PDF file format as it is more universally applicable than word processors like MS Word.

Since your files are now on the computer, be sure to run spell checkers and grammar checkers on the text. In this day and age, there is no excuse for not doing so.

I tend to name computer files in a specific manner so I can easily sort through them and find what I want, as well as to easily backup files. For example, I put the publication date into the name; to illustrate:

NEWS0612.TXT – Representing the June 2012 edition (MMYY) – my personal preference
NEWS1206.TXT – the same thing backwards (YYMM)
NEWS200612.TXT – Representing the June 20th, 2012 edition (DDMMYY) if so inclined

I have seen other people name them based on Volume and Edition number; for example:

Vol06Ed10.TXT – Volume 06, Edition 10

How you name your files is your business but I encourage you to devise a standard format thereby simplifying the storage and maintenance of the files. This is also useful for setting up a new edition of the newsletter. Instead of inventing an entirely new edition of each newsletter, I copy and rename a past issue and use it as a template to build the next edition, thereby saving considerable time.

In terms of layout, devise a clean and simple approach that you can standardize on, thereby inviting readership as opposed to discouraging people. Most desktop publishing tools have standard templates for such purposes. Always be cognizant of your readership and try to accommodate people. For example, do not use a tiny font or strange type style that nobody can read. Break your text into multiple columns on a page, two or three, and leave a sufficient amount of white space between columns, thereby making it easy to read. Underline or highlight key words you want to draw attention to but do not do so excessively as people will start to ignore it.

Again, I warn publishers of newsletters, regardless of how graphically appealing your publication looks, it it doesn’t say anything of substance it will inevitably end up in the birdcage. Before you release it though, try to get a second set of eyes to review the publication. Another person might be able to spot something you have overlooked.

Although most publications today are distributed via e-mail and web pages, there are still people who do not have access to a computer, particularly elderly members who prefer printed copies instead. This means you need an address book that can produce both mailing labels as well as a listing of e-mail addresses. Electronic versions of the newsletter have no restrictions in terms of number of pages. However, printed versions do, as dictated by postage costs. I have seen many organizations struggle with the issue of discontinuing the printed version of the newsletter. Electronic versions are cheaper to produce, and you can do more with them, but if a sizeable portion of your membership cannot access it, you will inevitably alienate them. Then again, this may become a moot point if the economics of the group cannot justify the continuation of a printed version.

The question remains though, can a simple newsletter truly impact a nonprofit organization? You betcha. First, it reflects the personality of the group (tired versus stimulating; lethargic versus ambitious). Second, it gets the word out as to the plans and activities of the group. I would wager you this: those groups without a newsletter or offer nothing more than a “birdcage liner” are probably the same groups suffering from apathy, lack of attendance, and a decline in membership.

All that is needed is someone who can string a few words together and feels comfortable around computers. Oh oh, now I know how I get trapped into doing this.

Keep the Faith!

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

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at

For Tim’s columns, see:

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

“Mad” Management

Some management lessons from 1961.

NOTE:  This is from my consulting practice, but also has bearing on the management of a Lodge.

One of the reasons AMC’s “Mad Men” television show is so popular is that it tries to authentically depict American attitudes and moods of the early 1960′s, including how business was conducted. Viewers find it fascinating how the Mad Men think, the priorities driving them, and how they interact with employees and customers. Recently, I was going through some of my father’s old papers back when he worked as Product Planning Manager at Remington Rand in New York City, the makers of the UNIVAC computer at the time. In particular, I came across a training manual entitled, “Creative Management Development” from 1961. Evidently it was used as part of a training class to groom managers for the company. Realizing this was from the same period and venue (corporate New York) as “Mad Men” I picked through the manual carefully to see the perspective of management back then.

The manual was rather thick and consisted of several sections featuring different lessons. In particular, I came across a chapter entitled, “Elements of Effective Supervision” which included the following:

“The most effective supervisor is the one who…

  1. Delegates authority
  2. Makes definite assignments and supervises by results
  3. Minimized detailed orders
  4. Uses low pressure
  5. Trains subordinates
  6. Does different work from that done by his subordinates
  7. Spends his time on long-range rather than short-range problems

This is the pattern of what we call general supervision.

As superiors intrude on matters that rightfully should be handled by their subordinates, problems have a tendency to snowball. One subordinate described the situation this way: ‘As long as the boss gives us the right to make our own decisions, we cooperate with him. We report to him all the information he needs to answer to his boss, but the little things we don’t bother him with. But if he doesn’t give us any freedom we can make his life miserable. We can bombard his office with reports on everything we do. We can refuse to make a decision until we talk to him about it. We can stop saving his time by sifting the important from the unimportant and we can keep him on the run.’ “

Each of the seven sections were then explained in greater detail in the manual. The only problem I had between then and now was the distinction of supervisor versus manager. Whereas I tend to see a supervisor as someone working more closely with workers to assure work is performed properly, I tend to see a manager as more as a leader assessing priorities and plotting direction. Although the chapter referred to a “supervisor,” I believe they were actually describing the duties of a “manager.”

For some rather old management advice from over a half century ago, I found it rather refreshing and interesting. It confirms what we’ve been saying for years, that managers need to learn to manage from the bottom-up, not just top-down. Employees should be properly trained, empowered, and allowed to assume responsibility. In other words, managers should manage more and supervise less, which is just the antithesis of today’s micromanagement philosophy.

The management advice from 1961 is every bit as applicable today as it was back then, making it something we should reconsider. Maybe one of the reasons viewers find the “Mad Men” program interesting is because it represents a time when we were more concerned with results as opposed to political correctness. And maybe we wish we could actively participate in such companies as the Sterling Cooper Advertising Agency where Don Draper is the charismatic creative director who knows how to make things happen. Maybe he attended the same training course with my father.

Keep the Faith!

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

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at

For Tim’s columns, see:

Tim is also the Secretary of Dunedin Lodge No. 192 F.& A.M. in Florida.

Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.