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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

SELLING THE PLAY


My daughter recently reminded me of something I used to teach the kids when I was coaching her softball team years ago. Quite often there are plays that happen in the flash of an eye, difficult for anyone (including the umpires) to see, even with the best video technology available. I also reminded them that the umpires are only human, and put on their pants one leg at a time, just like everyone else. I therefore encouraged them to "sell the play" at every opportunity possible, particularly if it was a close play at home plate. I didn't suggest they cheat, but rather they recognize there will be instances where it is necessary for a little salesmanship in close situations.


"Selling the play" is a technique we should all be cognizant of both on and off the ball field. It is just as applicable in the corporate workplace and classroom as it is in sports. If you are competing for a contract or a job, "selling the play" might be just the oomph needed to win. Basically, it represents a little more hustle and confidence in your work. The person who is willing to go the extra mile is more likely to win, than the person who puts forth minimal effort.


As my daughter pointed out to me, even if you're having a rotten day on the job, make sure you sell yourself with every human contact you have. You never know when someone is evaluating you for an opportunity. Smile even when you don't feel like smiling and ooze confidence even when you feel like it may be wavering. You never know when that split second decision is going to be made, or by whom, but you better be ready to "sell the play." Second chances rarely come around.


Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.


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.


Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Friday, March 27, 2009

BRAINWASHING


In the past you have heard me lament about the erosion of our moral values, and it is my contention that our religious institutions have dropped the ball on this one. Their message may be good, but it is not generally turned into practice anymore. I've seen way too many people go to church to absolve themselves of their sins for the past week, only to continue unethical business practices on Monday morning. I think this is because our places of worship tend to say the same tired things over and over again and, in the process, have lost the hearts and minds of their constituents. Our moral values are now shaped by the Media using brainwashing techniques which are somewhat subliminal, but very effective. The intent of brainwashing is not just to manipulate perspectives, but to also put things into action. Organized religion knows how to deliver the message, but fails to put it into practice.


Brainwashing is typically born from calamity, such as the loss of a war, or hard economic times. It is illustrated by Nazi Germany in the 1930's and 40's, the Korean War, and is still put to good effect in Third World dictatorships. It is omnipresent in the free world as well, maybe not as obvious as in the Third World, but it is definitely present in our culture nevertheless.


Brainwashing is intended to produce a desired result, and many believe the end justifies the use of such techniques. It has been my observation there are three basic building blocks for brainwashing:


1. Information management - meaning the control of the media outlets, what can and cannot be said to the public, and who can say it. As you may recall in Nazi Germany, no author or artist could be published or exhibited unless they were a member of the Third Reich and proved good behavior. Control of the media is essential as it is known that life imitates art, not the other way around. Whoever controls the media, controls information, and subsequently our culture.


2. Repetition of the message is essential for conditioned response as in the case of Pavolv's Dog. If you say something enough times, people tend to believe it, regardless if it is right or wrong. Such repetition must be relentless and tends to be long term in nature in order to penetrate the human psyche.


3. The message must capture the hearts and minds of the people. Here, basic human instincts are exploited, such as greed, status, social class, and patriotism. The message tends to be simple and filled with pathos as complicated messages tend to be lost on most people and there is a desire to draw on the passions of the public. Basically, you need to pander to the masses and tell them what they want to hear; e.g., "You are great; you are being abused and mistreated", etc. Again, the intent is not simply to comprehend the message, but to motivate people into action. Emotional extremes are particularly effective in this regard; e.g., Love of Country, Hate for its enemies. The message also becomes more credible through testimonials and endorsements by recognized celebrities and other seeming experts. In fact, the message must be well choreographed and glitzy to assure it becomes fashionable and popular. Technicians skilled in the arts are vital to make the message appealing to the masses. People must believe the message is the popular consensus of the masses, not just a handful of people, thereby minimizing resistance to it.


Behind all of this is a deep-seated contempt for the human spirit, that people are cattle and easily swayed. Using brainwashing techniques, lying and misleading people is perfectly acceptable as long as it ends with the desired results. Thereby truth and honesty are often sacrificed in the process.


The question now becomes, is our Media engaged in brainwashing and, if so, what are their objectives? I believe it is there to orchestrate and exploit the American middle class thereby simplifying the implementation of social and economic changes. Why the middle class? Simple, because it is the economic engine of the world.


From this perspective, the Media is more powerful than the politicians charged with governing us. Perhaps our officials are nothing more than caretakers and the Media is truly pulling the strings, or perhaps the two are in cahoots. Either way, it is disconcerting that a "Big Brother" is doing the thinking for us and in the process, quietly engineering our thoughts and values.


It is also very unsettling that we are the unwitting dupes in all of this.


Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.


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.


Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

RUNNING THE LIFE MARATHON


As we pass through life there are several milestones we observe, such as our sixteenth birthday when we normally get a driver's license, or our 21st birthday when we become "legal." I didn't think too much of it when I turned thirty, nor did I pay much attention to forty; frankly, I didn't know what all the hubbub was about. But when I turned fifty I suddenly went, "Whoops!" I guess it was the greeting from AARP that got my attention and let me know that time was quickly passing.

I've found that once you enter your fifties you become more reflective on where you've been and where you're going. When you think about it, you have an internal clock telling you there are several appointments you have to make during your life, assuming you live a full life; to illustrate:


  1. Time to get married - time to grow up, clean up your act, and get a job.

  2. Time to have kids - time to start thinking about insurance, including life, medical, and auto.

  3. Time to buy or build a house - which, coincidentally, also represents the official point where we start to go into debt.

  4. Time to advance your career - after all, someone has to pay all those bills.

  5. Time to send the kids off to college, the military, or wherever - it is at this point when you develop a false sense of independence. Even as the kids move away, they still depend on you for guidance, advice, a few bucks, and anything around the house that isn't nailed down.

  6. Time to get the kids married off - time to get a bank loan, particularly if you are the father of the bride.

  7. Time to retire - which is also when you make plans for your demise. For example, you no longer celebrate Labor Day at the beach, but rather tour cemeteries picking out grave sights.

  8. Time to play with the grand kids and watch them grow up - This is also the time when you celebrate your wedding anniversaries and take trips you couldn't afford earlier.

  9. Time to checkout.
Interestingly, when you go to High School reunions you compare notes with your classmates as to where they stand on this time line. I guess misery loves company after all.

Actually, I resent the time line we impose on ourselves and don't recall this as being part of the job description. It's kind of like saying, "All right, come on, do this, do that, move along, and don't forget to do this as well, move along." It kind of reminds me of an assembly line where we are nothing but products moving from one work station to the next. It strikes me that we spend so much time running the marathon, we never take time to truly enjoy the scenery. But alas, the marathon is something we all must inevitably run.

My father-in-law had a simpler way of expressing our passage through life. It was his contention that we have 30 years to learn, 30 years to earn, and 30 years to burn (the money that is). I can't help but believe he was on to something.

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

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.


Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Friday, March 20, 2009

JOB INTERVIEWS


Something that really irritates me in the corporate world today is how companies interview candidates for a job. Instead of having you describe who you are, what you've done in your professional life, and what skills you know, Human Resource types today ask questions like:

"Where do you want to be five years from now?"

"How do you handle pressure?"

"How do you deal with conflict?"

"Tell me something nobody knows about you."

"Did you notice the receptionist outside had six fingers?"

"What is your favorite color?"

"If you were an animal, what would you be?"

Instead of getting to the meat and potatoes of what the person knows, interviewers are asking pseudo-psychological questions aimed at examining the personality of the candidate. It kind of reminds me of the asinine question Barbara Walters asked of movie stars years ago, "If you were a tree, what kind would you be?"

These questions are aimed at determining what your personality type is (such as A, B, C, D) and how you present yourself, e.g., how articulate you can present an argument, and how well you can fit in with the corporate culture.

Instead of dancing around the issue, and using amateur psychological techniques, why don't they just ask for a psychological profile of the candidate instead, as prepared by accredited professionals? Somehow the interviewing questions asked today remind me of the neurotic Personnel Manager, Granville Sawyer, in the movie classic "Miracle on 34th Street."

Another interviewing phenomenon I have trouble with is what is now called "speed interviewing," which I'm told is derived from “speed dating,” whereby a number of people are interviewed briefly in a rotational format. It kind of reminds me of how people audition for "American Idol" and some of the other entertainment contests. It might be nice for a first blush, but hardly a way of honestly getting to know someone.

The last thing I think is lacking in interviewing is professional courtesy. It used to be if you sent in a job application, you would get a written note acknowledging the company received it and what they intended do with it, which perhaps was nothing. Further, after an interview, the candidate would be sent a letter thanking him/her for their time and let them know what their status was. But you don't see such letters anymore, not even in this age of e-mail. To me, this says a lot about the professionalism of the employer, which is probably not very good.

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

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.

Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS


It's difficult to maintain a positive perspective in these troubling economic times. People are frustrated, despondent, even angry. But I have learned over the years, that no matter what disaster I may be faced with, there is always someone in worse shape than I am, such as a starving, uneducated third-world child who doesn't have a roof over his head, or his father who earns pennies a day to support his family. So, we should actually count the blessings we have got as opposed to banging our heads against the wall.

If you've got a job, thank your lucky stars you do, and renew your effort to make your company as successful as possible. Now is the time for cooperation as opposed to petty competition, teamwork as opposed to individualism. And by all means, take nothing for granted. Otherwise you might be the next one in the unemployment line.

If you are unemployed, be grateful we have unemployment programs to lend you a helping hand. But remember, there is no honor in becoming a ward of the state. Sharpen your skills, change with the times, and hustle for the next job.

If you are married, be thankful you are not going through a costly divorce now (which is horrible timing for doing so). Perhaps it is time to renew your devotion to your spouse and improve your family relationships.

If you have any savings, remind yourself there are many others out there without a safety net. Now is the time to wisely invest your money. It's hard to say who to trust in this regard, but perhaps a loan to a family member or neighbor who needs a helping hand is in order.

If you have a good credit record, consider the millions who do not. Try to keep your record as clean as possible, you will undoubtedly need it some day.

If you have some free time to participate in nonprofit organizations, consider yourself lucky, but remember, such groups will probably need more support as people's obligations are shifting and their participation declining.

If there is a silver lining in our current economic recession, I believe it is we will emerge from this mess stronger, more resilient, and hopefully smarter. Now is the time to stop whining and start believing in ourselves. The government is not going to solve all of our problems, nor is it their job to do so. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, "Nothing can save us if we will not save ourselves. If we lose faith in ourselves, in our capacity to guide and govern, if we lose our will to live, then indeed our story is told."

I admonish you not to despair; but to stay positive instead, to stay connected, to stay tuned in to what is going on, and become more proactive as opposed to reactive in our future. Just remember, the glass is half full, not half empty. Positive thinking is just as contagious as negative thinking, maybe more so. As we said back in the 1970's, "Keep on truckin'."

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

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.

Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Friday, March 13, 2009

FINDING A RECESSION-PROOF BUSINESS


Finding a business that can endure today's economic recession can be tricky. People are tightening their belts more today than in the past fifty years. We are seeing businesses close down, CEO's being replaced, and some rather substantial cost-cutting measures, including salaries and employment. So you have to ask yourself what companies are thriving? Which ones are going to make it and which ones won't?

No, I am not an economist, but it has been my experience that whenever belt's are tightened, people start to think of themselves first and others second. In other words we start to focus on our basic human needs and worry less about luxury items. Let's consider the effect the recession is having in a few key human-centric areas:

Food: Eating out at restaurants is diminishing, particularly the high priced establishments. In my area of Florida alone, over 35 restaurants have closed their doors recently. Not surprising, people are more inclined to cook at home, which means boom-times for value priced items. For example, I understand sales of Hormel's SPAM product are way up. With this in mind, I wonder when the Food Channel will replace some of their gourmet shows with a show featuring something like, "Cooking on a budget."

Health: Drugs are still doing fine, but people are more inclined to buy generic as opposed to name brands. We will probably see a sharp decline in cosmetic or elective surgery, but we will still need to replace hips, hearts, knees, and other vital parts of our bodies. I have a friend who manufactures titanium hips and knees. He tells me business couldn't be better.

Transportation: As we all know, new car sales are way down which means people are trying to extend the lives of their current vehicles. This means companies selling auto parts should be prospering, as well as independent mechanics offering competitive prices. The airlines will always be viewed as a necessary evil but for any of them to succeed, they have to streamline their operations.

Communications: I think cell phones will hold steady, but look for people to change or eliminate their land lines. I have also seen a lot of people cut down on the pay channels on television, as well as their ISP connections.

Housing: Like the automotive industry, sales have stagnated which means people are trying to make do with what they have. And like the automotive after-market, look for the sale of home improvement items to increase, particularly those products designed to save energy and money. This should be boom times for basic hardware stores.

Education: Private schools will be hurt by the recession as people will be more inclined to send their kids to affordable public schools. This includes state universities over private colleges.

In a nutshell, the companies that will succeed are those that address the basic needs of the human being with no frills attached. Luxury items, such as electronics will struggle in the meantime.

But success will also require companies to manage smarter than what they have been doing. They have to think faster to seize opportunities, be more organized and disciplined in their operations, and be more adaptive to change. In other words I think you'll see a "no frills" management style emerge as companies fight to survive. Those companies with bloated bureaucracies and micromanagers will have to be cut down to size in order to manage smarter.

So, what company is recession-proof? That which addresses basic human needs and is managed so the company can turn on a dime without missing a beat.

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

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.

Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

INFORMATION REQUIREMENTS


As many of you know, I have been active in the Information Technology (IT) industry for a long time now. It's a strange business and, frankly, sometimes I wish I had never gotten involved with it. Nonetheless, there are a lot of problems associated with IT, such as computer performance, capacity planning, security, networking, disaster recovery, but probably the biggest problem is requirements definition. In other words, accurately defining the information needs of the end-user. The industry is actually quite good at designing and writing software, developing data bases, and acquiring hardware, but after all these years they still have trouble understanding what the user needs to run his or her part of the business. Consequently, the wrong solution is inevitably delivered to the user, thereby causing a lot of wasted time and money reworking the solution to fit the need.

I am reminded of the story of an IT Director at a Midwest shoe manufacturing company who received a call from a Sales Manager asking for some help on a pressing problem. The IT Director sent over one of his programmers to meet with the Sales Manager and discuss the problem. Basically, the manager wanted a printout of all shoe sales sorted by model, volume, type, color, etc. The programmer immediately knew how to access the necessary data and sorted it accordingly thereby producing a voluminous printout (three feet high) which he dutifully delivered to the user.

The IT Director stopped by the Sales Manager's office a few days later to inquire if the programmer had adequately serviced the user. The sales manager afforded the programmer accolades on his performance and proudly pointed at the impressively thick printout sitting on his desk. The IT Director then asked how the manager used the printout. He explained he took it home over the weekend, slowly sifted through the data, and built a report from it showing sales trends.

"Did you explain to the programmer you were going to do this?" asked the IT Director.

"No," replied the Sales Manager.

"Are you aware we could have produced the report for you and saved you a lot of time and effort?"

"No."

This is a classic example of the blind leading the blind. The user did not know how to adequately describe the business problem, and the programmer asked the wrong questions. Remarkably, both the Sales Manager and programmer were delighted with the results. The IT Director simply shook his head in disbelief.

This is a typical scenario played out every day in the corporate world. Both sides feel frustration, the user and the systems people. The end user typically asks, "Why can't they give me what I want?" And the systems people claim, "The user doesn't know what he wants." I contend the user does know what he or she wants from a business point-of-view, but stumbles through technical jargon. Then again, the user shouldn't have to learn the jargon of the systems world. This would be analogous to forcing the user to learn construction engineering concepts when specifying a skyscraper, something that takes architects years to learn.

Instead, the systems people have to listen to the user (as architects do) and carefully interpret what he needs. A review of the information requirements should be performed with the user, in common terms the user understands, for if the requirements are wrong, then everything that follows will be wrong.

To properly interpret information requirements, the systems people should say something to the effect, "Assuming I give you the information you want, in the form you want it, what will you do with it? What actions and/or decisions will you make with it?" Only when the systems people can truly walk in the moccasins of the user, do they have the right to build a system for them.

Years ago, the Monty Python comedy troupe did a skit where the Pope was arguing with the Renaissance artist Michelangelo over the development of his famous painting, "The Last Supper." In the skit, the artist misinterpreted the Pope's requirements and originally produced a painting which included a scene featuring Jello, a kangaroo, a Mariachi Band, 28 disciples, and three Christs. The Pope, of course, was not satisfied with this and forced Michelangelo to change the painting, over the artist's protests. The Pope closes by saying, "I may not know much about art, but I know what I like."

This same expression can be paraphrased by the end user to describe the problem in requirements definition, "I may not know much about Information Technology, but I know what I need to run the business."

Defining information requirements is the single most difficult task for systems people to perform and, even after all these years, it remains the weakest link in the chain.

"An elegant solution to the wrong problem solves nothing." - Bryce's Law

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

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.

Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Friday, March 6, 2009

OUR RIGHT TO FAIL


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

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

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

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

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

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

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

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.

Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

THE IMAGERY OF PROFANITY


I really don't have a problem with someone who swears, provided it is done in the proper context and with a little finesse. Profanity is useful for venting frustration, expressing disgust, anger, or to ridicule someone. They are powerful words which command attention and are intended to produce a reaction, but I think we use such words to invoke a particular image as opposed to what they truly mean. The same is true in racial expletives where we try to invoke certain images and stereotypes. Frankly, I find the etymology of such expressions extremely interesting and amusing.


Although some of the profanity we use today can be traced as far back as the 14th century, most originated in the 1800's, but it took two World Wars to popularize such expressions, a truly joint American-British effort. Let me review some of our more popular expressions for which I apologize if anyone is offended (if such profanity bothers you, I suggest you turn back now).


"Son of a bitch" - At one time, SOB was considered one of the most common and offensive insults in America. Today, it is considered somewhat mild and is commonly found on television. Obviously, it is intended to describe an illegitimate bastard, but you've got to wonder about the person who first put it together which was most likely used in a derogatory vein towards someone. It sounds like it was used in anger and, lacking the skills to condemn the other person properly, attacked the person's ancestry. Interesting image though isn't it? Instead of saying we do not like the person, we attack his mother's character. I think today though we are more inclined to use SOB to express frustration as opposed to attacking someone.


"Asshole" is another old expression and I've always found it amusing how someone established this analogy between the human posterior and how someone deports himself. I guess "loser" wasn't in our vernacular yet, but it most certainly is an effective way of classifying people. Closely related to it is, "Kiss my ass" (which I think replaced "Go to Hell"), as well as "Dumb Ass" and its counterpart "Smart Ass" (of the two, I think I would prefer being called the latter as opposed to the former).


"Shit" is derived from the Old English word "shite" meaning to defecate or befoul. As an aside, the "e" was dropped in the 16th century, but it wasn't until the 1870's that it became popular. To me, the various manifestations of shit are what makes for some of the most interesting images around:



  • "Shit for brains" is one of my favorite images and I would love to know the person who came up with this one. I think it is closely related to "Shit head."
  • "Shit faced" refers to someone being intoxicated, but the literal translation is funnier.
  • "Shit on a shingle" is from the military delicacy of chipped beef on toast.
  • "Shit house" of course refers to outdoor plumbing (see "outhouse").
  • "Shit list" is something nobody wants to get on.
  • We are "Shit out of luck" when we are down and out.
  • And "Eat shit" doesn't exactly endear us to another, and it's something we certainly do not want to order from the menu.


But my favorite derivative is "Bullshit" which can be used in a variety of contexts, particularly in business. How "bull" got linked to "shit" is a bit of a mystery, but certainly makes an interesting image doesn't it? The Japanese love the word "bullshit" as they have nothing comparable to it in their language.


"F**k" - Then, we come to the "Big Kahuna" of profanity, the legendary "F" word, which still makes a lot of people squirm uncomfortably. Actually it is as old as the word "shit" and was originally used as an expletive of anger as opposed to sexual intercourse. When you think about it, it's an ugly word that sounds vulgar thereby making it preposterous to associate it with the act of love. Maybe if it had a French twist it might sound more appealing, like "Le fuckeƩ."


As in the use of "shit" there are many derivations of the "F" word we have used over the years:



  • "Go f**k yourself" - which would be an interesting trick if someone could do it and, in all likelihood, it would cause a lot of people to stay in bed all day.
  • "F**k it all" - is either an admission of defeat or someone with a greatly exaggerated libido.
  • "Motherf**ker" - which is used to attack someone's integrity through incest.


Even the word "snafu" is linked to the "F" word, meaning: situation normal, all f**ked up. Yet, "snafu" is much more socially acceptable than the root word itself.


Obviously, there are many other words and expressions we use which, when we think about them, you have to wonder how they were derived and the image associated with them. I wonder what the circumstances were to trigger such outbursts. As for me, I just listen and laugh, which is probably not the reaction most people are looking for. Because of all of the interesting quirks in the English language, I guess it is no small wonder why it is the hardest language to learn.


If you would like to learn more about certain words and expressions, please see:

Online Etymology Dictionary


Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.


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.


Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.