Monthly Archives: May 2010

An open letter to job seekers.

Dear Applicant:

I trust that you have read all of the advice about how to act when going on interview, what to wear and what to say.  There are some additional things you might want to know.  Some employers actually like to hire people whom they see doing good things at the job they have now or just the way they act in public.  Conversely, they don’t want to hire people who act in a certain manner when those people think others are not looking.  So below are a few things to think about.

You’re not the kind of person I want to work in  my business if -

You flip your cigarette from your car window and don’t believe you’re littering.

You park in a handicapped reserved spot if you’re “just going to run inside a minute.”

On a four-lane street you stop in the right-hand lane at the traffic signal even though you are going straight.

You leave your shopping cart in the parking lot.

You toss trash in the back of your pick-up truck and pat yourself on the back for not littering.

You text while driving.

You talk on your cellphone in a restaurant.

You talk on your cellphone while waiting on customers.

You curse your child in public.

You say “no problem” every time someone says thank you.

Good luck.

(signed)

A business owner who cares about employees and customers.

(c) 2010 Phil Hardwick

Are you a School-Community Connector?

One of the more important contributions a person can make to his or her community is to get involved with the local public school.  Public policymakers are finally realizing that there is a strong relationship between economic development and the overall success of communities.  Nevertheless, it should be obvious by now that it takes more than just funding and government programs to create really good schools.  There are critical roles for parents, educators, business, and the community at large.  It also takes persons who are known as school-community connectors.

A school-community connector is “a person whose job it is to find and build relationships with a wide range of neighborhood ―assets‘ -residents, voluntary associations, local institutions, businesses- and then to connect them to the neighborhood school and its assets -teachers, students, space, equipment, just to name a few.” according to a recently released report from the Asset Based Community Development Institute at Northwestern University (see link below).

The report cites the experience of the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, which undertook a project it labeled Ivolving All Neighbors.  The project resulted in a good job description, so to speak.  The project found that School-Community Connectors tend to have the following attributes or characteristics:

Strongly believes that every person belongs and has contributions to make and gifts to give to the community;

Works to build community in his or her life;

Is always on the lookout for what‘s happening in the neighborhood and knows its places, events, groups and people;

Looks for opportunities for people to connect with others and contribute their skills;

Enjoys meeting people and bringing together people with common interests;

Gets involved and asks others to get involved;

Enjoys challenges and doesn‘t give up;

Stays flexible, adjusts expectations, and knows that things take time;

Focuses on one person at a time and considers how that person‘s interests and skills can be assets for the community;

Finds ways for others in the community to sustain new connections;

Finds ways to take care of and renew him- or herself;

Believes that anything is possible.

If you would like to learn more about school-community partnerships in Mississippi contact the Mississippi Association of Partners in Education.

Building Mutually-Beneficial Relationship Between Schools and Communities – The Role of A Connector, published by the Asset Based Community Development Institute at Northwestern University

Don’t ship that wine to Mississippi

I read a great article  in the Wall Street Journal recently about Cameron Hughes and how he sells great wine at phenomenally low prices.  I attempted to order one of his specials online, but his company does not ship to Mississippi because it is not allowed even though it is done by many vendors across the country.

Here’s what the State Tax Commission Web site says about the matter:

Can I order wine over the internet to be delivered to my home?
No. It is illegal to bring wine into Mississippi and such products will be considered contraband.

I thought the Supreme Court ruled that direct shipment of wine was legal?
No, in the case heard by the U. S. Supreme Court, the Court ruled that a state cannot discriminate with regard to regulation of out-of-state wineries. In other words, if an in-state winery can ship and sell directly to a consumer, then an out-of-state winery has the same privilege. In Mississippi, in-state wineries cannot ship directly to a consumer so there are no discriminatory practices. The Court further ruled that the states have the ultimate authority to regulate wine and alcohol as they see appropriate.

Best jobs for the future

The Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 edition is now available.  Here’s one of the more interesting charts for those wondering about which jobs will be in demand for the future. Click here for the full report.

As share of personal income, private paychecks at record low; govt paychecks at record high

Paychecks from private business shrank to their smallest share of personal income in U.S. history during the first quarter of this year, a USA TODAY analysis of government data finds.

At the same time, government-provided benefits — from Social Security, unemployment insurance, food stamps and other programs — rose to a record high during the first three months of 2010.

Restaurant Review: Mexico Lindo, Newton, MS

Chain restaurants are reliable.  A diner knows that the food at the Taco Bell in Tupelo is going to be just like the Taco Bell in Toledo.  Consistency is the hallmark of all chain stores.  For independent restaurants, on the other hand, it is their uniqueness that is their badge.  The one-owner or family-owned restaurant in any town is not going to be exactly like any other anywhere.  Hence, I find it adventurous to seek out the local, independent restaurants when I visit a town.  Most of the time I am rewarded with fresh, local ingredients and a unique atmosphere.  Such was the case on a recent visit to Mexico Lindo in Newton, Mississippi.

To get to Mexico Lindo take the Newton exit on Interstate 20 in east Mississippi, drive past the familiar chain restaurants, make a turn or two and find the downtown.  Downtown Newton is not on U.S. Highway 80, which runs parallel to the Interstate.  It is a stone’s throw to the south.  It started out as a stagecoach stop a long time ago.  When you see a building with a colorful mural on its side you will have arrived in downtown.  Just down the street is Mexico Lindo, which is owned and operated by Mario Leora and his family.  If authenticity is what you search for in a Mexican restaurant, Mexico Lindo is the right place.  Yes, it is somewhat tacky-Mexican decorated, but it is the food that makes it truly authentic.  The character of the place during my visit felt more like a family restaurant than Mexican restaurant.  There were local families having lunch in the dining room, and when checking out there were small children here and there.  There were also a few local characters who were over in the corner solving the world’s problems.

Finally, be sure to ask Senora Leora about bullfighting, for he is a former bullfighter.  An authentic Mexican restaurant in a small Mississippi downtown.  Not a bad lunch break.

Job Opportunities for Economic Developers in Mississippi

Check out the Mississippi Economic Development Council Web site for the latest job opportunities postings in Mississippi.

Click here.

How GM “repaid our government loan in full.”

You’ve probably seen the television commercial in which the Chairman of GM states that the company “has repaid our government loan in full.”  Five years ahead of schedule no less.  What he didn’t say was that the company used government funds to pay back the government.

Click here to read George Will’s column on this subject.

Click here to see the commercial.

Why I like Main Street

For those who have been to my retreats and training sessions, you know that I emphasize that one of the biggest reasons that strategic plans and goals are not accomplished is because there is insufficient responsibility and accountability.  When things are not measured and reported people lose interest in them.  Successful organizations measure progress and hold people accountable.  And that is just one of the reasons that I believe is responsible for the success of the Main Street program nationwide, and the Mississippi Main Street Association (MMSA) in particular. MMSA is led by Bob Wilson.

Today, I received a newsletter from the association.  The first item was a report on the things that it measures.  The numbers speak for themselves.

72                    New Business

36                    New Business Net

22                    Business  Expansions

348                 New Jobs

260                 New Jobs Net

13,618,446     Public Dollars Invested

11,888,632    Private Dollars Invested

26                    Facade Rehabs

29                    Upper Floor Housing

6,559               Volunteer Hours

The Mississippi Main Street Association Web site is http://msmainstreet.com.

The Myth of Multitasking

Most of us multitask, i.e. have several things going on at once.  Sometimes it is necessary, such as when preparing a meal or preparing a business conference.  Some managers believe that multitasking is a required skill for a supervisor or manager.   I recall one time when a leader of an organization  told me that a certain employee would not be a good successor  “… because he doesn’t know how to multitask.”  The employee not only received the promotion, but became one of the best managers ever for the organization.  He later told me that his secret was to focus on one thing at a time.  So what’s the real story on this thing known as multitasking that we all seem to be caught up in?

As it turns out, quite a few studies have shown that multitasking is not as efficient as some might think.   Christine Rosen’s, “The Myth of Multitasking,” in the Spring 2008 issue of The New Atlantis, is an excellent summation of the subject.  In it she provides an overview of several studies on the subject.  I consider the article recommended reading.

So below is my thought for the day, courtesy of Soko Morinaga.

When you go to the kitchen to prepare dinner, be born in the kitchen. When you finish there, die. Then be born at the dining table as you eat your dinner and, when you finish eating, die there. Be born in the garden, and sweep with your broom. When you get into bed at night, die there. And when daylight comes, and you awaken in your bed, be born anew.