Goal Setters Luncheon Group Now Being Formed

Strategy is about HOW to accomplish goals. I can’t tell you how many strategic planning retreats I have facilitated only to see worthy goals never implemented. When I followed up I discovered that the organization had not fully implemented the goals they had set. One of the reasons is that no one was personally responsible or accountable for each goal. Research shows that the three keys to goal achievement are (1) put them in writing, (2) tell someone else and (3) be held accountable.

Although I accomplished quite a bit this past year I thought about those three keys as I reviewed my own goals for calendar year 2014. I immediately realized that I had not done two of the three. I decided that 2015 would be different: I would tell someone else and ask him or her to hold me accountable. If you would like to help me achieve my goals for 2015 and have me a few others help you achieve your goals for 2015 I invite you to join our 2015 Goal Setters group. We are limiting it to only 10 members, so if you are interested you need to respond right away. Send me an email (see below) if you want to join.

Oh, you would like some more details. We will meet four times in 2015 for lunch at River Hills Club in Jackson. At the first meeting we will share our goal statements. The next three meetings we will report progress and hold each other accountable. I suggest a fifth meeting sometime in December to celebrate our accomplishments. Your goals can be personal, social, work-related, spiritual, physical, whatever. They just should be specific, measurable and achievable. By the way, I saw a similar online goal setting group that is charging $197 to join. Our cost will only be for the food we eat at the meetings. Now that’s a deal.

Why I canceled my New York Times subscription – and then resubscribed.

Hi. My name is Phil, and I am a news junkie. I subscribe to the NYTimes, the Wall Street Journal, Time magazine, local news sources and a couple more. I begin each day with coffee and an hour and a half of reading.

Yesterday I received an invitation to subscribe at a ridiculously low rate (all-access digital) to the Washington Post. I subscribed immediately to what I consider one of the Top-5 newspapers in the U.S. I’d rate it 80% of the New York Times. Given the price differential, it was a no-brainer. Being the value-conscious consumer I am I decided to replace my NYTimes subscription with the Washington Post so I canceled NYTimes. I then read yesterday’s Post on my desktop, which has a 24-in monitor. Very nice. This morning I began reading the Post on my iPad. OMG! The half-inch, colorful banner ad at the bottom of the page was distracting, so much so that I immediately canceled the Post subscription and then called the Times and requested reinstatement.

I certainly understand what is happening in the newspaper industry and have even written about it in my own columns. I know that the model that seems to be working best for many newspapers is the all-digital access with ads. But I think the Post went a little too far. It seems that the Times and the Wall Street Journal are on the right track. This 2013 article in The Guardian sums up the issue well.

Now back to reading the Times.

Phil Hardwick’s Strategy Letter Launched


In case you haven’t heard, I retired from the Stennis Institute recently. Of course, that does not mean I have retired altogether. I’m still teaching part-time at Millsaps College, facilitating strategic planning retreats, doing leadership training, writing and generally staying busier than ever. You can read more about that in this Mississippi Business Journal article.
I’ll also be publishing my new monthly newsletter, which will be about strategy and goal setting. Each issue will feature an organization (profit or nonprofit), a government entity and an individual.
IMPORTANT – To receive my FREE newsletter, simply send an email to phil@philhardwick.com. Enter SUBSCRIBE STRATEGY in the subject.  Oh, one more thing: Your email address will never be shared with anyone else.
Now that we have that out of the way let’s get to it.
In the business world, the search for new strategies is everywhere. Newspapers and retailers especially have to figure out new strategies. Strategy is about HOW to achieve goals. Sometimes the right strategy is tied to the wrong goal, and vice versa.

In 2011, Ron Johnson left Apple to become CEO of J.C. Penney. His strategy for the struggling department store chain was to eliminate cashiers and checkout counters and have small, more upscale specialty shops within the department store. No more clearance sales and heavy couponing. An interesting strategy, for sure. How did it work out? Only 17 months after Johnson came to Penney, sales had plunged, losses had grown and Johnson was out the door. Read about it in this Business Insider slide show:


or this Forbes magazine article:


Ever heard of CircleUp? It’s strategy is to connect investors with innovative consumer and retail companies using a crowdfunding platform, i.e. using the Internet to connect a large number of investors to an investment. For companies, it’s a new strategy to raise capital. Check it out at https://circleup.com.
Cities are always looking for strategies to create more revenue because citizens loathe the idea of having taxes raised. Earlier this month Atlanta decided to ask businesses to place ads on public buildings and other public places. It appears that the strategy is backfiring as citizen uproar is rather loud. Just because this strategy worked for naming public sports complexes doesn’t mean it will work for other city properties. Read about it at:


It’s that time of year for New Year’s resolutions and goal setting of all types. What’s your goal for 2015? And what is your strategy for achieving it? Research has shown that there are three keys (strategies) to achieving goals: (1) write it down, (2) share it with someone else and (3) be accountable to someone. I’ll be putting those strategies into practice in my hometown by forming a goal setters luncheon club that will meet on a regular basis during the year to hold each other accountable for achieving our goals. If you’re in the Jackson, Mississippi area and would like more information about joining the group just send me an email at phil@philhardwick.com.
We judge ourselves by our intentions. We judge others by their actions.
Wishing you a healthy, happy and strategic 2015.

Strategic Planning
Group Facilitation
Leadership Training

The Crazy World of Book Buying

December 29, 2014

Today I read an article about John Hailman’s latest book, “The Search for Good Wine.” Hailman is a fascinating individual. He’s a former federal prosecutor, syndicated food, wine and travel columnist, law school professor and a graduate of my alma mater, Millsaps College. I’ve read one of his previous books, “From Midnight to Guntown.” Having a slightly above average interest in wine and having just returned from a week in Burgundy, France I just had to get Hailman’s book on wine. Another influence was that he was a Mississippian. Hmm… a Mississippian and wine. That just doesn’t seem to go together, does it? Alas, another reason to order the book. Off I went online in search of places to order the book. Being that today is the week after Christmas the thought of a good deal entered my mind.

My first online stop was the website of University Press, the book’s publisher. It listed the price as $29.95 (cloth), plus $2.62 tax and $7.50 for shipping, for a  total of $40.07.

Next was Amazon.com, which offered a variety of prices. They were as follows:
Hardcover (?) version for $22.19, plus $4.98 shipping = $27.17;
“New” – 34 from $16.86, plus $3.99 shipping = $20.85;
“Used” – 10 from $15.11, plus $3.99 shipping = $19.10; and
Kindle edition for $16.49.

Further searching revealed that Target.com offered the book for $9.19, plus $2.79 shipping and $.84 tax, for a total of $12.82.

Finally, I checked my local independent bookstore, Lemuria Books, and discovered that it had the book in stock at a price of $29.95, plus tax of $3.97, for a total of $32.34. However, there was something special about this copy of the book. It was a signed, first edition. Because I live about a mile from this bookstore I did not consider shipping costs.

So there it is. My choices are to buy the physical book online, where the price range is from $12.82 to $40.07, delivered to my doorstep or drive a mile and pay$32.34 for a signed first edition. And of course there is the Kindle edition, which is a click away for $16.49.

The crazy, fascinating world of book buying.


YFS Best Small Business Books of 2014

One of the weekly business shows that I record for later viewing is Your Business, with J.J. Ramberberg. . It’s all about small business and is a program I recommend for small business owners and anyone thinking about going into business for themselves. This past week Ramberg referenced the YSF Magazine‘s (the YSF stands for Young, Fabulous and Self-Employed) Best Small Business Books of 2014. GOOD TO GREAT is a classic, and one I refer to often in my college class. Now I have four more to add to my reading list. Here’s the list:

1. #GIRLBOSS, by Sophia Amoruso
2. BUSINESS MODEL GENERATION: A Handbook for Visionaries,Game Changers and Challengers, byAlexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur
3. DO IT! MARKETING: 77 Instant-Action Ideas to Boost Sales, Maximize Profits, and Crush Your Competition, by David Newman
4. GOOD TO GREAT: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t, by Jim Collins
5. HOOKED: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, by Nir Eyal

Coming to you from France


This column is coming to you from France, where my wife and I are on vacation. Each place we go I am asking as many people we deal with as possible if they have ever heard of Mississippi and what they might know of it.

After 10 days and numerous conversations it is obvious that very few of them really haven’t the slightest impression or idea about the Magnolia State. At least there are no negative images. One Parisian sidewalk artist asked if Mississippi was in Australia. A restaurant server said that “Mark Twain” was the first thing that came to mind when he heard the term, Mississippi.

While in Beaune (pronounced Bone), France, which is the wine capital of the Burgundy region and where wine reigns supreme, we had the opportunity to (more…) 

Q & A About the Writing Life

What were your goals when you started writing?

My writing goals when I began writing were very simple: Write an advice column every week. That’s because a newspaper asked me to write about a subject that I was considered to be an expert. I still write a bi-weekly column in a business publication. After a few years, a local chamber of commerce asked me to write a novella and set it in their community. They wanted to have an unusual marketing piece. The novella was very heavy on setting. Ideally, a reader would want to visit the places in the community after reading the novel. That was a paid assignment that eventually led to nine other short novels set in towns around Mississippi.

What are your goals now?

(1) write two novels and have them published within the next six months.
(2) write and publish two advice books, one on the subject of leadership and one on the subject of economic/community development.

What pays the bills now?

Writing, teaching and consulting.

What advice would you give young authors hoping to make a career out of writing?

If you are going to make a career out of writing you need to remember that you are writing for your customers (readers). Although writing for oneself sounds good, that is not what pays the bills. Understand that there is a blend of writing about what you like and what the reader wants. If you’re lucky those two things will be the same.


Thanks to Bob Clary, Community Manager, Webucator and Google Analytics/AdWords Trainer for the questions.
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