Monthly Archives: November 2011

This Little Dollar Stayed Home – 2011

NOTE: This is a column that I wrote several years and which was originally published in the Mississippi Business Journal. Permission to reprint with attribution to Mississippi Business Journal and Phil Hardwick.


This is a tale of two dollars. One stayed at home. One went to another town.

Once upon a time there were two dollars. They each lived with their owners in the small town of Make Believe in rural Mississippi. Make Believe was a nice little town. There was a Main Street that had lots of little shops that sold special items and arts and crafts and catered to people who drove through town. There was also a grocery store. There was even a doctor in Make Believe. It was a nice little town that was enjoyed by all its residents, none of whom wanted it to change.

This story of the first dollar is easy to tell. Its owner placed it snugly in her purse and drove 45 minutes to a nearby, larger town with a shopping mall. The owner stayed all day at the mall and spent the entire dollar on things bought in stores owned by big corporations in faraway states.

Part of the first little dollar stayed in that town and part of it went to the state government, but most of it went by electronic magic to another state. At the end of the day, the owner went back to Make Believe with all her treasures. Not one penny of the first dollar ever saw Make Believe, Miss., again.

The story of the second dollar is much different. The owner of the second dollar went to a little shop in downtown Make Believe. There the owner talked a long time to the shop owner about the beautiful merchandise in the store.

The shopkeeper told all about the things that were made right there in Make Believe. There were birdhouses built by Bob, beveled glass made by Beverly, blouses of silk designed by Betty, mocha chocolates by Missy, and even silverware crafted by Sam.

This owner of the dollar spent the entire dollar right there in the shop. The journey of the second dollar was much different from that of the first dollar. Yes, the first 7 cents arrived at the government in Jackson. One penny was sent back to the local town. So one penny of the sales tax came back to the Make Believe City Hall.

The owner of the shop took the next 50 cents and sent it to the manufacturers of the items that were bought. Because all of them lived right there in Make Believe, the 50 cents stayed there.

The next 16 cents went to the employee of the shop owner. Yes, you guessed it; the employee lived in Make Believe.

There was rent to pay on the shopkeeper’s retail space. It was paid to the owner of the building, who had lived in Make Believe all his life. The rent was 10 cents of the dollar.

There were operating expenses that the shopkeeper had to pay. Things such as utilities and maintenance and insurance. Sixteen cents of the dollar went to pay those expenses and some of the people that got paid lived in another town far away. Still, eight of those 16 cents was paid to people in Make Believe.

That left 8 cents. What would happen to it?

That’s right. Eight cents was the shopkeeper’s profit she got to keep. Of course, the shopkeeper lived in an apartment upstairs above the shop.

If we total where the second dollar went, we learn about 86 cents stayed in Make Believe.

I wonder what will happen to the 86 cents. Will the manufacturer, the employee, the real estate owner, the shopkeeper and the others spend the 86 cents in Make Believe? Or will they go somewhere else?

I wonder how much of the 86 cents will be spent in Make Believe. Because every time another penny is spent in Make Believe, the little town is better off because someone in Make Believe received it instead of another town.

Each person has a right to spend his or her money wherever and whenever he or she wishes. But when people spend their dollars in other towns, it does not help the economy of their hometowns.

The Tale of Two Dollars is told at this time every year because many people don’t know when they spend their money in their own hometown it helps their hometown.

At Chick-fil-A it’s a pleasure. At some other places it’s no problem.

Dining at Chick-fil-A is different from other fast-food places for several reasons.  Although the food is good and the service is fast, employees seem go out of their way to create a positive dining experience.  One way they do this is the way they respond to “Thank you.”  During the past two weeks I’ve purchased food at Chick-fil-A stores in Mississippi, Georgia and Ohio, and I have noticed that every time I said “Thank you,” the reply was “It was my pleasure.”  Obviously, employees are now trained to say that.

It is a pleasant alternative to what it seems that more and more retail employees, especially servers in restaurants, are saying.  When I say “Thank you” in many places, I now hear “No problem” as the reply.  So what’s the problem?

It is very subtle, but consider the implication.  “No problem” places the emphasis on the server, not the customer.  “My pleasure” connotes a sense of humility, thus placing the emphasis on the customer.  So thank you, Chick-fil-A.

Check out the Chick-fil-A Web site to find out why its store are closed on Sunday and why they offer college scholarships to employees.

Oh, here are some interesting fun facts from the Chick-fil-A Web site:

  • Chick-fil-A sold more than 282 million Chick-fil-A® Sandwiches, that is 537 a minute or almost 9 sandwiches per second.
  • Laid end to end, they would span 21 thousand miles, just shy of wrapping around the Earth’s circumference.
  • That is more than enough sandwiches to reach from Boston to Sydney, Australia and back, or to wrap around the equator of the moon three times.
  • If you stack the Chicken Sandwiches one on top of the other, the stack would be more than 8,901 miles tall! That is enough to make 23 stacks that reach the Hubble Telescope (380 miles in space), with a few sandwiches left over. That is enough Chicken Sandwiches to make more than 44 stacks that reach the International Space Station (approximately 200 miles from Earth).

Also, in 2010, Chick-fil-A sold more than 58 million Chick-fil-A® Spicy Chicken Sandwiches from June to December 2010, that is 110 a minute or almost 2 sandwiches per second.



Best books for entrepreneurs

The November 14, 2011 Wall Street Journal has an article entitled “The Best Advice Around, From Those Who Took It.”  It includes a list of self-help books cited by certain entrepreneurs as being useful.  After reviewing the list I would have to agree with the selection.  I especially found The E-Myth to be especially useful.  Here’s the list along with the quip from

“The E-Myth,” by Michael Gerber – (NOTE:  This snippet is from The E-Myth Revisited) – In this first new and totally revised edition of the 150,000-copy underground bestseller, The E-Myth, Michael Gerber dispels the myths surrounding starting your own business and shows how commonplace assumptions can get in the way of running a business. He walks you through the steps in the life of a business from entrepreneurial infancy, through adolescent growing pains, to the mature entrepreneurial perspective, the guiding light of all businesses that succeed. He then shows how to apply the lessons of franchising to any business whether or not it is a franchise. Finally, Gerber draws the vital, often overlooked distinction between working on your business and working in your business. After you have read The E-Myth Revisited, you will truly be able to grow your business in a predictable and productive way.

“Who: The A Method for Hiring,” by Geoff Smart and Randy StreetIn this instant New York Times Bestseller, Geoff Smart and Randy Street provide a simple, practical, and effective solution to what The Economist calls “the single biggest problem in business today”: unsuccessful hiring. The average hiring mistake costs a company $1.5 million or more a year and countless wasted hours.

“The Art of the Start,” by Guy KawasakiAt Apple, Kawasaki helped turn ordinary customers into fanatics. As founder and CEO of Garage Technology Ventures, he has tested his iconoclastic ideas on real- world start- ups. And as an irrepressible columnist for Forbes, he has honed his best thinking about The Art of the Start.

“Little Bets,” by Peter SimsBased on deep and extensive research, including more than 200 interviews with leading innovators, Sims discovered that productive, creative thinkers and doers—from Ludwig van Beethoven to Thomas Edison and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos—practice a key set of simple but ingenious experimental methods—such as failing quickly to learn fast, tapping into the genius of play, and engaging in highly immersed observation—that free their minds, opening them up to making unexpected connections and perceiving invaluable insights.

“Start With Why,” By Simon SinekIn studying the leaders who’ve had the greatest influence in the world, Simon Sinek discovered that they all think, act, and communicate in the exact same way — and it’s the complete opposite of what everyone else does.

“Mastering the Rockefeller Habits,” by Verne Harnish – ...this book is a compilation of best practices adapted from some of the best-run firms on the planet. Included is an instructive chapter co-authored by Rich Russakoff, revealing winning tactics to get banks to finance your business. Lastly, there are case studies demonstrating the validity of Harnish’s practical approaches.

“Street Smarts: An All-Purpose Tool Kit for Entrepreneurs,” by Norm Brodsky and Bo Burlingham –  People starting out in business tend to seek step-by-step formulas or rules, but in reality there are no magic bullets. Rather, says veteran company-builder Norm Brodsky, there’s a mentality that helps street- smart entrepreneurs solve problems and pursue opportunities as they arise. 

So what book would you add to this list?



The effectiveness of voter robocalls and other technology.

The election is over and the robocalls have stopped. Well, at least the political robocalls have stopped. Those annoying, but effective, calls are just another example of how technology is influencing our lives, making businesses and other organizations more productive and having an effect on the unemployment rate.

During the week before the recent election I must have received at least a half-dozen robocalls per day asking me to vote for either a certain candidate or for or against a certain initiative. The calls sometimes contained the voices of the candidates themselves, but more often than not they were infested with the voice of another politician, usually an elected official, asking me to vote for a certain candidate so that “we can work together” to either stop some political movement or to move forward on certain issues. After a while, these calls got so annoying that it was tempting to vote against the candidate responsible for the calls. One state senator capitalized on this by sending out e-mail messages to supporters offering “another reason to vote for” the senator was that he did not do robocalls. A local political commentator tweeted his disdain for robocalls by saying that if he received another robocall he would call politicians at 4 a.m. every day for a week after the election.

Are political robocalls effective? It depends on whom you ask. Yale political science professors Donald Green and Alan Gerber have been studying voter mobilization efforts for the past 10 years and have conducted about a dozen experiments explicitly examining the effects of robocalls, according to an online CNET News Oct. 23, 2008, article entitled “Election Day brings invasion of robocalls.” Green said there is no evidence that robocalls are effective if paired with political mailings.  Read the rest of this post at the Mississippi Business Journal.