Category Archives: General Comments

October 2019 Update

Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to return to Mississippi for the first time since August. The occasion was to conduct the annual CDF Community Leadership Institute retreat held at Old Waverly, near West Point. The leadership class this year has 26 participants. A great group. It’s no wonder that the Tupelo area continues to be one of the most desirable places to live and work. During my drive, I marveled at a beautiful rolling landscape of full-bloom cotton between Rome, Georgia and Gadsden, Alabama. Reminded of those creative “Ski-Mississippi” tee-shirts. Remember those?
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Fall has finally arrived and there is no better place to be than the mountains. We are enjoying taking middle-of-the-week day trips to some of north Georgia’s more interesting towns and places. A favorite lunch stop is the Toccoa Riverside Restaurant on the Toccoa River. I always order the Fresh North Georgia Trout. Yesterday we visited Brasstown Bald, Georgia’s highest peak. The leaves are only a few days away from peak.
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Cash price vs. credit price. Although the world seems to be moving to a cashless society, here in north Georgia, service stations still have a cash and credit price. I haven’t seen that in a while. Typically, the credit price is 10 cents higher than the cash price. 
Speaking of cash, I saw a piece about the city councilman in Philadelphia, PA who convinced the council to adopt an ordinance requiring retailers and restaurants to accept cash for purchases. Seems that some retailers in his city no longer accepted cash.
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Two of my columns drew quite a bit of interest judging by the emails and requests to appear on talk radio programs. “Why Process Matters” discussed the need for leaders to have a process that involves those affected by a change instead of just announcing the change. It was especially timely because of the way the new Ole Miss chancellor was selected. My column about Mississippi Brain Drain also drew a lot of interest as the state grapples with the issue of college graduates leaving the state. 
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As most of you know, I’m rather passionate about education. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I’ve gotten involved in my grandson’s elementary school. The involvement is in the form of a program called WATCH D.O.G.S.  That’s Dads of Great Students. Basically, it’s a program in which dads, grandfathers, uncles, and other father figures spend at least a day in the school. The goals of the program are (1) To provide positive male role models for the students, demonstrating by their presence that education is important and (2) To provide extra sets of eyes and ears to enhance school security and reduce bullying. Highly recommended. Check it out at https://dadsofgreatstudents.com if interested in starting the program in your student’s school.
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A couple of Mississippi friends were surprised when I told them that pro soccer is big in Atlanta. Average attendance for Atlanta United home matches is 52,510, according to Soccer Stadium Digest. The team plays home matches in Mercedes-Benz Stadium. I confess that I have never been to a pro soccer match. I’m a college football fan. 
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My wife loves art museums. I love car shows. We agree that art can be found in both places. We also agree that car shows and auto-related events can be an excellent way to attract visitors to a community. We attended the inaugural Chattanooga Motorcar Festival a couple of weekends ago. It was a blast. If you’ve ever been to Chattanooga, you are familiar with Riverfront Drive. Imagine it being closed to the public so that some race cars could have time trials reaching speeds over 130 miles per hour. Click here to check out my account of the event.
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REMINDER: If you enjoy this monthly newsletter, please share it with friends or have them get on the list by sending an email to phil@philhardwick.com and entering “Subscribe” in the subject line.
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SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT
“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”  – Peter Drucker.

September 2019 Update

Greetings from the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. We have settled into our new home and are getting more involved in our community and family. Looking forward to leaf-peeping season.

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Autumn is getting closer, and that means apples in north Georgia. There are plenty of orchards that allow visitors to pick their own. Check out this apple-picking article.

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North Georgia is also becoming known for its vineyards. What? Georgia wine? It’s not NAPA, but it’s pretty good. Two of our favorite wineries are Montaluce, near Dahlonega, and Engelheim Vineyards, near Ellijay. At Montaluce, you’ll feel like you’re in Tuscany. Upscale dining overlooking the vineyard. A couple of years ago at a wine tasting in Dahlonega, we met Gary Engel. He’s a retired US Army Colonel who decided to purchase the land that is now known as Engelheim (German for “Angel Home”) in 2007. The Engel family planted their first vines in 2009 and harvested their first vintage in 2011; Engelheim Vineyards has been going strong ever since.

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By the way, If you like mysteries set in wine country, you’ll enjoy Ellen Crosby’s books.

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Know anyone who wants to be a flight attendant? Delta Air Lines announced that it plans to hire 1,000 new flight attendants in 2020. Last time it made such an announcement it received over 35,000 video applications. 

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I’m toying with the idea of producing an audio version of Justice in Jackson, the second book in the Mississippi Mysteries Series. As I reread my work, I was surprised to find that many of the well-known places mentioned in the book in 1997 were no longer there or have substantially changed. Here are a dozen places that meet that description: Deposit Guaranty Bank/Plaza, the University Club, the IOF Building, the Edison Walthall Hotel, the Harvey Hotel, the Landmark Center, the Subway Lounge/Summers Hotel, Frank’s World Famous Biscuits, the King Edward Hotel, Olde Thyme Delicatessen, Dennery’s Restaurant, and the “Welcome to Mississippi” highway sign.How many of your community’s icons have gone away?

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How much is a business worth? In a recent column, I examine a few different methods of valuing an ongoing business. Before doing so, allow me to share a personal story. It’s about my grandfather. 

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REMINDER: feel free to share and refer others who might want to receive these updates. Have them email phil@philhardwick.com and enter SUBSCRIBE in the subject line. I do not share my email list.

***** SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT 
The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.Vince Lombardi

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Until next time,
Phil

2019 July/August Update

Phil Hardwick
2019 July/August UPDATE

Carol and I are now ensconced in our new home in north Georgia in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Movers unloaded our household two weeks ago. By day, we are still unpacking. By evening, we are trying out restaurants in the area. We are excited about our new stage in life, especially being close to our four grandchildren.

Speaking of moving, the 2018 Migration Report by North American Van Lines  reveals that Idaho, Arizona, South Carolina, and Tennessee led the nation in the Inbound category, while Illinois, California and New Jersey topped the Outbound list. 

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Selling our house in Jackson, which we lived in for 26 years, was an overall positive experience. It was on the market only five days after we listed it with Dale Cook of Nix-Tann Realtors. Kudos to Dale and to Jenny Price of Neighbor House, who represented the buyer. True professionals.

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I have one movie poster in my new home office for inspiration for my writing of mysteries.It’s “A Touch of Evil,” starring Charlton Heston, Orson Wells, and Janet Leigh. It’s autographed by Janet Leigh. Carol and I had the honor and pleasure of being her escort when she visited Jackson, Mississippi several years ago as part of a Smithsonian project. A gracious lady. She will probably be remembered most for the shower scene in the movie “Psycho.”

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My website, www.philhardwick.com has a description of every book in the Mississippi Mysteries series. Someone asked me about my favorite murder weapon. It’s not a gun or a knife. It’s a common over-the-counter medication that a wife used to kill her husband. She put it into his banana pudding. More can be found in Conspiracy in Corinth. Oh yes, the medication is Acetaminophen.

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It’s the height of the political season in Mississippi. Did you know that I once ran for public office? Read about the eight things I learned from that experience in my Mississippi Business Journal column.

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As a writer, it is often enlightening and frustrating to break old habits when it comes to the ever-changing rules of the English language. For example, I always remembered that “start” referred to things, such as engines, cars, motors, etc. and that “begin” is about non-mechanical things such as sentences, projects, ideas, etc. Nowadays, start is the new begin. And then there are the pronouns. Gender neutrality and how one feels inside themselves rather than how they were born. Him and himself are definitely out. So is her. It’s now about gender-neutral pronouns. Hmmm.  Imagine what it must be like for students who are learning English as a second language. If you’d like to see a clever three-and-a-half-minute video about pronouns and the current state of confusion, check out  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IzNGkwGYE4E.  

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Our grandson’s elementary school is going to use Franklin Covey’s The Leader in Me. The program… “teaches 21st-century leadership and life skills to students and creates a culture of student empowerment based on the idea that every child can be a leader.” First heard about it from Christi Kilroy with the Vicksburg Warren School District, which was one of the first schools in the country to use the program. 

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More than 9,300 people attended this year’s Mississippi Book Festival. This represents record attendance for the five-year-old festival and is an increase of 22 percent from last year.

According to Holly Lange, Festival Executive Director, “More than 245 authors participated in Saturday’s festival, including 170 on 48 official panels and another 75 authors meeting the public in Author’s Alley. I nominate Holly Lange for Mississippian of the Year.

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Finally, why do I prefer an email distribution list? Why not just connect with people on social media?

There are many reasons, but the most important is, I own my list. Also, I do not share your name and email address. 

Your Facebook Page is not owned by you.
Your Twitter account is not owned by you.
Your YouTube account is not owned by you.
Your Pinterest followers aren’t owned by you.
Your Instagram followers aren’t owned by you.

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LOOKING AHEAD – Novel writing software review

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SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT

When making plans, think big.
When making progress, think small.

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Until next month,

Phil

Phil Hardwick Personal Update

Phil Hardwick Update 
June 22, 2019

Greetings:

Later this summer, my wife and I will be moving from Mississippi to north Georgia to be closer to our four grandkids. The move is bittersweet. Bitter because we are leaving a place where our roots run deep and our friends are like family. Sweet because we will be close to our daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren in Georgia and our son in Chattanooga.

I’ll be officially retiring from Millsaps College on June 30. As of this moment, my plans are to be a full-time writer and part-time tennis player. We’ll see how long that lasts. 🙂

My priority goal is to finish several books, fiction and nonfiction, that I have been working on for a long time. There will be one final book in the Mississippi Mysteries Series later this year. Most of my future email updates to you will be about writing and my progress on the books. I’ll also continue writing my column in the Mississippi Business Journal.

For now, it is all about going through 26 years in the same house and deciding what to keep, what to give away, what to sell and what to throw away. We are also getting our house ready to put on the market.

So look for an email update from me once a month in the future. If you want to continue receiving them, you don’t need to do a thing. To be removed from the emailings, there will be an unsubscribe link at the bottom. Also, please feel free to share the updates or invite others to subscribe by having them simply send an email to phil@philhardwick.com, and type SUBSCRIBE in the subject line. I will not sell or give away my mailing list.

I hope you will join me on this journey.

Best wishes,

Phil

The Importance of Design

(Mississippi Business Journal online edition)

June 14, 2019

What do the television shows Property Brothers, Flip or Flop, Masters of Flip and Fixer Upper have in common?

Answer: They are the most watched home decorator shows of all time.

Watch any of those shows, or any similar shows on television, and you’re likely to hear the term “design” used quite a bit. Design, which is the process of creating something based on a plan, is becoming an in-thing.  It’s about time.  What was once available to only those who could afford architects has now come to us mortal souls.

There is no longer any doubt about it.  Design, has finally become regarded as the important aspect of life that it is.  I know this because CBS Sunday Morning, my favorite television program, has had an annual design show each year for the past few years.  I also know this because schools of design are popping up all over the place.  In most cases, these schools are tied in with a school of art or architecture.

Good design can sometimes be so subtle it’s hardly noticed.  When traffic flows smoothly, for example, it is taken for granted.  But let the merge lane be too short or the signage too confusing, and bad design is evident in all its ugly glory.  Traffic circles are a good example.  If they work, then it is good design; if they do not, then it is a bad design.

Although design is ubiquitous, it is in our homes where we can really appreciate it, perhaps because we spend so much time there.  I live in a house that was built in 1959.  It was designed for 1959.  It has a formal living room, for example.  It also has a hot water at the opposite end of the house from the bathrooms.  I have not done anything about having to wait an extra minute for hot water in the bathroom, but the formal living room has been opened up by removing most of a wall and installing a new countertop and bar.  Houses are good examples of the effect on design and vice versa because our living spaces seem to be constantly evolving.  Master bedrooms are huge in most new houses, and master bathrooms nowadays have become something that the Roman rulers would be envious of.

Interior design is all the rage these days.  In case you have not noticed, just turn on the television and see how many so-called makeover programs are on the schedule.  And let us not forget feng shui.  Feng means wind, and Shui means water in Chinese. The two things affect the weather and weather affects our energy.  Thus, where a house is located and the direction it faces can impact our rhythm and energy. If the house is in alignment or in rhythm with the landscape, a good healthy life force is created. Consultants are now available to design a house using these principles.

Design continually affects the devices and appliances we use in our houses.  From vacuum cleaners to washers and dryers, there seems to be a constant redesign to make things better or maybe more in tune with the times.  Even dust rags and paper towels are part of the process.  There is now a plastic tub of Clorox cleaning rags for the counter and something called Swifters for those hard to get to places where dust hides.

One wonders whether older was better.  Seaside, Florida has a motto that reads, “The New Town. The Old Ways.”  New urbanism is about designing communities to be walkable and diverse.  Indeed the charter of charter of the Congress for the New Urbanism states in part, “…urban places should be framed by architecture and landscape design that celebrate local history, climate, ecology, and building practice.”

Design principles, especially residential ones,  have even become universal.  I know that because I discovered the Universal Design Project. Its website, universaldesign.org, states that  America has a housing problem. It also offers a solution, as follows: 

“There aren’t enough universally accessible options. We envision a world where everyone has a functional and affordable place to live. But before that can happen, those places have to be designed.”  The solution is to facilitate collaboration between design professionals (e.g., residential architects, interior designers), health professionals (e.g. occupational therapists, rehabilitation engineers, environmental gerontologists), and our advisory group of individuals who have life experience with disability. The purpose of doing so is to include all the necessary perspectives in discussions about design decisions.”

Perhaps it is time we appreciate and understand more the role that design plays in our lives and the contributions of designers, whether they be architects, engineers, artists or others.

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What do employees really want?

When I was in Army Basic Training I had a drill sergeant who often said, “The reward for a good job is no punishment.” He always said it with a smirky grin. Although that sounds rather harsh, it has more than a grain of truth. Doing a good job should be the rule, not the exception. That’s in contrast to getting rewarded for simply participating. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. Perhaps it’s time to pause and consider what employees want. Hint: it’s not “everyone gets a trophy.”

For managers who want to reward a job well-done or simply encourage their employees it is useful to know what motivates their employees. A recent Gallup leadership survey revealed that employees considered the number one characteristic of a good leader is that he or she cared about their employees. The question to explore then is: how do leaders show they care for their employees?

A partial answer to that question can be gleaned from a February 27, 2019 Gallup website article by Dan Grafstein entitled “The No. 1 Strategy for True Inclusion in the Workplace.” In it, the author states that there are three things managers must do to have an inclusive work culture. Presumably, these are what employees want from their employer. They are: 1. Everyone treats everyone else with respect; 2. Employees are valued for their strengths; and 3. Leaders do what’s right.

Larry Chapman and Paul White, authors of “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace,” say that what employees really want is appreciation. Contrast that with recognition, which White says is an emphasis about improving performance, and is essentially about behavior. Also, recognition is top-down. Often, when employees are recognized with awards and celebrations it creates division in the team. Other team members may be resentful of a fellow employee receiving recognition when they did not, especially when they felt that they were doing just as good a job.

What team members really want is appreciation because it focuses not only on performance and on the person’s character and value. Showing appreciation for employees is good for the company and the person. Recognition programs are not necessarily bad, but they are not the best way to make employees feel valued. So how do you make employees feel valued? The answer is to know what motivates individual employees and to use the language that conveys that feeling.

According to Chapman and White, there are basically five things that motivate employees. They are:

1. Words of affirmation – using words, written and spoken, to affirm the employees value and character. The employee who is motivated by this feels appreciated when they hear words of praise, especially if those words of praise are spoken in the presence of a customer or client.

2. Quality time – giving someone undivided attention, such as in a conversation, small group discussion, retreats, etc. One of the best ways for an employer to show this is to actually listen to the employee and show that they are listening.

3. Acts of service – doing something for someone else. This could be helping someone else solve a problem or, conversely someone else showing that they care for the other employee by solving their problem.

4.Tangible gifts – providing thoughtful relatively small gifts such as tickets to a concert or athletic event, meals, etc. The employer should make sure it is a gift that the employee would appreciate.

5. Physical touch – handshakes, pats on the back, hugs, and high-fives are not valued as much, but can be a useful sign of appreciation, depending on the person. In today’s workplace, physical touch should be used with caution.

Finally, employers these days face employee motivation challenges like never before. The work force is not the same and the work is not the same. Employee engagement takes commitment.  And it is a serious issue. According to the Gallup organization’s State of the American Workplace report, just 33% of employed residents in the United States are engaged at work.  The report mentions there are three types of employees: the engaged employee, the not-engaged employee, and the actively disengaged employee. The engaged employee “works with passion and feels a profound connection to the company. The Not-engages employee is essentially “checked out.” The Actively disengaged employee “undermines what the engaged coworkers accomplish.”

» Phil Hardwick is a regular Mississippi Business Journal columnist. His email is phil@philhardwick. com and he’s on the web at http://www.philhardwick.com.

11 Things I’ve Learned About Economic Development

11 Things I’ve Learned about Economic Development

During my still active career in economic and community development, I’ve learned quite a few things. Some, but not all, are listed below. These are just the first ones that came to mind. 

1. Economic development is all about jobs.Even though the textbook definition of the term is, “… the process of increasing the economic wealth of a community,” almost all economic developers see their role as doing that by creating, increasing and retaining jobs. The press releases and the websites tout number of jobs created more than just about anything else. That’s because jobs, especially good paying jobs drive most economies. A job not only brings money to a community, but it also provides self-worth and security to individuals. 

2. Communities and organizations are perfectly structured for the outcomes they are getting. Many community leaders seem to be waiting for something to happen to their communities before making adjustments. For example, they hope that the state will bring a project or that some company will discover them. If that’s true, then nothing is going to change unless the structures are changed. That could mean a change in leadership, procedure or organization. Something that is very difficult to do because it often means that someone has to give up something.

3. Leadership really matters.Indeed, it seems to be the one thing that differentiates the communities that thrive versus those that do not.

4. Accountability is one of the keys to economic development success.  I have facilitated dozens of strategic planning retreats. Often, I go back to the organization six months or a year later and ask about the outcomes. What I usually found is that almost all the goals were achieved or very few or none were achieved. Why such a big difference? What I discovered is that the goals that were most often achieved were the ones where someone was held accountable. 

5. Measuring things is very important.The six Total Quality Management concepts are customer focus, leadership, teamwork, continuous improvement, measurement and benchmarking. Although each is important, it begins with measurement. If economic development is the process of increasing the wealth of a community then wealth should be measured. But which wealth metrics?  Employment statistics, sales tax collections and property values are just three things that should be measured. Assessed valuation of real property can be tricky to measure if there’s a lot of off-the-books property such as government and other exempt real estate. I recommend the model used by the Commission on the future of Northeast Mississippi.  Each year the 17 counties in the region meet to share a variety of measurements. “These findings are used to produce the annual State of the Region report and to set annual goals to measure our successes,” states their purpose.

6. Successful economic developers know that it doesn’t matter who gets the credit. Have you noticed that at those groundbreaking ceremonies it is the economic developers who are in the background? Good economic developers know that they are facilitators of the process and that others, usually elected officials, who have a critical role.

7. Partnerships and collaboration are essential.Just take a look at any successful economic development project.

8. Economic development is long-term and incremental. There are no magic bullets. 

9. It’s a lot about location, location, location.Did you know that over half of all jobs in Mississippi are in only 11 counties? According to the October 2018 Mississippi Department of Employment Security Labor Market Report, there were 1,219,300 persons employed in the state. Divide that by two and the result is 609,650. If one then adds the number of jobs in each county beginning with the county with the most jobs (Hinds – 105,990, when the 11th county (Lafayette – 26,820) is added the result is 611,840. By the way, some of my heroes in economic development are those who work in poor, lowly populated counties that have very little chance of ever landing a big project. In one sense, they do more with what they have than others in urban areas where interstate highways intersect. 

10. Connections are important. Successful economic developers go to conferences and events. They know each other, they know site selectors and they stay up-to-date on everything related to their profession.

11. Successful communities visit other cities and regions to see how it can be done. Taking a group of business and community leaders to a successful city or region can be inspirational and provide a good roadmap for the future. Unfortunately, one mistake that some make is to attempt to recreate the other city instead of using their own unique asset.