Tag Archives: phil hardwick column

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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SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT
“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”  – Peter Drucker.

Mississippi State Flag Column from 2001 (just before vote on state flag change)

Look out! Red and Fred tackle the volatile flag issue

From the Ground Up

Once again we find Fred and Red at the Main Street coffee shop discussing issues of the day and other serious matters, such as whether the unseasonably warm weather will last through the weekend.

Fred: I see you’ve installed one of those banner flagpoles on your house.

Red: I’ve been meaning to do that a long time. Last Veterans Day I looked around, and all my neighbors had those little flag banners stinking out from their houses or sprouting from trees in their front yards. One neighbor has his son’s high school banner, another has one with an acorn on it, and the lady across the street has a big yellow one with a tennis racket on it. I decided it was time for me to show off what I believed in.

Fred: So you went and bought an American flag kit?

Red: More or less. That big appliance store was giving them away with the purchase of a new big screen TV. I needed a new TV. Figured I might as well kill two birds with one stone.

Fred: But you aren’t flying the American flag? You’re flying the Mississippi flag?

Red: Now there you go Fred, showing your ignorance again. Pass some of that artificial sweetener this way, please sir.

Fred: You have managed to confuse me this morning, Red. I thought you said that Veterans Day brought out the American in you, so you went and got an American flag. Now you are flying a Mississippi flag.

Red: The weather has got your ears messed up. I didn’t say that at all. I said that on Veterans Day I got to thinking about getting a flag. The appliance store gave me a choice — an American flag or what used to be the Mississippi flag. According to the Mississippi Supreme Court, Mississippi does not have a flag. So, let’s just refer to it as the “Flag Formerly Known as the State Flag of Mississippi.”

Fred: I haven’t seen you this emotional about something in a long time.

Red: This flag thing did it. Not only am I flying the “flag formerly known as the State Flag of Mississippi” on my house, I am sporting a new bumper sticker on my pickup that says, “Preserve Mississippi’s Heritage.” It’s time to take a stand on this issue.

Fred: Good for you. People should stand up for what they believe in.

Red: That’s right. Do you want a bumper sticker? I’ve got a half dozen of them.

Fred: No thanks.

Red: Why not? Your grandfather fought at Vicksburg. You’re a bona fide ancestor of a Confederate veteran. Aren’t you proud of your heritage? And shouldn’t people stand up for what they believe in, like you just said?

Fred: I’m very proud of my heritage and I love Mississippi. But I’m not going to put one of those bumper stickers on my vehicle. And I’m a descendent of a Confederate veteran, not an ancestor.

Red: Whatever.

Fred: This flag thing is really getting some people riled up, isn’t it?

Red: Man, you are not kidding. People are tired of having things shoved down their throats. This is one time we can make a stand.

Fred: Some people might say that the old Mississippi flag was shoved down their throats.

Red: Well then they can just vote for a new one, if and when we have a vote that’s going to cost $3 million. Ask the server to bring us some more coffee, will you?

Fred: I applaud you for standing up for what you believe in. You obviously have strong feelings about it.

Red: (standing up) Oh my gosh, look at the time. I told the wife I would bring home some butter. She’s baking a cake for the church bazaar tonight. I better get going. Now, you are going to vote, aren’t you?

Fred: Of course.

Red: Good. I’m glad we’re finally having freedom of choice. Isn’t that what everybody wanted — freedom of choice?

Fred: Um hmm.

Red: Well, tell everybody to vote for “The Flag Formerly Known as the State Flag of Mississippi.” And tell them to call me if they need a bumper sticker.

Fred: I’m not voting for the “Flag Formerly Known as the State Flag of Mississippi.”

Red: (sitting back down and leaning forward) My gosh, Fred. Don’t say that so loud. Somebody might hear you. Are you feeling okay?

Fred: I feel fine. It’s just that if more people vote for “The Flag Formerly Known as the State flag of Mississippi” then we will be worse off than we are now.

Red: What in the devil’s name are you talking about? The best flag wins. Whichever one. And that will be it.

Fred: I’m afraid not, Red. If the old flag wins then I fear we will see people filing lawsuits, marching in the streets, telling others not to have their conventions in Mississippi, and talking on national television about how we can’t get away from our racially-troubled past. Not only that, some people say that economic development will be hurt. How do you think some company is going to feel if they announce a new plant in Mississippi, then get a visit to their annual stockholders’ meeting by some group wanting to boycott Mississippi?

Red: That’s a scare tactic, and you know it, Fred. What we have here is pure and simple — some people want one flag and some people don’t want it. An election by the people is the way to decide it, and the vote is final. Loser goes home.

Fred: So you think this is all about choice?

Red: Absolutely. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Fred: Sorry, Red. This isn’t about choice.

Red: So, what’s it about?

Fred: It’s about peace.

Phil Hardwick’s column on Mississippi Business appears regularly in the Mississippi Business Journal. His e-mail address is phil@hardwick.com.