Think HBR

Lets talk with Garry Hardie

1. Welcome Garry. In a few words please describe your job.
My job is certainly multifaceted. My official title is Publisher and Editor of HBR but I am also the major advertising salesperson and, as the owner, responsible for running the business. Regular tasks include planning, gathering and writing stories, selling and processing advertising, overseeing putting issues together, coordinating with the printer/mail house, visiting local businesses, attending functions and much more. Then of course there are all the tasks, large and small, that are required when you run a small business from financial to technology to HR to whatever else is required. So it is always busy and no two days are exactly the same.
2. You established HBR ten years ago this month. What led you to take this leap of faith and invest in niche publishing with a focus on the Hunter?
After completing school, I attained a degree in Engineering and planned to take the more traditional engineering work path, however, I had begun helping a publisher of technical business-to-business magazines with content and starting working for them for what I thought would be a short term. The Editor of the magazines then suddenly died and suddenly I took his place and was responsible for all the content of the magazines. From this point, I gained experience in a broad range of business skills. Eventually I left the magazine publisher and set up my own consulting business, initially helping other publishers but spreading to a mixed range of business clientele. The concept of HBR was originally conceived by Edgar Adams, the Publisher and Editor of the Central Coast Business Review, and I was attracted to the concept of the publication as well as the strength and diversity of the Hunter region. I had previous extensive experience in a wide variety of roles in business-to-business publishing and had also run my own small businesses so I was comfortable that I was in the position to come on board and add value to the project, having considerable experience of not only publishing, but also the target readership (business owners and managers). It has certainly not been the path I expected when studying at University, but has been fulfilling and has allowed me to apply a broad range of skills and knowledge.
3. What motivates you in your work?
I am always motivated to produce the best product possible, one that I can be proud of and one that is continually evolving. But this is certainly not an “at all cost” attitude. Family is also important and at the end of the day you must be able to look at yourself in the mirror and be comfortable with the decisions you have made.
When I look around the world, the people that motivate me are not just business people, but anyone that has overcome adversity through perseverance and hard work to be a success. The adversity could be a disability, an extremely bad upbringing or a whole range of circumstances/conditions yet they don’t give up. It certainly puts things in perspective when those us that were more fortunate may not want to get out of bed because it is cold.
4. Over the last decade, what have you learnt about having your own business?
I always know that running a businesses would be difficult, but suppose I didn’t quite comprehend the continuous responsibility of running a small business. One of the things that is important is to try to turn off a little when you are not in work mode, not only as a break but also so you can more fully enjoy time spent with family and friends.
5. Every month the Business Advice section of HBR is brimming with valuable information from local business people. Is there a piece of advice that you would like to share with your readers?
The key advice I would give any business owner or manager is to never stop learning and improving both yourself and your business. It is a difficult task when you are snowed under, but is the surest way to continued success.
6. When you’re not at work, where can we find you?
As well as running a business, my wife and I have two sons. One of our boys has special needs and needs almost continuous attention. So I really don’t have any time for hobbies. I rarely even have time to watch television. The most relaxing times outside work is the quieter family times, perhaps going out or playing a game with my younger son.
7. What would you like the Hunter to look like in another ten years time?
The Hunter Region has tremendous potential, more than most recognise. It certainly has some challenges. It is difficult for example to see the local coal mining industry reaching the dizzy heights from a few years ago. The Hunter offers many advantages, but the real future is in our people. In ten years’ time it would be great if the Hunter truly made the transition to a region with extremely strong knowledge based industries and one that truly embrace innovation. This is where future prosperity lies but unfortunately I see little real leadership at the political level to make this happen. For this to happen, the real impetus needs to come from businesses, organisations and individuals that understand the importance developing and applying knowledge. We can’t wait for the politicians. There are just way too few with any vision.
One of the other real challenges in the Hunter is the number of people that are afraid of change. The pace of change is ever increasing and if we are to have a prosperous region we needs to accept that change is inevitable and work together to get speedy but managed progress that can create positive outcomes for the region.
8. What’s the best thing about having your own business?
There are a number of advantages in owning your own business. It provides a high degree of independence and you can make your own decisions, rather than having to get them approved. There is also a different sense of achievement, knowing that you have been the driving force of a business.
9. The publishing industry is currently undergoing significant change. What are your thoughts on this, and how do you see HBR evolving into the future?
Publishing, as well as many other industries, are certainly facing the biggest and most rapid changes ever. The basic requirement for publishing remains the same, however. That is to provide content that is recognised as being of value by a sufficiently large market. The content should be either unique or collected in a form that is not more easily obtained elsewhere. I don’t get totally caught up with the hard copy vs online argument. They both have their advantages and are not mutually exclusive. Some publications are certainly more suited to being online but I don’t see the death of print anytime soon.
HBR is embraces both forms of distribution and uses the advantages of both to keep readers informed.