Welcome to the AndWin Blog

Welcome to Phillip Kane's blog

Welcome to Phillip Kane’s AndWin blog.

Here you will find insights that will help you become a more caring leader, AND WIN, treat others the way you’d want to be treated, AND WIN, love others, AND WIN, and to make others big, AND WIN.

True, caring leaders know that winning and treating others with dignity and respect are not mutually exclusive. These leaders do the right things, AND WIN.

Welcome to author, and successful business executive, Phillip Kane’s blog.

If you are looking for a better, more caring way to lead other human beings, you’ve come to a great place.

The purpose of this blog is to share the principles of true, caring leadership with others using stories that readers can relate to, remember and draw upon.

Each week, Phillip posts one or more story-based leadership post for those focused on winning but who are looking for an alternative to the authoritarian, desk-pounding, fear-based style of leadership that is unfortunately far too prevalent in many organizations today.

The AndWin leadership philosophy is based on Phillip’s 30+ years of successful experience leading others to win at some of the biggest companies on the planet. It’s rooted in The Not So Subtle Art of Caring. It’s about the ampersand. The “&”. It says you can treat other people the right way AND win. It says that kindness and winning are not mutually exclusive. It says that true leaders do not have to choose between delivering results and being respectful to others.

The site currently includes more than 100 original pieces of content that can help you in your quest to do just that. So, please allow time to browse around. Simply scroll down to read through Phillip’s posts. You can scroll at your leisure or search by subject, category or tag. Click on the comments bubble under the title for each post to leave your feedback, or click on a share button to forward content to your fave sosh site or to a friend or colleague.

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You can also learn more about Phillip (that’s him below) and the release of his book, The Not So Subtle Art of Caring: Letters on Leadership – Real Stories From a Real Leader to Real People About What Really Matters, which will start shipping June 2022 from John Hunt Publishing, London, UK, by visiting Phillip Kane, Author the official author site for Phillip Kane. While you’re there, be sure to sign up for Phillip’s monthly newsletter.

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Phillip Kane, author of The Not So Subtle Art of Caring: Letters n Leadership
Phillip Kane

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Welcome again to the blog. Thanks for visiting!

Remember, make it about others, not you, AND WIN.

Cover, The Not So Subtle Art of Caring: Letters on Leadership, by Phillip Kane, author
Phillip Kane’s book, The Not So Subtle Art of Caring: Letters on Leadership. Cover design by: David Donovan Evans

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Decision Making

Decide with Others

Decide with others. Phillip Kane's blog.
Photo credit: Philipp Katzenberger |

Friday, October 22, 2021

This week, my son, Will, and I have been looking for a new car for him. As the process has unfolded, it has become abundantly clear to me that, other than the make and model, we are not in absolute agreement on much else. The colors I like are not his speed. The equipment and trim levels I want are different from those he’s a fan of too. Even the exterior graphics are a matter of some contention.  But as I thought more about it this morning, I became less surprised by it all. People are different. And accordingly, people approach decisions with their own point of view, likes, dislikes, needs and wants.

And that’s the point for the week.

For leaders, one of the hardest lessons to not just learn, but to put into daily practice, is that just because we like something does not mean everyone else likes it too. If those working for you are telling you that they do, you’ve got a serious cultural problem that could include you being a bully or at the very least, having scared your people away from ever disagreeing with you.  That’s because everyone always agreeing on everything is not only unnatural, it’s unhealthy.

Diversity of thought and input leads to better decisions … and the sort of place people actually want to work in.  When as a leader, you impose your will on every significant choice, you are eliminating the opportunity to consider alternative outcomes – many of which could ultimately be better than yours. What’s more, no one wants to work in a culture where their voice is never heard.

People want to believe that their input matters and that they are making a difference in their work. When their input is ignored, those needs go unmet, engagement wanes and eventually, these people leave. The current mass exodus from the workplace known as the “Great Resignation” has been fueled in no small part by people who are fed up with not being listened to by autocratic, narcissistic bosses. Workers are no longer accepting the unacceptable. If their needs, like being heard, are not met by their employers, they will walk.

But keeping these people and at once creating both an attractive culture and an improved decision-making engine is not hard. It’s the result of a simple choice: a choice to solicit, listen to and act on the input of those one has the privilege to lead. For most narcissists, this is nigh on impossible. But for the rest of us, it’s easy. And what results is a thing of beauty.

When more people are included in the significant decisions that drive an organization, trust spirals. Engagement soars. And overall results leap forward due to improved decision quality. Best of all, when things go wrong, and they will, there’s almost no finger-pointing, acrimony or other bad behavior; because people will tend not complain about the taste of soup they helped make – or the color of a car they helped choose.

So, include others in decisions.

And win.

To pre-order Phillip’s new book, please follow this link:

Decision Making

Make New Decisions Based On New Information

Make new decisions based on new information. Phillip Kane's blog.
Photo credit: Joel Heard |

Friday, October 15, 2021

This week, I had the occasion to appeal to the good nature of a potential advertiser for my blog site, who had initially come to the conclusion that there might not be a fit between them and AndWin. However, after providing their representative with some additional insights, they were able to see that a relationship made sense after all. They, then, made a decision to move forward. (Go ahead and click on them in this link.) To the casual observer, the advertiser changed their mind. But people almost never do so. Rather, folks most often make new decisions based on new information.

And that’s the point for the week.

Whether in business, parenting or any other sort of human relationship, each day will present sometimes handfuls of opportunities for us to both rethink choices we’ve made and to prevail upon others to do the same. Almost never do people, once their mind is firmly established, change a previously made decision, absent some motivating influence to the contrary. They just don’t. Even people who appear indecisive, who quickly vacillate between one option or another, are doing little more than rapidly processing information and weighing the impact of that data on each potential choice.

So, accordingly, people rarely change their minds. They simply make new decisions based on new information.

I’m not sure who said it first. It’s assuredly not a point that’s original to me. It is a point that defines the actual process of recalculation and, when considered in this way, changes, or should, the way we think about the way people choose.

People will almost always act in their own best interest, seeking to amplify any of money, power, sex or baser needs like freedom, food/water/shelter, or self-preservation. A shift from one possibility to another has, at its core, an understanding that in doing so, one of those 6 things are going to improve (or not get any worse). So, helping someone make a new decision based on new information isn’t manipulation, it’s a mere act of ensuring that someone knows all they need to know in order to make a fully informed decision.

When leaders approach situations accordingly, the instinct to bully is often replaced by a desire to learn what truly matters to the decider, then to seek a way to bridge the gap. Threats of force or removal of freedoms or base needs works for a time, but only as long as it takes people to find new ways of accessing what matters to them. It’s why mandates almost never work in the long run.

It’s leaders who help facilitate new decisions based on new information – decisions that actually make the life of the decider better – who win in the long term. It happens not only because it’s how each of us decides ourselves, but because it’s a path carved out by trust, patience, and love. It’s the way that true, self-secure leaders help others decide, and how the organizations they lead consistently and perennially deliver extraordinary results.

So, help others make new decisions based on new information.

And win.

To pre-order Phillip Kane’s new book, The Not So Subtle Art of Caring: Letters on Leadership, please follow this link:


Empathize with Others

Empathize with others. Phillip Kane's Blog
Image: Archbishop Hoban High School

October 9, 2021

This week was the annual cross-town Catholic high-school football rivalry game between the school our children have attended, Archbishop Hoban and St. Vincent-St. Mary (of LeBron James fame). For Hoban, St.V week culminates with “Mum Day,” on game day, Friday, during which students do not utter a sound for the entire school day.

For our son, William, our youngest and a Senior, it is his last St. V weekend. For Seniors, St. V week is a big deal. It includes Lock-In on Thursday night, a giant slumber party that includes decorating the building with pro-Hoban and anti-St. V banners, then waking early to line the driveway in order to welcome underclassmen with often exaggerated and even menacing shushing motions, warning them to be quiet — that this is Mum Day!

For his mother and I, it was all a bit melancholy — our 12th and last St. V week. But as I considered things further, it occurred to me that for Will, although it was his final Mum Day, it was his first last Mum Day. For him, it was less about being sad, and more about experiencing St. V week as a Senior for the very first time. It was a reminder that in everything, perspective matters.

And that’s the point for the week.

What we’re feeling isn’t always what others are feeling. As leaders, it’s critical to remember that. It’s a key to building the emotional intelligence and empathy that are necessary for other human beings to willingly follow us.

See, it’s virtually impossible to make someone else feel what we feel. Trying to do so will leave a mark, and not a good one.  That’s because people arrive at any situation with their own unique tapestry of experiences, thoughts, emotions, and expectations — each entirely different from another. What people feel matters to them; they want to be understood, not manipulated. Those who first recognize this and who then take the time to understand these individual differences will thrive as leaders.

This occurs because those who create empathy create trust. And in the currency of human relationships, the value of trust is second only to love. Trust is offered in return for an absolute belief that I matter, my feelings matter, my ideas matter and my well-being matters to the person I’m trusting. This cannot and will not happen until that person puts themself in my place, until they develop a complete understanding of what it means to be me — until they empathize with me.

Leaders who adopt the perspective of others — who truly empathize with others — create a trust that results in followers who will do nearly anything for them because those same people know that, if the roles were reversed, their leader would do anything for them.

It’s a simple matter of changing your perspective, starting with having the emotional intelligence to do so.

So, empathize with others.

And win.

For more about the author, visit

Little Things

Get the Small Stuff Right

Get the small stuff right. Phillip Kane's blog
Image: ESPN

October 1, 2021

Last week, my beloved Tennessee Volunteers played the University of Florida in The Swamp. After a tightly contested first quarter, and a Florida 3 and out early in the second, the Gators’ punt team took the field with just over 13:00 to play in the first half. As the Vols sent their return team onto the field, and a delay of game penalty was being marked off against Florida, confusion seemed to set in on the Vols sideline. The camera isolated on Vols number 1, Velus Jones, Jr., tentatively jogging off the field, just prior to the snap. Then, incredulously, Florida punted to an entirely empty Tennessee backfield. A 58-yard kick rolled unceremoniously to a dead stop, surrounded by a horde of Gators, with not a Vol in sight. Adding insult to injury, the color commentator noted that not only had Tennessee failed to mount a return, they’d fielded only 9 players – 2 short of the number allowed.

See, Tennessee has two number 1s – Velus Jones, Jr. and Trevon Flowers. Somehow both had run onto the field prior to the return. While it is standard operating procedure for teams to pass out the same number to more than one player, it’s against the rules for two players with the same number to occupy the playing field at the same time. Apparently, Velus’ coach and Trevon’s coach had discovered the mistake at roughly the same time, and both called their players off the field, leaving only 9 to play the down. Watch it here.

While it’s funny in a ha ha sort of way, it’s symptomatic of a team that’s been rebuilding since it fired Phil Fulmer in 2008. But “rebuilding” is just a euphemism for failing to do the thousands of little things that are required to achieve even one big thing. See, when you repeatedly fail to get the little things right, you never get the big things done.

And that’s the point for the week.

Big things are, in reality, just successions of many smaller things. Winners, in sport, in business, and in all other facets of life know this. It’s why they are fanatical about small things. These are people you will find stooping to pick up trash in their parking lots, people who make sure the back of their buildings look as good as the front, people who take the time to speak to those they pass as they walk about, and people who count the number of players on the field while paying attention to the numbers on their backs. They do these things because they know that people follow the example of their leaders. When they show care and concern for the little things, those who follow them are more likely to as well.

These people also know that accomplishing the extraordinary requires extraordinary trust. They likewise know that trust is never gained all at once but progressively, over time, one small act after another, creating the consistency, predictability and transparency that are required for trust to take hold.

With trust, and the love that follows it, human teams can accomplish almost anything. They do so because once trust is established, people will do almost anything to keep it. They will ensure that every little thing is attended to because the thought of disappointing those who trust them is among the worst things they can imagine.

Like most else in life, getting the small stuff right is a choice. Those who choose correctly win. Those who don’t suffer loss after loss, like watching punted balls slowly roll to a stop inside their own ten-yard line.

So, choose to get the small stuff right.

And win.

To pre-order Phillip’s new book, please follow this link:

Decision Making

Decide Without Emotion

Decide without emotion. Phillip Kane's blog
Image: Author

Friday, September 24, 2021

This week, my six-year-old MacBook Air died. Strange vertical lines began forming on the screen this past Sunday that progressively overtook the display as the week progressed. When the situation finally became unworkable, I made an appointment at the Genius Bar to diagnose the problem. Learning that the display needed to be replaced, at a cost roughly equal to half that of a new machine, it became decision time. Having already made one life-extending call of similar magnitude in my Mac’s past, the choice to do it again weighed heavily upon me. 

I loved my Mac. I’d circumvented the earth with that machine, written a book on that machine and solved my version of the world’s problems using that machine. It was truly a part of my life. The thought of having to switch to a new machine seemed unthinkable to me – in part because of the inconvenience of it all, but moreover because of the simple, but profound, attachment I had for the old one. But after thinking things through, with a purposeful voiding of any emotion, I came to the conclusion that a newer, faster, more capable machine was a far better decision than dumping another $500+ into my old one. 

As I sat there at the Genius Bar coming to terms with the fact that life with my old Mac had just drawn to a close, it occurred to me that my computer decision wasn’t all that unique. Every day of our lives presents us with choices, and the best ones are always those we make with the least amount of emotion.

And that’s the point for the week.

Emotion can be a good thing. It impassions. It motivates. It inspires. Of course, used improperly it can also tear down, frighten and create barriers. But positive emotion expressed in the furtherance of human relationships and organizational progress is almost never wrong. It’s when emotion of any kind starts to creep into the process of decision-making that things can go awry.

Emotion can cloud judgement. It can, like with my Mac, cause one to cling to a suboptimal solution, an unhealthy alternative or an ineffective resource for far too long. It can create blind spots around, over or under which we are unable to see either opportunities or threats. Emotion can create false feelings of stability. It can cause us to postpone actions we know need to be taken and which are likely already past due.

But when we park our emotions at the doorway of each decision, we will decide with greater clarity, improved judgment and unmolested analysis. As a result, we will make better decisions and we will make them more quickly. Too, we will develop more trust-filled relationships with those around us who will learn that we can be counted on to decide issues on their merits unbiased by feelings or human attachments. And with trust comes engagement, commitment and improved business results.

By detaching emotion from organizational decision making, caring leaders implicitly reinforce the value of purpose-driven behavior that is aligned with team goals which, when achieved, result not only in improved lives for everyone in the building but great enthusiasm for the work of the whole.

And therein lies the paradox of it all: when emotion is disappears from where it doesn’t belong, it shows up by the armload right where it should be – like in the ear-to-ear grin that develops the moment you realize that your new machine enables you to accomplish more in less time than the one you almost wasted $500 fixing.

So, remove emotion from decision making.

And win.

To pre-order Phillip Kane’s new book, please follow this link:

To learn more about the author, click Day Job


Be Hopeful

Be hopeful. Phillip Kane’s andwin blog.
Image: Diego Mora Barrantes |

Saturday, September 18, 2021

This week, Rolling Stone magazine updated its list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. It was the first time Rolling Stone had updated the list since 2004. In a news piece announcing the release of the new list, one of the commentators suggested Times Like These by The Foo Fighters should be #1. Unfortunately, the song did not crack the 500. Everlong, by the group, however, did, hitting #409 on the list.

But the suggestion of Times Like These reminded me of the story behind the song, and a lesson for us all. The song was written by the group’s front-man, Dave Grohl in 2002 during a period of great angst for him personally and for the group. In August of the year before, drummer Taylor Hawkins had suffered a life-threatening heroin overdose. During that uncertain time, Grohl chose to moonlight as a drummer for another band, further unsettling his mates and adding unnecessary division when the team needed unity instead. Their recording session late in 2001 ended in disaster 6 tracks in when the band, after constant fighting and bickering, chose to trash what they had recorded and go their separate ways for a time. It was during this hiatus that Grohl wrote Times Like These. Grohl has been quoted as saying that the song with its notable refrain which includes the line, “It’s times like these you learn to love again” was for him about “hope and love and compassion” and a way to express what he was feeling about the band. Dave Grohl, at the worst point in the history of the Foo Fighters chose hope and in so doing wrote what he has called, “the best song I’ve ever written.” The Foo Fighters went on to reunite and recorded their album, One by One, which debuted at #3 on Billboard, ultimately going Platinum. But it would follow. For it is true that what we hope for we most often achieve. 

And that’s the point for the week.

At the root of any accomplishment is hope – hope rooted in a conviction that there exists something better than our current condition.

See, life is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Whatever we hope for, we are likely to accomplish. 

Hope inspires imagination. Hope inspires curiosity. Hope inspires belief. Hope inspires action. Without hope, there is only ever despair and a steady downward spiral into an oblivion of brokenness. But with hope, there exists light, and possibility and an invitation to something more. 

It has been said about hope that it is not a strategy. But for those for whom hope has underpinned a business turnaround, a personal recovery, a saved marriage or the return of something lost, hope was foundational to the strategy. Certainly hope alone is not enough. But without it, there is no strategy. Perfect plans don’t stand a chance until those who must execute them have hope for their success.

Choosing hope is the first step in choosing a better life – no matter whether you’re fronting for a rock band, leading a business or simply raising a family.

True, caring leaders understand this. They know that arriving at any better point b begins with a collective hope that doing so is not only possible, but altogether probable. Hope is the catalyzing force that enables teams to overcome fear, doubt and a lack of confidence on their way to achieving something more. Hope is, on many days, the difference between getting out of bed or not, between pressing on or not, or between saying no to a drink or not – because there is something to hope for. Accordingly, teams that hope more win more, for no other reason than they collectively maintain focus on a better point in the future. Bad days feel less bad. Bumps don’t hurt as much. And reasons to quit start to sound like reasons to keep going. All because of hope.

So, be like Dave Grohl.

Be hopeful. 

And win. 

To pre-order Phillip’s new book, please follow this link:

For more about the AndWin philosophy, click: About


Be Unusual

Photo: Archbishop Hoban High School

Sunday, September 12, 2021

On Friday night, Will, Chick and I were in Dayton, Ohio for a football game. Our high school was playing a team from the area there. Midway through the fourth quarter, in a hard-fought game, our school scored a touchdown to go ahead by 13. On the ensuing kickoff, the return man began slicing through the cover team. Having weaved his way past 10 of them, only the kicker, one of my son’s best friends, remained. Now, typically, placekickers will mostly pretend to tackle people without ever actually doing so; their goal being to avoid any contact whatsoever. But our kicker, Charlie Durkin, is not a usual sort of kicker. With a Mr. Football Ohio candidate bearing down on him, Charlie dove at the runner, tackling him, even losing his helmet in the collision. For the second time in two weeks, Charlie Durkin, in doing the unusual, had disrupted a touchdown from occurring. Suddenly out of their rhythm, their opponent never got back in the game, going on to lose to our squad by two scores. The other team lost because what they expected to happen didn’t – because what normally works never works when it runs headlong into disruption. And while the status quo is no match for disruption, Charlie Durkin also proved another truth of life: neither is it any place to look to produce it.

And that’s the point for the week.

At the root of disruption is the unusual. Doing what has always been done will never create one iota of disruptive force. It matters not whether you are leading a high school football team or a middle market manufacturing firm. Even doing more of the same or finding ways to do it better will not produce marketplace disruption. It’s not another way of saying, “what got you here, won’t get you there.” Doing what you’ve always done may well be fine, for a while. But don’t expect any amount of it or any better version of it to drive any disturbance or reordering within your industry. Disruption is only ever driven by unusual people who are motivated to do unusual things.

It’s why disruption rarely emanates from well established businesses. It doesn’t matter how many interviews the CEO gives to hipster news outlets. Changing the name of the road in front of your business won’t make any difference either. Neither will new mission statements, clever taglines or showy banners hung around the campus. People who have been ingrained for years to produce the usual, rarely do anything earthshattering. Earthshattering is a threat to norms. It brings risk. It brings people who don’t “fit in.” As a result, earthshattering is almost never a hallmark of traditionally managed organizations. 

But for those who understand that disruption is derived from the unusual, disruption becomes not only possible, but likely. Those who successfully create disruption do a handful of things better than those who never achieve the advantage that can be derived from it. First and foremost, they describe for others what disruption looks like. Next, they welcome failure and mistakes made in the pursuit of disruptive advantage. They also encourage disruptive behavior generally; they understand that rigid office rules and traditional organizational mores don’t work for disruptive souls. Too, they do not protect the status quo and likewise offer swift rebuke to efforts on the part of the establishment to organ reject new initiatives. Finally, they celebrate even small steps achieved along a path to a more disruptive enterprise.

Leaders who create such environments, where disruption can flourish, create organizations that flourish. This occurs as much because of the culture they create as any product they give rise to. These are cultures which are marked by engagement, enthusiasm, trust, and commitment. These are places people want to work at and stay with – because they are places that nurture creativity, imagination and the power of the human spirit. They are places full of people who delight in turning the world on its head, and old styles of management along with it. They are rare. They are unusual. And they never tire of winning.

So, be like Charlie. Be unusual. Be disruptive.

And win. 

To pre-order Phillip Kane’s new book from Amazon, please follow this link:

To learn more about the AndWin leadership philosophy, click: About

You Get What You Give

You Get What You Give

You get what you give, Phillip Kane's andwin blog
Photo credit: JOE |

Monday, September 6, 2021

This week, while running errands with Annie, I happened to see a young boy in the midst of a battle of wills with his mother. It was a beautiful Saturday, and instead of being out and about with his friends, he was headed into a tutoring center. He wasn’t happy. Curled up in a ball on the pavement and crying, it was clear, even to a casual observer, that he had no intention of moving – not for love nor money. But as much as I was taken by the antics of the little boy, I also couldn’t help noticing his mother; mostly for the calmness with which she was dealing with her son’s total lack of cooperation.

Rather than yell or scream, threaten him, tower over him, or otherwise yank a knot in him, she knelt at his level, and in a normal tone of voice, sought to settle him down. She was patient and kind. Eventually, his mood and manner began to coincide with hers. Once quiet, he began to listen, then reason. Within just a few moments (which to her, no doubt, seemed more like an eternity) he stood up and made his way to class, one of his hands clasping his mother’s, the other wiping away at his eyes.

I smiled, thankful for the reminder of one of life’s greatest truths: that we get precisely what we give.

And that’s the point for the week.

The boy achieved calm because he was on the receiving end of calm.  Had his mother chosen to meet his emotion with anger, or a show of power or force, he’d most assuredly have returned like for like, resulting in not only a public scene, but, more importantly, a series of events which would have left an emotional mark on both mother and child. But by kneeling and assuming his same level, the boy’s mother said, without uttering a word, “I’m no bigger than you or no more powerful than you, but rather I’m here for you, I’m present in your life and I’m on your side.” Because she came toward him, he ultimately came toward her; people give what they get.

True, caring leaders, when presented with resistance, respond like the mother in the parking lot. They do not become emotional. They do not become confrontational. They never regard such situations as opportunities to assert their authority. It’s because true, caring leaders recognize that the privilege of stewarding others is not live action role playing (LARPing) or some other performative art done for the benefit of some audience. It’s also because true, caring leaders are not narcissists. They recognize that almost nothing in life is about them. They know that their ultimate success is derived by enabling the success of those they lead NOT by winning petty squabbles against them. It’s because they explicitly understand that they get what they give.

When leaders more often understand this simple equation, not only are confrontations reduced to simple, temporary distractions, but they build trust by the armload between themselves and others – trust that propels their organizations to accomplish more in less time, with less effort and less waste. What’s more, those they lead will do almost anything for these people, because they know that, if asked, these leaders will do almost anything for them. It’s why the teams they lead win way more than they lose. These are leaders who fight for their people not with their people. These are leaders who know that others get really, really big when they get really, really small. These are leaders who understand that you get exactly what you give.  Even if it’s something as simple as a hug on steaming hot asphalt some Saturday in September.

Remember, you get what you give.

And win.

For more about the author, visit

Surround Yourself with Good

Surround Yourself with Good

Surround yourself with good. Phillip Kane's andwin blog
Image: Tim Marshall @timmarshall |

September 1, 2021

The current events of the last several days have made it particularly difficult for me to practice what I preach.

While caused by political figures, my upset is not political. The things which have been eating at me would eat at me no matter who was responsible for them: the unnecessary deaths of our servicemen and women; followed by a broken promise not to leave until all Americans were returned home; followed by the image of the President checking his watch while the war dead were received at Dover; followed by the decision to leave our dogs behind; followed, finally, by Facebook’s and Instagram’s decision to cancel the mother of a dead Marine. It was just too much all at once. So, for a minute, practicing love for others gave way to something else, something I didn’t care for in myself. It was a thing, I realized, that was made worse by the echo chamber of Twitter. So, last night, I spent the last bit of my evening unfollowing accounts I knew would only serve to stir up negative emotions. Instead, I sought out the virtual company of those who I could count on to practice what I more often preach. It was then that I started to emerge from my self-induced funk. I came up, the same way I went down: by associating with people who were headed in the desired direction. But it would follow. We are simple reflections of that which surrounds us.

And that’s the point for the week.

American chef, Marcela Valladolid said it as well as any I have ever seen: “You’re only as good as the people who you surround yourself with.” She’s right. But it’s a knife that cuts both ways. Hang out with winners, you’re more likely to be a winner. Hang out with losers, well, you know. Life is, after all, a self-fulfilling prophecy. What we think, we will become. And those we surround ourselves with will greatly impact how we think.

But the answer isn’t to go it alone, to eliminate the risk of any negative influence by eliminating any influence at all. See, none of us is going to be up all the time. Even the best of us will have down days – sometimes because the combined weight of what’s wrong becomes too much for just one to bear, and sometimes because there’s a part of being human that says being down feels good, and self-indulgently wallowing in self-pity and anger becomes food for the soul. Giving way to negative and self-destructive emotion is too often easier than choosing a higher path. Loving others is hard. Maintaining a positive outlook in the face of abject negativity takes effort, patience and discipline. It also takes the stabilizing influence and example of others who have chosen the better part. It takes surrounding ourselves with a better class of people.

In doing so, we also show those who are watching that relying on others is OK and that, likewise, we are called, each of us, to extend a hand to those in need. The lesson of the Gospels is clear: it’s not about us. When it starts to be, we’re in for a fall from which the best way up is the extended hand of another human being. 

Organizations which are built on a fundamental belief in the parallel truths that it is not about us and that goals are best achieved by groups of like-minded people who love, care for and support one another win more often. They do so precisely because it is not about any individual or their singular interest, but moreover about the collective ambition of the team. Cords of many strands are not easily broken. These organizations are tremendously resilient; they are seldom impacted by small set-backs, and add to their leads in down-turns. They do so not because of sheer numbers, but because of the sheer quality of their people. These organizations are led by good people who surround themselves with other good people. 

None of this is to say that we should give up on fighting for what is right or that things that are clearly wrong should bother us less. Right is right. Good is good. Truth is truth. The best among us never stop pursuing these things. But in doing so, we recognize that doing good requires that we surround ourselves with good people and that on some days we may need to rely on these same good people to pick us up when we fall. As author, Debbie Ford, put it, “Look for the light. Look for it in everything. Look for it in yourself, in your children, in your job, and in your dreams. Look for it in the food you eat and in the people you surround yourself with.”

So, surround yourself with good people.

And win.

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Grab a Front Row Seat to Joy

Grab a front row seat to joy. Phillip Kane’s blog.
Image: Andre Jackson | Unsplash

August 26, 2021

This week, I had the chance to meet Chris and Jenny O Calleri of Huntington Jewelers in Las Vegas, Nevada. At one point in our meeting, Jenny O shared something particularly poignant about her business – something that makes being in it especially gratifying. Being in the jewelry business, Jenny O says, gives her an opportunity to be a part of the most joyful moments of other people’s lives. For her, proximity to such joy would not be possible anywhere else. It’s why Jenny O does what she does. And it’s clear that she gives every bit as much joy as she gets. 

I continued to think about Jenny’s words on my flight back to Ohio. And suddenly, it occurred to me that for Jenny O, the joy is simply more obvious. The truth is, we are, all of us surrounded by joy. Every one of us has a front row seat to the joyful moments in the lives of those around us. It’s just that we’re often too preoccupied to see them. 

And that’s the point for the week. 

Each day, something joyful happens in the life of someone we know. Whether it’s big joy, little joy or in-between joy, there’s joy to be found – if we simply pay attention. It might be the engagement of the new guy in accounting; a passed driver’s exam of your assistant’s youngest son; or the sweet 16 of one of the driver’s twin daughters.  All of it joy, occurring right before our very eyes, but hidden behind the veil of a simple choice on our part to be less present in the lives of those we lead.  

It’s choice that, I think, Jenny O would say is nutty – to miss out on the chance to be a part of the rarest of human emotion – to grab a front row seat to joy – when it’s sitting right outside our door.

True leaders, though, choose to be present in the lives of those whose care has been entrusted to them. They know their birthdays, the names of their children, and when something important is about to happen in their lives. Because they do, they tell those around them, even without saying a word, that they care about them, that they matter, and that they are interested in them as human beings, not just as a means of production. 

As a result, trust flourishes and along with it effort, loyalty and dedication to the cause of the whole.  Teams with truly present leaders give more because they get more, and, as a result, they rarely ever lose. 

But even more than that, for the leader who becomes more present in the lives of others, their own life becomes dimensionally better – more complete, more interesting, and, well, more joyful.  

So, grab a front row seat to the joy that’s always been there. 

Be present in the lives of others. 

And win.

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