Choose Love

Choose love not the hate filled cesspool of Twitter.

January 30, 2021

Part of writing a book is becoming a shameless self-promoter.  Those who know me well, know that I am not especially comfortable in that role.  But I’m working on it.  One of the suggested tools I pursue avid use of is Twitter.  So, I signed up for an account, @ThePhillipKane.  As directed, I’ve been working on Tweeting and finding people to follow.  Mostly, I’ve noticed what a cesspool of hate the platform is.  

It seems that Twitter is the place to go if one is interested in belittling, ridiculing, being mean to, mocking, or engaging in outright hate speech toward another human being.  It’s disheartening to me that so many people exist who share an apparent belief that they can find personal fulfillment in the tearing apart of another person. Or that they might find peace by causing someone else to feel poorly about themselves.  Or that their candle could possible grow brighter by extinguishing someone else’s.  But they can’t.  It is not possible to find joy by taking it from another person.

And that’s the point for the week.

Seeking happiness in the destruction of another human being is an impossible quest.  Solace cannot be found in destroying the dignity of another human being.  No emptiness in one’s soul can ever be filled by “likes” gained from hatred directed at someone else.

Advocating for free expression by trying to silence another human being is not uplifting.  Advocating for inclusion while openly participating in cancel culture actions is not positive behavior.  Advocating for violence as a cure for violence is, well, staggeringly backwards in its construction.  Justifying negative behavior ever using “whataboutism” is empty and devoid of substance, always.  Virtue never chooses a side when two wrongs collide.

Loving others is a simple choice.  

It takes no more effort to love than to hate.  It does take courage.  It does take conviction.  And it does take personal pride.  Hate requires none of those things.

But love is the light that will overcome darkness.  It is the bond that will enable two or more human beings to withstand more than they ever dreamed possible.  It is the thing that reminds us that we are more alike than we are different.  And it is the only thing that will ever fill the hole in our lives that we often try to fill by tearing others apart.

So, the next time you’re about to rip someone down, don’t.  It won’t make you one inch taller.  It won’t replace one bit of what you’ve lost.  It won’t give you one iota of peace.  Only love can do that.

So, choose love.  End the hate.

And win. 

To purchase a copy of Phillip’s book, The Not So Subtle Art of Caring: Letters on Leadership, from John Hunt Publishing, London, please follow this LINK.

To learn more about the author, please click HERE

The Greatest Common Denominator

The Greatest Common Denominator

Choose the greatest common denominator. Phillip Kane

January 28, 2021

This week, I read an article about Tampa Bay Buccaneer Wide Receiver Antonio Brown that referred to the player as the lowest common denominator. While certainly a reference to Brown’s notorious off the field behavior, the reporter’s assessment was at best derogatory, and at worst condescendingly judgmental.  There is no doubt that Brown, picked in the sixth round of the 2010 NFL draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers has had a rocky go of it.  A host of what have been poor decisions on Brown’s part have resulted in a rash of fines and suspensions that have marred an otherwise notable on-field career; including becoming the only player in history to record 5 receptions of at least 50 yards in every regular season game, and the first player in the history of the game to record more than 1,000 yards in receiving and returning in one season.  So, why the outrage?  Because the writer is an elitist who, rather than focusing on the positive aspects of Brown’s return and the contributions he has made since coming to Tampa in October, has chosen to brand him a pariah unworthy of attention or redemption either one.

Not Tom Brady.  Asked about Brown and why he would possibly associate with him, let alone have him stay at his home, Brady allowed, “just trying to be a great teammate and help someone out who’s a friend of mine.”  See, Tom Brady isn’t focused on all the reasons he SHOULDN’T be part of Antonio Brown’s life, he’s focusing on all the reasons he SHOULD be part of Antonio Brown’s life.  Tom Brady is not catering to the lowest common denominator, he’s catering to the greatest common denominator.  He knows that when you focus on helping others achieve greatness, the team more often will too.

And that’s the point for the week.

Whichever denominator you apply to others will become self-fulfilling.  If you view others as having nothing to offer, that’s exactly what you will get.  But when you regard others as having great things to give – when you cater to the greatest common denominator – you will receive great things in return.  Whatever reason one has for viewing others with disdain will translate to a lack of respect, low regard, and in turn diminished levels of received contribution. 

In many organizations today, the same sort of elitism shown by the reporter exists in executive boardrooms, where C-suite leaders regard front-line workers as the lowest common denominator or worse.  They spend no time with these workers, view them as necessary evils and see them as having little to contribute beyond the entry-level roles they fill.

But true, caring leaders, those who practice The Not So Subtle Art of Caring, invest in the greatness of others.  They cater to the greatest common denominator.  They begin with a firmly held belief that not one of us is better than another.  They further recognize though, that those closest to the customer and closest to the work almost always have the most information about what is going well and what isn’t.  They get that no one knows the work, or the customer, better than these associates do.  They know as well that front line associates, those deemed the lowest common denominator by the elite command and control crowd, generally have the best ideas to move a business forward too.  And they know that the return on investing in the greatness of these associates can be astronomical – like GameStop during a short squeeze astronomical.

In return, these leaders, like Tom Brady, engender the trust and loyalty of those others toss aside.  As a result, there is little these workers won’t do for those who invest in them.  This virtuous cycle fueled by catering to the greatest common denominator can drive these organizations to heights never before imagined as people grow to achieve their preordained potential while investing in the growth of others as they do.

So, cater to the greatest common denominator.

And win.

To purchase a copy of Phillip’s book, The Not So Subtle Art of Caring: Letters on Leadership, from John Hunt Publishing, London, please follow this LINK.

To learn more about the author, please click HERE


Contract Signed with JHP

Contract signed with John Hunt Publishing (JHP), Phillip Kane's publisher.

London, UK. I’m super excited to announce that I have signed a contract with John Hunt Publishing, London, for the rights to my book The Not So Subtle Art of Caring: Letters on Leadership which will be released later this year.

About Letters…

Virgin’s Richard Branson, Zappos’ Tony Hsieh and Tesla’s Elon Musk, apart from their obvious success, all share another thing in common.  Each utilized storytelling to maximize their effectiveness as leaders.  Many of the most influential leaders of our and all time, including arguably the most influential leader in history, used storytelling whenever they had a particularly important point to make.

Encouraged by these influences, a father who was a known storyteller and a Nigerian priest who used stories to bridge a language barrier, first-time author, and successful businessperson, Phillip Kane used stories each Friday throughout his career to help business associates relate to key issues facing the organizations he had the privilege to lead.  These weekly letters had less to do with what was going on in the business than how people should think about what was going on in the business.  By helping shift and align his teams’ point of view, Kane and the teams he led were able to accomplish more and win more often.  All because of the stories he told.

In Letters on Leadership, 85 of them are assembled together in one place for the first time, offering a collection of morality tales for any leader searching for a better, more inspiring way to lead others.  Organized around key themes like encouragement, trust, and gratitude, Kane also provides additional insights for existing or aspiring leaders looking for a different, heart-centered way to appeal to those who should be following them than traditional, self-centered, command and control micro-management.

Featured twice in Kouzes’ & Posner’s, The Leadership Challenge (Wiley), Phillip Kane’s storytelling technique and the leadership lessons he imparts are key for any leader seeking to create winning teams built on a fundamental foundation of kindness and service to others. 

Check back often for more news as the editorial and publication process unfolds.

Thank you for visiting and for supporting The Not So Subtle Art of Caring. It’s a kinder, better way to lead human beings.

To learn more about John Hunt Publishing, please click HERE.

To learn more about Phillip Kane, please follow this LINK.

General Leadership Stewardship

Every Day Means Every Day

True, caring leaders know every day means every day. Phillip Kane

January 21, 2021

I was reminded the other day of my childhood vocational aspiration. I grew up wanting to be like my father, and his father before him – both truck dealers. But having an uncle who was a priest, the grand dames of the family, ever faithful recruiters for the Vatican, worked hard to convince me, my brothers and cousins that the priesthood would be a fine calling too. So, at around five years of age, I concocted what I thought was a fabulous plan. I would be a priest on Sunday (when truck stores are closed anyway) and a truck dealer during the rest of the week. It was brilliant, I thought! My grandmother and the rest of her posse let me get away with it for years…until I learned that being a priest is an every day job, not just a Sunday thing. This week, as I reconsidered the unrealistic career path of my preschool days, it occurred to me that even as adults it’s easy to forget that every day means every day. 

And that’s the point for the week. 

Whether you choose to lead others as a truck dealer, a priest or in any of a thousand other walks of life, it’s not a part time commitment.  Leadership is not a game that’s played only when it’s convenient or when it suits us or when someone is looking, or when there’s something to be gained from it, or alternatively, not to be lost from it.  It’s not just for the times when it’s easy and confrontation free.  It’s not just for the days when your people are doing the right things.  And it’s not just for the moments when everyone loves and adores you.  Leadership is a 24/7/365 proposition.  The privilege to lead other human beings requires that you bring your whole heart, your whole mind, and your whole self every, single, day.

Those who show up only when it’s convenient, only when there’s something in it for them, or only when they are sure there’s no personal downside are not leaders.  They may have a title on a card they carry around and relish handing out, or on a purely temporary plate screwed to their door.  But having a three-inch piece of paper never made a leader out of anyone.  Actions define leaders.  What people do when others need them defines leaders.  How people behave when things become difficult is what defines leadership.

When true, caring leaders, recognizing their role as stewards, show up each day prepared to give their whole selves to the practice of leading, they tell others, without saying a word, that it’s not about them, that their daily prayer is that they become really, really small so that others can become really, really BIG.  And they recognize that every day means every day.

When they do, organizations rest surely on a foundation of trust from where they confidently rise to heights they only ever imagined under the pretend leadership of the door plaque crowd. Simply because the individual caring for the place understands that leadership doesn’t take a day off.

So, lead. Every.  Single.  Day.

And win.

To purchase a copy of Phillip’s book, The Not So Subtle Art of Caring: Letters on Leadership, from John Hunt Publishing, London, please follow this LINK.

To learn more about the author, please click HERE

General Leadership Leading Change

Bend with Care

True, caring leaders bend with care. Phillip Kane

January 15, 2021

One of the built-in downsides to having 4 dogs is that from time to time, they destroy things. When it’s the Chewy box their food was delivered in, it can be mildly entertaining. When it’s a piece of handmade furniture, not so much.  Thankfully, we have a frequent flyer account with a restoration expert for the less entertaining episodes. This week marked the return of a Windsor rocker that was a recent victim of a wonder dog attack. It looked perfect. 

As I contemplated the restored chair, built in the true period style with it’s typical bow back, spindles and turned legs, I thought as I have before, about the bow – a single rived or split piece of oak or ash wood which has been bent, not cut to take its beautiful and elegant bow shape.  But the wood cannot be immediately or violently yanked into its new, changed form. An attempt to do so would end badly – the blank would split violently, and someone would get hurt. For wood to be bent to such an extreme shape requires the application of steam, time, and support while the blank is trained to take its new shape.  In the process, the craftsman must listen to the wood. When near its limit, the wood will creak in protest, alerting the operator to slow down and/or apply more support or steam. Eventually, the wood will take the desired shape and having done so will keep it forever. 

It occurred to me that chair making is not unlike leading change; both require time, patience and care. 

And that’s the point for the week. 

Were one to grab an organization by both ends and yank on it, things would likely splinter. People would get hurt. The organization would take a different form to be sure, certainly, though, not that which was intended.  Irreparable harm would be done.

But with time and a plan plus the provision of support and encouragement, organizations can take on a new shape which, once taken, they can keep forever. 

The old school, authoritarian command and control formula of grab and yank doesn’t work.  Actually, it never did.  Human beings are damaged by uncaring managers who refuse to wait or listen.  The desired outcome is never achieved. And the organization moves backwards relative to its competitors while also, in its fractured and distracted state, missing its financial goals.  Associate engagement suffers, good people leave, and the viscous cycle worsens.

But where caring stewardship prevails, change is enacted constructively, exactly and with pace.  People buy in because they understand that with change comes competitive advantage, winning, and improvements in their lives personally.  Trust expands.  Relationships strengthen.  And the new form of the organization, gained through love, time, and care will withstand any future downside, difficulty or competitive assault.

So, lead change carefully.

And win.

To purchase a copy of Phillip’s book, The Not So Subtle Art of Caring: Letters on Leadership, from John Hunt Publishing, London, please follow this LINK.

To learn more about the author, please click HERE

Caring Stewardship

What Fits in the Box

True, caring leaders aren't concerned with what fits in the box. They leave with a heartful, not a boxful. Phillip Kane

January 8, 2021

Over the long holiday break, our family likes to binge-stream TV shows on networks like Prime, Netflix and Hulu.  One of the shows, we started this season is called Industry.  It’s a fictional drama about a bunch of young British folks working for a prestigious firm in “The City,” London’s equivalent to Wall St. The show is directed by Lena Dunham, so you’re going to get what Lena Dunham gives. But all in all it’s not bad TV.  The issues are by and large, real. And the storyline is compelling. In any event, at one point in the show, one of the old lions of the firm is let go. He’s a man in his 60’s. He’s been with the firm his entire career. As he’s leaving, he’s packing his few things in the proverbial copier paper box.  In doing so, with an air of bitter resentment, he mutters, “Not much for a life.”

I was struck by the scene for a number of reasons.  But mostly because the man’s words echoed in my ears. “Not much for a life.”  See, the man was measuring his life in terms of things, in terms of possessions.  He wasn’t thinking about the things he couldn’t put in the box.  He was thinking about whether he was better off, not whether others were better off, or if that place was better off.  He was thinking as an owner of his life, not a steward of his life.  The truth of the matter is this: when we think of our life in ownership terms, we are in for a long, lonely, and unhappy road.

And that’s the point for the week.

See, none of this is ours.  Wherever you are that you are reading this, look around you.  None of what you see is leaving this earth with you.  You are merely using it for a while.  

Same for the people in your life.  They are not yours.  You own no one.  You have the privilege of employing some, raising some, teaching some, maybe even mentoring some.  But you don’t own any of them, and ultimately, all of them are free to do whatever they will.

The fundamental truth is this.  We are stewards of everything in our lives.  We are caretakers of everything in our lives.  Our purpose in life is to leave that which we encounter better than we found it.  Stuff and people alike.

This fundamental truth is the very basis of caring leadership.  It is at the root of The Not So Subtle Art of Caring for Others.  And it is the glue that forever bonds leaders to those they have the privilege to lead.  Because when those being led realize that their leader is 100% committed to their care and the betterment of their lives, they will make a decision to follow that person almost anywhere.  And when they do, nearly anything becomes possible.

For these leaders then, a life is not measured by what can fit in a ridiculous copier paper box, but by what has been poured into the hearts of others, and by the immeasurable gratitude of those whose lives became irrevocably better because those they follow chose to care more for others than themselves.

So, choose to be a steward.

To purchase a copy of Phillip’s book, The Not So Subtle Art of Caring: Letters on Leadership, from John Hunt Publishing, London, please follow this LINK.

To learn more about the author, please click HERE

Celebrate News

Celebrate Victories

True, caring leaders celebrate victories. Phillip Kane

January 1, 2021

Tonight, my wife’s, and now my daughter Chuck’s, Ohio State Buckeys destroyed Dabo Swinney’s allegedly #2 ranked Clemson Tigers, beating them by three touchdowns in a game where Swinney and his much celebrated defensive coordinator, Brent Venables, were terrifically outcoached, and outclassed.

But as much as this could be a letter about execution or about not saying stupid things, or about not coaching your players to break the rules by hitting with the crown of their helmets, it not about any of the three of those things.  It’s about what happened after the game.

As the clock hit 00:00, the entire Buckeye squad ran onto the field, celebrating, hugging each other, fist bumping, jumping up on each other, heading to the stands to whoop it up with family and friends and tossing gear high in the air.

I wasn’t struck so much that celebrations in athletics are unusual, but that celebrations like these outside of athletics are what separate winners from losers.

And that’s the point for the week.

Celebrations in athletics are commonplace, even at the grown adult, professional level where it’s not uncommon to find middle-aged men dousing themselves with expensive Champagne after winning a significant championship or series.

But in business celebrations are rare.  I suppose celebrations are viewed as something childish.  Or maybe revelry is perceived as lacking decorum.  Or it could be that the stick in the mud leaders that populate most C-suites today truly believe that fun has no place in the “serious” world of big business.  It’s more my sense, actually, that these people don’t celebrate because they don’t have much to celebrate.

True, caring leaders magnify success by rejoicing when they see it.  They miss no opportunity to recognize team wins.  They may not chase their players around spraying them with booze, but they do find ways to make a big deal out of even little accomplishments.

Leaders that celebrate success, tell others they care without saying a word.  They tell their teams that winning matters, that achievement is recognized, that accomplishing things gets rewarded.  Oh, and that theirs is a fun place to work, where laughter, cheer and joy are not only OK, but they are encouraged and modeled by the boss.

These events create camaraderie, and opportunities for teams to replay the victory in their own words, to learn again what went well and to reinforce the positive behaviors that led to a positive outcome.  In these environments, trust blossoms, love springs forth and a kind of brotherhood and sisterhood form that results in a nearly impenetrable mesh between teammates that defies competitive assault or other intrusion, ultimately yielding an associate body of such incredible speed, force, and focus that losing eventually becomes universally unthinkable.

So, celebrate victories.

And win. 

To purchase a copy of Phillip’s book, The Not So Subtle Art of Caring: Letters on Leadership, from John Hunt Publishing, London, please follow this LINK.

To learn more about the author, please click HERE