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.

For more about the author, visit