Beyond The Ordinary: My Pursuit Of A Transcendent Cause

By Phil McCarn

We all want to be successful. But, what is success? How it is achieved? The old adage says to “follow your passions and success will follow.”

I would guess that most of us who work in sports feel blessed to combine our passion for sport with a fulfilling career. I have discovered recently, however, that my passion for sport is not necessarily what drives me the most. What truly drives me has far greater significance.

On a recent drive alone to the beach, it hit me. It’s not necessarily sport that drives me, but the pursuit of a transcendent cause.

Transcendence means, in one definition, “beyond the ordinary.” A transcendent cause, to me, is to pursue a mission greater than myself.

I thought of all my most enjoyable, and, subsequently, most successful experiences. I actually pulled over the car and wrote the following purpose statement:


            “I exist to rally a group of people to a transcendent cause.”


While at the Greensboro (N.C.) Sports Commission, it was the idea of working with community leaders, facility managers, business leaders and volunteers to represent the entire city that drove our successful run of hosting major championships and countless amateur events.

Likewise, while leading revenue generation for the PGA TOUR event there, it was rallying the community to re-invent the nation’s third oldest event that led to record revenues and set the stage for a brighter future.

While leading Property Consulting at CSE, it was incredibly rewarding to rally our internal team for the growth of our division. We also engaged in the visions of each client as we worked with properties to maximize revenues.

I am very proud to have now joined Encompass International. Encompass is a transcendent cause in and of itself. We share the same beliefs and a passion for the pursuit of the transcendent cause.

Our president, Davis Butler, spent the past 12 years working for the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

During his tenure, he took over the TOP program, which is the world’s largest truly global sponsorship platform. While there, he and his colleagues generated and oversaw delivery of nearly $9 billion of revenue for Olympic parties.

He agreed that the task of flying all over the world to negotiate on the IOC’s behalf was rewarding, but not nearly as rewarding as playing a key role in delivering the Games and values of the Olympic Movement to the world.

It’s even reflected in our corporate identity:


“We are a group of passionate business experts who believe in the transcendent power of sports. We help deliver true value by creating, developing and delivering strategic sports partnerships. We provide trusted global experience proven on the world’s largest stage”


We work with various clients toward the realization of their visions, including one who is fully engaged in the fight against the effects of sport-induced concussions.

I tell my friends in other industries that I, too, come to an office every day. We have letters to write, e-mails to send, financial reports to deliver, deals to negotiate and countless complex issues to navigate. We travel away from our families and we work long hours. If we do it all to simply transact business or to collect a paycheck, I don’t think we would be as successful. If we do it simply for the love of sports, I think we would be often disappointed. But, since we do it all in pursuit of a transcendent cause, no matter how big or small, it somehow feels worth it. It gives meaning and purpose to our efforts.

I look forward to occasionally giving my thoughts on our industry through this blog. I’d like to start by urging you to be less transactional and more transcendent.

Questions: What is your secret to success? What is your transcendent cause?

Phil McCarn, who will serve as facilitator during the upcoming S.P.O.R.T.S. 2012 – The Relationship Conference, Sept. 10-13, in Oklahoma City, is senior vice president, business development, for Encompass International Network LLC based in Atlanta. Contact Phil at