The Only Leadership Decision That Really Matters
We’ve all heard that a company is only as good as its people. But in his new book Good People, Anthony Tjan actually proves it. This entrepreneur and New York Times bestselling author shows leaders how to put goodness into practice in order to deepen relationships and revive the purpose of our work. For Tjan, goodness is also a critical way to boost the bottom line—creating work cultures that prosper and endure.
“Tjan shows us that the power to transform business relationships at every level starts with this: goodness. Thought-provoking and genuine, Good People is a must read for anyone interested in creating prosperous, wholesome and resilient teams and businesses.”— Beth Comstock, Vice Chair, GE
Over the course of a high-velocity career founding, leading, and advising path-breaking businesses, Anthony Tjan has emerged as a leading expert on how to strategically innovate traditional business models and channel the power of people and culture into enduring value. A long-standing member of the TED community, Tjan serves on the Advisory Committee of the MIT Media Lab and has been recognized by the World Economic Forum as a Global Leader for Tomorrow. In addition to contributing more than 125 print and online articles to the Harvard Business Review, he is the new book Good People: The Only Leadership Decision That Matters and co-author of Heart, Smarts, Guts, and Luck: What It Takes to Be an Entrepreneur and Build a Great Business, a New York Times bestseller that was named one of Fast Company’s “Best Business Books” of the year.
Tjan began his career with McKinsey & Company under the mentorship of renowned Director and former Head of People Development, Tsun-yan Hsieh. In 1996—long before it was fully understood how much the Internet would impact the entreprise—Tjan founded the Internet services firm ZEFER to implement large-scale web applications for Fortune companies. A pioneer in the earliest days of the Internet’s commercialization, Tjan built a multi-disciplinary team of over 700 professionals and grew the business to more than $100 million in annual revenues before it eventually merged into NEC.
In 2001, Tjan joined the boutique strategic advisory group Parthenon (now Parthenon E-Y) as its Vice Chairman and began his tenure as senior strategic advisor to CEO of the Thomson Corporation, Dick Harrington. Together, Tjan and Harrington catalyzed one of the world’s largest information media transformations, developing and executing a business and cultural strategy that led to a four-fold increase in cash flow and market capitalization, and which resulted in the creation of Thomson Reuters.
In 2007, Tjan co-founded MiniLuxe, a tech-enabled retail lifestyle brand with a mission to professionalize and transform the nail salon industry by adhering to the highest standards of health and hygiene, celebratng experience design, and providing true career paths for the nearly 600 women employed by the business. Today, MiniLuxe is a core holding of The Cue Ball Group, a human capital-centric venture firm based in Boston where Tjan serves as CEO.
Tjan became a venture investor in an effort to turn the venture space on its head—Cue Ball aspires to be the “Berkshire-Hathaway” of venture, investing out of single permanent evergreen capital pool and developing deal opportunities from its deep ecosystem of relationships and unique people-as-platform initiatives. As an investor, Tjan has led and advised people-centric culture-technology companies like Landit (a mentorship platform for professional women), ShapeUp (a peer-driven health and wellness platform), Virgin Pulse (a behavioral human capital management platform), and SandBox (a community of future global leaders under the age of 30). He continues to selectively serve as a board member for rapidly scaling start-ups and a senior advisor to public figures.
Tjan holds AB and MBA degrees from Harvard University, where he has served as a Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government—studying direct human capital business models with “Founding Dean” Graham Allison—and an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Harvard Business School, where he focused on mentoring the next generation of business leaders.
Even today, many professionals assume that social skills—like empathy and self-awareness—have no place in business. We measure employees by what we can measure—like profits and accomplishments—and leave the so-called ‘soft skills’ out. But to Anthony Tjan, this approach overlooks the fundamental ingredients of real success. He knows that good people and good values are your organization’s best assets. In fact, choosing to work with good people is the only leadership decision that truly matters.
In this keynote, Tjan explains why people matter most. Drawing upon his success as an entrepreneur and venture capitalist, as well as nearly 100 interviews and many more relationships with an extraordinary cast of innovators, executives, artists, and role models, Tjan proposes a new framework to evaluate, develop, and lead with goodness. When we invest in relationships, Tjan shows, we create enduring cultures that people actually believe in and valuable organizations that do more than maximize profits—they instill positive, widespread change in their employees and communities. When we lead with our values and invest in genuine mentorship, we rediscover joy in our work and unlock long-term satisfaction. Competence is always necessary, but with Tjan, you’ll learn what it really means to be ‘good.’
Over the course of his career, Anthony Tjan has committed to a simple theme: work with good people, strive to embody good values, and help others succeed. He’s made mentorship and compassion his highest priorities—over ideas, products, and profits—because he knows that financial results are more a function of people than of anything else.
With this mindset, he helped build two major strategic advisory firms—the most people-centric of businesses—and spearheaded a massive cultural shift in a 45,000-person, Fortune 500 business. He serves as chairman of a lifestyle retail services looking to redefine the nail care industry and positively impact countless nail technicians and clients. With Cue Ball, he’s spreading a new model for venture capital based on that same people-first philosophy.
In this keynote, Tjan will help business leaders become human-capital centric in everything they do. He’ll introduce audiences to his “Good People Mantra”—five common sense principles about leadership and communications for everyone looking to start or scale a business. With his guidance, you’ll discover that being people-first means helping others, giving back, and finding balance while still enjoying financial success. After all, the pursuit of ‘good’ isn’t a trade-off; ultimately, it’s good for business, too.