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We’ve all heard that a company is only as good as its people. But what does that really mean? TONY TJAN is a serial entrepreneur, progressive venture investor, and the New York Times bestselling author of Good People. By making people a priority, Tjan promises that we can create purpose-driven, profit-fueled organizations that succeed. He offers practical lessons for creating a culture of goodness, starting with authentic mentorship, inclusionary innovation, and the cultivation of character.
Good People not only gives us practical ways to incorporate goodness into our daily lives, but also makes the case for why this is the key to a life of meaning, purpose, and fulfilment.”— Arianna Huffington
Over the course of a high-velocity career founding, leading, and advising path-breaking businesses, Tony Tjan has emerged as a master of pattern recognition and people-centered business. He identifies and capitalizes on trends that not only disrupt the market, but also create a lasting, positive change for society at large. His current efforts are focused on the two latest businesses that he co-founded—Cue Ball Capital and MiniLuxe. Too much of venture capital has gone the way of the stock market, says Tjan, moving from fundamental investment to momentum trading: a risk-fuelled game of musical chairs for investors whose main intention is cashing out quickly. He became an investor to turn the venture space on its head. Cue Ball is a “people-first and purpose-driven” firm operating out of a permanent evergreen capital pool. It moves the strategy away from exit-as-a-driving force, in favor of sustainable holds and long-term, compounding value. Tjan looks at inefficiencies in the market, but he also looks for good people to work with: those who not only shift categories, but shift the culture. In doing so, he breaks down the barriers to entrepreneurship and creates opportunity for all. Today, Cue Ball has committed more than 50% of its capital to backing women-led, inclusionary ventures, a level that is 20x the industry average. Leading by example, Tjan is changing the way we think about entrepreneurship, business, and workplace culture.
In this vein, he also co-founded MiniLuxe, a lifestyle brand setting groundbreaking standards for health, hygiene, and elevated work practices in the nail salon industry. Since its inception, MiniLuxe has created greater economic mobility for a workforce that’s predominantly female and ethnically diverse. In addition to Miniluxe, Tjan is active in several other inclusionary initiatives such as Jopwell (a diversity hiring start-up), Landit (a female mentorship platform), and his work with The Tory Burch Foundation. Tjan has consistently demonstrated the positive power of people-first, mentor-oriented, and gender-balanced and diverse workplaces, a practice that recently earned him the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.
Earlier in his career, Tjan was also among the first to participate in the commercialization of the Internet. He founded ZEFER, a multi-disciplinary Internet advisory firm that grew to $100M before merging with NEC, and served as the senior strategic advisor to Dick Harrington, CEO of the Thomson Corporation. Together, Tjan and Harrington catalyzed one of the world’s largest information media transformations, developing the business strategy that ultimately resulted in the creation of Thomson Reuters.
A 20-year member of the TED community, Tjan has spoken twice on the main TED stage. He serves on the Advisory Committee of the MIT Media Lab and was one of the earliest World Economic Forum’s Global Leaders for Tomorrow. In addition to contributing more than 125 articles to the Harvard Business Review, he authored Good People: The Only Leadership Decision That Matters and co-authored 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. Over the past 25 years he has served as a strategic counselor and confidant to several high profile public figures and personalities. Tjan holds AB and MBA degrees from Harvard University, where he served as a Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government and an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Harvard Business School.