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Is Goodness the Key to Success? w/ Tony Tjan [Episode 621]

Tony Tjan, CEO and Managing Partner of Cueball.com and author of Good People: The Only Leadership Decision That Really Matters, joins me on this episode.


  • Tony says the single biggest challenge facing sales reps today is the recent radical change in organizational structure. Understanding who your real customer is becomes increasingly challenging.
  • Tony gives an example of trying to find the right department or officer to connect with in regard to employee wellness and engagement.
  • A rigid sales playbook dictates selling to personas instead of selling to people. This is less effective for selling to a decentralized organization. Andy gives an example of a decisionmaker unexpectedly being the admin to the CEO.
  • Tony says to separate the hat from the head. After you draw the hat, find which head and heart wear that hat. Tony shares another example of looking in the wrong area for the influencers.
  • Tony’s book urges leaders to be good people. Only about one-third of employees are happy at work and would recommend their company to a friend. 68% wish to leave. Meanwhile, there is a sharp decline in institutional trust.
  • Trust in business is under 48%. Leaders are taught competency but not character. “Goodness” is separate from, and more than, competency. True leadership comes from authenticity, values, and character.
  • Driving toward a common set of values and standards would be a pretty good business strategy. We need the human element in our organizations in spite of AI and automation.
  • A different way to interview is necessary. We are biased to interview for competency. We need to interview for character-based elements of goodness. Tony suggests activities like cooking a meal together with a candidate.
  • Frame the type of leader you want to find. Real leaders build other leaders, not followers. Long-term value comes from team building and leaders who bring out the best in others. It’s a virtuous circle.
  • Cool cultures form when people genuinely care about each other and help each other. Spend time mentoring and developing people. Have openness and transparency.
  • A better team is more important to success than better ideas. To be ‘people first’ consider how a decision impacts other people. Having an ‘A’ team is more critical to success than having ‘A’ ideas.