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Evolution Bookshelf: Good People

In February of this year, one of my favorite ambassadors and writers for small businesses, Bo Burlingham, wrote an article for Forbes featuring Cue Ball, a venture firm built around human capital (a firm that over the past year four or five people have suggested I look into), this article lead me to Anthony Tjan’s book, Good People: The Only Leadership Decision That Really Matters. The book really spoke to me. Mr. Tjan does a tremendous job describing what we are trying to do at Evolution and he does it in a very eloquent way.

I started listening to the book on Saturday afternoon, as I started power washing my back patio. Five hours later I had little concrete left, but had successfully finished the book. Needless to say, I’m a fan. The book made me think hard, I literally couldn’t process it all.  I think I will wait a few months and listen to it again as there are too many take-aways to grasp in just one read. Here are just a few of my favorites:


Are people net givers or takers of energy?

What a great & simple question! Think about all your co-workers, customers, suppliers, partners – you can easily answer if someone is a net giver or taker of energy. Who do you want to be around? Pretty simple.


5 questions of mentorship:

I loved this one….as always, I love a process and mentorship is no different. These 5 questions provide a good guide for the next time you are mentoring someone:

1. What are you trying to achieve? What will make the mentee feel whole? What is their big goal? Are their foundational values aligned?

2. What are they doing well that will help them achieve their goals? What is their superpower? Do their capabilities align with their passion?

3. What is holding them back?

4. What should they change tomorrow? How can they develop self-awareness? Move faster?

5. How can you be of help?

Pretty straight forward.


10 guiding principles of mentorship:

1. Choose to be of service. Great questions and listen carefully;

2. Help uncover their superpower. What comes to you most naturally;

3. Shout loudly with your optimism and keep quite with your cynicism. 24 x 3 rule;

4. Encourage unconventional success;

5. Find meaning. What are they are doing today vs. what they want to do;

6. Meaningful roles – connect them with good people;

7. Share wisdom but choose kindness over rightness. Pride is the enemy of humility and openness;

8. Let them come to the answer themselves;

9. Let them choose the volume dial. Mentees should be able to turn up or down the level of involvement;

10. Show up – respect the mentee.


Definition of good people:

Those committed to continuously cultivating the values that help them and others become the fullest possible version of who they are.


12 questions to evaluate people:

1. Is the person self-aware?

2. Does this person feel authentic, modest and vulnerable?

3. Talk to listen ratio (listening is caring)?

4. Energy giver or taker?

5. Would this person act or react?

6. How does this person treat someone they don’t know?

7. What is the spouse or partner like?

8. Is there an element of struggle in the person’s history?

9. What has the person been reading?

10. Would you ever want to go on a long car ride with this person?

11. Is this person comfortable with idiosyncrasies?

12. Are they multi-dimensional?


The lists above don’t provide sufficient detail, so please read the book. I wanted to type them out so I could try and remember them! As I mentioned, I plan to read the book again in the next 3-6 months. If you are reading or decide to read, I would love to know your thoughts, take-aways and if you liked the book as much as I did!


Posted by: Brendan Anderson A co-founder and managing partner at Evolution, Brendan has spent the past 20 years as an investor and manager of businesses ranging from manufacturing to financial services. @Brendan_Andersn

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