Good People Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: Good People is a book about business and leadership which explains the importance of focusing on and building integrity in the workplace, including why it’s so vital if you want your company to be successful, how you can get it, and why an emphasis on competencies alone won’t cut it anymore.

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Good People Summary

According to successful businesswoman Mary Kay Ash, “A company is only as good as the people it keeps.” Although many modern CEO’s might like this sentiment, very few actually focus on their people as the center of their progress.

The sad truth is that most employers value your skills over your values, and that’s not good for you or business. And while being competent is vital, it’s only one piece of the foundation of good people that the top-notch companies have. 

It’s time to get back to a people-centric business model. The kind where values and morals are of at least equal importance to hiring somebody as their skills, if not greater.

When you make the long-term investment in your people, you have less turnover, which reduces costs. As employes become happier, they grow more engaged and efficient. And a culture of mentorship promotes productivity.

What you need is a re-focus on goodness, including a thorough understanding of what it is and how to grow it. And that’s just what you’ll learn in Anthony Tjan’s book Good People: The Only Leadership Decision That Really Matters.

These are 3 of the best lessons the book teaches:

  1. To optimize for goodness, utilize the Goodness Pyramid, beginning with being truthful to yourself and others through integrity, self-awareness, and humility.
  2. Compassion is a central component of goodness, and it means being generous, empathetic, and open.
  3. At the peak of the Goodness Pyramid is wholeness, which means wisdom, love, and respect.

Let’s dive right in and get learning!

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Lesson 1: The Goodness Pyramid is the key to keeping good people around, and it starts with truth.

The first key point to understand is that goodness comes in two types. You have goodness in competency, which is what most employers focus on when hiring. 

But the second, and more crucial to business success, is goodness in values. This refers to the culture of your company, and although it might seem like a soft skill, you have to focus on it if you want to grow. 

Growing this vital component of your business requires an understanding of the Goodness Pyramid, which has three pieces:

  1. Truth, which is the foundation
  2. Compassion is in the middle
  3. Wholeness is the peak

Let’s begin with truth. It’s foundational because without it, everything falls apart. When you set a standard of trust, however, everybody works in unity and harmony. 

The author teaches three components of truth, including:

  • Humility, which means being willing to admit that you don’t know everything. To develop this, you need to have a curious mind for new ideas and a willingness to learn.
  • Self-awareness, or the ability to understand your strengths and weaknesses, which makes you true to yourself. Try meditation, writing, and seeking feedback to grow this quality.
  • Integrity, which refers to how well your actions match what you speak. Expanding your integrity requires carefully analyzing the values you want to have and how well you’ve lived them each week.

Lesson 2: A crucial piece of goodness is compassion, and you need to be open, empathetic, and generous to develop it.

Truth is important, but it’s not everything. It can be cold and hard sometimes, and without some additional guiding principles, this can cause problems. That’s where compassion comes in as the middle of the Goodness Pyramid to provide balance.

Another word for compassion is selflessness. It means examining how others feel, think, and experience the world. When you practice it, you can see others more clearly and know how to best help them progress.

In the cutthroat business world, however, people often see this trait as weak. Traditionally, you have to be ruthless to be professional and do things like weed out the worst people. 

That doesn’t work if you want to succeed long-term though. Compassion is a catalyst for productivity and motivation as it creates a healthy work environment that people like being in. 

To develop compassion, utilize these three traits:

  • Openness, or fighting negativity and letting optimism shine. Develop it by using the 24×3 rule which means waiting 24 seconds, minutes, or hours before responding to another person’s idea.
  • Empathy comes next, and this means understanding how others feel. If you want to get this trait, ask people sincere questions like “Do you enjoy working here?” and listening.
  • Generosity, which refers to sharing what you have, including ideas, with others. Adam Grant’s book Give and Take identifies that medical students that are more generous become more successful throughout their careers.

Lesson 3: Wisdom, love, and respect are the core components of wholeness, which is at the peak of the Goodness Pyramid.

Have you ever actually stopped to think about why people say “life is a marathon, not a sprint?” It’s a common saying, and we know that we have to stay consistent to win, but “life” means a lot of different things to everybody.

If we instead said “wholeness is a marathon, not a sprint” that makes a little bit more sense. But wait, you might be thinking, “what is wholeness?” In a definition sense it means complete, or perfect. 

That might seem like an anxiety-inducing idea, but the more important principle of it as it pertains to goodness is that good people seek wholeness. In other words, it’s that they seek to improve.

And when it comes to business, that translates to love, respect, and wisdom.

Thinking about love in a conversation with business might seem weird, but don’t think of it as romance. It’s more about sincerely caring about the happiness and well-being of others. Love even means caring about your company and loving what you do.

Respect is the next piece, and it’s all about considering the strengths, desires, and positive actions of others. This means acknowledging how others think and feel, even if you don’t agree.

Wisdom comes last and is simply putting the knowledge gained through experience into practice. You might, for instance, understand that something is a fad and not a trend and avoid selling or utilizing that item in your business.

Good People Review

I really liked Good People, it was refreshing and gave some really great tips. This isn’t your typical business and leadership advice, and I think it’s needed in a world that’s shifting more to prioritizing personal values over profits. If you’re a leader of any kind, you’ve got to read this book!

Who would I recommend the Good People summary to?

The 37-year-old mentor that wants to know how to help those he leads to reach their full potential, the 55-year-old executive who is wanting to make their work environment a more people-centered place, and anyone that wants to become a better person.

Last Updated on September 21, 2022

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Luke Rowley

With over 450 summaries that he contributed to Four Minute Books, first as a part-time writer, then as our full-time Managing Editor until late 2021, Luke is our second-most prolific writer. He's also a professional, licensed engineer, working in the solar industry. Next to his day job, he also runs Goal Engineering, a website dedicated to achieving your goals with a unique, 4-4-4 system. Luke is also a husband, father, 75 Hard finisher, and lover of the outdoors. He lives in Utah with his wife and 3 kids.