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Anthony Tjan
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Anthony (Tony) Tjan is CEO and Founder of Cue Ball, a venture and growth equity firm investing in the information media and consumer sectors. Most recently, he was Senior Partner with The Parthenon Group, a leading strategy consulting firm where he continues to serve as Vice Chairman. He was also a long-standing special advisor to Richard Harrington, the former CEO of Thomson Reuters Corporation (NYSE: TRI), the world’s largest information services company. Harrington recently joined Cue Ball as Chairman and General Partner.

Tjan is perhaps best known for founding the pioneering Internet firm, ZEFER (now an NEC subsidiary), a company that led the architecture and launch of several of the earliest commercial websites and online applications. Mr. Tjan started his career with McKinsey and Company where he focused on consumer and media clients and is one of the World Economic Forum’s Global Leaders for Tomorrow. He holds an A.B. degree from Harvard College, M.B.A from Harvard Business School and was a Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Entries by Anthony Tjan

The First Strategic Question Every Business Must Ask

(0) Comments | Posted February 12, 2014 | 2:07 PM

What business are you in? It seems like a straightforward question, and one that should take no time to answer. But the truth is that most company leaders are too narrow in defining their competitive landscape or market space. They fail to see the potential for "non-traditional" competitors, and therefore...

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How to Get the Answer You Want

(0) Comments | Posted December 12, 2013 | 8:55 AM

business meeting

You have a meeting or an important discussion coming up. What is your real objective? If it has anything to do with selling, how can you maximize the likelihood of success?

And just to be clear, your objective almost certainly does have something to do...

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The Power of Restraint: Always Leave Them Wanting More

(1) Comments | Posted October 23, 2013 | 1:56 PM

The setting: the spectacular office of one of the most respected names in entertainment, a senior executive in the motion picture industry. The players: the executive, accompanied by his bevy of direct reports and support staff, plus a CEO friend of mine and his chairman (we'll call him Mr. Chairman).

...
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It Takes Purpose to Become a Billionaire

(0) Comments | Posted September 19, 2013 | 1:01 PM

What do billionaires have in common? What is it that they do better than anyone else? Why do we admire them, or their companies' products and services, so much?

I've spent some time trying to identify common traits in the Forbes list of billionaires and other similar lists of the...

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The Most Important Job Interview Question

(234) Comments | Posted October 4, 2012 | 9:00 AM

At colleges and business schools across the country, the new academic year is just getting under way and with it a new recruiting season for talent.

At my venture firm, Cue Ball, our day job is to be seekers of great talent with whom we can partner, invest, and grow...

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Business Needs More Judo, Less Karate

(2) Comments | Posted January 25, 2012 | 3:45 PM

Consider two hypothetical restaurants: type one and type two.

Restaurant type one: Imagine yourself wandering the streets of a new city. You could be on Ocean Drive in South Beach, or Piazza Navona in Rome. You're thinking about dinner, and you come across a restaurant conveniently located on a busy...

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Don't Send That Email. Pick up the Phone!

(18) Comments | Posted November 4, 2011 | 1:34 PM

Around this time last year, I wrote about how we need to get back to allowing conversation to occur without texting, emailing, browsing, Tweeting, Facebooking, or doing whatever else zeros and ones can do these days on smart phones, iPads, notebooks, etc. I am as guilty as the next person...

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Keeping Great People With Three Kinds of Mentors

(2) Comments | Posted August 18, 2011 | 10:43 AM

To attract and retain great people, several things need to coalesce. From the extrinsic reward of a salary to the more nuanced (and more important) intrinsic reward of people feeling that they have a meaningful role, it requires thought and a proactive approach to keep talent once you've got it.

...
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Learning Optimism With the 24x3 Rule

(3) Comments | Posted July 27, 2011 | 4:13 PM

One of my greatest mentors was the late Jay Chiat of TBWA Chiat Day, an iconoclast in the field of advertising with a constant imagination for possibilities in business and life. Jay embodied the three traits of a "lucky attitude" that I described in my last post: humility, intellectual curiosity,...

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Why Some Entrepreneurs Have all the Luck

(5) Comments | Posted July 12, 2011 | 3:32 PM

Some business builders just seem to have more luck than others. In fact, many of the entrepreneurs and business builders I know say luck is a driving factor in their success.

But luck in business isn't entirely, well, luck. There's a popular saying that "you make your own luck." This...

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The Five-Step Failure Checklist

(24) Comments | Posted April 17, 2011 | 11:36 AM

For Harvard Business Review's April issue on failure, I penned a piece on the experience of going through a failed IPO. In one context or another, you've likely failed, too. You may have chosen to frame it some other way ("experience," "lessons learned," etc.), but it was failure.

First, welcome...

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How to Align Employee and Company Interests

(5) Comments | Posted December 15, 2010 | 9:50 AM

I spent time with each of my team members recently to focus on the top priorities for our firm Cue Ball and to make sure we were all on the same page. I asked each person to prepare a list of their top five priorities. In our individual review sessions,...

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In Negotiations, Play Stupid to Win Smart

(1) Comments | Posted December 7, 2010 | 9:54 AM

In my last blog, I shared with you one of my partner's sayings that he learned from his uncle, "play stupid, and win smart." His uncle was a skilled poker player with an uncanny ability to hide his emotions. Other players bought into his "play stupid" routine, and he'd later...

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Dear Entrepreneur, Avoid First-Impression Mistakes

(1) Comments | Posted November 29, 2010 | 1:24 PM

Poor first impressions are avoidable. I'm amazed by some of the really unfortunate mistakes that people make during important first meetings, whether it's a job interview, an important pitch, or other high stakes first-time business encounters. The secret to avoiding these mistakes is to spend time preparing before the meeting.

...
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The Best Business Model in the World

(0) Comments | Posted November 10, 2010 | 3:39 PM

One of the "golden rules" of investing we have at our firm, Cue Ball, is that we value the business model over the financial plan. In fact, we value the business model over any particular sector for investment and like to say that we are "business model driven" (versus sector-driven)....

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Dear Entrepreneur, Think Cash, Not Ideas

(1) Comments | Posted November 3, 2010 | 2:10 PM

Last week NBA legend-turned-entrepreneur Magic Johnson sold his Starbucks franchises back to the corporation for a reported $75 million. Rumor has it, he's freeing up some cash to invest in a professional sports team (he also sold his stake in the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team).

About 12 years ago,...

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The Fallacy of Financial Metrics

(1) Comments | Posted October 27, 2010 | 11:20 AM

In both entrepreneurial and larger companies, we too often spend time focusing on the desired financial performance target, rather than the inputs that drive those numbers. Because boards, investors and management demand an objective way to measure performance, we often go right to the result without focusing on what caused...

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Make Luck Work in Your Favor

(1) Comments | Posted October 11, 2010 | 11:57 AM

This blog was co-authored with Tsun-yan Hsieh.

Do a quick Google search of any prominent entrepreneur, and you will see at least one story about the role of luck in his or her success or failure. Uncertainty is at the heart of entrepreneurship and business building. Without it, there would...

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The Three Roles of Great Entrepreneurs

(1) Comments | Posted October 5, 2010 | 1:21 PM

Every start-up entrepreneur has an overwhelming amount to get done -- the "to dos" are constantly outrunning the "dones." It is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and endless hours, and you often forget that running really hard does not necessarily equate with running in the right direction....

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Strategy as Jazz vs. Symphony

(0) Comments | Posted September 21, 2010 | 11:17 AM

I have had the privilege of spending a lot of time as a strategic advisor and investor across the size spectrum -- from small early-growth companies to large Fortune 500 companies. The basic tenets of growth strategies are common: establish a clear and compelling vision; define a durable competitive advantage;...

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