In 1996, a 27-year-old woman walked into Smith Barney for her very first day as a secretary. A recent college grad with a degree in piano and no business experience, Ivy League pedigree, or marketable skills other than typing fast, it wasn’t long before she saw the future she wanted: a career as an investment banker. But that future seemed out of reach. Or was it?
That woman was Whitney Johnson, and she’s our guest on the very first episode of season 2 of the podcast. Whitney is the CEO of Disruption Advisors, a leadership development company that can help you grow your people to grow your business. She’s also the host of the weekly podcast Disrupt Yourself, whose guests have included Alan Mulally, Brené Brown, Adam Grant, Susan Cain, and Stephen M.R. Covey.
In today’s episode, Chris and Whitney cover:
- How Whitney learned to embrace, not run from, her origin story
- The massive influence Clayton Christensen and his work on disruption and innovation had on Whitney
- The importance of “throwing down the pom poms and getting in the game”
- How the “S curve” provides a powerful framework for Whitney’s work as a disruption advisor
- Whether it’s easier to disrupt yourself earlier or later in your career
- The Zen of tennis, piano, and fly fishing
And much more!
Whitney Johnson is the CEO of Disruption Advisors, a leadership development company, helping you grow your people to grow your business.
A Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Amazon bestselling author, Whitney was named by Thinkers50 as one of the ten leading business thinkers in the world (2021). She is a world class keynote speaker and a popular lecturer for Harvard Business Publishing’s Corporate Learning. She has 1.7 million followers on LinkedIn where she was selected as a Top Voice in 2020. Her course on Fundamentals of Entrepreneurship has been viewed more than one million times, and her LinkedIn Lives have more than 1 million cumulative views. In 2017, she was selected from more than 17,000 candidates for the initial cohort of Marshall Goldsmith’s 100 Coaches, and was named as the #1 Talent Coach.
Johnson is a frequent contributor to the Harvard Business Review, as well as the author of the WSJ bestselling Smart Growth, Build an A Team, a Financial Times Book of the Month, and the critically acclaimed Disrupt Yourself. In these books, she codifies the S Curve of Learning and the Seven Accelerants of Personal Disruption, both of which operationalize disruption theory by applying it to the individual. Integral to her work is the weekly Disrupt Yourself Podcast which has millions of downloads. Guests have included Brené Brown, Adam Grant, Susan Cain, and Stephen M.R. Covey.
Johnson was the cofounder of the Disruptive Innovation Fund with Harvard Business School’s Clayton Christensen, through which they invested in and led the $8 million seed round for South Korea’s Coupang, currently valued at more than $25 billion. She was involved in fund formation, capital raising and the development of the fund’s strategy.
A former award-winning Wall Street stock analyst, Johnson applies her understanding of momentum and growth in stocks to people. She was an Institutional Investor–ranked equity research analyst for eight consecutive years, rated by Starmine as a superior stock-picker. As an equity analyst, stocks under coverage included America Movil (NYSE: AMX), Televisa (NYSE: TV) and Telmex (NYSE: TMX), which accounted for roughly 40% of Mexico’s market capitalization.
She is married, has two children, and lives in Lexington, Virginia, where her family grows strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries and enjoys making jam.