I honestly did not expect to enjoy Disrupt Yourself …
At a cursory glance, Whitney Johnson’s business background and a distinct emphasis in some early reviews on innovation, financial analysis, and so on turned me off. I tend to go for more of a leadership and personal development focus and this seemed way too “businessy“, if that word exists.
However, I heard the author speak during a webinar and my attention was fully engaged from the first minute. Whitney Johnson is a successful businessperson, but beyond that she is someone who wants sincerely to help others. As I began to read the book, learning started to occur and that learning has not yet stopped. That is possibly the highest praise I can give a book.
We are first introduced to a graphic called the S-Curve Model, which originated with Everett M. Rogers. This simple and graceful upward curving line provides both understanding and comfort for those of us who sometimes struggle with the pace of learning and change. Anyone who takes the time to learn this model will benefit both personally and professionally … if nothing else, we will have an easier time as we travel through transition.
The bulk of the book dives deeply into the heart of her ideas: “… seven variables which can speed up or slow down the movement of individuals or organizations along the curve.” Each chapter, a gem in itself, follows the upward sweep of the S Curve.
This books includes elegant illustrations and practical learning, two things not always found together. My personal favorite section was on “distinctive strengths“. I have some affinity for any discussion around “strengths” versus “weaknesses”, because I believe that when we focus on identifying, building, and using our strengths, we receive maximum return on our investment of time and energy.
“Distinctive” is a key word here. We may have strengths which are things we do well which do not set us apart from others who also do those things well. We may also talk ourselves into considering something a strength, when it is really something we enjoy doing, regardless of skill level.
Distinctive strengths are self-determined, but Johnson provides six dynamite questions to help you name what makes you an effective competitor. She then advises on how to match your distinctive strength with an unmet need, which seems obvious, even though we often do not do this. Finally, she plants this particular point firmly and clearly on the S-Curve, to help us understand the developmental nature of the model.
Johnson could have written an entire book or at least an extended professional article focused just on the one variable I mentioned above and the rest of the chapters are equally rich.
Disrupt Yourself is simply one very useful little book and I can easily recommend it to anyone who wants to change, needs to change, or works with those who want or need to change.
If you are a leader, want to lead, or develop leaders, you better buy this book, memorize it, and sleep with it under your pillow … and yes, I am being absolutely serious.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of Disrupt Yourself for review, but am happily investing in several more copies to share with coaching clients who need to grow and change effectively
Whitney Johnson is an investor, speaker, author, and leading thinker on driving innovation through personal disruption. Johnson is the co-founder of Rose Park Advisors, along with Clayton Christensen where they led the seed round for Korea’sCoupang, currently valued at $5+ billion. Having served as president from 2007-2012, Johnson was involved in fund formation, capital raising, and the development of the fund’s strategy. During her tenure, the CAGR of the Fund was 11.98% v. 1.22% for the S&P 500.
Read more about her business activities HERE …
Johnson has received widespread recognition for her work and ideas. She is a 2015 Best in Talent Finalist for Management Thinkers50, one of Fortune’s 55 Most Influential Women On Twitter in 2014, and a fellow at the Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Awards. She co-founded the popular Forty Women Over Forty to Watch. Johnson and her work have been covered in The Atlantic,BBC, CNN, Fast Company, the Guardian, Harvard Business Review,Wall Street Journal, and more.