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Disrupt Yourself: Putting the Power of Disruptive Innovation to Work Hardcover – October 6, 2015

4.8 out of 5 stars 107 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Johnson, a Merrill Lynch equity analyst turned entrepreneur, shows how and why to upend a career in this practical, concise work. Savvy and often counterintuitive, this superb book offers the tools, mind-set guidance, and rationale for avoiding complacency and embracing a new career path.” – Publishers Weekly

“Playing it safe is not safe in today’s fast-paced marketplace. Disrupt Yourself is a must-read for anyone looking to stand out from the crowd and pursue innovation in our highly uncertain business climate.” – Eric Ries, bestselling author of The Lean Startup

“I have used the word ‘disruption’ to understand how some companies blossom while other wither. Whitney has applied the word in a different context – to understand why some individuals succeed in remarkable ways. Enjoyed this book!” – Clayton M. Christensen, Harvard Business School, NYT best-selling author of The Innovator’s Dilemma

“Too often we're told that to be successful in leadership or business, we must fit a certain mold. Whitney Johnson knows better. Applying the lessons of disruptive innovation to personal growth, she shows us how to pursue roles suited to our own strengths, to follow our own unique way of thinking and doing—and to dramatically increase our productivity, creativity, and happiness.” – Susan Cain, NYT best-selling author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

“Wow! Disrupt Yourself wins the "plain English" award--which is to say I've seldom if ever read a better written business/career development book. The advice is compelling, clear-as-bell, research-based, and actionable. And it'll work as well for a forty-something as a twenty-something.” –Tom Peters, bestselling author, In Search of Excellence

Disrupt Yourself reads like a handbook for innovation: it shows the incredible value of recognizing what you are good at and finding unexpected ways to apply those strengths to the marketplace. The dramatic ‘jumps’ that Johnson encourages us to take truly form the basis of creativity and success.” – Steve Wozniak, co-founder, Apple, Inc. and Chief Scientist, Primary Data

“A motivating, compelling case for shifting gears right when we’ve reached our peaks. Whitney Johnson not only explains the why and how, but cheers us on along the way to greater meaning, learning, and innovation.” – Adam Grant, Wharton professor and NYT best-selling author of Give and Take

“If you have gone through your career thinking that it is smarter and safer to “stick with what you know,” get ready to have Whitney Johnson change your mind. Often what we already know can get in the way of what we don’t know. Disrupt Yourself will inspire you to make the jump onto new learning curves, innovate, and stay at the top of your game.” – Liz Wiseman, best-selling author of Multipliers and Rookie Smarts

“You already know that to have the career—and life—you always wanted, you'll need to be innovative, take risks, and spot and seize opportunities. Luckily, Whitney Johnson knows exactly how disruptive innovation gets done, and her brilliant new book is the how-to guide you've been waiting for." – Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson, Columbia Business School, best-selling author of Nine Things Successful People Do Differently and No One Understands You and What to Do About It

“Whitney Johnson’s Disrupt Yourself provides clear guidance that will help you both boost your career and become a driving force in market evolution. Her innovative approach proves that staying true to your own strengths can be groundbreaking, and often take you further than following established paths. I highly recommend this book.” – Michelle McKenna-Doyle, Senior VP, CIO, National Football League

“Leaders at all levels are often reminded that continuous learning and personal growth are key to successful careers and meaningful lives. In Disrupt Yourself, Whitney Johnson shows how to pursue them, purposefully building a foundation to keep oneself and others learning, changing, and thriving in the long term.” – Gianpiero Petriglieri, Associate Professor of Organizational Behaviour, INSEAD

About the Author

Whitney Johnson is the leading thinker on driving corporate innovation through personal disruption. She cofounded Rose Park Advisors, a boutique investment firm, with Clayton Christensen, and was an "Institutional Investor"-ranked analyst for eight consecutive years, including at Merrill Lynch. She is a frequent contributor to the "Harvard Business Review," and the author of "Dare, Dream, Do: Remarkable Things Happen When You Dare to Dream" (Bibliomotion 2012). She was named a Future Thinker Finalist by Management Thinkers50 in 2013, and one of Fortune s 55 Most Influential Women on Twitter in 2014. Johnson is cofounder of the Forty Over 40 List, recognizing women who are reinventing, disrupting, and making an impact. She is represented by the New Leaf Speakers bureau, along with other key thought leaders in innovation and business.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Bibliomotion (October 6, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1629560529
  • ISBN-13: 978-1629560526
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.9 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (107 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #49,118 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Thomas M. Loarie VINE VOICE on November 8, 2015
Format: Hardcover
“Disrupt Yourself” is the best book on career transition and development to come along in a number of years. In it author Whitney Johnson takes a page out of mentor Clayton Christensen’s “disruption” playbook to provide structure on career disruption…not how to avoid being disrupted by forces of disruption but how to leverage disruption and change one’s trajectory to increase meaning and happiness.

The “S-Curve”, more commonly called the “life cycle” has been used for years to show how some companies, products, technologies, and start-ups blossom while others wither. Johnson in “Disrupting Yourself” now adapts this to career planning.

Playing it safe is not safe in today’s fast-paced world. While some think it is smarter to “stick to the knitting”, Johnson shows why it is safer to jump to a “new S-Curve” where opportunity, steep learning, innovation, and personal growth fuel personal productivity and happiness. Shifting successfully to a new learning curve demands managing these seven variables:
• taking the right risks
• playing to one’s distinctive strengths
• embracing constraint
• battling entitlements
• stepping back to grow
• giving failure it’s due
• and being discovery driven

Johnson devotes a chapter to each.

The really big idea of this book centers on the ability to distinguish between competitive risk and market risk. Pursuing a career where there is plenty of supply (and competition) is to take market risk. We need to first assess how crowded the market is, and then what is needed to compete successfully. All who have hired have the normal distribution of resumes received for a specific job. The bulk of the resumes are indistinguishable. Competition is tough.
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There has never been a more interesting, exciting time to work in technology-fueled business transformation. The turbo-charged pace of change unlocks tremendous new opportunities. It seems like every day brings a new startup, a new technology, a new way of working, a new innovation. Many industries—from financial services to publishing—face massive shifts in their businesses, increased competition, and significant changes in customer behavior and expectations. The scale and pace of the change is without precedent. Much has been written about this digital disruption and the business strategies and tactics to address it. But, what of the associated human dimension and sometimes the human cost?

Whitney Johnson’s new book, Disrupt Yourself, couldn’t be better timed to address this urgent question. For so many of us, the pace of change can seem simultaneously exhilarating and overwhelming. In response, Whitney lends her wise, insightful voice to illustrate how disruptive innovation frameworks can be applied to our own particular lives and careers. Thriving during this time of change also means pushing ourselves out of comfort zones and accelerating lifelong learning.

Among the ideas and advice Whitney shares in the book, two in particular resonated with me the most:

Resist entitlement. As we grow in our careers and accumulate achievements, many of us develop a sense that we are entitled to success and associated rewards. After years of effort, the school we attended, the degree we earned, the certifications we achieved, the promotions gained, the titles and raises awarded can accumulate to give us the sense that we deserve something more from life. And, that actually works against our learning and development.
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Inspiring - and with clear ideas and direction for forward movement. I rarely read self-help style books; knowing it was written by Whitney Johnson automatically made this different. This is not a typical book about changing your attitude to improve your life. This has real stories of real people who... FAILED. And came back from failure to succeed in many ways. Not only does it have real world, real people examples, Whitney offers clear direction about what makes us fear failure and how to move beyond that fear. I read this book in two evenings and made notes for my next disruption. I can't wait to share it with other people who need just that nudge to action. She's a master.
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First, a disclaimer: I previously worked for a firm co-founded by Clay Christensen, the Harvard Business School professor whose theory of disruptive innovation on which this book is based. However, I'd prefer to think this uniquely qualifies me to evaluate whether in "Disrupt Yourself," Johnson has been successful in weaving the threads of Christensen's disruption theory into a fabric that can cover individual growth, both personal and professional, as well as it does business growth.

My assessment is: Bravo, Whitney Johnson! It's fun to imagine how successful business theories can be applied to individual careers and personal lives. It's quite another to successfully execute such a feat, and In "Disrupt Yourself," Johnson has managed it beautifully.

"Disrupt Yourself" is a lovely book -- not dry, not academic, not self-help-book fluffy. It is blessedly logical, and offers readers smart, actionable information. It's inspirational, but not mere inspiration. The inspiration this book provides sits atop a solid foundation. And really, how could you NOT trust a self-improvement book that includes a chapter on how and why to avoid feeling entitled?!

Johnson grounds "Disrupt Yourself" in the framework of the famous S curve often used to describe disruptive growth in business. After establishing how the S curve works in business, Johnson places the rest of the book carefully on that framework. She identifies seven variables that can affect the speed at which businesses and individuals move along their own S curves. She delves into situations in which one or more of these seven variables cause businesses and individuals to stall along the way -- or worse, reach the top, level part of the 'S', then fall right off.
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