Success and the Art of Personal Disruption
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“Disrupt yourself over and over again.” — Whitney Johnson
I’ve always suspected there was a connection between music, art, and business.
Some of the greatest entrepreneurs I’ve known (or known about) came out of an art background. Paul Graham, founder of Viaweb, which was later sold to Yahoo and turned into Yahoo Stores, was trained as a classical painter. Paul Lemberg, also an accomplished tech-entrepreneur and business coach, painted before learning to code and eventually build companies.
And, musicians, in particular, especially classically-trained ones, often see and hear patterns, relationships, and dynamics so many others miss. They get how things go together in a way that creates something bigger than the pieces. Which fascinates me, in part, because so many are also so disinterested in business, yet could make such extraordinary contributions from exploring the pursuit of their art on a very different type of canvas or instrument.
So, when I had a chance to sit down with classically-trained pianist, Whitney Johnson, to find out what inspired her to move to New York City and make a giant splash—not at Carnegie Hall or Lincoln Center, but…on Wall Street—I jumped.
Over the last two decades, coming out of a music background and starting with zero knowledge in finance, Whitney became a top sell-side analyst, frequent commentator, contributor to the Harvard Business Review, and president and co-founder of Clay Christensen’s investment firm Rose Park Advisors.
Embracing an approach to business and life that encourages you to “disrupt yourself,” Johnson’s focus now has evolved beyond financial markets and taken a deep dive into what it takes to succeed. Not just in business, but in life. To live a good life.
In this week’s episode of Good Life Project, Whitney and I explore her fascinating journey, the unique lens she brings to everything she does, her philosophy of ceaseless personal disruption, and what inspired her to write her latest book and make some fairly provocative life choices.
Jonathan Fields is a dad, husband, author, speaker, lifestyle innovator, and entrepreneur who produces the acclaimed Good Life Project web show, blogs at JonathanFields.com, and runs book marketing educational venture TribalAuthor.com. His latest book Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt Into Fuel For Brilliance was named #1 personal development book of 2011 by 800-CEO-READ. He has been featured in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, FastCompany, Inc., Entrepreneur, USA Today, People, CNBC, CNN.com, PBS Nightly Report, O Magazine, Elle, Vogue, Self, Fitness, Yoga Journal, and thousands of other places that sound cool, but don’t impress his daughter all that much. You can also check him out on Facebook and Twitter.
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