Whitney Johnson | How personal disruption unlocks innovation and success
Play • 40 min

In this episode of Let Go & Lead, Maril talks with bestselling author, world-class coach and CEO and Co-Founder of Disruption Advisors Whitney Johnson. After a successful career on Wall Street, Whitney had an epiphany: she wanted to apply the immense knowledge she’d gained from modeling and analyzing stock performance to see if the same rules could be applied to people. Over a wide-ranging conversation around disruption, Whitney speaks to the power of personal disruption; explains her S-curve model, which she uses to better understand how individuals change and grow; and walks through the seven accelerants of productive disruption. At Gagen MacDonald, we believe that transformation starts within, and Whitney’s work deeply reinforces the idea: to change an organization, you need to start by changing yourself.


Learn about:


7:07 Defining the S-curve of learning

10:30 The seven accelerants of personal disruption

14:37 How to disrupt yourself

21:07 How to deal with change detractors

26:22 Tackling current workforce disruptions

33:32 How the energy of disruption accelerates change



Whitney Johnson, CEO and Co-Founder of Disruption Advisors, is a world-class coach, globally recognized thought leader, author, keynote speaker and consultant helping organizations operationalize a high-growth mindset in their leaders and teams. 

Whitney is the WSJ, USA Today, and Amazon bestselling author of Smart Growth: How to Grow Your People to Grow Your Company (Harvard Business Press, 2022). She shares her passion for personal disruption, helping individuals transform their lives, careers, teams and companies through her keynote addresses; her popular podcast Disrupt Yourself; lectures at Harvard Business School’s Corporate Learning; the award-winning books How to Build an A TeamDisrupt Yourself and Dare, Dream, Do; and frequent article contributions to the Harvard Business Review and MIT Sloan Management Review. Whitney is ranked a top talent coach by Marshall Goldsmith 100 Coaches, recognized by Thinkers50 as one of the top 10 leading business thinkers in the world and named Inc.’s 200 Female Founders of 2023. She is co-founder of the Disruptive Innovation Fund with Clayton Christensen, and a former award-winning stock analyst on Wall Street. She now applies her understanding of momentum and growth in stocks to people. 



Let Go & Lead is a leadership community created by Maril MacDonald, founder and CEO of Gagen MacDonald. Maril brings together provocateurs, pioneers, thought leaders and those leading the conversation around culture, transformation and change. 

Over the course of the past 12 years, Let Go & Lead has existed in many forms, from video interviews to resource guides to its current iteration as a podcast. At its core, it remains a place where people can access a diversity of perspectives on interdisciplinary approaches to leadership. Maril is also working on a book incorporating these insights gathered over the past several years from global leaders and change makers.  


Maril has interviewed over 120 leaders — from business to academia and nonprofits to the arts — through the years. In each conversation, from personal anecdotes to ground-breaking scientific analysis, she has probed the lessons learned in leadership. From these conversations, the Let Go & Lead framework has emerged. It is both a personal and organizational resource that aims to serve the individual leader or leadership at scale. 



At Gagen MacDonald, we are dedicated to helping organizations navigate the human struggle of change. We are a people-focused consulting firm and our passion is improving the employee experience — for everyone. For almost 25 years, we have been working with companies to create clarity from chaos by uniting employees across all levels around a single vision so they can achieve results and realize their future.

We have been a pioneer in bringing humanity to strategy execution, leading in areas such as organizational communication, culture, leadership, and employee engagement. Our Vision is to lift all humanity by transforming the companies that transform the world.


Full episodes also available on:  


Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/let-go-lead-with-maril-macdonald/id1454869525  


Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/5Gaf7JXOckZMtkpsMtnjAj?si=WZjZkvfLTX2T4eaeB1PO2A  


Google Podcasts: https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9sZXRnb2xlYWQubGlic3luLmNvbS9yc3M  




Gagen MacDonald is a strategy execution consulting firm that specializes in employee engagement, culture change and leadership development. Learn more at http://www.gagenmacdonald.com

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