Best-selling author Whitney Johnson (“Disrupt Yourself”) explores her passion for personal disruption through engaging conversations with disruptors. Each episode of this podcast reveals new insights about how we work, learn, and live.
Danny Ainge: Disrupting Basketball, Disrupting Life
Danny Ainge has a storied career in the NBA as a star player, coach, advisor, and executive, currently with the Utah Jazz.
To say that sports are Danny Ainge’s life is an understatement. The work, the preparation, the visualization, and competition create a meditative focus for him. Sometimes this was all-consuming, and as a husband, father, and now grandfather, he came to a point where he had to take a step back.
Danny and Whitney talk about how basketball – a seemingly simple game – has been disrupted multiple times, even during his career. He also explains how the S Curves of playing and coaching are different but deeply intertwined, and why hiring women was the best move he made as a leader.
Reggie Fils-Aimé: Creating a Culture of Mentorship at Nintendo
Back in 2004, the marketing definition of a "gamer" was narrow. It was young, and mostly male, and the video game industry was starting to stagnate. But Nintendo was poised to disrupt the gaming landscape (as it had done previously in the 1980s), and re-open the video game community to everyone. In North America, they had help from an enthusiastic new marketing VP named Reggie Fils-Aimé.
Reggie later became president of Nintendo of America, and during his 16-year tenure with the company, he became its public face in the West. Video game fans around the world looked forward to his presentations and game announcements because they could tell he loved "Super Mario Bros.," "Pokémon," and "The Legend of Zelda" as much as they did. Nintendo's big swings resulted in some of the best-selling game systems in history: The Nintendo DS, the Wii, and the Switch.
Reggie has since retired from Nintendo, but his new book "Disrupting the Game" recounts the successes, risks, mistakes, and many mentors he found along the way, including Satoru Iwata, the late president and CEO of the company.
Lindsey Shipley (Lactation Link): Natural Things Don't Always Come Naturally
Parenthood is arguably the ultimate S Curve of learning. We read the books, we get advice, and we plan the perfect Pinterest nursery. But we don't REALLY know what we're in for until we hear that first cry.
Lindsey Shipley saw this gap in parental preparedness, specifically when it came to breastfeeding. After giving birth to her own kids, she observed the current hospital system wasn’t providing new moms with the confidence and knowledge they need to breastfeed.
So she set out to build an online business for breastfeeding consultation called Lactation Link, an extraordinary feat in itself. But she did it while raising her own family and battling life-threatening cancer 4 times over.
In the midst of recovering from surgeries and chemotherapy, Lindsey says she “couldn’t sit still.” Today her company serves 1,000 families per month and was recently acquired. Her community of 130,000 followers on Instagram is a testament to how much she’s helped families with newborns over the years.
Lindsey shares her inspiring story of survival, service, and family.
Frans Johansson: Diversity Is Your Competitive Advantage
In 15th century Florence, the Medici family was well-known for patronizing great artists, scientists, engineers, and writers. This investment in cross-disciplinary thinking planted the seeds of the Renaissance, a time of extraordinary growth and enlightenment in Europe.
Today, we have other words for this practice: Diversity & Inclusion. Author, speaker, and consultant Frans Johansson wrote "The Medici Effect," about how expanding your "surface area" of perspectives can help companies, families, governments, and any organization benefit from the alchemy of diversity. And he has the stories and data to prove it.
Frans' book was originally published in 2004, and has exploded in popularity as D&I and social justice conversations move to the front of our culture. In this fascinating conversation, Frans and Whitney unpack the philosophy of intersectional diversity, and focus on very practical ways to activate it in your organization.
Anne Chow: There's No Such Thing as Failure - Only Success & Learning
Getting your "big break" rarely comes down to luck. But it's also hard to engineer a breakthrough moment. Anne Chow believes it's a combination of science and serendipity: Planning ahead so you can seize a lucky moment when it appears. Her career embodies that philosophy.
Anne is the CEO of AT&T Business, and a 2nd generation American. As the daughter of Taiwanese immigrant parents, their outlook on success was tremendously formative for her.
She's a Julliard-trained musician who became an engineer before one mentor suggested she try sales as a path to leadership. Despite being rejected multiple times, she credits that unlikely S Curve jump as the key to her long-term success as an executive.
Anne and Whitney discuss the resilience it takes to stay with one organization for so long, how to make our inherent human biases work for us, and why it's time to re-think what retirement looks like in the 21st century.
Sarah Jaffe: "Work Won't Love You Back"
When we spend 50-60 of our waking weekly hours at the office, our "work family" sometimes eclipses our actual one. Companies capitalize on this. Our jobs become our identities. Our work becomes very personal. And this can lead to emotional disaster during career changes, layoffs, and other transactions.
What if we valued work differently? What would the world look like if we stopped treating work itself as our purpose, but as a means to enjoy a more important purpose: Family, relationships, hopes, dreams, and love?
That’s just the starting point of Sarah Jaffe’s book, "Work Won’t Love You Back." Sarah is a journalist who covers labor issues and social movements, and she’s observed a major shift in the way we view our jobs.
She profiles teachers, interns, programmers, and professional athletes to identify which kind of work is valued, and which is not. And as “The Great Resignation” has hinted, many people want out — but where are they actually going?
I love these podcasts! Each one is packed with invaluable insights. The episode with Russ Wheeler offers a fascinating look at patterns for growth - specifically how after mastering a role, he would take on new positions that may have looked like a step back, but instead offered the learning opportunities to catapult him in new directions. I highly recommend listening to these interviews each week!
Every week I invest in myself by listening to Disrupt Yourself. I’m so grateful for Whitney and her insights, guests who are interviewed and the wealth of knowledge they bring.
This podcast has helped me to understand how I have prospered by disrupting myself. I share Disrupt yourself with everyone I meet.
Thank you Whitney for your generosity, for giving so freely to individuals and community. I was at NAU recently for an ASID meeting with the Design Department and I shared one of your podcast with the leaders and they told me that you came and met with the students.
Thank you for caring so much. You have truly enriched my life & I'm so grateful that I was able to come to know Disrupt Yourself.
Disrupt Yourself is a favorite in my feed! I'm consistently impressed by the engaging conversations, insightful content, and actionable ideas. Not to mention, Whitney is consistently giving us a masterclass on what it means to be a fantastic interviewer. My sincere thanks to Whitney and her podcast team for putting this fabulous show out into the world!