Whitney Johnson #BIF7 Summit: Strong Sequel for Real Working Girl

Editor’s note: This is the third post in a series of BIF Summit storyteller videos, curated by the Business Innovation Factory (BIF).

While the film Working Girl came out on the big screen, Whitney Johnson, a recent music major, began her Wall Street career as a secretary. Johnson identified with the lead character Tess McGill’s “sense of pluck” and eventually rose to become an Institutional Investor-ranked sell-side equity analyst. Her inquisitive frame of mind makes her a master of details and a clear-sighted judge of circumstances. She describes herself as “very discovery-driven,” someone who looks at the “brass ring” in front of her and goes after it.

That’s one reason why she disrupted herself by walking away from a seven-figure job at Merrill Lynch over six years ago. There were no more brass rings, and she didn’t want to just keep “dialing it in,” she says: “I had peaked…I felt the pull of wanting to do more entrepreneurial things, wanting to create and build something that was more mine.” Whitney Johnson is now the Co-Founder of Clayton Christensen’s investment firm Rose Park Advisors’ Disruptive Innovation Fund, a regular contributor at Harvard Business Review, and the author of, DARE-DREAM-DO: Remarkable Things Happen When You Dare to Dream.

Teaching us never to be afraid to take risks, Johnson truly embraces all things innovative. She doesn’t paint a magical picture of disruption, she remarks it’s hard, lonely and sometimes you feel a little crazy. “I could not have imagined, in a million years, that I would end up co-founding a hedge fund with Clayton Christensen. Here’s the important thing: when we are on this disruptive path, we can’t know what will come next. But, we’re in good company.” So, Johnson asks: are you ready to disrupt yourself?

Watch Whitney Johnson’s story here:

And, follow the inspiration at the #BIF9 Summit:

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Business Innovation Models & BIFSaul Kaplan is the author of The Business Model Innovation Factory. He is the founder and chief catalyst of the Business Innovation Factory (BIF) in Providence, RI, and blogs regularly at It’s Saul Connected. Follow him on Twitter at @skap5.

Saul Kaplan




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