211. Stephen M.R. Covey: The Speed of Trust

Today our guest is Stephen M.R. Covey, the best-selling author of the critically acclaimed book, The Speed of Trust. He is the son of Stephen R. Covey of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and co-founder of Covey Link and the Franklin Covey Global Speed of Trust practice. And today, he is here with us.

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Stephen’s work shows us that trust is a valuable lever, one that makes organizations more profitable, people more promotable and relationships more energizing.

In this episode we learn how, in the midst of a strained and possibly failing merger, Stephen zeroed in on trust – doubled down – and never looked back.

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210. Ed Catmull: Marvelous Moments

Today our guest is Ed Catmull. Ed is the co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios (along with Steve Jobs and John Lasseter) and former president of Pixar Animation and Disney Animation. He has received five Academy Awards, and his work as a computer scientist has contributed to groundbreaking developments in computer graphics. As if all that weren’t enough, Ed is also the author of the New York Times best-selling book, Creativity Inc.

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His list of accomplishments is long and are enough to fill more than one lifetime. But I have asked Ed here today to talk about something else, I want to talk people. As with so many other projects in his storied career, Ed has developed an incredible approach to managing people. Throughout the span of his career, he has made it possible for people to do their best work. He's made it possible for people to disrupt themselves and when they get to the top of that S curve to keep climbing.

In this episode we discuss how Ed developed his unique approach to management. We learn how he stuck to his recipe in the midst of mergers, leaks and when the team accidentally deleted a year’s worth of work on what would eventually become a blockbuster animated film (you will have to listen to learn which one!).

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The Real Secret

It's a film that has been seen by hundreds of millions of people.
The big idea is that if you picture something you desire, in your mind, and repeatedly think about it, you will attract what you want. Bob Proctor, who was featured in The Secret and is on our podcast this week, says this is only the starting point.

It's true that “the future must become present in our imagination.” We need to reprogram the subconscious mind––to believe that we can have something. But if we imagine, and don't do anything, that is fantasyland.

At the same time, if we do the work, without believing something is possible, it won't be. The mind shift is critical to making our work, work.

It's when we visualize it in our mind AND we put in the work to become who and/or what we imagine ourselves to be, then we cannot help but to attract what we need to bring the vision to fruition. Start to become who you want to be, mentally and physically, and the resources will begin to flow your way. Like attracts like.

I realize that I have done this, intuitively rather than deliberately, with my family.

I wanted to have a close-knit family, but when our children were small I didn't really believe it was possible (a bit outside my experience at that point). Nor was I really doing the work to make what I wanted possible.

I asked our friend and professional photographer, LaNola Kathleen Stone, to come to our home and take photos of an ideal typical day from sunrise to sunset. She turned them into a book–a book that I love. (I've shared on Instagram a few of the photos!)

Those photos helped create a picture in my mind of what I wanted my reality to be. Again, I stumbled into this process accidentally, without knowing that was what I was doing. Paraphrasing Neville Goddard, who says, I was “arranging my mind in the image of what I wanted to believe and consent to as true.”

Then I had to—and continue to need to—do the work, even when I feel like I can't, or don't want to, that a close-knit family does. For us this means spending time together: talking, eating, working, worshipping, and playing. When we have conflicts with each other, when we hurt each other's feelings, we bring it up, we talk about it, and we mend what’s frayed.

The conversations that we now have as a family––even having such a wonderful vacation together at Christmastime (learn more) ––are in no small part because of a picture I painted of what I wanted and believed could be true. Now it is true.

When we do the work, then the law of attraction kicks in. Like attracts like.

The real secret requires deciding what you want and dedicating your life to making it happen.

My best,

P.S. You can listen to my full interview with Bob here.

P.P.S. Check out my LinkedIn Live interview with Robert and Kelly Pascuzzi who have just produced their first film, thanks in part to guidance from Bob Proctor. The three of us were accountability partners for a while so I am especially excited to see them achieve this dream. The film is titled The Ravine (trailer) and stars Eric Dane, Teri Polo and Peter Facinelli. A wonderful film of redemption.

Changing the Way We Think About Money

Money and I (like sugar) have had a complicated relationship–––over the past several years I have been working hard to change my narrative; happily, I am making progress.

It turns out, money issues were a challenge for many of my ancestors as well. This past year, I have spent time each week exploring my roots. This journey has been a fascinating and wonderful puzzle. In the process, I discovered I had relatives that were in the literal poorhouse, like in a Dickens novel.

We tell ourselves stories about money, and then we make those stories come true, even if they began as lies.

And those stories get passed down for generations.

That's why I loved the podcast episode with Ashley M. Fox. Ashley, like me, and perhaps like someone you know, wanted to change her narrative around money.

Her first job out of college was helping people with positive narratives regarding money build on those narratives. Through her work, Ashley discovered a secret sauce of sorts to having a healthier relationship with money. Now, she is on a mission to share what she has learned with us.

You’ll want to listen to the podcast, but here are a few highlights:

1. No matter where you are from, what you started out with, what you do and do not have, it is possible to build wealth; you can be the transitional figure in your family. You can change your family tree.

2. If you have emotional baggage around money and families / guilt and shame, go to therapy.

3. Observe how you talk about money to yourself and around your family. What stories are you telling yourself? If you are always talking about debt, then you will likely stay in debt. Conversely, if you talk about building wealth, your brain will find a way to do that.

For example, if you say, “Oh, they are rich…”, is there an implicit statement in there, insinuating that you can't be?

4. Money is our employee––whether you are an entrepreneur or a working professional, money needs to work for you. Give your money a job.

5. Invest in companies you know, use and believe in––instead of spending that extra $100, invest it. You can start with something like StockpileWhich I do.

6. Start now. Today.

As Ashley wisely said, money is an employee, put it to work. If we are a good manager of our money, we can be in a position to provide for our family beyond this generation and do good in the world beyond our physical presence. We can more quickly scale our own S Curves while also making it possible for others to scale theirs.

If you, or someone you know, wants to change your/their narrative around money, listen to this episode, and then go back and listen to my interview with Jonathan Mendonsa about financial independence.

Again, give your money a job.

My best,

Listening as a Love Language

Last week, a friend called to tell me that he had just gotten a plum job.

A few months ago, we’d had a couple of informal conversations about his job search. He, of course, did all the hard follow-up work. But, in the process, I got to do what I LOVE, which is to help someone jump to a new S Curve. In this case, the new S curve was a new job.

I was able to enjoy the sometimes elusive high that comes from feeling effective.

Recently, my husband shared that given his busy teaching schedule and other responsibilities, he felt he didn’t have enough time to exercise. I suggested he do just five minutes per day for a week. A few hours later, I heard him walking on the treadmill.

Honestly, I was surprised at how happy that made me–––turns out, others listening to and acting on my suggestions, is a love language for me.

The Feedback Effect

I talk a lot about being open to feedback, and how feedback for ourselves and for our teams can propel us up the S Curve of Learning.

Sometimes, though less often, I think about the impact our listening and acting on feedback has on the person who proffers it.

What I’ve learned from Heidi Grant and her terrific book, Reinforcements, is that people want and need to feel effective. When we listen to and act on someone’s feedback, and let them know that we did, they get to enjoy the high of feeling effective. When they feel effective, they feel competent, and thus move up their own S Curve faster.

Here are some recent suggestions I am acting on:

First, Charlene Li is our podcast guest this week and she talks about having a Customer Advisory Board––not only current customers, but the customers of our future. Because of her suggestion, our company is going to interview (5) future customers about their needs; what could we do to meet their needs.

Second, I’m acting on the advice of Luvvie Ajayi Jones. Luvvie is a past podcast guest with whom we did a high-spirited LinkedIn Live last week. She said she wants people to be ‘troublemakers,’ to ‘fight their fears’, and then she wants to hear about what they did. Specifically, she talks about speaking up when something feels off.

Luvvie advises we ask ourselves these questions: 1. Do I mean it? 2. Can I defend it? 3. Can I say it thoughtfully?

She also said, when you make trouble, fight your fears, and ask these questions, reach out to me…so Luvvie, I’m telling you, I listened, I've fought my fear just today––I'm listening to Luvvie’s language!

What about you?

Who might get to experience that emotional high of feeling effective because you’ve told them you listened and acted on their advice?

Make someone's day.

My best,

An Ode to Our Mainstays

Last week, we celebrated the formation of the Johnson family (aka, our wedding anniversary).

It reminded me again of the importance of the ecosystems in which we find, or position ourselves, and the importance of acknowledging the people around us that we take as a given. The “left tackles of our lives.”

These are the people who are there for us, that we don't always see. I’m often like this with my husband. He provides a safe place for me, a harbor from which I can travel forth to disrupt myself. But, because he's got my blind side, sometimes I forget what it means to have him there.

I'm also thinking about the interview I recently conducted with Jamie and Melbourne O'Banion–––both are CEOs, both are very driven to succeed.

In our interview, they shared a story about a watershed moment early in their relationship. They were still in college and happened to be taking a class together. Jamie had received what she thought was a superb grade, only to discover that Melbourne's was superb plus. They realized then that if their relationship was going to work, they could not compete with one another… they had to support one another.

Jamie and Melbourne understood an essential truth – they were one another’s mainstay. In life, they would each be the other’s constant. They would create with one another rather than compete against each other.

I think this is true at work as well. Successful professional partnerships, whether short lived or long term, should ask the question, how will we create versus compete? How will we focus on supporting, propelling the whole to success, rather than focusing on singular achievements?

Recently, I read an HBR article by Joel Podolny and Morten Hansen about Apple's organizational structure. I was struck by the adherence to this operating principle. Because of the horizontal dependencies, people who are promoted to senior management first must master how to be good collaborators with their peers.

Collaboration builds trust, battles entitlement, and disarms the ever-encroaching ego.

This is further evidenced by research from the Arbinger Institute. They propose that the health of an organization is determined not by how well people manage up or down (where we are inclined to get along with the people ‘above’ or ‘beneath’ us) but with our peers (people to the left or the right). Are we aware and careful about the needs and challenges of people lateral to us? (Learn more in my interview with James Ferrell.)

Which brings me back to our anniversary. I’ve posted some photos at Instagram (@Johnsonwhitney). One in particular, is of my husband and I looking to the horizon. My friend Etta, who I have the privilege of working with in the Relief Society, shared with me the following quote from Anne Morrow Lindberg and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

Love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking outward together in the same direction. For, in fact, man and woman are not only looking outward in the same direction; they are working outward.

Thinking broadly, anyone we live or play or work with is a partner. When we face each other, we may be distracted (think first love). We might also be sizing one other up, getting ready to compete. But, when we look forward to the horizon, we are thinking about moving along the S Curve of creation, a continuous pathway to our and our partner's potential.

You can listen to the full episode with Jamie and Melbourne O'Banion here.

My best,


203. Jamie & Melbourne O’Banion: In Good Company

When I think of our guests this episode, I am reminded of the Turkish proverb, “No road is long with good company.” Jamie and Melbourne O’Banion are on a disruptive journey and have most certainly found themselves in good company.

Jamie is the CEO and founder of Dallas-based BeautyBio which has more than US$100 million in annual sales. She was named one of Forbes Magazine’s four female entrepreneurs to watch, is a sought-after speaker, and helps mentor 12-to 18-year-old girls in entrepreneurship. All this, while being a mother of three. The former Miss Teen Texas, runner-up Miss Teen America, and model launched her initial beauty care line on the HSN channel in June 2011 and it immediately sold out. Her products remain a top seller on the network to this day.

In 2016, Melbourne co-founded Bestow, Inc., an insurance technology company, where he serves as the CEO. Bestow has now raised more than $70 million from investors. His work with Bestow, including the Bestow Foundation that helps those in need of financial support during a crisis or disaster, is work he does in addition to founding and running O’Banion Capital since 2012 and being a partner with Jamie in BeautyBio since 2008.

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Join us as today for a real conversation about balancing marriage and parenting while also building a business. Jamie and Melbourne talk about what support in action looks like and share the unique way they keep the entire family focused and fired up!

Listen to the episode in the player below or download and enjoy it on Apple Podcasts. If you found this or other episodes of Disrupt Yourself useful, please leave us a review!

Listen to the episode in the player below, or download and enjoy it on iTunes. If you’re so inclined, please leave us a review!


Feedback, Failure, and Growth

When was the last time you received feedback? How did you respond?

These are important questions. I recommend asking them of people you may want to hire.

The answers I’m looking for are: a) recently, preferably today or yesterday; b) because of the feedback, I course-corrected; implemented at least a part of what I heard.


Because if someone has received feedback in the recent past, it probably means they receive feedback pretty regularly, which is the result of being open. It also means people trust it will be well received—no retaliation.

Imagine then my (almost) delight when in the last twenty-four hours, I myself received feedback. It was uncomfortable in each instance for my colleagues to tell me that something might be misperceived, I had offended, and something could be improved.

Encouraging, but still uncomfortable.

We all have an ego, an identity which, when challenged, can leave us feeling like we are in a free-fall. Feedback is an invitation not to be who I am today. But, Who am I if I don’t know who I am? The price of a new, better self, is my old self. Paying it, is personal disruption.

And I’m not just talking about negative feedback. It's more than what we should or should not be doing.

We can be equally impervious to or reluctant to receive, positive feedback. Just a few hours ago I received a compliment. I had to write it down because if I didn’t, I would forget. Like amnesia! But if we want to climb an S Curve faster, we play to our strengths. Strengths that are often invisible to us, but glaringly obvious to those in our orbit.

If we are going to climb an S Curve, we need feedback. We need to be reminded regularly of what we are doing well––and actually acknowledge what we do well—so we can consciously do more of it. We also need to know what we aren’t doing well—so that we can reassess and learn from it.

The fastest way to get that information is for people around us to tell us. This is certainly true when it comes to character development. If no one tells us what we could do better, or we ignore what we are doing well, our growth will be stunted.

Feedback accompanies failure. When things don’t go as planned what can we learn? How will we course correct?

That’s the topic of our podcast this week. It’s our 200th episode, A 45-minute deep dive on how failure is an important feedback mechanism that helps us move up our current S Curve. It’s also the seventh in our ongoing series around the framework of personal disruption that began with Episode 80, where we talked about Why Disrupt Yourself. We encored that episode at the end of 2020.

I love these insights from Napoleon Hill.

  1. Every adversity brings with it the seed of an equivalent advantage.
  2. Failure is a man-made circumstance; it is never real until it is accepted by us as permanent.
  3. Failure is a climax in which one has the privilege of clearing the mind of fear and making a new start in a different direction.

So, when was the last time you received feedback? And what did you do? What might you do differently next time? Remember, we only get well-intended feedback if others know we are receptive to it.

Are you open?

My best,

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