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August 28, 2011


Absolutely agree with this. (Although I suppose it should be no surprise by now that I agree with most things you say.)

I realized this week that my most teachable/successful moments in my life were usually accompanied by several crying fits as I moaned "this is the worst/dumbest/most disastrous decision I've made in my life." That's mostly just fear expressing itself in fantastic ways.
Daring to do different can be scary. But it's so necessary!

For some reason I'm reminded of the Laurel Thatcher Ulrich quote: "Well-behaved women seldom make history."
Aren't we constantly rewriting our own history?

I don't think I am an instinctive disruptor. A nice, smooth growth chart sounds lovely. However, given what I want to fill my life with, disruption is necessary. I don't seek it out, but it is a natural result of my life priorities and choices. And, so, I must then choose to embrace the disruption.

I think most women 'define distruptive' -- but I think that may be the result of how our priorities must fit within current career/family/community frameworks.

Happy belated birthday!

Dear Whitney, I found your post on HBR and felt an immediate connection to you! Your life is a wonderful case study for for women. Here's how I'm disrupting myself: I am a former Deputy Mayor of Los Angeles turned big-firm headhunter and like you, had kids, then started a blog. Mine started as a careers blog in Chinese and English. The blog became one of the top social media for Chinese outside of China, and mostly read by fabulous ambitious Chinese women (BusinessWeek recently reported that US business school enrollment is rising due to women from China! my audience). I wrote a post poking fun at the idea of "leftover women" - where China's women age 24 and up feel are considered pitiful and leftover if they're not yet married. The post went viral and now I'm writing a book for a big Chinese publisher called "Do not marry before age 30: a headhunter's guide to bagging the man of your dreams." I've never done much writing of a personal nature, but am finding it immensely satisfying, as I can see you are as well. "The only way for a woman, as for a man, to find herself, to know herself as a person, is by creative work of her own. There is no other way." (Betty Friedan). Anyway, I'm glad to be your new blog subscriber and fan. Best, Joy Chen

oooooo- I am really glad you posted this and your HBR article because the past week I have been thinking about how sporadic and confusing my career path has been, and at times, compare myself to "others"(read men) who seem to just get on a track and work their way up. My disruptive path came about as I had to leave school early to support a husband through his PhD program, and then scramble to finish my degree and work full time after we unexpectedly divorced. Since then, I have jumped from one entrepreneurial pursuit to another, and at times, wonder where this is all taking me.

What's ironic, is that just a few days ago, I got an email from one of these "successful men", an old college friend, who has worked his way up to be a manager at a big accounting firm and now finds himself dissatisfied and trapped and who wishes he could be more entrepreneurial. He complimented me on all that I have accomplished and I responded by saying, "Are you kidding me? I don't have a clue what I am doing! "

What I have learned along the way is that you can't water down your dreams in order to save a place for the possibility of a role as a wife and mother. I feel like in my 20's, I tempered my dreams with thoughts of "oh, but I won't be able to do that if I want to have a family and stay home to raise my children" or "will this career choice keep me from fulfilling other interests and ways I would like to contribute to society?" And as a result, my efforts were more like milk toast and I did not have the impact I would have liked to have had. So it is helpful to know that other women struggle with these same issues. My philosophy now is to live in the moment and try to use whatever talents I have to make the most impact I can during this time. It may not make sense right now, because like disruptive innovations, the market may not exist yet, but if I keep moving forward, things will start to come together.

Great post Whitney! I'm with Madeline, I love a smooth growth chart. Unfortunately disruption happens whether you put it to good use or not, so thanks for reminding me that the best thing to do is make it work for you. And Happy Birthday-I'm glad you were born!

I like to think of my life as a spiral, moving up and around, each turn bringing momentum, but also precluding a long view for what's ahead. Often, I can't see what comes next, but trust that the "spring" of energy will keep things moving forward.

My birthday is in a few weeks, and I've given myself the gift of a new apartment. I don't need to move at all, but I certainly needed some "disrupting," some shaking things up. Even though I am moving only a few blocks away, my new space is quite different from my current apartment of 5 years. The place I live - it's "feel" - has a big impact of my psyche, so it will be interesting to see what other changes this little change will bring.

Dear Janna, Jennifer, Jen, Joy, Madeleine and Tamara --

This is belated, but what fascinating comments. You gave me just one more birthday present, the gift of your insight and contribution.

Sincere gratitude.

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About this blog

  • When I took a sabbatical from Wall Street to pursue a different dream and help others live theirs, I learned that women in the U.S. may be placated, even pampered, but because we aren't dreaming, we are also desperate and depressed. Drawing on a variety of sources, ranging from academic studies to pop culture, dare to dream encourages us to dream. And then to act on our dreams.


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