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Life advice from Utah native, Harvard business professor Clayton Christensen an online hit

Published: Thursday, Aug. 12 2010 12:16 a.m. MDT

BYU-Idaho president Kim Clark first met Christensen in 1975 when they were both graduate students at Harvard. He found it natural that Christensen's article resonated with so many online readers.

"He stood out even then, intellectually and otherwise," Clark recalls. "He's so tall that if you see him, you'd know he literally stands out in a crowd."

Clark owned a front-row seat to the professorial exploits of Christensen while serving as president of Harvard Business School from 1995-2005 — a period that included Christensen's ascension to superstar status in the world of management theory with the 1997 release of "The Innovator's Dilemma," a New York Times bestseller.

"Clayton Christensen is a uniquely talented person," Clark said. "He is the rare combination of someone who possesses a superb intellect but is also willing to help and lift other people. Clayton is very open with his faith about the gospel of Jesus Christ — he lives it in all aspects of his life and is always willing to share it with others."

Dan Snow, a friend and former professorial colleague of Christensen's at Harvard, echoed Clark's depiction of Christensen as a very tall man who simultaneously possesses disparate attributes.

"He is a dichotomous kind of character," Snow said. "On the one hand, he's a superhuman. He works essentially three full-time jobs: He's a professor for 40 hours a week, he's a consultant for 40 hours a week and he does church work for 40 hours a week. He's a 6-foot-10 Rhodes Scholar who is far more accomplished than any other person most people know.

"On the other hand, Clayton is literally the nicest, most interesting person that you'll ever meet. If he weren't so busy, you'd love to sit at a beach with him and just talk about life because he's a really cool guy. He does woodwork in his basement. He loves to read. He tells jokes — he's a funny guy. So, in a way, he's this split character."

To read Christensen's article, go to hbr.org/2010/07/how-will-you-measure-your-life/ar/1.

Clayton M. Christensen

Age: 58

Education: B.A., BYU; M.Phil., Oxford University; MBA and DBA, Harvard

Job: Robert and Jane Cizik Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School

Hometown: Salt Lake City

Residence: Belmont, Mass.

Family: Five children with wife Christine, three grandchildren

Published works: Bestselling author of five books, including his seminal work "The Innovator's Dilemma," which received the Global Business Book Award for the best business book of the year.

Notable: Area Seventy in the LDS Church; Rhodes scholar; speaks fluent Korean

e-mail: jaskar@desnews.com

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