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

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  • abg
    Aug. 16, 2010 7:37 p.m.

    My family and I had the joy of being in The Christensen Familys church ward for the last couple of years (until recently moving out of state.) I cannot tell you how much love I have for Clayton and his wife, Christine. They are absolutely the sweetest, most genuine people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. They made us feel so welcome and loved, with no gain of their own. It makes me so sad to read comments such as those left by "texlds". No matter what station in life, Clayton (and his family) are not the type to take a single breath in life for granted. He is an amazing, wonderful man.

  • Flashback
    Aug. 14, 2010 8:15 a.m.

    Sound advise that the business community could learn from as well as the Congress and White House. Google the original article and read it.

  • christoph
    Aug. 13, 2010 3:06 p.m.

    I'm sure being six foot ten makes it easy to stick out; I've heard tall people can keep a job longer because they are perceived as leaders, or maybe what I heard is that super tall people don't go unemployed as much. We all struggle with being spiritual and ambitious in a telestial world. Anyone who attends a top-tier school, receives a Ph.d, or writes a popular book is going to need to be humbled------and we don't like to admit it, but in some ways we can not humble ourselves---- we have to be humble by things over which we have little control. It will happen to us all, so I am not pointing my finger at anyone. Once while at HBS, on a singles weekend get a way for LDS, in a workshop, we asked Richard Bushman how can we be successful and rich in this life (marriotts and huntsman) and receive top reward in the next life, and his answer astounded me: your career isn't as important as you think it is.

  • kevo
    Aug. 12, 2010 3:18 p.m.


    Read the article, man. It's awesome! I wouldn't go judging "rich" people because they've worked hard all their lives (luck has nothing to do with it) and pass on some wisdom to help others see what's more important. I'm not bashing you at all. I"m just trying to say that I would take advice from anyone if I could learn from it and become better, from the richest man or the poorest as long as it struck true to the right principles. Just a thought.

    (Side note: the attitude that you display in your comments reflect a closed-mind and prideful heart if you ask me. Since you didn't ask me, feel free to disregard my side note and have a nice day.)

  • Deej
    Aug. 12, 2010 2:00 p.m.

    I have known Clay for a number of years in Boston in various church callings, basketball games, and as a student at the Harvard Business School.

    I admire and respect his intelligence, wit, grace, and kindness as much as any man I've ever met on earth. And while I'm not longer active in the church, Clay is one of a few people that always reminds me that there are incredibly Christ-like people serving in the LDS Church.

    He has been immensely successful in his career, but you won't meet a more humble man. Even if he was not wealthy, he still personifies so many great qualities.

    Having nearly lost his life to cancer, he has known of hard times. I'm very, very grateful that he will live to see another say.

  • Kyle loves BYU/Jazz
    Aug. 12, 2010 1:09 p.m.

    Thanks for the background info GWK. It makes texlds coments even more ironic. texlds did you read his article??? It seems like you are so focused on where the message comes from that you are missing the message!

    Certainly rich successful people may act like they have the corner on the knowledge market. That obviously isn't true, but that doesn't mean we should ignore them. I like to learn from whoever I can regardless of whether they are rich or poor.

    In this case we have a poor boy who became a rich man giving his counsels for life and you reject it because of his current social standing.

    Who is the prideful one between you two??

  • mattrick78
    Aug. 12, 2010 11:51 a.m.

    texlds: I think despite the station in life, if you have a life threatening situation that you begin to reevaluate your priorities. I think this is what he is getting at.

  • JustAnotherAverageGuy
    Aug. 12, 2010 11:20 a.m.

    Wow, tex, jealous much? So what you're saying is that we should ignore the successful people around us, and only look to people who have not been? As for your "uneducated but heaven-taught" comment, why do you feel that's an either/or? Last time I checked, our Church is being led by 15 very well-educated, successful men who are also heaven-taught. It's possible to be both.

    This article was shared with me last week by a family member in Boston who knows Brother Christensen personally. My reaction: I thought it was great life advice, something we could all learn from. I'd suggest you read it again without the "Harvard-educated" bias, and just see what kind of spirit you can feel in his counsel.

  • GWK
    Aug. 12, 2010 11:16 a.m.

    I've known Clayton for most of my life (50 years). He grew up in a west side family of 8 kids whose parents where locally well known but barely got by. He has dealt with severe diabetes since his early 30's, had a major heart attack two years ago, and overcome a stroke. Don't know too many of our fellow West High grads who have many bigger challenges.

  • GWK
    Aug. 12, 2010 11:01 a.m.

    I've known Clayton most of my life, almost 50 years. The family never had a lot. One of eight kids in a west side family barely getting by. He's managed severe diabetes since his early thirties, had a major heart attack 2 years ago, and recently recovered from a stroke. I don't know of many West High grads who have had to deal with many bigger challenges. There is no sheltered life story here.

  • USAlover
    Aug. 12, 2010 10:50 a.m.

    I too met this good man years ago in Boston. Talented, humble, and smarter-than-you-can-believe.

    Just make sure that his membership in the church doesn't go viral because then people will disregard his advice out-of-hand.

    It's okay to be just about anything these days except a Mormon, especially an accomplished and smart one.

  • texlds
    Aug. 12, 2010 10:33 a.m.

    Venom? Not hardly. Sadness? Yes. Disgust? When I'm weak. I hope we're not caught praising the rich and famous Mormons while the poor pass us by and we notice them not. There are some among us that have cancer and nothing else. I'm sure Brother Christensen would agree that he is pretty lucky in that regard - he has a lot else.

  • Bubba
    Aug. 12, 2010 10:25 a.m.

    Dude grew up in Rose Park - not exactly top tier texlds.

  • IDC
    Aug. 12, 2010 9:40 a.m.

    texlds - Lots of venom eh? Maybe those who know what the top looks like are well suited to let you know it isn't that great.

    I think he almost lost his life to cancer, that is some suffering from what I have seen and heard. He didn't loose it all but I think he has seen trials.

    Then again, I do agree with his philosophy on life so I recognize I am biased.

  • texlds
    Aug. 12, 2010 8:58 a.m.

    What a surprise! Another Mormon of high worldly station telling others to not worry about station.

    I'd be much more interested in Christensen's thoughts were he to undergo a Job experience and lose it all - position, money, reputation, friends - all gone.

    Then I would want to know what he's learned about himself and life.

    But more wisdom from Harvard? No thank you. America is already suffering plenty from that. I'd rather listen to an uneducated but heaven-taught Central American branch president.

  • Orem Parent
    Aug. 12, 2010 4:24 a.m.

    I agree. Great article. Great comments after the article.

    It was nice to read positive and constructive comments after a great article.

  • Kyle loves BYU/Jazz
    Aug. 12, 2010 1:25 a.m.

    Thanks for some worthwhile news. I just went and read the article and really enjoyed it. A very smart and sincere man. Why can't people like this be in politics?

    I also noticed how different the comments were compared to a regular Dnews board. Maybe thats because its on Harvard Business Review or maybe its because the topic isn't as controversial but I wish that people would treat each other with more respect.

    I loved his comments on humility and put downs. Every poster should be required to read it before making a comment!!

  • JeremyJ
    Aug. 11, 2010 7:53 p.m.

    I have had the honor of getting to know and interacting with Professor--or Brother-Clayton Christensen--on multiple occasions as a student in Boston. While truly his professional accomplishments are remarkable, I believe that he is one of those marked men and women who will be better known in time for the character of charity that they emanate, even beyond secular accomplishments. This Harvard Business Review publication is such evidence. It is not a simple 'one-off', but rather one outward manifestation of a how this gentle giant has humbly unified his professional life and self-identity with the fundamentals of his faith, namely the worship and discipleship of Jesus Christ. In this way, Brother Christensen's example has left a memorable impression in my own life. He would be the first to submit that en lieu of idealizing him or other such real world heroes, we would all do well to learn from Him from whom he has learned, and seek to act in the manner of the Redeemer he seeks to serve.