Karen Dillon

Karen Dillon

Senior Fellow, Global Prosperity Research


I first walked into Clay’s office more than a decade ago when I was the editor of Harvard Business Review and in search of an extra article to help fill out a pending double issue of the magazine. It was the spring of 2010, and I was curious how the soon-to-be-graduating class was feeling about heading back into a world crippled by the recession. I’d heard from Harvard Business School students that Clay had been asked to speak to the graduating class and that the students had been extraordinarily moved by what he said. When I sat down in his office that day, I was focused on my deadline. When I left, an hour and a half later, I was focused on my life.

What did we talk about that was so powerful? We talked about a handful of Clay’s business theories. But as had been clear to the students a few weeks before, Clay’s thinking was extraordinarily relevant not only to businesses, but to individuals. Every question Clay asked, every theory we discussed, resonated with me, personally. We talked about how companies go wrong in their quest to grow. How their strategy is formed through hundreds of everyday resource allocation decisions. As I’ve reflected on our original conversation in the years since then, I can see the discussion peppered with my own evolving thoughts. Was I actually allocating my own precious resources—my time and energy—to the things that mattered most to me? Did I have a strategy for my life? Did I have a purpose?

My subsequent decade of work with Clay was an important part of finding my purpose. We went on to co-author three books together, including the New York Times best-seller How Will You Measure Your Life?, Competing Against Luck: The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice, and The Prosperity Paradox: How Innovation Can Lift Nations Out of Poverty, which focuses on the important role of innovation in the process of creating prosperity across the globe. I now join my co-author on that book, Efosa Ojomo, on our continued mission to understand and share how innovation can create new markets.


  • Senior Fellow, Global Prosperity Research, the Christensen Institute
  • Faculty member, Intermountain Healthcare Leadership Institute
  • Editorial Director, BanyanGlobal Family Business Advisors
  • Editor, Harvard Business Review
  • Cornell University, BA
  • Northwestern University, MS

Researcher’s Pick