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7 Questions on Leadership with Grant Johnson

Name: Grant Johnson

Title: CMO

Organisation: Billtrust

As Chief Marketing Officer of Billtrust, Grant Johnson oversees global marketing. Grant is a seasoned CMO with a proven track record of more than doubling revenues, scaling businesses, building high-performance teams and transforming companies from growth stage to multi-hundred-million-dollar enterprises, including Emburse, Kofax and Pegasystems. Grant has been a key member of executive teams, helping integrate more than 20 acquisitions and foster liquidity events valued at more than $10 billion.

Grant has expertise across the entire marketing spectrum, including analytics, brand, channel, content, customer, demand, digital, generative AI, products, operations, social, inside sales and web marketing. He is passionate about developing talent and helping others achieve. Grant received an MBA from Pepperdine University and a BA from the University of California Santa Barbara. Grant's blog:

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope Grant's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

The ability to adapt strategies and tactics to motivate and lead a diverse group of multi-generational staff. From early to late career, from those satisfied with their current role to those aspiring to ground lead, you need to have multiple strategies to connect with and lead a variety of individuals with a flexible approach

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

After excelling as an individual contributor in my early 20s, I was asked to lead a group of related professionals, including one person who was older than my father. I found it challenging at first, but with good mentoring and support, I found my footing.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

Coffee. Check for hot items. Review my schedule. Get to work. As a WFH leader, I have weekly meetings with direct reports, monthly skip-levels with the next tier, quarterly all hands and 1:1 "check-ins" with the entire staff throughout the year.

I aim to spend time each day getting things done, planning and progressing initiatives, and collaborating with other execs my staff and key stakeholders to move our business forward.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

Providing real-time feedback on performance, in context, is key. Rather than wait for quarterly "check-ins" or annual reviews, it's crucial to provide both continuous feedback and offer 360 feedback to your staff to ensure they understand how they're perceived by others and can proactively address gaps or deficiencies that affect both performance ratings and the ability to advance their careers

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

The CMO Manifesto: A 100-Day Game Plan for Marketing Change Agents. It was published during my first time as a CMO in 2012 and it's a great approach to leading an organization through a systematic methodology. I have referred back to it several times over the past decade.

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

Be dependable, resourceful, and inquisitive. Learn by doing and always seek input from others so you can speed up your growth path.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

My company had completed a major merger and my staff nearly tripled to over 300. Many of the leaders and staff on my newly expanded team had a lot of fear and uncertainty over what the future would hold, how much change would be introduced, how their role would be impacted, etc. I held early meetings at the key new office sites, and met as many people in person as possible. I challenged them to "embrace change," to view it as an opportunity to grow and try new things. The net result was the vast majority got on board and we had very strong staff retention.

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