The CMO Files: Katie Jansen, AppLovin

What makes you stressed? "When projects aren't built on a good foundation, they're hard to manage, and you can't produce quality work."

Name: Katie Jansen

Organisation: AppLovin

Job title: Chief Marketing Officer

Location: San Francisco, CA

Katie Jansen is Chief Marketing Officer at AppLovin, a comprehensive platform that helps mobile game developers of all sizes publish, market, and expand their businesses. Business Insider has named her one of the most powerful women in mobile advertising. She was previously Vice President of Marketing at PlayFirst, a mobile gaming publisher acquired by Glu in May of 2014.

Where were you born and raised? Santa Cruz, CA

What was your first job? I was a smoothie maker at Jamba Juice.

What was the first product you got really excited about? As far as tech products, likely a Walkman. I also really loved my Barbie Dream House and my basketball & hoop.

Who has been the biggest influence on your career? My parents. My dad is the hardest working person I know. No challenge is too big for him, and his work ethic and thoroughness helped make me who I am today. My mom used her intellect, love of efficiency, and her helper spirit to balance work and kids at a time when it wasn't always the norm.

What has been your greatest achievement? Building a marketing team from the ground up at AppLovin has been a big accomplishment. Growing a team and business while balancing family isn't always easy, but I keep family my focus. My kids are everything, and I want to shape them into caring, smart contributors to our society. I have my husband to thank for helping to keep me grounded. Every day I'm amazed that I got to marry my best friend and that our relationship only continues to grow, even with all that life throws at us.

What has been your biggest mistake? I've made a lot of mistakes. At times I can get too invested in things that I care about, and I take it hard when they don't turn out as planned. I think the most important thing though is to take a step back, acknowledge my mistake, and then learn from it.

What is your greatest strength? I'd like to think I'm pretty efficient. I can naturally pick up on areas that can be streamlined and I can visualise the steps needed to get things done. I have a good memory too, which helps.

What is your biggest weakness? Chocolate ;) Specifically dark chocolate or Swiss chocolate, but really, any chocolate will do. 

What do you think is the aspect of your role most neglected by peers? In tech, it's probably brand marketing. Making decisions that align with the brand and not being afraid to say "no" to seemingly good opportunities that don't align. I started as a digital marketer, and it took me a while to realise that not everything has a very clear path to a KPI or can be immediately tracked. Sometimes you just have to believe and make choices that you know matter for the brand. I found this to be especially true for things like billboard campaigns and public relations.

Which word or phrase is your mantra and which word or phrase makes you squirm? I use the phrase "do the do," basically meaning to just get things done. It doesn't mean it will be easy, but you'll never get things done if you don't just start. As far as phrases that make me squirm, I can't get behind the "lean in" mindset. Encouraging a culture of trying to "level up" to the status quo isn't right—we need to change the status quo.

What makes you stressed? When projects aren't built on a good foundation, they're hard to manage, and you can't produce quality work. This is something I try to instill in my team because it's a skill they can apply to any role. Also, I'm stressed out by bad drivers.

What do you do to relax? Just spend time with my family and friends. I also work out every day. I'm into kickboxing, yoga,'s important for me to stay active.

What is your favourite song? I love music. I could never pick just one song. I'm diggin' Rex Orange County and The 1975 right now.

Which book taught you most? The book that really woke me up to the world was Uncle Tom's Cabin. I read it three times in a row when I was about eight years old. It gave me perspective on an America that was completely different from what I had learned about before. It taught me that history is never black and white, and it opened me up to the perseverance of the human spirit.

Do you have a team or sport that you follow? Golden State Warriors.

Which country would you like to work in? New Zealand—isn't that where all the techies are going?! ;)

Which company do you think has the best marketing? There are a lot of companies with great marketing, but the first one that comes to mind is Mailchimp. They're on point with everything from content to swag, and it's helped them stand out from the crowd. If you look at how fast they've grown, it's proof that creativity and thinking outside the box pay off.

What do you love most about your job? The company I work for, and the independence I have in running our team. It's very rewarding to take a brand from pretty much nothing—five people in a tiny office—to a huge tech brand.

What is your favourite book? I could never pick a favorite book. It feels so wrong. I read a book a week—I kinda get obsessed. I read the Game of Thrones series twice in a row. Right now I'm in the middle of Bad Blood, the book about Theranos.

What keeps you awake at night? Everything :) My mind runs non-stop.