The CMO Files: Katy Keim, Lithium Technologies

What keeps CMOs awake at night?

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Katy Keim

Organisation: LQ Digital 

Job title: CEO (previously CMO at Lithium Technologies)

Location: San Francisco, United States


  1. Where were you born and raised?
    Outside of Detroit in Michigan
  2. What was your first job?
    I think the first one I made real money at was when I worked in the mailroom at Chrysler.
  3. What was the first product you got really excited about?
    My Schwinn bike with the banana seat, that thing flew! 
  4. Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
    I would say my Dad. He was in international banking and he travelled the world when I was kid. I am sure this is where I get my wanderlust from, and love for different landscapes and cultures. Every time I’m hauling a bag through an airport or sitting in a meeting in Dubai or London or Amsterdam, I feel very close to him.
  5. What has been your greatest achievement?
    Besides my two awesome kids, I remember being really honoured when I was selected for a leadership scholarship at my business school. There was a dozen chosen from a class of thousands of applicants and I remember feeling this kind of excitement (and pressure), thinking: ‘I really need to do something with this’.
  6. What has been your biggest mistake?
    Not taking an overseas assignment in the last ten years. Like I said, travelling is so important to me and I have neglected the calling to get away and try something different.
  7. What is your greatest strength?
    I have a lot of empathy. I think I’m quite perceptive when it comes to seeing other people’s truths and how they build relationships. I love to see connections across the business and across teams.
  8. What is your biggest weakness?
    I’m impatient. Pace matters too much to me. When I am trying to move decisively, thoughtful equals paralysing and planning equals plodding to me. It’s ridiculous. I’m wrong.
  9. What do you think is the aspect of your role most neglected by peers?
    Getting close to revenue. Marketing IS sales, just the selling of ideas, perceptions and a story…and on a longer time frame. It’s time for my peers to get their hands a bit dirtier in terms of how revenue is realised.
  10. Which word or phrase is your mantra and which word or phrase makes you squirm?
    Get stuff done or GSD is my mantra; “To be honest” makes me squirm or “we’re aligned” when we clearly aren’t.
  11. What makes you stressed?
    Dishonest or passive behaviour. And clutter. Seriously, get all that stuff off the kitchen counter.
  12. What do you do to relax?
    Read. Always read. I get lost in a story that seems real but is not my reality.
  13. What is your favourite song?
    Right now I like Bad Things by Machine Gun Kelly and Camila Cabello. Rap with a melody is a great mix.
  14. Which book taught you most?
    One book? No way. I couldn’t just pick one. What I learn every time I read a fictional book is that every single one of us has a story. I love figuring out what a person’s story is.
  15. Do you have a team or sport that you follow?
    The Golden State Warriors basketball team. I am a big fan of their coach, Steve Kerr—who uses joy and discipline to inspire and instil awesome performance. I like how strong the talent is on that team and how every star seems to play with just about the highest level of humility you can expect in the NBA. 
  16. Which country would you like to work in?
    Spain. I am sure my hidden spirit is Spanish. 
  17. Which company do you think has the best marketing?
    Right now, I think Betabrand is doing such clever and courageous things. I think they really know their audience. And have a wicked sense of humour.
  18. What do you love most about your job?
    The constant variety and range. I can go from a creative review on brand to pipeline mechanics to sales close rates in APAC to looking at our strategic partnership with Microsoft. This doesn’t even include the incredible brands I get to work with, from Sephora to USAA to HP to Spotify. My customers are totally inspiring.
  19. What is your favourite book?
    Picking one favourite is just too hard. Books that have inspired me include Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann, The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowes and God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. At the moment, I have Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead and The Sellout by Paul Beatty on my nightstand.
  20. What keeps you awake at night?
    I typically sleep like a rock. However, if I do I wake up, well then everything and anything keeps me awake. My mind has two speeds: asleep and 1,000 miles per hour.