Matt Johnson, *13, PSY


Matt Johnson is a speaker, researcher, and writer specializing in the application of psychology and neuroscience to marketing. Following his Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from Princeton University, his work has explored the science behind brand loyalty, experiential marketing, and consumer decision-making. He is the author of the best-selling consumer psychology book Blindsight: The (mostly) hidden ways marketing reshapes our brains (BenBella, 2020), and Branding That Means Business (Economist Books, Fall 2022). 

As a contributor to major news outlets including Psychology Today, Forbes, and BBC, he regularly provides expert opinion and thought leadership on a range of topics related to the human side of business. Matt is also passionate about helping brands use neuroscience to better understand, serve, and interact with their consumers. As the co-founder of the neuromarketing firm Pop Neuro, he consults with a wide array of organizations, including as an expert-in-residence for Nike. Matt currently resides in Boston, MA, where he is a Professor of Psychology of Marketing at Hult International Business School, and an instructor at Harvard University’s Division of Continuing Education. 

Matt grew up in The Bay Area, California, and has lived and worked in San Diego, New Jersey, Berlin, and Shanghai. 

"It's impossible to be too grateful. Striving toward one's professional goals is an important pursuit, but it's important to keep a broader perspective and to cultivate a sense of appreciation along the way. Everything in moderation, except for gratitude."

During my PhD Program, I had the great pleasure of working with Amy Pszczolkowski and The Career Services team about a transition away from academia and into industry. Specifically, I was interested in transitioning into management consulting work. My experience with Amy and the team was nothing short of extraordinary. They were patient, insightful, and ultimately extremely helpful at this crucial point in my personal and professional development. Now, over 10 years later, it's amazing to me to see how much the programs have grown and evolved, and the amazing support that's provided to graduate students. I'm very excited to contribute. 

What additional advice do you have for current graduate students regarding their professional development?
I would say two things. First - really focus on your intrinsic motivation. Above any accolade, or social currency you could hope to attain, what do you really enjoy for enjoyment's sake? It's a really hard question to get at, since our natural tendencies center around inertia, mimesis, and rationalization. It's worth pausing and trying to dissect the real reasons why we're doing what we're doing, and why we desire what we desire. 

The second probably comes off as a little preachy, but I think it's important nonetheless! And it's this: try not to think of each stage of life as a stepping stone. Excessive planning, in my experience, can lead to the feeling that each of life's stages is only worthwhile in its instrumentality towards the next achievement. For example, we pass a class so that we can get closer to completing a degree, and we complete a degree so that we can get a good job, and we get a good job so we can do X, Y, Z etc. But if each stage is only treated as a stepping stone to the next, we miss out on the full richness of each of those experiences. Long story long - strive for your goals, but be flexible, and above all enjoy the process."

I have participated in the following GradFUTURES Programs: GradFUTURES Mentorship Program,  GradFUTURES Virtual Meetups

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