Meet the Sponsors - Eric Johnson, Johnson Financial Group

by Molly Barnes
November 13, 2020

The Wisconsin Family Business Center sponsors are an invaluable resource to FBC members. They are experts in the areas of finance, law, insurance, and investment, and they recognize the importance of family businesses to the health and well-being of the economy, the community, and of society in general. In our first Meet the Sponsors feature, you’ll meet Eric Johnson from Johnson Financial Group!

Eric Johnson, Johnson Financial Group

Tell us about your role at Johnson Financial Group. What do you enjoy most about it?
For many years I lead the commercial banking team on a journey of growth and development. I recently shifted my focus and attention to the sales and business development functions of the office. I love it because there are always new faces, new things to learn, and new opportunities to teach.

Do you have a specialty or area of focus in your role that our community would find helpful?
JFG has always focused on family owned businesses (we are one after all). We have every intent of continuing that practice.

How long have you been a part of the Wisconsin Family Business Center?
About 10 years

Please tell us about your time as a sponsor of the Wisconsin Family Business Center. What have you enjoyed most? What value have you received from being a part of the FBC community?
The topics we've been blessed to learn about have been amazing but meeting the members and getting to know their stories has definitely been the highlight. I certainly hope that the members have enjoyed the sponsor group and have found value in our experiences and knowledge.

What the biggest challenge you see family businesses face?
Legacy and succession planning. With all the wealth sitting on the sideline looking for a home, it has created an environment where business owners have more and more big picture things to consider relative to their businesses. Do I sell? If yes, when? If no, why not? Are my kids ready and/or interested in taking over? If yes, how do I let go? How do I transition? What truly motivates me every day and how does my business fit into that equation? These and many other questions are what challenge today's family business owners. These are the very questions that I truly enjoy grappling with in my conversations with owners.

What is your all-time favorite book?
Who Moved My Cheese? Why? Because it is short, practical, digestible, and always relevant.

What professional accomplishment are you most proud of?
Less an accomplishment and more a trait. Adaptability. I've gone from a service person to an individual contributor to a manager to a leader. I've successfully adapted to each of those environments, done well in each, and then been able to apply many of the lessons learned not only to my professional development, but also to client relationships along the way. After all, banking is just another business, just like all of the businesses that belong to the Wisconsin Family Business Center.

What do you want business owners and family business leaders to know about your industry?
If you are a family owned business and you think of your financial service providers as vendors, you probably have the wrong provider(s).

Please tell us about yourself, your education, and background.
I am a simple guy. Always have been, always will be. Relationships are the foundation of all things good and worthwhile. Doing good for your community, your employer, your family and yourself are the bomb. The last one, yourself, simply means you have to take care of yourself if you hope to take care of and help others. I am born and raised in Monona and graduated from the University of Wisconsin - Madison in 1988, probably the finest batch of graduates ever to come out of UW. I met an amazing woman (Terri) after college and married her within a couple years. We have four healthy, independent, responsible children, ages 17, 19, 21, and 23. I am immensely proud of all of them.

Is there anything else you would like to tell us?
If you haven't thanked Sherry lately for all the work and effort she's putting in this year, I'd ask you to do that. It's been a very unusual and challenging year and she absolutely deserves some kudos! Aside from that, be good to each other and reach out to me at any time for any reason.