4 Short Life Lessons From Bozoma Saint John

Photo credit: Tua Ulamac

The below profile is adapted from the new book, Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World, which features practical and detailed advice from 130+ of the world’s top performers. Enjoy!


Bozoma Saint John (@badassboz) is the chief brand officer at Uber. Until June 2017, she was a marketing executive at Apple Music after joining the company through its acquisition of Beats Music, where she was the head of global marketing. In 2016, Billboard named her “Executive of the Year” and Fortune included her in their “40 under 40” list. Fast Company has included Bozoma on its list of “100 Most Creative People.” Bozoma was born in Ghana, and she left the country at 14 with her family to immigrate to Colorado Springs.

What are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?

I love Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon. Her writing style is incredibly poetic and complex. She doesn’t “allow” any laziness in reading her work; so beyond the incredible story, I learned to take my time to absorb the characters, and to reread passages when there was so much to unpack. It was also the book I asked my late husband to read when he dropped his pickup line to get to know me better. Our first date was a book review — and clearly he passed with flying colors. Two months later, he presented me with a painting of his interpretation of the book as a birthday gift. I knew then that I wanted to marry him. Anyone who could take his time to read, comprehend, and interpret Toni Morrison’s work, based on my recommendation, was someone I wanted to spend significant time with. That experience taught me that when people care, they’ll go beyond the extra mile to understand you. So Toni Morrison helped me set a high bar.

What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love?

I love to people watch. I can literally do that all day long. It’s fascinating to watch people go by. There’s so much you can learn about a culture by just watching its people walk with each other. Great places to people watch are food courts in American malls, street-corner cafes in Paris, the market in Accra . . . fashion, etiquette, PDA . . . all of it can be learned and make the observer a more respectful participant in that culture.

When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do?

I sleep. Or rather, I nap. There’s no conundrum that a 20-minute nap can’t help me unpack. It’s like a refresh button for my mind. I wake up clearer and more able to make the “gut” decision because I’ve stopped thinking. Whatever I’m feeling when I wake up is the feeling I go forward with.

If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it, what would it say and why? Are there any quotes you think of often or live your life by?

Hands down, it would be “Be the change you want to see in the world.” We spend far too much time complaining about the way things are, and forget that we have the power to change anything and everything. I’d have a secondary quote too: “I’m starting with the man in the mirror” — Michael Jackson. Same message; different delivery.


The above was taken from Tribe of Mentors, which shares short, tactical life advice from 130+ world-class performers from every imaginable field. Many of the world’s most famous entrepreneurs, athletes, investors, and artists are part of the book.

Get Tribe of Mentors at these fine retailers or at your local bookstore!  Barnes & Noble Amazon Apple iBooks | Books-A-Million | Indigo

Here’s a partial list of people included: tech icons (founders of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Craigslist, Pinterest, Spotify, Salesforce, Dropbox, and more), Jimmy Fallon, Arianna Huffington, Brandon Stanton (Humans of New York), Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ben Stiller, Maurice Ashley (first African-American Grandmaster of chess), Brené Brown (researcher and bestselling author), Rick Rubin (legendary music producer), Temple Grandin (animal behavior expert and autism activist), Franklin Leonard (The Black List), Dara Torres (12-time Olympic medalist in swimming), David Lynch (director), Kelly Slater (surfing legend), Bozoma Saint John (Beats/Apple/Uber), Lewis Cantley (famed cancer researcher), Maria Sharapova, Chris Anderson (curator of TED), Terry Crews, Greg Norman (golf icon), Vitalik Buterin (creator of Ethereum), and roughly 100 more. Click here to see the full list, sample chapters, and more.

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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12 Replies to “4 Short Life Lessons From Bozoma Saint John”

  1. Okay for having the Boz Lady in your book, you’re almost redeemed for your lack of people of color on your podcasts and women!

    1. Actually if you talk about real heroes, not just corporate successes with safe lives, he “redeemed” it by having Ayaan Hirsi Ali in this book.

    2. I’m glad you enjoy Boz’s profile, but I don’t feel the need to redeem myself. I pick guests and interviewees who have experiences and gifts to share. The filters don’t include skin color or genitalia.

  2. Hey Tim,

    I pre-ordered TOM on the Canadian iBooks store but was disappointed that, upon release, it’s not available in the U.K. store, as I’ve now relocated there. Any idea when it will be released here, as I prefer e-books for travelling?


  3. Hello Tim,

    Listening to audio of 4 he work week. I think I need your help to make my life a 4 hrs work week life.

    Currently though it appears 40 hrs a week but in actual it is becoming more 70 hrs week excluding the travel. If travel included it becomes a 85+ hrs.



  4. The change message that Bozoma speaks is quite awesome Tim. It is the difference maker. Many folks blame; few take control of their lives, by being a positive, loving example for other folks. You can either judge someone or try to point out their faults or you can treat them with love, and provide a fab example for other people to follow.

    Help people, help people, serve people, enjoy the ride. This is the key to happiness and of course, the key to business success too.


  5. Hey, I was a bit of a jerk to you on Twitter- I’m sorry about that. Bought my BFFs this book for Christmas as well as a copy for myself- and happened to start all this by buying everyone Tools of Titans when it came out! I’ve got to say, really admire your work. Happy Thanksgiving

  6. Hey Tim. I preordered Tribe of Mentors. Just opened it and it starts on page XVII? I’m missing the first 16 pages?

    Is this supposed to make sense. Or is it a missprint?

    Thanks for your help,


  7. Hi Tim,

    Let’s have a talk about product development.

    I am living in Sri Lanka and found out that there is an open market for the product and knowledge you provide.

    Thank you.