The Badass Brand-Builder: Bozoma Saint John (#288)

“We spend far too much time complaining about the way things are and forget that we have the power to change anything and everything.”

– Bozoma Saint John

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 in its acquisition of Beats Music.

In 2016, Billboard named her Female Executive of the Year, she appeared on Fortune’s 40 under 40, and Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People.

Bozoma was featured in Tribe of Mentors, but this conversation covers topics that go far beyond what was covered in the book. Enjoy!

You can find the transcript of this episode here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

Lessons from Bozoma Saint John -- From Spike Lee to Uber, From Ghana to Silicon Valley

Want to hear a conversation with a mentor from Tribe of Mentors? Listen to this episode with Terry Crews, in which we discuss his workout and diet routine, overcoming failure, discovering happiness, and much much more. Listen to it here (stream below or right-click to download):

Terry Crews — How to Have, Do, and Be All You Want

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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

Selected Links from the Episode

  • Connect with Bozoma Saint John:

Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

Show Notes

  • Introducing this year’s most-requested guest. [06:46]
  • Why is Bozoma’s currently pinned tweet a Nietzsche quote? [07:38]
  • Bozoma’s journey from the US to Africa and back to the US. [10:25]
  • Why did Bozoma’s family wind up in Colorado, and what were her takeaways from this time in her life? [12:00]
  • How did Bozoma develop the ability to pursue goals so boldly, and does it run in the family? [17:09]
  • What was Bozoma’s parents’ reaction when she lost her race for student council? [19:18]
  • How did Bozoma manage to bring Jay-Z to her university? [22:04]
  • How did Bozoma lobby her parents for a year-long sabbatical from medical school, and what were her plans for that time? [27:50]
  • Armed with smarts and hustle, here’s how Bozoma got by without money or parental financial support. [32:49]
  • What happened when Spike Lee asked Bozoma to read an early draft of Bamboozled while she was answering phones at his ad agency. [39:11]
  • Critical decisions that forged Bozoma’s career. [43:43]
  • Why did Bozoma fail at her first attempt at helping run a company in the fashion world? [48:46]
  • Bozoma talks about coping with her husband’s terminal cancer diagnosis. [50:50]
  • How Bozoma got involved in Beats Music. [54:29]
  • Why has Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon had such an impact on Bozoma’s life? [57:19]
  • What helped Bozoma through the grieving process after losing her husband? [1:01:20]
  • What has helped Bozoma overcome feelings of anger and learn self-forgiveness? [1:05:26]
  • Elaborating on a policy of not making pro and con lists — and being sure to listen to what instinct is trying to tell us. [1:11:42]
  • Worst career advice encountered, and people who inspire Bozoma to live more boldly. [1:17:03]
  • In what way does Bozoma find Arianna Huffington particularly inspiring? [1:22:00]
  • How did Bozoma know Uber was the next stop on her journey — and what’s more important than saving its brand? [1:25:23]
  • How would Bozoma encourage people to be positive but constructively dissenting against what we see wrong in our society at the moment? [1:28:34]
  • Final words and asks of the audience. [1:35:32]

People Mentioned

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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26 Replies to “The Badass Brand-Builder: Bozoma Saint John (#288)”

  1. I just want to say a huge thank you, to you, Tim.

    I bought your book Tribe of Mentors and I can’t put it down. I’m loving it. I use many of the answers offered in the book in my own lectures, as I found it a powerful resource for my work. Thank you Tim. It’s people like you that make the world a better place.

  2. Great conversation, I felt like I was sitting right there with the both of you. I absolutely appreciate Bozoma’s stance on being true to herself… big, bold, compassionate, and super smart. This resonates strongly for me but is a struggle to maintain in my business world. My favorite quote is from Naval about if he only did what he was qualified for, he’d be pushing a broom. I’m a new fan Tim, thanks!

  3. This was definitely one of my favorite podcasts episodes! As always, a brilliant interview from Tim, and Bozoma is such an inspiring down-to-earth human. I also loved the side track questions and comments, like the collard greens and fish….could I get that recipe :-P?!

  4. My name is Clay. I am a new listener/reader of your work. I am very interested in trying TM. I am reaching out to teachers they have; in my financial world large price tag for the training. Is that normal? Any help would be great! Thank you.

  5. Hey Tim, now that your in Austin, be sure to check out Enchanted Rock ( not on a weekend ). Really cool place for hiking with incredible views!

  6. Tim, what planner/calendar do you use to stay organized? Does it incorporate your journal? Do you blend old fashion paper with the modern electronic?

  7. Tim, I just finished listening to your interview with Bozoma Saint John. Thank you and her for offering us such a rich authentic discussion. Half way through the show, I felt a wave of gratitude for the power of podcasts to elevate the conversation about what makes us human. It’s ironic that the podcast medium, as popular as it is, is still under the mainstream radar. I have my own show, and a podcast like yours inspires me to raise my bar of excellence. Have an awesome 2018.

  8. As a conversation, I have to say it was really enjoyable.

    As far as getting something out of it, I wouldn’t necessarily say it had enough golden nuggets to extract unless you are at around the same points that Bozoma was in her life.

    It’s refreshing to see someone like Bozoma who didn’t do a lot of podcasts or interviews before being invited to this one. Looking forward to what’s next.


  9. in a respectful way, it is worth noting that Bozoma doesn’t stop being the Chief Brand Officer of Uber just because she is on the Tim Ferriss show listened to by, er, millions of people.. This applies to any one of these guests. They are under tremendous scrutiny particularly if they have a high profile employer. Dont mistake candour and sincerity with, saying what is expected and not risking their career. At least- saying what will support their image not challenge it. This is genuinely offerred respectfully, not directed at Bozoma personally but more imploring the audience to use critical thinking.

  10. Did anyone else notice that the headline of this episode changed in the last day or so? Now I’m wondering as to why; perhaps a trademark issue, or maybe we are all part of Tim’s latest A/B testing? 😉 Regardless, this was a really great episode to listen to. I love her inspiring spirit of risk taking and being bold. Thanks to both Bozona and Tim for allowing us to listen in! 🙂

  11. I love this interview. I was particularly touched when Bozoma told the story about her husband.

    I also liked her aversion to pro and con lists. The spirit always knows.

  12. Hi Tim!

    Happy New Year! First of all, I want to thank you for your podcast and especially for couple of last episodes, they are really cool! I recommend them to friends a lot and your thoughts resonates with me a lot. Especially the part about self-acceptance. Secondly, I listen to Kirill Eremenko super data science podcast and I think you that have lots of thing in common. He is like Tim Ferriss in data science. I thought it would be cool if you can create a joined episode together. [Moderator: link removed.]

  13. My favorite quote from this episode was, “If you see even a small thing, lets applaud it.” Dictation into my quote research Google Doc auto-corrected to, “let’s apply it” which is also beautiful.

  14. Tim,

    Logged onto BookBub 2 hours after getting great news on TOM book price reduction. Happiness skewered by “discount no longer available.”

    Only way I could have afforded it.

  15. Hey Tim! Love your podcast! Would love to hear Dr Steven Gundry on your podcast, this is what Peter Diamandis said about him “Tony Robbins introduced me to Dr Steven Gundry, an incredible researcher and physician who has gotten me to *re-think* what I eat each day”

  16. Tim, I don’t know how else to tell you this. But I Love You! You are so real and insightful and genuine and you bring all of those qualities out in your amazing and talented guests. The vulnerability that you all express keep me going every day. I don’t know how to thank you for your hard work and for the incredible guests that you have on for us. I just downloaded your brand new book on audible! Please know you are helping so many people every day and I Thank you!

  17. Hey Tim!!!! This was one of my favorite podcasts. It helped me realize so much. Vulnerability is really strength!! I have been wearing it on my shoulder and it has been doing wonders for me. I understand what you were saying at the start how it was gonna get really good at the End. Thanks for sending a message that inspires people. You inspired me to make my own message. [Moderator: additional text and link removed.]

    lol PS im gonna go read tools of titans later!!!!

    and I really liked the Jocko podcast too. Jocks podcast is my favorite…Discipline equals freedom. I have a similar concept called, Extreme Love! Thanks to terry too he is a funny guy to watch on TV!

    [Moderator: handle and email address removed.]

  18. Love the fact that you’ve been interviewing more women lately, such a rich diversity.

    Bozoma`s life story is so original and inspirational, you were able to catch that so well!



  19. Tim, as usual, I really enjoy your interviews. You are very good a it. My feedback for these conversations is to go deeper into the field of your guests. I would have loved to hear her impart knowledge on Branding, on how to build brands, etc.

  20. Fan mail incoming ….queue aeroplane sound effects …neeeerrrrooom! Sunday afternoons are quickly becoming my lounge pants n Tim Ferris podcast nerding time. Having only recently started blogging, I love dipping into your diverse catalog of interviews to gain inspiration. I know you have millions of wind people blowing those sweet hot winds of adirmation your way already. Boo boop be do 💃 I always admire the natural conversational style to your interviews, in light of this interview I thought I would say so. My yoga instructor mentioned one your podcasts in class last year and I’ve been tuning in ever since. Long may you continue to churn your delicious buttery success out to the masses.

  21. Tim, thanks for all of the content. The long-form podcasts are terrific. Any tips for the cod/tilapia + almond flour + collard green tacos you mentioned? I’ve got it in my head to give it a shot, sounds interesting!