Author Talk: ‘The Urgent Life: My Story of Love, Loss, and Survival’
In this astonishing and uplifting talk inspired by her new memoir, Bozoma Saint John takes audiences through the dizzying, numbing days of the initial grief when her husband died of cancer, and the courage which it sparked in her to live life in accordance with her deepest values. Saint John’s story is extraordinary, but her grief is not uncommon, and her courage is sure to touch any reader or listener who has loved, mourned and found a path through loss and grief, as well as anyone who's struggled to live life to its fullest.
A conversation with Badass Boz: leadership, creativity, and success for the future of business
Over the course of her awe-inspiring career, Netflix CMO Bozoma Saint John has earned a formidable reputation as a trail blazing brand marketing executive and change agent. With nearly two decades of experience at some of the most iconic and innovative companies worldwide—from being CMO of Endeavor- one of the world's largest talent representation agencies, to executing Beyoncé’s Emmy-winning Super Bowl performance while at Pepsi, to heading iTunes and Apple Music’s global consumer marketing efforts, to helping turn around Uber’s reputation as their first-ever Chief Brand Officer, to her current role as CMO of Netflix-- Bozoma has always combined her pop culture savvy, analytical consumer insights, and ability to predict the zeitgeist, to reach new, unprecedented heights. In this powerfully honest, informative, and empowering conversation, Bozoma shares lessons from her life and career, shedding illuminating insight on leading through times of disruption, the importance of having your fingers on the cultural pulse, and resiliency in the face of unpredictability. Weaving in her personal experience as a daughter of two Ghanaian immigrants, a mother, and one of the few women and people of color at the C-Level of not one, not two, but three Fortune 500 companies, Bozoma leaves audiences ready to boldly take on the future.
Understanding pop culture: anticipate what’s coming (and avoid being tone deaf)
Named to Fast Company’s “100 Most Creative People” and Fortune’s “Disruptors, Innovators & Stars,” Netflix CMO Bozoma Saint John has used her pop culture intuition and uncanny ability to predict trends and understand what’s really happening beyond the world of C-Suite offices and analytical spreadsheets, to redefine the strategies of some of the most iconic and innovative companies worldwide. Prior to Netflix, Bozoma was the CMO of Endeavor, one of the largest entertainment representation companies on the world. From helping Pepsi resuscitate a failing Mountain Dew through an unlikely partnership in the world of Harlem streetball, to stealing the show at Apple’s keynote World Wide Developers Conference with a presentation that had Buzzfeed call her the "coolest person to ever go on stage at an Apple event," to bringing in a series of A-List celebrity partnerships to help a PR-beleaguered Uber redefine its relationship between drivers and riders, Bozoma understands the power of pop culture as a bridge to connect with consumers, tap into overlooked and misunderstood markets, and drive unprecedented success. In this fascinating and informative talk, Bozoma reveals the future of marketing and brand development, sharing actionable lessons on how to understand the current cultural moment, and redefine relationships with consumers and clients. With infamous—and viral-- marketing “misses” paralyzing marketers who fear being the next ones to make a mistake, Bozoma highlights how and why pop culture is the key to tone deaf avoidance and spot-on marketing success.
Iconic leader Bozoma Saint John’s new book, ‘The Urgent Life’, is a memoir of grief – and one woman's drive to thrive in the face of loss
When BOZOMA SAINT JOHN’s husband, Peter Saint John, died of cancer, she made one big decision: to live life with urgency. Saint John was no stranger to adversity, having fielded her father's disapproval of her marriage to Peter, navigated an interracial relationship, grieved a stillborn child – a process that led to her and Peter's separation – and navigated coparenting the daughter who she and Peter shared. When Peter knew his cancer was terminal, he gave Bozoma a short list of things to do: cancel the divorce, and call up their family and friends.
In The Urgent Life: My Story of Love, Loss, and Survival, Bozoma takes readers through the dizzying, numbing days of that initial grief, and the courage which it sparked in her to live life in accordance with her deepest values. We witness Saint John's journey forward through this grief, as she navigates life as a single parent and builds a truly remarkable career. Saint John’s story is extraordinary, but her grief is not uncommon, and her courage is sure to touch any reader or listener who has loved, mourned and found a path through loss and grief, as well as anyone who's struggled to live life to its fullest.
Event Success Story: Bozoma Saint John made a major impact at Braze’s FORGE Event, earning rave reviews
Trailblazing and award-winning marketing executive BOZOMA SAINT JOHN joined customer engagement powerhouse Braze for their dynamic annual user conference and made a major impact. The annual event, FORGE, explores the intersection of humanity, technology, and creativity, and Boz’s revelatory insights perfectly celebrated the theme: “Start Anywhere. Go Everywhere.” Leveraging an unparalleled breadth and depth of experience, Boz shared insights from her remarkable success at Netflix, Pepsi, Apple, Uber, and the Endeavor brands, generating excitement and leaving the captivated audience motivated to take their work to the next level. Connecting with 500 in-person and more than 3000 virtual attendees, including C-suite executives, growth marketers, and developers, the award-winning innovation expert offered profound yet actionable takeaways for maximizing high-performance engagement.
Following the event, the host raved: "Would you kindly pass along to Boz how much the Braze team and our FORGE audience of customers, prospects, and partners appreciated her lively and inspiring Fireside Chat with Astha Malik, CMO at Braze? We are also grateful that she shared her experience with her many followers. Thanks to you and all at Harry Walker and on Boz's team who helped make the magic happen.” Beyond her sought after events, Boz will published her highly anticipated memoir, The Urgent Life, which will be released in the Spring of 2023 by Penguin Books. Boz inspires groups such as Chief, Convercent, INBOUND, Adweek, SXSW, and Facebook Canada, who shared: “Bozoma was indeed magical – she crushed it today. Everyone LOVED her. Totally elevated the event for our customers!”
Award-winning innovator Bozoma Saint John helps leadership teams reinvent themselves, innovate, and dominate their markets
Innovation expert BOZOMA SAINT JOHN has earned a formidable reputation as a trailblazing brand and marketing executive and genuine change-agent in the space. Hailed as the "coolest person to ever go on stage at an Apple event,” by Buzzfeed, Boz brings unparalleled energy, transformative thinking, and innovative ideas to each engagement. For her remarkable success at Netflix, Pepsi, Apple, Uber, and the Endeavor brands, she has received countless accolades. Boz has been honored by the Ms. Foundation for Women at the 2022 Women of Vision Awards: The Future is Feminist and was tapped to host The Africa-America Institute’s (AAI) annual gala, which brings together many notable guests, including heads of state, diplomats, government officials, business and civil society leaders and scholars. At events, Boz is consistently praised: “Bozoma was indeed magical – she crushed it today. Everyone LOVED her. Totally elevated the event for our customers!” (Facebook)
The Hall of Fame inducted Marketing Executive has been featured on the cover of Adweek as “one of the most exciting personalities in advertising,” and consistently appears on prestigious lists ranging from The Hollywood Reporter’s “Women in Entertainment Power 100” to Fast Company’s and Ad Age’s “Most Creative People” to Ebony’s 100 Powerful Executives. Boz is also set to publish her highly anticipated memoir, The Urgent Life, which will be released in the Spring of 2023 by Penguin Books. From tactical insights into the narratives and communication want from businesses now to how leadership can deliver in an authentic way, Boz's insights leave audiences prepared to innovate.
Bozoma Saint John Named Forbes #1 Most Influential CMO
Forbes shared, “Many chief marketing officers have personal brands that are often attached to the company they work for. Bozoma Saint John’s brand goes far beyond Netflix, where she became CMO a little more than a year ago. In her first year at the streaming giant, she’s led a wide range of creative campaigns." They also complimented her marketing experience at Endeavor, Uber, and Apple Music, as well as her classes at Harvard Business School about the power of authenticity. Forbes continued, “Saint John has also been a leader on issues related to diversity and equality. Last summer, she worked with Glennon Doyle and dozens of other celebrities on a collaborative campaign called #sharethemicnow to amplify Black voices across a wide range of white women’s Instagram accounts.” Next, Saint John is publishing a memoir, The Urgent Life, about resilience and her bold outlook on life, shaped by difficult moments such as the loss of her husband to cancer."
Hailed as the "coolest person to ever go on stage at an Apple event,” by Buzzfeed, Boz brings unparalleled energy, transformative thinking, and innovative ideas to each engagement.
Case Study: Bozoma Saint John taught a “Badass Workshop” at Harvard Business School, sharing the secrets to her success
Netflix’s Former Chief Marketing Officer BOZOMA SAINT JOHN led a workshop called “Anatomy of a Badass” at Harvard Business School, speaking to MBA candidates to teach the secrets to her success. Harvard’s short intensive programs (SIP) generally have 50-60 participants, but around 300 students expressed interest in this one. Along with her experience as Netflix’s CMO, Saint John is the former CMO at Endeavor, Chief Brand Officer at Uber, and Marketing Executive for Apple Music and PepsiCo, giving her a wide range of experience as a trailblazing brand marketing executive that she shared with a new generation of business leaders. Saint John spoke on the tactical and pivotal marketing moves she made during her career by trusting her gut instincts, which she finds critical for her success. Professor Francesca Gino shared on social media after the sessions, “Loved today’s class. Among the many insights: Set your own expectations. Say it, by stating them outloud. Advocate for them. Share them with your pack so that they can speak about them outloud in rooms you are not in.”
Bozoma Saint John is a Hall of Fame inducted Marketing Executive, author, entrepreneur and general badass.
Boz got her start in her marketing career at Spike Lee’s ad agency, SpikeDDB. She then went on to manage brands in the PepsiCo beverages portfolio, before becoming Head of Music and Entertainment Marketing at the CPG giant. After that, she led Global Consumer Marketing at Apple Music & iTunes; before serving as Chief Brand Officer at Uber; she then took on the Chief Marketing Officer role for Endeavor (including WME, IMG, UFC, Miss Universe, 160over90, etc.). Mostly recently, she served as the Global Chief Marketing Officer at the entertainment behemoth, Netflix.
Boz’s work has been lauded and awarded by the industries she’s operated in, including induction into the American Marketing Association Hall of Fame (2022), following induction into the American Advertising Federation Hall of Achievement (2014). Boz is currently named as the #1 Most Influential CMO in the world by Forbes (2021). She’s also been inducted into Billboard’s Women in Music Hall of Fame after making their list of the "Most Powerful Women in Music" for 10 consecutive years (2013-2022) and crowned as the Executive of the Year (2016). She’s been featured on the cover of Adweek as "one of the most exciting personalities in advertising;" and is on lists ranging from The Hollywood Reporter’s "Women in Entertainment Power 100" (2018) to Fast Company’s and Ad Age’s "Most Creative People" to Ebony’s "100 Powerful Executives," Black Enterprise’s "Most Powerful Women in Business" and Fortune’s "Most Influential CMOs."
In 2021, Harvard Business School published a multi-media case study on her career, titled “Leading with Authenticity and Urgency”; through which she developed and taught a program at the University aptly named “The Anatomy of a Badass.” Boz has also created a public online class, “The Badass Workshop” to teach the nuances of achieving success when one feels like an outsider.
Boz has expanded her service outside of the US and been named as an Ambassador for the African Diaspora and Special Envoy to the President of Ghana. Boz is also a philanthropic Ambassador to Pencils of Promise in Ghana and serves on the boards of Girls Who Code, Vital Voices, the Tony Elumelu Foundation, Soho House and the CFDA. She’s also currently on the Board of Trustees at her alma mater, Wesleyan University.
On February 21, 2023, Viking Books (an imprint of Penguin/Random House) published her memoir, The Urgent Life. The book is a roadmap to navigating struggle, and a touchstone for those enduring their own battles, letting them know that they are not alone, that they can make it through, and that there is light and peace, and even inspiration, waiting for them when they do.
All of that said, she counts her highest achievement as being a mother to her 13-year-old daughter, Lael.